Monday, May 31, 2021

Kyle of Lochalsh

Kyle of Lochalsh 

Since it's a bank holiday today, a couple of holiday snaps from 2008. 25 May to be precise - a whopping 13 years ago! I did a little tour by train, which I wrote up on another blog when I aspired to be a travel writer. 

I stayed a few says in Inverness, and used the time to take train rides to the extreme ends of the lines, hence ending up in Kyle. It's a station that I'd seen many photos of, but never visited. As it was, much of the infrastructure, such as the sidings that used to be on the right hand side of the station in the view above, has gone. It's still worth the trip though.

Kyle of Lochalsh

Thanks to Covid, it's now been 15 months since I set foot on a train - my favourite form of transport. That's something I could never have comprehended back then, so who knows what the future holds?

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Big shoes to fill


 I was once minding the stage door when Ken Dodd came off stage. He looked at my shoes and said "By jove - are you a copper?" I said I wasn't, to which he replied, "Well you should be. You know what they say about blokes with big feet don't you."

What they say is you can't buy Choo Choo Shoes. 

These should be compulsory wear for model railway shows. We can get our revenge on those noisy DCC layouts!

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Saturday Film Club: Talbot Rancho review


Everyone remembers a car from their childhood that they loved the look of. For me, there were two - a TR7 and the Talbot/Matra Rancho. I've mentioned my love of the French soft-roader on this blog before.

Now, Rancho's aren't exactly common any more. They rusted fast and now there are currently three left on the road in the UK

One of those appears in this video - and I still think it's a very good looking car. Sadly, it is a bit rubbish in the driving stakes we are told, but I still want one. Just to look at.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Hornby Hundred Point of Sale


Another addition to the Hornby collection - this A3(ish) size advert for the companies centenary. 

Point of sale material is always popular with collectors. Most of it ends up in the bin, but looks great alongside all the trains etc. I liberated this piece from a model shop for a fiver. Yes, I paid for something out-of-date that should go in the bin. 

Worse, I then bent it carrying the thing by catching it in a doorway while carrying it out of the house. It's not badly damaged, but the corrugated plastic board folded and now there is a slight crease line on the front and back face. I'm annoyed, but I can live with it. 

When they announced plans for the anniversary, Hornby showed us gentlemen of the press a whole range of POS pieces. I'm still looking out for a "shelf wobbler"!

So, look out for this stuff. Squirrel it away for the future. In a few year, when most is in the bin, collectors will shell out for it. In terms of investment potential, it's better than Dublo tinplate nowadays.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Hibberd Planet diesel


I can't remember exactly how long ago I built this model, but I know the chassis, a rewheeled Tenshodo SPUD, was written up in Modelling Railways Illustrated, so I guess that means it would be 1996 or 1997ish. 

Built from a Nonneminstre Models whitmetal kit, the parts are superglued together using Zap-a-Gap green, thus proving that models built with glue can have long lives. The castings were nice and clean, so assembly didn't take me very long.

I didn't actually want to build a 4mm scale model of this loco. The plan had been to build it in 7mm scale for the O gauge layout at our club. Unable to find a plan, I decided that if I bought the OO version, I could just measure the boxy bodywork and replicate it in plastic at a larger scale. That project is still on the to-do list.


Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Warehouse Wednesday: Whitechapel bell foundry


Hat tip to Duncan Young for this one - it seems that plans to redevelop the famous Whitechapel bell foundry into a poncy hotel have been given the green light by both the local council and centra Government. (BBC story)

Obviously this is a good thing as London doesn't have nearly enough posh places to lay your head, and we wouldn't want any of that pesky manufacturing near the short of shops that consider sun-dried tomatoes to be a basic foodstuff. 

I'm sure the conversion won't change the facade too much, but let's enjoy a photo of the original - and very modelable version.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Book Review: Rails Across the Isle of Man in the 1950s


Let's be honest. I'm a sucker for any book with photos of Isle of Man trains or trams in it. You don't need to put many pictures between the covers before I know a copy is going to be added to my bookshelves. 

Spotting this latest addition to the world of Manx trains, I pre-ordered a copy knowing there wasn't any point in pondering whether I'd buy a copy. It's not the most expensive at £9.99 and I don't know when I'll get to Mona's Isle to pick up a copy. 

If I'm honest, I hadn't expected much. Just some more photos a lot like the hundreds I already have. But I was wrong. 

First, the basics - 64 pages. Softback cover. 20cm square. All photos, except the cover, well reproduced in black and white with good length captions. 

The surprise though was to find a clear shot of the Douglas Head funicular. One where you can see the car properly. 

Then there is a view of Foxdale from an angle I've never seen before. One that gives me an idea what happens at the end of the station, and clearly shows the uneven platform edge. One day I'll build that model, and when I do, this will be a big help. 

The prize though is a shot of Sea Lion rock cafe on the Groudle Glen. I have never seen any photos of this before. I didn't really know what existed out there. Now I do. I'd have paid for just this one picture (I am a GGR obsessive after all). 

With more examination, I'm sure there are other gems that I haven't spotted, but they won't beat these three. 

So, I expected little and am astounded. How can there be more photos turning up of this little island? 

I bought my copy of Rails Across the Isle of Man in the 1950s from the Lexicon Bookshop in Douglas by mail order.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Jones the Steam


Along with mini-Tag, came Jones the Steam from the Ivor the Engine series. At 8cm tall, he's a lot smaller than Tag, but still looks a lot like his 2D cartoon TV version. 

Ivor was telly trains for me. I'm too old for TV Thomas the Tank, but I loved the Postgate drawings and stories set in North Wales. In the corner of my bedroom for a long while was a dragon made from a cardboard box and of course, called Idris. 

My version wouldn't have fitted in the firebox of a small engine, he started life (I think) as a box a boiler came in, and I could sit inside. His head was made from a shoebox and he liked to eat the waxy corrugated paper from chocolate boxes. 

Anyway, Ivor is a little tricky to pin down. His boiler suit is grey/blue and he sports hi-viz for safety. It wasn't very hi-viz on the screen so I used a suitably dull orange chosen because it was the only orange I could find in my paint collection. 

One area I don't think I have right is the neckerchief. I went for a red check on white, but with hindsight, I think it should be white spots on red. Oh well, he must have had more than one. 

All I need now is an Ivor. There is a kit available, but I doubt I could live with those wheels and so construction would be a more challenging affair. On the other hand, I wouldn't fancy my chances of replicating the livery any other way. 

Never mind, Jones will just have to drive other locos for a while. I'm sure he'll enjoy the challenge. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

I want you to pay for my train set!


There's been a little consternation online that someone has set up a GoFundMe campaign to solicit donations towards building his new O gauge layout. From what I've seen, people are not in favour, and at the time of writing, a couple of days after it went live, no money has been raised. Having said that, just because a few people online are grumpy, doesn't mean there is anything wrong with a plan.

The first big Internet pan-handling website was - set up by TV producer Karyn Bosnak in 2002. After a move to New York, she racked up $20,000 on her credit cards which wasn't a problem until redundancy came knocking. 

Setting the site up, she was completely honest that the debt was her own fault, but argued that if enough kind people gave her a little hand, she could be debt free with lessons learned. The site documented her selling possessions and also receiving donations until the cards were paid off. 

Along the way, she took a lot of flack from those who disapproved of her actions, as well as spawning many imitators also looking for a handout. In the end, she had the last laugh, turning the story onto an entertaining book, which was then optioned for a film, although this hasn't appeared yet. 

The key to her success, was she entertained people with regular posts on the site explaining how to avoid falling in to the same debt hole, and chronicling her efforts to get out of it. That, and being one of the first to do it, and certainly the first to garner media attention. I remember reading the website and being fascinated by the journey, even though I didn't pay a cent towards the trip. 

Some have looked at the model railway pan-handling (to use an American term) and suggested it's no different from applying to a model railway club committee for funds. I disagree. In this case, you are applying as part of a team. The committee will weigh up the space required and number of members in the group as well as the money. I've seen an application for what was basically one-man project rejected within minutes, not helped by the applicant having gone trough every model catalogue hoping to build in every operating gizmo possible on a layout with no basis in reality (it wasn't me).

Also, a club layout is just that. It's a layout owned by a club, and generally intended to be taken to shows, partly to promote the club. It's not something owned by one bloke in his back garden shed. 

The bigger problem I see for anyone looking for donations towards their project is that just like Bosnak, you are going to have to entertain the crowd. She imagined her role as a street performer rather than a beggar - payment was in the same manner as a busker passing around the hat at the end of a performance, and that's how many of those who sent money saw it too. 

Now, what happens if you have raise a hundred quid for your layout from five people? They expect results, but that cash won't buy you a single loco. No matter, they will expect to see progress and don't care if you are short of funds, they have paid, now dance for the money! I'm sure I wouldn't like to be on the end of the abuse that this might generate. 

Raising funds for model railways via the crowd doesn't have a good track record. There are a couple of very well-known modellers with Patreon accounts that bring in nothing more than a tiny trickle of income, despite all the effort that goes into producing video content. Even YouTube isn't the goldmine that the media would have you believe and the pressure is always going to be on to produce more content, and for each new piece to be more outrageous that the last. Yes, you can get a lot of views by slagging off RTR models, but each time, the stakes need to be raised a bit or the audience gets bored and wanders off. 

Basically, people want to be entertained. They don't want to pay for that entertainment either. 

Could this work? 

In theory yes it could. Keep entertaining the punters, make them feel they are part of the project and the money might keep rolling in. It would be terrifically hard work, far harder then simply building the model, or just getting a job to bring in the money conventionally. Standards will need to be high, or the armchair modellers will throw a strop. It's probably best to explain the standards you'll build to up front.A proper project plan with a timeline would be a good idea, although being realistic about this might put people off.

A bigger problem will be that if it works, there will be copycats and many of these will definitely fail, leaving those who have given money out-of-pocket with nothing to see. You can be sure those people will be on forums venting their spleen.  

Looking for donations towards your layout isn't illegal. As long as you make it clear what people are getting, or not, then no-one can complain. That won't stop them, welcome to the Internet.

(Incidentally, if you want to contribute to this free-to read blog, just click on the advert on the side every so often. It won't cost you anything, and I get a tiny amount of cash. You might  even discover some interesting new products!)

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Saturday Film Club: Steam trams in the Netherlands

I'm not one for colourised films normally, but this has been subtly done, and the pictures are so interesting, that I'm happy to enjoy the results. 

There's so much to see in this film from the 1920s apart from the trams. Fashions, street scenes and all the background we need for modelling. All this from a period when WW1 will be very recent memory.

Friday, May 21, 2021

The BIG Hornby Rocket

Hornby Rocket and coach 

Since we had a look at the large scale Hornby coach last Friday, I thought it would be worth a quick spin around the matching locomotive today. 

Produced between 1976 and 1978, the 3 1/2 inch gauge set was one of the Margate firm's madder ideas - which is why I had to have one in my collection. The model appeared to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Liverpool and Manchester railway in 1980. Why this was marked by the production of a 1/16th scale model and not just a reissue of the Tri-ang model is a mystery. 

Powered by a gas tank under the tender barrel, the development of this model must have been an interesting challenge. It doesn't really have the model engineering chops you might expect for the scale, but there is some very clever stuff going on. 

For a start, the rods don't drive the wheels directly. Instead, they drive a hidden 2:1 ratio set of gears to slow the top speed and increase torque. As it turns out this was a good move since the model is notoriously under-powered. A review at the time suggested it would shift two coaches, but only in a straight line. 

Much of this will be down to the intended market. A model engineer who scratchbuilds a Rocket can usually be trusted not to blow himself up. This was pointed at the toy market, so needed a lot more care and safety features built in. 

The boiler only holds 2.5ozs of water (4.5 level tablespoonfuls), under the cladding, it's tiny. Around it is plenty of insulation, which if it got wet, was a pig to dry out and pretty much prevented any sort of operation until every trace of moisture had left. Getting it wet was easy if you overfilled the boiler through the filler under the dome. Measuring your liquid was pretty much essential.

Gas tanks are prone to splitting, but nowadays, metal replacements are available. Lighting the "fire" is achieved by holding a match under the firebox.

On the track, you give it a shove letting condensate clear. To reverse, hold the wheel and rotate the cranks 180 degrees. 

My model was bought from the Train Shop in Warwick back in 1993. It had sat on the shelf for a long while and wasn't in the best of condition. Paint had peeled in many places, my retouching at the time wasn't impressive. However, it was cheap and the only way at the time I could hope to afford what, to me, was a very desirable model. 

Nowadays, Rocket G100 sets, are still seen pretty regularly at shows and online. Prices are climbing, although I'm sure mine isn't an "investment" in any sense. Along with the coaches, it's a bit battered, but I don't really care.

Now, if you want a real investment, track down the static version offered as a kit by Hornby. These are properly rare. I nearly bought one in York once, but decided to pick a Caledonian Pug instead. Well, I could run it on my train set, and it was a very pretty livery...

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Glazing over locks in BRM


June 2021 BRM sees me building a substantial model - a canal lock from JS Models. This is one of the bigger kits I've ever built and looks superb. I even nipped out to Hatton Locks for a bit of prototype research. Locks are one of those things we've all seen, but have we really seen them? 

On BRMTV, I take a look at glazing windows in models and some of the options, and materials for this common job. As someone who never managed to build an Airfix Spitfire with a clear canopy, even after other models were perfect, I'm obviously the person to do this.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021



The K's Y8 was the second loco kit I ever bought. I spotted it on the club second hand stall, it was within my meagre budget, and being small, I thought I could build it. 

Small locos can come with big problem, and in this case it a missing final drive gear saw the model sit in the cupboard for many year. Those tiny wheels meant a normal gear was too large to fit. K's had produced their own - but it was missing from my kit. 

That didn't stop me assembling the body with glue, but after that, progress halted. 

Years later, Autocom offered an etched chassis along with gearsets, and I think, newly6 made Romford wheels to replace the kit plastic centred versions. I snapped up the pack (finances being a bit better by this point), stripped my model down and built it all over again. 

Left looking reasonably clean, the Y8 handled the Melbridge Dock passenger train if there wasn't a new loco that needed running in on this simple turn. 

Heaven knows how old this model is now - it's at least 30 years since I bought the kit initially. The photo is a little unkind, but it would benefit from refurbishment, but then it's run like this for so long, I'm loath to do anything. After all, it has provided good service for years in this form, a bit of me thinks it would be unfair to the model. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

The most Leamington Spa product ever...

In the past, I have been forced to explain to people that the life of a model railway writer doesn't mean being on the receiving end of endless free gifts from grateful manufacturers. However, it's also not completely devoid of it either. 

Scalemodelsecenery regularly send out small packs of their latest products unexpectedly. It's a clever move as I often dip in to the pile when working on projects, for which they receive a little bit of publicity. It's made easier, because the products are good and fit my modelling readily, so this saves me time, and the magazines a few pennies. It's even been known for Justin to develop a product I've asked for and them put it in the range.

The latest bundle included what I think is the most Royal Leamington Spa product ever. For those who don't know the town, the centre has some Regency buildings and the residents, at least those who need to write to the local newspaper all the time, like to think it should be pickled in aspic. Anything new or modern should be banned in an effort to preserve the historic look, even though some of the "regency" buildings went up in the 1970s. These are people who went to court, and lost, to keep a hotel in the centre as a boarded up shell rather than let Travelodge buy it and make alterations.

Anyway, the prevailing colour is beige. I once looked out of a pub window to see a small van that had delivered a man to paint a beige shop front beiger at 10pm. If you want colourful buildings, go somewhere else. 

So, the sheets of Magnolia Painted Rendered Wall made me chuckle. It's the dream colour for our more vociferous residents. They will buy it by the ton!

Monday, May 17, 2021

Painting Tag


If you are a long-term Garden Rail reader, the name you will most readily associate with the magazine is my illustrious predecessor, Tag Gorton. For many, he is Mr Garden Railway, and as such, was immortalised by Rob Bennet as a 16mm scale figure years ago.

Thanks to an eBay auction, I picked up a mini-Tag for a tenner, along with Jones the Steam. Obviously, I will need to add him to the collection so he can appear on my railways. Which meant finding a reference photo. 

The only one I have shows Manfred R. Meliset, former editor of Garten Bahn magazine, Tag and myself. From a painting point of view - it would have been nice if he'd worn a plain shirt! Still, if a job is worth doing...

Adding glasses to the figure, something also required on 3D printed people, is a challenge. I bent some brass wire around a small screwdriver and the result looks OK, and in keeping with the cartoony look of the little person. 

Now, to paint the Welsh driver.

Sunday, May 16, 2021



I can't think of anything interesting to say today, so here is a picture of a foghorn on the Isle of Man.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Saturday Film club: The Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Branch Railway


A really nice video covering the FT&OCR putting it in the context of the Festival of Britain. For those interested in the wider subject beyond the railway will enjoy the footage showing the sites now. 

There's some decent production values here, with a good script and some research. It's the right length too - so many YouTube films go on too long for their material, but this doesn't overstay its welcome.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Video: The Hornby 3 1/2 inch gauge Rocket coach


You know how it it - you buy a new model and feel the need to record an unboxing video to go with it. 

Well, this isn't exactly new - it's the G104 4-wheel coach from the late 1970s, but it's new to me and I had an idea for a moving look around. 

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Going modular in June Garden Rail


It's showtime!
We look forward to the National Garden Railway Show, in Peterborough. One of the highlights of the display is a giant, modular layout built by members of the 16mm Association. We take a look at the system and explain how you can get involved in the future. 
On the workbench, we have one of the most eye-catching locomotives ever seen on our pages, a South African Class 91 diesel. There's also an Isle of Man station, budget radio control and a good look at rivets and how we can model them. 
All this, plus the latest round-up of new products for the large-scale modeller, letters and our readers own models, in the June issue of Garden Rail. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Concrete prefab huts


I know nothing about these buildings, other than when travelling to Rocks by Rail for some filming a couple of weeks ago, I new when I saw them I'd have to stop on the way home to take photos. Even the design is new to me, although they are modular, so presumably these can be found elsewhere.

I'm not even sure where I found them as it was the edge of a village. However, if it helps, all these images are full-size if you click on them. There is some great modelable detail here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Smoke & Steam

Smoke & Steam

Something new in railway publications launched last week - Smoke & Steam is a new bookazine from World of Railways.

My contribution is a piece on weathering model steam locomotives. There's isn't a lot of modelling content in here, but as publishers of BRM, we were obviously put a little in. 

The bulk of the articles are well-written prototype pieces by respected authors. Each is a long-form article with plenty of illustration. To ensure quality, those same writers have "peer reviewed" each other and changes made. In addition, the BRM team have had a look as well. 


Following the Flagman - Dover’s seafront railway – Paul Isles

Forgotten Railways - The Peak District mainline – Graham Nicholas

Iconic stations: Exploring Salisbury – Graham Muspratt

Travelling in style: The Cornish Riviera Express – Adrian Vaughan

Mallard: A Pictorial Journey – Tony Wright

Semaphore Signalling - Why the GWR was different – Mike Romans 

There’s only one Edinburgh Waverley – Ian Lamb

Restoring an SR Merchant Navy – Graham Musprattt

Goods locomotives of Buckingham – Tony Gee

Moving Into BR - the GWR becomes the Western Region  - Mike Romans

Weathering a locomotive – Phil Parker 

I'll admit I have a favourite - Following the flagman - because of the cracking images of dockside steam locos including P class and B4 tanks. With one of the later in the "to do" pile, I'm not going to bother looking much further for my prototype. 

Last week, I was in the office and got my paws on the test shop (an EP in toy train terms) and was mightily impressed. This doesn't feel like a bookazine, it's a softback book. The paper quality is very high as a coffee-table publication was the aim, and I think it's more than there.

You might say "Well, you would say that" - and I'd certainly have told you that I had an article in there as I always do, but not be quite so impressed. The gestation process for this publication has been protracted, but mainly due tot he effort put in to make it as good as possible and not a cheap/quick mag to grab a few quid. There's enough of those already!

At £9.99 for the paper version, this isn't cheap, but the money is all on the page. The plan is to get this in WH Smith later in the year, but if you want a copy now, they can be ordered in both paper and digital forms right now. 

Smoke & Steam - Paper version. 

Smoke & Steam - Digital version.

Monday, May 10, 2021

The perfect boiler empty kit?

I'm getting in to running live steam models - far more then I expected to if I'm honest. They do need maintaining though and in my mind, one of the important post-run jobs is to empty the boiler of water. Getting liquid out is harder then putting it in, so when placing another order for rail clamps, I stuck this Boiler Emptying kit on the list at the same time.
What arrives is a syringe with a 20cm long vinyl (I think) hose that is 4.5mm in diameter.
It seems long enough to get into the recesses of both the Mamod and Willi boilers. According to the website, you are supposed to use it when the water is cold, but I didn't realise. The pipe became more flexible, but otherwise suffered no ill effects. It's stiffened up now anyway. Still very flexible though.

 I'm sure someone will tell me the whole thing could be made for tuppence ha'penny or something - and I did make my own but the tube was a big fat. Putting a modified pipette on the end helped, but this is a lot better. And I don't think a fiver is a lot to spend on keeping my engines working.

Sunday, May 09, 2021

A nerdy day out in Rugby

 Needing a to have a day out last Sunday, I finally got around to doing something I've been meaning to for years - taking some photos of Rugby cement works. 

While I'm sure many people will consider it ugly, every time I drive by on the way to the office, it fascinates me. 

A bright Sunday provided a great opportunity to wander around and take some shots of all the odd-shaped buildings. Access isn't great, but then that's no surprise. Plenty of trees around the edges of the site camouflage things a little too, so getting in before they are in full leaf isn't a bad idea either. 

I've no idea what most of these buildings do, but simply as a guide for concrete colours and interesting industrial shapes, they are worth a look. 

After this, I trundled to the railway station, out of curiosity more than anything else. Here, I found  Euro car park that offered a superb view of the main line from the upper deck. A bit of a fight with the parking website later, I'd paid my pound for the day, and sat reading while trains went by. 

Traffic, on a Sunday, is mostly Pendalios and other sorts of units, so I didn't bother with many photos. There were a couple of freights with proper locos on the front though. 

For a few hours, I just enjoyed sitting reading and watching trains. Very restful, I'll do it again one day.

Saturday, May 08, 2021

Saturday Film Club: Building a 1/4 scale flat four engine


I remember seeing this range of plastic kit engines for the first time at the London Toy Fair a few years ago.At the time I was happy they didn't make a VW engine. But now it seems this has changed, and this video doesn't reduce my desire to build one.

 Must resist...

(Get yours from Amazon)

Friday, May 07, 2021

Unboxing: Hornby R8133 Timber Yard


 I've not seen this operating accessory mentioned in the past - so here we go with an unboxing video. Thrill to the exciting action, but remember, no more then three logs!

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Reconnecting the track


I'm not sure why there was a section of curve disconnected from the garden railway circuit. Nor do I know where the space rail clamps had gone. 

A quick order to and another packet of clamps was mine. Then a quick tidy up of the ends, some Piko conductive paste, and the circuit was complete again. 

Looking at the rest of the line, the clamps fitted last year have worked perfectly. Nothing has moved, so getting the line running didn't involve clambering around sliding rail back into fishplates. 

The battery powered Piko track cleaner quickly found itself trundling around, shortly followed by steam power with Willi. Track power can wait for a bit as there are plans to move the mains powerpoint, just as soon as we can find an electrician who will actually turn up and do competent work!

All this highlights the plight of the station area. I didn't clamp this, partly for looks, but mostly because the things are so pricey. However, it's obvious that this is money well spent, so more have been ordered. As soon as the weather plays ball, another chunk of railway will be lifted and relaid. 

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Book Review: Phone Kiosks of the Isle of Man

Let's not beat around the bush - there are few books more calculated to get me to hit the "Buy now" button that one that combines my twin interests of the Isle of Man, and telephone kiosks. 

I might be a niche market, but it's a very comfortable niche. 

The book tours Mona's Isle with a selection of captioned photos of various kiosks and their surrounding scenery. 

The author has looked beyond the classic K6 box and includes some of the modern(ish) KX1000 range. With these being very much under threat, it's only fair that they get a look in before they are also only a memory on our streets - after all, when was the last time you saw a Mercury kiosk?  

Most excitingly for 'phone box nerds, the island is home to three K8 boxes!

I'll admit, this book looks a lot like my photo collection. At least two scrapbooks full of similar photos exist on my shelves, and countless files on my computer. The thing is, photographing a 'phone box is a great way to learn composition. It's a standard item, so the skill is making each one look its best. Great fun!

For me, this is a great way to look around the Island's lesser know spots. Some I'm familiar with. Others less so but I'll look up if and when we can travel again. 

Production is very good. Photos are well reproduced in colour. The captions are long enough - after all, there's not that much you can say each time!

It's nice to see many boxes being repurposed as defibrillator holders or mini libraries. Our streetscape would be poorer without them. 

I bought my copy from the Lexicon Bookshop in Douglas.

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Rocket waggons in the Hornby Collectors Club magazine


No, not wagons with rockets on them. Not even a train for the Battlespace Turbo car, but loads for the waggons (note the extra g) sold to compliment the Hornby Stephenson's "Rocket". 

The pack of three flats is interesting and took a little digging to work out exactly what should be on the back of them.

Contemporary illustrations are pretty much useless as artists seemed to have no concept of drawing what they saw - the results are almost cartoons that bear no relation to reality. 

Not to worry, I found a historian who could explain, and then went away to build the models. 

I think the results look the part and aren't particularly difficult to make. There's even a model boat used for added variety. 

Hornby Collectors Club. 

Monday, May 03, 2021

Vote Cakebox!


It's the last day of voting in the latest BRM Cake Box challenge competition. 

All the entries are terrific, and the result of some serious hard work on the part of those builders responsible. If I'm honest, I don't think I could pick a favourite, but handily, I don't have to!

You can see all the models, and vote for one here. 

Please have a look, there is a lot of cracking modelling to be found. Who knows what you will be inspired to do yourself?

Sunday, May 02, 2021

Millimetres are here to stay, get over it.


Catching up with the May issue of Model Boats magazine, there is an expanded letters page where the newish editor gives space to all the worst moaners. Since taking up the post, she has shaken up the magazine a bit (IMHO, it needed it) and of course, not everyone is happy. 

Much like Internet trolls, the writers of these letters don't expect them to make it into print. When they do, and I've done the same trick myself, they get a bit of a shock. 

The overall theme is "curmudgeonly"

Basically, there are some old blokes who extrapolate from themselves to decide what should appear on the page. 

I can't work out which is the funniest beef:

"There's too much Navy" - in a model boats magazine? 

"Since our club has only one steam boat in it, we don't need all this steam stuff" - then you need a better club mate. Ours has several boats and even offer a boiler testing service.I would suggest that we aren't alone judging by the number of steam boats on show on engineering event boat club stands.

But I think the prize has to go to:

"Another gripe I must make is why do we have to put up with metric measurement? Our own way was by far the best and as an old guy get totally confused with metres." 

Now, I'm half a century old and was only ever taught metric at school. Imperial got a mention, but if I want to measure accurately, it's metres, centimetres and millimetres for me. I'll happily say something is 15 feet away when estimating, but when the ruler comes out, I remember I have 10 fingers. 

So, in over 50 years, the writer hasn't worked out how to count to ten. That's not a huge problem, as there's no reason not to quote both, but to demand that metric is ignored because he's too lazy to look at the other side of the ruler? Hmmm

Of course, I am assuming he wants imperial measurements. When he says "our own way", he might be thinking hands, cubits and licks. Or perhaps he wants to go back to the days when a foot was 11 1/42 inches long? After all, isn't that more traditional?  

If any hobby is going to continue into the future, there's no point denying the present. I'm uncomfortable with 3D printing in some respects. I'm no fan of DCC control - but I know these and other developments will continue to occur and we might as well live with them and enjoy the benefits.

If you want your hobby to die with you, and I think there are people in every hobby who wish for this, then carry on refusing progress. No-one is forcing you, personally, to move with the times. Your boat can use canvas sails and a self-steering mechanism instead of radio control. Just don't try to force this on everyone else.

Saturday, May 01, 2021

Saturday Film Club: The river Thames in 1959


Time to don the rose tinted glasses and take a super-saturated trip with the Look at Life team, along the river Thames. In those days, the Port of London was still operating with cargo ships in sight of Tower Bridge.