Thursday, August 31, 2017

Oh the huminiatures!

The railbus needs a driver - well models hurtling around the track without anyone on board look weird to me - but I never seemed to be near suitable traders to buy one. 

Truth is, even if I had, being hidden inside the car, I simply didn't need to spend a load of money on a high-quality model. Rooting around in the cupboard, I found a few sprues of Slater's Huminiatures. OK, they are a bit basic and the mould was obviously worn when this shot was made, but with a little tickling up they would do the job.

I've used the rather oddly shaped man with his arms spread over the bench seat. Chopping around a bit, he sticks really well with Mek-Pak, I narrowed his stance to fit in the confines of the driver seat. Since you can't see his shoulder, I didn't worry about filler. The other arm was more of a challenge as it has to clear the PCB, but sticking out like this he seems to fit.

Lifecolor flesh tones followed by blue overalls, pale grey shirt and dark grey hat'n'boots did the job. I nearly didn't bother with the boots as you can't see his feet but relented when it just seemed off not to do the whole job. A wash of Citadel weathering black finished the look and he's now UHU'd into position.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Warehouse Wednesday: Quorn Goods Shed

Quron Goods shed 1

When you are locked in a car park, there's plenty of time to take photos of the more interesting buildings.

Quron Goods shed 2

Quron Goods shed 3

Quron Goods shed 4

To be fair, Quorn goods shed on the Great Central Railway is a rather nice building. Unlike most good sheds, it's a sensible size for model railways, which is probably why Bachmann made a model of it in 4mm scale

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Covering the PCB

Covering the rather visible PCB inside the railbus proved tricky. I don't want to take the components out as they provide suppression for electrical noise as well as DCC stuff that might be useful in the future. There's nowhere to relocate it either in such a small model. 

The solution came from an unexpected source - looking at a model boat at Bristol and talking the the builder, he showed me how the cover on a liferaft had been made from clingfilm. It stretches perfectly to look like tarpaulin and will accept paint. 

For his application, I wondered if it might be a bit fragile but to cover the PCB, perfect. Thin and non-conducting, it adds nothing to the bulk of the unit and painted black isn't too obvious. Took 2 coats though as the first dried gloss, presumably something to do with the material. 

I suppose I could pretend this is some sort of covered "thing" being carried but why would it be sheeted when inside the body? A bit like those people who insist on wearing a woolly hat indoors under a perfectly good ceiling. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Crich model trams 2017

Illuminated trams

To Derbyshire for the model tram event. Not a huge show, but with a few memorable moments. 

The first were the illuminated 4mm scale trams on Leyburn Avenue. Truly spectacular models, the larger ones with over 1000 tiny LEDs fitted. I've always fancied building the Rocket, but it would be a challenge to do it better than this.

Wolverhampton Tram

Next, we have the late Robert Whetstones collection of 3/4 inch trams. These don't see action very often so it was a privilege to watch then trundle up and down the test track. I've always loved this scale of tram since seeing a superb model over 30 years ago. Working this big, everything can be built in the same way as the prototype, and it shows.

Finally, no cake this time, but lunch was the most delicious local steak pie with mushy peas and seriously roasted potatoes. The Tramway Museum cafe comes up trumps again!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Bristol Model Engineering show 2017

Wooden traction engine

You know what I like about model engineering shows?

The huge variety of different disciplines on show in one place. Where else would you find a wooden traction engine and a peel of bells?

The Bells

Model boats:



Bulleid shunter



Steam engines:

Rob Roy

and even plastic kits:

Builders truck

So much variety in such a small space, and I didn't even get to take photos of the radio control trucks. By the time I'd finished chatting, they were starting to pack away!

I wonder if the term "model engineering" puts people off a bit? They assume it's going to be crusty old men talking about compression ratios and boasting about the size of thier lathe. Instead, there is a huge array of quality exhibits and people happy to chat about them. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Saturday Film Club: Nettlecombe

Back to Brian Macdermotts's list for this weeks film. Nettlecombe is one of the those layouts where the rolling stock is secondary to the scenery modelling. There is some lovely detail which the film rightly concentrates on, even if it proves quite how hard it it so video this sort of thing with such limited depth of field provided by most cameras. 

I think I have connections with everyone in the film too. John and Jane Jacobs have made a number of lovely layouts that I've admired at shows. We booked one (Fiddlers Green I think) for our event and once they arrived, helped out unloading the trailer. Sadly, our over-enthusiasm wasn't appreciated and we were told to put everything back so each board could be brought out in the correct order. 

Mark Found came to our clubrooms once and I'm pretty sure I managed to get myself on a DVD he made in the good old Railway Channel days. He didn't realise he had a future star on his hands back then though...

Friday, August 25, 2017

Dress code slippage

I discovered something shocking recently. Apparently ties are no longer a requirement for those working at Railway Modeller magazine. It seems that Peco are "moving with the times". Before long they will be wearing baseball caps back to front!

A bit of me quite likes the idea of dress codes that are slightly old-fashioned. When working in an office, I wore ties long after others had given up on them. My vast collection needed an airing and anyway, it was the only bit of colour I could be bothered with. When your tie has character, wearing a white shirt each day isn't noticed. 

I'm not sure this is always a good thing however. Look at this illustration from the 1960 Hobbies Annual. The lad is sawing away while dressed in a suit!

Is this either safe or clever? My guess is that his Mum would appear very shortly and administer a clip around the ear for getting his good clothes dirty. Sawdust gathered in trouser turn-ups must have been difficult to shift in those pre-washing machine days. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

3 model trams

Three model trams that have been knocking around the workbench for quite some time:

Honk Kong tram toy

First, a Hong Kong tram. Diecast, freewheeling and basically a toy, it still has the look of the trams I travelled on in my day on Hong Kong island a couple of years ago. Weirdly, the photos of the model on the box, show it without adverts. I paid a quid for it on the second hand stall at Stafford show earlier this year. 

Lisbon tram

Next, a Portuguese tram from Lisbon. Like the Hong Kong tram, it's diecast and free-wheeling, but a much better model and pretty close to HO scale by the look of it despite being a tourist piece. Probably a bit narrow as the track gauge is only just 16.5mm. Nice roof and interior detail. Not bad for a pound from the same second hand stall. I've always fancied seeing the real thing too.

Saint-Druon tram

Finally a French tram from the Atlas editions range. This one is diecast with plastic detail, properly HO scale, and yes, it does have moving wheels. An exquisite model, it was a bit pricier, costing £25 at the recent Crich model tram day. Mt Dad couldn't resist and I don't think he was daft to pick it up. It's one lovely little model. I just hope he doesn't feel the urge to complete the set!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Warehouse Wednesday: 1835 Northlight building

Northlight building

The Isle of Man ishome to some very early examples of innovative design. We have one of the earliest electric tramways for example and here, an early "Northlight" roof building. 

According to Wikipedia "British engineer and architect William Fairbairn is sometimes credited with the first designs for what he termed the shed principle possibly as early as 1827". The principle being that a roof shaped with windows facing north would allow lots of free light into the work area. 

Originally a woollen mill, this building dates from 1835. The stone walls are original but unsuprisingly, the roof covering has ben replaced, probably several times. Inside, the timbers don't look to have required the same treatment. 

Sadly, this is now on an indsutrial estate so I can't show you much more easily. Google will let you look around outside though to get a feel for the area. Head on to the bridge and look over for the station. Then try to guess why I was there. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Down in the spraybooth, something stirred

In between all my gallivanting around, getting locked in car parks and eating cake, I managed to find a few minutes to take the railbus to the spraybooth for a blow over with some colour.

To make accessing the lower portions easier, the model sits on a handy box of cat food. The moggies don't seem to mind me using it and the recycling men don't seem bothered what paint it gets in the outside. It makes a nice solid support and yet can be spun around on the turntable. 

Colours used were Humbrol 250 (pale brown) below the footplate, 70 (rust) everywhere but especially the front, 173 (track colour) all over and a finish using Railmatch weathered black around the exhaust. 

The effect I'm looking for is a gentle tinting rather than any standout colours. Each paint is heavily thinned and sprayed from about a foot away so it's nearly dry when it hits the model - dirt is matt as far as I am concerned. To avoid clean "shadows" behind the rods, a 9V battery turns the wheels a bit between colours.

Monday, August 21, 2017

More paint

More paint. Red for the buffer beams and cranks, weathered black (why is this satin finish?) for the lamp, exhaust stack and radiators and wood for the wooden front steps. A bit of dry-brushing, gunmetal on the stack and radiators and brass on the door handles, starts to bring it alive.Now I have to let everything dry fully before washing some dirt over the thing. Then down to the spraybooth.

One problem is going to be hiding that PCB inside the cabin. Full size resistors look a bit incongruous and even a few people won't hide them.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Bressingham 2017

Foden C type lorry

To Bressingham for the garden railway event.

Or at least that was the plan, I'd never been to Bressingham before. I knew of it - mainly because the industrial Garratt lives there - but what with it being 3 hours away, a visit hadn't been on my radar. However, with a garden railway event taking place, my new role made it important for me to visit.

What I hadn't expected was a rally of small-scale steam vehicles with 29 entratns, all of excellent quality.

Gn15 loco

After poking around the sheds, finding my favourite loco and enjoying a load of the others, I headed in to the garden railway show. There was an awful lot of chatting with trade and exhibitors. Sadly, this didn't result in many photos for you.

More producting for pictures was the rally and also the three working real railways on site. I didn't have time for a ride, that will have to wait for another day, but it's ceretainly worth the trip. For a tenner, I could have even driven a narrow gauge loco pulling slate wagons. Money well spent.

For the moment, enjoy a little Terrier action:


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Saturday Film Club: Snaefell Number 4 by drone

For the moment, we will ignore the recent issues concerning the Snaefell Mountain Railway and the hysterical contributions to the discussions by people who should know better. 

Instead, look at the very recently refurbished Number 4, turned out in Ailsa green livery and looking very smart indeed. The guys working for the railway really do an excellent job on this sort of work and it's lovely to see the tram under test on the line. 

The drone fliers got lucky too. It's not always that clear when heading up the mountain.

Friday, August 18, 2017


Ivatt Class 2 46521

Holding planning meetings away from the office makes a lot of sense. Take everyone away from distractions and the team can focus on layout down ideas for the next few months. This accounts for a few trips to Quorn on the Great Central Railway where the BRM tram have sat around a table in the cafe working out how we'll fill the next few issues of your favourite model railway periodical.

Wednesday saw such a trip. Waiting for everyone to arrive, I enjoyed a stroll around the year taking photos of things. It's an interesting place as there is always something new to look at. This time, there were loads of wagons showing signs of a life outside.

Weathered wagon

Not long after I took this photo, I was accosted by some freindly hi-vis sporting chaps from the railway. One of whom asked if I was there for the cake. Not really, but after that, I could hardly avoid sampling it. 


You'll be pleased to know the chocolate crunch was excellent and I'm told the Victoria sandwich was also very good. The brie and cranberry sandwiches though, delicious. I could have eaten a couple more rounds although I had, they wouldn't have been the only thing round!

If you are in the area, even if not planning to use the train, this is an excellent cafe with a good range and friendly staff.

Anyway, our meeting went well and we've lined up some really exciting features for the future. Afterwards, Andy Y and I recorded a little video promo for the October issue and then stood around chatting beside the good shed, accidentally out of sight of the staff. This wasn't the greatest idea as by the time we made a move, the last train had long gone. And the car park was locked up!

Despite my efforts to guess the combination on the lock, it took three-quarters of an hour and many phone calls to get the correct number sequence so we could escape. I wouldn't mind, but the cafe was locked up and so we both faced a night sleeping in our cars. Lesson learned.Well, that and "have the brie and cranberry panini, which looks even nicer than the sandwich.

Morris Minor

Mind you, this Moggie Minor has been there a lot longer then we might have been. 

Details of Quorn station here.  For your Satnav, you'll need the postcode: LE12 8AG. Leave some cake!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Electrical things in BRM plus cakes!

The September issue of BRM has gone all DCC - which as all fules kno is the work of the devil.

Nevertheless, I have had a bit of a look at accesory decoder modules, which I have to grudgingly admit could massivly reduce the amount of wire under a baseboard. The savings in wire could go a long way to helping pay for the chippy things too. Using them is pretty simple nowadays, you don't even have to do any soldering.

Above the baseboard, we are offering an airbrush to new subscribers so I'm going through some of the basics and explaining why you might want to own one with quick projects on locos, rolling stock, track and even buildings. A really versatile tool which many modellers seemed scared of. OK, we aren't all proferssional painters, but it's still useful in the hands of and idiot like me.

Of course, when you saw the title of this blog post, you were only interested in the cake. Well, I mention it because I've writen a piece explaining why I like smaller shows. You'll be unsurprised to know that this includes my enthusiasm for different cakes. For sensible content, Jerry Clifford also explains the work that goes into a show from the exhibition managers point of view. 

Over on the DVD, there is a Phil double bill. 

First, I take viewers through a few wiring basics - tining wires attaching them to point motors and track and even unsoldering. When we were talking about a DCC lead issue, it occurred to me that these very basic techniques would be useful to all. Soldering irons are another tool people are scared of, so that's another demystified I hope.

I'm also making cable drums using a resin kit, a last-minute addition to the line-up but hopefully there is something useful and entertaining in it. I do explain why you shouldn't let them lie down on a layout...

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Warehouse Wednesday: More tea driver?

Hereford cafe

Classic cafe time. Bet you can get a cracking sausage, egg and chips along with a good, strong cup of tea. There's probably even tomato shaped bottles on the table for red sauce. It scores well on Trip Advisor although there is concern at the sausages.

Found in Hereford bus station, for some reason, this reminds me of the Wills SS67 Wayside station kit. OK, it's bigger but they share a certain "look". 

Rather smartly painted, this might not be that old, but it's a pretty classic design that could find its way, in model form, onto many layouts. Perhaps a candidate for a resin model?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

EiM and Garden Rail in the shops

It's a big day - the first issues of Garden Rail and Engineering in Miniature magazines I have been responsible for hit the news stands.

Starting in the garden, I've filled it with lots of construction articles, some of which cover topics that I've always wondered about. Clockwork power? It can be done, but the power source comes from an unexpected device and not one I'd imagined when contemplating the idea.

Building locos in plastic is another of my "things" and to see someone build an electric Gauge 1 loco appeals to me enormously. It's putting larger scales in reach of those without a massive workshop.

We've also some laser-cut kit action from both IP Engineering and Phil Sharples - again, very much my sort of thing with my background in cheap'n'cheerful garden modelling.

There's some nifty building work with a smoking distillery and Mel Turbutt finds space for a 16mm line with an article opening with a photo that could be a real scene. I told the designer to use it large...

The cover of Engineering in Miniature is in my opinion, stunning showing Alan Barnes 6 inch Burrell. The moment I opened the file, I knew it was going on the front of the magazine!

Model Engineers enjoy show reports and so we have several including the all important narrow gauge IMLEC efficiency trials and a look around Statfold Barn.

Since these are my first issues, I'm still on a learning curve. The process has been interesting and it's going to take me a few months to really get hold of both, but in the meantime, I think readers will like what they find (probably some really obvious typos...). I've a few ideas for the future to really make them burst with content, so get down to Smiths and bag yourself a copies.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Near disaster paint job

Painting started with a coat of Humbrol 120 (Light green). I'm not sure why I picked the colour other than it was late, I was a bit tired and working under artificial light.

The next day, I knew I'd made a mistake. It wasn't terrible, but the colour just wasn't the one I'd envisaged when I'd been building the model. It was far too light.

Initial panic quickly gave way to sensible thinking. I could always repaint the model, even if it meant stripping it first.

Had I used a colour too dark, I'd have dry-brushed with the lighter hue and been happy. What I did was the opposite. A coat of Humbrol 159 (Khaki Drab) went on and once each side was painted, I wiped some of it away. Around the front this needed the efforts of a cotton bud, but in the end I like the result. Nicely worn paint.

This is something I try to get across to newbies. When something goes wrong, it's not always a disaster. Older hands will just fiddle around and can often save a project with bodgery.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Accucraft open day 2017

Accucraft threw open their doors last Saturday for their annual open day. As well as a skip full of bargains, there was trade support from Swift Sixteen, Model Earth Design, Talisman Brass Castings and Trenarren Models.

The crowd quickly demolished the pile of bargains. Most of these were reject Accucraft products but there were some odd-balls too. I probably should have picked up the Mercian G1 dock tank, complete with wheels and motor for £100 but then it would only have sat on a shelf no matter how much I'd love to build it.

There were a few wagons in need of repair. Again, an Isle of Man 4-wheel carriage without wheels or roof could have made a nice grounded body for the garden, but by the time I'd worked that out we were busy playing trains so I didn't get to shell out the 20 quid.

Never mind, once the crowd cleared, I was able to have a proper look at the trade present.

Model Earth design specialises in 7/8th scale kits:

Si's painting is brilliant. All the models are so full of character, even the really insignificant ones. 

They also produce some very reasonably price wagons kit which we'll be featuring in the October issue of Garden Rail. More of these below.

Swift Sixteen has reintroduced their railbus kit and it was lapping the test track.

As well as the trade, John Campbell exhibited his minimum space layout "Campbell’s Quarry".

Neil Ramsay showed his collection of Irish railway stock from which I've picked a couple of railcars, but hope to persuade him to tell us more in a future edition of Garden Rail.

If you are thinking Manx then yes, this is half of the railcar set that was sold to the IOM and currently awaits restoration as soon as a business case can be made for it.

The railcar above is made from a sort of "scratch aid" kit and I might be able to get hold of one. It would look lovely in the garden...

Over on the test track, a couple of 7/8th scale Bagnall tanks were being run for their new owners. Loaded with a train of Model Earth wagons complete with real slate loads, they looked the part and so I sent my camera along for the ride too.

You will be pleased to know that there was cake to be had as well, or at least cake appeared from nowhere at one point, and very welcome it was too.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Saturday film club: ex-Donegal railcar in G

For reasons that will become apparent tomorrow,the ex-Donegal railcars on the Isle of Man are on my mind at the moment. 

I've seen them before restoration started and climbed on them a couple of times since the project has stalled. They are lovely looking machines. 


For years I've pondered building a pair (you need 2 for IOM operation) but I could always consider the RTR option from Track Shack when it becomes available. It's just that even for the track power options, I'll need to find £2000 - not something that is happening in a hurry.

So, I'll need to content myself with the video above unless you lot click on those adverts on the side of this blog an awful lot. Still, it is an impressive layout, St Johns in G gauge? Wow!