Sunday, August 20, 2017

Bressingham 2017

Foden C type lorry

To Bressingham for the garden railway event.

Or at least that was the plan, I'd never been to Bressingham before. I knew of it - mainly because the industrial Garratt lives there - but what with it being 3 hours away, a visit hadn't been on my radar. However, with a garden railway event taking place, my new role made it important for me to visit.

What I hadn't expected was a rally of small-scale steam vehicles with 29 entratns, all of excellent quality.

Gn15 loco

After poking around the sheds, finding my favourite loco and enjoying a load of the others, I headed in to the garden railway show. There was an awful lot of chatting with trade and exhibitors. Sadly, this didn't result in many photos for you.

More producting for pictures was the rally and also the three working real railways on site. I didn't have time for a ride, that will have to wait for another day, but it's ceretainly worth the trip. For a tenner, I could have even driven a narrow gauge loco pulling slate wagons. Money well spent.

For the moment, enjoy a little Terrier action:


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Saturday Film Club: Snaefell Number 4 by drone

For the moment, we will ignore the recent issues concerning the Snaefell Mountain Railway and the hysterical contributions to the discussions by people who should know better. 

Instead, look at the very recently refurbished Number 4, turned out in Ailsa green livery and looking very smart indeed. The guys working for the railway really do an excellent job on this sort of work and it's lovely to see the tram under test on the line. 

The drone fliers got lucky too. It's not always that clear when heading up the mountain.

Friday, August 18, 2017


Ivatt Class 2 46521

Holding planning meetings away from the office makes a lot of sense. Take everyone away from distractions and the team can focus on layout down ideas for the next few months. This accounts for a few trips to Quorn on the Great Central Railway where the BRM tram have sat around a table in the cafe working out how we'll fill the next few issues of your favourite model railway periodical.

Wednesday saw such a trip. Waiting for everyone to arrive, I enjoyed a stroll around the year taking photos of things. It's an interesting place as there is always something new to look at. This time, there were loads of wagons showing signs of a life outside.

Weathered wagon

Not long after I took this photo, I was accosted by some freindly hi-vis sporting chaps from the railway. One of whom asked if I was there for the cake. Not really, but after that, I could hardly avoid sampling it. 


You'll be pleased to know the chocolate crunch was excellent and I'm told the Victoria sandwich was also very good. The brie and cranberry sandwiches though, delicious. I could have eaten a couple more rounds although I had, they wouldn't have been the only thing round!

If you are in the area, even if not planning to use the train, this is an excellent cafe with a good range and friendly staff.

Anyway, our meeting went well and we've lined up some really exciting features for the future. Afterwards, Andy Y and I recorded a little video promo for the October issue and then stood around chatting beside the good shed, accidentally out of sight of the staff. This wasn't the greatest idea as by the time we made a move, the last train had long gone. And the car park was locked up!

Despite my efforts to guess the combination on the lock, it took three-quarters of an hour and many phone calls to get the correct number sequence so we could escape. I wouldn't mind, but the cafe was locked up and so we both faced a night sleeping in our cars. Lesson learned.Well, that and "have the brie and cranberry panini, which looks even nicer than the sandwich.

Morris Minor

Mind you, this Moggie Minor has been there a lot longer then we might have been. 

Details of Quorn station here.  For your Satnav, you'll need the postcode: LE12 8AG. Leave some cake!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Electrical things in BRM plus cakes!

The September issue of BRM has gone all DCC - which as all fules kno is the work of the devil.

Nevertheless, I have had a bit of a look at accesory decoder modules, which I have to grudgingly admit could massivly reduce the amount of wire under a baseboard. The savings in wire could go a long way to helping pay for the chippy things too. Using them is pretty simple nowadays, you don't even have to do any soldering.

Above the baseboard, we are offering an airbrush to new subscribers so I'm going through some of the basics and explaining why you might want to own one with quick projects on locos, rolling stock, track and even buildings. A really versatile tool which many modellers seemed scared of. OK, we aren't all proferssional painters, but it's still useful in the hands of and idiot like me.

Of course, when you saw the title of this blog post, you were only interested in the cake. Well, I mention it because I've writen a piece explaining why I like smaller shows. You'll be unsurprised to know that this includes my enthusiasm for different cakes. For sensible content, Jerry Clifford also explains the work that goes into a show from the exhibition managers point of view. 

Over on the DVD, there is a Phil double bill. 

First, I take viewers through a few wiring basics - tining wires attaching them to point motors and track and even unsoldering. When we were talking about a DCC lead issue, it occurred to me that these very basic techniques would be useful to all. Soldering irons are another tool people are scared of, so that's another demystified I hope.

I'm also making cable drums using a resin kit, a last-minute addition to the line-up but hopefully there is something useful and entertaining in it. I do explain why you shouldn't let them lie down on a layout...

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Warehouse Wednesday: More tea driver?

Hereford cafe

Classic cafe time. Bet you can get a cracking sausage, egg and chips along with a good, strong cup of tea. There's probably even tomato shaped bottles on the table for red sauce. It scores well on Trip Advisor although there is concern at the sausages.

Found in Hereford bus station, for some reason, this reminds me of the Wills SS67 Wayside station kit. OK, it's bigger but they share a certain "look". 

Rather smartly painted, this might not be that old, but it's a pretty classic design that could find its way, in model form, onto many layouts. Perhaps a candidate for a resin model?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

EiM and Garden Rail in the shops

It's a big day - the first issues of Garden Rail and Engineering in Miniature magazines I have been responsible for hit the news stands.

Starting in the garden, I've filled it with lots of construction articles, some of which cover topics that I've always wondered about. Clockwork power? It can be done, but the power source comes from an unexpected device and not one I'd imagined when contemplating the idea.

Building locos in plastic is another of my "things" and to see someone build an electric Gauge 1 loco appeals to me enormously. It's putting larger scales in reach of those without a massive workshop.

We've also some laser-cut kit action from both IP Engineering and Phil Sharples - again, very much my sort of thing with my background in cheap'n'cheerful garden modelling.

There's some nifty building work with a smoking distillery and Mel Turbutt finds space for a 16mm line with an article opening with a photo that could be a real scene. I told the designer to use it large...

The cover of Engineering in Miniature is in my opinion, stunning showing Alan Barnes 6 inch Burrell. The moment I opened the file, I knew it was going on the front of the magazine!

Model Engineers enjoy show reports and so we have several including the all important narrow gauge IMLEC efficiency trials and a look around Statfold Barn.

Since these are my first issues, I'm still on a learning curve. The process has been interesting and it's going to take me a few months to really get hold of both, but in the meantime, I think readers will like what they find (probably some really obvious typos...). I've a few ideas for the future to really make them burst with content, so get down to Smiths and bag yourself a copies.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Near disaster paint job

Painting started with a coat of Humbrol 120 (Light green). I'm not sure why I picked the colour other than it was late, I was a bit tired and working under artificial light.

The next day, I knew I'd made a mistake. It wasn't terrible, but the colour just wasn't the one I'd envisaged when I'd been building the model. It was far too light.

Initial panic quickly gave way to sensible thinking. I could always repaint the model, even if it meant stripping it first.

Had I used a colour too dark, I'd have dry-brushed with the lighter hue and been happy. What I did was the opposite. A coat of Humbrol 159 (Khaki Drab) went on and once each side was painted, I wiped some of it away. Around the front this needed the efforts of a cotton bud, but in the end I like the result. Nicely worn paint.

This is something I try to get across to newbies. When something goes wrong, it's not always a disaster. Older hands will just fiddle around and can often save a project with bodgery.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Accucraft open day 2017

Accucraft threw open their doors last Saturday for their annual open day. As well as a skip full of bargains, there was trade support from Swift Sixteen, Model Earth Design, Talisman Brass Castings and Trenarren Models.

The crowd quickly demolished the pile of bargains. Most of these were reject Accucraft products but there were some odd-balls too. I probably should have picked up the Mercian G1 dock tank, complete with wheels and motor for £100 but then it would only have sat on a shelf no matter how much I'd love to build it.

There were a few wagons in need of repair. Again, an Isle of Man 4-wheel carriage without wheels or roof could have made a nice grounded body for the garden, but by the time I'd worked that out we were busy playing trains so I didn't get to shell out the 20 quid.

Never mind, once the crowd cleared, I was able to have a proper look at the trade present.

Model Earth design specialises in 7/8th scale kits:

Si's painting is brilliant. All the models are so full of character, even the really insignificant ones. 

They also produce some very reasonably price wagons kit which we'll be featuring in the October issue of Garden Rail. More of these below.

Swift Sixteen has reintroduced their railbus kit and it was lapping the test track.

As well as the trade, John Campbell exhibited his minimum space layout "Campbell’s Quarry".

Neil Ramsay showed his collection of Irish railway stock from which I've picked a couple of railcars, but hope to persuade him to tell us more in a future edition of Garden Rail.

If you are thinking Manx then yes, this is half of the railcar set that was sold to the IOM and currently awaits restoration as soon as a business case can be made for it.

The railcar above is made from a sort of "scratch aid" kit and I might be able to get hold of one. It would look lovely in the garden...

Over on the test track, a couple of 7/8th scale Bagnall tanks were being run for their new owners. Loaded with a train of Model Earth wagons complete with real slate loads, they looked the part and so I sent my camera along for the ride too.

You will be pleased to know that there was cake to be had as well, or at least cake appeared from nowhere at one point, and very welcome it was too.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Saturday film club: ex-Donegal railcar in G

For reasons that will become apparent tomorrow,the ex-Donegal railcars on the Isle of Man are on my mind at the moment. 

I've seen them before restoration started and climbed on them a couple of times since the project has stalled. They are lovely looking machines. 


For years I've pondered building a pair (you need 2 for IOM operation) but I could always consider the RTR option from Track Shack when it becomes available. It's just that even for the track power options, I'll need to find £2000 - not something that is happening in a hurry.

So, I'll need to content myself with the video above unless you lot click on those adverts on the side of this blog an awful lot. Still, it is an impressive layout, St Johns in G gauge? Wow!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Detail and prime

Just a few little details to add now, mainly door hinges made from lengths of micro-rod fitted with superglue. The gap-filling properties of this bed them into the body to remove the "just stuck on" look.

After this, the motor, wheel and rods are masked with a mix of tape and kitchen foil. The latter is easy to poke around the lump inside the model. I'm not sure it matters if the PCB gets painty but I certainly want to keep it off the moving parts including the motor and I can't take the model to bits anymore.

Primer is Halford U-Pol etching. Readily available and cheap enough if you don't need gallons of the stuff. My can has done well over 20 models and there's still plenty left.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Footstep restoration

"It appears you've lost one of the footstep mounts." said Anonymous when I started this project, and he/she was right.

Sorting this out was easier than expected. All the support brackets are plastic mouldings that plug into the diecast footplate without any glue fixing.

I simply pulled them all out and replaced them with bent bits of nickel silver strip from the spares box. This time, glue was involved. It also holds the real wood plank to the front and the plastic detailing parts on this. I've even used it to fix the bolt heads cut from microstrip to the metal.

All pretty painless and a useful method if you have a Gas Mechanical to repair. 

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Warehouse Wednesday: Presco Buildings hut

This is one of those buildings that ought to be available from the model railway trade, but as far as I am aware, isn't.

Little fibreglass hut like this were a common feature of many linesides from the 1970s onwards, but have since vanished. Presumably the crews don't need accommodation locally any more as they all arrive in vans with on-board facilities. Dunno. You don't see these any more though. (The is one half way up Snaefell).

This example is a Butterly station and looking the worse for wear. As it was on the other side of the tracks, I couldn't get a photo or measurements but I'd say it's a candidate for a plastic scratchbuild (don't say 3D printing, those curves need to be smooth) and then resin casting.

Presco, who made this hut, have gone bust and been acquired by Elliot, but the hut doesn't seem to be in the current range.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Book review: P50 Peel engineering's extrordinary legacy by Barry Edwards

Publisher: Lily Publications

ISBN: 9-781907-945762

Size: 210 X 210 Softback

Price: £16

At first glace, you'd think this book was about the Peel P50 microcar - known to many people from an appearance on Top Gear but very famous before this as the world's smallest proper car. That would be to do this book a disservice though as it's far, far more than that.

Starting in 1940, the firm was responsible for numerous innovative products including the famous micro-cars.

Appropriately enough for a Manx business, the first products were motorcycle fairings produced in the trademark fibreglass that was the basis for most of the future products. Before moving on to cars, there were quite a number of boats manufactured and the book includes a nice plan which would almost give enough detail for a model of the fishing vessel. There's also a hovercraft, a prototype of which is shown in photos.

Talking of models, there is a photo showing two hulls for model speedboats found in a factory clearout. I wonder what happened to those? Although designed around a small diesel engine, I bet they would fly with a modern brushless electric...

Of course, the cars are the starts and 2/3rd of the book is taken up with them. Not just the P50 and Trident, but the Manxcar, P1000 sportscar and Viking. There's lots of stuff on the fibreglass BMC Mini too, I bet there are a few classic owners who'd like to get their hands on one of these for rust-free motoring!

Packed around all this are lists of huge numbers of products including trailers and tools that were designed an produced.The most intriguing of which is the monorail system proposed to run between Douglas and Peel. It was granted a patent number and the back of the book includes an artists impression of the train. Apparently, building this was suggested to be easier than re-laying the steam railway track!

98 pages packed full of fascinating items. I've already started digging into a few and am keen to find out more. Building a Manx monorail would be an interesting project...

Monday, August 07, 2017

Holly green

Locomotive livery can be a very emotive subject. On the Isle of Man, most people think of the engines running in India Red, a sort of bauxite colour. There have been others however. Ailsa Green, a pale apple green, was a major feature of the line and Hutchinson was turned out in blue back in the 1990s. I like the colour but may enthusiasts hated it.

Holly Green also made an appearance in the early days and the latest model from Oxford diecast has been turned out in it. To be honest, I wasn't sure. For a start, I'd not seen an engine painted in it. Not until this year.


To match the model, Kissack now appears in the dark green and looks superb. The colour really sits well on the Victorian design. I'm not sure it's ever going to be my favourite, but I'm glad the model provides an accurate representation of a loco we enjoyed on holiday. 

Rather less accurate, but undoubtedly more useful, is this model of Loch. 

At first sight, I assumed this was a pencil eraser, but spotting the £10 price tag, this wasn't the case. In fact, it's a USB memory stick. I'm not sure who came up with the idea, but it's a fun souvenir and the ideal place to back up the photos I took while on the island.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

A week on the Isle of Man

This time last week, I was enjoying the last full day of my holiday on the Isle of Man.

You won't be surprised to know that I took a lot of photos, some of which I'll link to later. Not everything appeared in front of my camera though, sometimes I did stuff and my Dad grabbed a snap as I was too busy.

One of the highlights was the chance to sit in Sea Lion's cab and ride the length of the Groudle Glen Railway. That's the benefit of being a Friend of the line and chatting to the right people at the right time. The cab isn't large, it's designed for single man operation, as it was the proper driver (who also drives something called "Flying Scotsman") ended up operating the regulator with me doing the gear,  drain cocks and whistle when told.

The little engine really has to work as it goes up the hill to the clifftops. Sadly, the run was over all too soon and it's not a long way. Still, a fantastic run.

The next day, we were in the steam railway museum at Port Erin. It was quiet so I decided to have a go at driving "the cabbage" simulator.

"The cabbage" is the nickname applied by the local press to the lines new diesel. This machine has proved to be a lot of trouble and is currently wrapped up in the bus car park awaiting the return of its bogies. Apparently, the museum staff are always being asked if the simulator has broken down. 

For a fiver, this was 15 minutes good fun. The screen display is impressive, this is used as a training aid for real drivers when not in idiot mode, and you can recognise all the landmarks and stock. At the end of the series of instructed tests, you are given a score. I got 82% which is appearently very good for a first go. Sadly, accoring to the poster, this doesn't qualify me to drive a real locomotive. 

Anyway, enough about me. You want photos:


Saturday, August 05, 2017

Saturday Film club: Isle of Man steam

Shot from the signal box at Douglas station a week ago, the film shows CH Wood and Kissack departing the scene. You don't normally get to stand up here, but we were on a tour and my Dad decided he'd skip the signalling lecture in preference to watching trains in the station

Sea Lion simmering

A couple of days earlier, I grabbed a little bit of"action" as Sea Lion simmered before taking a train out on the Groudle Glen Railway.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Trackshack - Peel

While over on the Isle of Man, I took the chance to go and visit Trackshack, located on the Ramsey Road on the edge of Peel.

For most UK modellers, Trackshack are a mail-order outfit who offer keen prices and excellent customer service - I've been on the end of this and have seen similar comments from other customers posted of forums.

However, they stock both Bachmann and Peco products which means they must have a physical shop that people can walk in to from the street. That's the deal when you take on these two as both companies are keen supporters of the traditional reatil premise.

Anyway, what you find in the doors is the full range of Peco, Hornby, Bachmann and Graham Farish products plus Metcalf kits in OO and N, Gaugemaster products and Oxford Rail stock. For the garden scale modeller there is Accucraft plus R/C gear. The ranges are pretty incredible - there were several packets of the Peco stud contact strip. Seriously, who uses this stuff?

The upshot is, if you are looking for something from any of these ranges then Trackshack are worth a look.

Of course, this is really all about the website and chatting to owner Steve, a very friendly bloke, he suggests people browse the site, place an order and pick it up if they are passing. You can just turn up and pay though in the same way as any other model shop though.

Trackshack website

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Dioramas in NGW

Spotted in the August 2017 issue of Narrow Gauge World magazine is a short piece about the joys of micro layouts and diorama by editor Andrew Charman.

Obviously, this is my sort of thing but for added interest, most of the photos used to illustrate the piece are shots I took at the 7mm NG AGM a couple of months ago. He's even used the "Despicable Me" one!

In other magazine news, my Dad's YSD Derrick appears in the report on KMBC's surface warship day in the latest issue of Model Boats magazine. Sadly, it is credited as mine. Not sure he is too impressed...

(Yes, I know this is a short post. I'm just back from holiday and have people keen for me to do some work!)

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Warehouse Wednesday: Welshpool canal warehouse

Welshpool canal museum

Recovering some old photos the other day, I found this one taken at Welshpool back in 2010. 

Home to the Powysland Museum, the building is a genuine canal warehouse on the Montgomery Canal. The building was extensively restored in the 1980s, the work being very sensitively done as this photo from the Victorian Powys website shows.

Apart from that, I'm struggling to find much about the history of the building itself. At least this is a genuine warehouse, and a railway one at that. 

Loads of modelling potential - nice square building with stone-topped windows and no fancy brickwork. 

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Honking great big headlamp

The railbus roof should sport a great big headlight. If you are building the kit as intended, this is obtained from the Bachmann body. Sadly, it didn't come with my kit so I had to improvise.

Inspiration came from the book "Up Clear Creek on the Narrow Gauge" by Harry W.Brunk. On the cover is painting by the author and the steam loco sports a typical headlamp. Inside there are more photos for inspiration but this did the job for me.

Not having a suitable casting to hand, I loped the end from some tube using a plumbers tube cutter. Some thin brass was soldered over the back. The hood is a semicircle of the same brass marked with a pair of compasses and then cut out with scissors. It fits inside the tube. Not sure if this is how you are supposed to do it, but it works.

Support comes from more scrap U-channel. Once this was all soldered in place and to the roof, number boards (there's probably a correct name for these) were cut from U-section and superglued on the sides. Yes, soldering would be more macho but I suspected that all the heat would just make things fall apart again.

Not scale, but I think it looks the part.