Sunday, June 30, 2019

Creative quotes

Last weekend, I attended the Writing West Midlands conference with my novelist's hat on. While there, a few quotes were chucked around which resonated with me and my drive to get people making things:

“Nobody will stop you from creating. Do it tonight. Do it tomorrow. That is the way to make your soul grow – whether there is a market for it or not! The kick of creation is the act of creating, not anything that happens afterward. I would tell all of you watching this screen: Before you go to bed, write a four line poem. Make it as good as you can. Don’t show it to anybody. Put it where nobody will find it. And you will discover that you have your reward.” Kurt Vonnegut

"It is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self" DW Winnicott 

This might all sound like pretentious bollox, but I really believe that it's important for people to create something. It doesn't have to be a model railway, or a great novel. It doesn't have to be what the art establishment considers "art".

Simply sticking a plastic kit, or even a Lego model, together is relaxing and satisfying - if you let it be.

Those who want to respond, "Not when rivet counters on forums tell you it's wrong", well, that's your problem. If you want to let someone else tell you what to do, or at least legitimise you not doing anything then I feel sorry for you but can't fix that.

Build models and be dammed. You made it, tell them to go away*.

*Phrase altered to pass through swearing filters.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Saturday Film Club: Making Transistor Radios in 1955

A few weeks ago, we looked at building televisions in Coventry and because of this, the YouTube algorithms think I might be interested in making pocket radios in America.

 They aren't wrong. This short film show the very earliest days of "tranny" radios, with miniature components that we'd consider laughably large now. At the time, they were cutting edge, and a lot easier to look after than valves.

Watching the dip soldering is fun, but just after this, a huge iron is wielded and the join fed with what appears to be a huge amount of solder. I assume this wasn't just for the camera, although I wonder about some of the clothes which look a bit Sunday smart to me.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Unboxing the Ark

You asked for it:

I'll get the parts required ordered in then start work on this project. If you want to help, please click on the advert on the right-hand side of this page. It doesn't cost you anything, but gives me a bit of cash to offset the parts required for this project.

Well, I'm sure it wasn't my idea!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Bad paint day

I need a couple of 009 coaches for a photo. Buying RTR isn't cheap - I can have 3 kits for the price of one coach. No problem, the Dundas kits go together well enough, I just have to paint them.

Thinking a nice 2-tone livery would look good, but with the spray booth out of action, I decided to achieve a neat line, I'd dig out the bow-pen and draw a paint "dam" along the body.

After a little bit of tinkering with the consistancy of the Humbrol paint, this seemed to work well. I need more practice with the bow-pen, but the line was far better than I could achieve with a brush.

Once the lines were on, I filled the rest using a brush and the effect wasn't too bad. Good enough for my purposes anyway. The only trouble is, the matt paint looked a bit flat. Reds need a bit of gloss to bring them alive.

Even I won't brush varnish, but a rattle can of Humbrol satin was to hand and I shot this over the body.

 The plain ends were perfect. On the sides though, the paint turned into a crackle finish - disaster!

My guess is that I'd given the ends a very light waft, but the sides got more varnish. Maybe they weren't fully dry, maybe the model making gods weren't smiling on me. Whatever, it was a trip to the Supastrip bath for these...

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Warehouse Wednesday: Classic garages


I'm not sure why these were in the corner of a field, but I'm glad they were as it made photography easier. A pair of classic modular pre-fab domestic garages. 

Wooden doors, asbestos roofs and most importantly, the sunburst pattern on the front, you could see these in suburbia all over the country. On Sundays, the family Ford or Rover would be sat out the front being washed. The rest of the time, it sat in among a collection of tobacco tins full of screws, a bottle of oil and of course, the lawn mower. 

I'm surprised that these have never appeared as a kit. The modular construction would seem to lend them flexibility along with their geographical anonymity. Massive sales would seem to be assured. 

Era? I'm thinking 1930s onwards, but can anyone be more precise? 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Wagons for the Toy Train part 2

Oho and train

Three wagons, a loco and caboose. Very pretty. 

I know "pretty" isn't supposed to be in the vocabulary of a "serious" railway modeller, but outside, I quite like it. Colourful trains running through a colourful garden setting works for me. 

The HLW wagons fit nicely with the plasticy Oho and caboose from LGB's "Toy Train" range. I think a longer train is called for. There is a flatbed in the collection, but I've lost the axles for this in storage, but when the order I placed for replacements turns up, I'll finish it off. 

Toy Trains have one big advantage in the garden. They make great track testers. If Oho, or his brother Otto, fall off due to stray ballast or track in need of fettling, they seem to survive. I'd rather risk then than a pricey Accucraft Isle of Man loco!

Monday, June 24, 2019

Wagons for the Toy Train part 1

At first sight, this might look like the result of me catching up with posters on RMweb after I've had a bad week, but no, it's some outdoor spraying fun.

Some time ago, I decided that our LGB "Toy Train" trains needed extending. You can do this by buying the proper wagons, but I fancied something shorter weaving along the line so picked up Hartland Locomotive Works kits for 4-wheel opens. These than sat in a box until I resolved to clear up some old projects.

I want these to look like they fit the colourful Toy Train stock and that means work starts with a spray of white primer followed by Humbrol bright red. The paint covers well and dries nice and shiny.

Once hard, I picked out the axleboxes and works plate.

I'm very pleased with this - dry-brushing with white worked perfectly with no touch-ups required.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

GCR 2019


Come to the show and buy the station!

Well, you could if you headed to the GCR show last weekend. Bachmann released a 4mm scale version of Quorn station on the day - the model being both available for purchase on the day AND suitable for vegetarians (Boom, Tish).

Sadly, I had to lug photo gear with me so drove and parked in the muddy field. Thankfully, the stewards did a sterling job at moving the plastic driveway around to the muddiest, high traffic areas and ensuring that we all got out at the end of the day. Driving meant no time to visit Loughborough station for the garden railway exhibits and excellent second-hand stalls. Still, I don't need any more projects...

The show was very enjoyable, at least it appeared to be. I was working, shooting video for future BRM DVDs, so I didn't get the chance to really look.  Perhaps if I had, I'd have spotted the "seconds" Dapol B4 tanks for 50 quid that a mate of mine bagged. Grrr. 

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Saturday Film Club: GT3

Gas Turbine 3 is a fascinating locomotive. Built by English Electric and using a steam locomotive template, it must have been obvious before it took to the rails that this was never going to be a success, but they built it anyway. 

Seeing footage, even silent stuff, is fascinating. It's a loco I like the look of, and will one day build as I bought the kit years ago. Maybe if I had a suitable layout, I'd get cracking...

Friday, June 21, 2019

Cleaning brass with brown sauce

There's a box of "stuff" at our boat club that members can help themselves to for free, or at least a tiny donation to club funds. It's mostly full of electrical bits and kit leftovers, but a few weeks ago, this little spring balance was sat on top.

I thought it looked a bit sad, so decided to bring it home for some TLC and to try something I'd read about years ago.

Having brushed a bit of dirt from the metalwork, I doused it in brown sauce and sealed the lot in a plastic bag.

The next day, I took it out and washed the sauce away. As hoped, the tarnishing was pretty much gone and after a little buffing with some Brasso, the balance looked brilliant.

 As I don't actually need a spring balance, it was returned to the pot from where I hope it has found a good home.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Box van, oil depot and point motor fitting in BRM

I don't do many N gauge projects for BRM, but this July I've built an oil terminal in the scale. It's based on a plastic kit, but with a few modifications along the way. Some of the work is a little fiddly, but basically, if you can build an Airfix Spitfire, you'll be OK with this.

 Under the OO Billy Bookcase layout, I've fitted some point motors and since there are 4 points, and I had 4 different motors to hand, it seemed sensible to use one of each. To be fair, 3 of the 4 are very similar to each other. The fourth, from Hattons, is reminiscent of the classic H&M motor beloved of older modellers.

Possibly the most exciting piece I've written is based on an interview with Rails about their new 3D printed box van. This could make a significant change to the way we see short-run projects carried out. I've not been massively impressed by a lot of 3D printing in the past, but this really looks and feels like an injection moulded model, but it's a million miles from the sort of domestic set-up most people use for printing.

Finally, on the DVD I'm weathering a wagon in response to a reader request at a show. I know we've been here before, but hopefully each time I've found a few more angles to explore on the subject. There's certainly materials used we've not filmed before.

July 2019 BRM on RMweb.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Warehouse Wednesday - Amercian Diner

50s American Diner

I find buildings forWarehouse Wednesday by chance most of the time. There's always a camera in my rucksack and if pushed, my phone will do an OK job. On the way to DEMU a few weeks ago, I spotted this place in a village called Church Gresley. Heading back, I pulled in to take some a photo. 

What we have is a real American diner - all stainless steel outside and a long counter inside, just like you see in the movies. 

Apparently, the place was built in the 1950s to replace a wooden structure. It stayed open as Murphy's Diner until there were a couple of shooting incidents, and one of the customer's heads was found in the freezer. If you've ever worked with the public, this sort of thing won't entirely surprise you.  

From there, it was shipped over by Aston Martin as a customer care centre and then sold to be restored as a restaurant, which it now is. 

Having taken pictures, I decided to give it a go - the John Wayne burger is excellent, the soda a perfect accompaniment and the chocolate milkshake too thick to suck up the straw. Staff wear 1950s clothes and the decor is just as you'd hope. If I hadn't been full, I'd have tried the pancakes. Maybe next time.

So, even if you are modelling the UK, you can put a "diner" on your layout. Personally, I've always fancied building one from an old railroad coach. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Garden Rail July 2019

Issue 299 of Garden Rail has appeared and in it, I've been a bit brave.

Finding myself with a really interesting and well-writen article on 3D printing Victorian Gauge 1 rolling stock, I bit the bullet and gave it the 7 pages required to print without significant editing. Normally we don't go above 5 pages, but I hope this has enough general appeal for all readers. It's certainly covered the "3D printing rolling stock" breif for a few months.

Our layout feature did suffer some cuts, but hopefully good ones. The Bayfields Light Railway makes use of Filcris plastic wood for the track beds, but I've asked the author to turn the step-by-step construction into a seperate piece. We give the basics this time, but I feel it deserves two so we can have plenty of nice layout shots.

I've even been making things - building a Slater's skip wagon as a review. It's a simple to build kit, but produces a very fine model. There is a growing interest in more detailed large scale railway items, so it's a pleasure to be able to showcase some of this.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Finished oil bowser

16mm scale oil bowser

Job done - a nice simple kit that looks nice and wouldn't tax even the newbie-est of builders. 

I fancy that the oil drum will be changed regularly, so it's not as dirty as the rest of the wagon. It also adds a nice bit of colour to the model. 

The hose is supplied - a fat wire with solid enough core that you can bend it and it stays bent so it can droop properly. 

The only change I made to the model is replacing the little plastic hooks on the end with nails so the coupling chain won't fall off. I've also filled any gaps under the chassis rails with lead shot and superglue to give a bit more weight to the model.

Anyway, another addition to the 32mm gauge rolling stock consist. One day I must build a railway for them!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Railcar idea?

So, there I am at the Accucraft UK open day with may Garden Rail jacket on. The stand of bargain factory seconds includes a Dora and IOM Pairs coach.

Now, I've always wondered if Dora could be turned into the power unit for a steam railcar. A quick re-arrangement of the shelves helped my thinking.

It's not such a stupid idea. The first change I'd make is to go for a shorter and taller coach.

My choice would probably be something from the IP Engineering range as plywood withstands heat better than plastic.

There's also the issue of Dora being a bit flighty (I'm told) so the model might benefit from some sort of inertia control. A Slo-mo wouldn't fit, but there must be a way.

It's very much a back-burner idea at the moment, but then it's nice to have some of those burbling away in the back of your head. 

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Saturday Film Club: Gyro X car

Gyroscopically balanced transport fascinates me. Railways have the Brennan Gyro-Monorail, an amazing train that really deserves re-creating. Not so hard as there are plenty of photos and the NRM has the builders original model.

The Gyro-X was a 2-wheel car that used the same principles and has been restored by the Lane Motor Museum, a place of amazing vehicles.

If you like this, there is more in this video.

Is it me, or does this remind you of a Star Wars Landspeeder too?

Friday, June 14, 2019

The "new project" urge can strike at any time

In the corner of Hereford Model Centre, there is a little table full of Playmobil for kids to play with. Mostly it seems to be full of dragons (a film tie in) but there was also a boat-shaped thing and I couldn't resist picking this up for a closer look - don't worry, I didn't have to prise it from any tiny hands.

It looked a nice size, about the same as my Bantam Tugboat. The deck and bulwarks unclip so you can get at the inside. "I could fit radio gear in here", I thought.

There wasn't a boxed version in the extensive Playmobil stock but looking through a catalogue, the boat is a My Take Along 1.2.3. Noah's Ark and comes with a fine selection of animals and crew. There is a handle on top, missing on the one I saw, and the clip on deck is so you can store all the pieces inside.

At this point, I get the new project shivers. Fitted with a motor and radio control, this would be a colourful and fun project. On the water, I bet it would look great, although I'd stick the animals and people down so they don't go swimming.

The trouble is, I don't need any more projects. Those who know me, realise that I acquire new ones far faster than I complete them, but I still get the new project shivers. Is this an addiction? 

Please help. Explain why this is a bad idea in the comments to put me off!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Random rust spraying

The oil bowser needs to be a sort of rusty black colour and so for speed, I took it out in the garden to point aerosol primers at it. If that numpty Nevard can make a good job of painting like this, I'm sure a quality modeller with a nice tweed jacket and a full set of Model Railway Journals like myself can produce a masterpiece.

Armed with red oxide and matt black, I started with the later, giving everything a rough coat. Then, while the paint was still wet, shot some rust colour.

This looked too read so I came back with more black and it looked a lot better. Two more rounds and I was happy.

The trick is to work from a distance. I sprayed from between 12 and 24 inches away and it worked well. Coming in closer gives a better coat, but that's not the effect I was looking for. The finish is a little gritty because the paint has partly dried when it hits the surface, but as I plan to dab some weathering powders on later, this is A Good Thing. 

You also don't blast the components all over the scrap bit of MDF I was working on. Yes, I know I should fix them down, but that cramps my artistic style.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Warehouse Wednesday: Essendine Hotel

Essendine Hotel front view2

I pass this place every time I take a trip in to the BRM office - but not for much longer apparently.

The Essendine hotel, which hosted celebrations for the 1938 record speed attempt for the Mallard Steam train which did 126mph on the adjacent East Coast Mainline, is to be demolished and replaced with light industrial units. Abandoned and empty for 14 years, locals have condemned it as an eyesore.

Essendine Hotel front view

I think they are wrong. It's a nice looking building. Admittedly, it's looking tatty after years of neglect, but the basic shape and detail is quite nice. I can also appreciate that there isn't the call for a hotel in the village, and if there was, it wouldn't be this size, shape, or dominated by a giant storage place behind it.

Essendine Hotel rear view

There is modelling potential. The smooth finish makes for easy scratchbuilding. Even the arched windows are no problem if cut out with a compass cutter.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Get your glue out

Out with the Super-phatic for the MDF parts, which works really well. So well that when I realise that there are two options for the cross-pieces (with and without the upright to hold the hose), it's hard to separate them to put the one I wanted in.

I used the skip chassis as a jig while the glue dried, the slots are a bit sloppy but this way it's easy enough to get everything square. Once dry, the MDF is superglued to the glass-filled nylon chassis.

The turned wooden oil drum is a bit odd but coated with sanding sealer, it should be OK. I considered replacing it with a resin version but decided that I'd make do. Anyway, I'm not sure where they are.

It does need an extra flange on one end as this is plain, intended to be used as the base. Since the drum is on its side, a ring of plastic was cut out and glue in place.

Finally, the barrel retaining straps get a couple of plastic bolts on top. That's the thing about these cheap kit, the fun comes in detailing them.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Oil bowser

I'm trying to work my way through a box of kits that have been acquired over the last couple of years. It's a mixed box, but I'm keen to get some of these smaller projects out of the way.

Anyway, first up is this oil bowser wagon kit from Phil Sharples. It's based on a Binnie skip chassis with some laser-cut MDF bits to provide the body.

There's also a turned wooden oil barrel and some lengths of wire. Not bad for around a tenner.Garden railways can be bargain railways!

Sunday, June 09, 2019

DEMU 2019

Class 89

New venue for DEMU this year. No longer a short walk from the station to the town hall that was all atmosphere and exhibition managers nightmare. The new place is square and if you drive on Sunday as I did, the parking is free and easy (it filled up during the day).

Of course, nearly the first thing I did was be gifted a model boat!

The layouts were all excellent and I even managed a bit of wandering to take a few photos. Not too much standing and gawping time for me though, as usual, there was chat and then an hour of product photography at the end of the day. You can see these over on World of Railways.

Cake-wise, things weren't great, but I'm still trying to be good so this didn't matter. The hotdog when I arrived was welcome though and very tasty. 

Trade was excellent too if you didn't want steam related items. Basically, if you like diesel and electrics, then this is very much a show you need to stick in the diary for the future. 

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Saturday Film Club: Making a 405 line television

A fascinating film showing how a GEC television set being made. Look at all those lovely, chunky components!

Friday, June 07, 2019

Graham Farish OO gauge van

Interesting vintage model railway item here - a OOgauge van from the days when Farish didn't just mean N gauge.

The body and chassis are diecast, the roof pressed metal.

Was 6/6 a lot of money in those days?

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Getting to the point, or at least rid of them

Silly little jobs it's easy to forget, but will cause you pain if you do - snipping off the sharp ends of Peco track pins under the baseboard. 

The plywood the Tim Horn baseboard I've used for my OO Billy Bookcase layout isn't very thick. Certainly not thick enough to absorb and an entire track pin. Stab yourself and you could almost think Sundeala was a good idea!

A few minutes snipping off the sharp bits with some flush snips and the problem was solved. I grabbed each pin while cutting with some pliers and wore protective goggles, just to be on the safe side. 


Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Warehourse Wednesday: Wooden hut

Wooden Hut

Cracking, and very useful as a prototype, wooden hut found in the wilds near Taunton. 

I could see this as a cafe, scout hut or even an office of sorts. To be honest, it's the sort of building that cries out to be reproduced in kit form by someone like Wills. 

As it is, the toughest part of a scratchbuild would be reproducing the level of ramshackleness without becoming a cartoon. 

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Done for now.

Couplings and buffers on, I'm going to stop work on the wooden ballast wagon at this point. I could give it a coat of paint, but that would hide the lovely wooden body and you'd not be able to tell it from a plastic kit model.

One day, when I have a layout for the model to run on, I'll finish the job, but for now, I like it how it is. Am I the only one who likes looking at a well-built brass model without paint?

It might seem silly to have splurged cash on saving a £1 refuge from a second-hand stall, but I've terrific satisfaction from doing it, which is the point of the hobby I suppose.

Now, what do do with the leftover van body. One for another day...

Monday, June 03, 2019

Wooden wagon brakes

One of the benefits of working in any particular scale for a while is you build up a stock of bits and pieces that come in handy for future projects. I remember my early 3mm scale days when projects would stall for lack of supplies and how frustrating this was.

O gauge is better for me. Rootling around in a drawer, I found some nearly right brake gear that could be modified to do the job. It's mostly Slater's bits I think with a cross shaft made from scrap tube. This has to be cut in half for the wobbly solebar compensation to work.

The W-Irons are bigger than they should be for this wagon, which throws the angles of the push rods off a bit. This is going to be a "layout wagon" I'm afraid, but to be fair, that's the sort of thing I can use.

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Railex 2019

Midland in Bristol - Yard Entrance

Curse you Railex!

Normally, the decision on which layout I'd like to build is fairly easy, but by hosting the final of the Cameo Layout Competition, the organisers made it pretty difficult.

I'm going to have to plump for the second-placed layout, The Midland in Bristol. While lack of operation cost it the win, I couldn't get enough of the huge amount of detail in the short 7mm scale scene. Look at the dock walls, the crane, all that clutter. I loved it all.

Newton Heath Works - Sentinel shunter

I'd have been just as happy to have built the winner, Newton Heath Works, too. Unloading skips wagons (poked by wire underneath) were clever and I liked the look of the Sentinel shunter. In fact as I have one in 4mm scale, perhaps it would be an idea for a layout...


Around the corner was another surprise. Leighton Buzzard was being manned by two of the Rev Peter Denny's offspring. Crispin was there in person, not in automatic form but Stephen had brought from stock from the Trepolpen Valley Light Railway. I remember this from old magazines and it's proper old-skool garden railway. I've had a chat and will be off to take some proper shots of the locos and wagons for a future issue of Garden Rail. 

Apart from these, there were loads of other great layouts, but sadly I was having battery issue with my compact, so the photos on Flickr were largely taken with my mobile. Still well worth a look though. 

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Saturday Film Club: Secrets of the Central Line

London Underground fascinates me. So much so, I once went all the way down there just to ride to the exotically names "Ongar". 

Since then the line has shut, but makes a brief appearance at the start of this film. Then there's loads of other nerdy and interesting stuff. I feel the need to go and have another look.