Sunday, April 18, 2021

Brain fog

I've made no secret that I've found the last year challenging - my modelling mojo seems to have left the building and despite trying various things, it's not come back. 

Then I read this interesting article: 

Brain fog: how trauma, uncertainty and isolation have affected our minds and memory

As I read it, the problem is that our brains demand stimulation, a survival mechanism from the days we were dodging dinosaurs. 

The problem at the moment is lack of stimulus. I'm not going anywhere, other than the same old walking routes. A year without shows means a year without much inspiration. I know there are magazines and YouTube, but it's not the same as seeing stuff for real. That's where I get my rush of enthusiasm from. 

Knowing all this isn't much help of course as there is nothing much I can do about it at the moment. Still, at least there is a reason.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Saturday Film Club: Adding rivets


An interesting technique - bit super fiddly! I might have to invest in some balls though. And one of those rivet maker things.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Steam tram


A few weeks ago, I mentioned some Atlas Editions trams that we'd bought far too cheaply for the quality of the models. 

All have potential for a diorama, but as I learned to my cost building Hellingly, overhead wiring is a pain in the backside to do properly. That limits the electric trams use as moving models, but there is another in the range - this attractive steam tram. 

Tram number 12 is 70mm long and 25mm wide. The small boiler, only 25mm above rail level, doesn't provide a lot of space to fit a motor, but this is narrow gauge, and I suspect an N gauge Tomytec mechanism could be squeezed in. 

Possibly, the biggest problem is the trailer car. The bogies are moulded integral to the underframe trussing, and obviously they don't rotate. Probably the easiest option would be to scrape the whole lot off and replace with new bogies and scratchbuilt truss-rods. 

My suspicion is that someone has already carried out this conversion already - can anyone point me in the direction if it's been written up?

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Class 13

Class 13 

BR's Class 13 shunter is one of those fascinating prototypes that modellers love, but have no real use for. Designed to powerful shunters for Tinsley Marshalling Yard, the chances of anyone building a suitable layout are slim to non-existent. You'd need a massive space for a start, and the best part of a years supply of rolling stock from Bachmann. 

This model was built for my bookazine Modelling British Railways Diesel Locomotives. We needed some practical projects and this is both simple and eye-catching.

 Class 13 

Just like the prototype, I took a couple of Hornby 08 shunters and pulled the cab off one. This was replaced with RT Models conversion parts. No soldering is really required, you can do the whole job with glue making it one for relative newbies to the hobby. 

One thing to be careful with is your selection of base models. Try to get some with wasp stripes on the end, making painting easier. And check the selection of cabinets on the side. I had to cast a set of grilles to fit in place of some originally hidden by a cabinet. I'm not telling you which ones, but it was a job that I'd have been happier not to have to do. 

The locos aren't linked electrically, but then the model hasn't really been used in anger so I've not idea how much of a problem this might be.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Waterborne Wednesday: Canal workboats


A quick trip to Hatton Locks for some research allowed me to grab photos of a couple of the Canal & Waterways Trusts workboats. I know they aren't as glamorous as the pretty canal cruisers, but I like them. Definitely on the "one day" list for a model or two.

The wide-beam boat is new to me. I didn't know they were in use around here, although I have seen a wide liveaboard in the middle of Leamington. 


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

A question of scale


Pay attention when shopping on eBay. These resin plants were sold to me as 16mm scale models. The tallest is 33mm to the bottom of its pot, a bit bonsai. 

I should have spotted the Oxo cube included in the corner of the photo. If I had, I'd have realised the diminutive size of the models, which I'd assumed would be the sort of thing you see in planters on  you see on a station platform. No size was quoted in the description, and there was that cube, so I need to shut up about it. 

I'm not too worried, each plant cost me just over 60p, so the bank isn't broken. I also enjoyed an evening painting them up, so cheaper than the same amount of time in a pub, and I still have some pretty plants for a 16mm scale windowsill at the end of it. 

Next time though, I'll pay attention properly!

Monday, April 12, 2021

Black 5 repair


On the workbench recently was this Black 5 which, I was told, didn't work. 

It is an interesting loco - a Hornby model that appears to have been tickled by an enthusiast. I think it's a collection of different parts brought together into one model, with a bit of added detail. 

The chassis was cast metal and designed to be motorised. I'd say early Hornby or Tri-ang, with home-brewed pickups that didn't touch the backs of the wheels. A bit of work with the soldering iron fixed that. It helps if the pickup wire isn't floating around. 

Poking around for electricity, I dropped the tender drive out, and the middle wheels fell off. They didn't seem to be very well attached and wobbled like crazy, but I suspect work after a fashion. The sideframes would hold them on the stub axle, and I don't have the means to bush them properly. 

This all improved things a little, but the model was still sticky. Eventually, I worked out that the valve gear "weathering" consisted of painting the metal with a mix of varnish and treacle. Stripping it down as far as I could, then polishing the muck away with a fibrepen, combined with unbending a few links, cured the problem.

Eventually, the model ran reasonably well, proving that nearly anything can be rescued. A couple of hours work and the loco will live to chuff another day.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Duke of Edinburgh on my layout


The Duke of Edinburgh's recent passing reminded me that he, and the Queen, once visited my layout, Flockburgh. 

At least, they visited it in the form of miniatures based on their 1950s selves by the German model manufacturer Preiser.

Of course I tried to find a photo of the event, and the only one I located is above. Phillip is in the blue suit on the far left of the photo. Not sure who he is chatting to, because the Queen is further along the platform talking to Teddy Roosevelt if I remember right. 

I hope he enjoys the Class 20, although I expect he'd prefer a steam loco. Or more likely, a wander down tot he quayside for something seaworthy.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Saturday Film Club: Supeglue and accelerators


I use a lot of superglue, so when Mythbusters Adam Savage recorded a video on the glue, it was going to be worth a look. There's a lot of good advice in here, especially the baking soda trick, that also turns the glue into a filler. 

He's a bit wooly on the origins of the glue and what makes it set though - but reading the comments clarifies matters a lot. Very entertaining though.

Friday, April 09, 2021

Dermic oiler

From a very long time ago, the "Dermic" oiler for all your model railway lubrication needs. 

It's a nice bit of kit. The plunger slides incredibly smoothly with the glass tube. I've not yet tried it with oil, I need to find a pot of light machine stuff rather than 3 in 1. 

The instructions in the little box show this is an official GEM (George E Mellor) product and dates from the era when you'll squirt a bit of oil in your Tri-ang chassis to quieten it down.

The needle isn't in the box, so if I feel the need to volunteer my services to the vaccination programme, the NHS will have to provide me with one. It might be that owning your own syringe isn't the only qualification required though...

Does anyone remember these things? I'm guessing this is a 1960s device, possibly even earlier, as a little Internet research tells me that S&B were a pre-war company operating from what became Norwood Junction Models premises. A letter in the May 2019 issue of Railway Modeller tells me that the company was set up by Frank Stedman and George Birmingham. Frank had worked for the Leeds Model company.

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Taylor & McKenna bags


Some great post arrives - a package containing a load of old model railway catalogues which we'll look at another day, and the prize - two Taylor & McKenna bags. 

Old readers might look at these and recognise the family resemblance to the yellow carried bags of the wonderful chain of model shops - Beatties.  

I didn't know that there were specific T&M bags, when they were absorbed by the rest of the chain, surely they should have been re-branded? Obviously not. 

I remember the Banbury shop, but an sure it had become Beatties by the time I knew it. 

Still, two more prize exhibits for my collection. One day, I'll find the time to put it online, but for the moment you'll just have to put up with me going on about it here. Does anyone else collect old modelshop memorabilia, or just me?

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Beginners Barclay


This little Barclay is built from a DJH Beginners whitemetal kit. It was a Hornby magazine project that was nearly a complete disaster. 

Not the build - that went very well. The reason this isn't the cheapest kit in the world is because a lot of R&D has gone into making it easy. Some cheaper kits achieve their price point by dumping lots of fettling on the modeller. Fine for me, bad for a beginner who hasn't earned their bodger stripes. 

The problem cam when I painted it. As I recall, the deadline was looming (they always are) and I weathered the model in the spray booth. In my enthusiasm, I overdid it massively. 

Tentatively, I attacked it with turps soaked cotton buds to see if I could remove the filth and try again. The result amazed me. As the paint cam off, it left what I considered one of my best weathering jobs. Dirty, but with the paint showing though.


At the time I was just relieved, but since then, the "dirt then cleaning" method has become standard for me. I usually add a bit more dirt afterwards to good effect. 

Would I have developed the technique without things going wrong? Maybe. Martyn Welch covers it in The Art of Weathering, but there's nothing to beat actually trying something to prove to yourself that it works. 

And I bet some people think mag writers get things right all the time!

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Hood update


I've been asked for a HMS Hood update - my dad's boat hasn't appeared on the blog for a while. 

The photo (click for a bigger version) shows the current state of play. Progress has been slow as he's found other things to do, and also suffers from the same lockdown lack of motivation that I've endured. 

Anyway, the hull in in high-build primer and ready to be fitted with the mechanical bits. As the person most skilled with the electric sander, I'm due to give it a final smoothing and more primer when the weather warms up. It probably needs a couple more goes and then we'll be happy. The sanding sealer will make it watertight, so no worries there. 

After that, there is a growing collection of sub-assemblies, not all of which are in the photo. One change is to replace the gun turret supports with plastic tube rather than the slices of MDF provided for a smoother look. 

I like the flotilla of little boats that are part of the bigger model. You are probably seeing them larger than life size on your screen. There are also guns and loads of details waiting to go on. 

Maybe this year we'll get cracking. Putting the hull on the water will help, and with a bit of luck I'll get a handle on my workload and enthusiasm and help out. We would love to sail this at our boat club navy day. But then we said that last year!

Monday, April 05, 2021

Chocolate egg time


Easter provides a great excuse for me to buy a couple of Kinder Eggs to scoff and then build the toys found inside. I've done it before, so why mess with tradition? 

You don't want to know about the chocolate (too sweet), so let's look at the inards. 

Egg One contains loads of playing cards, a floppy piece of plasticy card and the centre to turn it into a spinner. At first I wondered if I'd found a junior tarot set, but it turns out this is a pairs matching game - spin to pick your animal and find the two cards they appear on. 

Egg Two reveals a 37mm tall toy. Pull the hair off, with great difficulty, and inside the the world's most useless pen. 

Neither takes any real assembly, which is a shame. Making up the toys has always been the highlight of Kinder Eggs, but it seems that is denied to us nowadays in favour of instant gratification. 

The TV advertising makes a great deal of noise about the augmented reality available with the toys, so I gave it a go. Download the app and you can scan in a picture from the instructions and add the character (even the spinner is a character) to a brightly coloured childs game. I'm not sure this is really augmented reality as everything happens within the game world, and if you do see the computer generated character within the real world, it doesn't interact with it at all. Still, the game will entertain little ones for a while. 

So, chocolate eaten and I'm bored with mu new toys. Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Not at York

York Sign

It's Easter Sunday, and that can only mean one thing - getting up late and scoffing chocolate eggs. 

Well, this year and last anyway. In days gone by, I'd have been in the car bright and early, heading to York for the model railway exhibition. Sometimes as a visitor, sometimes as an exhibitor. 

Back in February, I posted that the show I missed most from the calendar was Stafford, as it was such a fun day out. This is closely followed by York, and only because thanks to the price of train tickets, it involves at least 5 hours on the motorway. 

Those hours of tedium are always amply rewarded with a show I've been to for at least 3 decades on and off. I remember my first visit, when the event took place in the city centre. My pick of the layouts was a model of the Wisbeach Tramway. Ironically, it lived around the corner from me, built by modellers I came to know a few years later!

I miss those city centre days, especially as an exhibitor. Nipping out while on a break and being able to wander the streets to watch the buskers was such a special experience. I understand the reasons the show moved to the racecourse, and it has proved to be an excellent venue, but I do have a soft-spot for "in town" shows. 

York has a special atmosphere. Those attending have, in the main, been doing so for years. As a punter, I can probably guess where each trader will be. What I know is that it's old-fashioned enough not to be filled with box-shifters. York is a modellers show with plenty of kit and bits stands. 

Part of the atmosphere comes from it being a 3-day event. Exhibitors get to know each other more than shorter events and you get into a routine. This was even more the case in the days of the 3.5 or even 4 day show when the last day was Tuesday, for reasons I never understood. Losing that day was a shame, but the crowds never justified it for the trade. 

As an exhibitor, it is my favourite event. My dad and I always felt privileged to be invited to a show with so much heritage, in such a lovely place. We did our best, and in return, they look after us. Years ago, there were several apres-show events and although the infamous barn dance never appealed, I used to enjoy the Saturday night sing-song at the Brown Cow. Ian Futers on the piano, and Timmy Taylors Landlord on draught. Brilliant. That ha dried up as the show evolved, but those three days in the racecourse were always enjoyable.

Anyway, York 2021 is another victim of Covid. 2022 is planned for the return. I hope to be there. 

Photos from 2009

Photos from 2011 

Photos from 2012 (50th show)

Photos from 2014 

Photos from 2015 

Photos from 2017 

Photos from 2018 

Photos from 2019

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Saturday Film Club: A look around an IC125

My mate Anthony wanders around an Intercity 125 with a camera - and makes a really good job of it.

Friday, April 02, 2021

R475 - Platform with operating crane


With my collector hat on, I've had a watch on eBay for some time looking for a nice example of the R517 good yard crane. It's basically the crane part of R127 operating crane truck mounted on a small platform.

The crane is a very nice model and would benefit from a detailing kit (there was one, but it's no longer available) for use on more finescale railways. 

Anyway, the R517 is popular and usually sells for around £20, but then on the MRC Second-hand sales web page, there was the Tri-ang version for a tenner! 

When the model arrived, it was mint. Even the original yellow tissue paper was in the box. It's too good to use on a model railway, so will head to the Tri-ang collection once I've finished playing with it.

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Rescuing brass parts superglued together


Look at this photo. What have I done wrong? 

Yes. Yet again, I've but the signal levers in their frames back to front. The hand grabs should be facing away from the signalman, and if the majority of the levers are off, as they should be, then I have them on the wrong side. You can tell that it's taken me a long while to spot this as they are at the painting stage. 

Now, I could ignore this, but since it's for a mag feature where I need to take close-up photos, the error had to be fixed. 

Assembly was with superglue, and it had set hard. With nothing to lose, I stuck them in a small jam jar with Zap superglue debonder on all the joins. These were left overnight to let the chemicals do thier job. 
In the morning, a little waggling released all the parts. Next, they parts had a batch in cellulose thinners to remove paint and glue. The remaining adhesive had turned to a rubbery substance a bit like a stiff Prit-stick. I picked this off using tweezers, and the result was a kit, ready for me to build all over again. 

This time, I paid attention and put them together properly. I'm pleased the debonder worked as well as it did. My fall-back was to take the levers outside and heat them up with a gas torch. However, doing that releases some rather nasty chemicals, so it's not an appealing choice.