Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Credit Valley Railway Company

Visting Credit Valley Railway wasn't really an option. OK, getting there from Toronto took me about an hour of riding buses out into the middle of nowhere to places I couldn't pronounce, but the Rapido guys were insistent. And I'm glad they were.

Being North America, the shop is located on a strip mall - in the UK we'd call it an out-of-town shopping area. If you are in a car, there is loads of free parking, and to be fair, a bus stop 2 minutes walk away.

Passing by a small layout and wall full of ice hockey shirts from the team the shop sponsors, you enter the shop floor.

Wow - it's huge! We have smaller supermarkets in the UK.

I'm not going to bother trying to list everything sold as I do with other shops. There's too much of it. Basically, if you need anything in N or HO gauges, then you are in luck. O gauge, less so. I think this because the larger scale tends to involve coarse scale 3-rail and new tinplate. Presumably, there are specialist suppliers for this and less modelling?

The other big difference from the UK is there doesn't seem to be so much variety in RTR locos. Give us a shop like this and it would be around 50% loco. Yes, there is a wall full of cabinets and shelves to peruse, but far more of the space is given over to kits and bits. I think this is a good thing. The range of scratchbuilding parts alone kept me browsing for a long while.

There's also a whopping great big Canadian layout in the corner which would be a pretty good club project. I understand that there are modellers who meet up in the shop as a social occasion and work on this. It's also a good testing ground for models. I saw my loco run there.

If DCC is your thing, there's a sizable area for you with chip fitting and more test tracks at the back of the shop. The mail order department is next door.

My shopping took the best part of a couple of hours and the credit card says the hit was the price of a OO loco - thank goodness for a strong pound that day! This included a couple of T-shirts thrown in by the guys who run the shop, a friendlier bunch you would be hard pressed to find. They all wanted a chat and to show off the place they are proud to work at.

So, if you are in the area, add me to the list of people who say you need to visit, or head over to the Credit Valley Railway website where you can walk around the store.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Warehouse Wednesday: GWR Goods Shed

This week, I'm indebted to Nick Wallace for these photos of the ex-GWR goods shed at Liverpool's Albert Dock. You can see the sides of the dry-dock in the foreground which, along with the excellent condition, makes me wonder if the building has been moved at some point. 

It's certainly an attractive structure and very modellable. Adding or removing bays could produce something suitable for many layouts. If available as ready to plonk units, this could be a good basis for the background for a layout.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Mystery tool

Visting the Black Country Living museum last week, I spotted this tool in the window of the hardware shop. The question is, what is it? 

I've put the image up so you can click on it for a larger version. After that, you know all I do. Being in the window, there wasn't a chance to get a better look, nor anyone to ask.

So, tool experts, please make suggestions in the comments please.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Manx loco inspiration

7mm scale Manx loco

Model railway exhibitions are there for entertainment and inspiration. I certainly got a dose of the later at the Larger Scale show. 

Long-term readers will know I've always wanted to build a layout set on the Isle of Man. To this end I have several part-built 4mm scale locos and a few bits of rolling stock that don't roll properly. This is all very good and one day will be turned into a layout, but the truth is I've always fancied doing it in 7mm scale. 

This is tricky as we are now in a loco-kit free zone. OK, I have the etched bits of a Caledonia body, but the tough ones are the Peacocks. Or at least so I thought. 

On the 7mm narrow gauge society stand, there was the object of my dreams - a 7mm scale Peacock!

Chatting to the builder, Dave Pinniger, it turns out he built the model in the 1970s, and using an old Hornby (maybe even Triang) chassis at that. 

Looking closely, I can see compromises, but not many. Most importantly, it has the right look to my eye. And yet, I can also see how I could scratchbuild this model. Finding the boiler fittings might be tricky (no, 3D printing will NOT do) but once located, the chances are at least 3 locos can use the same ones. 

The point is, I have seen a model I could live with. Now I believe, a 7mm scale Manx layout is withing my range of skills. Lack of time still stops me getting stuck in for the minute, but that is less of an issue if I believe I can do it.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

ALSR Reading 2018

Aldeburgh Harbour

A quick jaunt to Reading a couple of weeks ago brought me to the Association of Larger Scale Railway modellers show. Covering scales from Gauge O upward, it was obviously right up my street.

The first point to make - it's not obvious, but the carpark is pay and display. You have to feed your numberplate into the machine or a parking ticket will be issued by the automatic camera system on exit. Thanks to John Emmerson for pointing this out to me so I could hurriedly nip out and buy 5 hours...

Anyway, the show itself takes place in two halls in a leisure centre. Traditionally, one hall is trade and the other layouts. This year, a couple of layouts had spilled over into the trade hall, but there was still plenty to spend money on.

Wood Street

Layout wise there was certainly variety, with a couple of G3 models and several to watch working down to O. You don't see the very large scales at shows that much, I suspect exhibition managers think they are too specialist, but I feel that the "normal" public enjoy them just as much as the smaller scale, possibly more as kids are entranced by massive locomotives because they really feel they are in the scene.

Dockside crane

The layout I'd like to build crown goes to the On30 model Clearwater Harbour. Some American narrow gauge will one day hopefully figure in my list of future layouts and I hope it is as good as this one. I love the life the weathering gives the scene.

Vintage controller

My other favourite has to be this ancient controller displayed by Helmsman Electronics in an effort to persuade modellers that their locomotives would run so much better if they used something from the 21st Century to power them. I quite liked this, but sadly, it's not for sale...

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Saturday film club: Heavy haulage lorry trials

In 1953, the NCB arranged a series of heavy lorry trials at Arkwright colliery. This is the film of those lorries from Scammel, Foden AEC and Euclid in action. 

The video transfer isn't great, but the sound works well. It's a good watch if you like vintage films or heavy haulage in action. The last 4 minutes include some interesting bucket loaders as well.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Ceramic restoration

I don't like seeing broken things, especially if the broken thing is some sort of creature, even a pottery one. Thus, the sight of a clay chicken who had taken a tumble from a wall in our garden perturbed me.

Sensible people would have just checked the bits in the bin and forgotten about it. Not me, I decided repairing the bird couldn't be too hard, so I gave everything a wash and set to with some epoxy resin from the pound shop.

 From the front, my efforts at pulling together this 3D jigsaw aren't too bad. OK, you won't give me a job repairing Ming vases, but for a garden ornament, it will do.

The back view, where most of the damage occurred, is less successful. I seemed to have too many bits and they didn't fit together. When they did, there were gaps which I filled with epoxy.

Still, now back outside and under a frond, I'm sure no-one will notice. And it was quite fun to do.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

3D printed 02, 2 scale cakebox and lots of interviews in BRM

They've given me a microphone in the June issue of BRM, and I know how to use it. 

Friday at the Doncaster show was spent helping people bring layouts into the racecourse and then asking them lots of questions. We've tried to give a flavour of a big show beyond just the stuff you see when wandering around.

Inside, I've built a Class 02 diesel from a 3D printed kit.

The kit is a 3D printed model from ALD Models. As a veteran of many, many loco kits, I found a few pleasant surprises in the construction. For a start, the chassis needed no fettling once I'd built it - I can't remember the first time that happened!

Moving on to Cakebox building, I found myself presented with 2 kits in 2 different scales.

 Both kits are really nice, but obviously, you can't fit a 4mm interior into a 2mm signal box kit, so I've done something a little arty with the bits. The challenge is all about innovative thinking, as demonstrated by many of the entries, and I think this fits the bill.

June 2018 issue of BRM. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Warehouse Wednesday: Falmouth factory

Falmouth Docks factory

My parents have been on holiday to Falmouth and since my Dad is as interested in old buildings as me, I gave strict instructions to come back with some photos. 

Here's the first, a factory on the Falmouth dock complex. It's a useful view since this is how we view most model railway layouts. 

The building itself is pretty simple, but the jumble of pipework for the two chemical tanks at the back would make for some interesting modelling. Since I have no idea what it's all for, and neither will most other people, I'd start with a Ratio oil tank kit and augment this with some Knightwing pipes and bits of wire.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

George's Trains - Toronto


Handily situated for both the back of the Rapido Trains office and a main line real railway is George's Trains, which describes itself as "Canada's Greatest ModelTrain store!".

The shop is pretty sizable compared to many UK stores but not mahoosive. The first thing that struck me was the amount of O gauge 3-rail on sale. This is very popular in the US, far more than finescale it appears. Quite a few of the working Lionel sets were on sale in pre-owned form, but fortunately (for my wallet) not the giraffe car.

Moving through a short connecting corridor we find the magazine section which could rival the railway section in WH Smith, but with Canadian and American magazines. On the walls are some "classic" old boxes.

The second half of the shop is HO rolling stock and kits plus some N. Great range of building kits and also scratch building bits. Far too much for me to remember or even properly take in on one visit. Moving back toward the front, it's paint (no Humbrol), glue and other materials.

There's also a cabinet full of Korean brass models, probably more in one place than I've seen in my life. They look very impressive, but against modern RTR? Probably more a collectors thing now.

Obviously, I couldn't come away empty handed so as well as a building kit and HO scale Yeti, I bought the most horrible thing I could see packed in one of the shops own bags - it's an O scale plastic car that I wouldn't let near a layout, even a tinplate one. But it only cost $3.95 - £2.27 at time of writing.

It makes a nice souvenir though of my trip.

A final point, I understand this is where Rod Stewart drops in when he's in town for a gig, so you never know who you might bump in to.

George's Trains website.

Monday, May 21, 2018

I un-DCC'd a loco

Last week, I had the chance to save a locomotive from the curse of DCC.

Pete had lent someone an old Lima 0-4-0 diesel shunter to test some Dingham couplings on the O gauge layout. Putting it on the track, nothing happened. A quick check with a German loco showed there was power, so the problem was in the model.

Looking inside, it had once been fitted a DCC chip but this had been removed a blanking plug  replacing the electronics. An unwired blanking plug.

Since this section of the layout uses God's own DC, all I needed to do was use the wires on the plug to joins the pickups and motor. Simple enough - just strip the ends of the wires and twist them together.

Result - the loco now works as intended. And I understand how a blanking plug works!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Doncaster Model Engineering show 2018

Foden steam lorry

Finding myself needing to make a trip to Doncaster, I managed to arrange this for the same date as the first day of the ME show. Well, they are less than 10 miles from my appointment, so even though it's no longer an essential visit, why not?

The show is held at the racecourse which means the light isn't great for photography and so many of my pictures aren't great. There are a few though and certainly the exhibits were well worth a look.

1/32nd tractor

I did have the chance to chat with Garden Rail advertisers KM1 and enjoy another look at their terrific Gauge One layout. The whole stand is incredibly professional and should give many UK traders pause for thought. Even if you don't like foreign prototypes, it's worth a look just to see what large scale RTR can look like.

Shrimp boat

Being a multi-disciplinary show, there were plenty of boats ans planes. This lobster fishing craft is a work of art, absolutely choc full of detail and beautifully modelled.

On the aircraft front, I had a go on a radio control 'plane simulator. After 7 broken models, I managed to get one back on the ground in one piece, confirming that some hobbies are just not for me!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Saturday Film Club: The Great British Train Show 2018

If you want to see the show I travelled all the way to Canada to attend, here it is in this rather well made video. 

For added bonus excitement, you even find a short piece from me at the end of it. Don't worry, you can switch off before you get to that bit...

Friday, May 18, 2018

To boldly go where no bag has gone...

The Beatties carrier bags keep appearing - this time I've bagged one with a picture of the Starship Enterprise on the front.

Since this is the version from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, I'd say this dates from very early 1980s, making it nearly 40 years old! No complaints from me, as this is my favourite version of the venerable spacecraft. A bit slicker than the original but not completely messed with. (We will never mention the version in Enterprise although the dictionary does in the entry for "fuggly")

The back of the bag has an advert for Energiser batteries, which I think you can still get, so a long-running brand name. 

Incidentally, if you think I have the largest collection of these bags, you'd be wrong. I understand that a portfolio of the complete set exists somewhere in Leicestershire...

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Garden Rail - June 2018

We've gone big this month in Garden Rail. OK, so big is generally what we do, but the cover is dominated by a 7/8th scale brake van so larger than G or 16mm. It's a nice resin kit from Model Earth Design, easy to build but Steph' has added her own personalised touches to give the model even more character. 

Inside, we have the unique (unless anyone knows differently) Gauge 2 3-rail tinplate Smoghampton & Greenhills Railway.

There's also plenty of wagon building including a piece on mass-producing small models for those who need a lot of rolling stock.

Garden Rail Magazine.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Warehouse Wednesday: L&NWR Mile Post

Very much not a warehouse, I recently had the chance to look at some original London & North Western Railway plans. Most would be too large for a blog post, but I liked the look of this milepost.

Not a big detail, but an important one. Shouldn't be too difficult to model either with some 2mm square plastic rod and a bit of sheet for the top. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Bungalow built

Bungalow finished. For a kit older than Methuselah, it doesn't come up badly.

Apart from the windows, the kit is pretty much built as supplied. Note the curtains by the way, coloured paper cut from old magazines. A door knocker has been added but photographed badly, you'll have to trust it looks better in real life.

One day, I'll set this in a layout set in the classic BR steam/diesel period. When I do, a honking great big TV areal will be added from wire, not the plastic version supplied with the kit.

As a quickie project, this has been great fun. I've tried out a few techniques, some of this will transfer to other work. That's the point of doing this sort of model. You aren't that fussed about producing a perfect result, just having fun making things.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Glazing without pane

Flush glazed windows always look better than those where the front of the frames are 6 scale inches from the sheet of plastic stuck behind them. I know this is easier, but then doing it properly isn't too hard.

The trick is to use Micro Kristal Klear (Yes, that is how you spell it. Americans). It's a high quality, clear drying PVA style liquid designed for plastic plane modelers. The idea is that you take a drop on the end of a cocktail stick, waggle it around the edges of your window and then form a skin covering the hole. The liquid then dries clear (ish) and looks like glass.

If you need to fill a bigger hole, the you need a bigger waggling stick. A small screwdriver is enough for the Dapol windows.

For best results, use as little Klear as possible, that way the meniscus doesn't curl up the edges too much. With practise, once the gap is filled, rotating a small screwdriver in the pool will allow you to pull out some Klear.

When glazing large areas, it's important to let the pane dry horizontally. If you don't, the liquid runs and the bottom ends up thicker than the top.

Mistakes are easily rectified as the rubbery dry skin can be peeled away from plastic cleanly once set, then you try again.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Souvenirs of Canada

OK, I'm back from Canada and the rules of the Interweb say I must post pictures of stuff I bought. Here we go...

From the top, assume HO scale unless I say otherwise:
  • Sylvan resin kit for a Mercury half ton pickup - Looks interesting and I was fascinated by the road vehicles I saw.
  • Yeti - I've never seen one for sale in a model shop before.
  • Triang CN caboose - I wanted something made in Britain but of a Canadian prototype. And it's bright orange.
  • Triang Giraffe car (OO) - Sooo cheap. Less than a tenner of UK money!
  • Walthers Trainline GP9M loco - I saw locos that looked a bit like this operating and this one was priced at just under 30 pounds.
  • Bar Mills "Sweaty Betty's" dinner kit - It just looks fun.
  • Walthers Cornerstone Lakeshore coal & ice shed kit - I have a feeling that this is the sort of building that might prove useful on a UK or US based layout one day. I like laser-cut kits too. 
Most of these will become blog projects eventually but for the moment, they will join the ones left over from my Australia trip. It might seem silly to buy this stuff, but I didn't want shirts with maple leaves on them, or maple syrup or any other tat. I'll build the kits one day and remember my trip.

Of course, I did come back with some other stuff.

The CN Tower is a proper railway building and so once I'd been up it, the mug was a given. The cuddly tower keyring is just the most bizarre thing I've ever seen.

The CN torch and screwdriver set and duck come from the Toronoto Railway Museum - a group so friendly they took me behind the scenes so I determined to come away with plenty of stuff from the little gift shop.

And the pencil, well one maple leaf thing is OK.

There's also a T-shirt from Credit Valley Railway and a lumberjack shirt.

And yes, there will be more Canada posts to come. I'll try to spread them out a bit as no-one wants to be bored by anyone's holiday slides. However, my photos are really interesting and you can see them here!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Saturday film club: Making destination blinds

A couple of films today - both showing how bus (and presumably train) destination blinds are made. 

The first is a relatively modern set-up, although presumably even this is old-fashioned as buses are fitted with more flexible electronic signs. Even Leamington buses are sporting these, apart from the tiny bus still proclaiming it is going to "Windimere". 

Interesting silk-screen printing process and some fascinating equipment on show. 

Heading back to 1952, we see how London Transport used to do it, complete with jaunty music score. Back in those days, 50,000 blinds were in use in the capital!

To be honest, the technology hasn't changed that much between the two films, although the later version has somewhat more sophisticated devices for the driver to change the destination.

Friday, May 11, 2018

My first modelling knife

File this one under "Tools, I had forgotten were still available."

These disposable knives from Stanley are the very same tools that introduced me to model making many, many years ago.

Given one of these and a big bag of balsa wood offcuts by my Dad, I proceeded to hack and glue away - leading me to the work I do today.

I picked this pack up for a quid - yes a single English pound - from a stand at the model engineering show a few months ago. How can they be made so cheaply?

Mind you, young Phil would have picked up the bad habit of using a blade well past it's best before date. I'm pretty certain I was only given one knife. But then balsa is pretty soft.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Shearing crank pins no cause for panic

I've recently built a kit using the solderless Markits crank pin system. I think these used to be markets as the "deluxe" version and they are a nice bit of kit.

The crank pin is threaded so the retaining nut screws into place. Larger holes are required in the rods than for the soldered version I'm more familiar with, and this is where I came unstuck.

Screwing the nuts in place on one side of the loco, I sheared two of the pins. Bit of a panic as of course I don't have spares, nor time to buy some mail order.

Measuring the pins, I decided I had nothing to lose by running a 1mm drill bit through the nuts so they would fit on to the standard crank pins. This worked a treat, a touch of solder retaining them in the time-honoured fashion. A little dirt on the finished model and no-one will be able to tell.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Warehouse wednesday: Canada Malting

Canada Malting

Wandering along Toronto's waterfront to try the worlds shortest ferry ride, I trip over this building, fenced off and derelict.

According to Wikipedia, they were built in 1928 and a very early example of non-flammable concrete silos rather than wooden ones. They are 120 feet high. 

In the UK, I'm sure someone would have snapped these up years ago for conversion into waterfront apartments. The Canadians seem slower at this, but then they are thinking museum, which would be much nicer. Mind you, with all the rusty mechanical bits, I think they have a charm of their own as they stand.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Roof and wall painting without brushes

Normally, we try to achieve and perfectly smooth paint finish on our models. Well, that would be wrong for this bungalow. The walls are rendered and should have some slight texture.

There is a little roughness provided by the pattern-maker in the kit parts, but it seemed a bit random, possibly the result of the age of the moulds. I wanted more.

So, instead of brushes, I painted a base coat of pale cream on by splodging paint with a dense piece of sponge from some leftover packaging. Before it dried, a bit of Precision paint concrete went on too. Once dry, there is texture, but not much, which is the effect I'm looking for.

The roof is tricky and I'm still not sure I'm there, but it's near enough for this model. Aiming for a cast tile effect, I started with a biscuit colour and used a couple of shades of brown. Initially I dry-brushed but eventually decided the sponge works better.

The result looks a bit less biscuit in real life compared to the photo, and not a million miles away from the houses I can see from my office window. They are a bit redder, so perhaps some marronish paint in future? Ideally applied while the other stuff is still wet so it all blends.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Improving Airfix windows

One aspect of Airfix building kits that really bugs me are the terrible window mouldings provided. Great big slabs of things you are supposed to hang on the outside of the model. They look (IMHO) terrible. Certainly not good enough for my model bungalow.

Fortunately, the solution is simple - spin the plastic part around and fit it inside the model. Then add a length of cill using some 1.5mm or smaller plastic strip.  OK, the "back" of the moulding will benefit from a light sand to remove the marks and flash, but that's a very quick piece of work for the results.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

The Great British Train Show

The Rapido stand

Note: I'm writing this sat in Toronto airport while my flight is repeatedly delayed, using the iffy Wi-Fi. It's 9:50 local time, I was due to fly at 11 and am very tired. Sorry for typos.

3700 miles. To take part in a show held on an ice hockey pitch. Well, it is Canada after all. Where else would you hold it?

Didsbury Green was set up as part of the Rapido trains stand and promptly embarrassed me by not working. Despite successful tests in the hotel room a couple of days earlier, the controller wasn't playing and I didn't get it fixed until the Sunday. However, that's for the write up in BRM, let's talk about the show itself.

Crowsnest Tramway

Once I'd reached the "wandering around" stage of Friday night, I got a real surprise - one of the layouts I've always wanted to see, Roy Link's Crowsnest Tramway, was on display. Not only the O14 version, but the rolling stock and building for the unfinished 16mm scale version too.

As an operating model, the layout is a bit lacking, but then that's very much my sort of layout as regular readers will know. Of course this makes Crowsnest the layout I'd like to build from this event too.

Trix twin

Despite the distance from Blightly, the whole show could have been dropped into any UK town without anything looking out of place. The layouts were pretty good with models in 4 and 7mm including EM and P4 - working in the finer scales must be really tough in the land of HO!

Trade wasn't so hot, but only because the usual suspects can't afford to take the trip across the Atlantic. There was a good selection of local suppliers focusing on the UK prototype and while these might have been a bit heavy on the "pre-owned" rolling stock selection, many UK shows would be pleased to have all of them. I certainly found ways to spend money. In fact, only the thought of shipping larger boxes back slowed me down. If you are a Tri-ang collector, there were bargains to be had with several Canuck specific sets on sale for very modest sums. Most left pretty early on Saturday though.

Triang Canadian train set

With my Garden Rail hat on, I enjoyed the large scale test track. The volume's venue allowed any steam to dissipate too. We weren't that far away and couldn't smell a thing.

78th Bagnall

The biggest surprise were the opening times. 10 to 4 on Saturday and 10 to 3 on Sunday. I'm sure we could have managed another hour on both, although we did have to load a full-size Tardis onto the lorry at the end, and it wasn't as easy as you might think. There were people around at the end, numbers were OK and the organisers seemed happy enough.

The Great British Train Show setup

I didn't notice the time as most of the Saturday flew by full of chat and banter. At least a dozen people over the weekend recognised me from either the magazine or even this blog. If one of those was you, thanks for dropping by and saying hello. I was slightly concerned about popping up at a foreign show and expecting people to know who I am. As it was, some did and those that didn't were (like all Canadians) very friendly and happy to chat.

Food - burgers and hot dogs cooked and served outside by a team braving the cold. Inside, there was cake and coffee in one of the dressing rooms. I managed to stay healthy, apart from one slice on the second day. Well, it was only polite and part of the Canadian experience.


By the end of the weekend, we were all tired, but happy. Didsbury Green now has a new owner - he was even good enough to come and collect the model on the Sunday. Handy, as I could explain how things should be plugged it, and get a photo for the mag.

Overall, a really nice event. Much like a friendly, local show, but further away - for me at least. Maybe I wouldn't normally go, but if you lived within sensible travelling distance, you'd be daft to miss it.