Monday, June 30, 2008
Sunday, June 29, 2008
On the other hand these places are a bit of an endangered species. Slow moving stock means lots of money tied up. Modellers often make their small purchases in the shop but go on-line for the big ticket items that make the money to keep the business alive. The side street location doesn't help either as you have to search so the general public don't get the chance to see the goodies.
So a high street shop has to be a good thing too ? Well a lot of people aren't sure. Stores like Modelzone don't discount the big items. They don't carry the "bits" either, concentrating on nice boxed items. The place looks tidy but the staff expertise can be variable - if the man behind the counter is into cars he's not going to be too good on model railways.
But when I tripped over the Modelzone in Holburn I'll admit to being impressed. First thing inside is a big pile of sale stock plastic kits. I really had to remind myself that a HO Russian loco kit or Blackbird aeroplane weren't going to fit in my bag no matter how tempting the price or how much I fancied building them
Much of the stock is die-cast cars with a huge range of prices. I'm assured that the average punter in the area is pretty well off but perhaps they prefer to buy their Ferrari's small - saves money on the congestion charge anyway !
The standard Hornby and Bachmann ranges are there in quantity along with a very small selection of kit, mostly Wills and Peco. Boat modellers can find static kits plus a couple of Billings items. The range of plastic models (quite rare to find nowadays) is huge, albeit with no Type 2 pick-up, the one plastic kit I could do to buy at present.
Most impressive were the glues and paints. Even fairly exotic stuff like Zap glues and weird fillers are stocked. No excuse for running out when you are in the middle of a project !
With two good model shops nearby I'd hate to see one of these open up nearby. Birmingham city centre would be good though...
Modelzone web site.
Friday, June 27, 2008
The shop seems to specialise in radio control cars and aeroplanes. Several nice models hang from the ceiling. Towards the back the shelves are full of plastic kits and I could see some model boat kits on there too.
Update: I see that the shop has now moved to Douglas. Take a look at the website here.
Tools and paint are available in the apparently well stocked interior. Next time I go I will make sure it's during opening hours !
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
The venue is superb. It's a boating lake which the club have the use of for the day. As well as being set in lovely countryside there is a craft shops and cafe handy for refreshment and non-boating entertainment.
My visit was on the third day of the festival, one day for each leg of man on the flag and different challenge on each. Monday's are the steering competition and each boat entered had to complete what looked like a pretty easy course. Entries were split into 1 metre and above and less than 1 metre length models. As well as simply completing the course, boats were marked on how well they went around. To add spice, the boats shared the water with several ducks who came and went as they saw fit with some very spectacular water-ski landings.
A fun feature was that at one point each model had to stop between two buoys and if it had any operating feature - use them. Some models made noises, some sprayed water, one dropped a model buoy. The most memorable actually sank ! This was pretty impressive, especially as it then refloated and completed the course.
The members were very friendly. I chatted to several about their models which were uniformly of a very high standard.
More pictures in Flickr.
Tools, glues and paints are for sale along with a very small number of boat bits - mainly BEC flags and decals.
If you fancy having a go at building the local railways a small selection of card kits in 4 and 7mm scales for Manx Electric Railway prototypes. It's a pity the line to Ramsey isn't running this year.
The lady who runs the shop is always pleasant and chatty making it a real pleasure to visit.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Retrieval was the usual palaver - these things never die near the bank and there isn't much on the boat to grab hold of with a pole. The race carried on around me too. Thanks chaps.
Swapping the battery over for a spare cured the problem. Back at the bench it became obvious why. Some water had found its way under the battery cover and corroded the join between cell and wire. This had eventually parted company in the rough and tumble of the race.
Soldering the wire back in place after a quick clean with some emery paper was easy enough and the model is back on the water at full tilt. It doesn't look as pretty covered in insulating tape but I put that down for wear and tear. We can't all have a car like Louis Hamilton.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Years ago I had them blasted and then painted the hubs with POR 15 which keeps the rust back. The paint discolours eventually so a new coat brightens things up for the summer. Easy.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
The sun shone (unlike last year), the people were happy. We sailed model boats and raced model boats and chatted about things including model boats. Everyone had a good time. That's what a hobby is about.
Slingshot - Middling. Fairly average scores today. In the last race though I was flipped over and water entered the hull. The speed control is now playing up. There is a nasty gash in the side which will make an impressive battle scar when repaired.
Plank - Hopeless. Lighting the burner took an age. Once on the water it travelled about a quarter of the way across before giving up. And I broke the chimney off by dropping the boiler when packing up. A re-think is required.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
The Huntsman has seen some development. Spray rails have been fitted using quarter round wood from a hardware store. Using a pair of dividers I marked out the positions relative to the keel. They certainly look nice when sanding sealed and varnished.
On the water they do make a difference with the water breaking very differently at the front. I think they help the lift at the front too.
The bad news is that the motor still smells when running. There's not much power coming out of it either so I think it's toasted and a new one will be required. We're back tot he original 2-blade propeller too as none of the new ones I bought will fit. The shaft appears to be an old imperial size so either I replace it (near impossible) or re-tap the threaded end to suit the new props.
The water cooling gave me grief too. I hadn't realised just how tight you have to do up the retaining nuts and it leaked like crazy on the water. A quick tweak with the pliers did the job so at least one problem was solved. When running water was emerging from the back outlet so I assume it was doing it's job.
For the moment the boat has gone into store as it's stopped being a quick job and now looks like a more involved and expensive project that I have time for right now. Perhaps in the autumn I'll take another look.
Friday, June 13, 2008
The evening was perfect, still and warm with no-one else around. I fired up the burner, primed the engine and set the boat off. After about 10 feet it died so I retrieved it and tried again. Same result. Various attempts were made with gradually improving results.
After charring the wood with excess meths from I tried a tea light. This was OK but underpowered so it was back to the burner.
A few attempts later and success - the boat made it across the lake. OK so it was in a series of hops as the steering was rubbish and I had to keep pointing it away from the bank but it worked.
Buoyed by this, the rudder was bent around and another trip made. This helped and only one re-direct was needed. A third attempt was even better, although the model paused in the middle of the pond for about 10 minutes.
The trick seems to be to let the coil get really hot. Then prime it and don't put the plank in the water until priming pushes steam out of the coil.
I'll see on Sunday if this works for real.
Off I trot to the railway club and present myself at the O Gauge layout Kimble asking if I could run my new train. For some reason they decided I couldn't - something to do with extending the model and most of the boards being upside down being worked on or sans track or something. Inconsiderate really, I mean all they had to do was re-assemble a dozen or so baseboards and lay a few metres of track, how difficult can this be ? :-)
Fortunately I was able to do something more useful for the Mallory road group. They were testing layout electrics with a Heljan Class 47 diesel. A short wheelbase locomotive is much better for this job though as you can see where there is no electricity much faster. As it happens there was only one problem area where a point frog looks like it's come unwired.
The model ran around very nicely. At first a good burst of speed took out the worst of the new model tightness and then some more realistic trundling around the pointwork commenced. I'm happy with the result and people were complimentary about my efforts.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
For those to stingy to buy the magazine, my piece on naming boats also appears on their website so you can have a free read.
I wasn't going to spend good money on materials and besides, I couldn't be bothered to roll something from flat so the part has been made from halfanemptycanofredbull with a brass tube chimney. Even this was to be created from drinks cans but sticking aluminium defeated me. At least I can polish it for the competition. Cutting the boiler with scissors was easy as Red Bull designed the decoration to have a nice horizontal element in the middle for model makers to follow.
On the water this all seems to work well. Using a firelighter gives the best effect with real smoke emerging. The can is held in place by a balsa slab with a hole cut in it. It has to go in first time though as the metal becomes too hot to hold within seconds. Perhaps I need to lag it with wood to improve the look ?
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
5 coils can be made from a single tube but the jets have to be made separately. As it happens this suited me as they now run through the plank itself and support the coil.
The heating element also needed refining. The first plan was to use a tealight candle. While this works it's a bit weak for the amount of copper involved now, Dropping a bit of firelighter into the used aluminum holder sorted this but that doesn't last very long.
Finally I've nicked an idea from a web site and made a burner up from a plumbing fitting. The fuel is still up for debate as meths works but I'm wondering if lamp oil will last longer.
Whatever else happens, on the pool the vessel certainly works. Once the coil warms up properly it's got a surprising amount of speed !
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
At the weekend I plan to enter the KMBC Plank sailing competition. The aim is to sail your plank from one side of our lake to the other. Power to to be provided by something other than an electric motor and battery.
For my attempt, I'm using a Pulsating Water Engine. It's old technology but fun. The engine is made of a bent copper tube warmed over a candle. Since I've not built one before I prototyped the device using a singe bit of tubing fitted to the hull with drawing pins.
Once I'd learnt that you have to fill the tube with water (prime in technical parlance) the craft worked pretty well, scooting across the bath at a reasonable speed. The tea-light lasted well so I reckon it will do for the trip on the lake. Some sort of shield will be needed to cope with the wind though.
A new more powerful engine is under construction and I'll be testing this soon.
Glazing is from Krystal-Klear, crew from the box of things that I have forgotten where they came from and coal out of a packet picked up at a show once.
It's only taken 21 months to get this far, although for most of this time the model spent on the shelf of unfinished projects. It's a lovely kit to build though and looks really good for relatively little effort compared to some !
Saturday, June 07, 2008
Now this is a huge model shop. Just off the edge of the city centre (you can't miss it if you walk in from the station) in a building that must have been really fashionable when it was built in the 1960's but just looks a bit dated now, even the window is bigger than most.
Once you get inside, allow half an hour minimum to get a good look around. As well as being large, the shop has been around long enough to built up a good level of little bits you have to root through.
There are plastic kits, dolls house bits, railways in all scales both new and second hand, radio control cars, boat kits in lots of scales (no fitting through) and some of the those weird construction kits where people make things out of matchsticks and other stuff. Obviously a good range of basic materials and paints is on sale.
There are several rows of display and the shop is a bit of a maze and all the better for it. To be honest this shop is worth the trip to Hereford on it's own.
Worcester's a nice town - it has two good model shops !
Starting out from the station you find Antics models. It's down a side street and above a camera shop. Inside there is a selection of die-cast, r/c cars, plastic kits, railways and loads of other stuff. The premises aren't large but they are absolutely stuffed with stuff and well worth a rummage. Plenty of modelling material on offer too. Sometimes these get the push from chain stores but not here.
Five minutes walk away you find Kitz shop. This is mainly for the railway modeller (UK and foreign) but there are plastic kits and dolls house items. Again, plenty of materials are stocked so there is no need to to be short of a tinlet of paint or sheet of plasticard in Worcester.
And just in case you are wondering, it's not compulsory to turn up in a silver Mercedes !
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Then I sprayed varnish over it. Loads of satin varnish. And then a bit more to be sure. I want a good protective layer before I go a-weathering again. It's going to be at least 24 hours before that happens as varnish this thick takes a log while to dry fully.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
It seems that the state of the battery is very important. My first battery was good and the model zipped along really nicely. The second hadn't taken a full charge and while the sailing was good, the speed wasn't up to much. She still gets up on the plane thanks to the slightly top-heavy figure.
My only problem is that I have 2 more of these models and it's really tempting to fit them up in the same way. If you fancy doing the same thing, you'll need a SU/EB 30s speed controller to emulate these efforts.
The good news is the boat went up on the plane. It's not rocket powered but nice and controllable on a lake the size of ours. Most importantly it looks good.
After a few minutes I filmed the model and you can see the video here. The speed had dropped a bit but you get the idea especially head on.
A couple of minutes later still there was smoke coming out of the windows. Back on the bench the motor was red hot. I've not connected up the water cooling jacket yet. This is obviously not a good thing.
My hope was that the problem stemmed from the whopping 4 -blade prop being too large and stressing the motor. Once it had cooled down I swapped this for the original 2 blade plastic version and tentatively sailed again.
One the water the model was as sprightly as with the bigger prop, possibly even a little better. I'm not going to pretend to understand how a small prop with two blades is better than a big one with 4, but I'll go with it and stick the big 'un in the box for a future model.
The weather was perfect and the company convivial. And we now have more space. Bet there still isn't enough space though !
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
I am in the process of assembling a Barrett (E38) GWR clerestory (brass) coach kit. They invite you to put three bends in the bottom of the coach sides to form a built - in solebar. There are only two half etched lines where two of the folds would go, and the coach is quite long. I thought that making three long folds would be impossible for me so I substituted a piece of brass channel, having made just one fold.. But I'm left wondering what an expert would do? I have yet to ask Barretts.
Well I'm not sure what an expert would do but I'd add the missing half etched bend line with a Tamya Olfa plasticard cutter. I bought mine from Squires years ago and it has done sterling service scoring lines on metal and plastic without needing its blade changed.
You can also deepen half etched lines with this which is handy when the metal is hard or thick and you want the fold to go easily. Reinforcement with soldered once the bend is made might be required to stop the metal reverting to flat again or at least acting like a hinge but that's easier than making the fold sometimes.
Of course if I screwed this up I'd replace the metal with a bit of channel, but I'm stingy enough to try making the extra line first.
The compressor was humming away powering the airbrush. Weak mixes of greys and browns were flowing away over the model. The black slowly turned a indeterminate colour best described as "mucky".
The numbers started to bubble up and peal off. I poked them back but it was no good. One of the 8's fell off than a 0 and finally they all came away. Heavy weathering to hide their absence did cross my mind but I knew the situation was hopeless.
The loco has seen Mr Nitromores and now sports a nice new coat of black paint which is very nearly as good as the old one. And if I find the inventor of Pressfix transfers I will kill him.
Silver Lining: Christopher points out I managed to get the crests the wrong way round as they should face the front of the locomotive. I knew that of course, it's why I didn't stick them on properly. Honest.
Anyway, as usual when you buy a cheap model the radio gear is rubbish. Putting the batteries in the handset is a puzzle worthy of Rubik and there is only one channel so you can't sail at the same time as anyone else. The model was fun enough to make us think about sorting all this out with some new electronics.
Then, lo and behold, on eBay a surfer popped up. The seller had replaced the gear and then decided to sell the project. I snapped it up for about the same price as a speed control.
Once the box arrived, "Bouncing Betty" as our surfer had been nicknamed, had suffered a bit. One of her arms had fallen off, she'd been detached from the board and the prop was broken. Still the gubbins inside looked OK apart from the water cooling pipes on the motor. She was put back in the box and headed for the "oneday" pile.
Another shopping trip for bit for the Huntsman found us back in Howes. The plastic kit room has very sadly been replaced with a RTR boat room and on the back wall were lots of faulty models. Each was marked with the fault and they were being sold off cheap. I suppose that the cost makes it pointless to do anything else other than chuck them away. On the pile was a leaky surfer with a duff controller.
Now with 3 of these things I've pulled the eBay bits and cheapo machine together to make a complete model. For a change this was a quick project that only took an hour. Now she has proper radio, a buggy speed controller with no reverse and hopefully doesn't leak. And I've glued the arm back on.
A trick I picked up from somewhere is to use a bit of clear plastic as a guide. The one in the photo is a bit from the packaging supplied in a shirt. I originally had it tall enough to set the crests up and then cut down the hight to do the numbers. A couple of marks on the sheet help the lining up on the body.
Monday, June 02, 2008
Sunday, June 01, 2008
Stoner park (insert joke here...) is one of those VW shows I've meant to go to for about 15 years but never quite made. With a bit more time on my hands I decided that this was the year. Then I found it clashed with a load of other things. Anyway, looking at the map the show ground is only just off the M40 so if I used a modern car I could bat up and down there comfortably in a day. And I didn't get to Stanford Hall this year and needed some wiper blades.
Today was the day and off we set. The trip from Leamington was pretty easy and only 63 miles. That's about an eggcup of fuel in the Berlingo as far as I could tell from the gauge.
Anyway I'm not going to write a book but here are a few notes:
- The car park is on a hillside. A steep one..
- The grass needed cutting..
- Walking through the car park there were a higher than normal percentage of old VeeDubs..
- The autojumble is better than Stanford Halls..
- The trade however isn't as extensive as that at the Hall. Not bad but I've seen bigger. Pretty varied selection of stalls though with not too many selling “lifestyle” products. I'm an enthusiast and want to see lots of rusty bits !.
- The traders can't get a signal to their chip & pin machines thanks to the surrounding hills. I saw this cost at least one money as the punter simply didn't have that much cash in their pocket. If you don't take cheques the customer has to walk. There's no cash machine for many miles..
- Yet again no-one had any Dormobile table track. I've been looking for this for years and never found any not attached to an interior. If anyone has some they would like to sell, get in touch. Please..
- There were people carrying odd shaped objects and large chunks of VW. I used to think this was odd until I did it myself a few times..
- The house doesn't open until 2pm. Daft when the tea room could do terrific business. With admission included in the entry fee it would be a popular addition..
- Getting out is bad in a low slung modern car as you exit across the steep hill. I wouldn't have fancied being in the Type 2 ahead of us. How everyone gets out without tipping over sideways is a mystery..
- The concours display is fantastic with a huge range of vehicles. Some more bays and wedges would be nice though.
I'd go back if I could combine it with a camping trip. The area is good for this so manybe next year...