Saturday, August 31, 2019

Saturday Film Club: Large scale cardboard train

Love this. Building aworking model railway from corrugated cardboard. The track is especially clever, and the film-maker has produced so much of it!

Friday, August 30, 2019

Mystery Jinty at Hornby

Another mystery. In Hornby's visitor's centre, there is this mystery. ]

No label explains what it is, but I'd say an O gauge Jinty. It's in a display of the early years of the company from the days when several businesses were absorbed into the group. Since I'd snuck in before opening time, there wasn't anyone I could ask.

I'm not even sure what the material is. Plastic? What for? 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Off to the moon with Airfix astronauts

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the moon landings, Airfix has re-released their Astronaught set as part of the classic range of models.

The classic range is really a chance to make a few quid by re-releasing old kits with minimal work on the moulds. OK, so they aren't up to the standards of modern releases, but it's a chance to get hold of a model to build that often sells for high prices second hand. As far as I can tell, everyone wins.

Anyway, I had a set of astronauts many years ago, I think there are one or two still in the figure pot, and with all things moon in mind, fancied another pack. At the Hornby shop last weekend I spotted they were out and for £4.99 grabbed a box.

The moulds must be pretty old as sadly the figures are made in a very rubbery plastic. It's more vinyl than polystyrene, which makes cleaning up any flash pretty much impossible unless you can get some tiny scissors on it.

I painted my models with Humbrol 147, followed by a dry-brush with matt white. The visors were gold, washed with Citadel weathering black ink. Not sure if this works as an effect, but I think I prefer it to a gloss black. Pipes are picked out in pale grey (64) just for a bit of variety. Valves are red and blue.

They are a bit of fun. I'm not planning to build a moon diorama, but maybe the odd one will find themselves in the background of a railway project.

After finishing the painting, I carried out a little more research. Warwick museum currently has a moon landing display and it includes a clear disk containing specks of real moon rocks collected by the Apollo 15 and 17 missions. Tiny specks obviously, but real moon rock!

Lunar Sample 228

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Warehouse Wednesday: SVR neighbours

Thanks to Nick Wallace for this spot:

On a recent visit to the Severn Valley Railway, I stayed at the Travelodge in Kidderminster. Next door were a couple of buildings which might interest your blog readers.

I like the top image in particular as it’s an otherwise drab colour scheme but with a splash of colour on the doors. Note also what looks like full height doors on the first floor.

Below, we have a nicely grubby corrugated metal structure.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Looking for that leak

With the radio gear working, I need to find out where the water is coming in. Back on the pool (yes, it's gone green, there's someone coming to look at the filter next week) I sail the ark around for a while.

After ten minutes, looking inside, there is a tiny amount of water around the rudder tube.

A really tiny amount, but it's worked its way up the tube, I can feel it all the way up to the arm, which must be just lower than the waterline.

Unconvinced, I wanted to sail the model without the top, so added a bit of weight.

Another few minutes sail and again, a tiny amount of water. Certainly not a boat sinking amount, but it's the only wet stuff in there.

Ideally, I'd have sailed on, but the battery was on its last legs so this is on charge and I'll lightly grease the rudder post to try to keep things dry. Then have another go. 

Monday, August 26, 2019

Don't rush your modelling, it can save you money!

Work commitments have kept me away from the Ark, but I'm determined to get it on the water properly before the end of the summer.

With a few minutes to spare, I thought I'd dig through the stash of model boat bits and see what I needed to replace after the dunking. Out came a receiver and servo, but first, I fired up the boat.

And it worked!

OK, the Radiolink R8EF receiver doesn't look pretty, but it only works!

The servo seems happy too. So all the bist go back in the stash.

When I tried all this a few weeks ago, the servo chattered but didn't operate properly. Now all is well. I can only assume that in the interim, the electronics have fully dried out. So by waiting, I didn't bin perfectly good (if ugly) components.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

New use for a free-fall lifeboat


Lodging on the quayside at Ramsgate last weekend was fascinating for anyone who is interested in boats - so despite the rubbish weather, I spent quite a lot of time spotting.

One surprise was this Free-Fall Lifeboat. Normally seen hung on the back of ships at a crazy angle, you don't generally find them close to the shore. Except it appears when owned and used as a private boat or even houseboat. I'm intrigued to know what one of these is like to sail as a gin palace. They are intended to get the crew to safety, and I assume not built for comfort.

Presumably, this is why there is a second one that's been customised by hacking the front off (very neatly) and installing a patio.


If you feel the urge to build one, fire up your 3D printer and head over here. Would it be suitable for radio control? Probably if you printed it large enough with a thin hull. Plenty of orange paint will be required to seal and smooth the print material!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Saturday Film Club: Hornby Open Weekend with Phil (and others)

Sit back and enjoy the official video from last weekend'sHornby Open Weekend. Around 45 minutes in, I'm hogging the camera talking about Cake Boxes and large model railways.

I'd also suggest you give Callum Willcox's video a watch. There is sadly no me, except in the background, but it's a really good take on the exhibitor's version of the show.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Mallett's Models signal box

Another mystery kit - a signal box from Mallett's Models.

Inside the box, which I bought for a fiver out of curiosity, is a pile of wood and some instructions.

When assembled, the result should (apparently) be a 16mm scale model of a Lynton & Barnstaple 1935 signal box.

My L&B photo collection is minimal and looking on-line I can't find anything that looks like this.

I also can't find out anything about Mallett's Models. The tape on the box suggests they produced rolling stock kits. I assume they were also wooden wonders - can anyone fill in any more details of either maker or the prototype? 

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Building a Binnie skip wagon

Looking for projects to build at the Hornby Open Weekend, I found a Binnie skip wagon kit in the stash. These are classic models, and I don't think I've ever actually built one - so a chance to give it a go and entertain the public.

The body parts are moulded in very hard plastic. Wheels and axleboxes are glass-filled nylon and the axles are steel. The kit itself is a steal at £14, although mine is so old the packaging says £7. That's a lot of wagon for your money.

Despite the bargain price, the parts are free from flash. All the modeller has to do is remove the marks left by the runners where the plastic is injected into the mould. A bit of knife and file action quickly sorts this out.

The wheels need to be slid on to the axles and set to a back to back of 28mm. Obviously, as a fine-scale modeller, I'm using a calliper, but a ruler would be fine as you don't need to be accurate to fractions of a millimetre in this scale.

Incidentally, if anyone knows where I can get another calliper like this, please let me know. I don't like the readily available digital versions as the battery always seems to be flat.

Assembly just needs plastic cement and solvent. Although there aren't any location aids, the rivet heads nearly do the job so you can't go far wrong as long as you pay attention and get the top support the right way up.

The support on the one-piece skip body fits into locating holes and allows for tipping. Most people stick them in place as you don't want them falling off in a derailment.

Job done. I reckon about 20 minutes would be enough time to build one of these. Less if batch building one you are in the swing of things. I took a day but that's because I spent most of the time chatting, and to be honest, there's no point in rushing these jobs. When a kit is as good as this, take your time and enjoy it. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Warehouse Wednesday: Container sheds

Container sheds

Spotted oppositeWaleyMRC's clubrooms, this is a rather more elaborate use of 40ft ISO shipping containers than you normally find. 

I'm assuming that raising them on block plinths and adding a verandah is to assist loading and unloading vehicles. 

Modelling would be easy enough and looking at the metalwork, a slight wonkiness would be perfectly in keeping with the scene. It would certainly make a change from simply dumping them on the ground. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

A little industrial scene

Once I'd built an engine shed for a 48DS in issue 119 of the Hornby Collectors Club magazine, it seemed sensible to put this in a small scene suitable for posing tiny locomotives and perhaps some road vehicles.

In issue 120, I've built the display up to include some inlaid track, essential to allow the loco to fit in the shed, plus a few background buildings which I've made from a single structure. Plus a water tower because what sort of industrial site doesn't have a water tower?

There's a lot of weathering powder going on here which keeps construction and decoration nice and simple. It's going to be a useful photo backdrop for me - but would be an ideal corner filler for a larger layout. 

Monday, August 19, 2019

When's my water set?

On a recent project, I made use of Woodland Scenics "Deep Pour" water system.

It's easy enough to use, mix the two chemicals and pour into the stream or river bed. Leave to dry and the job is done, assuming it hasn't leaked out of course.

The hardest part is stopping yourself prodding the "water" to see if it's set.

By chance, I avoided this. Judging the amount to mix is difficult (OK, there is some maths in the instructions, but it all seemed too complicated to me) so I tend to err on the side of generosity. Better to have some left over then run short.

A flash of inspiration saw the leftovers poured into a little plastic bag. In there, they could set at the same rate as the mix on the layout - but I can poke and prod the bag without risking leaving fingerprints on my stream!

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Back to Bekonscot

90th Birthday party

After my trip to Bekonscot for Garden Rail, I was keen to come back and enjoy a more leisurely look around. A friend in need of something to do during the school holidays with her 6-year-old provided the opportunity. I was interested to see what a child thought of the place, I recall being entranced when I was a few years older, but then I'm a bit weird.

It seems that today's children like a bit of animation, but then I suspect I was the same. She loved the trains, the working playground, animated figures waving. Pretty much anything that moved in fact. The child's quiz went down well and we all enjoyed spotting and counting various details. 

And I took some more photos, which you can find on Flickr.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Saturday Film Club: British Rail in 1972

I've been been looking at a lot of photos showing BR in the 1970s - and so this excellent film from 1972 is really interesting. I like to think this is fairly recent, but it's nearly half a century old!

The railway was different then. Lots of lovely locos to spot and interesting rolling stock. 

Overall, the tone is positive with many technological advances. This isn't quite what I remember (OK, I was 2, but you get the gist) from the period, but I suspect that the grimy, rail blue world coloured our perception.

Friday, August 16, 2019

There's some special Hornby in BRM, and this weekend

This month, it's all about Hornby - you see I'll be taking part in their open weekend, and have been asked to take along some Cake Box models. 

Well, I thought I'd better do something new and also relevant, so have built a 1:24th scale train set, in a suitable setting. It's like no other model I've ever built!

I'm a bit of a DCC Luddite, but as a test, I took on the task of carrying out the (allegedly) hardest job you can do, hard wiring a chip into a locomotive.

 My candidate is a Class24 from the back of my cupboard. Converted from a Hornby Class 25 at least two decades ago, if this can be chipped, pretty much anything can be.

My camera has been out, this time for Derwent Road.

With it's mixed bag of interesting rolling stock and a cracking 1970s housing estate setting, I pounced on this at Warley last year and am pleased to see it's now made it to the page as well as being lead layout on the DVD. 

Talking of the DVD, I'm building some coaches from Dapol kits. In an era when people are always moaning about the price of model railways, these bargain ready-painted kits are perfect. They don't take long to build and produce models that I suspect are of equal quality to the layouts they will be running on.

I know you can scrape off handles and add detail, but IMHO, a consistent standard is more important to the look of a model railway than a few hyper-detailed items running through an otherwise average quality scene. You can't go too wrong with these kits, so let's hope we see more on layouts!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Huricane proof modelling in Garden Rail September

Garden Rail is an international magazine and the lead layout this month is from Florida in the US of A. Built in a land where they can experience some extreme weather, everything has to be well fixed down! 

Despite this, the Buckinghamshire Light Railway has a real British look, it could easily be a lot nearer home but shows that we enjoy attractive railways. 

I've been at work doing some whitemetal soldering using an IP Engineering kit, although you might remember that rushing things didn't pan out too well for me on this project.  It was fixed and completed though. 

We get more construction with an interesting live steam loco, battery-powered DeWinton and really good looking gravel loading facility. Dave S looks at slate wagons and Mark T builds a really detailed garage. 

Lots of good stuff again this month, so get out and buy a copy!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Warehouse Wednesday: Manx bus shelters

Driving around the Isle of Man, I became a little bit obsessed with the concrete bus shelters. They are found all over the island and I really wanted to stop to photograph each one. 

The shelters are made up of pre-cast concrete components and seem to come in two sizes. Most are small as shown above, but near Jurby, there is a large capacity version. 

If you want a "proper" reason to photograph these, years ago I used to shoot red telephone boxes. Each time, I did my best to get the best-composed image possible of these standard items. It's great fun and good practise. 

The shelters aren't immediately appealing, although I suspect on a wet day, they are very welcome. However, they have a certain brutal charm and do the job they are designed to do in all weathers, something that appeals to me.

I couldn't find a history of these stops online, but I did find a video about the man who maintains them. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Sealing the hull

Holidays and working have eaten nearly all the time I have had to work on the mystery as to why the ark sank. A bit of a shove on the pool didn't reveal any obvious leaks I'm sad to say, so it's back to guesswork. 

One possible issue is the hull is in two parts. The top ring is sperate from the bottom, so it the boat reaches that depth, it's going to fill up very rapidly with water. 

Ideally, I'd have separated the components and glued them together. With the motor fitted, this isn't an option so it was time for a less appealing Plan B. If I can't stop the water getting into the hollow bits of the hull, at least I can stop it getting into the main bit. 

Along the front edge (right-hand arrow above) I ran copious amounts of Poundland epoxy glue. It splodges nicely into place and will stop any water. 

Under the top edge, the hull is hollow, so I filled it with Milliput. Then, because I've never got on with the stuff, coated it with more epoxy. 

I don't know how much all this will help, but I reason at least if the boat starts to sink, it will do so slowly. 

Now I just need to find time to get back out on the pool and really sail this boat in a safe environment to see what else happens. There are some electronics to replace first though as the servo is chattering, which might be the servo or the receiver. Which I wish I'd waterproofed in a balloon.

Monday, August 12, 2019

HLW stake wagon

Stake wagon

A few weeks ago I wrote up building some HLW wagon kits for the garden railway. At the time I didn't mention there was a fourth kit in the stash for a flat wagon. 

The plan had been to build all the models as a batch, but when I came to do it, there were only enough axles for 3 models, the other pair having been lost along the way. 

I dug through the stash of bits and couldn't find anything long enough and of sufficient diameter, so the odd-one-out wagon stayed in its bag which I looked around for something suitable on-line. 

Eventually, I settled for some sourcing map HSS Lathe Round Rod Solid Shaft Bar 3.5mm Dia 100mm Length 5Pcs via Amazon.

May weeks later, these arrived. First problem, they were too fat for the wheels, so I had to drill out the wheels, stub axles and axle boxes to suit.

Then I had to cut the metal to length. No saw would touch it and neither would files. In the end, I used a slitting disk in a Dremel. Lots of sparks but it worked well and I soon had everything fitted together.

The wagon rolls just as well as the "proper" ones and I think looks great. Once I have tidied up the garden line, I'll be able to give my new goods train a run. 

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Stratford-on-Avon industrial and narrow gauge exhibition 2019

Short freight

A new show and a quirky one. In the town of Shakespeare's birth, a Methodist hall full of narrow gauge model railways.

Obviously, this is right up my street and walking in I spy Chris Payne and his Pyn Valley Railway. I've always been a sucker for tin-roofed buildings with bit writing on the top. The "Fox Food" pub gladdens my heart when I drive down the A14 and "Tram" on the model roof sets the scene.

However, I wasn't there for this, I had a goal to take some photos of the extension to Campbell's Quarry. Adding an engine shed to the layout has completely changed the look of the model, far more than I'd expected. The plan is that these will form the basis of a BRM article in the future.

Looking in the loco shed

Next to this was Tony's forest.

Steeple cab through the trees

Much as I love this layout and enjoy shooting snapshots, it cries out for a proper session with the camera, but sooooo many trees. It needs someone with a Benbo tripod to get in there, so I'm trying to persuade a suitably equipped gentleman to arrange something. Not to worry for the moment, I had fun looking for angles.

I did manage to take some proper shots of Castle Wharf Kendal, another atmosphere filled small layout.

Castle Wharf Kendal diesel

Despite the lack of length, I see I still managed to take 18 different photos. That's the thing with a detailed layout, you can still find loads of interest. 

I can't go through all the layouts, but each was worth a good look and I'm ashamed to say I didn't really get the time to do them all justice. As packing away was happening, I realised one model featured acoustic mirrors and I hadn't taken a photo!

Catering was locally produced and included some really excellent lemon crumble. I bought one slice but then had a second forced on me by Mr Campbell as I photographed his layout!

Apparenlty, this show is a one-off, but let's hope that changes. 

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Saturday Film Club: 10 steps to getting your modelling mojo back

I'm sure this video by Kathy Millatt will have been around the web already, but I'm putting it here because she's spot on. That and there is an entertaining rant about rivet-counters towards the end that comes from the heart...

Friday, August 09, 2019

I've been to hell, and it was brillant!

I've been to hell, and it's in Leicestershire...

We've been filming at Bachmann UK's warehouse recently and this allowed me to have a mouch around the shelves full of models. The problem is that as well as the UK railway stuff, they have the Pocketbond range of kits, tools and accessories.

So much stuff!

So much temptation!

So many projects I'd like to have a go at!

I kept looking at boxes and thinking how much fun it would be to assemble the contents. Then I remembered my existing stash of potential projects.

If a lottery ticket comes up, I'd happily bring a lorry load of these goodies home with me. Sadly, the same ticket wouldn't buy me enough time to build them all. All this temptation is both terrible and (I think) wonderful. After all, if you can't look through this lot and find something that interests you in this amazing range, then there's something wrong with you!

Now, please excuse me while I try to think of a reason I should build a 1/32nd scale burger bar complete with rotating sign...

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Yeo and First in NGW

Something for the 009 fans in (unsurprisingly) Narrow Gauge World this month - my review of Hejan's L&B loco. One of the second production run was passed to me a few months ago and I've had a poke and a prod.

There's been a lot said about these locomotives. Admittedly a lot of it has been "Waaaaahhh it costs money!!!!"  but there have been a few constructive comments too and there are undoubtedly issues with this model and I've included a few of these in the piece. It's a critical review, but one I ran past Heljan to give them the chance to comment - I think a response from a manufacturer adds to a review if you can get one.  As it was, they were happy but that's mostly because they would rather see an accurate review than a hagiography, something to be applauded.

One point I do mention is that the prototypes are mainline machines. The L&B was laid with generous curves and long points. Drop one of these on your typical Welsh line and it will be off the track and the first corner. In model form, if you bend your track around your knee for curves, then you don't want one of these.

There is also a feature on the layout "First" using a selection of my photos. Cracking layout and some interesting details emerge in the text.

Narrow Gauge World magazine.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Warehouse Wednesday: Douglas station

You learn something new every day, or at least every time you take a shed tour on the Isle of Man steam railway.

It seems that these buildings on the left-hand side, as you look at the front of the station, used to provide warehousing at Douglas station on the Isle of Man. I've had a look and can't find any vintage views of them online, but it's useful and interesting to know.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Why I love my local model shop

Now, I might have a slightly weird job, but even if I didn't, I'm sure I would love having a local model shop. To me, the convenience outweighs any slight price advantage I might get ordering on-line.

A few days ago, a future mag project deadline being chopped in half, I nipped in to see what there was in the N gauge section. A few minutes, and 35 quid later, I had a bag full of the stuff you see above. Now, I could have ordered over the web, but I wasn't at the stage where the project was fully thought through so I could modify things based on the products I could lay my hands on.

Apparently, there are those (according to popular web forums) who really don't like model shops. I struggle to understand that, I really do. Maybe it's the need to avoid human contact, or simply that their modelling entirely involves buying new boxes for the lowest price possible, but how can you beat rooting around in the depths of a shop for surprises?

Anyway, my local shop is Classic Train and Motor Bus, who reach their 20th birthday this year. That's 20 years of excellent service AND prices. They have just altered their opening times fro close at 3:45 to allow for more time on mail-order and expanding their web presence. Apparently, after analysis, this is the best way to free up time to work on expanding the business, or at least getting down to the Post Office to send off parcels!

If you have a local model shop - pay them a visit this weekend. It's summer and things are quiet, so do your bit to keep them open with a purchase. With a bit of luck, they will them be there when you need them.

Update: Over the weekend, it was revealed at the Ian Allan shop in central Birmingham is to close. This makes me both sad AND angry. It's a terrific shop, and a staple of any visit to the city. I've spent many, many pounds there in the past and yet it looks like there aren't enough people like me to pay the bills. I know there are people who will crow about this saying "I told you so" but if a city centre can't support a single model shop, what hope is there for the practical (rather then filling a cupboard with shiny boxes) side of our hobby?

Monday, August 05, 2019

How to change the wheel on a wheelbarrow

My Mum's wheelbarrow has a knackered tyre. Years of living outside and being used without the correct amount of air in it have killed the rubber. The wheel itself is OK, but replacing both is a lot easier. We couldn't find a tyre on its own anyway.

Step 1: Oiling up

Unless you treat your barrow with the reverance normally applied to a classic car, the bolts will be rusty. Spray with penetrating oil and go and make breakfast. Spray again and go for a cup of tea. Clever people will spray and leave overnight, this stuff is good, but needs time to work.

Step 2: Unbolting

One side of the bolts has a 13mm nut, the other a pointless slot in the head. No screwdriver is going to hold the head when the presure is applied, but a set of molegrips will do the job. It's time for brute force! Actually, thanks to the oil, the bolts undid pretty well.

Step 3: Remove the axle

Engineers will say they "drift the axle out", I just whacked it with a mallet as the new wheel doesn't come with one. A shot of the penetrating oil isn't a bad idea before you start belting things, although this one wasn't a tight fit. There are two spacers lose, one either side. Don't lose them.

Step 4: Reassembly

Clean and grease all the bolts and carefully put everything back together. Then remember the spacers on the axle, take it all apart, put them in and reassemble. Make sure the U-brackets are the right way around. Grease between all the metal-to-metal joins in case you want to do this again in the future, but wipe all excess grease away as it will attract dirt.

Step 5: Pump up the tyre

Use a footpump to inflate the tyre to whatever it says on the side and then the barrow is ready for use. Buying new barrows is a hasstle (they don't fit in the car very well) and chucking an otherwise servicable tool away a waste.

The new wheel came from Torrys Hardware in Warwick. If you manage to get just a tyre, the steps are pretty much the same, you just need to remove and replace the rubber bit as well.