Friday, May 20, 2022

Wuiske Models bag

 John Sheldrake and Phil Parker

My Betties bag collection is growing into a more general model shop bag collection. The latest addition is this cloth bag from Wuiske Models in Queensland, Australia

I met John Sheldrake on a tour last week. We were riding on the observation coach "Caroline" and he'd brought some fascinating tickets and this bag with him. For a donation to the cancer charity, the bag became mine. 

John had travelled to the UK mainly for this once-in-a-lifetime tour, a perfect example of getting into model railways and seeing the world. I'm no great traveller, but I've managed both Australia and Canada because of my interest, not to mention many, many interesting places in the UK. 

I don't know Queensland, but thanks to Google Streetview, I've spent a few minutes touring Jandowae, even if I can't find the model shop! It certainly looks like the rural Australia I imagine which is facinating. 

Anyway, thanks John. Definitely a rare addition to the pile!

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Recycling an old layout in BRM

What do you do with an old model railway? You rebuild it of course. 

Model railway

Starting with "Casket Yard", the layout built to fit in a plastic box a couple of years ago, I've totally changed its look from a country yard, to an urban shunting puzzle. This month, I'm ripping things up and starting on the rebuild, next time, the job will be finished. 

Little Salkeld

My latest photo shoot is of Paul Moss's "Little Salkeld" - an N gauge layout set in a Cumbrian village. It's always interesting to see how these photos look on the page, and I'm very happy. More to the point, so is Paul. 

Digital readers have a photo gallery of the unused shots - I always take far too many so the editorial team can chose the ones that they like best. 

Over on BRM TV, you have a Phil double-bill. 

John Barner - Rails of Shefield.

 and then I look at operating an Inglenook layout, with my new project!

All this in the June issue of BRM.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Warehouse Wednesday: Prefab bungalow

Prefab house

A recent research trip to Avoncroft Building Museum gave me the chance to grab a few photos of what I think is the most interesting building there - the prefab bungalow. I appreciate this is a controversial view, but all the medieval buildings don't do much for me on their own. This one has life, and I can imagine living in it.

Prefab house window

Mind you, I was as interested in the garden shed. You don't see things like this much now, but once they were everywhere. And yes, it IS ugly.

Prefab shed

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Entering the Red Room


While at Shepton Mallet a few weeks ago, I found myself with time to nip along to the Haynes Motor Museum. As a regular reader of the manuals that paid for the place, I was curious to see what it looked like. 

One highlight, is the "Red Room". It seems Mr Haynes thought that if all the cars on display in one place were the same hue, it would be easier to appreciate the designs because you wouldn't be distracted by all the different colours. 


I'm not convinced by this. For a start, all the reds are different. However, it's his collection and you can't disagree - the effect of all these pristine motors in one space is impressive. 

Reg Lamborgini Countach 
And yes, I am aware that for readers of Fifty Shades of Grey, "Red room" has a different meaning...

Monday, May 16, 2022

Agricultural show ticket


Railway Service Ticket

I've been busy recently, so posts are going to be a bit random until I can get back into a project. Let's start with this ticket picked up at the same time as the GWR string

The show in question is the event that eventually became known as "The Royal Show". It was the country's premier agricultural event from 1839 to 2009. 

Now, I know the event because every year, the traffic to it would clog up all the roads around here as conoys of Range Rovers and horse boxes tried to get onto the Stoneleigh Park site. I even worked there a couple of times when employed by the Ministry of Agriculture. Based in a scruffy Portakabin, I did paperwork stuff in the less fashionable, and much smellier part of the event. 

I think I visited a couple of times, but as a trade show for farmers, and not being in the market for a combine harvester, it didn't grab me as much as the public focussed Town & Country Festival at the August bank holiday. 

Anyway, this ticket interested me because it was for a local event, but also because for many years the show travelled around the country. As it happened, 1931 was Warwick's turn to host it - and then it returned permenantly to the county from 1963. 

What we don't know is why Mr Hall needed to attend the event, although at the time there would be a large amount of livestock moved by rail. Maybe he was checking animals in and out then back to the railhead. Perhaps looking at new methods of livestock handling. We'll never know, but 91 years later, his ticket still exists.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Lifeboat day today


All being well, today will be spent at the KMBC Lifeboat day. This year, I'm keen to actually get something on the water, and to that end have dug out the large scale Trent lifeboat I aquired in an estate sale a couple of yeats ago. 

One worry, is that the transmitter says "40Mgz". Visions of trying to find pegs for the aerial so I don't clash. I'm not even sure we still have a peg board for this any more!

Looking at the reviever, that looks like a 2.4MHz device, and so do the aerials on the transmitter. By the look of it, this had been converted to the more modern system. I certainly hope so!

(And yes, I will dust it before use)

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Saturday Film Club: Sutton Park Miniature Railway

Spotting a post on Facebook: 

Did you know that Vintage Trains are now the custodians of the Sutton Miniature Railway?
We have ambitious and exciting plans to reinstate and run this famous fifteen-inch gauge railway on our site in Tyseley as a fully volunteer lead initiative.
We will shortly be announcing a fundraising campaign for £25,000 to kickstart the first phase of bringing this wonderful little railway back to life in the heart of Birmingham.
I was prompted to look on YoutTube for some footage, and found this lovely film.  Let's hope Vintage Trains are succesful.


Friday, May 13, 2022

Beatties paper bags


Beatties paper bags
Another excellent addition to the Beatties collection - three paper bags thanks to Ian on RMweb who spotted I was a bit of a fan and decided to clear out a cupboard. 

These are the first paper bags in the collection, all the others being plastic. From the typeface, I'd date them as 1960s, so one of my earlier exhibits too. I love the "Pastimes" gets to be a bullet point but am curious who decided it should be above trains and boats - surely those would be the bigger sellers?

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Garden Rail June


Is this real, or is this a model? That's the question you'll be asking when looking at the amazing Dyfrdwy Tramway built by James Hilton. The superb modelmaking is accompanied by an imaginative history that explains the line.

Practical articles cover checking a model steam locomotive to ensure it's safe to operate, building a transporter wagon complete with load, a sugar cane wagon and a trick to ensure your trains stay on the track.

Talking of track, if you have ever looked at old photos of narrow gauge lines with the rails just poking through the undergrowth and wondered how to model this, our green-fingered expert has all the details.

All this and more in the June issue of Garden Rail.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Warehouse Wednesday: Giant platelayers hut

Platelayers hut

Another spot from the East Somerset Railway, the biggest platelayers hut I have ever seen. 

I'm assuming it is original. No-one would build such a hut and then abandon it would they? 

This begs the question why? It's opposite the station so were there a larger number of platelayers to be concealed from the travelling public? 

As a modelling prospect it would be bashable from a Cooper Craft kit, but really an easy scratchbuild. Sides from Plastikard with Microstrip battens and masking tape roofing felt. The brick chimney, which must have left one end of the hut a bit cold, is another Plastikard job with a bit of tube for the pot. 

On a layout, it would certainly be different.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

A little mine

Karolina Falls Mine

While poking my camera around at Bristol, I took this photo of the small mine on Karolina Falls. It's tucked around the side and so if the layout isn't displayed on a corner site, you won't see it. 

I don't actually have a use for the photo, but I like the scene so much, I'll share it on here. 

The layout is 7mm scale and most of it runs on 165mm gauge track. This bit is narrower, I didn't measure but I think 12mm, and entirely seperate. The builder assures me it will work, but there's not much point if the public can't see it!

What we have is a rather nice, and extreemly compact, layout in its own right. Perhaps a bit of inspiration for someone? 

(Click on the photo for a bigger version on Flickr)

Monday, May 09, 2022

Cooper Craft Provendor Wagon


I really like Cooper Craft kits, but I don't have one of their last models in my collection. The Provender Wagon is a bit of an odd beast. Not that useful to anyone and pretty much useless to me, but when I spotted an example for a fiver on a trade stand, I thought it was time to give it a go. 

Tired from Bristol show last Monday, I fancied some relaxing evening wagon building. Sticking a kit together is normally fun with a sense of achievement for not too much effort. 

Reading the instructions, I should have been warned by the phrase:

Sometimes the floors may mould a little wide, check yours for a good fit in the "box structure". 

On reading this, I should have put the kit back in the bag and left it for when my brain was more alert, but no, I pressed on. 

Breaking a tie rod wasn't an great start, but I fixed it with some Microstrip and decided you couldn't tell from the viewing side. Brass bearings dropped in and I found a set of Hornby wheels. The sides weren't perfectly upright - plain rather than top hat bearings would probably have been a better choice, with a side order of drilling the axleboxes out a bit. 

More anoyingly, the solebars are longer than the floor. Sometimes this allows them to tuck inside the ends, but no, on this kit they needed to be flush. 

Again, I should have stopped work, but instead I tried to trim them and the parts promptly started to move because they weren't as fixed as they should have been, 

By this point, the thing was anoying me and I lost my rag, peeling the components apart. They might not have stuck well enough for trimming, but they hung on to each other rather than seperate. The result was not pretty. I rescued the bearings and threw the remains in the bin. 

Out of curiosity, I had a go at the body. As promised, the floor was just over 0.5mm too wide, but rubbing it on a sanding stick cured this. 

After modification, the body went together OK. The corners aren't bad, even though they are straight from the bag with no fettling. 

So, the lessons to be learned:

  • If I am tired, watch TV and get some sleep. Don't try and make anything that needs brain work. 
  • This kit needs to be built body first. Then the chassis can be trimmed to fit. 
  • Use plain bearings so the underframe is square. 

One day I'll find another example of this kit and give it another go. It's a long way from Cooper Craft's best models, but I'm sure that an on-the-ball Phil wouldn't be beaten by it.

Sunday, May 08, 2022

Bristol 2022

 Last weekend, I spent three whole days at the Bristol show. 

I was very, very busy. Seven layout shoots, a Facebook live walkaround (see above) and a promotional video filmed and edited so it could be released on Saturday morning.

That first day, where the show opens at 12:30, closing at 7pm, is an odd, and very long day. I don't think I've ever attended an event that actually opens on Friday. There were plenty of people who prefered the day though, and the hall was pleasently busy. 

Cake news is that unlike most leisure centres, Bristol can put on a decent spread. The Victoria sponge is the best I've ever eaten. It was followed on Saturday by Vegan Lemon cake, which was OK, and Sunday's Lemon drizzle which was much better. 

They also served up a good hot dog. Handy, when the hotel breakfast isn't until 8 and I wanted to be in the hall by then taking photos. These proved really popular with those inside the barriers - at least a dozen being seen to be sold on Sunday, and I'm sure there were plenty more. 

Layouts ad trade were excellent. I could happily have picked up a couple more shoots if I'd had the time, and that's only because we'd already photographed several layouts for the mag in the past. 

The only downside of being so busy, is that I didn't bag many photos for the blog. However, if you want more, I suggest watching Callum's excellent video which provides comprehensive coverage.

Saturday, May 07, 2022

Saturday Film Club: Recovering Teletext from VHS Tapes

This video is nerdy, even for me. However, I loved Ceefx and Oracle - they were an exciting addition to a TV, and I still think one of the best news delivery systems ever. While the TV news tends to prioritise storeis where they have good pictures, Ceefax put everything in order of importance. 

I also miss page 145 - the letters page. Each day a new selection of (mostly) loons spouting off about something. Yes, I know the web is full of this, but here we enjoyed a tiny, curated set each day. You could read, enjoy, and then go away to do something useful. 

Anyway, it's good that someone appreciates how important this archive information is, and makes efforts to recover it for posterity.

Friday, May 06, 2022

Vintage light sets


Picked up for a tiny donation, these lighting sets are being stashed away in case I need to restore something, rather than for serious use on a modern layout. 

Each one contains a length of wire, and four small lightbulbs and screw-in holders. Without opening a set, the falament bulbs globes appear to be 6mm diameter. If you fancy adding a shade, there is a pattern printed on the card.

JNT Products are another new company to me. I can find JNT Model Products, who were incorporated in 1970, about the right time, looking at the packing. They have since been disolved so no more. 

Nowadays, we'd use LEDs for lighting a model. They last forever, use tiny amounts of current and generate no heat. Since you aren't likely to need to change them, lights can be built into buildings etc. 

At Pendon, because the Vale scene started life so long ago, the builders incorporate light tubes (coridors made to cardboard to duct the light around) into their models so the bulbs can remain below the baseboard for changing and to keep the heat away from the cardboard structure. 

Many people arge that everything old is better than anything new, but I'm afraid swapping filament bulbs for LEDs is definitly an improvment!

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Improved Coffee Pots


A couple of years ago, I managed to bag a "Coffee Pot" railcar in On30. This is a model I'd fancied for some time, but was put off by the plasticy coach body. It's remained in the maturing pile since then, but at the weekend I spotted some that had been improved for inspiration. 

David Bailey, builder of the excellent "Karolina Falls" layout, kindly allowed me to take photographs of his models. Modestly, he tells me that the work simply entailed painting the lower sides blue or green, and the roof a nice shade of grey. The rest of the model stays the same. 

Despite the simplicty of the work, the results transform the base model. Impressive!

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Warehouse Wednesday: Taunton water tower

Taunton water tower

Standing in the middle of some modern canalside apartment blocks is this throwback to the age of steam. Nearly opposite the station, it used to stand proud looking over a freight marshalling yard. 

The much faded paintwork proclaims "British Railways Taunton Freight Concentration Depot". 

I've not been able to find out much online about this depot. Doubtless if my book collection covered the area, there would be much to tell, but if it's not scruffy and industrial, I didn't buy that volume. 

Wonderful as this building is, what can anyone do with it? I understand that there were once plans to turn it into a restaurant, but these appear to have fallen through. As a restoration project, it would be a challenge, the place has obviously stood derelict for many years. 

Enthusiasts would shout for it to be restored, but what next? I doubt there is a need for a water tower in the area now, so it would just be a "thing". 

Another question would be what to do with the tank. Repainting is probably the best option, but that "ghost sign" has an appeal all of its own.

Taunton water tower

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Great Western Railway string


GWR String

OK, here's a poser for you. At the weekend, I spent a whopping £2.50 on some string. Great Western Railway string. 

We know it's GWR string because the name is printed on it every 10 inches.

Possibly more ribbon than string, it's 3mm wide and made of a sort of fibreous material that reminds me of baskets some fruit is delivered in, or raffia. 

What I don't know is why it exists. 

Consulting a couple of relevant societies at Bristol show, they weren't sure either. Our best guess is that this is intended for parcels, but why bother? Surely normal string would have been fine. Why go to the expense of producing bespoke string? 

Also, why was I the only one daft/curious enough to buy this. There were two packets and the second remianed unsold as far as I know. Railwayana doesn't have to be expensive it seems.

Monday, May 02, 2022

Dunster Station


From the first time I spotted Dunster station in a Hornby catalogue as a youngster, I wanted one. A really attractive building, the only thing I didn't know was that the walls are decorated with texture-free stickers. In photos, this looks fine if they are properly applied, but in the flesh, I'm not so sure. 

Anyway, driving back from Minehead, full of delicious fish'n'chips, I spotted a sign that said "Dunster Station 1/2" and ignoring the protestations from the satnav, headed toward the prototype of the model I had coveted. 

Dunster station

Dunster Station

Dunster Station

Sadly, without a step ladder, and trespassing, I couldn't get the exact photo from the Hornby box front, but I'm not worried, I have finally seen the station, and can understand why it was chosen for a model. A modest size, and very attractive, I bet it appeared on lots of model railways - and still does as the kit is now available from Gaugemaster

Long-term Phil fans will know that I did eventually find an excuse to build the model. In November 2015, I used Redutex wall covering on it in BRM. I'm still pleased with the result, if I'm going to use stickers, I like them to have texture. 

Sunday, May 01, 2022

RMweb members day, Taunton 2022


RMweb members day 2022

Last Sunday saw the first RMweb members day for a couple of years. It's a lovely, friendly event where people bring along layouts, and we all eat pasties and cake. There's no entrance fee (donations to charity) and all are welcome. 

The day was well -attended (the photo above was taken at pretty much the end of the day) and everyone had a good time. It helped that the layouts were superb, both second hand stalls were filled with interesting "stuff" and the catering worked well. 

Lime cake

There was a discussion on the forum as to whether the corgette and lime cake I enjoyed in the morning as part of a Facebook live broadcast, was actually cake since it included vegetables. To be on the safe side, I partook of the pot bellied coffee cake later. 

However, what I didn't find time to do was take lots of layout photos. No problem - all you need to do is head to Jamie Warne's excellent blog for a full set of cracking images and show details.