Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Warehouse Wednesday - Derby's back alleys


Scanned in from an old photo, I've identified the location by the name of the boxing academy.

This is the sort of scruffy back street scene I'd love to model properly. The buildings are old and have been modified several times. Whatever they started life as isn't what they are now.

I'm assuming that painted brickwork is an attempt to tidy up the factory(?) area or perhaps to improve visibility for drivers. The cutaway corner seen on the right hand building shows this was always meant to be a high-traffic area for vehicles.

Towards the back we have a cable and pipe bridge beautifully constructed in steel girders.

Once upon a time, I'd guess this was the working environment for hundred if not thousands of men. They would probably wonder at me finding it so interesting.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Modelu Figures

Modelu figures

One of the stands I was keenest to visit at Scaleforum was Modelu.

A new business, Alan Buttler has developed the technology to 3D scan and then print figures for model makers. Using stereo lithography, he can make people 25mm tall with superb detail. Best of all, they are proportionally correct, or at least as correct as the people who have been scanned.

Most of the figures so a far are based on preserved railway volunteers but it's perfectly possible to be scanned yourself, it doesn't hurt, you just stand still while Alan waves a tablet computer around you, and then you can be driving your own loco. You could even buy lots of prints to give to your friends!

I'll give these models a coat of paint as soon as I have time. In the meantime, check out my report on MREmag for more details.

Monday, September 28, 2015

New layout building bookazine!

The BRM Guide to Building Your First Model Railway

Out now - The BRM guide to Building Your First Model Railway!

Officially available from all good, and some disreputable, branches of WH Smith from October 12th. It will also be sold by some model railway traders at exhibitions. Price £5.99

If you can't wait then there is mail-order now:

Inside you'll find a revised version of the guides I wrote while building Edgeworth 18 months ago along with a little bit of new material to fill in some of the gaps. The spare original supplements sold like hot cakes at exhibitions as people raced to collect the set and we quickly ran out, hence the appearance of this bookazine.

Of course, the whole point of this exercise is that since the layout was in print, a whole load of new people have entered the hobby who won't have seen them. The layout proved incredibly popular at show with several versions being built by others - something I take as a massive compliment.

To support this, we're still running a thread on RMweb to answer questions and suggestions.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Scaleforum 2015

ClecklewykeTweed time!

Scaleforum takes place in the same venue as Railex but is marketed at members of the Scalefour Society. The layouts invited are all P4 and the trade represents this finescale market.

All this means that numbers are lower than you'd find at a comparable exhibition - which is a shame as it's not a bad show. My suspicion is that the Finescale (with a capital F) side puts off people. Or maybe the sort of people who might enjoy access to trade selling stuff for making things are reducing in number.

The feel is a lot more laid back than most shows. There are no barriers in front of the models for a start. This (apparently) to improve access but I suspect might be more to do with hire costs. Personally, I hate exhibiting without something for the punters to lean on because they still lean, but on the layout. And don't tell me enthusiasts are better behaved than the general public because I've seen them and they are worse.

One thing that always amuses me with P4 layouts is that some builders are perfectly capable of building the most superb trackwork and rolling stock to run on it but struggle with other aspects.

In a couple of cases, the struggle was with the colour of grass. They were exhibiting a colour described by a friend of mine as "Sellafield Green".

The society sells P4 as a holistic approach where the modeller strives to produce the finest quality over the whole layout. I'm not sure that a well made OO layout with consistent standards wouldn't fit the description better than some "proper" P4 models I've seen in the past, although not this year.

Anyway, there were some nice looking layouts. Despite the scales reputation, most of them worked very well too with no falling off, hesitation or signs of operating sequences full based on a quiet Sunday morning.


Guest non-P4 layout Fangfoss wasn't working when I saw it but the loco was clearly from the same builder as those found on the Isle of Man. I'd read a little of their history but this was the first time I'd seen a model.

Shopping was very good though. For the first time for years, I went with a list and bought everything on it reasonably easily.

So, if you are a practical modeller, assuming Scaleforum advertised this time next year, you don't have to be a member to get in so give it go.

Photos on Flickr.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

NOT a toy

From the packaging of the excellent Ratio SS91 Lever/Ground frames kit. I know that they have to write this on to exempt the kit from the regs relating to toys but I do wonder sometimes.

I mean, while a perfectly good kit, it's not going to be much fun as a toy is it?

Surely any parent who complains that the contents don't conform to the rules relating to plastic items stuffed up the nose when junior isn't being supervised because their guardians were too busy fiddling with their mobile phones, should have it pointed out to them that what they have left their sprog with is simply too dull to be a toy.

Also that any parent buying a child this kit as a toy should be locked away for child cruelty.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Book Review: Playing with Trains by Sam Posey

Sam Posey is described as a "Grand Prix legend" in the front of the book. Those outside the USA probably won't have heard of him but this apparently he raced in Formula 1 for a couple of years and various American series after this. (More details on Wikipedia) After this he became a racing pundit and worked in architecture.

All this makes him very different from the "average" railway modeller.

"Playing with trains" is split into two parts. The first covers the development of his modelling life from Lionel Trains as a child through the creation of a fully sceniced scale model railroad in the basement of his house.

A couple of things struck me. The first is that he seems to have very limited contact with the hobby, at least initially. One model shop and to start with, no model railway magazines. The book was published in 2004 so I assume the Internet hadn't made much impact during construction.

Much of the detail work relied on Ralph, a assistant who works with Sam on the line. Ralf works at the local model shop and knows about wiring and making miniature buildings. As far as I can tell, Ralph is employed in this role and for quite some time.

Eventually, Sam find other suppliers, although the Walthers Catalogue seems to play a big part, and Model Railroader magazine. The layout is eventually photographed and even makes the cover. Sam also starts to find other modellers and visits them, initially with trepidation lest their great efforts put his in the shade and kill his enthusiasm.

This doesn't happen, but I was fascinated by the "lone wolf" way he approaches the layout. My suspicion is that this is mainly due to the geography of the USA. People live huge distances apart and a trip to the local hobby store, club or an exhibition can be a major outing.

The second, and most important thread running through part 1, is the joy of building a model. I've not read anyone encapsulate the mania that can drive you while working on a project that is going well. Although they never set a time limit on the project, Sam obviously enjoys the planning and scenic work. He likes to do things properly too - how many beginners superelevate their curves?

The pleasure of building a model comes through in the text. I'd love to distill it when trying to explain to "normal" people why we do this.

Part 2 sees a trip around major manufacturers and modellers. He again we see the difference between the US and UK scene. At the time of writing, Model Railroader enjoyed as many sales as all the 4 main UK magazines put together. Going behind the scenes Sam finds a far bigger budget operation then any of our mags can muster, but then that's what you get when the market it so large!

Elsewhere it's not so good. City centre model stores are shrinking or shutting up shop. An annual set of tuition talks can't find anyone who wants to attend - making the writer wonder if people just don't want to learn stuff, preferring to blunder on as he did.

There's lots of talk of an aging population but it seems that these people are happy to spend on their hobby. An interesting split is shown between those who operate a layout and those who are more "artistic". In the book, it appears as a real chasm. Perhaps this is an extreme, with a large modelling population you can find the far ends of a spectrum. Operation is very much on the Australian model with groups visiting a fixed layout and running a schedule, although in the States they seem a lot less relaxed about it. No stubby holders attached to the baseboards there I suspect.

I'll admit I really enjoyed this book. As someone well immersed in the hobby, there was a fair bit of "why do it that way" going on ,especially in the first half, but overall I found it fascinating. If you have lost the ability to view what we do through the eyes of a newbie, I recommend it. In fact if you just fancy and interesting read about railroad modelling, give it a go.

Thanks to Paul B for putting me on to this.

Buy the book for tiny money on Amazon.

I wonder if there ought to be a British version?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Ynys Gwyntog

Ynys Gwyntog

I've been very busy recently so this is just a quick post.

Ynys Gwyntog was on display at Scaleforum last weekend as a tribute to its creator, Bob Barlow. I remember being impressed with it in NG&I No.100 and so to see the model in the flesh was a real treat.

What I love is the atmosphere Bob created. Whisper it gently but this isn't the most detailed model in the world. However, unlike many of the "perfect" models I've seen, it has character in abundance. The differing ground levels, the hand scribed stone, the observation of real scenes, it all comes together.

I don't suppose I'll ever produce anything this good but looking at the real model I can see how I could get within touching distance. You can't say that about layouts where they are so fixated on track gauge that the green, green grass is all wrong. But more of that at the weekend.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Warehouse Wednesday: Bishophill Coachworks

Pedants will point out that this isn't strictly speaking a warehouse, but I think the right hand side of the building might just have been a storage facility at some point. Anyway, it's my blog, I'll write what I want.
Found while wandering around the backstreets of York, I'm impressed with the number of wall finishes in such a small space. Yellow/white bricks on the face. Painted bricks above this and red ones on the end. Presumably the decorative frontage tells of a rather more impressive than a car bodywork shop.
At the end we have a rather more mysterious red brick building. No idea what it is in the photo, and checking Google streetview, it's been replaced with a 3 story block of flats that retain the same footprint. Bishophill Coachworks still exists though, even if they have re-painted the front.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Bantam test sailing

Bantam Battery

Thursday is model railway club night and since it shares the site with the model boat club, I decided it was about time I took the chance to test sail the Bantam without anyone else on the water.

First job was to sort out the battery. This has been dumped in the boat in the past but a couple of roughly cut pieces of 2mm thick plasticard were enough to keep it in place and away from rotating bits. I'm using a small jelly cell as the weight is useful and I reckon the boat will run for hours on a full charge.

Down at the lake, there were a couple of sailors taking advantage of the pleasant evening to give boats a turn around the water. Both were the sort you want around for test sails - if there is a problem they will help but I wasn't going to be on the end of helpful advice form anyone who hasn't actually done the things they are suggesting.

Bantam Sails
On the water, the boat worked well. For once, the drive system is pretty much silent. Speed is good - two notches on the transmitter stick were enough for a realistic tootle leaving plenty of "getting out of the way" power if required.
One problem is that I'd weighted the model so it sat perfectly level in the test tank (bathroom hand basin) but as soon as the power went on, the nose dips. Looking at the real tug, at rest it sits very tail heavy so I wonder if this is a feature of the hull shape. I'll either take a bit of lead out of the front or add some to the back, or possibly a bit of each, to sort this out.
The other issue was getting stuck on a fish. There are plenty of sizable carp in the lake and at one point the boat whirled around on its own, presumably the rudder having caught on the back of a miniature leviathan.
Steering by the way is superb. That big rudder will spin the model around pretty much in its own length. Bring on the steering competitions!

Monday, September 21, 2015

New Street sation mock-up

Yesterday, the new look Birmingham News Street station was fully opened to the public. A few days earlier, I finally answered a question that had been bugging me for a while, and it turns out to be related.
Every time I head into Brum, as we pass Small Heath, there is an unusual girder structure beside one of the bridges. I'd always assumed it was an advertising hoarding of some kind, but an usually shaped one.
Browsing on Rail Radar, I found I was able to zoom in and have a look at the side you can't see from the tracks, but I couldn't see any advertising. A look on Google Street view wasn't any more help.  
Knowing exactly where the thing was did though, typing a request into Google, brought back a discussion that linked to a newspaper story. It turns out that this is a test piece, very like the ones I build to try new materials or techniques for models, but for the cladding on New Street station.
new street facade 4

Sunday, September 20, 2015

End of the big bottle

No Mek

January 2012. I bought the biggest bottle of Slaters Mek-Pak I could.

Last week, I finally finished it off. That works out less than a fiver a year for liquid glue. It's not like I'm a light user of the stuff either. WHen I work with plastic, I slosh it around like it's going out of fashion.

Who says model making is expensive?

Saturday, September 19, 2015

TINGS 2015

Iron bridge

The International N Gauge Show - usually shortened to TINGS isn't one I normally visit but being just around the corner, and the place where you are most likely to find new products in the scale, a worthwhile trip.

I covered new products over on MREmag but what about the layouts?

Well, there were layouts but if I'm honest, very little really sparked my interest. I'm not a huge N gauge fan at the best of times but I don't think this was a vintage year.

Worst crime, perpetrated by several people, is to take the hugely chunky N gauge track and paint the rail sides with a bright oxide colour. Far from dulling the thing down, painting it red makes the over scale rail even more obvious. 

There was some nice scenery on display as you can see above and a fair bit of quality model making but overall, I got the feeling that the layouts are lagging behind the quality of RTR models available.

N gauge fans are forever bemoaning that lack of coverage they receive in the mainstream mags but when you point a camera at much of the modelling, it is horribly cruel. I know working in the scale is much harder than it is in 4 and 7mm but the readers don't always grasp this.

On the other hand, on the Saturday morning, the show was buzzing and everyone seemed to be having a good time, so it can't be all bad!

Photos on Flickr.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Bantam update

Bridge inside

A busy week has limited the time I could spend working on the Bantam tug. However, I have fitted out the wheelhouse. Since the view inside is limited, I'm not going to go mad in there.

The wheel is an odd design - standard ships wheel but with only one sticking out handle. Trimming a whitemetal casting did the job. On the real boat there is a chain running around the back and down to a couple of pulleys. You won't see it so I'm not building it.


Quite what happened to the paint, I don't know. In real life it's not nearly as green as the photo shows. On the other hand it's not the same colour as the top of the tinlet...


Captain Scarlet had had all his joints locked with some epoxy resin, gun and shoulder pads trimmed away and then a coat of Milliput that will be smoothed down to represent a boiler suit. Again, you can't see much through the windows so my poor sculpting won't show too badly.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

ERG wagon kits

This blogging lark is great. As yesterday proved, all you need to do is post a picture and there is a good chance someone will be able to identify the location.

So, here's a new challenge. I've been passed from ERG cardboard wagon kits. All I know you can see in the photos.




How old are they? I'm thinking 1950s perhaps although they probably stuck around on the shelf for a lot longer.

Has anyone built one? What do you use as a chassis?

Painting looks interesting as surely you cover the up the livery details as soon as the first coat goes on.

Fascinating history though, from a period when people actually did some modelling. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Warehouse Wednesday: Sepia Works

Sepia Works

I'm not sure where this photo was taken. Possibly Birmingham, but I didn't write anything on the back of the print and as you can tell by the cars, the shot dates from the 1990s.

Interesting canal side building, hardly improved by painting the dark brown frontage black. Looking closely at the picture, I'm pretty certain the name isn't Sepia but I can't work out what it really is.

If anyone knows more about this building, please comment away.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Class 37


Over the weekend, I dropped in to the International N gauge show. The aim was to find plenty of new products to report on for MREmag.

While there, I was staggered by the quality of some models in the scale. The Class 37 above comes from MERCIG Studios. I'd advise you to click on the photo to see the full size, and very many times life size, version.

This sort of work doesn't come cheap of course, MERCIG upgraded locos start at £350 but if they are all like this, you are buying a work of art. As a bit of a Class 37 fan, I'd have happily brought this one home if I'd had the cash to spare. When I build my O gauge version, I'll be happy if it looks this good!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Prototype for everything, peeling transfers

Fibre lettering
Spotted at the Gloucester & Warwickshire Railway, a station sign with the letters peeling off.

Apparently they were removed during the war when with the threat of invasion looming, signs were removed or defaced so as not to aid the Germans. Many stations lost their names altogether which meant you were relying on knowing where you were going - assuming your journey was really necessary of course - or that the guard called out the right name when you arrived and you heard him over the cacophony outside.

Once the threat passed, sings started to reappear. It seems that here, the letters were replaced with painted fibreboard. Over time, this cot damp and started to curl up.

All I could think when I saw it was that I've applied transfers to things that do the same. Usually when a deadline is looming...

Sunday, September 13, 2015

National Micro-car rally 2015

Micro Car Rally

"Can you help me with me legs?"

An odd request to my father and me when we arrived at the rally. Fortunately, the legs in question belonged to a mannequin belonging to a gentleman collecting for a medial charity as he displayed his vehicle. We carried his "nurse" on her sun lounger across the field and helped set her up by his car. Sadly, he then ruined it buy starting to rattle on about "all these immigrants being let in", at which point we swiftly left him to it.


Not that we wanted to hang around chatting to bigots - cars were arriving thick and fast. A line up of Bond Bugs caught the eye first, well they are bright orange. As a delighted child proudly shouted to his parents, "There are nine of them.". Learning maths while looking at micro cars seems good to me!

Bond Bugs

The advert had mentioned up to 100 cars and I'd thought this was a wild over-estimate. There can't be that many on the road can there?

Well, if they didn't make the hundred, it was very close. The field was certainly full. Most appeared to have arrived under their own power too with only a few trailers evident. The owners I saw didn't take prisoners while driving either, these things can shift!

Frisky Chassis

As ever, I found myself wishing to join the hobby. Looking at the bare chassis for a Meadows Frisky, I realised just how practical owning one of these things could be, at least from the maintenance point of view. None of the structural parts looked to challenging and the engine could easily be lifted out by hand for work on the bench. In fact I was slightly tempted by an engine setup on an autojumble stand just for the fun of some light restoration - but then I have enough hobbies.

Frisky 861HLG

Anyway, what a great way to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday. Maybe I'm a bit tall for micro car ownership. Maybe it's something to think about once my fleet is back on the road. How many people dream of plastic cars that could fit in the back of a van?

National Micro-car rally website.

More photos over on Flickr.

Beauty and the beast

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Bachmann Collectors Club members day 2015

Bachmann train

In my capacity as MREmag editor, I occasionally find myself invited to events. Not often, which is why it seems only polite to go when I do. Last Saturday, it was the Bachmann Collectors Club members day at the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway.

Despite being only 35 miles away from where I live, I'd never been to the line. Lack of a mainline railway connection means it's a drive or nothing and I never seemed to get around to the drive - until the invite arrived in the post.

We had been promised that in addition to a day on the railway, there would be an announcement of new products and a display of the latest samples of those under development. Around half eleven we gentlemen of the press were handed an A4 sized envelope and sternly instructed not to tell anyone about the contents before the embargo expired at midday. A couple of my readers asked what was in there but I always adhere to press embargoes and even if I didn't, I wasn't about to let slip anything with the Bachmann press team hovering!

To entertain us before the announcement, we were treated to a tour of the engine shed and ride on the narrow gauge railway. After this everyone was served with a bag containing a sandwich (ham or cheese), bag of crisps, KitKat and apple. Three of us then hopped in a car to head to Winchcombe station to get a look at the samples before the crowds arrived.

Winchcombe station

This isn't us being snobbish, it's just more practical to take stuff out of cabinets for photos when the room isn't full of people wanting a proper look. As it was, we forfeited a ride on the train to do this - such are the hardships we endure!

Winchcombe is home to the carriage and wagon restoration works and part of the day was tour of these. Housed in the only building BR left standing on the line when it was handed over to the enthusiasts, the facilities are impressive and fascinating.

Starting with the upholstery shop we were shown how the seats are repaired and made good for service. Moquette has to be bought 450 metre at at a time and isn't cheap, but it is both hard wearing and correct for the vehicles being restored. One problem is that it comes in a wide range of colours which is difficult when buying in such quantity.

Moquette samples

Next it was off to the carpenters to see door restoration and then the paint shop. A separate facility for this is a luxury the volunteers really appreciate as it keeps the mucky work of chopping metal and wood away from their fine finishes. A demo of plasma cutting proved the point, as did the dirty grey walls in the body shop vs the gleaming white ones for the painters.

Grotty Brushes

After this there time for some Victoria sponge and tea on the station platform before driving back to Toddington.

Chatting to the members present, everyone had a superb day. The collectors club puts this on for members as part of their subscription. Combined with an excellent magazine, you see why their club is growing.

An excellent day, thanks to the BCC and GWR for their efforts.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Sleeper stacks

Sleeper stack 1

I've been spotting stacks of sleepers recently. Yes I know how sad that sounds but you're reading this so stop laughing.

The first was at Quorn on the GCR. Presumably concrete sleepers will chip if you bundle them together, these have been neatly piled up with wooden sleepers between them.

I'm not sure what you do if there's no wood available and thinking about it, I don't recall ever seeing piles of concrete sleepers. Track panels yes, but there you have rail between the crumbly bits.

Sleeper stack 2

Over at the GWR, I found this pile. Not sure what these sleepers are used for. Track that is to be inlaid with concrete perhaps?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Shuttles and Railcars in BRM

RQ Upper level

I'm thinking about diesel railcars in this month's British Railway Modelling Magazine.

Ruston Quays continues with me setting up the shuttle unit to run the upper level. We've used a Guagemaster unit which is brilliant, but setting things up to deal with DMUs picking up on 4, 8 or 16 wheels is a little trickier.

Don't worry, I have a brilliant and simple solution!

I'm a big fan of the shuttle. Watching a train rattle back and forth automatically is mesmerising. I want one on all future layouts!


I've also been dabbling in 7mm scale with some modifications to Heljan's AC Railbus.

A very nice model, made even nicer with a bit of weathering, a crew, new destination blinds and some moquette on the seats. OK, so it's a bit scary attacking a 500 quid model but at the end of the day, it is only a model and with a bit of tinkering, can be personalised for the layout. Maybe I've ruined the resale value but I prefer my version.

Finally, I've been chatting to the owner of my local model shop, Classic Train and Motor Bus. He's given me an insight into what it takes to be a successful bricks'n'mortar shop in the Internet age.

Oh, and on the DVD, I'm scribing stone walls, stripping paint from wagons and shovelling coal into a real steam engine!

More on this issue over on RMweb.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Warehouse Wednesday - Concrete at Ipswich

Concrete Ipswich

We're in Ipswich docks again this week.

There's lots of things I like about this photo. For a start the quayside building sticking out right to the waters edge providing cover for goods to be transhipped as well as making best use of space for storage.

Behind, we have a giant, concrete silo. These look simple but are tricky to model . I've always found concrete a difficult colour to pin down. It's creamy with a hint of brown but often made up of panels with subtle variations.

At York this year, there was a superb model, I think on a layout called Canada Dock.

Concrete building

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Cap'n Captain Scarlet

Captain Captain Scarlet

I'm going to need someone behind the wheel of the Bantam. The big windows into the wheelhouse will show up the ghost doing the steering.

A little work with the calculator shows my model to be 1:21 or 1:18 scale - depending whether you use the length or width of the hull as your guide.

I recon this means a 6ft man will be about 3 1/2 inches tall.

Rooting through the bits box, I found a Captain Scarlet figure almost exactly the right size. Standing him on the deck, he looks right compared to the cabin. This is low as the floor is below deck height.

Sadly for the good Captain, the floor on the model isn't low so I'll need to chop him off at the knees. That uniform is going to need a coat of Milliput too. I don't think many tug skippers looked like this!

Monday, September 07, 2015

Nuts'n'Bolts in plastic

Bolt heads

Larger scale models allow, or demand, larger details.

In 4mm scale, I can get away (or at least I think I can) with a cube of plastic for a nut. On the Bantam tug, I feel I ought to do a little better.

Better comes from MENG models and their moulded collection of nuts and bolts. Each sheet comes with bolt heads on one side and nuts, with bolts sticking through, on the other. Sizes range from 0.8mm to 1.4mm.

The details are tiny but if you look carefully, through some magnification, beautifully moulded.

To use them, slide sharp blade under the details required and stick them in place with some liquid solvent.

I've used a couple of sizes on the top of the tug. I assume this panel can be lifted away to allow access to the engine. Oddly, the prototype doesn't have lifting lugs here, those supplied are for lifting the entire boat, so I assume the panel is light enough to manhandle.

Vent and bolts

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Exhibiting model railways isn't all glamour you know


I know you think that life on the model railway exhibition circuit is all glitz and glamour, but it isn't.

Years ago, we exhibited at Genk in Belgium. Overlord had been invited and there was space in the van so we took Melbridge Dock.

After a day driving from the tunnel, getting lost in Brussels, setting up and getting lost on the way to the accommodation, we arrived at midnight. The digs were a watersports centre which as you can see, were a little bit basic.

To cap it all, the bedding arrived rolled up in clingfilm so our first job was to make up all the beds.

Still, at least we slept as everyone was to tired. In the morning we awoke to a breakfast of frozen bread...

Saturday, September 05, 2015


ShedsI've been looking at the underneath of railway arches recently.

Firstly, it's because my car has reached MOT time again and the tester is under an arch. One new tyre since you ask but I fitted a pair as it doesn't make sense to change a single tyre unless you have to - they've both done the same number of miles after all!

Second, Ruston Quays includes quite a few arches and I thought it would be nice if some of them had scruffy businesses in them.

So, while I waiting for the re-test, I wandered along to my local model shop and on the way spotted this scene. Sadly, I hadn't got a proper camera with me so it's shot on my scratch lensed mobile but I think you get the idea.

Under the arches, acting as storage for a headstone supplier, is this pair of sheds.

They would make a brilliant model, not this time but in the future.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Parker's Vans

Parker Vans

A couple of new vans for Ruston Quays, well we'll need some road transport amongst all the trains.

Van transfersRegular readers might remember that for the August issue of BRM, I built a small factory unit using free parts supplied by The model factory hasn't survived but like a phoenix, it will rise from the ashes.

When I wrote the post for BRM's blog, Pete Harvey asked if the van I posed in front of the doors was going to be sign written. I pondered this and suggested it might. In my head there were some ideas about printing my own transfers.

Of course I did nothing about it.

Then a couple of weeks ago, the Justin at mentioned in his newsletter that they would be producing some sign writing for transit vans. I immediately e-mailed him to see if they would do anything suitable for older vehicles. After a little discussion, including sending over the measurements of a suitable vehicle, he agreed. A few days after this, a fantastic sheet of transfers appeared in the post.

The signs match the free ones given away with the magazine so as soon as the new Parker Fabrications appears, it will have transport.

Should you fancy doing something similar yourself, the transfers are available from the maker (I'm sure he'll do other names but why would you want them?).

Removing the branding from an Oxford Diecast van is simple - just burnish it away with a fibreglass pen and finish off with some Brasso wadding. This leaves a shiny surface suitable for applying the transfer. I finished off with a spray of sating varnish but it's not essential as the printing is by laser not inkjet.

Be careful not to burnish anything you want to keep - I had to repaint the red line to blue on the van as I managed to clean it off but some neat(ish) work with a brush sorted this out.

I look forward to seeing Parker's vans on layouts around the country. If you spot one, please send me a photo, I'd love to see where they end up!

Thursday, September 03, 2015



More fabrication, this time the handrails. Some 2mm rod poking through flat stanchions, just like the prototype. Plenty of plastic solvent and the result is very strong.

The problem is, having made them I look at the prototype pictures and think I've made the stanchions too long and used too thick a rod. So, I made some with 1.5mm rod and compared the two:


Yet again, I think my "cartooned"versions look better. The rod would be 4mm diameter, which doesn't seem excessive - the real ones are just bigger than a 10p piece so around 25mm. The stanchions are too long but I quite like that as well.

The juries still out on this. I might well decide to replace them all yet.