Thursday, January 31, 2019

Cattle docks, 3D printing, terraced houses and telephone boxes in BRM

First up, in a very busy month for me, in the March issue of BRM, is this 4mm scale cattle dock scratchbuild. Inspired by the prototype at Higley station on the SVR, I decided it was time to get a bit of building from raw materials into the magazine. The model is small enough to fit in a Cakebox too, so you can find room on your layout!

Urban modellers will like the new BRM kit for a terraced house. Laser-cut in MDF, it's easy to assemble and offers potential for customisation - they gave me several and told me to make them all look different!

I'm a bit of a 3D printing sceptic - the technology fascinates me but I'm tired of the evangelists saying we can abandon all traditional modelling techniques. So, the team gave me a simple printer and told me to go away and have a go with it to see if I change my mind.

On the DVD, I'm talking about telephone boxes, especially the KX series that BT introduced to replace the traditional and much loved red version. This is simple kit building for anyone who fancies having a go at etched brass but is scared of soldering.

Finally, I've had the camera out again, this time pointing it at John Campbells 16mm model - "Campbells Quarry". It's a cracking model that is proving a hit on the exhibition circuit so I was glad to be able to shoot it a couple of years ago at Bressingham garden railway show.


BRM March 2019 on RMweb

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Warehouse Wednesday: The Toffee Factory

Thanks to Duncan Young for this weeks building:
This is known as The Toffee Factory which was a cattle sanitarium and lard works before going over to sweets- the odours and pollution must have been special.
Now it's a series of craft workshops but the buildings would be a fascinating model....

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Portable photography

This time last week, I attended the London Toy Fair. My plan each year is to see what both Hornby and Oxford have announced at the show. This time, I knew what Hornby's plans were - well most of them anyway, but more of that on Sunday.

Oxford can always be relied on to bring out several new diecast vehicles plus new samples from the railway range. I'll usually spend an hour or so photographing things.

My trip down involves a train, tube and overground trip. The way back usually takes in a bus and perhaps some tube followed by the train. On all this, I really don't want to be lugging masses of gear. If the cloakroom system at Olympia moved at something more than a glacial pace, this might be easier, but it doesn't.

Anyway, in my bag is a tripod, small tripod, G12 camera, video camera and microphone system. I have a portable booth, but it really needs it's white melamine base so models sit will all wheels on the deck, and that definitely isn't going along.

Instead, I bodge things with an A3(ish) size bit of plastic, clipboard and loads of paper. Using tape, clips and Blu-tack, I can construct enough background for the models, even the whopping big railgun. I use long exposures, photo stacking and available light rather than taking extra illumination. It's not pretty, but it is effective.

Once back home, I can stack the images, clean up the backgrounds and the results look pretty good.

You might think this seems a bit amateurish, but it's better than the mag photographer who was sitting the models on the black chair until being loaned my plastic for the background...

Monday, January 28, 2019

New year, new cutting board

I'm always surprised how rubbish I am at doing the simple, sensible things to improve my modelling.

Knife blades remain in use long after they have lost their edge. I know a sharp blade is nicer to use, but it seems such a waste to keep changing them and I've never been much good with a sharpening stone.

The jam jar of turps should be changed more often too. I'm sure brushes would last longer if not cleaning in a fluid resembling soup.

But the cutting mat. I finally got around to changing it. For a long while, I've carved glue lumps from its surface and wiped away paint spills. It's not like I didn't have a spare either - I have several as I like to keep a clean mat for photography. They aren't expensive either.

Anyway, new mat now on the board, old mat in the bin. It did me well. 

Sunday, January 27, 2019

London Model Engineering Exhibition 2019

Something a bit different this weekend - rather than describe the LMEE, I've made a vlog. It's a bit of an experiment and with one or two rough corners, but I'm still playing with the idea and my blog is a good testing ground.

Let me know what you think - I'm not going to make hundred of them as the editing takes longer than writing a few words!

Of course there are still photos on Flickr too.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Saturday Film Club: The chair lift

I recently travelled on the Emirates Air Line cable car thingy, and to put it mildly, it's scary. I know engineers have checked the rope is more than strong enough to hold all the cars, but it's still a single point of failure. 

According to this Pathe News clip, being nervous of this sort of thing, MAKES YOU A COWARD!

But, let's think about this. A cable car with open top, in Scotland? Who thought that was a good idea? 

Fine in a bright sunny day perhaps, but what about in the wind and rain the area is known for? 

Butlins Ayr 1983 - Riding the chairlift

The lift ran from the holiday camp to Heads of Ayr hotel. When this closed in 1970, you could still ride on the lift, but not get off at the top. The chair lift closed down in 1998 after 39 years of operation. 

Butlins Ayr - Chairlift

Friday, January 25, 2019

Beatties Christmas 1999

You've got to love eBay. Instead of chucking things in the bin, people can sell them to me!

This is a 1999 edition of the Beatties catalogue. It scares me that this makes it 20 years old this year. I mean, I'd really have been too old to read it when it came out. How did that happen?

Anyway, by this point, Beatties had a website you could place orders on, reasonably advanced for its time. If that new-fangled Internet wasn't your bag, orders could also be placed by 'phone or fax. It scares me that fax machines also sound like something out of the ark.

You get an idea of just how general a store they were from this page. An LGB train set for £149 as well as polystyrene chuck gliders for £3.50 to £6.99. I notice these are posed with small children to both indicate the target market and make them look bigger.

Of course, there are trains. More LGB and lots of Hornby, most of it models of the "Flying Scotsman". I've no idea what made the millennium version so special, but I'm sure it's very collectable and worth a fortune nowadays.

Interesting that the HST set does not come with the tunnel. I'm pretty sure the one shown is a Noch model, but if you have a genuine Hornby version, this is worth hanging on to as I understand the mould no longer exists.

"Smokey Joe" is of course present. Price £19.99, the same basic model but with modernised mechanism will set you back £34.99 at full RRP. You also see the model in a train set as well as a set with GWR 101. Some things never change!

At the back of the catalogue, there is a sign of things to come. 4 pages of video games, the very products that killed Beatties as they couldn't compete with established names.

On the inside front cover, 60 stores are listed. It's salutary to realise that once the town of Banbury could boast two model shops. Now it has none.

There's a lot of people in the model world who really miss Beatties and Modelzone. We have lost something with their passing and I doubt we'll ever see their like again. 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Mohan: Finished

Mohan in the sunshine

With a bit of added deck detail, I can now declare my tugboat Mohan finished. 

After more than a bit of a battle with the hull, the model sails well and looks good on the water. I'm glad I weathered this boat as it gives a bit of character, and stands out among the majority of clean boats beside the lake. 

What I really need is a small barge or two to tow, and as it happens I have just the kit for the job...

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Warehouse Wednesday: Repurposed old vans

If you love old vehicles, but model the modern day scene, it could be difficult to justify an attractive older lorry appearing on your layout. OK, you can claim it's a classic enthusiast out for the day, but that day is normally Sunday and we tend to model a busy weekday scene.

Wandering down the south bank of the Thames the other day, I spotted a Bedford lorry converted to flog drinks. It's a neat job, although the back is somewhat taller than it would have been in the vehicles working life.

The firm obviously makes a thing of using Bedfords as a couple of minutes stroll brought me to another one. Looking closely, both are supported on bottle jacks. Presumably, they rock from side to side if not propped up like this.

I wonder where they find the lorries though? OK, they are covered in vinyl, but there didn't appear to be rusty bumps anywhere so I guess, some restoration has taken place when the conversion is carried out.

Nearby, there was also a Citroen H van. A long wheelbase version by the look of it. These aren't uncommon as there is plenty of space in the back - far more than the trendy VW and I suspect a good deal cheaper too. At the very least you get a back door which makes life a lot easier once converted to sell food.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Spools of wire

Am I the only person who uses wire? It seems so as I picked these up from the Stevenage 2nd hand stall in the middle of Sunday morning. Spools of enamelled wire suitable for winding solenoids, or in my case, using for droppers for track feeds.

To be honest, I just liked the look of the wooden bobbins.

The thicker wire is 0.5mm diameter, the thinner 0.1mm

Both come from The London Electric Wire Company and Smiths Limited. I can't see any dates on the paper labels affixed to the end of the bobbins so this is all I know.

I wonder how old they are? I'm thinking over 50 years, possibly a war surplus item? 

Monday, January 21, 2019

Bachmann shopping list

Since I ended up with a Hornby shopping list, it makes sense to have a Bachmann one as well since I attended their product launch on Monday.

The lack of eye-catching new locos means I'm not so quick with my credit card. I built a kit Baguley 009 loco years ago and for the moment, one will do. This doesn't mean a lack of tempting goodies.

In the Scenecraft range, there is a new modular warehouse system, in both OO and N gauge. The main walls will be available in different heights so you can build as long a structure as you want. Decorative tops clip on and if you'd like an entrance door, there is one that can be applied to the front covering up a couple of windows. I'd suggest removing the inner frame (hand on to it, it's a nice brass etch) and painting the area black, but this is quick and clever. Skytrex does something similar for 7mm modellers.

If you can bear to look away from the trains, how about a 1/32ns Lancaster bomber kit? Don't rush though because even at £400, they have all sold out. I'm not into warplanes myself, but can see why you'd want to build it.

Along the same lines, there will be a 1/12th scale Chopper bicycle kit (both these are in the Pocketbond range) for around £15. This I could be tempted by just as a fun project.

Very much under the radar, is this new range of PVC embossed surfaces from Proses. Each sheet is 14 X 34cm and you get three in a pack for £11.95 (RRP). There are some cracking surfaces an the material seems similar to Paylight, beloved of Iain Robertson years ago. I will defiantly be trying some of this stuff as soon as I can get my hands on it. 

Sunday, January 20, 2019

CMRA show 2019

Burg Oberlowenstein

Off to sunny Stevenage for the Chiltern Model Railway Exhibition. A show I still want to call St Albans, even though it moved from their years ago. The venue is much, much better. Loads of space and not bad catering too.

Difficult to pick a highlight from the layouts on show. I think it either has to be the Chinese layout with its long trains and grimy blocks of flats with businesses housed on the ground floors. Either that or the "layout in a suitcase" with a circle of track filled with an endless train of American bogie wagons trundling around.

Endless train

You wouldn't want to be waiting at this level crossing!

Other than this, there was lots and lots of chat, a bargain from the second-hand stall (more on this another day) and a thoroughly good day out. 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Saturday Film Club: Different types of railway

Oh dear.Looking through YouTube, I thought this might be interesting. It is, but not for the right reasons. 

OK, there are some really interesting clips in here, but it's going to have enthusiasts cringing. Especially when we see one of those new fangled diesel trains introduced by the minister...

Friday, January 18, 2019

Point motor fitting for the Hornby Collectors Club magazine

Point motors come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. In the Winter 2019 issue of the Hornby Collectors Club magazine, I tackle fitting them to your track.

Surface mounting motors are a very practical option if you don't want to make holes in your baseboard, or maybe you simply can't because the layout is already built or mounted on a very solid lump of wood precluding access underneath.

Hornby offers a couple of options, the small motor shown above, or a larger solenoid that can be fixed under the board (I cover this as well) or housed in a nice little hut that could be weathered to be very unobtrusive on a OO model. 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Garden Rail February

The trouble with writing magazines is that you can cover a topic and a month later there are new readers who missed out. They then demand you cover that topic again - and all the old hands roll their eyes because they have seen it all before.

However, owning a live steam loco is one of those topics it's important to return to every so often and who better than Tag Gorton to do the honours? With live steam becoming (relatively) cheap, especially compared to small scale models, there will be more and more people newly faced with a loco that cost a good few quid, but that needs care and attention to give it's best.

Since I love building things, it's great to find someone building a substantial fleet on a modest budget and using a variety of interesting methods to do this. Rik Bennet has modified cheap proprietary wagons, scratchbuilt onto readily available chassis and even resin cast bodies from his own masters, and the results look good.

I'm also building things, this time an IP Engineering Colonial Railbus. I've gone town with personalising the model along the way. So much so that the designer told me the article needed an extra page, or fewer photos. As it happens, and an extra page was possible, even then the piece has had to be split into two.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Warehouse Wednesday: Modern crane

Modern Crane

Wandering around Kings Cross Waterloo on Monday, I spotted this behind the station and realised it would make a useful prototype for modern modellers. 

As far as I can tell, it's used for lifting and dropping materials down a hole for use on the underground. There is a similar one near(ish) my house for the local water company to do the same sort of job so I assume it's a common design. 

This hole this one operates over is covered with a giant steel grating which is lifted by some hoist things. 

I suspect these are less useful as prototypes, unless you are building a model of Waterloo station anyway!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Mucky Mohan

Mohan needs dirt. Many model boats never get weathered, but I feel a working boat like this should be a bit grimy. 

That said, looking at photos of the real things, they don't appear to be that dirty. At least from a distance. Look closely and there are chips, dings and a build up for texture on the surface. Presumably, crews painted the bits they could get at regularly, but the hulls doo seem a bit crusty. 

I decided that there would be a good chance of rust where the ropes rubbed on the top of the bulwarks or ran through holes. A bit of Squires Tools Rusty-it splodges on with a sponge provided colour and texture. 

Next, in the spray booth, layers of earth, track colour and sooty black paint were shot over the model. I wanted a general dirt finish and to take the edge off the rust. Purely by accident, I also built up some nice texture in areas on the otherwise flat green bits. This was more luck than judgement, but I like the effect. 

Before the paint had hardened, I wiped the wheelhouse down with a damp (with turps) cloth, leaving dirt in the corners. The crew have only done a half-hearted job to this, but I like the effect, especially around the louvres. 

Monday, January 14, 2019

Hornby shopping list

In December, I took the trip down to sunny Margate for Hornby's 2019 product range announcement. Since then, my lips have been firmly sealed as to the models were shown on that day, but now the range has been revealed, I thought you might be interested in knowing what floated my boat.

More to the point, what appealed to me so much I'm willing to spend my own cash?

 You won't be surprised to know that none of the big locos does it for me. Nor do I have any interest in coaches. Maybe the GWR set would be useful for Edgeworth, but this is my money, so I'm spending it on things I like.

First up, the 0-6-0 Peckett. The 0-4-0 version is already on the shelf and I love it, so the larger version was always going to appeal. I've picked Sherwood as, although it's a colliery loco, I reckon it could fit into any industrial scheme I come up with in the future. Those wasp-stripe buffer beams might have to go red, and it definitely needs dirt, but this is a loco I'd have been tempted to build from a kit.

 A loco I have built from a kit is the Ruston 48DS. Rumours of this had been around for a while, but I was expecting the larger 88DS. It's a brave move as while these locos appeal to enthusiasts, in real life they were a bit restricted. There's also the issue of a small and short wheelbase causing an issue with current collection. Hornby supplies a pickup-fitted match wagon to counteract this, but I'm hoping to get away without this.

Choosing a colour wasn't easy, but as I have a green 48DS, the red one is my favourite. I'm not sure this will be so easy to dirty, but perhaps a little grime will bring it alive more.

Both locos have been picked and ordered from my local model shop, based on handling the real models. Finding painted examples to take photos of was a real surprise and an indication of how things are changing at Hornby.

Ordering 2 RTR models in a year is a bit of a departure for me, especially as I can probably wangle some via work, but I really like these and I want them for me. I suspect one of the other colours of 48DS will find it's way into a project layout in time, and possibly even another Peckett, but sometimes it's nice to treat yourself.

Talking of which,  while photographing the trains, I spotted a Post-It note on the wall that said "Wacky Races". Lo and behold, announced for the Scalextric range, we have:
Now, this is a clever move. Kids my age remember the cartoon and we are very much the target market for just this set. We'll probably be willing to buy extra cars too. Add to this the enthusiasm for comic stuff and collectables generally and this could be quite the money-spinner. 

I wonder if Airfix are looking at "Catch the pigeon"?

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Scout Rail 2019


First show of the new year and I needed some cake. Healthy Phil has been in evidence over the last 12 months, and he's coming back for 2019, but I reckon that a single slice for lunch wouldn't hurt, especially with a healthy dinner (jacket potato and chilli since you ask) later one. Of course, I know Sout Rail is home to excellent cakeage but hadn't quite reckoned on the generous portions dished out. Possibly, by Sunday they had worked out how fast they needed to get us to eat up remaining stocks!

My trip wasn't really about cake, there were a couple of layouts I was keen to see in the flesh, and 45 minutes on the motorway seemed a reasonable distance to travel. Scout Rail is one of those little, local shows that can surprise with the models on show. I remember exhibiting there myself many years ago.

Trinity Dock Street Bridge telephone box

As well as the small scale stuff, there are always a couple of garden scale models just for me, and I enjoyed watching the live steam action on one and chatting to the owners of both. In fact, chatting for Garden Rail was a big part of the day. I twisted someone's arm a little to write up some of their projects while munching my cake, if this pays off there will be some really interesting models for readers.


I did manage to resist adding to the kit pile, although there was a superb new book on narrow gauge railways that just had to come home with me...

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Saturday Film Club: Hovertrain and the 48DS

Tracked Hovercraft Ruston

With the announcement of the Ruston 48DS model from Hornby, I wondered about recreating the scene above.

The loco, and jeeps are sitting on the famous Hovertrain concrete track. Which made me wonder if there was film footage of the machine in action. Not that I can find, but this is worth a look.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Printer ink fading experiment

On the wall beside my computer, I have a little calendar I printed out on my Epsom inkjet. It sits there all year in direct, but not harsh, sunlight.

Last year, I decided to try and experiment. Along the bottom, I printed a red bar. Then once it was on the wall, put a blob of Blu-tack on one end to shade the ink from the light.

As 2019 arrived and I print a new calendar, I remove the old one and it's protective blob.

Until I did this, I didn't think the ink had faded, but you can clearly see it has, and quite a bit. Interesting.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Richardson Tugboat

New year - New boat!

A Christmas present was given its first sail last week. Oddly for me, it's not a kit, but a RTR model.

These tugboats have been available from Howes models for several years. Southampton is the colourful version, but Richardson looks (IMHO) much more realistic

The specification is pretty impressive. For a start, the radio system is 2.4gHz so you can sail with other people. No swamping the 27mHz frequency so you have to be the only boat on the water. Admittedly you do need to read the instructions to bind the transmitter to the boat, something I suspect throws a lot of people, but it's easy enough and only takes a few seconds.

Once working, the model has all the usual proportional speed and steering controls you would expect. Speed is slightly high for a tug, but indicates there will be enough power from the twin shafts to tow a load.

Best of all - lights! Navigation, front spot, rear deck and cabin lights are all controlled from the handset on different buttons. There's also a horn and smoke effects.

Beyond all this, the model is very nicely detailed. That's the best thing about these boats, loads of potential. I'm thinking some weathering for a start followed by a few detailing bits. All of which will be easy as the base model is so good.

First on my list is to relocate the on/off switch to somewhere more convenient than under the superstructure but after that, I'll just sail and enjoy it for a while.

For the price, this is a bargain. I'd have paid that money for a kit without running gear and not thought myself diddled. OK, buying (or being bought in this case) a RTR model might seem a bit of a cop-out, but I'm happy.

This would be a great introduction to model boating for a newbie. You can get on the water straight away, apart from the 6-hour battery charge, and sail with others. There's no need to rip out basic radio gear or fiddle in any way - just sail!

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Let there be lights!

With nighttime sailing such a success, I'm going to be fitting all my boats with working lights in the future. 

I'd already bought some 3D printed navigation lights from Mastman a couple of months ago (actually, I bought lights from 3 different places, the others will go in the stash of bits) and so these were set into the wheelhouse roof. 

This wasn't quite as easy as you'd hope since I needed to hack rectangular holes for them to fit in to. I did consider setting them on legs but couldn't work out how to hide the LED legs. 

I felt that there was also space for a mast. Less than expected as I have a carrying box for the model (thanks Dad) and this only allowed for something 4cm tall. Still, a bit of scratchbuilding and an orange LED is mounted on top. In the photo, it's masked for painting and weathering, but eventually will add a bit of illumination up there.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Night time sailing

Demonic model boater

The last couple of months have seen a surprise success for our model boat club - night time sailing. 

In the winter months, we normally have a get-together on a Thursday evening, but this year our normal venue hasn't been available. Someone came up with the idea that we simply meet up and sail, and this has proved really popular. 

There is a roaring barbecue and some hot drinks served from the clubroom. Outside, some members sail boats with lights. On the first night these were sensible lights such as a real boat would have. Now they are stringing LEDs along all sorts of vessel. 

It all looks really pretty, even if photography is tricky. 

I sailed on the first night, but didn't have time to get a boat ready for the second. Needless to say though, I have a few strings of festive lights from the Pound shop, and will be on the water again soon!

Night time boat

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Filling the calendar already

First job to do every year - fill in all those important dates on the calendar. I lose a lot of weekends before the year has begun!

A quick look reveals:

12/13 - Chiltern Show, Stevenage
19/20 - London Model Engineering
22 - London Toy Fair

2/3 - Stafford Model rail show
9/10 - Festival of British Railway Modelling, Doncaster
24 - Butterley Garden Railway AGM

2/3 - L&WMRS Show
16/17 - Garden Railway Show, WEC
23/24 - London Festival of Railway Modelling

6 - 16mm Association AGM
20/22 - York model railway show

11 - Assocation of Larger Scale modelling, Reading
19 - G-Rail, Nottingham
25/26 - Railex
25/26 - Model Boat Mayhem, Wickstead Park

1/2 - DEMU
14-16 - Great Central
22/23 - Butterley Garden Railway

6/7 - LMA Cosford
7 - Smallspace
24-28 Transport Festival, Isle of Man

10 - Bressingham Garden Railway
31/1 - Guildex, Telford

24/26 - TCT
28 - Yorkshire Garden rail show, Elsecar

12 - G1MRA AGM
26 - Exeter garden railway

9/10 - International Model Boat Show
9/10 - IPMS, Telford

7/8 - The National Festival of Railway Modelling, Peterborough

There are dates still to be added too - Warley and Llanfair for example. 

Obvioulsy I'm not at every day of all these events. Those in bold green are ones I take part in, the others I'm a punter or there reporting. I'm expecting to visit for at least 1 day for every event though all being well. Phew!