Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Waterborne Wednesday: St Mawes ferry

St Mawes ferry

Let's get things straight, even if I built a model of the May Queen, there's no way I'd be tacking the dazzle camouflage!

To be honest, while the paint job is striking, I don't think it suits the boat. Nor the duck that it tows.

Perhaps I'm a bit dull, but give the the traditional livery - far more suitable for those lines.

Now that is a nice looking boat. I'm slightly surprised that there isn't a kit available. It's not an uncommon design after all.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

The perils of a 2nd hand kit

"Bollards", I said as I scrabbled in the bottom of the box looking for the the final parts to complete the model. The trouble with a second-hand kit is that you can't be sure all the parts are present.

One missing piece was the front bollard - but that was easily replaced with a bit of plastic tube and a 4mm diameter disk made using the handy leather punch.

At the back, the winch was missing one end, easily replaced with a bit of Plastikard even if it doesn't have the rivet heads that should be there.

Tricker were a pair of capstans. If I had a lathe to hand, I'm sure replacements could be turned up. As it was I improvised with a couple of brass bushes supplied with the servo. I've never really understood why these are included, probably an aeromodeller thing, so it's nice to find a use for them. More plastic disks from the punch (I must buy a proper set) and once they are painted, no-one will notice.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Boat crew

I don't like putting photos of model figures on the blog - they never look as good as in real life. However, they are part of the build, so here we go.

Three nicely moulded 3cm tall figures are included in the kit. A nice touch, so many other kits leave you to find some from the aftermarket and I'm not sure there is much choice in 5mm:1ft scale. There certainly wasn't when this kit was produced!

All were painted with Humbrol flesh and then dry-brushed with the lighter Revell shade. I suppose I could have left this since they should all be ruddy-face sailors. Or maybe they should be more orange for that American Presidents-style tan...

After that, some muted colours for the clothes and a wash of Citadel ink to put some shadow in. I wish this was sold in a slightly less dark shade as it's a bit stark, but that's the fashion for fantasy and military modellers, and as I say, it looks better in real life.

The lolly sticks as handles to hold the figures by the way. The superglue joints should break easily, but I found I needed to slide a knife blade under them after breaking the captain's toes off.

Sunday, August 09, 2020

A close up the “Snaefell Mountaineer”

NATS Railcar (22)

One of the least spotted vehicles on the Isle of Man is the National Air Traffic Services (NATS) railcar.
Normally hidden away, it come into its own transporting personnel up the mountain when the Snaefell Mountain Railway isn't operating.

A couple of years ago, the railcar went to Claytons Rail Services for a refit and there and I managed to visit and take a huge selection of photos with a view to building a model. This hasn't happened yet, but if you fancy the challenge, these pictures will help.

Saturday, August 08, 2020

Saturday Film Club: Emett special

We start with a well-made documentary on Rowland Emett's "A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley" - which is now owned by the National Railway Museum and currently on display at Shildon.

Then we head over to the Brockhampton & Umbridge Railway Preservation Society's Emett Collection, where we have Emett inspired models in G scale.

Friday, August 07, 2020

Croc boat

Laurie Calvert can be blamed for many things. Hornby's Steampunk range for example.

And now, me being £17.75 poorer and the owner of a radio controlled crocodile head. He posted a photo on Facebook and I just knew I had to have one...

And I'm not sorry. The head is 30cm long and pretty well detailed. OK, it's not going to fool David Attenborough, but it looks great. Inside is a USB charged battery pack fitted in a watertight compartment underneath. The plastic it's made from seems pretty tough and the paint job isn't bad either.

Drive comes from a pair of props controlled by a 2.4Ghz controller using "tank steering". Press both buttons forward for ramming speed. Take your finder off one to turn. Press reverse on one to turn faster. The advert describes this as "swerve sailing". No, I have no idea what that means. 

On the water, it's far too fast and leaves a wake, but I don't care. This is silly and I like silly. Despite the price and madness of the model, it works really well. Range is more than adequate for our lake and the battery duration is at least 10 minutes, so plenty of play time. I look forward to the day when I can introduce it to the rest of the club.

I wonder, can you sail more than one at a time? Would a racing series be possible? Hmmm.

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Dual-flush cistern bodging

Is there anything more annoying to not work at home than the toilet cistern?

Most bits of house equipment can be worked around, but we all need to poo!

So, when our dual-flush cistern decided that it would keep filling rather than filling and stopping, repairs had to be effected quickly.

The problem was that the seal on the bottom of the flush mechanism had hardened a little and couldn't be relied on. Wiggling the unit with every flush fixed it, but was hardly ideal.

Since I was up to my neck in Virtual Show, my dad called a plumber. He had a look, said it would take a week to get the bits and left leaving a quote for £70. This seemed a bit rubbish - I'd expected to see a van with spares in it, not a car for a start. There is a reason he was available the same day.

Anyway, I left the computer for a while and had a poke around. The flush unit is separate from the inlet, so with the water turned off at the in-line valve, and a Readers Digest book of DIY to hand, worked out that twisting the unit would unlock it from the outflow and it was lifted away. This is how I found the hardened seal.

An hour later, dad was back with a complete replacement unit, price £27. Not a week, an hour. Parent 1: Plumber 0

I put the new unit in place and hoped all would be well. It wasn't.

There were two problems. First, the flush wasn't particularly powerful and worse, the clip that connects the control cable to the button, kept falling off.

The design of the clip is rubbish. It hangs limply on the bottom of the button. I tried swapping parts around with the old unit, and in an unexpected twist managed to reverse the direction of the cable so it no longer tangled with the inlet valve. This didn't help much, but I was pleased.

Anyway, I worked out that a screw passing across the edge of the connecting hole would tighten things up - and after some careful drilling, screwing and adjusting, this worked. The clip stayed put. Result!

The flush was still a bit rubbish, but I had a plan. You see I'd worked out this set-up wasn't very good and headed online to see what the alternatives were. Ideally, I wanted something that didn't need me to get at the bottom of the cistern because the design of this toilet covers it up. Removing the cistern would be doable, but more time and trouble than I could do with.

What I found, from the very helpful Plumbase, was the Wirquin One. According to the instructions, and videos, the unit takes about a minute to fit. It twists into the fitting in the bottom of the cistern (check this, they vary, there seem to be 2 or 3 designs) and then sits under the button hole.

The unit arrived and I fitted it.

Fitting is indeed quick. Set the flush levels (Max power!), unscrew the button. Pull the cage thing up and put the lid on top. This pushes the cage down and puts the screw thread right under the button hole.

Screw the button in place and flush away. Job done!

OK, it took three goes before I was happy. Every so often, including 2:40am, the unit wouldn't seal and the filling carried on, flowing straight through the unit and into the bowl. Grumpy face.

I rang Wirquin and they couldn't help, recommending I reinstall the unit. A bit like being told by IT to turn your computer off and on again. I did this three times and now (fingers crossed) we seem OK. Lots of flush, although when you release the button, not when you push it, and a reassuring slight "whump" noise after the flush that indicates the unit has sealed and will let the cistern re-fill. Reassuring in the same way a solenoid point motor is when you know it's gone across. I like reassuring noises.

I like toilets that flush as well. I'm giving this thing a fortnight, if it works, all the old cistern mechanical stuff goes in the bin and I'll buy a Wirquin spare unit. It's a lot cheaper than a plumber. Even one neither surprised or bothered when he is cancelled.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Tin shed Wednesday

Tin shed nursery

Driving through Selly Oak recently, I spotted this fantastic tin shed in use as a playgroup.

Luckily, as it was a Sunday, there were no children around so I could grab a photo. During the week it would be difficult to explain my enthusiasm for slightly dilapidated corrugated iron buildings...

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Bachmann K6 telephone box

I hadn't intended Furness Quay to feature a telephone box, but browsing in my first post-lockdown visit to my local model shop, I spotted this Bachmann model handing on the wall. Those who know the layout name comes from the film "Local Hero" will know that a 'phone box plays a big part in the story and I decided that the layout could do with a splash of colour.

What sold the model to me was the quality. Unlike the Merit version, it's the right scale. The glazing is printed on clear plastic so it's flush and the bars are nicely thin. The only better box you will find is a well-assembled Langley kit.

For £5.95, I was happy to find it space on the model. Lovely little model from a range that isn't widely known about. I love a happy find - has anyone else a similar unexpectedly good item in a range to share?

Monday, August 03, 2020

Red lines

Lindberg's box art suggests the lower portion of the superstructure should be painted red. If I was any good at masking things, this would be fairly easy to apply - tape over the white to stay and blast with red paint.

If I try that, there will be all sorts of paint creep thanks (partly) to the those raised plank lines.

Plan B - Using tape to give me a guide, draw along the top edge of the red with a bow pen and then paint the rest with a brush. The lined line gives me a guide to work to. At least it follows the gentle curve upwards towards the front of the superstructure. Can't do that with a ruler.

And that's sort of what happened. The line wasn't perfect, the Tamiya tape is very thin so not was easy to follow as I'd hoped. A Bob Moore pen would probably have been a better choice in this respect.

Still, a couple of coats of red, a bit of fiddling and the result looked OK.

Since this is to be a weathered model, I burnished the red with a fibre pen to give it some wear. The pale grey base colour shows through in a few places and I quite like the effect. It's something I've done on PO railway wagons, but this is a new slant and I'm sure I'll do it again one day.

Sunday, August 02, 2020

When shows come back, do I want to go?

This week, there have been the first flutterings of the return of the model railway show. A couple of sizable events have said they plan to go ahead this year - and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

A few basics:
  • I love going to shows. I really love turning up as either a punter or an exhibitor.Trains, boats, plastic kits, old cars - that's a good day out for me and has been for most of my life.
  • Through a combination of ignorance and incompetence, I don't believe our government has a clue what it's doing or saying.
  • This is a fluid situation and things can and will change over time. The science behind Covid will be better understood. Treatments will get better. Less people will become seriously ill.
  • I like to look at the numbers rather than the click-bait stories in the popular press. Being told that we are about to have an apocalyptic "second wave" when hospitalisations are down, cases per 100,000 tests are down and calls to 111/999 are down is simply playing to the misery porn on social media.
Having said this, like everyone else, I need to decide how comfortable I am going to an event where there are crowds of people who won't social distance and think hand washing after using the toilet, never mind during the day, is for wimps.

One of the issues I suspect will be wearing masks. I don't like it, but have been covered up in shops etc. for weeks before Boris said it was a good idea. Half an hour in the supermarket is one thing. 6 hours plus at a show? I'm less keen. And yes, I know medical staff wear them for long shifts etc.

When I attend as a demonstrator, a requirement for at least one of the events, I'm going to need to sit there with people breathing at me. Statistically, even without a mask, I should be fine, but in my head, there is still a risk. I'm sure there will be plenty with spurious reasons they can't wear a face covering too, and suspect the overlap with those who don't see the point of showers and washing machines will be large.

We've spent months being told that trains and buses are dirty. That you should never venture outside. That everyone breathing on you means death. The drip-drip-drip of this sticks in your head. I've not rushed to the pub, booked a holiday or headed to the beach, and I still don't want to. Since the end of March, I've been in exactly 6 different shops, two supermarkets, two hardware shops, a model shop and a newsagent, and right now, that's plenty. Even when we were allowed a single stroll a day for exercise, I didn't bother because when I tried, everywhere was too quiet and horrible to stay out. Far better to hide indoors. In safety.

So, I look at the science and the statistics (except the PHE ones which it turns out are rubbish and they don't seem inclined or able to fix) and am uncomfortable with heading to a show. How many people who get their news from the Daily Doom are going to want to go anyway?

"Vaccine" I hear you cry. Well, we won't have one for months and then to be effective you need 80-85% of the population jabbed. Already the anti-vaxers are out in force and there will be many potential Andrew Wakefield's lining up with made up science to do for Covid vaccine what he did for MMR. We might do some good there, but it's a very long way off.

The shows that will be back first are trade events. Lower numbers, better separation because of this and people in clean clothes with washed hands make these a much more plausible idea. I hold out some hope for the London Toy Fair in January. Just a little.

Toy train shows with a scrum around layouts and trade stands? That's a very different prospect.

How's everyone else feeling?

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Saturday Film Club: Matchbox in 1970

A relaxing walk through the 1970 Matchbox cars catalogue. For those of us who grew up in the 70s and played with toy cars, there's a lot of "I had one of those" recognition to be enjoyed.

Quite a bit of coveting as well. I really fancy trying one of those "Steer and Go" sets. But of course, I'm far too grown up for that now...