Sunday, May 20, 2018

Doncaster Model Engineering show 2018

Foden steam lorry

Finding myself needing to make a trip to Doncaster, I managed to arrange this for the same date as the first day of the ME show. Well, they are less than 10 miles from my appointment, so even though it's no longer an essential visit, why not?

The show is held at the racecourse which means the light isn't great for photography and so many of my pictures aren't great. There are a few though and certainly the exhibits were well worth a look.

1/32nd tractor

I did have the chance to chat with Garden Rail advertisers KM1 and enjoy another look at their terrific Gauge One layout. The whole stand is incredibly professional and should give many UK traders pause for thought. Even if you don't like foreign prototypes, it's worth a look just to see what large scale RTR can look like.

Shrimp boat

Being a multi-disciplinary show, there were plenty of boats ans planes. This lobster fishing craft is a work of art, absolutely choc full of detail and beautifully modelled.

On the aircraft front, I had a go on a radio control 'plane simulator. After 7 broken models, I managed to get one back on the ground in one piece, confirming that some hobbies are just not for me!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Saturday Film Club: The Great British Train Show 2018

If you want to see the show I travelled all the way to Canada to attend, here it is in this rather well made video. 

For added bonus excitement, you even find a short piece from me at the end of it. Don't worry, you can switch off before you get to that bit...

Friday, May 18, 2018

To boldly go where no bag has gone...

The Beatties carrier bags keep appearing - this time I've bagged one with a picture of the Starship Enterprise on the front.

Since this is the version from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, I'd say this dates from very early 1980s, making it nearly 40 years old! No complaints from me, as this is my favourite version of the venerable spacecraft. A bit slicker than the original but not completely messed with. (We will never mention the version in Enterprise although the dictionary does in the entry for "fuggly")

The back of the bag has an advert for Energiser batteries, which I think you can still get, so a long-running brand name. 

Incidentally, if you think I have the largest collection of these bags, you'd be wrong. I understand that a portfolio of the complete set exists somewhere in Leicestershire...

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Garden Rail - June 2018

We've gone big this month in Garden Rail. OK, so big is generally what we do, but the cover is dominated by a 7/8th scale brake van so larger than G or 16mm. It's a nice resin kit from Model Earth Design, easy to build but Steph' has added her own personalised touches to give the model even more character. 

Inside, we have the unique (unless anyone knows differently) Gauge 2 3-rail tinplate Smoghampton & Greenhills Railway.

There's also plenty of wagon building including a piece on mass-producing small models for those who need a lot of rolling stock.

Garden Rail Magazine.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Warehouse Wednesday: L&NWR Mile Post

Very much not a warehouse, I recently had the chance to look at some original London & North Western Railway plans. Most would be too large for a blog post, but I liked the look of this milepost.

Not a big detail, but an important one. Shouldn't be too difficult to model either with some 2mm square plastic rod and a bit of sheet for the top. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Bungalow built

Bungalow finished. For a kit older than Methuselah, it doesn't come up badly.

Apart from the windows, the kit is pretty much built as supplied. Note the curtains by the way, coloured paper cut from old magazines. A door knocker has been added but photographed badly, you'll have to trust it looks better in real life.

One day, I'll set this in a layout set in the classic BR steam/diesel period. When I do, a honking great big TV areal will be added from wire, not the plastic version supplied with the kit.

As a quickie project, this has been great fun. I've tried out a few techniques, some of this will transfer to other work. That's the point of doing this sort of model. You aren't that fussed about producing a perfect result, just having fun making things.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Glazing without pane

Flush glazed windows always look better than those where the front of the frames are 6 scale inches from the sheet of plastic stuck behind them. I know this is easier, but then doing it properly isn't too hard.

The trick is to use Micro Kristal Klear (Yes, that is how you spell it. Americans). It's a high quality, clear drying PVA style liquid designed for plastic plane modelers. The idea is that you take a drop on the end of a cocktail stick, waggle it around the edges of your window and then form a skin covering the hole. The liquid then dries clear (ish) and looks like glass.

If you need to fill a bigger hole, the you need a bigger waggling stick. A small screwdriver is enough for the Dapol windows.

For best results, use as little Klear as possible, that way the meniscus doesn't curl up the edges too much. With practise, once the gap is filled, rotating a small screwdriver in the pool will allow you to pull out some Klear.

When glazing large areas, it's important to let the pane dry horizontally. If you don't, the liquid runs and the bottom ends up thicker than the top.

Mistakes are easily rectified as the rubbery dry skin can be peeled away from plastic cleanly once set, then you try again.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Souvenirs of Canada

OK, I'm back from Canada and the rules of the Interweb say I must post pictures of stuff I bought. Here we go...

From the top, assume HO scale unless I say otherwise:
  • Sylvan resin kit for a Mercury half ton pickup - Looks interesting and I was fascinated by the road vehicles I saw.
  • Yeti - I've never seen one for sale in a model shop before.
  • Triang CN caboose - I wanted something made in Britain but of a Canadian prototype. And it's bright orange.
  • Triang Giraffe car (OO) - Sooo cheap. Less than a tenner of UK money!
  • Walthers Trainline GP9M loco - I saw locos that looked a bit like this operating and this one was priced at just under 30 pounds.
  • Bar Mills "Sweaty Betty's" dinner kit - It just looks fun.
  • Walthers Cornerstone Lakeshore coal & ice shed kit - I have a feeling that this is the sort of building that might prove useful on a UK or US based layout one day. I like laser-cut kits too. 
Most of these will become blog projects eventually but for the moment, they will join the ones left over from my Australia trip. It might seem silly to buy this stuff, but I didn't want shirts with maple leaves on them, or maple syrup or any other tat. I'll build the kits one day and remember my trip.

Of course, I did come back with some other stuff.

The CN Tower is a proper railway building and so once I'd been up it, the mug was a given. The cuddly tower keyring is just the most bizarre thing I've ever seen.

The CN torch and screwdriver set and duck come from the Toronoto Railway Museum - a group so friendly they took me behind the scenes so I determined to come away with plenty of stuff from the little gift shop.

And the pencil, well one maple leaf thing is OK.

There's also a T-shirt from Credit Valley Railway and a lumberjack shirt.

And yes, there will be more Canada posts to come. I'll try to spread them out a bit as no-one wants to be bored by anyone's holiday slides. However, my photos are really interesting and you can see them here!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Saturday film club: Making destination blinds

A couple of films today - both showing how bus (and presumably train) destination blinds are made. 

The first is a relatively modern set-up, although presumably even this is old-fashioned as buses are fitted with more flexible electronic signs. Even Leamington buses are sporting these, apart from the tiny bus still proclaiming it is going to "Windimere". 

Interesting silk-screen printing process and some fascinating equipment on show. 

Heading back to 1952, we see how London Transport used to do it, complete with jaunty music score. Back in those days, 50,000 blinds were in use in the capital!

To be honest, the technology hasn't changed that much between the two films, although the later version has somewhat more sophisticated devices for the driver to change the destination.

Friday, May 11, 2018

My first modelling knife

File this one under "Tools, I had forgotten were still available."

These disposable knives from Stanley are the very same tools that introduced me to model making many, many years ago.

Given one of these and a big bag of balsa wood offcuts by my Dad, I proceeded to hack and glue away - leading me to the work I do today.

I picked this pack up for a quid - yes a single English pound - from a stand at the model engineering show a few months ago. How can they be made so cheaply?

Mind you, young Phil would have picked up the bad habit of using a blade well past it's best before date. I'm pretty certain I was only given one knife. But then balsa is pretty soft.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Shearing crank pins no cause for panic

I've recently built a kit using the solderless Markits crank pin system. I think these used to be markets as the "deluxe" version and they are a nice bit of kit.

The crank pin is threaded so the retaining nut screws into place. Larger holes are required in the rods than for the soldered version I'm more familiar with, and this is where I came unstuck.

Screwing the nuts in place on one side of the loco, I sheared two of the pins. Bit of a panic as of course I don't have spares, nor time to buy some mail order.

Measuring the pins, I decided I had nothing to lose by running a 1mm drill bit through the nuts so they would fit on to the standard crank pins. This worked a treat, a touch of solder retaining them in the time-honoured fashion. A little dirt on the finished model and no-one will be able to tell.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Warehouse wednesday: Canada Malting

Canada Malting

Wandering along Toronto's waterfront to try the worlds shortest ferry ride, I trip over this building, fenced off and derelict.

According to Wikipedia, they were built in 1928 and a very early example of non-flammable concrete silos rather than wooden ones. They are 120 feet high. 

In the UK, I'm sure someone would have snapped these up years ago for conversion into waterfront apartments. The Canadians seem slower at this, but then they are thinking museum, which would be much nicer. Mind you, with all the rusty mechanical bits, I think they have a charm of their own as they stand.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Roof and wall painting without brushes

Normally, we try to achieve and perfectly smooth paint finish on our models. Well, that would be wrong for this bungalow. The walls are rendered and should have some slight texture.

There is a little roughness provided by the pattern-maker in the kit parts, but it seemed a bit random, possibly the result of the age of the moulds. I wanted more.

So, instead of brushes, I painted a base coat of pale cream on by splodging paint with a dense piece of sponge from some leftover packaging. Before it dried, a bit of Precision paint concrete went on too. Once dry, there is texture, but not much, which is the effect I'm looking for.

The roof is tricky and I'm still not sure I'm there, but it's near enough for this model. Aiming for a cast tile effect, I started with a biscuit colour and used a couple of shades of brown. Initially I dry-brushed but eventually decided the sponge works better.

The result looks a bit less biscuit in real life compared to the photo, and not a million miles away from the houses I can see from my office window. They are a bit redder, so perhaps some marronish paint in future? Ideally applied while the other stuff is still wet so it all blends.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Improving Airfix windows

One aspect of Airfix building kits that really bugs me are the terrible window mouldings provided. Great big slabs of things you are supposed to hang on the outside of the model. They look (IMHO) terrible. Certainly not good enough for my model bungalow.

Fortunately, the solution is simple - spin the plastic part around and fit it inside the model. Then add a length of cill using some 1.5mm or smaller plastic strip.  OK, the "back" of the moulding will benefit from a light sand to remove the marks and flash, but that's a very quick piece of work for the results.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

The Great British Train Show

The Rapido stand

Note: I'm writing this sat in Toronto airport while my flight is repeatedly delayed, using the iffy Wi-Fi. It's 9:50 local time, I was due to fly at 11 and am very tired. Sorry for typos.

3700 miles. To take part in a show held on an ice hockey pitch. Well, it is Canada after all. Where else would you hold it?

Didsbury Green was set up as part of the Rapido trains stand and promptly embarrassed me by not working. Despite successful tests in the hotel room a couple of days earlier, the controller wasn't playing and I didn't get it fixed until the Sunday. However, that's for the write up in BRM, let's talk about the show itself.

Crowsnest Tramway

Once I'd reached the "wandering around" stage of Friday night, I got a real surprise - one of the layouts I've always wanted to see, Roy Link's Crowsnest Tramway, was on display. Not only the O14 version, but the rolling stock and building for the unfinished 16mm scale version too.

As an operating model, the layout is a bit lacking, but then that's very much my sort of layout as regular readers will know. Of course this makes Crowsnest the layout I'd like to build from this event too.

Trix twin

Despite the distance from Blightly, the whole show could have been dropped into any UK town without anything looking out of place. The layouts were pretty good with models in 4 and 7mm including EM and P4 - working in the finer scales must be really tough in the land of HO!

Trade wasn't so hot, but only because the usual suspects can't afford to take the trip across the Atlantic. There was a good selection of local suppliers focusing on the UK prototype and while these might have been a bit heavy on the "pre-owned" rolling stock selection, many UK shows would be pleased to have all of them. I certainly found ways to spend money. In fact, only the thought of shipping larger boxes back slowed me down. If you are a Tri-ang collector, there were bargains to be had with several Canuck specific sets on sale for very modest sums. Most left pretty early on Saturday though.

Triang Canadian train set

With my Garden Rail hat on, I enjoyed the large scale test track. The volume's venue allowed any steam to dissipate too. We weren't that far away and couldn't smell a thing.

78th Bagnall

The biggest surprise were the opening times. 10 to 4 on Saturday and 10 to 3 on Sunday. I'm sure we could have managed another hour on both, although we did have to load a full-size Tardis onto the lorry at the end, and it wasn't as easy as you might think. There were people around at the end, numbers were OK and the organisers seemed happy enough.

The Great British Train Show setup

I didn't notice the time as most of the Saturday flew by full of chat and banter. At least a dozen people over the weekend recognised me from either the magazine or even this blog. If one of those was you, thanks for dropping by and saying hello. I was slightly concerned about popping up at a foreign show and expecting people to know who I am. As it was, some did and those that didn't were (like all Canadians) very friendly and happy to chat.

Food - burgers and hot dogs cooked and served outside by a team braving the cold. Inside, there was cake and coffee in one of the dressing rooms. I managed to stay healthy, apart from one slice on the second day. Well, it was only polite and part of the Canadian experience.


By the end of the weekend, we were all tired, but happy. Didsbury Green now has a new owner - he was even good enough to come and collect the model on the Sunday. Handy, as I could explain how things should be plugged it, and get a photo for the mag.

Overall, a really nice event. Much like a friendly, local show, but further away - for me at least. Maybe I wouldn't normally go, but if you lived within sensible travelling distance, you'd be daft to miss it.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Saturday film club: Back to the future

What is the future of railway modelling?

Dunno. But if you type this into the YouTube search engine, you are reminded that in the film Back to the Future 3, there is a sequence involving the DeLorean time machine being pushed along by a steam train. And lots of modellers seem to want to replicate it on their layouts!

Friday, May 04, 2018

Book review: The Model-railway men by Ray Pope

Publisher: MacDonald & Co.

SBN: 356-03260-47

A5 hardback

95 Pages

£0.15 (in 1970) 

Ray Pope, who teaches at a high school, in Wiltshire, used to run a toy shop with a model railway department and has his own layout at home.

With this in mind, he wrote a book for children

The story revolves around Mark, a young boy, who discovers that some of the people on his model railway in the attic are alive. For educational reasons, all the men are named after famous engineers.

I was reminded a little of The Borrowers, another tale of micro people living amongst us. In that book, they didn't try to educate a young lad on the finer points of running a railway - sometimes even when he really doesn't want to care.

Mark is lucky in that the little people gradually improve his railway, and are entertainingly sniffy about some typical model railway compromises such as sharp pointwork at the bottom of gradients, locos running at faster than scale speeds and operations that are designed for fun rather than efficiency.

My one niggle was the sense of scale. First indications of the presence of people is a pullover found on the platform. In OO, this would be miniscule! Later on, the womenfolk are delighted to be given access to scraps of material for making new clothes. Surely this would be far too coarse for them to sew?

Published in 1970, this is an interesting period piece. It's a very conventional middle-class family for the time. Of course mum has a bag full of material scraps and doesn't go to work.

Some of the chapters reminded me of my childhood - such as setting up a buzzer system with the cable going down the outside of the house and in through a window.

Interesting book, that could still be read to a toy-train man youngster today without seeming too dated.  And who hasn't wondered what would happen if our miniature people came alive? 

Update: The book has been re-released and is available from the Talyllyn shop.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Finding old magazines

A couple of days ago, I mentioned looking something up in an old magazine. That's easy if you belong to a model railway club with a fine large library, but what if you don't, or your club hasn't built up a collection of useful research material?

My Dad was recently looking for the article to accompany a model boat plan he has in his collection. According to the drawing, the September 1994 issue of Marine Modelling was required, but our club doesn't have back numbers like that. Worse, the chances of finding anything at a show is very remote.

Internet to the rescue!

Visiting the Magazine  Exchange website, I located the issue. Paid for it via PayPal and a couple of days later, he could relax with a cup of tea and read about model boats from before the turn of the century. Excellent service!

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Warehouse Wednesday: 2 aspect signals

A recent addition to platform 3 at Leamington Spa station is this pair of 2-aspect signals. Situated quite a way from the end of the platform, they are interesting in that we see a lot of "accoutrements" appearing with them that modern image modellers will need to take notice of.

A gate stops people wandering past the signal, but if they do, then a metal plate locked to the later is supposed to stop them climbing up.

Either side of the gate are raised pyramids made of a hard rubber, presumably to dissuade anyone from walking around the fence.

The signal is mounted on a post, but unlike on model railways, this doesn't go into the platform. Instead, it's supported on 4 bolts giving it the appearance of hovering in mid-air. 

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Guest, Keen & Nettleford 0-4-0

The last Hornby 0-4-0 detailing project I carried out started with me picking, what I thought was, the least realistic option from our pile of subscription gifts. To my eye, the boiler is too large and the coal bunker little more than vestigial.

"It must be made up to fit the standard chassis" was my opinion. Nonetheless, the model is a pretty colour so I gave it a light working over.

A few weeks later, in an industrial loco group on  Facebook, there is a prototype photo that looks a lot like the model. The poster points people at the September 1957 issue of Model Railway Constructor.

Picking up a copy from my club, there it is. We even get a plan!

OK, the proportions have been altered to fit the chassis, but the bunker is barely there and those odd vents on the cab roof are real. This is still an odd-looking locomotive, but at least one grounded in reality.