Sunday, February 17, 2019

Doncaster 2019

Another Vlog - but this one's a bit longer and a little more polished because I made it for work. If you are signed up for the BRM Express newsletter, you'd have seen it a couple of days ago. Don't miss out, sign up now!

Anyway, lots of exciting footage behind the scenes at last weekends show.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Saturday Film Club: Boats, trains and firefighting in the Morris Gazette

Hat tip to Tim Dunn for highlighting this amazing film from the internalMorris engines film unit. 

We kick off with a couple of beautiful speedboats destined for export. Then an engineer who has converted an old Morris bullnose car into a locomotive. Then on to fire fighting with loads of industrial building shot. Next, a tiny shunting tractor operating in a wood yard. We finish with a welding barge in a dockyard. 

19 minutes well spent, I'll even put up with the adverts in the middle (you can click through these after 5 seconds) for saving and bringing this fascinating film to us.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Hanging on to old rolling stock

Last week, Chris Ford suggested that I'd never find a use for my O gauge rolling stock that had once worked Clayhanger Yard - and that I ought to follow him and de-clutter by disposing of some of it.

He's wrong. You see the stock wasn't built for Clayhanger, it was built because I like building little engines, and I really like building little engines in O gauge. In fact, I really like building O gauge models.

On this basis, I'm convinced that there is another O gauge layout in my future. Since I only like building the sort of layouts that are home to diminutive locos, then there is a very strong possibility that this is the type of model I'll be building. I really can't see myself going for anything involving big locos.

However, in my cupboard, I do have quite a bit of stock for our layout Melbridge Town. The one we never finished because both my Dad and I got bored building it.

All of this was designed for a secondary mainline. There are big(ish) locomotives and even some bogie coaches including a twin-art set. What should I do with these?

I certainly can't see me building anything that could make use of them. I learnt a lesson with this layout, no big roundy-roundys for me. To be honest, I'm not even that fussed watching the things at a show, regular readers will have spotted that I'm normally to be found at the smaller and more interesting area of any event, pouring over a model small enough for the back seat of a car.

Heck, as Mr Ford was writing, I was standing behind his old layout The Art of Compromise and singing the praises of modest layout modelling.

The trouble is, what do I do with the stock? Much of it is detailed RTR from the 1990s. No-one wants this stuff now, they have newer and shinier boxes of more detailed models.

Take my Class 24 above. Converted from a Hornby Class 25 and fitted with Ultrascale wheels, it was OK for its day, but you can now buy better RTR. The reasons I care about this model are nothing to do with prototype fidelity, and everything to do with having several hours of my life invested in it.

So, I do have many models with no real purpose. I suppose I should just chuck them in the bin and declutter, but I'm stupidly attached to them.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Springfield Line in the March Garden Rail

It's a real joy for any editor to receive an article with so many superb photos that it's a case of grudgingly having to leave some out rather than losing the out of focus or badly exposed ones.

David Mercer's Springfield Line ticked all the right boxes. Superb locos and rolling stock inspired by the owner's travels around the world. Photos were taken on a summers day. Some intriguing views such as under a station canopy. It's a really good looking piece.

There's plenty of building too - including a canal system. Well, railways and canals often appear together in real life, so why not in the garden? 

Full content listing and extra photos of the Springfierld Line on RMweb. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Warehouse Wednesday: Bandstand restoration

Leamington bandstand under restoration

Work progresses on the bandstand in the middle of the Pump Room Gardens in Leamington Spa. 

This fine, cast-iron structure has looked very much the worse for wear over the last few years but is now recieving the care and attention is needs. 

Of course, I don't really think many people want to build a bandstand, nor that this picture will be of much help to them. I just thought it was a good chance to show this interesting video of some of the work being carried out. Got to love all that hot metal being splashed around!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Chunky key switches

I've got a shoebox full of chunky electronics. Mainly, proper industrial multi-pin plugs and sockets as big as your hand, but I'm not averse to switchgear too.

My thinking is this lot is easier to wire up than the modern, and not so modern, computer versions with terminals within millimetres of each other. Pokeing a wide soldering iron bit in between them isn't fun to my mind.

No idea quite what these key switches will do, but I fancy building them into a control panel. I suspect they are of telecoms original, but I'm sure a reader will be able to fill me in.

Each is sprung loaded and depending on the colour of the middle plastic bit, will either latch or spring back. Some latch in one direction and spring in the other. Modifying the middle coloured nylon spike should change this characteristic as latching in both directions will be more use for point control - my first thought for future use.

While buying switches, I also picked this up for pennies.

 It's a neat push-button unit for point control, but I just like the name. How many firms used "Acme" and which episode of the Roadrunner cartoon was this in?

Monday, February 11, 2019

BK Enterprises point parts

One of the "bargainz" picked up from Stafford was a pair of points from BK Enterprises in the USA.

Now to me, these are pre-built points designed for spiking to wooden sleepers. The rails are held in place with metal strips tack soldered on the top surface - one of mine has come adrift but it's not a problem. The frog and check rails seem to be secured with generous washes of solder underneath. A tiebar is fitted, but otherwise, it's up to the modeller to add "ties".

Amazingly, these appear to still be available - now from Trout Creek Engineering. I got a bargain too, only paying £4 for the pair!

My thinking is that these go in the On30 box. I know they are supposed to be HO, but that's just the gauge - I can put wider sleepers in myself and I have the Peco track spikes.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Stafford 2019


No Vlogging this week, we are back to nice, static photos to show a few gems from the reliably excellent Stafford show.

Top of the blog is Todmorden Midland, one of the best N gauge layout's I've ever seen. Not a big model by any means, I like the colour and life in the scene. There's loads of detail to appeal to me. Trains move too which is a bonus, but I was happy just to explore the scene with my eyes.

Albion Estates Railway

At the other end of the scale (pun intended) is the Albion Estates railway. 1/12th scale running on 32mm gauge track. A nice combination allowing for a modest size model, 12ft long including fiddle yard, but plenty of detail. Much of this comes from the dolls house world, so isn't even that hard to do. Locos and rolling stock are scratchbuilt on cheapo track-powered O gauge chassis.

Kyle of Lochalsh

The programme's front cover featured possibly the tiniest model in the show - Kyle of Lochalsh in N gauge. If you have no space, this 2ft(ish) by 6inch(ish) model doesn't have masses of operation potential, but it's a pretty good representation of the current real station and certainly looks the part.


Baragin hunting is a big part, for me, of Stafford. The guys on the second hand stall recognise me and this year I hovered up four Zero One chips at 50p each and some chunky key switches from the 1970s (I think) that I have no use for, but will add to my chunky electrical bits box.

Country Park models also take a bit of money (cash, no mobile signal at Stafford means unreliable PDQ machines unless they get the WiFi passord) from me, but I want to look at these in a future post. 

There was of course lots and lots of chat, a delicious sausage bap when I got there and was waiting for the queue to filter in a bit, more excellent chilli and rice plus a small slice of cake.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Saturday Film Club: LNER Garratt

Nothing needs to be said, other than if I've shared this one already then I'm sorry. But only a little bit - what a locomotive!

Friday, February 08, 2019

Off to Doncaster

The graphic says it all. I'm off to soggy Doncaster this weekend. "The Art of Compromise" layout will be in the car, as will a load of Cake Box models.

The BRM stand will be just inside the door and we are promised Campbell's Quarry along with some new, and mahoosive models from Mr Campbell.

Do come and say hello. 

More on The Festival of British Railway Modelling website.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Clayhanger Yard

Clayhanger Yard

What's your modelling dream? 

Mine is to have a room big enough that all the layouts I've ever built can be set up at once. We aren't talking a barn here, the ones I have are all 10ft or under in length. At the moment they live packed up in a storage unit, but it would be nice to see them working again. 

I pondered this as I made a rare purchase of a lottery ticket - I only buy when the prize is over £100m as I can't be bothered with fiddling small change. 

Anyway, that got me thinking about the layouts I don't own any more, and especially Clayhanger Yard, my only completed 7mm scale model. It found a new home years ago, but I dug out a photo, added some sky and bring it to you today. 

I still have all the stock...

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Warehouse Wednesday: Modern rail bridge

Rail bridge

Strolling as a break from my screen, I spotted this bridge not a million miles away from where I live. 

On the top is a double-track mainline railway, the Birmingham to London line. The other side of the bridge is a farm that I recall from my Ministry of Agriculture days as belonging to a pig-keeper called Mr Hoare. This side there is a very newly built housing estate. 

As a prototype, it's got a lot going for it. No complicated brickwork for the arch for a start. Some scribed plastic painted concrete colour and weathered would do the job. Looking at the modular construction, I'd say this could be extended to a 4-track line too or possibly reduced for single-track. 

Tuesday, February 05, 2019


If you've read the March 2019 issue of BRM, you'll have spotted that I have borrowed a 3D printer to play around with.

While I am doing some proper model railway type jobs, I couldn't resist using some spare filament to satisfy my desire for the little cartoon boat model spotted everywhere at a 3D print show.

I had wondered why it was so common on every stand but quickly discovered the boat is #3DBenchy - a freely available model for testing and comparing printers. You can download the data from the official #3DBenchy website

Of course, I did this, then re-sized it to 4cm long as I didn't want to use too much lovely orange PLA. I fired up the printer and off it went.

A couple of hours later, the result wasn't quite what I expected. There's an awful lot of support material required for the model. Breaking this away is a bit fiddly and time-consuming, but with a bit of brute force and ignorance with small pairs of pliers, a little model appeared.

 I love the design of this little model. The thing is, I'd always wondered if it were possible to build it big enough to sail. It seems I'm not the first person to think this and there is a design for radio-control on the Thingiverse. There's also a load of 3DBenchy variations. I think I'm going to need some more filament...

Monday, February 04, 2019

Quick odd books by post

The Interweb is awash with people moaning about service, so here's a bit of positive news.

Photographing Steve Bell's layout "Waltham Wharf", we chatted about the prototype that inspired it - the Royal Gunpowder Factory.

Steve lent me a copy of Industrial Railway Record 117 which covers the line in great detail. There were a couple of plans inside I fancied scanning and I wanted to read the article properly.

Working through the booklet, I realised that I fancied hanging on to a copy, so searched the web looking for a back-number, but not expecting to find much.

My search took me to Linder Tinker Books. A quick 'phone call (the site doesn't allow you to specify which issue you require) and the booklet was on its way, arriving packed in a really good card envelope the next day. Superb service!

Look out for Waltham Wharf in the Spring issue of BRM

Sunday, February 03, 2019

London Toy Fair 2019

Another Vlog? I am truly turning in to the new Zoella

Actually, it's another rough and ready video using footage I shot when not doing proper work at the London Toy Fair a couple of weeks ago. There wasn't much spare time (I spent over two hours on the Oxford stand!) so extra shots were limited. Still, I hope it gives you a little flavour of the event. 

A few photos:

 There will be a Playpeople film this year. 

 Revell's ever-expanding junior plastic kit range looks really great - and is a pretty good match for garden railway scales too. 

The Buder range of vehicles is brilliant, reasonably priced, and at 1:16, just a little too big for garden scales (16mm is 1:19) otherwise I'd be all over it. 

Corgi has a new range - I think they are called "Chunkies" of diecast toys designed for play and not old men to collect. 

Your careers teacher doesn't mention every job you could end up doing. 

Someone, somewhere, in a meeting, said, "You know what would make owls better - sequins!"

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Saturday Film Club: Making slot cars

Interesting film on making slot cars. A lot of the processes are the same as used to make model railways - including the one that looks a lot like silk screen printing, because it IS silk screen printing!

Oh, and although the commentary says "Scalextric" but the boxes sat Carrera. 

Friday, February 01, 2019

Retro fashion wear for nerdy types

For once in my life, I might be being cool. You see, I've just bought a retro rucksack.

Unsurprisingly, it's a Beatties bag, but doesn't it have a hint of the oh so fashionable retro look?

It's actually quite a good bag. The capacity is generous, I'd estimate 35 litres based on my workaday bag. The material is a bit nylony but the shape would accommodate a decent sized box, or boxes of kits.

The straps are the only bit that lets it down - cheap webbing - but that's what we wore in the good old days...