Saturday, February 28, 2015

Flood damage

With all the layouts and model boats and magazine projects I've acquired over the years, storage space at home has long since been exhausted. The solution my father and I decided on 8 years ago was to rent a storage unit at a nearby facility.

The units are ISO shipping containers - secure, accessible when we needed to get in, and thanks to roof insulation, dry.

Until yesterday. A couple of weeks ago, we'd noticed a wet box on the top of one set of shelves. This was put down to condensation. There are a couple of condensation traps in the container and we empty them out half a dozen times a year.

This time though, we had a 1/12 Wavney hull half full of water. Below it, there were lots of wet boxes. Annoyingly, this is the corner where I store past, and future projects. Quite a lot of these were very wet. Feeling around on the top of the container, there was a puddle of water in the corrugations. We have a hole.

Fortunately, the Handyman Hall railway had a damp box top but was otherwise OK. Half an hour in the sun dried it out. Barnstorff wasn't so lucky and has somewhat sodden scenery. I'm going to try to dry this out but it may be handy that it's done all the shows it needs to.

Elsewhere, there are lots of stock boxes that are more papier-mâché than cardboard. At the moment I'm seeing what I can dry out. Hopefully the contents are still OK.

On Monday, the landlord is sending someone over with a welder to sort out the hole...

Friday, February 27, 2015

HST rear cab

HST Back cabWhile digging for yesterdays photo, I found another fascinating shot. I manged to blag a walk through the prototype HST power car under the care of the Project Miller team. I've always been fascinated by prototype railway items and so when offered, was up the steps like a rat up a drainpipe.

After a quick sit in the front cab, I was led through the engine compartment where some amazing restoration work has been taking place. I'm in awe of anyone who takes on a project like this.

At the back end, there is a driving cab.

Now this isn't unheard of - the pointy nose Class 91 electrics have a cab at the back so they can operate as normal locomotives but I didn't realise this was the case with the prototype HST.

As it happens, this is good news for the preserved machine. Being able to operate as a conventional loco without needing turning around at each end of the line is a blessing and probably means it can earn it's keep.

HST Back cab interior

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Petrol powered shunter

Petrol Shunter

I've been a busy chap recently, but sadly not with anything particularly blogable (unless you want the trials and tribulations of setting up a website using Joomla! - no, I didn't think you did) so to keep up my post-a-day schedule, I've been digging back through some old photos that haven't made it on here before.

First up is this shunter found at Ruddington on the Great Central Railway. As far as I can tell, it's an early petrol powered loco. I work this out because the chassis is very similar to this:

OO petrol loco

A 4mm scale petrol powered shunter I built many years ago from a Branchlines kit. My model is based on the genuine LNER version that just squeaked in to BR days. As I recall, there was also a GWR prototype in the range of 2 kits but I didn't like it as 1) it was Great Western 2) Looked like a shed on wheels.

A quick search on the loco number reveals this from Wikipedia:

Morris (works number 2028) was built at Motor Rail (Simplex) Works in Bedford and started out at Exeley & Sons Ltd in Shropshire from new. In 1935 her petrol engine was replaced by a modern diesel design and she was sold that year to Davy Morris Works in Loughborough, working there until withdrawal in the late 1980s. Arriving at Ruddington in 1990 she was the first motive power on site at the start of the railway's preservation, but was held in store for years at Rushcliffe Halt until restoration was carried out. After visits to other heritage railways she is back in regular service on shunting duties.

So I was right about the petrol burning stuff. Nice to see she's in regular use too. Our model (nicknamed "Titch") certainly is.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Deck planks and wood suppliers

Wooden BowOn my Dad's workbench, there is a very old Deans Marine kit for a Thames steam cruiser. A sort of posh steam powered yacht to ferry people sipping Pimms around Henley Regatta.

Anyway, the main feature of this boat is a decoratively planked deck. The kit supplies a plywood thing covered with printed paper as a guide. There's also some planking wood but only enough if you are accurate with your cuts to fractions of a millimetre.

Nuts to this, time to get hold of some replacement stripwood.

Except that the local dolls house supplier only keeps basswood. Hobbycraft is the same, even if you can find anything of use. He needed as much mahogany as basswood.

With no model boat shows on the horizon, it was off  to mail order. A few minutes spent on the Westbourne Model Boats website saw the order placed and in just under a week, the long, thin package arrived.

Not really worthy of comment you might say, except that ordering yard long lengths of wood is a bit odd. Hardly a normal shape package. Despite this, all arrived in one piece, unbroken or bent. Worth remembering for the future.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Deadline disaster in the spraybooth

Broken hairdryer

You probably imagine that I'm in some way good at all this stuff. Projects progress smoothly through all the stages with perfect results every time.

All of this means that I didn't find myself in a cold garage a couple of weeks ago with a paint cup full of a colour that turned out to be gloss, wondering how I was to dry the newly applied paint rapidly running off the item of rolling stock.

This wasn't something helped by the switch on my airbrushing hair dryer breaking. Not the heat switch either, I could have just held the device a bit further from the paint, the on/off/turbo one.

In fact, I bet you didn't realise just how essential a piece of kit this is.

The combination of cold, gloss and an impending deadline for completion of the model didn't make for the best of days. Still, now I have a nice new hairdryer ready to do things the makers won't put on the box, and a model without gloss paint. I wiped all that stuff off with a turpsey cloth.Give me proper matt any day. And a heated garage please...

Monday, February 23, 2015

When model railways were fun

Working through a pile of books, I found this Gamages catalogue from the 1950s. It's interesting to see how efforts to sell out hobby have changed.
The catalogue isn't just a listing of products, there's editorial on the pages too. I wonder how many people were tempted by the heading on page 2, "Control your own 'Clapham Junction'...Build your own Airport. A hobby to last your lifetime..."
It all sounds so much fun.
Likewise, the advert for the famous Gamages model railway mentions, "Topical interest is maintained by the addition of an ATOMIC STATION , a new neighbour to our already famous model SPACE STATION."

I know all this stuff would give serious modellers an attack of the vapours, but maybe did this attract children to model railways without the need to infantalise things with Thomas and Co.? Was the thrill in the engineering - a source of wonder that has long since palled as people are separated from understanding how things work.
Or is it just me that wonders what the Atomic Station and Space Station looked like?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Cardboard campervan

JK Campervan

You know how it is, wandering around a show, people hand you stuff. Most of the time it's leaflets that will head for the recycling after a cursory glance.

Sometimes you get fun stuff. This card kit from Just Kampers to build a VW Type 2 van for example.

Of course, I put it together, but I wonder how many other people did?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Doncaster casualties 3 - Me!

The Monday after Doncaster, I was feeling a bit rough but didn't think much of it. The layouts were put back in to store, the van returned to the hire company and I went home as normal.

An hour later, I'd developed a bad cough and by the evening, I couldn't stop sweating and shaking.

The next morning was a little better - the shakes had gone - apart from a hacking cough and a chest that felt full of phloem.

Basically, dear reader, I had caught northern disease.

Buy did I get it bad. With deadlines to hit, i worked in fits and starts. Everything got done, but only just and in twice the time it should have taken.

2 weeks on, the cough has nearly gone thanks to me drinking several bottles of jollop. I sound a bit croaky still, but I feel reasonably normal.

Now, I don't want this to happen again - next time I exhibit I'll be wearing some protection. In addition, visitors will have to be bagged to keep their germs (and smells) to themselves. It's the future...

Friday, February 20, 2015

Video: Building a cliff

Today, I should be away filming more content for future BRM DVDs. If you wonder what I'm getting up to, one of the sections of a previous disk is available on YouTube:

The Woodland Scenics products used are really effective, especially the magic cliff-making sheets and ingenious paints. I'm still working on the TV presentation skills of course but it's not quite so scary when the camera is pointed at me now.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Doncaster casualties 2 - Beer Festival

Broken Beer Festival

This is what a model beer festival looks like when 18 stone of modeller stands on top of it while trying to pack away in a hurry at the end of a show. Not too bad - certainly better than the loco servicing area scene in the current BRM which ended its days in a racecourse bin being on top of the box containing the festival.

Not being a happy bunny, I chucked this in the back of the van and left it a few days before taking a look in the box.

On top of the building, the stone crosses are both missing. Neither was properly attached and they have been falling off since I built the thing.

Worse, the chimney punched through the top of the box when my foot landed and then decided to snap away from the resin structure.

Finally, the animated beer drinkers popped out of the ground.

I'd originally expected to strip this for parts. In fact I was almost looking forward to this as I have a project lined up that could make use of a lot of the scenery. The space in my storage would be appreciated too.

However, some superglue repaired to the chimney invisibly. The drinkers popped back in the hole and edges were hidden with a little flock. The crosses are long gone so I'll tidy up the roof ends and ignore them. I was getting sick of sticking the things back on anyway.

The moral: Try not o pack up in a hurry and if you keep stepping over something while working, move it out of the way because you will step on it eventually.

Beer festival

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Doncaster casualties 1 - Tin Turtle

Turned Turtle

Exhibitions can be hard on the models being exhibited. My Meridian Models Armoured Simplex has been doing sterling service with a couple of days solid running at the NEC under its whitemetal belt. On a continuous run, that's a lot of miles.

Being pretty certain that this was more than the chassis was designed for, I've been planning to build a second loco but as is the way with these things, it never quite happened.

There didn't seem to be a problem as the model started happily and by lunchtime on Saturday, I'd stopped crossing my fingers. Too soon however as in the afternoon it kept stopping. Gentle prods would occasionally bring it back to life but as the day wore on, the model needed a rest at the back of the layout.

With Owen's Bridge, I have more worries about this than a normal layout. The wooden bridge at the front is pretty delicate. The wires between the lifting mechanism and bridge deck are thin and black - right for the prototype but if you are the sort of person who hurls your hand over a model without bothering to look, just the sort of thing you're not going to see until you've caught then and have half a model dangling from your paw.

A poorly loco is a magnet for finger pokers so it's better to leave it out of sight than risk "help".

Sunday wasn't any better than Saturday. The model ran intermittently. A little pre-show poking didn't seem to make much difference and I wasn't taking the thing apart behind the stand.

Back on the bench, there was nothing obviously wrong. The belt drive is saggy but adequate. If I can work out where the spare is, I'll swap it over but this isn't essential. Wheels have been cleaned (again) pickups adjusted and the gear mesh tightened at one end. A little lubrication was applied where I could.

On the rolling road, the chassis thrashed away quite happily for an hour so maybe I've breathed new life in to it. The next showing is at Leamington in March so we'll see what happens.

Rolling road

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Round holes

Wheels and steam

Anonymous asks in response to last weeks wheels question: Why aren't Gibsons on square axles? Surely there aren't many uses for unquartered drivers. Ease of production possibly?

Ease of production for one certainly. As one society new products officer found out, accurate and consistent square holes in the middle of plastic wheels are harder to make than you would think.

There are other reasons though - first, if you look at the ends of real loco axles, you see a circle of metal. Getting this wrong doesn't bother me but it does others. Markits make etched covers for their axles which are held in place by the screwed in crank pins but at the cost of making access to the wheel retaining nuts much harder.

More importantly, real locos aren't always quartered. 3-cylinder versions can have wheels at 120 degrees to each other. While you can't see both sides of a loco, replicating this accurately matters to a lot of people and the Gibson wheels allow this.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Why do I hate Sundeala?

Duncan asks: I enjoyed the Doncaster photos but I am puzzled re the comment about Sundeala. I have pondered using it, several model railway 'tomes' (not magazines) espouse it as the best.
So what's to do, please?

While I'm sure Sundeala has it's uses, as far as I am concerned, they don't involve model railways. Let me explain why with a story.


This is the Leamington & Warwick MRS N gauge layout "Meacham". Strictly speaking, it's Meacham Mark 2 though. It looks just like Meacham Mark 1, but with a big difference - proper baseboards.

Mark 1 was built on boards that made use of a insulation board top, a cheaper, generic form of Sundeala. After a few months the tops started to sag until the trackwork became a series of humps and dips. Hardly ideal for N gauge. Something had to be done.

At first there was bodgery with extra bits of wood stuffed underneath but this didn't fix the problem. The only solution was to strip everything off, build non-sagging boards, and put it back. Not a quick or simple job, but well worth it in the long term.

When used for model railway baseboard, the Sundeala website, recommends bracing the boards every 18 inches. To my mind, that's not enough. I'd want every 18cm and possibly closer.

When I ask why people consider the stuff, the answer is always the same - It takes track pins easily - although my friend Colin points out that if they go in easily, they come out just as well...

So you will use an unstable material for the most important job on your layout just to save the effort of drilling a few pilot holes and buying a small hammer?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Strap me to the 50 shades bandwagon

The film version of the mucky novel "50 Shades of Grey" is in the cinemas as we speak. I mention that because you lot are all far too highbrow/not weird to go and see it. However, there will be a lot of web searching going on and cynically, I might as well get a bit of that action.

It's also a chance to re-show the best piece of advertising Humbrol ever did. Someone was really smart when they produced this.

Anyway, everyone else is busy trying to get a bit of the action. The emergency services are expecting a rush of calls from people too stupid to own a toolkit and be able to use it. B&Q indulged in some blatant PR by telling it's stores to stock up on gaffer tape which all the mainstream media fell for including one Guardian columnist who decreed that "normal rope would cause chafing so specially adapted soft rope just might be preferable. Sorry, B&Q." showing an ignorance of the many types of rope available from a hardware store but more importantly proving that bondage fans and model railway fans share one thing in common.

They prefer to buy a product market specifically for the purpose rather than the same thing in greater quantities for less money elsewhere.

Still, who cares? I'm told it's a terrible book and being a paperback, presumably is little use for flagellation. You want a copy of Model Rail for that. (Well, you might break the DVD if you tried BRM and then you wouldn't be able to see my films)

Nicky Nacky Noo

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Doncaster 2015


Friday night traffic is a pain isn't it? Doncaster racecourse is just over 2 hours away from where I live. Except on Friday, with the hall closing time looming, when it can take (according to the satnav at one point) 5 1/2. This turned out to be pessimistic but crawling through the traffic still took just over 4 hours. Add to that an early panic when my van was delivered to the wrong branch of Enterprise car hire, and I wasn't in a great mood when I got there.

Some efficient set-up and the support of a few friendly co-exhibitors saw me up and running in under 40 minutes. Plenty of time before shutdown.

The trip to the hotel was slightly stymied by neither Satnav I brought along, nor the one fitted in the van (there's posh) knowing where the place was. The supplied map was also wrong, but after a couple of wrong turns and re-tracing my route, I remember where it was wrong (2 roundabouts are now junctions) that I eventually found myself at the accommodation in the shadow of a giant Amazon warehouse and stuffing my face with surprisingly good pizza.

Day one was busy. From the moment doors opened to advance ticket holders until mid afternoon, the place was thick with people. Thanks to Colin Snowdon and the DOGA team, I managed to escape for my sessions in the theatre. Those who came along seemed to enjoy them but most people hadn't found it by 11:30 in the morning so it was quiet.


For a layout that had been at the show the year before and is over a year from it's last appearance in print, Edgeworth attracts a lot of attention. Lack of stock meant operation was limited, not helped by several items having had coupling hooks removed for an article on alternatives and never replaced. Another job for the list!

At one point over the weekend, there was a queue of people waiting to crawl under the baseboards and examine the woodwork, legs and wiring. I'm quite chuffed with this as while I've not done anything special as far as I'm concerned, plywood still seems a mystery to many people. At least one chap has been saved from the horror of Sundeala tops though so some good work was done.

Looking around time was limited to before the event so there aren't many photos for you to look at - a shame as there were some cracking layouts to see. People moan that the layout to trade ratio is biased towards the trade but those that were there were excellent and you could also buy a lot of specialist stuff too. Not Railmatch paint sadly, but pretty much anything else.

3mm scale J15

Anyway, if you dropped by to say hello, thank you. I'm not much of an operator, preferring to help people build their own miniature railway systems. If I aided you a little, let me know, it make all of this worthwhile!

Photos on Flickr (now working)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Amazing electronics

CDUSetting up Edgeworth last week, I nudged one of the buttons on the control panel before I'd plugged the layout in to the mains supply.

To my surprise, a point changed.

This means that the Capacitor Discharge Unit (CDU) has held enough charge to throw a point since the last exhibition.

In October.

It's held this charge for over 4 months. Maybe I'm being silly, but that seems pretty impressive for a device that costs less than 14 quid.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

P Class, dioramas, stirring paint and Modellers Mecca in BRM

I've had a busy time recently with lots of projects for BRM, some of which you can see in the latest edition.

We all need to mix paint at some point and I've been testing various tools to make this easier and more effective. One of these is an electric whizzy thing which I initially dismissed as a bit of a gimmick but now keep beside the spray booth.

In a break from my normal type of article, I headed over to Modellers Mecca for a look behind the scenes. In these days when everyone seems to be bemoaning model shops closing all around (while they buy their big ticket items from the Internet. Grrr) it's great to see a shop where things are on the up and they are doing well selling kits and bits rather than red or blue boxes - handy as getting hold of the former isn't easy as both I and our "Industry Insider" comment on...

Wartime P Class

Construction pieces cover building a P Class tank from a Wills kit. Nice little model which has been largely assembled with superglue.

Water Tower diorama

Taking a subs offer water tower and coaling stage set, I've built a small loco servicing area. This would fit perfectly in to an industrial scene.

Cutting diorama

Finally there's a cutting diorama in O gauge using some new Woodland Scenics cliff face sheet.

On the DVD, I'm whitemetal soldering, talking you through the cliff diorama and showing the "Shaper Sheet" and demonstrating some ballasting products from Deluxe Materials.

More on the March issue of BRM on RMweb.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Where are the wheels?


David asks: I want to make a series of scratchbuilt 00 Baldwin 2-6-0's. I can manage everything except the wheels. These will be static models. Should I convert a Dalpol kit or buy wheels elsewhere?

I'm assuming that it's the standard gauge Midland Baldwin locos you are building. If narrow gauge then the answer is somewhat different.

Two wheel suppliers spring to mind. The first is Markits ( who produce what we refer to as "Romford" wheels. Metal spoked and very easy to use, they are my preferred choice for kit built locos even though they can lack a little finesse and aren't cheap at around £9 an axle.

Probably more use for you is the Alan Gibson range ( which is huge, varied and the plastic centred wheels exhibit much finer spokes. The downside is that the circular hole in the centre requires the modeller to quarter the wheels for running. They also fall apart if exposed to certain types of Loctite so superglue is a better fixative.

Obviously there are other suppliers out there but these are the biggest and most easy to purchase from. Certainly easier than trying to modify some Airfix wheels!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A BR P2?


Over last weekend, we had an unusual visitor to Edgeworth. A BR liveried P2.

Now as keen spotters will know, the P2s never made it in to dark green in this form. Gresley fans like to point out that Thompson RUINED the locos in a fit of pique in an effort to bury any hint of success of his predecessor.

Whatever the rights and wrongs, this loco certainly looks good and attracted a lot of attention while posed on the layout. BRM Editor Ben Jones has had the Hornby model repainted by Roger Holland and he's made a superb job. So good in fact, that for a while, I thought it was a production model sent in for review. It very nearly is as this is the fourth Roger has re-liveried.

You have to wonder if Hornby were to re-issue the model with this fictitious livery, would it sell? I'm inclined to think that they could shift 500 or so of them as long as everyone is happy to ignore the howls of those offended by a non-prototypical paint job. While they were at it, a version in early BR blue would look good too...

P2 Tender

Monday, February 09, 2015

Old cars can still teach us something

VW 1300.

Picking up our Berlingo from its MOT test last week I was warned that although it had passed the test, for a modern vehicle the engine was much smokier than it should be.

The suggestion for curing this was interesting, "Fill up from time to time somewhere that isn't a supermarket."

This shouldn't come as a surpise to me. I've found water in fuel before when buying at a supermarket and when I commuted to work in my Beetle, I knew that after filling up at the Shell garage in Wellesbourne the car ran better than when I used a supermarket.

I'd always assumed that modern engines would be set up to handle todays rubbish fuel so we didn't need to worry. It appears that this isn't the case though and some decent car-food still helps an engine covered in wires and plastic as it does the basic 1300 four-pot that showed motivated my bug.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

New products at the NEC Spring Fair

Monster Truck

Last week, I took a quick train ride to the NEC for the Spring Fair. This is a vast event where people who manufacture "stuff" promote their products to retailers. If you wan to know what you'll be buying for Christmas in a few months time - it's probably in here.

My mission was simple, grab some photos of Oxford Rail's new PO wagon for MREmag. I know it's "only" a wagon but as the first product from a new manufacturer it's especially interesting and there has been a lot of talk on-line about it.

Anyway, with this accomplished, I had a quick wander. With 6 halls to chose from, I wasn't going to try to see it all but it's always interesting to see what else is around in case there is anything train or boat related that I can report on for one of the publications I contribute to.

Dancing Christmas GonksOne very interesting supplier wasn't in the toys section (Home to Bachmann, Oxford Rail and the monster truck above) but in the hall that should be called "Christmas Hell".

Walking in to this hall, I was greeted with vast displays of animatronic Santa's, snowmen and gonks. It's enough to make you feel festive in February.

OK, maybe not.

Anyway, one stand sold little model villages with festive houses you could sit on snowy bases and populate with roughly 1/32nd figures that look like they could have fallen out of an unholy coupling between a Charles Dickens novel and 1950s festive movie.

While the buildings and people aren't any use, there is a range of scenic products including scatter, moss, wood, simulated coal etc. that look just like the stuff we use.

Chatting to the stand staff, the big advantage was that they are cheap. Really cheap. Pot of coal that would cost over a fiver at a model railway show for 2 quid. Bag of rough scatter a similar price.

You can read up on the range at the MyVillage website. If you want to buy, apparently the stuff will be on sale in your local garden centre.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Stafford 2015

Stafford show last weekend. I'm still stupid busy, so here are some highlights.

Best item on the second hand stall that I didn't buy:

GWR Train Set

A Lima GWR train set. Fantastic detail, although I'm struggling to identify the prototypes for the loco and coaches!

Cake review:

Tea and cake

Bought from the cafe opposite the venue as I waited for the queue to be dealt with. Excellent coffee and chocolate. Much warmer in there than standing outside too.

Best layouts:

Too many to mention. The selection was excellent and I know I was chatting too much to see them all properly. Mind you, the crowds were deep this year so it wasn't always easy to get a proper look.

Have a look at my photos on Flickr and make your own mind up.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Doncaster bound

As some of you read this, I will be packing up Edgeworth and Owen's Bridge for a trip up to Doncaster. At the moment I'm probably trying to pick the route with fewest roadworks.
Two layouts?
Yes, and a stint in the RMWeb live theatre talking about building Owen's Bridge. I'll be a busy boy.
Please come along and say hello (& throw cakes), it's always nice to know what you think of my efforts on-line and in print. Visit the Doncaster show website.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Home grown sheds Part 2

You don't see much corrugated iron in use these days. Look back to the 1950s and 60s and there was loads of the stuff.

One of the few buildings locally constructed from it is this shed in the front garden of a house in Kenilworth.  It's got rather pleasing proportions and I like the fact it fills the garden with the accompanying brick building.The colour, presumably pitch, also works well to my eye. 

I've no idea what these buildings are for. Perhaps a workshop of some kind. Certainly not a garage as there isn't a door on the end. 

In model form, this would make a really nice corner filler and be pretty easy to build from card and plastic. Never mind the house, just do the brick and wobbly tin bits. I reckon it would sit in a farmyard or industrial setting rather well - a bit different to the posh Warwickshire town it currently occupies.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Home grown sheds part 1

Today and tomorrows posts have been inspired by a couple of things. First, I am stupidly busy with other projects so can't report on great strides being made on my own modelling projects. 

The second is that the view above no longer exists, except on Google Street view. 

For many years, the shed shown above has stood in the garden of a house I pass walking to the Post Office. It's always amused me, being very home made from a variety of materials, none of which are very straight or flat. It's almost like a big resin cast model that someone has rounded off all the corners on.

The roof obviously has, or had, many layers of felt applied. I'm not sure the same material wasn't banged on to some of the walls and then painted green too. It's a tribute to the era when people made stuff from scrap materials. Why buy a shed when you can make one yourself from wood? 

Maybe a "professional" designer would have used somewhat different proportions (that door looks small in that wall) but the shed obviously gave sterling service for many, many years. In model form, I'm not sure anyone would believe it.

Sadly, it's been cleared away. There wasn't a long period of decline - one day it was there and the next it wasn't. You can only see it here now.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Road surfaces


Iain asks: Could you advise me on the best method of modelling roads on a model railway. I have looked at the peel and stick types and I don`t really want to go down that road (pardon the pun)' I would much rather build my own, if you could advise me on the surfacing & painting I would be very grateful.

Difficult one this. Like you, I've tried various methods for making roads and some work better than others.

The best looking 4mm scale tarmac I ever laid was on a model for BRM of a beer festival. Here I needed a car park at the front of a village hall and I created it with some black Daler board card. The surface was painted with Precision Paints Tarmac and (this is the important bit) when this was just dry, talcum powder was brushed over the surface.

This isn't for texture - the card is pretty perfect in this respect - but to vary the colours. More talc equals lighter grey. Use big brushes in the 1-4 inches range.

Most important - experiment first. I would think that if you can hide the joins, this method ought to work well. Adding a small camber by sticking a sliver of card under the centre of the road would be easy. Patched up areas can be painted on separately once the base colour is down.

I hope this helps. If you try it out, I'm sure all the readers here would really appreciate some photos.

Monday, February 02, 2015

K's large MK 1 motor

Radial Chassis

I love it when this blog helps someone out. Over the weekend, a member of the excellent Double O Gauge Association forum asked if anyone had the instructions for a K's model of an Adams Radial as he'd bought a second had kit which didn't include them. While I don't have the paperwork, at least I could point him at my photos to help out a bit.

This prompted another question about the motor in the kit. All I knew was that it's a whopper and possibly came from a Lancaster bomber, Lanc bomb control panels were a popular army surplus item for railway modellers (anyone got an unused one stashed away I could have?) so maybe the power units were also sold off...

Anyway, back in the real world, Colin Snowdon quickly identified the electric lump as a K's Mark 1. The Mark 2 apparently enjoyed only one magnet and after this they moved to the infamous plastic motor - most of which weren't going to trouble the skin of a rice pudding before expiring.

This motor seems quite smooth in a vintage sort of way. Were I to want to run the loco seriously on a finescale layout then something from Mashima attached to a proper gearbox would be dropped in but as this is a vintage model, I prefer to keep it original.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Branded for life?

The BBC has been reporting on a Swedish firm that is "offering" its employees the chance to have a microchip inserted under their skin.

Apparently this innovation allows them to open doors and work the photocopier by holding the back of their hand awkwardly against a sensor. They suggest this is "better" than using a card to do the same thing.

Cynics might suggest that it's really a method of control - once you can read the chip it's possible to track the employee everywhere. Others think it's the firm marking that the "own" the employee, in the same was as slaves were once branded with their owners mark.

What's daft is that there is no need for any of this. Just visit a model railway show and try to leave. Should a return to the hall be required later, you'll be offered a "pass out stamp" and the back of your hand will be inked with a suitable symbol.

You can't escape. If the good cake is in a cafe outside the hall then either you don't go back, buy another ticket or take the ink.

Then, when you leave, the world can see from the secret symbol where you have been, Groups of middle-aged men can gather safe in the knowledge that they are meeting friends. No need for a secret handshake, just check the mark of the modeller.

What I want to know, is when will the trade wake up to the demand for something that erases the stamp without half an hours scrubbing at the skin. I've washed with soap twice sine the show and it's still visible...