Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The great Selly Oak canal near-disaster

 

In model form, the Selly Oak canal is filled with Woodland Scenics "Deep Pour" resin. It's excellent stuff, but you really do need to keep it in the canal. 

I did my best. The ends were dammed with plastic and gaffer tape. The baseboard joint had a thin strip of plastic stuck in it. I'd filled all the gaps underneath. 

But the stupid stuff still seeped out. I spotted a small puddle but it was too late. The layout has stuck itself to the MDF worktop. And, I realised, the boards had stuck together. 

I did not sleep well that night. 

In the morning, it was time for drastic measures. A couple of wallpaper scrapers were sharpened and slid under the board. This helped a bit, but the boards still didn't move. 

Desperate times demand desperate measures. Out came a chisel which was hammers under the boards. Eventually, they moved. Phew. 

Next, the chisel was "gently" hammers in between the two boards. Three goes later, these also came apart. 

As you can see, the results aren't pretty, but it proves these White Rose baseboards are tough. 

At least the canal looks fantastic.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Watch straps


I like watches.Wearing one for many years, my wrist feels odd without one. Truth is, my collection of pretty cheap* watches is huge and some of them actually work. 

In recent months, the need to know the time has pretty much evaporated so my day-to-day watch was attached to a pretty unhappy strap when I recently had a chance to put it back on. The leather had dried up, the loops for the strap had broken and it was in a poor way. I know it went with me to Australia 7 years ago, so I suppose that's probably not too bad. 

I'd also bought a new watch with a nice looking face recently. When I bought it, I felt a green strap would suit it better and as it turns out, the supplied one feels like it's made of cork and has a cheap and rubbish catch. Amazingly, it's the right length - I always need long straps - so I'll stick it in a drawer as a spare.

So, over to eBay for some shopping. For under a tenner I picked up replacements and when they arrived, spent a happy few minutes changing them over. A pair of pointy tweezers compresses the bars through the strap nicely and the results look like much more work than they really are. It's one of those simple and satisfying jobs that we all need at times like this. 


*I like watches but can't get my head around something costing hundred of pounds. You can't do DIY wearing one of those can you?

Sunday, October 25, 2020

My top 5 tools

 

A few weeks ago, James Hilton posted about his favourite tools. Well, I thought I'd do the same, but used the idea as a chance to experiment with some video. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Saturday Podcast Club: Kids Making Kits (with Maggie Gravett)

 

Not a video this week. Sit back and enjoy a Railway Mania podcast with Maggie Gravett talking about how she runs the kids making kits area at Warley and York.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Layout mascots

Layout mascots 

Digging in my stock box last week, I found my layout mascots. These travelled with us to hundreds of shows and occupied the rear corner of our stock display box. 

Lots of layouts have mascots - odd things that cart around and display to amuse themselves and confuse the public at exhibitions (remember them?). 

The little metal Edward is because he's my favourite Railway Series character, and I have been known to write under the pseudonym "Edward de Blue Engine". I don't remember where he came from, probably a second hand stall. 

The monster doesn't have a name, but I dug him up in our garden many years ago. Once the earth was cleaned off him, I decided that rather than adding him to landfill, I'd apply a coat of paint and varnish. That and an "I love Playing Trains" badge. 

Come to think of it, he looks like he might be a member of RMweb...

Thursday, October 22, 2020

What goes in a model boat?


 

James asks: 

Years ago I built a static model based on a Glyyn Guest design - I didn't know at the time but the prototype I chose actually worked on the River Welland just a few miles from where I now live. 

Anyway, after a gap of 30 years, I'm tempted to have another go at one of his designs. I guess it is nostalgia, and despite being surrounded by dykes I suspect I might never get to sail it. 

The design I like is his a US Fleet Tug "Chumash" I've got the plans and the original article from RCBM back in 1990. It is 4" beam, 25" long and he reckoned came out at 2kg displacement. 

His recommendation was a 540 motor and a Graupner 2308.35 prop. So if I was building it today what would be the basics I need in terms of RC? I'm presuming a basic esc, a mico servo and a reliable 2.4 ghx rx . I'm presuming any Rx will bind with any 2.4 ghz Tx? and batteries? 

I really want something that will be rock solid and simple, and cheap obviously. 

Or for a one off that will hardly get any use should I just buy a cheap RTR boat/crocodile head and cannibalise it? 


My suggestions:

1) Don't go the cheap boat route, you end up with rubbish steering and speed control.

2) I'm using a RadioLink T8FB now (ignore the Planet receiver in the photo above, you can't get these now). You can't bind any transmitter to any receiver, they need to be the same make. RadioLink seem to have the longest life and lots of people use them. Hobby King will do them if you aren't in a hurry, but there are UK suppliers. It seems pretty reliable and the transmitter aerial is robust.

3) You need a speed control (Viper 15A for brushed motors) which is about 20 quid and a servo. Batteries for a Tug, I'd go for a jelly cell since you need weight anyway and they will sail for hours on one charge. Component Shop are good, but others available. If you prefer Ni-Mh's, definitely Component Shop. Very helpful people.

4) Any servo will do the job. There are loads of options but they are all cheap. Again, CS above will sell them and the motor.

Hope this helps. Good luck and let me know how you get on.

 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Brickwork patching

 I love working with styrene - it's so forgiving. There aren't many materials that allow you to make invisible joins in so easily. 

 

The design of the South Eastern Finecast arches combined with the way I've used them on Selly Oak lets the end of one arch be visible where I don't want it. 

 
The bricks are laminated to a 2mm thick backing sheet using Limonine solvent. To hide the end of the arch, I carefully cut out a section of bricks and a matching strip from a plain sheet. Then the whole are is washed with Mek-Pak. 
 
 
The strip is them shoved hard into the gap after making sure the bonds line up. It's important to push it in properly because the two plastic pieces will be slightly soft thanks to the solvent. Done right, the plastic will bond and leave no gap. A wash of solvent over the surface and apart from a slight shine, which will be covered with paint, the bodge will be invisible.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Leave the door ajar

Selly Oak Arches 

I can't remember which magazine it was in, but I remember an amazing, beautiful, model railway layout where the author made the point that he didn't like little people. Instead, he left hints of their existence - a bike leant against a wall and doors slightly ajar. Enough to suggest life without static people. 

I'm not against model people (insert traditional note about not using running man figures) but I do appreciate the value of doors that aren't shut properly. 

The Selly Oak arches are coming along and I've followed my own advice leaving a door in each arch ajar. Well, except for the one furthest from the camera, but there is a good reason for that which I'll come to another day. 

I've also varied the design of the doors so it looks like the scene has evolved over time. It's not difficult to do when scratchbuilding, in fact it makes the job more interesting. I'm easily bored when repeating the same things!

All the above is in plastic sheet. Apart from the bricks, everything is scribed using an Olfa cutter with a few bits of plastic strip for embellishment.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Coal yard and sheep shelter in The Collector


Deadlines. 

My life is ruled by deadlines.  On a board beside my computer there is a list of magazine deadlines and the projects that I need to complete by them. 

It should be a comprehensive list, but sometimes I manage to leave something off and it comes back to bite me. 

Which is why a few weeks ago, I found myself turning out two small scenes in double-quick time so the articles could be delivered to the Hornby Collectors club for their Autumn 2020 magazine. 

The problem with being up against it for time when you are making things is that paint and glue don't realise you need them to dry FAST and so there needs to be some clever juggling to keep work going while something else dries.

Handy hint: Hair lacquer sticks loads of stuff and yet dries very, very fast.  

The first scene is a rural one.


I'd been asked to demo the Skale Scenics range and so we have their grass, flock and this rather nice ready to plant oak tree. The hut is an old Hornby model and the sheep and shepherd are from the range as well. 

After that, we have a competition launch model. 

For the 100th birthday of the company, we've launched the 100mm challenge, you can read the full details in the magazine, but the length of track is important...

Hornby Collector Club.



Sunday, October 18, 2020

Hong Kong tram toys

Hong Kong tram toys

Yesterdays video made me want to dig my Hong Kong tram souvenirs out of the back of the cupboard and take a photo. 

Sadly, there's not much in the way of identification under them apart from the largest which is from "Peak Horse". I suspect it owes something to the HO scale Bachmann model. Which reminds me, I'm sure I have a motorised one of those somewhere...

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Saturday Film Club: Ding Dings in Hong Kong

 

 I still remember my visit to Hong Kong a few years ago. Technically a stop-over on the way to Australia, it was amazing.

On the second visit, I managed to get myself on the ferry to see the traditional trams, nicknamed "Ding-Dings", running on Hong Kong island. I'll never get the chance to ride a double-deck car through busy city streets. Crich is nice, but you are in the country, something a bit alien to trams in their heyday. 

Anyway, this video really sums up the experience. Watching the start of it, I could taste the city. The place has a gritty, metallic taste that I haven't experience anywhere else. Watching the video brought it straight back to me.

Friday, October 16, 2020

ANOTHER pair of glasses

Remember when I said I had three pairs of glasses? 

Well, now I have four*.

For a while, I've been concerned that for real close-up work, I have been taking my specs off so I could focus properly. I don't like doing this as I still feel they offer more protect to my eyes than no glasses but the reading glasses wouldn't cut it. Clipping some magnifiers on the front helped a lot, but I'm not entirely comfortable with them.

Since I was due an eye test, I took the chance to have a chat and see what could be done. My main prescriptions hadn't changed significantly, so we did the reading test at closer range than normal. 

The result is another pair that appear to do the job. I can focus closer, although as any glasses-wearer knows, it's taking a bit of time to get used to them. 

Next stop, an optiviser... 

*Actually, five as I have prescription sunglasses too.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Garden Rail - November 2020


Some models are too big to fit in a single issue of a magazine. The Vale of the White Horse Railways is an impressive project that looks great, but needs space to cover all aspects so we start this month with a general overview before taking a closer look at specific aspects in the next two magazines. 

We've also got Tag Gorton making some pretty significant modifications to an Accucraft steam loco, a couple of "lockdown projects" and an manor house with an amazing secret. 

Should you need an observation car for your line, we can help with that too. 

Full contents listing and link to buy over on RMweb. 


Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Developing the repeatable Part 2 - The arches


Now for the REAL challenge - the viaduct the railway runs along the top of. Unlike the road, these will be at least visible and people might even look closely. 

Unlike the prototype, I have to contend with baseboard joints and using existing arches rather than starting from scratch on a cleared site. I don't want a break in the middle of an arch  for a start, it will look more natural between arches and I can invent a drainpipe to distract the eye. The model is modified to fit the boards as it is, so I feel justified in taking a few liberties with the design. 

I think this is recognisable from the prototype if slightly simplified. The 5 rows of bricks on top of the stone line are toped with a 45 degree angled brick that would be difficult to model neatly for a start. As I said yesterday, keep it neat and no-one will (hopefully) spot the cheat. If they do, tough. 

I'm filling in the arches with workshops as I think that's how they were, and more importantly, working out what to do under there if I don't fill them in makes my head hurt. 

To make matters more interesting, I'm modelling both sides of the viaduct. This test is the rear version. I think we'll want to take photos from this side occasionally, so no skimping for me here!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Developing the repeatable Part 1 - Roadside walls

 

There are a lot of brick walls on Selly Oak so it's important that they not only look right, but I can produce them in a sensible time frame AND that they all look consistent. 

In fact, consistency is the most important thing as far as I am concerned. You aren't going to look at these walls, if they are done properly. 

For the road, where there is very little to go on as it's all been modernised, I've adopted a pretty simple version with 2mm thick plastic covered with Slater's embossed Plastikard. Pillars are another layer of 2mm wrapped in more embossed brick. I'm being good and covering the sides as well as the wider faces. 

Decoration is limited to a strip of bricks. Another easy to apply detail. 

Colour is grey. I'm not 100% sure about this, but the few original remaining bricks on the canal bridge are grey and the colour suits the model in what Jason calls my "creative vision". 

The important thing is, I can churn this stuff out by the mile and make modified sections reasonably easily. Then everyone can ignore it on the finished model. Such is life.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Using scalemodelscenery Old Wooden Fencing

Selly Oak in the 1970s was a bit scruffy and the area beside the canal was a prime example of this. Modelling scruffy can be time consuming and right now, time isn't something I'm over-supplied with. I need quick and effective solutions and when I spotted ScaleModelScenery's wooden fencing online, I guessed I'd found one. 

The kit arrives laser-cut in what I think is called "Laserboard", basically a very high qaulity cardboard about 1mm think. Each fence panel is made up of a front with the planks and the framing for the back. Assembly is simple - stick on to the other. The five lengths make up 72cm of fencing, nearly enough for the full run along the canal on my model.

Although the fence has scruffy built in, I felt that a few planks replaced with corrugated iron sheets would only enhance run-down look so chopped a few out before fitting them to the framing. Some South-Eastern Finecast corrugated sheets were then fitted in their place. 

Even allowing for this modification, building the fence took less than half an hour, or one episode of Only Connect. It helps I'm too dumb to answer any of the questions in the first three rounds so can concentrate on some modelling. 


Painting is nearly as quick. I start with a blast of Railmatch track colour spray to get everything nice and brown. After that, some washes from the Lifecolor "Weathered Wood" set of acrylic paints. 

I washed over some planks more than once so the colours (should that be colors?) blended together, in a haphazard way. 

 The corrugated panels were washed with paint from the Lifecolor "Rust Wizard" set, which didn't seem to stick very well, but the pooling effect looks quite nice to me so I'll enjoy the happy accident. 

Planted into 1.5mm diameter holes, the fence was errected along the canal in time for me to take the final photos for a magazine article. Once I'm ready to glue it in place, I'll add a bit of grass and weed along the base for a properly unkempt appearance. 

I really like this stuff and have ordered some more packs for the other side of the canal and also beside the road as I found a photo showing wooden fencing for one section, it will make a change from brickwork. 

Old Wooden Fencing from scalemodelscenery

(Just for clarity, I bought the fencing for the project with real money but the Lifecolor paints were left over from some review samples supplied a few years ago.)


Sunday, October 11, 2020

I can't draw - and I know why


As a bit of light relief from all the stuff in the world, I thought I'd take part in Inktober. The rules are that you take the title for each day, draw something based on it and then post the result online. 

The idea of being able to draw has always appealed to me. I filled many sketchpads when I was young, and as you can tell from my profile picture, I fancy myself as a bit of a cartoonist. 

Needless to say, the reality hit me quickly - I'm not nearly as good as I wish I was. Lack of skill, time and a couple of bad days saw me give up in under a week. 

There is a good reason for this, and it's amply explained in this video by illustrator Shoo Rayner - I don't practise enough. If you want to become good at anything, you can't skip the dull practise, trial and error. 

"What has this to do with modelmaking?" I hear you ask. 

Simple. I am not bad at making things and that's because I do a lot of it. All that practise means when I work in Plastikard, I know how the material will behave. Using solvent allows me to joins parts by shoving them together with just enough force. When things go wrong, I have the experience (sometimes) to bodge my way out. 

Those skills took time to develop. 

I often read, especially in the finescale model railway world, of people who assemble and read all the correct books. Who buy the right tools. And when they finally decide to build a model, they are convinced it will be as great as any of those they have read about in magazines. How can it fail, after all, they have accumulated the knowledge. 

It won't work like that as knowing what to do is one thing, actually putting that knowledge into practise is completely different. Glue won't set. Solder won't flow. Paint will flow too well. You'll file too much off something, or bend it wrong. That a chassis jig will help, but it won't build the thing for you.

That's why, like Shoo, I encourage people to get their hands dirty and do some modelling. The quicker you start, the quicker you'll find out what you are good at, and where you need extra practise. Start small and work up to the dream project or end up disheartened and abandoning the whole thing.  

Me - I'm going to find some old editions of Buster comic, the one I had as a child and whose cartoon style I emulated with my face picture. With more study and more practise, maybe next year I'll get all the way through Inktober. 

In the meantime, if you want to see someone who can draw - follow @tabletop_mog on Instagram.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Saturday Film Club: Fly drive in the 1960s

 With summer now behind us, let's load the VW Beetle on an aeroplane and head off the continent to enjoy a bit of sunshine and swimming in this old cine film.

Friday, October 09, 2020

The most satisfying job of the day

 

A couple of weeks ago, I wasn't having a good day. Every so often, the news really gets me down and I can't concentrate on anything useful for work. Trying to do some modelling, or pretty much anything isn't going to happen, but I was lucky, there was one job that I was confident I could do. 

My sister has a shed/studio at her cottage and one of the windows had broken. She had specified a plastic replacement and a sheet was ordered from the same shop I get my baseboard wood from. 

I picked this up along with a couple of lengths of quarter-round strip. Oh, and some pin nails as I'd forgotten to pack some. These, and some tools, headed to her place and within 20 minutes, the hole was filled. Quite nice and neatly too. 

Oddly, it was a really satisfying job. Not difficult to do, but definitely "a good job done". We all need this sort of task occasionally I'm sure. I know I did.

Thursday, October 08, 2020

A bus UNDER a bridge on a model railway?! This, fire and waterslides in November's BRM


November's BRM sees me tackle the centrepiece of the Selly Oak project - the bridge itself. A complicated structure, it's actually very cheap to make, but took me far more hours than you'd expect for a mag project. I'm pleased with the result however. 

There's also a cracking opening image from the 1980s that I managed to arrange. It's not always easy to find contemporary photos that we can use, but this time I really think it adds to the piece on the page. 

 Since November means Bonfire Night, I'm creating a working fire, complete with Guy Fawkes, using a couple of Tea Lights - one real and one electric. You'll have to read the issue to find out how that works. 


Finally, on BRMTV, I take a look at waterslide transfers and try to explain now they work with the use of some props. 

November 2020 BRM on RMweb.


Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Plane amazing

The first time I used PVC-Foam board seriously was on the quayside wall built for Furness Quay. At the time I was mightily impressed with the way it cut and scribed. 

Moving to the Selly Oak canal, I need to represent some concrete lumps in the banks around the bridges, so decided to give it another try. 

My method involved scribing the joins then glueing into place the vertical part with PVA. Once dry, I thought I'd trim it to perfect height with a knife, but after a flash of inspiration, pulled out a small plane that is older than I am. 

Despite the unsophisticated razor blade, it worked breathtakingly well. Gently stroking the plane along the edge of the 2mm thick board produced a neat curl of material. I've never been able to do that on proper wood, so the results here were amazing. This is certainly something I'll remember for the future. 

Maquett sheet can be bought from Eileen's Emporium.

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Road stuffing

I find myself with lots of polystyrene packing, so what better to do with it than stuff it under the road on Selly Oak. I needed to do the job sometime and my only complaint is that the task didn't consume as much materials as I hoped. 

The hot wire cuter was invaluable as the other option is some very messy hacking with a saw, and the steel offcuts are just as useful to ensure the road stays where I want it while the glue dries.

Monday, October 05, 2020

It's beginning to look a lot like...


Yes, I've been having to plan ahead and get my Christmas ideas in early. 

Obviously I need Santa, but which scale? As it happens, Houston Gate Locomotive Works can supply in both G and 16mm scales, so I ordered one of each. Plus a sleigh and some reindeer.  

The figures arrive unpainted, but that's not a problem. In fact, adding colour is a lot of fun. The white trim is Humbrol 147 dry-brushed with white. His beard is 64 dry-brushed with 147 and I think the contrast is worth the effort. 

All this is for a couple of photos in magazines (GR and BRM) but it's the sort of silly project that appeals to me. It just seems odd to do it in September.

Sunday, October 04, 2020

The last chip buttie'n'sail of 2020?

Tuesday's weather forecast looked promising so I booked a sailing slot at the lake for what might be the last chance to put a boat on the water and enjoy a chip buttie this year. 

My dad and I have used this as a welcome chance to get some fresh air over the lockdown. The plastic table is well sanitised and everything is placed on paper so it doesn't come into contact with any germs. While a buttie might not be the healthiest of teas, occasionally I'm sure it won't do any harm - and in a world where we are constantly being told to go home and wait to die, I'm inclined to enjoy the odd indulgence. 

We took Mis-Cheif for a run and also Lady Isabella, a Victorian style electric-powered steam yacht built years ago.

Lady Isobella

Lady Isobella 
 
While there, I took the chance to give the Olympus Pen a chance at model boat photography. he results are pretty good. It captured the colours well and even on autofocus, the results are sharp enough for most work. 

Nice chips too. If anyone wants some, we couldn't eat them all...

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Saturday Film Club: Groudle Glen Railway Steam festival from the air

How I missed my trip to the Isle of Man this year. The best I can do is enjoy it via other people's video. 

Today, we get a look at this years stream festival. All the GGR chuffers are on parade and I'm pleased to see the locals supported the event as most of the trains look nicely full.  

Groudle is tricky for drone filming, you can's really get past Lime Kiln Halt thanks to the tree cover, but the footage does show the coastal and of the line to good advantage. 

Update: It seems the video is borked. Not sure why.

Friday, October 02, 2020

Lindberg Tugboat in Model Boats magazine


OK, it's not a proper write up, if you want to know how I built a tugboat from a Lindberg Kit, you can read all about it on this blog, but I couldn't resist sending a couple of photos to the new editor of Model Boats magazine. 

Opening up the October issue, there it is in the "Readers Models" section in all it's glory.

If you are into boat modelling and not subscribing to the last magazine on the newsagent's shelves then you really need to support it as the last few issues have been terrific reads. Maybe they just chimed with my interests, and some of those are a bit off-beat, but I enjoyed them a lot. 

Head over to the Model Boats website.

Thursday, October 01, 2020

Mod Podge

 

When I was in Canada, I picked up a small bottle of Mod Podge. It's a glue I'd read good things about in American Magazines, but had never seen for sale in the UK. 

I'm not sure what's in it, but it looks like PVA but dries perfectly matt. Using it for sticking details on to a couple of dioramas recently, I was really impressed with its invisibility when dry. The grab is quick, so not too much propping up is required either.

Obviously, I hadn't been paying attention as you can buy the stuff in craft shops and Hobbycraft. In fact there is a whole range of them to play with, so I've acquired a new, big bottle and some antique finish stuff to play around with. 

First, I need to read the ModPodgerRocks blog

Update: Early readers will have spotted that despite being written on the bottle in large, easy to read letters, I insist on call this stuff Modge Podge. I've updated the blog, correcting my brain isn't quite so easy.