Monday, November 30, 2020
Sunday, November 29, 2020
For once I'm feeling that I'm getting on top of my projects. It might be an illusion, but I'll pretend and so headed out for a stroll on Friday afternoon. My plan was to head to the countryside, about a 15 minute walk, where I could watch trains go by.
I've missed looking at a train and wishing I could be on it. I know we are supposed to be hiding under a table with a paper bag on our heads (where I live is in Tier 47 I think) but I'm getting tired of being led by people playing politics. And that's just the sceintists. Past experience tells me the politicians will be a waste of space.
Anyway, I found some trains and took some pictures.
They aren't brillant, but I don't think I've captured anything exciting, just the railway doing it's usual thing.
One day, maybe, we will be allowed to get back on a train just for the fun of travel. I look forward to it.
Saturday, November 28, 2020
An interesting video where Adam Savage, best known from TV's Mythbusters talks about never having specialised in a particular making genre - preferring to be a Jack of All Trades rather than a master of any particular one.
This interests me as I'm very much a generalist and always have been. For my current job, this is pretty much essential. I need to be willing and able to have a go at any type of model making. OK, I'm not the best at anything, but then that's the situation most railway modellers find themselves in. You need a wide variety of skills to build a layout.
Being a specialist is fine, but limiting. The hours of honing your technique doesn't appeal to me much either. I have a butterfly mind and like to try lots of different things. And since the appeal of a hobby is that you enjoy it, I need to go with what works for me.
How about everyone else?
Friday, November 27, 2020
Random picture time. This is a Coles Crane on my layout Melbridge Dock.
Built in the old days when we actually made things rather than buying them, the crane part is from the Airfix Recovery Set with a cab made from Microstrip.
It sits on a simple scratchbuilt base that uses whitemetal wheels bought from the Langley Models spares pots at an exhibition.
I'm always been quite pleased with this model. It's not the first to be made from this combination of parts, and probably not the best, but I made it myself and that means a lot to me.
Thursday, November 26, 2020
Along the edge of the baseboard joint, there is a meniscus curve in the canal. I've been putting off dealing with it but eventually had to do something.
The Woodland Scenics Deep Pour resin is pretty solid, so with no better ideas, I attacked it with a sharp knife, sliding the blade along, trying to cut slivers of "water" away.
This sort of worked but eventually I resorted to scraping the blade sideways in the same way I remove mould lines on a plastic kit. This worked, but the slightly rough surface (above the blade in the photo) didn't look great. Not as bad as I feared though.
A new blade and back to the slicing - the results aren't bad. Not perfect, but then I didn't expect that. The resin is a little rubbery, so not amenable to polishing with abrasive. The result doesn't stand out too much though. No worse than a baseboard joint anyway, and I still plan a pipe bridge to hide it further.
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
I pondered how to weather them for quite a while. Airbrushing is the obvious method for such a large area, but I do that in the garage to keep the smell under control and didn't fancy lugging the arches down there and filling up the workbench.
Instead, I had a go with sponges and emulsion paints. First on a test piece and then on the arches proper in an orgy of mucky-fingered painting.
I'm using high-density foam, two shades of grey and some black. Dabbing the paint on seems to work, but a rolling motion works well for blending. I start with black and then move to grey. Each colour has its own sponge square.
Working on a small area - about a foot long - at a time means the colours blend on the brickwork. I sometimes went back to black after putting on grey as it seems to soften any edges.
The paint dries to a slightly different shade, something you only lean with practise. Even after the test pieces, I started on the back of my viaduct!
One advantage is that the colour dries perfectly matt. The downside of this method is it's not easy to get paint right into the corners, but that will be finished with weathering powders later on in the build.
For the moment, I'm very please with the effect. It might be messy and not that fast, but it's certainly less smelly than spraying.
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
Since starting Selly Oak, I've become a bit of a railway arches nerd. Watching an old episode of The Professionals the other day, I couldn't help looking at the background as they talked by a viaduct.
The screen grab isn't great but these filled in arches look great. Better still, being genuine 1970s ones, they would be perfect for me. Not that I'm going to change anything now, but it shows that watching old telly sometimes counts as research.
Monday, November 23, 2020
That's not a problem, I've pin-vices for the smaller ones and sometimes drilling with the larger ones is very useful. In the past I've used a chuck designer to fit in an electric screwdriver which isn't the comfiest thing to hold. This will be better.
There is a mystery though. Housed in the handle is a spool of string. It can be removed by unclipping a metal cap on the end but would rotate is pulled while still fitted.
Can anyone suggest what this is for? The best I can come up with is lining up bricks, but those are spikes, not drills.
Sunday, November 22, 2020
New to the Virtual Show this time is the second hand stall run by the Model Railway Club.
They always put on a monster at Ally Pally, but with this off for the time being, it has moved online so you can buy old trains at midnight.
Anyway, to promote it Lawrence interviewed the custodian, Tom. I edited the videos, added some cheesy sound effects and they were good to go. Each one is a bit of a laugh with the definite hint of a TV shopping channel.
Of course I spotted a kit I wanted. The Swiss chalet is just the sort of thing I'd pick up out of curiosity on a real second-hand stall. And I hadn't visited one of those for many months. There is an itch waiting to be scratched.
Being a fair-minded person, I waited until the event was over before heading to the shop. Unsurprisingly, I am the only person who wants this sort of thing, so it was still available. And while there, just like a real stall, I managed to pick up a few other goodies.
A few days later, a parcel arrived with my goodies. Excellent service.
Some - the bus stop, billboards and bike shed - I have proper uses for. The tools looked interesting, and there was a boat kit.
The Heller "Fauvette" kit looked interesting. Checking it out (after it arrived), the model has been in and out of the catalogue over quite a long period. Scale is 1:150, so no use for railways, but who cares? It's a small model so maybe I can build it and put it in a case one day.
You'll notice a complete lack of actual trains. That's not because there aren't any, just nothing weird enough for me. I think this is an interesting new innovation, the sort of thing Covid has forced upon us. I know you can trawl eBay, but a percentage of the prices here stay in the hobby supporting the MRC, which is a good thing. Perhaps other clubs could think about doing the same?
However, the second-hand shop is online here, so we can all go an have another look. Tom is waiting to take your money!
Saturday, November 21, 2020
Finding a box of mini DVDs recorded on our old video camera, I rashly promised to produce a film for the recent Virtual Exhibition.
Trawling through the footage, this piece leapt out - an unusual train on the steam railway. I'm told double-heading is now in vogue on the island, but back in 2007, it was unusual so I'm glad I recorded it.
There are more disks in the box, so watch this space for more IOM!
Friday, November 20, 2020
7mm scale people work better on camera and a quick dig in my stash found a S&D Models Fireman wearing a cap (OF24). He needs his arm and shovel attaching with superglue and is then ready for paint.
A quick shot of primer to check the attachments looked OK was followed with an evening of hurried painting - yes, I'd left it to the last minute.
Skin tones are Humbrol flesh dry-brushed with Revell's version. Various greys on the clothes also got the dry-brush treatment. Working fast blends the colours which is great, but that wasn't the reason I was doing this.
The whole job took an hour, I'd have been faster with acrylics but didn't have the shades to hand, so there was a bit of dangling the figure over the radiator to get the paint to harden a bit. I know it says to wait 8 hours before overpainting, but sometimes I don't have that long.
Looking at Facebook, I believe I'm supposed to say "It's not great but..." but I'm not. This little man is OK and absolutely fine for the job I needed him for. One day he'll find his way to a loco footplate, but building that model is a long way away!
Thursday, November 19, 2020
Weathering the viaduct means I need some brown. Chris Nevard uses a lot of emulsion paint when he works and while I've dabbled with it in the past, I've not really used it in anger on anything significant.
However, with a large area to cover, it's time to dig out the excellent Wilco "Nutmeg Spice" I use for groundworks (I'm on at least a pot a month I reckon, it would probably pay to buy the big tub) which should really be called "Dog poo brown" but isn't to avoid upsetting customers delicate sensibilities.
Thinned with water, I've washed it over the plastic bricks. Adherence is a bit patchy, but that only adds to the effect. This is only the first stage anyway. Basically, I slop it around and mop up the stuff that runs to the bottom of the wall with a piece of kitchen towel so we don't get a brown tide mark.
Proper modellers will use an airbrush and proper paint, but I didn't fancy taking the viaduct down to the garage for this, and anyway, on a project like this that isn't heading for a step-by-step piece in a magazine, I can experiment and have a bit of fun.
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Underneath the arches, we have some lock-ups and these also need paint.
Boringly conventional, the woodwork starts with Revell Number 9 - Anthracite Grey - for both front and back. The the doors are painted grey or brown. I couldn't make my mind up about the later, so ended up painting it one colour and then a second shade before it dried. The effect looks OK though.
What I'm aiming for here is colour that no-one notices. They need paint, but in sufficiently muted shades that they hide in the background, which I think I've managed.
The canal will need a dust though.
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
Monday, November 16, 2020
Sunday, November 15, 2020
Saturday, November 14, 2020
A flying car! A proper, working flying car! Finally, we get something 21st Century at last.
OK, so it's probably not that practical, but the engineering of those wings when they fold away is just incredible.
I'm still note sure I like it as much as I loved my Corgi Aerocar though.
Friday, November 13, 2020
I don't know how old these are, but the same item from Hornby is now £3.45 (RRP) so inflation has definitely taken hold.
The thing is, these are properly rare. I bet there are more Hornby O gauge Duchesses then packed of Beatties track pins. Let's face it, you didn't buy the pins for fun, so most packets would be ripped open as soon as you got home and pushed firmly into the Sundeala.
Thursday, November 12, 2020
It's interesting the variety of layouts we get to feature in Garden Rail. This month I've chosen a portable model that despite it's small size - 10ft by 3ft 6 - still looks good and allows live steam to be run. It very much ticks the "Layout's Phil would like to build" box.
Another dream project is the PDF Models Hunslet which looks fantastic. Surface finishing took a while according to the write-up, but the results are well worth it.
I've also got to try out the LocoRemote system and am really impressed. Who needs DCC?
(The sharp eyed might spot this isn't the final version of the cover. Yes, I know.)
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
A little sequence of photos showing the construction of the final big bits of the Selly Oak walls.
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
Once cast, the walls "just" needed to be bedded into cement alongside the line. Our track is laid on a bed of breeze blocks so there is enough spare either side of the track to cement too for much of the way, and where there isn't, the ground is compacted enough to allow for foundations.
Keeping the walls far enough away from the rails to avoid being clouted by Ragleth cylinders was achieved with a simple piece of wood Blu-Tacked to a Playmobil wagon. There were two, but one fell off.
Not only did the wagon help with gauging, it could have plastic tubs of cement placed on them and then shoved to my dad who was fitting the walls whilst I mixed muck. Around the back of our oval, it's a bit tight between plants and this turned out to be the easiest way to deliver materials.
This work wasn't fun, but hopefully, combined with the rail clamps, the line in this difficult to get at spot won't need much attention once the ballast goes in. Come spring, the plants will soften the edges a bit and it will look nice and tidy.
Monday, November 09, 2020
It's always been the plan for our garden railway to surround the track with low walls. These will neaten the edges, keep plants back a bit and stop the ballast running everywhere. The trouble, low wall sections are difficult to come by.
I found a couple of examples, one from a supplier who promptly disappeared, and another in a bundle of heavy concrete pieces under a second hand stall.
After lugging the later home, I set about trying to track the maker down. The walls were perfect, we just needed lots more. Sadly, when I did, they had also stopped making them.
However, they did agree that I could make some copies. For my own use, but enough to do the job required.
So, we bought some Gelflex Blue, made a simple set of wooden walls, heated the gel up on the hob in a cheap pan bought for the job, and made a mould.
The first lesson is that you need more gel than you think, but once it has cooled, the resulting mould works really well.
My dad set himself up in the greenhouse over the summer and every morning, made a concrete mix up and cast another section. The following morning, he'd turn out the previous section, mix another and repeat. For over a month.
We cast in excess of 40 wall piece from the mould and it's still going strong. Occasionally, some release was sprayed in but mostly we didn't worry too much about looking after it. The gel can be re-melted to make a new mould, but we didn't need to do that.
After a few days, the correct mix of water and concrete was established and we got better at turning out walls without breaking. As it happens, some short versions would be useful, but mostly they came out whole.
Sunday, November 08, 2020
This is the signal box at Douglas station in 1993. It's not there now.
That's because it was moved several feet forward when the station was remodelled and the carriage sheds behind the box replaced with a bus depot.
The box doesn't work any more, but at least it can still be enjoyed. And they've put the steps back.
Saturday, November 07, 2020
I don't really understand Minecraft. It's a sort of virtual Lego. If I was a kid, I suspect I'd be madly into it like many others.
Anyway, you don't have to understand it to enjoy this video of a virtual "Big Boy" steam loco running through a landscape. It's the details like the spotters and shadows around the station that impress me. There's certainly a lot of work in here, even if it is all mouse'n'keyboard rather then at the workbench.
Friday, November 06, 2020
It's time for our second Virtual Model Railway Exhibition - I've been hard at work interviewing people and editing videos for the show.
Last time, we brought you masses of interesting content, and the plans tell me that there will be more of the same. The biggest problem will be finding time to fit it all in!
So, since we are all supposed to be hiding in cupboards, you'll have plenty of time for us to entertain you.
Thursday, November 05, 2020
The kit was reintroduced a couple of years ago by Branchlines and South Eastern Finecast, which gave me a good excuse to turn it into a magazine project. Single-car trains are always popular with modellers and in theory, a whitemetal kit with a RTR power unit should be perfect for the newbie.
Spotting a prototype piece on canals in the plan, I said, "I'm building a canal, why don't I do the modelling content?" Well, it never hurts to volunteer for jobs you are going to do already, does it?
And finally, on the BRMTV, I weather an N gauge diesel using simple methods.
Wednesday, November 04, 2020
Time for a job that I've been putting off. Cutting the excess baseboard away.
On the left hand side of Selly Oak, there should be a massive factory. It's not there now, I can't find much in the way of photos and even if I could, modelling the thing would take forever.
So, the plan is to trim the board back so it's a two foot wide at the end, which will allow any extension boards to just feature the embankment the line runs on to.
I had initially thought jigsaw for this, but that is dusty, so the work really needs to be done outside. And it was raining. Also, jigsaws are great for intricate cuts, hence the name, but a bit rubbish for straight lines.
So, out came the big fine-cut saw and I summoned up the courage to have a go.
With a but of care, I managed to confine the bulk of the cutting to the top surface, which was then peeled away, leaving the supports. These were then marked with a square and cut as neatly as I could.
A fresh piece of 6mm ply was nailed and glued in place and then trimmed back. The result looks quite tidy.
I'd like to do something with the corner between the two boards, but I have kept the old corner to experiment with. For the moment, I need to make progress on the scenery.
Tuesday, November 03, 2020
Monday, November 02, 2020
Inspired by a window of Danish tat shop Flying Tiger, I decided that Garden Rail should have a couple of spooky images for Halloween.
A giant pumpkin loaded on a flat wagon seemed like a good plan , especially as such a plastic vegetable could be bought for a couple of quid.
It turns out that spending the money was the easy bit. While the pumpkin included a light, this only stayed on for a few seconds. And made a noise.
The solution was a real tea-light candle Blu-Tacked inside, not too near the plastic. As you can see, during the 15 second exposure, the "rope" holding it in place got a bit singed, but nothing caught fire.
With the pumpkin lit up, I needed a loco and a driver. An LGB 04-0 would do, and I wedged a posable rubber skeleton into the cap, also from FT.
On the track, I tried a few shots. Purely by accident, I hit upon the idea of illuminating the scene with a wave of an LED torch for a few seconds while the shutter was open. This worked really well, the blueish light looking just like moonlight and allowing you to see the models a bit better while leaving shadows that I could darken on the computer.
A lot of work for one silly image, but it's things like this that make my job fun.
Sunday, November 01, 2020
They say the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is right now.
My horse chestnut, planted well over a decade ago, has produced a nice crop of conkers. The question is, what to do with them?
Well, there is a sports field near me which has a large copse area at one end. Most of the trees in there seem to be self-set, so I borrowed a dibber from the greenhouse and decided to add my conkers to see if some of them would flourish.
I picked clear areas away from the paths to give then the best chance. Don't know if anything will happen, but just maybe we'll have a few more trees in the future.