Monday, March 08, 2021

Billings Dana 200 rudder linkage


My dad is fiddling with a Billings Boats Dana 200 kit. He found it on a shelf and decided a little boat would make a change from bigger projects. 

Needless to say, I got roped in to help with the technical stuff, and of course, despite the kit being suitable for RC, according to the box, you are on your own trying to fit the stuff. 

Drive is easy, rudder less so. There's not a lot of space to fit everything so we had to build the rudder and post from the (static) wooden version and some brass tube. 

To rotate the rudder, I cut a 4BA thread in the top of the post and made an arm up from a bit of brass. This is soldered to the nut and the screwed on to the post. It's help in place with a drop of superglue on the top. 

The servo just squeezes under the deck and the whole thing is a bit tight. The linkage hooks through the arm, retained by a bent bit of wire fitted through a hole drilled in the fat wire. 

It all works though, so now I just need to wire the boat up. 

Sunday, March 07, 2021

Video: Making model hedges


Another of my BRMTV videos - this time making model hedges.

Saturday, March 06, 2021

Saturday Film Club: Steam turbine TGV in Gauge 1


The story of the development of a Gauge 1, steam powered, tilting TGV. German with translations throughout. I don't claim to understand the technology, but it's fascinating.

Friday, March 05, 2021

Plastic trams

Dad's birthday - and I spotted that the Wythall Transport Museum shop eBay account had some of the Atlas Editions tram models for sale for a fiver each. Well, I couldn't think what to get him, and I rather like the look of them.

I'll confess, I've not carried out any research into these - so they may be horribly inaccurate, but neither of us is bothered, they just look so good. 

To be honest, if the partwork that these hail from re-appeared on the shelves, I suspect we'd sign up for it. We're not into foreign trams really, and don't need any more models, but how can you resist? All the models are HO scale, and moulded in plastic. This wasn't cheap to tool up.

Still, a present bought, and money gone to a good cause. Now, I wonder if we could build a very small transport museum, with a display of trams from around the world...

Thursday, March 04, 2021

Fixing the front door lock

I like taking apart mechanical things, especially those with chunky fixings. When the catch on our front door stopped working properly, after being allowed to slam shut in the wind a few times, it needed investigating. 

OK, it needed replacing with an identical one, but after that I took the old unit and had a play. 

The basic device is simple enough, there's a bit that turns which shoves a cage back and forth, on to which is fitted the brass tongue bit that locates in the other side of the unit to hold the door shut. Obviously, I've not looked up the correct technical terms...

The fault was that every so often, the handle inside the door seemed to lose contact with the slidy cage and flop around. My first thought was that the cage could move out and miss contact, but there didn't seem to be a problem there - no obvious wear in the plates holding the thing together, and the two, chunky retaining screws were tightly fitted.

Eventually, after about half an hours tinkering, I spotted the cage was slightly distorted. Slamming the door on the latched unit had whacked the tongue and moved the metal. Five minutes with pliers (it's quite soft) and a hammer and the whole thing moves silky smoothly. As good as new. 

Now, we have a spare front door lock all parcelled up in the garage, where it will probably manage to vanish if we ever need it. 

Anyone else like this sort of job?

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Backwoods Miniatures 0-4-0+0-4-0 Garratt


Spotting that James Hilton has been working on a Backwoods Miniature industrial Garratt kit prompted me to dig out my model for a couple of photos. 

Despite the age of the model, I don't think I did to bad a job with it. This isn't the easiest kit to build, but that's mostly to do with the prototype. The only niggle I remember (it was a long time ago) was squeezing the motors into the thick brass boxes that form the tanks either end before being wrapped in thnner, half-etched brass. 

I made holes to correspond with the ends of the spinning bit of the motor. Only 1mm gained, but just enough for really free running. 

The valve gear looks fearsome, but because it's all etched in thick nickel silver, there's no pesky laminations to do. I riveted it all together and the last side took about 20 minutes.

Given some juice from a 9V battery, the model still runs, although only backwards. I remember this being an issue, one end is a bit lazy and years of standing around haven't helped. Given the need, I''m sure I could have it back and working. We used to shunt with it on Melbridge Dock!

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Unfashionable painting

Sometimes social media amuses me. Never more so than when you see modellers trying to cosy up to a manufacturer. Most do this in an unsubtle way by loudly rubbishing any competitors products and saying they will never build anything but the kits produced by their "favourite". 

If you actually know any of the people running the companies, they don't fall for this at all. In a way, this pledging of allegiance is something the poster will have done at school where they tried to join the gang of cool kids. 

I'm not a cool kid, so let me say, I like painting good quality whitemetal figures. Yes, I know this is very unfashionable, especially in the finescale modelling world, but a top notch sculpted figure has more detail than even the best 3D printed ones. Yes - controversial, I know.

Now, I love the printed people. They are perfectly proportioned and adopt the right poses because of the method used to create them. For a model, proportion and pose trumps detail every time. Give your mini-person the proportions of a simian, and it doesn't matter how fine the chain on their watch is, they look rubbish. 

But, for the moment (and this is changing), a really superb figure sculptor can do better. I really enjoyed painting these people from Duncan Models, and the S&D Miniature range. OK, the close-up is a bit cruel, but a bit more finenessing, if I had the time, would sort that. Doing the facial details was fun, perhaps I should dig out some of those photo-realistic eyeball transfers...

Monday, March 01, 2021

End boards

Selly Oak needs to vacate it's worktop for a few days which prompts me to do an important job - make up the end boards used to transport the model. 

The principle is simple enough - the baseboards face each other to protect the scenery, and a pair of 12mm thick slabs of MDF are bolted at each end to hold the boards apart, making an open-sided box. It's a technique I've used for every layout since Melbridge Dock, and has served me well. 

Obviously, it helps if the boards are roughly the same size - they definitely need to be the same length, but then that's how my layouts get built. It reduces the model size for transport down to a minimum, and there aren't piles of carrying cases cluttering the place up. 

Of course, when you go to pick up the wood and realise you measured the height of the model and then forgot to double it for the end board measurement, you feel a bit silly. Still, I'm sure I can find some use for the scrap MDF...

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Video: Build a canal boat


BRM are currently uploading some of our older construction videos to YouTube, and of course, many of these star me!

This one shows me building a simple canal boat kit. Old technology, but it makes up into a nice model.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Saturday Film Club: Muriel on the original Echills Wood Railway


An entertaining blast from the past -7 1/4 inch gauge locomotive "Muriel" running on the Echills Wood Railway when the line was still based at Stoneleigh park. 

I remember riding on it as a child. At the time, I seem to remember there being some proper, enclosed coaches, but we rode on the open trucks with the seat down the middle as you see in the film. I doubt I enjoyed it much, I'm a bit of a wuss about this sort of thing and these trains never seem very stable. 

The line was eventually evicted from Stoneleigh for no good reason, and moved to Kingsbury Water Park where they were welcomed with open arms by rangers who couldn't do enough for their new attraction. After a while, Stoneleigh realised what they had lost and asked them to come back - a request that was not appreciated! The line joined a long list of attractions lost to the park including the Town & Country Festival, Royal Show and VW Action. Make of that what you will. 

Visit Echills Wood online. 

Friday, February 26, 2021

Class 86 locomotives

I'm sure I read something on Twitter this week that said the last Class 86 locomotives in the UK had been moved to storage. Needless to say, I can't find it now, but it sort of gives me an excuse to post this photo of members of the class stored at Long Marsden. 

A bit of digging online tells me that 86 234 was exported to Bulgaria in 2012, where is may well live on, not bad for a 56 year old railway engine!

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Cottage tinkering, coach ruining and mucky vehicles in BRM

 I'm making things better, or worse, in the Spring issue of BRM. 

When launching their popular castle kit, Metcalfe Models also added this rather attractive cottage from the village of Laycock to the range. The bigger kit can keep for later, but the cottage looked really attractive and I knew I could make it look even better. 

Actually doing this proved a bit trickier than expected, because my initial plans for the corners didn't work out, but with a little experimentation, I cracked this. A few more mods and the result is a fantastic looking model that could grace any layout. 

We've already reviewed the latest Hornby generic pre-grouping coaches in the shape of a 4-wheeler last month. It's the 6-wheel variant that really interests people though so I blagged one from the big H and then faced a problem - another review? Not really. 

So, I turned it into a project making a run-down example, and am pleased with the results. 

Finally, the BRM TV. 

I'm looking at road vehicles for your layout - taking them apart, adding some dirt etc. 

The most impressive thing is that I start by showing how we used to make cars from whitemetal kits and don't just go off on a 30 minute rant about how useless those expensive kits were...

More on Spring 2021 on RMweb.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

More hairspray action on Selly Oak


At the canal end of Selly Oak, there has been more hairspray action to give the rough ground a bit of texture. A few blasts of laquer followed by more static grass or some scatter, and it's gained a lot of character. 

I'm not finished, but at least the embankment doesn't look like a freshly mowed lawn. This is really simple to do too and when you need the encouragement of a quick win, well worth the effort. 

There's also been more Forest in Box planted under the right hand side of the bridge. I wanted to block the view with something horrible, scruffy and green. There's still the extra bridge side detail to go in, but I made that weeks ago, then moved the support so it doesn't fit any more...

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Resin is bad for your teeth


I'm known for and enthusiasm for cutting up those nice ready-to-plonk resin buildings, and turning them into something the manufacturers never envisaged. 

This work tends to be carried out on a cheap mitre saw setup. In the garden obviously, because the process is very messy and you don't want to be ingesting quantities of the dust. 

The problem is, resin is hard. And it doesn't do the saw teeth any favours. 

Hacking away at some wood last week, I was aware that the saw was wearing its way through, not really cutting. Running my finger gently along the teeth provided an explanation. At the ends of the blade (left above) the teeth were sharp. In the middle (right) not. 

I've not used this blade much, but changing it improved things a huge amount. I'm glad I had a spare on the shelf!

Monday, February 22, 2021

Airbrush test Part 2

You might remember that a few weeks ago, I tried out a cheap airbrush with hand-held compressor. 

If you didn't the post is here, go and have a look. 

Several posters asked some interesting questions and made helpful suggestions for further tests, and finding myself with a simple spray job to carry out, I decided to look into this further. 

 First, we have Humbrol Track Colour paint sprayed on to some paper using my Iwata airbrush. I don't look after it properly, but it gives perfectly acceptable results. The only limiting factor is my skill.

The same paint from the cheapo airbrush. This was connected to an airline from the same Sparmax compressor. You can see the difference. Initial impressions that the airbrush is rubbish are confirmed it appears. Well, unless you want to splatter things. 

This time, we have the Iwata connected to the cheapo hand-held compressor. Not bad at all. I happily sprayed several bits of track brown with the setup and I'd do it again. This is basically what I bought the cheapo airbrush for in the first place - portable spray painting. 

The solution seems to be Iwata combined with hand-held compressor. But I now wonder if the rubbish airbrush can be fettled. I need to look into this and see if anything can be done. It's not like I can make things worse after all!

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Model railways in the news

It's been a good week for model railways appearing in the mainstream press. 

First, there is an interesting piece in the Waitrose customer magazine talking about people enjoying modelmaking, with a great lead photo. 

Read this here. 


The Daily Mail meets Simon George (52) to look at Heaton Junction.

Read this here.


And the Peckforton Light Railway makes the local TV news.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Saturday Film Club: Jumbo Railcar

Spotting this video of the Australian diesel hydraulic 2000/2100 class railcars running from Adelaide to Gawler - and thought "I've done that trip". 

Looking through my Australia photos, I found a couple of shots of these interesting looking vehicles. What I can't remember is if I travelled on them. More head scratching required.

Urban train

Friday, February 19, 2021

Killin Pug

Time for a bit of a flashback - many years ago, I built a model the Killin Pug. (The best web link I can find is the amazing simulator film) for Hornby Magazine. The main build appeared in September 2010 with the chassis the following month. 

At the time, the resin body was a Deans Sidings product, but this is now available from Phoenix Precision Paints. It's intended to fit the Hornby 0-4-0 chassis, but with some extra wheels. 

A better chassis was required and this came from Branchlines - but it was nice to cover both average modeller and high(ish)-fi options. 

The finished model looks a lot like the Hornby Caledonian "Pug", but subtly different. One to run on your layout when you have visitors with sharper eyesight. I notice, searching for back-issues, that one forumite commented "Took me a while to work out the point of the Killin Pug, seemed to be just replacing the Hornby body with a almost identical resin one until I spotted the extra rear wheelset."!

 The kit is one of those that any beginner looking for a bit of variety in their fleet could take on. Nowadays, there is a fine selection of 3D printed models offering the chance to drop a new body on a RTR chassis, and it's a very satisfying thing to do. For me anyway. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Rocket train

Rocket on a train
Another random shot I've set up for a work project. This time we have a Hornby Rocket (the 2020 version, I still can't find my Tri-ang model) on a seven vehicle train. 

Amazingly, even though it's sat on stainless steel rails, given juice from a 9V battery, the little 0-2-2 still managed to haul this lot. A little wheel spinning to start, but it goes, and the track is slightly curved too. Very impressive.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Yellow, tin house roof


Driving on a work trip to click'n'collect from Tony's Trains in Rugby for a work project last week, I passed an amazing building. With the trees free of leaves, it stood out a mile and only the lack of stopping places prevented me taking a photo. 

Looking every inch like a plastic kit painted by a beginner who choses colours they like rather than realistic ones, the roof is bright yellow, and I mean bright. 

Interestingly, it's a corrugated iron roof too. I'd guess a replacement, possibly for thatch? 

Whatever, this would be an interesting model to include on a layout, but keep a photo handy to prove you haven't made it up!

You can see the building on Google Streetview.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Trams in all scales

LNER J70 locomotives in 2,3,4 and 7mm scale 

Set up for some recent filming, I couldn't resist a photo of my collection of LNER "Toby's" in 2, 3, 4 and 7mm scales. 

From the front - whitemetal, etched brass, resin, etched brass. Sadly, I now can't remember the kit makers apart from the O gauge model - Connoisseur Kits. The main lesson to take from this, I think, is that you can't really beat an etched brass kit for crisp modelling!

Monday, February 15, 2021

Class 02 Diesels

02 Diesels in 4 and 4mm scales 

Over the years, I've built quite a lot of Class 02 diesels. The first loco kit I bought was a DJH beginners model. The ready built chassis appealed to me as the £50 price tag was a big chunk of cash to a trainee (and hopeless) accountant earning a pittance. 

I asked my friend Dave Elbourne to look at it during a show and he said it all looked good so I jumped in. 

The resulting model looked great and worked well enough to do a few turns on Scotland Street - something I was very proud of. The photo below shows it working the yard.

Eventually, the whitemetal chassis twisted, probably the reason later kits came with an etched version, and the loco ran like a dog. Then it was stolen and replaced with a Craftsman etched brass kit. 

I think I've built two of these. One was for my bookazine, as I considered it the perfect introduction to the medium. 

Since then, there has been a 3D printed kit which went together well and finally, the O gauge beginners kit from Tower models. This one is so well designed, it can be put together without solder!

Now, the prospect of a RTR model in 4 and 7mm scales is on the horizon from Heljan. People probably won't build 02's any more. Probably not even me. Shame really, but that's progress. 

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Inspiration, or the lack of it.


Is anyone else struggling to keep themselves inspired at the moment? 

I look at the modelling projects in my stash and not one of them leaps out at me crying to be built. Worse, this has been the case for weeks, if not months. 

OK, I have build stuff for work, but I'm not getting as much pleasure out of that as normal. Projects that I'd once looked forward to are done, but with little enthusiasm. Selly Oak has stalled as the delivery date moves into the far future. Fortunately, I've received a couple of positive e-mails about it which have provided a welcome jolt of enthusiasm. 

My writing partner wrote recently that she was bored with everything and I think that's a big part of it. With no end to lockdown on the cards for months, if ever, everything just seems like a trudge. 

I know there are people out there being enthusiastic. Sales of modelling products are up, hugely in some cases. All that knowledge does for me is wonder if I shouldn't clear all my stuff out on eBay while the going is good. Ditch the lot, and take up some other hobby. But what? It's not like there is anything else that interests me either at the moment. 

All my life I have loved making things. Really loved it. Being creative, working with my hands, turning nothing into something. But not any more. 

OK, I can't stop - there is a list of work projects for various publications awaiting attention. I'll not be giving up so maybe some of my previous enthusiasm will return. I hope so. 

In the meantime, if someone finds mu modelling mojo - can I have it back?

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Saturday Film Club: Build a Fairy house from cardboard

A really impressive build - creating a fairy house out of cardboard and lashings of hot glue. 

Recording this video must have taken some effort, and the model itself benefits from the builder's artistic skills.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Bogroll bandits in miniature


I'm a bit late tot he party with these, but tidying up a box from the office, I found some Busch HO scale bogroll bandits - a tribute to the famous toilet paper shortages of 2020. I couldn't resist setting them up for photos.

The models here are 7910 and 7912 - supplied ready painted and assembled, with empty shelves and signs. 

Put them on your layout and you've firmly nailed the sate down, but that might be what you want. 

 I think these will be interesting collectables in years to come. Something to remember the early days of the pandemic by - something that will (hopefully) be a memory.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Garden Rail March 2021


Transport yourself back to the Exhill Light Railway's last days. John Besley takes us on a tour of his fictitious West Country line where we can enjoy the extreme levels of detail he incorporated into the model.

Detail is also the theme of Eddie Lund's Hunslet tunnelling locomotive build, but then he drives the real thing so should know a bit about it.

How tight can your curves be? We do the maths to see if you stand a chance of fitting the Ffestiniog Dduallt loop in your garden.

And staying in Wales, we review Talyllyn No.1 from Accucraft. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Print your own decals (transfers)


When I showed a picture of my Garden Rail Mostyn 7 van, someone asked me where I'd got some GR transfers from. I explained they were a print-your-own waterslide set but couldn't find the details. 

I've used the same stuff for the shipping container, and have tracked down the supplier: 

Expert's Choice decal system. 

I use the clear background version. Simply run them through the inkjet printer, spray with a few coats of satin varnish, leave to dry and then use as normal. Microsol and Microset seem to work on them to make the sheet, which is a bit stiffer then "proper" transfers, bend over lumpy bits of the model. 

They work well for this sort of job, but if I'm honest, the Humbrol varnish makes them slightly yellow, and you need to put them on a white background as of course, the printer doesn't print white. Maybe I could use a different, or just less, varnish.

Basically, if Fox Transfers do something suitable - use that. If not, this will work, but isn't as good.

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

A container full of Garden Rail?


With the wagon, came a shipping container, and well, there was only one colour I could paint it. 

The model is a slot-together laser-cut MDF kit. Nothing exciting here, but the roof is very well supported and that is the sort of job that pre-cut parts make easy. I wouldn't have put this many ribs in if I'd been scratchbuilding, but if the pieces are there, I'm going to use them. 

Laser-etched detail doesn't cut it for me however, so strips of Plastikard were superglued in place and slices of microrod stuck on these. It might be a bit overscale, but my garden railway style is cartoony, so they look the part. I like to think I have over-emphasised the detail for dramatic effect. 

The roof is plastic glued and pinned down because I didn't trust it to stay put. Over this, some tissue paper is fixed with lashings of plastic cement.

Monday, February 08, 2021

Ash Models 16mm scale Lowmac


Spotted on eBay, this Lowmac (OK, that's the BR classification and not really appropriate for this, but I'll stick with it) looked like it might be useful for my railway. Buildable in 32 and 45mm gauges, I have a few ideas for loads that could be strapped to the back - especially for advertising Garden Rail

This kit is supplied laser-cut in MDF with glass-filled nylon wheels and couplings. No instructions were included, but it's hardly rocket science to slot the bits together. 

I'm assuming you are supposed to pick the chassis sides to suit the gauge, but for 32mm, that would leave gaps in the cross members. 

I used both, but chopped the inner ones back. The wheels are a tight fit on their axles, so I'm hoping I can slide them in and out to fit the track. No axleboxes are included and for 32mm, they will be needed to stop the axle sliding to the side. 

Once built, the wagon was treated to a coat of sanding sealer, then a couple of coats of spray primer, sanding between each one. The finish is OK, but not very polished. 

The finishing touch is a set of tie-down rings soldered up from copper wire and fitted into plastic plates. I'm wondering if they should be at 90 degrees to the way I've fitted them, but it's too late now. 

Nice model, easy to assembled and ideal for my purposes. £25 well spent.

Sunday, February 07, 2021

Missing Stafford

Bus 1 - Bristol RE 

With all model railway shows cancelled for the foreseeable future, I've been pondering on which I miss the most. Which has lead me to think about what makes a good show from my personal point of view. 

I'm going to ignore shows I attend purely for work, and by that I mean the Warners events at Ally Pally, Doncaster and Peterborough.  Much as I enjoy each of them a lot, and would probably go to at least one if I were paying to go in, for obvious reasons, my relationship with the event is different. On the same basis, I can't say Warley NEC, even though I've visited Warley shows since they were at the Harry Mitchell Centre. At all these, I'm "performing" all day, I'm not there to enjoy myself, even though I do.

This also counts out Leamington & Warwick shows - especially since I might only see them from the car park. 

I also need to limit myself to the shows as they currently are. No point is dreamily thinking back to Auchtermuchty in 1993, because it has gone. It's in the past. It's also fictitious, but you get my point. I mean I could say Nottingham when it was in the centre of the city and the trip there included my first sighting of a Sprinter train. No time machine, no revisit.

Ultimately, it all comes down to two - York and Stafford. I've been going to both for years. 

But the winner has to be Stafford. It ticks a lot of boxes for me, most importantly, being a day out. 

The journey starts with a bus ride to the station. Then a train to Stafford followed by a vintage bus to the showground. I enjoy all of that. York means a three-hour drive and I prefer travelling by train. I just do. 

On arrival, I head to the cafe to let the first crowds get in while enjoying tea and not standing in the cold.

Kyle of Lochalsh 

Once I do make it inside, it's straight to the back of the show for the second-hand stall. I'll never give up the pleasure of a club bring'n'buy and the friendly team here always relieve me of some money. They seem to know to expect me and I'm greeted with a glint in the eye! The addition of a card machine only made this worse, but I don't care. There have been some terrific bargains picked up, things I've been looking for for a while, and junk that I probably shouldn't have purchased, but did anyway. 

After that, it's time to work around the hall looking at layouts and picking up essentials from the trade. I get to chat to people I know, but in a more relaxed way than when I'm "working". There will obviously be a bit of work done - I'm always layout spotting for the magazine as well as picking up gossip. 

Lunch is back to the cafe where something warm is accompanied by some cake. Regular readers will know how important that it. Afterwards, I try to remember to check the timetable for buses back to the station. 

And this is pretty much a standard day. I know what I'm getting into and how it will pan out. Maybe if the train in gets there earlier, I have the chance to nip over and see the aviary in the park next to the station. If it's really early, the hothouse is perfect for a warm-up. Well, the show is in February after all, snow on the ground isn't uncommon!

Maybe York has a nicer venue. The cafe is posher and no-one struggles for mobile phone signals to make card readers work, but Stafford, and shows like this, win for me because I turn the whole day into something special by leaving the car at home. 

Perhaps this stems from my early show visiting days. My dad doesn't drive, so we used to take the train and those trips were special. Mind you, even when we exhibited at shows, the evening involved a look around the town rather than just the nearest pub. I'm a bit rubbish at travelling, but in my own small way, I like to get out and about. I'm really missing that.

Relive some past shows:

Stafford 2020

Stafford 2019

Stafford 2018

Stafford 2017 

Stafford 2016 

Stafford 2015 

Stafford 2014

Stafford 2013

Stafford 2010 

Stafford 2009

Stafford 2008