Thursday, October 31, 2019

Romford wheel preperation

Romford wheels enjoy a well-deserved reputation as the most user-friendly locomotive wheels for kit builders. Metal centres, self-quartering axles and nice bolt-together assembly make them perfect for the sort of modeller, who like me, needs to take them on and off many times while building a chassis. 

OK, they aren't most high-fidelity of wheels, but I'll trade looks for effectiveness any day. When you build a model, they stay put on the axle without pins or glue. When you encounter wheels that don't, you pretty quickly yearn something that just does what it is supposed to. 

Despite this, I like to do a little work off the model, especially with a 2nd hand set like these. 

Even if you don't have to bathe the wheels in paint stripper, it's worth running a 10BA tap through all the crankpin holes so these later screw in nicely. 

I clean out the square central hole with a small file too. I want wheels that are snug-fit and this isn't always the case. You can turn the retaining nut harder sometimes, but it's not likely to ensure a wheel perpendicular to the axle. You don't do the special screwdriver any favour either - probably why one of mine has shorter prongs than the other making it a bit useless.  

All this only takes a few minutes but makes the next stage so much more enjoyable.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Waterborne Wednesday: A ship called Isis


Isis is a goddess from the polytheistic pantheon of Egypt. 

In more recent time, the name has acquired some less savoury meanings, but it's not that uncommon to see it used. There is an Isis recovery service for example.   

The ship I photographed in 2014 was built in 1978. It's a cargo ship capable of carrying 674 tons and based in the Isle of Man. 

Very much my kind of interesting working boat. At 172 feet long, 69cm in 4mm scale, it would be a sizable model, but that's ships for you. They are a lot bigger than you think. 

The name might be a problem for some, so perhaps you prefer her original one, David Dorman. Or Deer Sound (until 1994) or current one, Corneligud (since 2019). 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

To compensate or not?

The biggest decision of the J72 build was whether I should fit the chassis with compensation. 

A relatively long wheelbase 0-6-0 is rarely going to find all 6 wheels touching the rails. Ideally, at least 4 of them will enjoy vertical movement for improved trackholding and electric pickup. 

All this comes at a cost. You've to cut the chassis to fit hornblocks and some sort of equalising beam. 

Alan would have fitted compensation, all the bits are in the box. 

I've decided not to. 

Why? Well, I like to keep things simple. This is my first chassis for years. The only locos I routinely compensated were in 3mm scale and to be honest, I didn't enjoy the work. I only did it because there was no other way of keeping the stupid fine-scale wheels on the track. 

This loco uses Romfords. Wheels with proper flanges. 

And I'm doing this for fun. Yes, fun. Therefore I'm not going to make the job harder just for the sake of it. I'm sure the model will work. I don't actually have a layout in mind for it anyway. Nor do I have lots of spare time to faff with all the extra slidy bits. 

Sorry Alan. 

Monday, October 28, 2019

Keeping old magazines

I have a copy of every magazine I've had work published it. Over the years, this means I've amassed a huge pile. 

An office clearout last week saw this pile bundled up in plastic and moved to storage. It's pretty much cleared me out apart from the current years BRM and Garden Rail plus a folder of miscellaneous publications. 

Nowadays, the need to keep old paper mags is much less. I have access to electronic versions of BR mand GR through Exact Editions. Thanks to the excellent search engine on this system, I can find anything I need to refer too and bring it up to read. If I simply want to know which edition of a mag I've written, the search on this blog is there to help - that's the main reason I post every time I'm in print. 

Despite this, I still leaf through old mag every so often, Last week I wanted to check when a couple of models had hit the GR news and it was simpler to flick through the paper copies. 

All this is a far cry from my days running websites. I have copies of the very first ones I ran on CD, but later Content Management Systems didn't allow me to save work in a recoverable form. All that is now long gone unless I look at the Wayback Machine and even this isn't that complete. 

I wonder how those simply plonking their content on-line will feel when the only record is their memories? 

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Midlands Model Engineering Exhibition 2019


Lots of good things at the MMEE this year as usual. 

The biggest surprise was a 7 1/4 inch APT-E with working tilt system. It must be fun to see that working around a model engineering track, even if it is just the front power car. 

I enjoyed the ice cream van that took its chance to escape from inside the show to the car park while the miniature traction engine parade was on, by tagging on the end of it! 

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Saturday Film Club: P4 Pre-grouping model railway

If you've been watching the Great Model Railway Challenge, you might have spotted the little video inserts either side of the adverts showing model trains running. 

These were shot at the L&WMRS by A company called Pocket Rocket. 

Five years ago, they approached the club to film a short documentary around our P4 layout "Clarendon". I'd never seen this before, but it's an entertaining 11 minutes. You can see the early work on removing all the surrounding clutter from the model, something now perfected. 

Friday, October 25, 2019

Classic Covers: Die Bundesbahn

Picked up at Warley for free simply because I love the cover, Die Bundesbahn is a German trade press publication for the rail industry. 

And that's as much as I know - but it is a brilliant cover. Cracking graphic design, and bright orange. What more could you want? 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Hogwarts Castle pickup repair

I've been passed a Hornby Hogwarts Castle to take a look at. The loco has been in the wars and one pickup is pointing in distinctly the wrong direction. 

Now, I should be able to wave a magic wand, incant something and all will be well. Sadly, I might look a bit boy wizard-like (although more Where's Wally if I'm honest), I can't do magic. When I can do is wield a screwdriver. 

With the model upside down in a Peco cradle, I simply undid every screw I could see until the plastic keeper plate on the bottom came off. That's three screws, one of which is actually a bolt so the nut at the back of the motor it screws into has to be held or you just spend the rest of the evening rotating the screwdriver. 

Keeping everything safe, I eventually got to the pickup plate show and re-bent the phosphor-bronze piece with some small pliers. 

Re-assembly was the reverse of the above, although it took me two goes as I bent a different pickup putting it back!

Rebuilt and after the thorough wheel clean, the model runs perfectly and will hopefully delight its owner again. 

To be honest, I could have probably bent the piece back to shape with some very fine nose pliers, but it's fun taking things to pieces isn't it. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Waterborne Wednesday: BD 6074

BD 6074

My parents brought these photos back from a recent trip to Falmouth where they enjoyed a spin around the bay. 

I assumed it was a crane, but technically, this is a Dumb Barge. 

You can read all the details on the Keynvor Morelift Ltd website. What I love about boats is that a few seconds with a search engine and the boat name, in this case, BD6074, will usually reveal lots of details.

Now, this would make a lovely model!

BD 6074

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Setting up a Hobby Holidays chassis jig

Clever people don't need jigs to set up a chassis. I can do it, but as I own the tool, why wouldn't use it? 

One issue I did remember from the dim and distant times when I last did this is that the otherwise excellent Hobby Holidays chassis jig uses 1.5mm diameter ends on the supports, and the holes in my con-rods are 1mm. 

I think in the past I've just judged it by eye. This time inspiration made me use the rods to drill 1mm holes in a piece of 2mm thick Plastikard. These were then opened out to 1.5mm and used to set the spacing on the jig. 

I'm quite pleased with this idea. Let's hope it works.

Monday, October 21, 2019

A pointless loco build

There is no point in building a OO gauge LNER J72 steam locomotive.  

With the Bachmann model on the way, you would be wasting your time.

But, I have a box full of bits including a rather nice Mainline body, the entire Mainly Trains detail kit, High-Level gearbox and some Gibson wheels. All inherited from Alan Gibson (not the wheel man, the photographer). 

I'd got these out for the amusing video we recorded looking at the differences between the Mainline and Bachmann model. If I was sensible, I would put these back in the cupboard they came from. 

I am not sensible. I'm also stupidly busy and really need to take a few breaks to do something different from the stuff I do for magazines. 

So I'm going to build this model. 

First step, replace the wheels with Romfords. A dig in the drawers unearthed a set. I'm sure Gibson wheels are fine for some, but I need to be able to take wheels on and off axles. I also prefer them to stay put when on the axle. Romfords let me do this. 

The first job, make the con rods. I only had to have two goes at this to solder the right bits together. I really am a rusty loco kit-builder!

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Pacer hunting in York

Pacer 142091

I've never ridden on a Pacer train.

For most people, this would be considered A Good Thing. Apparently, they are horrible, rattly, uncomfortable things to travel on. As they are being phased out, most passengers are delighted. 

But, I like the look of the Class 142 units. I like the idea they were made from bus bodies. Some say they saved many rural lines as the alternative was closure. Mostly though, I just like the look of them.

Pacer 144021

Finding myself with a half-day in York on Monday, I wondered if there was a chance to have a quick go. Asking people who know about these things, the answer was "probably not, but here are a couple of possibilities". The consensus was that if I wanted to ride a Pacer, I needed to go somewhere else first.

Undaunted, I wandered along to the station and spotted the train at the top of this post. It was due out in 10 minutes so I nipped back to the ticket office and bought a return to the first stop - Selby.

Only when I got back to the platform did I realise that the Pacer had just been parked there. My train was a rather more boring Class 155. Still, Selby has an interesting swing bridge.


The next day, I needed another trip to the station to find somewhere to post some postcards. I noticed another Pacer in a platform that was apparently going out. Sadly, I didn't have time for a ride, but I did hop on just so I could say I've stood in the vestibule!

Pacer 144021 and friend

I guess I'll have to wait for a ride on a preserved Pacer one day...

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Saturday Fim Club: Making Bricks

Something a bit serious this week - making bricks. Plenty of interesting footage of diggers and mud.

The link is on the BFI, so if clicking on the picture doesn't work, click here.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Classic Covers: Railway Modeller June 1953

Digging through some old magazines being cleared out of our clubrooms, I chanced upon this gem.

The editorial, by Cyril Freezer, starts:

We should like to begin this coronation issue by voicing the wish we feel sure is in the hearts of all our readers; that the reign of our Gracious Queen, Elizabeth, will be long, peaceful and prosperous. Much has been said of late concerning the new Elizabethan age. We are of the opinion that its glories will come from the efforts of the new Elizabethans. Let us, in our modelling, strike out into unexplored territories and discover ourselves the joy of true craftsmanship. 

The piece ends with suggestions that modellers during the previous coronation had decorated their layouts.

I wonder if a similar cover will appear when Charles ascends to the throne? 

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Peter Denny in Garden Rail

November's issue of Garden Rail has been on my mind for some time. A chance encounter at Railex sees me have the chance to photograph the rolling stock from the Rev. Peter Denny's garden railway, the TVLR. 

With this in mind, I had a word with Tag Gorton who dug out an article on a visit he paid to the line when it was in operation, complete with the 35mm slides he took then. Thus, we have an article on the railway and a follow-up explaining where everything is now from his son, Stephen. 

Even if the name Peter Denny means nothing to you, the rolling stock is interesting. Originally clockwork powered, it's been rebuilt more than once and dates from a time when you made everything. 

Thinking vintage, I have a feature on the changes to model buildings in the hobby which will be handy for anyone who turns up an old kit in the loft, or eBay. We also look at the development of the garden railway magazine. 

Back in the present, how about building a Sharpie on a Playmobil chassis? Or no less than three live steam loco reviews? 

It's all in the November issue of Garden Rail

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Waterborne Wednesday: Taroo Ushtey

Tarroo Ushtey 3 quarter view

One of my favourites, the Taroo Ushtey is the Isle of Man Infrastructure Department's workboat and seen here, earlier this year, moored at Ramsey.

The name means "Water Bull" in Manx and the vessel has been around for many years. It's very high on my list of models to make when I get the time. A generous guy from the Manx Model Boat club, sent me a plan and I've already bought the crane in kit form from Macs Mouldings

In theory, this should be a simple enough scratchbuild from Plastikard. I'm sure there will be problems along the way, but if I can overcome the "I don't have time" one, then I'm sure the others can be surmounted.  

It is a good looking boat though. Or is it just me?

Tarroo Ushtey

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

It's Wishlist Poll time again!

The 00 Wishlist Poll runs from 14 October to 2 November at:

The Poll provides railway modellers and collectors with an easy and informed way of indicating to makers and commissioners of 00 ready-to-run models which models they would realistically buy if made at some time in the future from all-new tooling (excluding models since 1 January 2005).

Voting covers steam, diesel and electric locos; DMUs; EMUs; passenger and non-passenger-carrying coaching stock; freight and departmental stock. The Industrial and Underground categories have gone, enabling many new items of ‘core content’. Pollsters can now make suggestions for re-makes of some items made since 2005.

The Poll has an accompanying Guide which is particularly useful for checking such as the build dates of the various BR Mk1 catering vehicles, or whether one particular diesel shunter will suit your needs better than others.

The Poll Team email is:

Monday, October 14, 2019

Night sailing

With the nights drawing in, last week saw the first evening sailing session at the model boat club. Needless to say, I've been far too busy to properly equip a boat with some lights, but the Richardson Tug I was given for Christmas does come with illuminations so it was pressed into service. 

On the water, the first problem was that I'd remembered tank steering and proceeded to wander around the lake with little control. After 5 minutes it dawned on me that the controls are conventional and we managed a lot better after that. 

Others had done a much better job with lights than me and their boats looked very pretty festooned with LEDs that should have been on a Christmas tree. It's not serious sailing, but then what's a hobby without a little fun? 

Star of the evening though, had to be the little dog who wore his special collar and insisted I provide him with a chip from my buttie!


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Inside a Clayton

Just a quickie today - a shot of the cut-away "Clayton" or Class 17 diesel modelin the collection of Birmingham Museum and tucked away in their store which I visited a couple of weeks ago. Click on the image for a closer look.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Saturday Film Club: Another micro narrow gauge railway from Germany

A few weeks ago, I shared an Austrian (I thought it was German) garden-based miniature railway that was part of a planning dispute.

Now I've found another, this time a proper narrow-gauge line around a swimming pool. The filming is sumptuous with some useful drone shots should anyone need a trackplan. It would make a fascinating model!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Saltford Models wagons

Saltford Models wagons

The next issue of Garden Rail will have a nostalgic theme and as part of this I've been digging out some of my earliest large scale models. 

This pair of 16mm scale, 32mm gauge wagons are built from Saltford Models kits. Basically, some white metal castings and a set of plans. 

The front one is pretty much as intended, a simple mine tub. The wood is balsa, coloured with rub-on wood dye. The couplings are my own design, but pretty close to what was intended. 

Parts for three wagons were included in the kit, which even though it was a bargain stretched my pocket money. By the third, I decided to do something different, hence the back wagon with corner plates and lower sides. That's the joy of this sort of modelling, even a beginner like I was could have a go at their own thing. 

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Finishing a OO layout, picking a train set and visiting Hornby in this month's BRM

Finally, I've finished my OO gauge Billy Bookcase layout. The buildings have been weathered and fixed in place. Ballast and other stuff have been laid to create a suitable yard and a backscene finishes it off.

There are quite a few tips and tricks along the way - not least Phil's hints on backgrounds and why photographic scenes aren't always the best solution.

It's a bumper Philfest on the DVD.

With Christmas in mind, I look at picking train sets - what to look for if you want it to be more than a 5-minutes fad.

I'm also wandering around at the Hornby open weekend.

I chat to loads of people and manage to avoid eye-contact with them for most of the time.

It's not that they are boring (far from it) or that I'm rude, the simple fact is that the show was busy and quite a few of the people were so excited by toy trainz that they were oblivious to me and the large camera on an even larger tripod.

Much of my time was spent trying to swat them out of the way subtly while presenting. We had to re-start the shoot with Simon Kohler on the Hornby stand three times are people lumbered across the shoot despite trying to be as out of the way as possible on the stand. Huw Edwards doesn't have this problem...

BRM November 2019 on RMweb.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Waterborne Wednesday: Orange tender

Sebourne Quest lifeboat

When we on the Isle of Man a few months ago, our apartment overlooked Douglas Bay. Several times, a cruise ship would anchor up and transfer those tourists who wished to go ashore to the quayside in the ships lifeboats - or tenders.

One day, I managed to race around the harbour and get a few shots of these interesting, if ugly, boats. Most of the time they are too far from shore for a good shot, but a combination of loitering at the far side of the docks and a mega zoom did the job.

Sebourne Quest lifeboat 2

A bit of digging on-line hasn't brought up many details of these particular boats, apart from this blog post about the fun of being transferred in them and that they are 10m long and 4m wide.

Video of a sister ships boat with more useful views, although I think the detail is different.

As a potential model the colour is good and you would have an excuse to run them on their own without a load of stricken passengers. 

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

The best vending machine in the world?

Spotted at the NEC, what may be the best vending machine in the world. No crisps, drinks or chocolate in this one. Instead, you can buy cable ties, many varieties of sticky tape, cables and other essentials. 

Obviously someone will point out that you could pcik up all of these for less money elsewhere, but the point is you use this when setting up an exhibit and all the somewhere's are closed. When that happens, money doesn't matter, getting the job done does. 

Would this offer the solution to the lack of model shops on our high street? How about a Humbrol vending machine? And a Hornby/Peco/Bachmann one offering track, pins, trees and rolling stock? 

Monday, October 07, 2019

A gentle tap with a big hammer - how does that work?

Writing something a few days ago, I came across this picture and was reminded that I meant to post it here and ask a question.

In the photo, I'm forcing a Wills Cattle Creep wall into a foam baseboard. By gently tapping it with a big hammer several times, I was able to shove it in to the foam without damaging the plastic part and with plenty of control.

Had I used a smaller hammer, I'd have had to whack it hard to get the same effect, smashing the plastic.

The question: Why is easier to give things a gentle tap with a big hammer than a small one?

Something to do with momentum? I can use the principle, but can't entirely get my head around why it works. That bothers me, which is why I'm asking you.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Elsecar 2019

Groudle Locos

Groudle Glen locomotives in 16mm scale. There was other stuff at Elsecar show, but I pretty much only had eyes for these. Now I'm trying to get a print from the maker so I can build my own. 

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Saturday Film Club: Amphibious cars

I love amphibious vehicles. Such a fascinating concept. So here we have a flotilla of different designs on parade. 

Top marks for the umbrellas too!

Friday, October 04, 2019

Kirk N gauge kits

One of the highlights of TINGS is always Colin Allbright's display of vintage models. 

This year, he brought along a huge selection of early Ian Kirk plastic wagon kits. I knew of Kirk's models in OO, that were the seed for the Parkside Dundas range. I'm pretty sure I've got a few in the kit stash somewhere. 

Some will recall the coach range in both 4 and 7mm which were the mainstay of many a layout years ago. There are still models in the range not available RTR such as the  LNER Twin and Quad-arts. I built the former for Melbridge Town years ago and have a quad still to do. I'm not much of a coach fan, but I do like these. 

Looking at the N gauge wagons. I think that many would still stand up today with more modern examples. Maybe this is just the small size and my eyesight, but I can't see why not. 

It's certainly an interesting display. I'm always fascinated to find a new range I didn't know about.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Lundgreen Wood in NGW

Building the Billy Bookcase layouts for BRM has been fun, but as nearly every picture needs to be a construction shot, there's not much chance for something "pretty".

Fortunately, for my 009 layout, I persuaded the editor of Narrow Gauge World that a feature would be a good idea, and it's now in the October issue.

This gave me the chance to dig out all my 009 stock to pose on the model for some photos, most of which ended up in the article. 3 images didn't make the cut though (I don't mind, I always provide too many) so I'm putting them on here for you to enjoy.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Waterborne Wednesday: Work barge

Work boat

After several years of bringing you building photos each Wednesday, I've decided to have a bit of a change of tack. 

Wednesdays will now be Waterborne as I've a massive stack of interesting boat photos while my collection of buildings not already used, is a bit thin. Don't worry, the buildings will be back, but for the moment, get used to boats. 

The first in the selection is this working barge I spotted in the centre of Birmingham. It's a pretty simple outline, but if you build a model, you'll need to make the front of the hull hollow to fit the skips. Then there is the challenge of adding the rubbish inside them. 

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

009 flatbed wagons

Fed up with putting a couple of ancient Colin Ashby 009 5 foot wheelbase flat wagon kits back onto the shelf they kept falling off, I decided to spend an evening sticking them together. 

The plastic is surprisingly hard, removing parts from the runners is definitely a job for sniper rather than a scalpel. Once free and cleaned up (there is little or no flash) everything fits together brilliantly. 

Even the plastic wheels seem OK. If they find themselves used in anger, I might put some metal sets in, but these will do for now. 

If you know your wagons, then the 7 different brake gear options will appeal. I just picked something that looked OK and didn't have the brake lever poking up above the floor. My wagons have brakes on both sides because I like value for money so use as many bits as possible. No vacuum gear though, that just seems wrong for NG stock. 

Finally, loads of lead was tucked under the floor. 

Now the models reside in the 009 stock box. At least they will stay put there.