Friday, November 15, 2019

Book Review: "OO" Minature Railways Handbook and Guide 1953/54

If you believed in Father Christmas back in 1953, you'd have been hoping for a train set. Back in those days, RTR was new, exciting and incompatible. No problem as GH Lake has produced this handy 24-page booklet trying to help. 

Inside there is a brief history of OO followed by a listing of the Principle British Periodicals dealing exclusively with railway modelling. 

Next, there is a run-down of the various producers of fixed track systems - Hornby-Dublo, Trix, Tri-ang, Rivarossi and then the same for flexible track formations; Graham Farish. We then look at pickup systems: Tree-rail, Two rail and stud contact. None of this is exhaustive with only a couple of paragraphs for each. Two pages cover the interchangeability of various OO-gauge tracks. 

By page 10 we start to get useful numbers showing the BRMSB standards followed by details of where to fit studs for that contact system. 

Page 18 lists the Principle Suppliers of OO-gauge equipment. It's not a long list with 16 entries but includes such names as Peco, Romford, CCW and one I'd not heard of: Bradshaw Model Railway Products. 

Finally a quick Q&A and then a few pages of adverts. 

The book came from Kanga Models in Colonade Passage in Birmingham. The passage itself was demolished in 1961, but a little digging on the web tells me that the shop was run by a Mrs McQueen. and eventually moved into Burlington Passage, just around the corner from the Ian Allan shop (RIP). They appear to have been a general model shop as I've found adverts for Kanga Aerodrome as well. 

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Glendale Rocket and light up station furniture on Garden Rail

The festive issue of Garden Rail hits the shops today. This means a light-up tree on the front cover and the designer insisting on my manic looking Elf-hat wearing headshot on the Editorial page. 

I suppose you might find the largest Product News section for a while useful if hinting about presents, there are a lot of options. Even with 6 pages, we held some over to the next issue and shoehorned the rest in. 

I'm particularly pleased to have a piece on motorising the Glendale Rocket in. Many modellers have a plastic Postman Pat loco on the shelf, but not know what to do to make the thing work. It turns out the job is easier than you might expect. 

Illuminating your station platform also turns out to be simple, if you follow the ingenious techniques described on the page. Another project beckons. Mind you, there are a couple more in here that also tempt me. That's the trouble with this job, so much you'd like to do and so little time!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Waterborne Wednesday: Sydney Ferry


My subject this week is Michael Portillo's fault. Watching his latest series of railway journeys through Australia, I caught the Sydney one and he ends up at Circular Quay. That's where I stayed a few years ago on my trip and while there, made much use of the local ferries. 

These catamaran boats zip in and out of the various quaysides all day and fascinated me. The locals treat them as buses and this translates into some very slick sailing. Boats nose into a berth and then back out again just as fast to head to the next stop. 

In my pile of souvenirs is a card kit to build this boat - something firmly on the "one-day" pile. I'd love to build a larger RC version too, although there is a lot of detail to add to bring it alive and the tricky hull to build...

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

J72 Brake gear

Time for some sacrilege.

I don't think the brakes on this J72 chassis are very good.

For a start, when hung, I don't think the centres of the brake blocks are a good match for the centres of the wheels. The pull rods aren't long enough by quite a long way either. I bodged them with some scrap fret and they look OK to those who know no better, and fine to those of us not that bothered because you can't see properly when the loco is on it's wheels.

Finally, the brackets at the top of the hangers are designed for the wider EM and P4 chassis, and therefore too short for OO. Maybe someone decided that OO modellers wouldn't care? Another bodge, this time with bits of Microstrip.

It will all look fine with paint, but unless I've screwed up (perfectly possible) this isn't as good as the finescale maffia would claim it to be. Still, paint and dirt will hide a multitude of sins and I quite enjoyed the remedial work.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Pendon and the Madder Valley

Gammon Worthy Halt

A few weeks ago, RMweb Gold members were invited to a special private event at Pendon.

We were given tours of the main scenes which included a trip inside the Vale scene and plenty of time for photography with the protective glass folded down out of the way.

I was a bit cheeky and also managed to get myself inside the Madder Valley display where I bagged a few photos from angles you can't normally get to - a terrific way to appreciate the modelling and inspire me to get the cardboard out and have a go myself!

WTC Loco

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Wycrail 2019

Svanda diesel

In an effort to limit my cake intake, I decided that the number of slices consumed would be the same as the number of Norwiegen layouts found at Wycrail.

So that's two then. Who would have expected Norway to be so popular?

The show was great fun. OK, it was chucking it down and England were losing at Rugby, but I enjoyed myself because I travelled by train and then a vintage bus. Far nicer than fighting my way down the motorway in all that spray.

Brian Macdermott met me and we took a quick first look around the event. It's on two floors with plenty of space to move around. Then I took a cake (chocolate) break followed by a slower mooch.

Ealing prop

This wasn't a work trip, and yes it is sad that on a day off I end up at a model railway show, but then I still enjoy chatting to people such as Chris Ford (who hasn't posted the selfie yet), Jerry Freestone and the chaps from Missenden.  

One highlight was the tramway Upper Oreful Street, a rare beast as most tram layouts look, erm, old fashioned. Cracking shop window displays. It's the sort of tram layout I would build if I built a tramway layout. 

Another highlight was chatting to a model engineer about baking cakes and the merits of sponge while I consumed the second slice...

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Saturday Film Club: Kitlands Light Railway

The video quality is terrible, but it's still worth a look as this must surely be the miniature railway with the tightest curves - 6ft radius. It's all completely mad, and would make a fun project in 1:12 scale...

(Thanks to Nigel Hill for spotting this one)

Friday, November 08, 2019

The Great British Model Railway Show this weekend

Today I'm busy packing up some models for display at the Great British Model Railway Show taking place at Gaydon this weekend.

I'll be bringing along most of the projects I've built for the Hornby Collectors Club magazine plus a few extras and will be hanging around with my modelling board to chat toy trains to anyone who'll listen.

Drop in and say hello - the GBMRS website is here.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Billy roundup in BRM

It's a quiet month for me in the December issue of BRM. My only contribution is a roundup of the Billy Bookcase project where I explain what went right, and what went wrong...

That's not to say that I've been entirely idle, a couple of other features owe a lot to me but it seems most of the fun has been had in the office this time with a Christmas layout being built. And me with an elf hat too!

There's a bit of discussion on this issue over on RMweb.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Waterborne Wednesday: Discovery Rose

Survey boat

The Discovery Rose, pictured in Cornwall, is a dredger according to the Marine Traffic website. I'm not convinced!

She is apparently 19 metres long, which looks about right, and IMHO would make a very nice model. There is deck detail but not too much so she'd be something you worried about carrying to the lakeside.

The thing that really interests me in this photo is the loading chute to the right hand side. I wonder how old that is and what it was used for?

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Motor in

Even I can't go wrong assembling a High-Level models gearbox. I soldered the main parts up OK. Put the bearing in. Cleaned it all up in the sink and then filed the top hast back flush with the gearbox sides - they won't fit in a OO chassis if you don't do this. You also need to shorten the shafts for the intermediate gears which is a bit more of a faff.

Incidentally, the rods can be cut with the piercing saw, you don't need a carbodium disk as the instructions say. I prefer then hand tool for this job. It seems more natural and controllable. That might just be me being weird though.

With all the gears in, a smear of superglue over the outside ends of the shafts holds them in place while the gearbox is inserted into the chassis. Just the final gear on the axle to line up.

At which point I realised I've put the intermediate gear on the wrong side of the upper one. After much muttering, I manage to extract the shaft and correct this. Pay attention Parker!

Anyway, back together and with a dot of superglue holding the brass final gear on the axle and all runs sweetly, even on H&M Clipper power. Driving the centre axle isn't what the chassis instructions suggest, they point you at the rear but then assume a compensated chassis, but I prefer it for a more balanced drive. You still can't see the drive system with the body on so that's OK then.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Wheels in the chassis

I love the Hobby Holidays chassis jig. The wheels were fitted to the chassis, rods fitted to the wheels, and it runs smoothly when pushed around first time. I can't remember the last time I was able to say that.

The only hiccup along the way was losing the little bits of insulation I use to hold the rods in place until I'm happy. I'll trade 5 minutes making some more of those for a working chassis any day.

I was so happy, I test fitted the chassis to the body. It's supposed to clip in at the back and be retained at the front by a single screw. Rice (who designed this chassis) recommends this in one of his books as it avoids twisting things, something you might get by overtightening a bolt at each end. It also makes removal quicker.

I needed to remove a plastic pin beside the front screw hole on the body, but once done, the chassis sits where it's supposed to.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Exeter Garden Rail show 2019


A slow start to this years Exeter show. For a start, England were beating the All Blacks at Rugby, and the wet and windy weather wasn't conducive to queuing in the car park. I left it ten minutes before joining. Thankfully, the door team were on fire and we allowed in quickly.

Inside there were plenty of layouts to watch, including a couple of small models that have inspired me a bit, and loads to buy. The second-hand stall was as full as ever but I decided that if I wandered around for a bit instead of joining the scrum, I'd see more. I was right. Mind you, cash was still spent later in the day!

I shot a bit of video showing a few trains running too.

Slow start or not, this was as ever, an excellent show. I chatted a lot, enjoyed a good lunch and left pretty much as chucking out time!

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Saturday Film Club: Kings Cross and Cameden town in the 1950s

Excellent filming and a fascinating subject, this look at the Kings Cross area appears to have been largely shot from the top of St Pancras station.

There's plenty of architecture action at the start. Loads for roof nerds to get excited about. Later on, we are on the platforms watching trains. It's all a world I never know and would love to have the chance to experience for a day, especially if I could taka modern camera!

Friday, November 01, 2019

Book Review: Plastikard Handbook

Dating from 1971, this 9th Edition of Slater's booklet on Plastikard is both instruction manual and catalogue. While the prices may be useless now, there's still a lot of helpful information in the 24-page pamphlet.

Despite being a veteran Plastikard wrangler, I learn:
  • Mek-Pak brushes are made from sable with a small amount of Ox Ear hair for strength. 
  • Plastikard can be rendered mouldable by heating it to at least 100 degrees C. There are instructions on forming tubes for boilers and press-moudling parts. 
  • Holding a lit cigarete next to a piece of Plastikard allows you to bend it around the corner of a piece of wood, forming a neat L-section. Burning a bit of string apparently works well too. 
  • Slater's "Huminitures" are recognised the world over as the standard of perfection (maybe it was 1971, or maybe just the same hyperbole found throughout the book).
  • Slater's make (or made) Green Flox (For Grass). This sounds like a flock powder but there was also a grass paper. 

There are mentions of other long lost products too. Plastic pipe fittings would be useful, as would the grid system of notched plastic square rods for making windows. I have some of this and it's fabulous.

Daft as it sounds, if you find one of these booklets on sale, it's well worth picking up for more than just curiosity value.