Friday, October 22, 2021

Dublo vehicles

Dublo lorries

I've been looking for a Hornby Dublo VW van for many years. The originals aren't common, and those that appear are either tatty or expensive, or both. 

When Hornby announced a replica in their centenary range, I knew I'd be buying one so placed an order with my local model shop. The Covid happened and also the Hornby Tiers system put my local guy in Tier 3 which means high-demand items either don't turn up, or are very late. 

Grudgingly, I decided to take a quick look on eBay, where prices were normally 150% RRP - but patience paid off and I managed to snag a model for RRP plus postage.

Dublo VW

It's an interesting beast. The plastic baseplate is marked Oxford - which makes sense bearing in mind the connection between the companies. The decoration is top notch, but those "chrome" window surrounds are a long way from the "glass" and I don't think the front is vertical enough compared to a real VW. As I recall, on the puka Hornby Dublo (Meccano?) model, it was too upright. 

The Scammell purchase came about when I found myself in Chester Model Centre. Since my rule is that I always buy something if I visit a model shop, and I wasn't in need of anything really, the lorry was it. 

Dublo Scammell

Again, this is based on the standard Oxford casting, which looks the part. Decoration is also good. 

What to do with these models? Well, I could wrap them back up in their tissue paper, stick them in the collection and wait for the values to soar. But since everyone will be doing that, I'm inclinded to some matt varnish, flush glazing and even a bit of dirt so they can appear in the back of photos as set dressing.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Car dealership and Playtrains in the Hornby Collectors Club magazine

In the Autumn 2021 issue of The Collector, I've a couple of pieces. 

The first is a car dealership built from a MKD Kit, now part of the Joueff range. If you click the link you'll notice that out of the box, the aim is to build a Peugeot dealer, but I don't own any suitable cars - but of course do have a collection of VW's, so the building has been re-branded. 

It's an interesting kit with some experimentation required for the wall finishes and then, after some head-scratching, a surprise. The designer intended it to be lit up. No parts are provided, but with a little ingenuity, and a couple of LEDs, that's what I managed to do. 

I've also taken a look at the new Playtrains range, from a collectors' point of view. 

I'm a big fan of the new models, and I can see it being a sensible move to add them to a Hornby collection. After all, in a few years time, there will be very few mint, boxed sets out there. Possibly an investment purchase for the future? 

The Collector is the house journal of the Hornby Collectors Club.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Warehouse Wednesday: Insurance office

Thanks to Duncan Young for this photo. He says "Sojourning in Long Melford— the village is jam packed with modellable buildings but see this little stunner- about 15 feet across and an ideal filler for a gap. Its purpose and representations are fascinating." 

It is a little beauty. And "driving" up and down the high street reveals a few other candidates, such as the antique centre. In fact, the whole place offers a wonderful variety of architecture and building materials. One to add to a list for a future visit!

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Return to Hellingly

For some video work, I need a working model railway, and so decided to pull The Hellingly Hospital Railway out of storage. 

All my layouts live in an insulated, but unheated storage container, and I've always concerned how well they will fare in there. I don't have the option to put them up in a nice, warm house as efforts to win the lottery have so far proved unsuccessful. 

Anyway, the layout has been in the container, wrapped in an insulated bag, for at least 5 years since I last looked at it. First impressions were goo. The leaves are still on the trees, and apart from a little bit of fluffy mould (I think) on one branch, it survived well.

Except that when I unloaded the model from the car, I dropped one end of it two feet onto a gravel drive. 

Much scrabbling around later, I dug up what I hope is all the little details that came lose. 

The challenge is to match the detail to the blank spots on the ground. 

Some PVA, a few weights and a few minutes work, and hopefully the model is as good as it ever was.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Metal bomping

A busy week means minimal progress on the Hudswell Clarke shunter. All I've managed to do is bomp the rivets in the body parts. 

As usual, the metal goes into my GW Models revetting tool. Bought well over quarter of a century ago for what seems like a lot of money, but really isn't, it's still something I'm pleased I purchased while flush from a redundancy payment. 

To be honest, I don't use it to it's full potential on this job. The slides that allow for accurate rivet placement on plain metal aren't fitted. For etched kits where there is a half-etch mark on the back of the component to locate the proddy bit, I do this by a combination of eye and feel. 

Rivet size is judged in the same way. I don't bother to set the stop under the handle, I work by feel. You can tell when the handle, and thus the forming tool, is pushed far enough down. Proper model makers will be horrified, But the results look OK to me. 

Sunday, October 17, 2021


 Nicked from Instagram: 

It's very true in modelmaking as in life in general. Sometimes whatever it is you build doesn't work. But if you scrap it and start again, the experience you have gained will stand you in good stead. 

It's still annoying though...

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Saturday Film Club: Disney on railroads

Ignore the title, the YouTube idiot stuck on this - it's a fascinating film showing three Disney people and their railroads, including Walt's own garden line. 

Nice bit of filming, as you might expect, especially the segment with Kirk Douglas driving a train.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Delightful drawers

At the recent N gauge show, I was doing my usual thing, rushing around trying to talk to as many people as possible, and snap plenty of photos. Several times, I passed a stand selling second hand model engineering tools - on top of which were these drawers. 

Each time I passed them, I looked. And I liked what I saw. Except the price, a whopping £250. 

The trouble was, I kept looking. I opened a few drawers and they slid perfectly. I tapped the top and it's a lovely bit of wood. At 58cm wide, there's plenty of space for "bits", and any modeller has plenty of those in need of organisation.

Obviously, I recognise the lineage. If you have ever seen an wooden engineers toolbox, you'll realise they have the same maker. 

Based in Ashford, Emir were until very recently, still making high quality workbenches and toolboxes. Sadly, they were a casualty of Covid. When furlough ended, they had no orders to re-start the business with, ending 89 years of trading. 

It's a crying shame when a firm such as this disappears. Firstly for the staff, but looking at the bigger picture, for the skills that will be lost. 

My set of drawers is a beautiful thing. After much deliberation, I negotiated a 50 quid price drop at the end of the day. That's one of the most expensive pieces of furniture I own, and I'm not disappointed. A quick look online found only one other example - which was tatty, missing a drawer, and twice the price. OK, cheap plastic drawers will work just as well for a fraction of the cost, but I won't love them like I love these.

The only problem is that I need to work out how to label the drawers. Writing on them is obviously out of the question. Maybe I can use the silhouette cutter to make some labels that can be held in place with the knobs (these screw in), but that's a problem for another day. For the moment, I'll just enjoy them.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

We're off to Germany in Garden Rail November

We're off to Germany for our lead layout this month - Waldheim built by Jim Trotman. It's a little slice of Saxony that lives in Cumbria!

On the workbench, there is a 100-year-old gauge one locomotive restoration, building some Darjeeling Himalayan Railway rolling stock, digging a pond with a railway bridge and then finishing off with a well-earned drink in a home-made pub. 

On review, is Garden Railway Specialists "small" Quarry Hunslet as well as all the latest news of products for the large-scale modeller.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Dirt stops solder - deliberatly

Time for a job I don't enjoy, soldering the washers on to the crank pins to hold the rods in place. It's one of those jobs where everything can go wrong, and you end up with a lump rather than a collection of moving parts. 

My solution is to put permanent marker everywhere I don't want the solder to go. Since the stuff will only stick to clean metal, in theory (and practise I'm pleased to say) it won't stick to the penned up bits. 

As an extra precaution, some light oil floods the crank pin hole in the rod. This is the old skool way of doing things, but I'm always concerned that the heat of the iron will boil off the liquid and let the solder do its worse. 

Anyway, in the photo, you can see the true horror of the over-large holes in the rods, but as the chassis works fine, I don't care how much it annoys proper engineers, I'm not bushing them. 

Another handy hind, ignore the washers provided with Romford crank pins, you only end up filing them much thinner, just use some 10BA brass washers and save some effort.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Whirling cranks

I hate this bit. Flycranksare a pain in model form. Part of me wondered about chopping the conrods short and leaving them off - but I'll try to do it properly. 

The cranks were fitted, with a spacer washer behind each one, ad the overlong axle marked for cutting. Once the right length and slightly chamfered on the end, it was fitted through he crank. This was a loose fit on the axe. Only by a fraction of a mm, but not a press-on job like the other then. 

Then the rods went on and I hoped these would handle the quartering. 

Plenty of non-corrosive flux on the end of the axle, followed by a smear of solder and the thing is in place. Turning the motor by hand suggested things were OK, so it was time for power. 


Not too bad. There's a lot of slop in the system, but let's see what happens with the retaining washer are fitted to the crank pins. Maybe we'll have a working chassis. 

Monday, October 11, 2021

Driving Scamp

A couple of weeks ago, I was filming with the There and Back Light Railway, and Steve generously let me have a drive of his petrol-engine backup loco, a Scamp. 

For those that don't know, Scamp is a 7 1/4" ride on locomotive designed by Colin Edmondson. Rather than waste space here, head over to the website for all the details, including those of the kit to build it

That's right, this is a kit-built loco. Yours for £2375 RTR, but a grand less than that if you pick the far more fun option to build it yourself from what is, I am told, a really easy to construction set of parts. 

There's more on Scamp over at Apa Valley. 

Now, I really don't need any more projects, but if I did, I could be very tempted. Steve's Scamp moves at quite a rate, and since he had only just put the track down, offered a bit of a white-knuckle ride when I drove it. This thing is terrific fun. OK, I look ridiculous, but that's pretty much par for the course. 

One challenge is that Scamp is tiny, and you need to balance the loco, especially if you are a tall and fat bloke. That means leaning back in the seat to keep your centre of gravity over the wheels, all while juggling the various controls (throttle, revs, clutch, brake) and trying not o break anything - both me and the loco. I'm sure Steve was more worried about the later!

Later in the day, I was also handed the controls of a steam loco, and it was also very enjoyable too, but Scamp was the one that really got me wishing I had the space for a small line...

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Campbells Quarry and Quarry Hunslets in Narrow Gauge World

Bit of a catchup post - in the October issue of Narrow Gauge World, I have a few photos. 

First, we have a combined article covering Multi-award-winning Black Country metal basher, John Campbell's layout "Campbells Quarry". Editor Andrew has combined both my original piece and the update showing the engine shed extension. 

Then we have the news about the Bachmann Quarry Hunslets in 009 with a big batch of my photos. Obviously there will be plenty of NGW readers who will be very taken with these lovely little models.

You can buy the October 2021 issue of NGW online.

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Saturday Film Club: Forward to First Principles - 1966

This British Transport film might seem a bit Open University with it's study of economic principles, but even if you don't follow the narrative (although it's interesting) there are some cracking pictures of trains.

Friday, October 08, 2021

It seems that I am an influencer now with an appearance on the poster for Heaton Junction's first public appearance. 

My quote is from the BRM article, and absolutely correct. This layout is massive. 

You walk along the front, and keep on walking. I've never seen such a massive model railway. 

Looking along the line from the view in the photo above, you simply can't see an O gauge model as it starts its journey from the other end - it's the lights that catch the eye first, long before you can see the nose. 


Don't forget that there is the same length around the back for the fiddle yard too. A fiddle yard full of very long trains, my favourite of which is the Motorail one. 

I leave it to you to guess why. 

More at the Heaton Lodge Junction website.


Thursday, October 07, 2021

Tin engine sheds and Flash in BRM

In BRM's November issue, we continue with the industrial layout build, this time looking at the engine shed. I've had this project in mind for some time, and this was the chance to do it. 

Wanting a wiggly tin shed, the original plan had been to scratchbuild, but when the guys from Budget Model Railways got in touch with their 3D printed version, I decided that as it looked pretty much the same as my planned version, it was a chance to bring a new cottage industry to everyone's attention. 

In the reviews section, we have Hornby Playtrains. 

This is another piece I've been looking forward to writing. Partly because I am A Big Kid, but mostly because this is a really interesting product as it's a range, not just a standalone set. With extra track and rolling stock available, and more in the pipeline, I'm hoping this is a success for Hornby. 

Of course, I'm not really in the target market to play with this, so I recruited a couple of assistants. 

Erin, who's 7, and Thomas 3, both had a go with the set and their opinions are found in the mag. Better still, if you get the digi version, there's some video of them trying it out. Both kids came out well on camera, although I think Erin is very much a star of the future...

Talking of video, my practical this month is looking at scribing and bending plastic sheet. 

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Cutting broaches

I spent ages looking for the axle the flycranks are attached to, before realising the great bit piece of brass rod was it. I'm not sure why we need enough for a 7mm scale chassis, but that's what's supplied. 

No matter. It's a very nice 3mm diameter - the same as the axles used for the wheels.

The holes in the cranks are undersized, which is far better than oversized, and need to be opened out using a set of large broaches. These aren't cheap tools, but pretty much essential for this job. Trying to use either a file or a drill for this job is likely to result in an oval hole in the wrong place (OK, drill in a pillar drill properly held will probably be OK, but if you can do this, you'll own broaches). 

I enlarged the hole to 3mm and then opened it up a couple of twists with the tapered reamer. Then the axle and crank were put in the vice and it used as a press to force them together. No need for solder or Loctite here! It won't be moving on the axle either, or at least I hope not. 

All this takes time, but I hope to get that back with minimal fiddling to fit this thing in the chassis.

Tuesday, October 05, 2021



Why are there so many flycranks on the kit etch? I pondered this for a while, then remembered that Romford and Gibson wheels have slightly different crank throws. You need to chose your parts to suit the wheels on your loco. 

Having worked out which set I needed, and there are several with two distinct designs, then it's a simple matter of juggling five layers of etch, lining up all the holes accurately, and running solder around the edges. 

The result is, in my case, a pretty messy job, but cleaning things up doesn't take long with some abrasive. 

The crank pin holes could be tapped and the pins screwed in place, but I just soldered them in position. At least that way they will stay put on the loco. 

Monday, October 04, 2021

Selly Oak goes to work

Selly Oak has appeared in public for the first time in a Rapido advert for their Leyland Fleetline

Nice to see it doing it's job and really nice to see the new bus in position. There's a definite whiff of 70s nostalgia for those of us at a certain age. I know I've travelled on one many times!

Sunday, October 03, 2021

What is it with the L&B?


A mystery. Why are manufacturers so obsessed with the Lynton & Barnstaple railway? 

Last week, Lionheart Trains announced a new range of O16.5 models of both the locomotives and coaching stock. Before this we saw Peco and Heljan plough the same furrow in 009. 

Now, I understand that the locomotives are attractive - and iconic, and therein lies the problem. 

Build a layout with L&B locos and it can only be the L&B. No-where else had these machines. 

Worse, the L&B was laid to mainline standards. Generous curves and long turnouts were the order of the day, and the locos were built for them. As many 009 modellers have found, they simply don't do tight curves, because the prototype couldn't. That's got to limit their usefulness. 

If it were me, I'd go down the Bachmann route with the very useful Baldwin and Quarry Hunslet locomotives. 

Both are really useful prototypes that can be found in many different locations. They will also handle the sharp curves beloved of narrow gauge modellers. The QH will run around a track bent around a 2p piece!

This would seem to be a more sensible investment - but then it's not my money tooling up for the L&B models and I have no reason to think that the decisions are anything other than commercially sound. 

It's a real mystery to me - can anyone help?

Saturday, October 02, 2021

Saturday Film Club: A railway in your crawl space

 Does anyone remember the April Fool's story in Railway Modeller years ago, where someone had built their layout under the floorboards of the house? I know I was fooled by it for a long while. 

Well, it seems that life follows art, and here we have a special effects laden video showing someone really building a miniature railway in the crawl space under their floorboards.

Friday, October 01, 2021

Myton Hospice wagon


I'm not into limited edition wagons normally, but Myton Hospice is a local charity and my local model railway club have commissioned a fund-raising wagon from Dapol in both OO and N gauges - so I've bought one of each. 

The project is in memory of a member's wife who was supported by the hospice in her final days and as such means a lot to many of us. 

I'd like to think that one day I'll weather these and run them in a "normal" train on a layout. For the moment they are a useful scale comparison tool. 

If you'd like a wagon, send an e-mail to:

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Chassis paint


Before the motor'n'stuff go into the chassis, it needs paint. 

That's a simple enough job - give the metal another good clean and then rinse it thoroughly under running water. Then let it dry in a nice warm spot. This is a stage you don't want to rush as tiny drops of water can hang around for a long while. A blast from the hairdrier helps, but I prefer to leave it 24 hours to be sure. 

Next, a light dusting with etching primer. I'm using UPol from Halfords at the moment and it seems to work OK. The cheapskate in me remembers that I was always told a light dusting, rather than a heavy coat. 

Finally, I brush paint Revell No.9 everywhere. I could spray, but it's easier to brush and in my mind, the adhesion is better. A couple of coats on the sides seem sensible. 

Finally, the bearings and brake hanger wires are cleaned up with some scraping. I'll need to solder the brakes later, and you really don't want paint in the moving surfaces. 

Then, let it all harden again before moving on. Easy, if you are too busy to work on the model every evening.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Mystery metal


Time for some chassis detailing, and I find at the ends there should be some metal brackets. The fold up from the etch nicely enough and I bomp out the rivets - but then there is a mystery. 

Obviously they fit at the end of the chassis behind the bufferbeam, but how? 

It looks like the riveted flanges overlap, but then the bufferbeam won't be flush. 

I puzzled over this for a while, trying the parts in different ways, and then came to a pragmatic conclusion. 

I simply left one lot off. Yes, I know this makes me A Bad Person and Not a Proper Modeller, but I don't care. You can't see these things on a plan, or in any photos. On that basis, no-one is going to miss them. 

Were this a magazine build, I'd have to solve the problem. Fortunately, it's not, so I only have to please myself. 

And if you are thinking the brake rods look thicker than normal, you'd be right. I used 0.6mm wire rather than 0.45. It will stay straight much better, I always end up bending the thinner wires when fitting the brake hangers. I even remembered to file the ends flat to avoid punctured fingertips, something a remember from previous builds!

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

A running chassis


Crunch time. After three chassis builds, will the wheels turn over then power is on? 

The omens were good. Those rods slipped straight on, but then as the bearing spacings were set by the rods, you'd expect that. Add in the massive amount of slop those oversized holes in the rods allow, and if there was a problem, it would be a BIG one. 

For testing, the rods are retained with a bit of insulation stripped from a wire. This trick saves a lot of soldering action if there is a problem and they need to come off again for fettling. 


A bit of electricity from my 60-year-old H&M controller and the model works! 

To be fair, it worked a lot better once a drop of oil was applied to each bearing. I know all that rod slop is bad engineering, and that the worm gear really should sit over the middle of the axle gear, but I'll take this right now. The model moves up and down the track, and it's long while since I built something that did that.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Parkside battery powered soldering iron

Picked up for a quid at the Lifeboat day, my first thought when seeing this soldering iron was, "How rubbish will this thing be?"

Parkside tools are available from the infamous middle of Lidl, and in my experience, are usually pretty good quality. I have a small cordless screwdriver which is nearly as good as the Bosch version but half the price. 

Powered by 3 AA batteries, this could be a useful addition to the toolkit when emergency cord-free soldering is required. 

Anyway, the first problem with this was that it didn't appear to work. The light on the front came on, but the bit warmed a little, but then cooled. Not great, so with nothing to lose, I poked around inside. 

To be fair, there's not much going on inside. The batteries are held in the handle, and a pretty simple switch does the work. Fro this, I work out that to warm the iron u, you have to slide the switch forward AND press the button on the front. That's why it appeared not to work. The iron is hot when the LED is on.

The connection between switch and element wasn't good. A bit of plastic that holds the two parts together was broken, so I blobbed some solder on the joint. 

Screwed back together, I managed to make the device melt solder, but at 6W, it's a bit gutless. I tinned a couple of wires and eve soldered them together, but it's a slow process. Having said that, for a pound, it can live in my toolbox as being much better than nothing in some situations.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Knowing when you are beaten


This is my photo booth for small models. It sits in the chaos of the corner of my office.

A portable booth with a couple of photo lights above it, it's been used many hundreds of times for some pictures of models I've generally been very happy with. Over the years, I've become expert at long exposures and bouncing light around, then processing the image to have just the right amount of shadow under the model. A flat base is assured thanks to a bit of melamine faced chipboard, and the background is a mix of plastic sheet with paper on top.

All that junk in front is a collection of things I support my Splat on while shooting. That or a beanbag. There's even a monopod that can be jammed in position if required. Basically, I'm creative enough to get the results I want. 

However, last week I started on a project to replace the booth with something bigger and better. 

The key would be a pair of LED panels. The subject would sit on one, another would be over the top. The photo lights would still be available too. 

A white wall would surround the photo area. Simple huh? 

Well, the booth is still there. Admittedly, I've tidied up a bit, but it's not been replaced. 

The new booth turned out to be one of those project that was a disaster from start to throwing the materials in the bin. Every single step went wrong: 

  • Ordered two panels. One arrived broken. 
  • The replacement was also broken.It took three days to get a pair of working ones. 
  • My measurements for the MDF to make the box were wrong and had to be altered at the wood shop. 
  • Painting the white walls turned into a nightmare. MDF is smooth, but not once you inflict trade silk emulsion on it. 
  • I had planned to use the emulsion as a primer and spray the MDF white The (admitedly old) can was faulty, paint dribbled out. 
  • More sanding and rollering gave me a surface that could in no way be described as smooth, but eventually I decided I could live with it. At worst, the booth could have another lining of foamboard. 
  • Screwing the panels together, I managed to get the first corner wrong twice. Then realised I was screwing the sides together and not the back. 
  • When I eventually fixed all three sides together, not easy as this thing is 60cm wide and floppy until complete, the corners weren't as perfect as I'd hoped machine cut MDF would be. 
  • Sliding the panel in the bottom, it left a gap in one corner, the thing wasn't flat. Not a problem in a ceiling, but hopeless here. I did try screwing it to the nice, flat MDF, but the gap, while better was still rubbish. 

At this point I gave up, put the panels and their transformers in the box, put the boxes into store and threw the MDF bits away. 

Lesson learned. When a project fights you at every stage, give up. I didn't have the skills to make this thing work. What I do have, is the skills to make the existing setup produce results. OK, it takes a little longer on the processing, but it works. 

Still, a day and best part of £100 wasted. I need to know when I'm beaten.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Saturday Film Club: New uses for a hole punch

You are going to have to trust me this week that this is an interesting video. 

Combining Lego and paper might not seem an obvious move, but the good people at Lego Central once thought it was a good idea. Then got bored, and a hobbyist took it up instead. 

It's all very clever, even if the colours are a bit garish.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Pick your paper


Do you remember art classes at school? There would frequently be a need to put newspaper down to protect surfaces against some mess, and every so often, the paper would turn out to be The Sun - with it's Page 3 model. Back in the 1980s, this would cause a little excitement among the boys, and a huff from the teacher who didn't think we were ready for life drawing classes yet. 

I'm reminded of this every time I have to mask a bit of layout with newspaper and then take a photo for a magazine. You need to be so careful, as readers will work out what you've used and judge you for it. 

No point in sticking a copy of Socialist Worker in front of them, even if it's nothing more than a peripheral part of the photo. You'll be able to hear the sound of subscriptions being cancelled...

My solution is either a local paper, or in this case, some old pages from Private Eye, Once without any swearing, or contentious stories on, just to be sure. Ideally, no photos either - someone will get offended. 

I suppose I ought to buy some rolls of brown paper, the stuff used for masking up cars for painting, but it's just another thing to store, and I don't need this that often.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Talking garden railways at the Model Railway Club


A couple of weeks ago, I headed south to give a presentation I'd been asked for at the Model Railway Club in London. It was an interesting day. 

The talk itself went OK. There were about 20 people in the room and a similar number joined us via Zoom. There were a few technical issues with the setup, but eventually, these were overcome (although some made a later reappearance) so I could do my thing complete with a working next slide clicker, something the government can't do for their Covid briefings it seems. 

I think the audience enjoyed my waffle and I filled my alloted timeslots well enough. Maybe I've not convinced anyone to head out to the garden with their railways, but you never know. 

Exactly what to put into a talk was a challenge. Eventually, the first half was my story in the larger scales and how it was mostly driven in the early days by a lack of funds - proving that you don't need to be rich to model outside, quite the opposite in fact. 

After the tea-break, I covered some basic considerations to think about when looking to build a garden railway. It's a big topic, so I left plenty of time for questions, which mostly worked out OK. 

All this was despite a weird arrival in London. 

Marylebone station was being dressed for Christmas. Had I dozed off and slept on the train for a few weeks, shuttling back and forth between London and Birmingham? 

No. It's a film set. I'm not sure what they were shooting, but when I was dropped back at the station, things looked different. 

There's an awful lot of equipment in this shot!

Frustratingly, I couldn't hang around to watch for long as my train departed 15 minutes later, and I needed food. 

Having stuffed a burger into my gob, I got on the 10:30 train, expected in a nice ride back, but five minutes before we left, it started to fill up. And fill up some more. Worse, there was precious little mask wearing going on. I started to feel very uncomfortable.

Checking my phone, I worked out that there was another train in half an hour, which got me back only 20 minutes later than the previous one. So I bailed out and hoped for the best as it was the last service home. 

Of course, I'm now on the wrong side of the barrier to go and watch the fun. I notices that the posters on the platform had been replaced with festive images, so assume that later on that night, the camera would move on to the platforms themselves. 

Anyway, the train was quieter and I was back home and asleep by 1am. Good job the next day, I didn't need to be on the road until mid-morning!

If you'd like me to talk garden railway modelling at your club, send me an e-mail and I'll see if I can oblige.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

MORE new spacers



News 12mm wide spacers (I measured the width of the motor, something I should have done in the first place) and the whole thing can finally be assembled. The drive unit sits low in the frames. All the wheels are fitted. The chassis sits on the mirror perfectly. 

All this shows how rusty I am at building etched kits. It also proves that if you keep plugging away, you will get a loco to work. And that I am far from perfect as a modelmaker. But then the person who never made any mistakes, never made anything.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

New spacers


After a little head scratching, I decided that there wasn't any way I could accurately reduce the width of the frame spacers fitted to the chassis, it would be a lot easier to make some new ones up from sheet nickel silver. 

First job, remove the old ones - I could have attacked them with heat, but wary of disturbing the bearings, I opted to cut them in half with a piercing saw. This gave me much better access to the soldered joints, which were heated and the errant metal removed, followed by a good clean up with a file. 

Then I cut some strips of nickel 10.5mm wide using an Olfa cutter and ruler. Even I can get things reasonably accurate with those tools.

Using the Hobby Holidays jig, the sides were lined up and the spacers fitted between them. I know the axles are in the right place relative to each other so the spacers don't need to slot into the chassis sides, I can pretty much fit them where I see fit. 

This time the axles stick out both sides of the chassis. It even sits flat on a mirror when fitted with wheels. Success? Well they look like they are a bit proud of the sides. But I can shim this with some washers to reduce the side-play. 

Except that the motor won't fit between the frames, and these are deep enough that this is precisely what it has to do. I did contemplate putting cut-outs in the frame sides to accommodate the motor, but there was really only one thing to do...