Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Warehouse Wednesday: Silos with corrugations


This is a warehouse - for storing grain on a farm. Modern, zinc-coated corrugated streel and still looking pretty clean, they wouldn't be too hard build using South Eastern Finecast vac-formed corrugated plastic sheets. You might get away with Slaters, but when you turn them into a tube, they might be a bit small. 

I'm not sure when these first appeared - I know the Americans have used silos for years and they are a common feature in the backgrounds to railways. 

Behind the silos is a cracking building, full of character. 

asbestos building

More corrugations, but in asbestos this time which I guess makes this a 1960s or early 70s building. Those creepers gorwing up the gaps between sheets are a very common feature on this sort of structure and a modellers freind as you can cover up gaps in the modelling with them. Not that I've ever done such a thing you understand...

Great selection of colours here with creams, greys, browns and ochres on the rough surface of the sides. I wonder what the green tower is for?

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

MT Games and DVD, Weston-super-mare

In the back streets of Weston-Super-Mare, I spotted a Hornby logo on the front of a shop that at first sight, didn't look that promising. The front suggests once of those places where you trade in electrical items and computer games, and they do offer this service, but also a lot more.

Inside, this is a big shop. Turn right and there are many (locked) cabinets of model railway items, mostly second hand. There were Graham Farish OO gauge wagons in a cabinet. I looked and they were priced for proper collectors and not casual ones, but how often do you see these?

There are normal RTR model railways and plastic kits plus a very well-stocked Humbrol paint range. There's also Citadel to go with the Games Workshop figures. In fact I was a lot more impressed than I'd expected to me. OK, these guys aren't specialists, but the shop is well worth a look if you are in town.

MT Games website.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Too much heat!

Or maybe too much haste.

With my holiday looming and a piece on whitemetal soldering to write for Garden Rail, I was cracking on with a loco kit built and had reached that glorious primer stage.

A couple of thin coats of Halfords grey applied, I thought I'd make sure the paint was properly dry with a hairdryer. A little too enthusiastically as it turned out. Blasting away with no thought to the consequences, I managed to get enough heat into the model to soften the low-melt solder.

As you can see, a few bits fell off. And I said some bad words.

Fortunately, all was not lost. I could crop the final photo sufficiently that no-one will ever know. Then I fixed the bits back on later. This time, I didn't try to bake the primer dry...

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Isle of Man motor museum

Bus locomotive

I'm writing this post while on the Isle of Man enjoying a holiday. Earlier today, I took a trip to a new attraction to me - the Isle of Man motor museum.

My expectations weren't high for this. The sign, and indeed the view through the windows, suggested lots of motorcycles and while I enjoy watching the TT, two-wheel transport isn't much more than a passing interest. I've never ridden a motorbike and don't really have any desire to do so. - but the race is a big part of the Manx world so I reasoned a single visit would be enough.

Boy, was I wrong.

Inside, the cavernous building are over 250 exhibits. Yes, there are a lot of motorbikes, but these are mostly confined to the mezzanine levels. On the ground floor, there is everything else mechanical you could want.

Just past the pay desk are many cutaway models of cars and engines. Proper ones made by manufacturers to demonstrate stuff at trade shows.

Cutaway car
In side rooms there are more engines including lawn mowers, stationary engines and steam railways. Admittedly these are mostly model engineering scales, but there are a few cabinets of RTR model railways.

One motorbike display on the ground floor shows Bonneville racers - and suddenly I'm chatting to the guy who builds them!

Boneville motorbike

Chris Proctor is a self-taught engineer and speed freak. He talked me through the components of three different engines while I nodded and tried to keep up and not look too stupid. The engines are assembled from modified commercial parts but with a full understanding of how everything fits together and the "tweaks" required to ensure your machine operates. Laying down the power on the slippery slat surface is hard enough, but you can save some weight by ditching the front brakes since slamming these on is NOT a good idea.

As proof that this stuff isn't easy, Chris's bike is a bit broken, as was his leg the day after he took a speed record for his class. Now he's building a car to race there, the nosecone of which was on display.

La France fire engine

All of this is down to father and son, Chris and Daryl Cunningham. They have collected the vehicles and funded the museum. Manx enthusiasts have lent cars to fill the space but at it's core, this is a dream garage.

It's a garage that is still filling up. One of the volunteers took me behind the scenes to see a London airport double-decker bus and luggage trailer, converted into a huge campervan for a 8000 miles trip around America. Next to this is a prototype rotary-engine Citroen. And a flower car from America (they follow the hearse with the back full of flowers), one of several in the museum and something I'd never seen before.

In fact, things I'd never seen before turned out to be a theme. One visit certainly won't be enough!

Isle of Man motor museum website

More of my pictures on Flickr

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Saturday Film Club: 1950s cable TV

Who knew there was cable TV back in the 1950s?

This film explains relay television and is full of archive town films full of classic cars and lorries plus plenty of (then) current technology with proper knobs, buttons and metal cabinets painted grey. 

Why were all technical things, including H&M controllers painted grey? 

Friday, July 26, 2019

The many uses of talc for modellers

Got a granny? Sadly no. It's a pity as my modelling toolkit needs something grannies seem to have plenty of - talcum powder.

I'm not sure why it seems to be such an old-fashioned product. After all, you can still buy it in the shops, but I've never actually felt the need to do so. Or at least not for a while.

A tub of talc has a permanent spot on my modelling board. It does loads of jobs:
  • Patted into the paint on buildings, the colour is matted, blended and lent a tiny bit of texture. Thanks to Iain Rice for that tip. 
  • On a file, it reduces the clogging when filing whitemetal. 
  • Applied as a weathering powder, it tones down the colours of others. Handy if you've been a bit heavy-handed. 
  • Sprinkled into tarmac colour paint, it adds just a hint of texture. Thank Marytn Welch for that one. 
  • If you have glue, especially epoxy traces on your hands, a sprinkled of talc will soak it up and prevent gluey fingerprints. 
  • Spil glue on the cutting mat, talc soaks it up like cat litter deployed by a school caretaker on a pavement pizza. 
 Anyway, after many years of service, my pot ran out.  After a dig in the cupboard, I have a replacement which I'm sure will make my modelling smell lovely!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Cutting foamboard square

For a project, I need to cut some foamboard. It's not a material I use a lot as I've never been happy with the edges I cut. I want square once, but always manage to hold the knife blade at an angle. With the thickness of the board, this looks a bit rubbish.

I know someone will say there is a proper tool for the job, but the only one I have is for 45-degree cuts, and I don't get on with it anyway.

Inspiration struck and I realised if I used a knife with snap-off blades, I could run it along the side of a bit of wood to keep it verticle. OK, the wood will eventually get carved away, but I only needed a few cuts.

For such a low-tech method, it actually worked very well. I don't suppose the cuts are perfect, but that are easily good enough for the job, and that's all I need. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Warehouse Wednesday: Got any spare sleepers?

Spotted in Birmingham, some railway sleepers. Not for trains though. Even the nearby Midland Metro extension isn't using them. No, these are in use as weights holding the scaffolding tower that will eventually hold a giant, outdoor cinema screen up.

This means there is a yard somewhere that is nothing to do with trains, that has piles of these things lying around. So, if you have some leftover bits of concrete Peco, you know what you can do with them. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Not an ideal maiden voyage

Look closely at these two photos taken 2 minutes apart.

You might think they look like a pretty boat sailing on the water at our boat club, and you would be right.

The sharp-eyed will notice that the model appears to be sitting slightly lower in the water in the second shot. I was not sharp-eyed on the day.

Fortunately, by the time the model had made it halfway around the lake, even I realised something was wrong and pointed the model at the bank. It made it, but then sank.

Running around the pond I reached the boat which had lodged on a ledge, I'm glad I left the handle in place, and I was able to haul it out. Popping the deck off, I emptied out the water and took the model back to the bench for further drying.

Back home, the good news is that the electric seems to have survived. I just need to work out what's gone wrong.

For what it's worth, the advantage of brightly colour models is you can spot them underwater.

Monday, July 22, 2019

2 by 2, they went for a sail

Loading the ark with figures proved to be interesting. I tried a few different arrangements but ended up with something very close to the first version. I wanted to keep the pairs of animals together, but there's not actually much deck space. As it is, the giraffes had to look over each other than the front legs of the elephants aren't on the ground.

Sticking them down was essential. I had considered fixing wood in their legs and screwing them down, but eventually simply glued them in place with UHU on some feet and clear silicone sealant on others. I might go for solvent eventually, but like the idea of being able to remove them if I decide, I don't like things later. UHU/silicone can be peeled away, or at least I hope it can.

After this, a quick trip around the pool was called for. All seemed well...

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Warley MRC open day 2019


Sunday morning - an industrial estate on the outskirts of Birmingham - model railway journalism is full of glamour!

Andy York and I had taken a trip over to the club behind the biggest model railway show in the UK every year for the day they throw open their doors to the public. The are railways, cake and most importantly, a competition for YouTuber's to build tiny dioramas in 5 hours.

This went really well, with some amazing models built from scratch. You can see the results in our film:

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Saturday Film Club: Landing on the moon

50 years ago, as my parents watched from a Scottish village where the milk was delivered by horse and cart*, man landed on the moon. This video takes you through the descent and landing with all the radio communications and plenty of explanation as to what is going on. I'm a bit of a space nerd, so it's fascinating. 

*this continued for at least another 8 years.  

Friday, July 19, 2019

Sewage, scenics and an interview in BRM

Lots of stuff from me in the latest BRM. I kick off with a photo session at South Bierly Sewage Works.

I spotted this layout at Lancing show a couple of years ago and was really taken with it. OK, we have an odd-ball subject in an unusual gauge (O14) but it's very much my sort of model. Highly detailed, different and small. OK, it's not OO, but I hope the readers can enjoy a trip off the beaten track occasionally.

Next, I've been to see Finescale Model World, purveyors of some very interesting tools. Steve and I had a very enjoyable chat for about 4 hours talking about model making, not just railway modelling either!

As well as being a tool and scenic material supplier, he also builds models on commission and has a really well-sorted workbench. Far tidier than mine and with a Microflame torch that I covet, even if it's well out of reach financially for someone who isn't soldering professionally. One of those tools that save its cost if you are charging by the hour though.

My big project this month is a complete, albeit tiny, layout.

The latest Billy Bookcase model is the 009 layout and starting with the baseboards I built a couple of months ago, I've completed the project apart from wiring and fiddle yard. It's a really pretty model and I'm very pleased with the way it looks. There's a real variety of products used too. 

Finally, on the DVD, it's time to take a look at electrostatic grass. 

Regular viewers will know we've been here before, but it's one of those subjects that is so fundamental to our hobby now that it's worth a re-visit every so often. This time, the demonstration centres on the new Woodland Scenics system which includes some really excellent colours that deserve plenty of attention from those looking for quality greenery. 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Bekonscot in Garden Rail

A treat for me in issue 300 of Garden Rail - a visit to Bekonscot which included the chance to wander around behind the scenes. I won't lie, I had a great day out. It's a facinating place and chatting to the guys who maintain and develop it was amazing. There was definite job envy going on there.

Envy of a different sort comes with a review of the RoundhoueDouble Fairlie. A fantastic model, which the reviewer (not me) didn't want to give back.

Much more my sort of thing is the article on building battery locomotive chassis, which includes proper data in graph and table form. "Electric mice" are a popular branch of the large scale hobby and it's nice to be able to provide some details for those thinking of having a go at building one. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Warehouse Wednesday: Scruffy building with big doors

It's not just me who has collected photos of ugly buildings. This one is from the collection of the late Peter Barnfield, artist extraordinaire.

What a fantastic building. Ugly corrugated walls, big sliding doors, a dodgy balcony and some rubbish. Peter used to collect these sort of images to inspire some of his paintings.

I spotted this at the Peter Barnfield - a railway retrospective, taking place at the WSR for just over a week. If you get the chance, pay a visit. And look through the little box of photos. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Time to put on weight

All wired up and ready to sail, the ark just needs a bit of weight to level it up. The heavy battery in one end brings the hull down a bit, but uneavenly. What the model needs is a spell in the sink and some extra lead.

Those moulded lines on the hull are very handy as a quide. Add to that a spriti level to make sure things are equal all round and the job only takes a few minutes.

At 1.2kg, this boat isn't going to have a problem in the wind, or when the fast boats make waves!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Surprise unobtainables

Things I'm surprised I couldn't buy at Cosford, from the wide array of RC parts suppliers.

A battery holder for a jelly cell. 

OK, the flyboys don't use heady lead-acid batteries, but I was able to buy the lump itself easily enough. I suppose not being able to buy something to hold it in the hull isn't that much of a problem since a few bits of Plastikard and some glue will work.

A servo holder. 

This IS a surprise. A simple vac-formed box to hold a servo, or something in laser-cut plywood out to be found on many stands, but apart from one plywood device to hold the servo against a wall, nothing.

With servos being fundamental to all forms of radio control, I really thought there wouldn't be any need to make something myself. It's not that I'm lazy, it's just that it's a bit of a faff as these things are a bit of a funny shape. You need a box which a wire can point out of the side of.

I'm sure someone is going to point me at a supplier. I'll be the one placing an order for several as there are many more servos in my future.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Cosford Large Aircraft 2019 - Rain stops plane


The weather forecast promised cloudy skies. The previous weekends and even days running up to the event predicted sunshine and sun-hats. 

As it was, by lunchtime, the rain was coming down and sensibly, the aircraft were covered up.  

The only silver lining was that the outside swapmeet stand was also a see of tarpaulins, preventing me being tempted by the rare and well-priced model boat kit if it hadn't sold as we headed back to the car. 

Before this though, there had been some superb flying with amazing aerobatics and aircraft you simply can't see full-size anymore. 

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Saturday Film Club: Sailor buoy by Tri-ang

Something special for you this week - another Phil's unboxing. This time a vintage sailing game from Tri-ang. 

It's brilliant fun and I've checked, no-one knows where the moulds are so Hornby won't be re-releasing it!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Pound stretchers loco jacks

Does anyone remember GEM "Pound Stretchers"?

Packs of whitemetal details that cost, a pound. There were all sorts of things available and I coveted them for my model railway. Even in those days, these were just about within my financial reach.

Needless to say, I now pick these up whenever I see them. By the 1990s, the packs were well over £2 a go, but still very useful.

 I'm pretty sure that I've used the Pigeon baskets on Hellingly, you can see them in this crop of a Chris Nevard photo from a scary long time ago.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Test piece

Some people think that those of us who do things in print are modelling gods who get everything right first time. Sadly, they are wrong, it's just that there often isn't space on the page to show all the earlier attempts.

No problem here on the blog. Here is something I tried out for a project you'll soon see. I'd ballasted 009 track with some Woodland Scenics grey ballast, and felt it looked a bit plain.

Wondering what I could do to improve matters, I decided that working on the layout itself was a bad idea, at least until I could be sure of the results.

Solution - make up a short test piece. Stick a bit of track to some foam, spray it brown and then ballast. Just like the stuff on the model.

Then I messed around with dry-brushing and powders to see how they looked.

Horray for test pieces!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Warehouse Wednesday: OLE without the wires

OLE Fitting 1

Heading into the office, I've been gradually watching overhead electrification taking place near Stamford. One striking feature is the posts being up, but with the arms (I'm sure there is a technical term for these) pointing along the track. 

 I kept meaning to take a photo, there is a handy layby to pull in to, but realised that the time had come on a damp day a couple of weeks ago. This is silly, because I'd passed there a week earlier in the sunshine...

Anyway, I've never seen this scene before and it might make an interesting modelling challenge for someone. At least you can leave out the complicated bits and those tricky wires!

OLE Fitting 2

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Foam motor support

With the driveline fitted in the hull using lashings of epoxy glue (Hint: Hwen using the Poundland stuff, buy fresh tubes) the motor was going to have to sit at a funny angle due to the whopper prop fitted on the end of it.

I contemplated making a plastic support but decided to try something new. With several lumps of grey styrofoam kicking around, why not use this? 

Chopping this to size worked well. I kept shaving bit away until the motor would fit with everything in-line. Half an hour's work and I had something that worked.

Thoe motor is fitted with UHU POR adhesive - a foam-safe clear glue. I wasn't sure about this, but it seems to have fixed the foam to the hull and motor strongly enough that when power is applied, nothing falls apart or even looks like it might. I wonder if the foam even provides some cushioning effects to keep things quiet?

Anyway, with things dry, I lashed up 6V worth of batteries and tried it in the pool. 

Monday, July 08, 2019

Short driveline

The ark needs a short driveline. From the back of the motor to the tip of the propeller is 18cm.

You can't buy a prop shaft that short - 6cm long - so I used a piper cutter to trim it. One of the plastic bearings was eased out of the end and then pummeled back into the new short length, not an easy job as these things are fitted tightly.

The shaft had to be cut down too. Tricky as while one end is threaded for the prop, the other isn't and I didn't have a coupling connector suitable for a plain shaft. Oddly, my 4BA die wasn't a good fit on the thread, I'm sure it should be, and I couldn't find a holder even if I wanted to use it.

In the end, I opened out a threaded connector with a cutting broach until the shaft could be friction fitted with a bit of percussive persuasion.

It all seems to work, I just need to fit the lot in the boat.  

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Classic cars on show at Leamington


A rare, railway-free weekend, allowed me time to nip along to the first Leamington Spa classic car show. It was a well-attended event, helped by the excellent weather. 

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Saturday Film Club: Building a mini-maglev

Another unboxing video, but this time with some actual construction going on.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Ash Products Double Decker Bus kit

This is how kits used to be. Proper modelling.

All the parts are made from wood. I assume the sides are die-cut as the opening are very neat. That's quite an investment in tooling. You need high-quality plywood too, none of the rubbish balsa found in Keil-Kraft kits.

Seats and details are also made of wood. Again, I have to wonder at the effort the kitmaker has gone to producing these, even though they are fairly crude.

The instruction sheet is massive and includes a plan. I wonder how many of these models were ever made up. Personally, this is in the "to do" kit pile as I don't think it is that rare and while the model won't match the latest diecast or plastic models, but it has a charm of its own.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Loco crew for a Bachmann Baldwin

Chris Ford recently exploded on to Facebook with a complaint that he was struggling to find suitable figures for his 009 Bachmann Baldwin. It seems that the cab is a little on the low side, and that the first choice, a set of BRM people, were more than a bit tall. Worse, other figures also seemed a bit of a squeeze.

Now, Chris is a top chap. Excellent modeller and in possession of several top quality jackets, rather more "dandy highwayman" than my more sober tweed, but he doesn't own either a complete set of MRJ's or a complete set of MREmags from the era when I was the editor.

If he had, he'd know of the specially made Bantam figures from Ken Clark. These multi-part models are designed to be a bit shorter than most for use in old loco cabs with lower rooflines. People weren't as tall back then.

Facing the Bachmann Baldwin issue myself, I dug through my figure box and found a packet I'd bought at the time. Assembly, then a quick slosh of paint and they are a perfect fit in the loco.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Warehouse Wednesday: A vicarage straight out of Ahern

Beaconsfield vicarage

Spotted on a recent trip to Bekonscot Model Village, this vicarage belongs to St Theresa's church. Assuming it was built at the same time as the church, it dates from 1926. 

When I saw it, my first thought was that it would fit perfectly in a book by Ahern or Beal. It's just got that look that they portrayed. Fortunately, the design hasn't been messed with either, it retains that early commuter belt chic. 

The size definitely dates from the era when clergymen enjoyed enough space for a decent sized model railway room. 

If you want to build a model, I feel brick paper is the medium. Don't know why, it just seems right. 


Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Can I cram it all in?

As with any model boat, work starts on the Ark by taking a perfectly watertight hull, and making holes in it.

The rudder is easy enough - drill a hole, ream it out, screw the rudder tube in place. For a change, I haven't needed to mess with the length of this as the hull is so thick at this point it more then covers the plain section of the tube.

Fitting the prop tube is a little tougher. I've elected to use a 60mm plastic propeller for a few reasons:
  • It's bright red and matches the hull (sort of)
  • I had it to hand
  • I like the cartoony idea of an oversize prop under this boat
The practical upshot is that the shaft has to be inclined quite steeply.

I don't see this as an issue. The short hull means little space for a motor but fitting it at an angle will help. OK, the drive won't be as efficient, but this is a pootling around boat so who cares?

One challenge will be shortening the shaft. 6 inch is the shortest one available and I reckon I need half that. Time to get the tube cutter out!

Monday, July 01, 2019

A dig through the stores

I want to get cracking on the Ark, so rather than place orders for components, I've had a dig through the Parker stash of bits.

I now have a speed control, motor, prop, propshaft, servo and rudder. There's a receiver in my new (OK, bought for Christmas and not used yet) radio set. A battery will be nabbed from the drawer, I'm not having jelly cells posted 'cos they weight a ton.

Some of this stuff was bought for other projects and will need to be replaced, but not for the moment. It doesn't do to hang on to some bits anyway, the world moves on and they never find a use. Anyone need a 26meg receiver? Not anymore.

One of the advantages of being in a hobby for a while is you build up component stocks. I remember when first working in 3mm scale model railways, it was a nightmare as every project required a buying session before I could get stuck in. Definitely a disincentive to trying something new. 

Thanks to all those who clicked on the ads, they don't pay a lot, but I've pretty much covered the speed control already!