Friday, December 31, 2021

Review of 2021 - the "work"

Since 2021 has been a year with more modelling for work than for leaisure, I thought it would be interesting to look at some selected highlights from the last 12 months. This isn't a comprehensive list of all the projects I've completed, but some of those I'm especially proud of. 

Starting with BRM, In the Spring issue, I took one of the then latest Metcalfe Models card kits and treated it to a little bit of an upgrade. Scribing the walls, sorting out the corners and tiling the roof made a big difference to what is a really nice kit to begin with. I think this is a step up from the manufacturer in terms of decoration, and with work, could find a home on most layouts. 

In April, I tackled a kit that has been on the shelf for year - Duncan Models road roller in 7mm scale. At the time I tried to provide an insight into working with whitemetal for those who have never encountered it before in their modelling - a larger group than it would have been 20 years ago when we all cut our teeth (figurativly, don't put whitemetal in your mouth kids) on the stuff. 

We stay with road vehicles in May, with a look at using Mr Hobby mud on a tractor. A new product to me, it's one I will certainly use again. 

In the same issue, there are a couple of signal boxes - a reworked Oxford ready to use version and a laser cut kit from Dexter's Cove models. A nice, sharp kit as I recall. 

One of the biggest kits I tackled is in June - a JS Models canal lock. Working on this taught me quite a bit about real locks, always a valuable part of the modelling hobby. 

In a normal year, August is holiday time for many, and where better to stay, than a modern camping coach? Taking one of the new Hornby generic models as a base, and then throwing a lot of it away, I built a reasonably accurate model of a coach you can currently rent out. 

Most projects are over and done with in a single issue, but a layout build can take a bit longer. My little OO and 009 diorama was just such a project. October saw the basic model with a full range of Geoscenics products and was followed with a detailed build of the engine shed in November. 

That wasn't the end though, and the spare space in one corner was soon filled with a weighbridge made from Intentio products. I also interviewed the company owner for our November Virtual Show.

There were also several layout shoots, more than I've carried out in previous years, but thanks to Covid, we had to pack more into a shorter period than normal which meant I needed to be out on the road.

Ffaquar Juntion was built by none other than the Rev W Awdry, creator of Thomas the Tank Engine. Aside from the interest in the man who built it, the model is a time capsule showing how model railways were built over 50 years ago and (to me) all the more interesting because of this. 

Copenhagen Fields will need no introduction to most railway modellers. Around the exhibition circuit for 25 years, it's a massive project that I was able to visit in its London home. This allowed me to bag some interesting new views not normally available to photographers at shows. They were very good about me plonking cameras in the scene...

Over in The Collector, I must mention the maddest diorama I've built. 

Inspired by the Basett-Lowke Steampunk range, a different take on a locomotive turntable, but on an alien planet!

I'm also pleased with the way a VW dealership came out. 

Adding LED lighting allowed me to take some really interesting shots and turned the build into something more than a straight assembly task.

There have been some fun videos produced. Sticking with the Steampunk theme, I built of of the "Brickpunk" kits, and ate some cake. 

 They say never work with children or anmials, but as far as kids go, my sidekick Erin in this review of the Hornby Playtrains range is a little star. 

Finally, for Garden Rail, a picture of the "layout in a day" built for the National Garden Railway Show. 

 Now, that one really WAS hard work!

Obviously, this isn't all I've done, there are loads of videos not mentioned, and a few interesting days out too, but looking back, I've not been idle!

Thursday, December 30, 2021

A new project in BRM plus a dirty narrow gauge loco

Can you weather a locomotive to look clean? 

I have a go with Heljan's latest - Lyn. Since this is the earliest livery in the range, it doesn't want to be filthy, but no real steam engine looked as clean as a fresh from the box ready to run model. 

Somehow, in a meeting, I ended up "volunteering" to build another small layout, this one in time to take to the London Festival of Railway Modelling in March. The prototype will be a small wagon repair works. I've already gathered quite a bit of scenic material, but to start with we need to do some planning. 

Talking of which, my video for BRMTV shows some of the methods I use to plan a layout - expecially a micro one where you have to make every inch of space count. 

Finally, I take a quick look at three ScaleModelScenery kits. 

All this in the February 2022 issue of BRM.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Festive Film Club: Build an N gauge Wickham Trolley

Time for a bit of N gauge kitbuilding. Sadly, this little Wickham is non-working, but it would still make a lovely scenic detail on a layout, and is a perfect intro to whitemetal fiddling.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Festive Film Club: Applying electrostatic grass

With everyone full of festive food and looking for some non-challenging stuff to watch, I thought I'd pop a few of the videos I've made for BRM on the blog. 

Is there anything that has changed the look of model railway layouts more than the introduction of electrostatic grass? 

Here, I show how I apply the magic fibres to a test piece and waive my hands around a lot.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Boxing day beer wagon build

Beer wagon

It's nice to recieve a project for Christmas, I know I don't need any more, but what the heck. 

Anyway, one for the garden railway is this Timpdon Models beer wagon. The wooden parts are laser cut, and the bogies look like Binne 32mm gauge peices. Attached with bolts, I'm thinking a spare set in 45mm would be a good idea for running in the garden. 

Anyway, something to build while watching Day of the Jackal on TV. I'll put a fuller review in the March issue of Garden Rail.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Build your own Pendon


Time to relax and build yourself a bit of Pendon - in jigsaw form. 

The museum has launched a series of online jigsaws showing verious scenes around the Vale scene, and you can chose to build 50,100, 200 or (for the real masochist) 300 pieces. 

It's nice relaxing fun, and if you send the link to friends, a good way to showcase the terrific modelmaking, perhaps planting the seed for a visit next year? 

Head to the Pendon jigsaws

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Getting some purchase

I'm not sure how this works, but it's much easier to turn a screw with a long screwdriver than a short one. As modellers, we tend to have little tools like the yellow-handled screwdriver on the right, but a recent couple of buys of much longer shafted tools doesn't half make life eaiser. 

We all have long screwdrivers of course, but not ones with tiny flat blades (this might just be me, but it's my blog etc...) and you can't fit a fat blade into the sort of screws that hold a Peco point motor on to the baseboard. 

The other advanage of the longer tool is it gets your hand out of the underside of the baseboard, and allows for a fatter handle to grip. All good. 

So, last-minute Crimbo present buying advice, get your modelling freinds bigger screwdrivers. You know they won't get around to buying them themselves!

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Ferrex Drill Saw bits

I've a layout building project on for BRM at the moment, and that means I need to install point motors, which means making neat slots for the operating pin to poke through. 

My tool of choice is a 3mm drill saw bit. I make a series of holes and then using the serated edge of the bit, join them into the required slot. This was proceding well, until the bit broke. 

Where to find a replacement? A quick web search threw up Screwfix, but their set is 6, 8 and 10mm. OK, I could probably work with this, but it's hardly ideal. 

The other result? Aldi. 

Yes, the German supermarket beloved of those on a budget, and the middle classes who like to be amazied at the bargains and the amusing foreign pastries. 

It seems I struck lucky, in their middle isle random stuff was a set of saw bits. I hopped in the car, taking advantage of their late opening, and after rooting around, found two packs. Each contains 3,4,5,8 and 8mm bits - perfect for most of my work. 

A couple of reviews on the website suggested they weren't all that great, but beggars can't be choosers. Having tried them, I can't see a problem. Comparing the old and new bits, maybe the serations are sharper on the old one, but I can't be sure. What I do know is that for installing point motors, they are perfectly good, and that's all that matters. 

It's not a store I'd ever expected to make an emergency tool run to though!

Monday, December 20, 2021

Weathering powder stand

Humbrol has changed the shape of the jars their weathering powders are supplied in. The change is a good one as the new wide mouth tub is easier to poke a brush in than the pervious bottle version - although more likely to be spilt I suppose. 

Anyway, they sent me a few samples (get me, the influencer!) to mag projects. I like to use the range as it's availability is normally pretty good and if someone wants to copy what I've done (the point of the exercise after all) then using some weird material isn't really on. 

Anyway, not long after the jars appears, Justin at ScaleModelScenery developed a neat laser-cut MDF rack to hold the things. He sells it as a set with powders, but will supply seperatly if asked. I asked. 

Assembly is simple, just glue the bits together with PVA glue. Pots fit, but not tightly. I was left with a couple of holes and found some Mig stuff that didn't rattle around too much. 

One benfit of using this holder is that you are less likely to spill powder. Good news, as it's the very devil to get out of clothes and the recesses of your workbench. As for washing your hands, has anyone found a soap that will do the job in one go? Never mind singing "Happy Birthday", just get some dark brown on your fingers and you'll wash any Covid away!

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Steam at Rowington

 An actual show!

Held at Rowington Village hall, my expectations had been a single trader (John Sutton, who organised it) and a couple of test tracks. In the event, there were eight traders and three layouts. As far as show go, it was a really good one if you fancied a little pre-Christmas spending. 

First layout in the doors was being run by Keith Foster, a very old friend, and the man who first taght me OO gauge kitbuilding. And one day I'll finish the Buckjumper kit was started well over 3 decades ago.He was running his much detailed Accucraft "Dolgoch" - a loco he know well having taken it to pieces at the TR and driven it for many years. 

At 12ft by 6, the circuit was very nicely finished and I found myself wondering if I could build something similar for myself. I have no idea where I'd put it, but dreaming is one of the few things we are still allowed to do. 

One highlight was the first sight of the Accucraft Peckett. Running on the stage (where it was very dark) it really looked good even though this pre-production model is still stiff and needing more running in. 

Cake was good, and the only time were maskless. Face coverings were on all but one person in the hall, which wasn't too busy either so felt reasonably safe. Subsequent LFT's have been negative, so we seemed to have got away with it.

The LGB loco? Well, my dad spotted it on a stall and decided that it would be perfect as a Christmas present. Since my mum has been asking him what he wanted, it ticked a box. The idea of a pre-Crinbo show makes a lot of sense, I heard at least one other person doing some present shopping!

As it was, a fun morning with lots of chat and a good time had by all. Since this is likely to be the last show for a very long time, I'm glad it was a good 'un

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Saturday Film Club: Failed VW Beetle replacements

The history of the VW is fascinating, and one aspect that is of interest to nerds like me is the huge variety of potential replacements Volkswagen looked as as potential replacements. 

Having a world-beating car on the books is a good thing, until your company leans on it too hard and for too long, and the rest of the industry moves on and you are left with something odd and obselete as your main product. 

History tells us that eventually the Golf came along and was another major success, but it's interesting to see what might have been.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Mick's mystery wagon

My friend, Mick Bonwick, passed away earlier this year. His loss to the model railway community is massive - if you've never read his blogs on RMweb covering weathering projects, you are in for a treat. 

Anyway, as you might expect, some of his model railway detritus arrived at the railway club for sale. Heaven knows what they will make of all my own tat, but I suppose I won't be there to care.I looked through and picked out a few weathering bits and this wagon. 

Why, you might ask. Well, for a start, I guessed no-one else would want it, and I always feel sorry for an underdog. 

Also, Pugh and Co. wagons were produced by Hornby in the 1980s and given away with new locos - I got one with my Jinty. These were red, and I wonder which is the more accurate colour. There's some nostalgia there.

It's a bit of a mystery. Mick wasn't (as far as I know) a collector, so why did he own this? 

Also, who made it? It's wooden with metal bits on the chassis, and wrapped in printed paper. I'm thinking an early Peco Wonderful wagon perhaps? 

Or maybe Merco or some other maker? Suggestions welcomed - I know you all love a challenge!

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Ulfstead Road of Mid-Sodor in NGW

A couple of months ago, I mentioned that my photos of Rev W Awdry's layout "Ffarquar Junction" were appearing in BRM. Well, while in Wales, I had the chance to shoot another of his models, the 009 "Ulfstead Road of Mid-Sodor". 

To be honest, I didn't know this layout existed until the custodians of the OO model mentioned it would be there, but obviously, I wasn't going to miss out on the chance to grab some images. 

These photos are now in the Jan-Feb 2022 issue of Narrow Gauge World. 

Better still, the words to accompany them have been writen by Richard Awdry - grandson of Wilbert - and someone I hadn't met for many years. In fact, the last time we talked, Richard was a young boy who accompanied his dad sometimes to whereever we were exhibiting the L&WMRS Thomas layout. It was a shock to realise just how much time had passed...

Ulfstead was built in 1970, the year I was born, and is a very traditional "rabbit-warren" style layout. A type of model railway that had fallen out of favour, but is enormously entertianing for the general public, and can be built in a very tiny space. 

Like Ffarquar, this is a model of it's time as well as being interesting because of the builder. I'm not sure it will be seen in public very often, so it you want to know more, you'll have to buy the magazine.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Making the cover of MRJ


The latest issue of MRJ has a Midland Railway theme, and the front cover is adorned with a Tony Wright photo of the late John Web's Ambergate layout. 

Who painted all the buildings on Ambergate? 

Me, that's who. I went through gallons of Humbrol 121, but it was all worth it as the results looks great. OK, probably more down to John's model making rather than my efforts with the brush, but at least I saved him time to more modelmaking. 

Obviously, now I've been on the cover of the finescale bible, my modelling credentials are confirmed and I can bathe in smugness...

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Why do I still get the new project buzz?


This little model occupied far more of my time than it had any right to this week. WHen the daily eBay alerts came in, a couple of clicks lead me to a listing for this Kymodel Mooring Tug kit

I was facinated as it looks like the hull and superstructure are a small series of larg plastic mouldings. OK, the boat is 35cm long, so not that large, but large and complicated on model boat terms. 

Digging around when I should have been doing some work, leads me to beleive that the parts are either 3D printed, or low-pressure ABS mouldings. My money is on the former, although I can't see any printing lines in photos. There is discussion of making the model watertight though, an issue with 3D printed boats (and submarines as one of our club members knows). 

At £114, the price isn't bad, and it's small enough for comfortable workbench building, but large enough (as seen in this video) to sail on a normal model boating pond. It will even pull a load withouth falling over, which is quite impressive. 

The problem is - even if it landed in my lap, I'm still short of the urge to make anything. I'm not short of projects. I'm sure there is even a similar size boat kit in the stash. If there isn't, I know I have plans for a scratchbuild. I managed to sternly tell myself this long before the credit card starting calling.

Should I think the buzz of a potential new project is a good thing? Not sure really, as it's never entirely gone away. Over the last three months, a tiny numbers of kits have been added to the pile. Admitedly, these are models that I've fancied for many years (over 30 on one case) and are on eBay searches as much to scratch an itch as anything else. 

While I'd hope to have plenty more years left in me, I still wonder if I have already built a stash too large for me to ever hope to build. Maybe if a lottery win left me with no need to work, and able to build that perfect workshop. But then I'd have the cash to buy even more projects, so maybe it would never end!

Why is it that the new project buzz is so strong? I know I'm not alone in feeling this.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Saturday Film Club: The Model

 A superb cover. And there is a toy train connection...

Thursday, December 09, 2021

Garden Rail January 2022


It's cold outside, so we've come indoors to look at the amazing Gauge 3 layout, Chalfont. Standard gauge modelling in 1:22.5 scale is rare, but you can enjoy it on our pages, and then see the model for real at our Doncaster exhibition in February.

On the workbench, we have a museum-quality model of Dolgoch station, built with easy-to-follow methods, take a look at weathering your models and build a Pickering coach. Those with green fingers will enjoy our guide to plants perfect for your garden line. 

All this and the latest news for the large-scale modeller.

Sunday, December 05, 2021

Looking for my mojo in a Lego Beetle


My creative mojo is still missing - I can get on with work, but enthusiasm for making anything for fun just isn't there. All those projects aquired in fits of eagerness over the years aren't calling to me. Even part finished models like the Hudswell Clarke shunter sit on the workbench, untouched for weeks. 

A bit part of this is that I'm busy. Very busy. And that's dented passion for pretty much anything I used to enjoy. Not a good place to be, but there are many who are far worse off, so I can't complain. And if I do, people are welcome to tell me to shut up. Even if I'm whining about a Windows re-install suddenly forced on me right when things were manic...

The good news is that the workload should start to ease right now. And with a bit of luck, I'll have some downtime I want to fill with interesting and unusual stuff, which can then appear on here. 

So, for the moment, posts will still be sporadic, and very likely a bit random, but then this is my blog - if I want to be wierd, then that's my perogative. Sorry about this (not the weirdness, the lack of posts).

However, the other evening, I found time to unpack and build a Lego Beetle  that has been kicking around my office for many months. Truth is, I can't remember when I bought it, possibly over a year ago. 

Anyway, a very pleasent hour was spent putting the bricks together. OK, you can argue it's not "proper" modelling, but it's a box off the pile and more importantly, I enjoyed it. As I always say, if you are enjoying a hobby, you are doing it right. 

Saturday, December 04, 2021

Saturday Film Club: The 10 most interesting transport systems in the world

I know travel isn't an option at the moment, a situation unlikley to change for a few years, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy a bit of virtual tourism. 

Despite being very poorly travelled, I can actually claim to have ridden on a couple of these: The Hong Kong "Ding Dings" and Adelaide O-Bahn, but I'd love to visit the number one on this list...

Friday, December 03, 2021

Virtual Show this weekend


As you read this, I, and the rest of the team, will be finishing up all the important tasks ahead of this weekends Big World of Railways Virtual show. 

A whole weekend of features - with something new every 15 minutes plus a full layout lineup to enjoy. We've packed in more than ever before thanks to some very long hours gathering exciting and interesting content for you. 

And it's all free, so don't bother getting dressed, just get sat in front of the computer and enjoy!

Thursday, December 02, 2021

Cottages, layouts and heavy metal in BRM


In the January issue of BRM, I'm takling an old kit - the Dapol thatched cottage, which I've built in mildly and very modified versions. 

While the kit has been around since the 1950s, it's still manufactured by Dapol and so there's still a good reason for modeller to have a play with it. 

You might wonder what inspired this build, well, I've been out with the camera and spotted a couple of thatched cottages on Hadarford. 

An interesting 009 layout, it's built in to a traditional coal-carrying canal boat, which happens to spend time moored pretty close to where I live.

There's a lot of challenges if you chose to build afloat, but the owner has managed, and the results ia lovely, detailed layout. 

However, in a first, I've bagged a second photo shoot in this issue, this time with the N gauge layout Meldon West. 

With a scenic section only 2 1/2 feet long, this is very much a Phil type of layout. Highly detailed, it shows the potential of N gauge, and I hope it inspires many more similar models. 

Finally, on BRM TV, I have a chat with Carl Hart from Hornby, to learn a bit more about injection moulding. 

As well as being interesting and education, I get to do some spotting of interesting blocks in the Hornby storage area.

 All this in the January 2022 issue of BRM

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Warehouse Wednesday: Nissen Hut

Nissen Hut

Spotted near Margate, a cracking Nissen Hut, and a lesson to take photos when you see them. 

I first spotted this the evening before, and the light on it was perfect. Of course, I was focussed on fiding some fish'n'chips (it had been a long drive to the hotel) and so decided I'd grab a shot the next morning as there wan't any pressure on time. 

In the morning, the sun was behind the hut, messing with the camera setting in a way even fiddling with Photoshop can't cure. 

This doesn't make it any less interesting of course.