Friday, September 30, 2022

GWR Towns, Villages etc.


GWR Tows Villages etc.
The trouble with being interested in things, is that you often find yourself aquiring objects that no-one else wants. Handily, this keeps the costs down, but I do own a lot of "stuff". 

Spotting this book on a second-hand stall, where you could just drop of dontation in the box, I was the only person to pick it up. Odd really, as most of the rest of the books were those generic titles that appear in every charity shop and under the tree from well meaning relatives keen to buy the enthusiast something. 

It is a list, from 1939, or every town and village in Great Western Railway territory. Alongside, it tells the clerk which station goods should be sent to, and how they should be conveyed to their final destination. 

Click on the image to enlarge. 

Possibly the most useful information in here is the distance for each town from the station. Some of the methods of conveyance are fun too. When sending goods to Overton, they should go to Marlborough station, and then finish their journey via the Birstol Tramways & Carriage Co. Ltd. 

I'm not sure what possible use this information can be to me as a modeller, but I feared this book would end up in the bin if no-one else wanted it, and for something that has survived 83 years, that would be a great shame. 

For the moment, it can sit on the shelf. Unless a reader can think of a good reason they should own it. Postage wouldn't be cheap, it's a heafty tomb, but I'd be happy to find it a better home.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

How would I do this?


I always say that it's possible to learn something, or pick up an idea from any model railway you see at a show. No matter what the prototype, scale or level of finescaleness, the builder will have done something that should catch your eye. 

A lot of people will have walked past this Harry Potter themed layout at TINGs a few weeks ago, dismissing it as a novelty unworthy of a "serious modeller's" time when there were "proper" layouts to look at and trade stalls to be scoured. 

IMHO, they would be wrong. There's a lot of work, and a considerable amount of imagination involved with this project. And it's one that Potter fans will both love, and pick holes in when they see it. 

The part that impressed me most, was the roof of this house. 

I understand it's Hagrid's house. This doesn't help me much as I have no idea who Hagrid is. I've read none of the books, and only seen the first Potter film, because I was projecting it. Since our booth didn't have a speaker in it, that also means I didn't hear the first and last five minutes of the film. 

Anyway, the question I ask myself is, "How would I make that roof?" 

It's pointy, and curves at the bottom of the slope. My best guess is there is a former underneath, but quite a complicated one as there needs (in my mind) to be support under each ridge tile. Assuming this is in the book, they must have been cursing JK Rowling. A flat roof would have been just as nice, and a lot easier to build a model of!

Sadly, I was too busy at the show to ask the question, so it will remain a pleasent mystery. 

If you'd like to see more of the builders work, they can be found on Instagram.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Waterborne Wednesday: MV Pioneer

MV Pioneer

The day I find myself rich enough to own a super-yacht, I think I want it to look like the MV Pioneer. 

I spotted this stunning vessel in Grenwich last week, and what a beauty she is. Built in 1996 and 46m long, I would think she'll be big enough to rise large waves at sea, although I'll probably stick to the coast where one of the two smaller boats on deck can be used for landing when port fascilities are not available. 

Mind you, MarineTraffic shows she's been around - quite a lot of time in the USA as well as Europe. And in every location, she looks right at home. 

How much does one of these things cost? Probably some sort of unimaginable figure to someone like me, but what a floating home to have. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Whose track?


Time for a mystery. I have a short length of 32mm gauge track fitted to a piece of plywood. 

Steel bullhead rail, 6mm tall and 2.8mm wide is fitted into individual chairs, complete with representations of keys, are spiked to wooden sleppers with brass pins. 

The look is vintage, so I'm wondering if it could be Bonds components? But I'm not familair enough with these to make a postive identification. 

Any ideas out there?


Monday, September 26, 2022

Hornby watch


Hornby watch

I've been too busy for any personal modelling for the last few days, so this week's blog posts are going to be a bit of a catch-up of other stuff. Mostly weird things I've aquired recently, some of which are a bit of a mystery. 

Let's start with an item that fits into two of my collections - a Hornby watch. 

The 30mm diameter faux gold face is attractive, adorned as it is with a picture of a steam train from a 1990s clipart CD. Despite this, it looks a little classy in black and gold. The numerals are nice and clear, and a genuine leather strap is fitted. You could wear this every day and it would do its job. 

OK, the battery was flat, but an AG4 from the pound shop pack solved that. The plastic face-cover is even present, although I removed it for the photo. Don't worry, I put it back. There's a nice fabric wallet to keep the watch in when not wearing it too. This probably explains the excellent condition.

Watch back

Best of all though, on the back is a Beatties label! It came from my favourite chain of model shops - and so can sit in this collection too. 

Sadly, the label doesn't indicate the price, or give me an idea of the age (1998?, surely too late) of the watch. I'd guess at early 1990s, possibly even a bit before. 

The internet is a bit light on details, although one forum has an idential watch sharing space with Rolex's! I suspect that the fiver I paid is about its true value, but if someone wants to tell me it's super-rare and worth the price of a house, I'm all ears!

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Living the high life in London


Phil drinking champagne

You are probably wondering why I am drinking champagne in front of the Millemium Dome. 

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure myself. A couple of weeks ago, out of the blue, and invite came to visit the garden at the top of the Landmark Pinnacle, the highest residential tower in London. 

My guess is that someone did a web search for "garden" and my job title came up. After a bit of soul-searching, I decided to take a days holiday and go. A train down to London, bus across town to Mile End, and a stroll to the city. 

On arrival, I was greeted by a PR person and directed to the garden on the 75th floor. There was champagne, non-alcoholic mojito (smells odd, tastes OK) and tiny bits of food about the size of a 50p piece proffered on trays. A jazz band played in the corner, and I gawped at the view. 


Click on the photo for the full-size version. 

Around 30 journalists, and me, all admited the 1400 plants on the living wall and made small-talk, but the selling point is that view. One side you look along the curve of the Thames, on the other down a waterway, through the Thames barrier and out to sea. Canary Wharf is to your left, and we look down on it. 

Watching the sun set of the capital, I realised that I'll never have a better view of the city.  Sadly, the apartments are a bit out of my price range. 1 beds start at £580k and the three bed I'd like (space for model railways) is £1.5m. 


Things that strike you from this high up:

  • London is green. Really green. Masses of trees and parks all over the place.
  • Despite sitting on some very valuable land, there are a couple of housing estates that wouldn't look out of place in towns near me. It's a very mixed city. 
  • The docks must have been amazing judging by the number of wharfs and basins still around. I'd love to have been this high up in the 1950s when they were still in operation. 

Before the main event, I took a stroll around dockland. The photos from this will be appearing on this blog in the future.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Saturday Film Club: Welshpool and Llanfair Railway in the 1950s

If I'm honest, this wasn't the Welshpool video I was planning to bring you today, but I lost the link to the intended film, and found this instead. Fantastic old footage, OK, the quality isn't great, of the line in the 1950s when it was really running. A scene that even with the best preservation we can't recreate.

Friday, September 23, 2022



All done. A little tickle from the weathering powders, especially on the outer edges of the buffer beam where photos show rusty patches. 

The drive was a fiddle to fit, eventually he found a happy position himself, so I'll live with that. 

I'm a little disapointed that photos don't show coal piled up in front of the cab - it would be a nice detail but I assume the harbour was small enough that running back to the shed for fuel wasn't a problem. 

OK, I'm not responsible for most of the work on this model, but I'm pleased to take it from a box of bits to a nicely running locomotive which can now join the fleet in my display case. One project ticked off!

I hope the original builder would approve of what I've done anyway.


Thursday, September 22, 2022

Getting grubby


It's a long while since I broke out and airbrush and made a locomotive dirty!

So long, that my Iwata has long since gone and been replaced by a Sparmax. And more importantly, the cat food boxes I used to pearch models on have changed, and are now too large (OK, we might just be buying bigger quantities of cat grub) for the job, forcing me to to use an old jam jar to raise the model up a bit so I can shoot paint under the footplate. 

The recipie is the same though. First, a dry-brush with dark grey, then out to the garage for s blow over with rust, then some earth colour on the lower reaches, followed by a light clean with a turps filed cotton bud. Then a little more earth followed by a dose of Track Colour everywhere and finishing up with some Revell Anthracite along the top to represent the soot. 

OK, it's not Martyn Welch, but I think gives me 80% of the look for about 20% of the effort. This is a mucky loco, and the dirt has certainly reduced the impact of those buffer beams. Maybe I was working fast because Jacob-Rees Mog was staring out at me from an old copy of the Daily Express too.

Now to let the paint harden, tickle with weathering powders and a bit of glazing.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Waterborne Wednesday: SD Bovisand

SD Bovisand

My parents have just returned from a holiday in Cornwall, and as well as bringing me back several bottles of cider, they also have some interesting photos of boats. 

First up, is the SD Bovisand. This 23m long supply vessel was built in 1997 for the Navy, but has since passed into private hands. 

You can track her here. And here.

As a modelling prospect, she'd be quite a challenge. Two hulls, lots of detail. And you are going to have to scratchbuild as I'm not aware of anything remotely similar in the kit world. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2022



Bit of a crisis with the Lewin build - I went to my box of good figures for a crew, and the cupboard was bare! I don't know when I used the last set, but obviously didn't think to re-order. 

Loco crew figures will always come in handy, so I spent some time replenishing the stash from the Dart Castings website. I know 3D printed people are more fashionable, but I've always liked the Monty's Models range. At the time they first appeared, they were a revolution compared to some of the badly proportioned horrors of the time. These are a lot cheaper too, always a bonus. 

Anyway, a few days later a Jiffy bag arrived with my order, and I set to to decide which person would fit in the cab. Answer, very few of them. In the end, I think that MSV71 Industrial or Narrow gauge loco driver will just about squeeze in. The cab is very low and the others are just too tall. IT's a job for some HO scale people really. 

A bit of paint flipped over him, followed by a wash of Nulin Oil, and he will look the part. The photo close-up is cruel, he looks much more refined in real life!

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Watching trains at Elsecar

A few minutes watching trains at the Yorkshire Garden Railway Show last weekend. Apologies for the background music, but it dorwns out the noise of the halls at this busy show. While the locos do chuff, most of them anyway, their sound doesn't carry that far, and the basic audio setup I'm using can't make the most of it. Nor can I tell everyone to shut up!

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Saturday Film Club: Night Mail 2

An updated version of the classic GPO Film Unit production from 1986, showing how the modern transport system still carries the mail to the masses. It all looks so vintage, and makes me feel old...

Friday, September 16, 2022

Cardboard loco kit


Spotted at The International N Gauge Show last weekend, the Kato STEAM Starter Kit Narrow Gauge Diesel Locomotive 'Billy'. 

It's a cardboard kit that fits on a supplied RTR motor bogie. At £96, it's a long way from cheap, but despite the material, the model feels really solid. I'd assumed it was freelance, but apparenlty the design is based on a DL3 theme park diesel locomotive. 

It's a nice looking 009 model, well if you like yellow diesels that is. And I'm not sure the wasp stripes make for a beginner kit unless you use transfers. At least the builder is assured of a working model at the end of it, which makes the kit much better value for money than many. 

There's a handy construction video too.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

October Garden Rail on the shelves


Garden Rail October 2022

As the Gauge 1 Model Railway Association celebrates its 75th birthday, we visit the president's own line, with a show of many of the locos he has designed.

We're getting technical with a look at gearboxes for battery powered models, building a 4WD Simplex with plenty of grunt, a mine and concrete huts, suggesting the top 10 tools for your workbench – and starting our biggest project yet, building a live steam locomotive from a kit. Can a novice put together something that works? We'll find out.

All this and the latest Product News for the large scale model railway enthusiast.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Warehouse Wednesday: Big Welsh wiggly tin shed

Wiggly tin shed

Spotted as I descended the mountian from the car park at the Llanfair Caereinion Leisure Centre. This tin shed is big (I'd hoped to measure it on Google, but you can't zoom in close enough to see it) and has obviously been in place for a long while, judging from the plants growing around it. 

The metal on the sides is still pretty grey though, unlike the roof. A useful point for modellers who tend to treat all the metal to the same level of rusting. 

Presumably, all the corrugated iron was galvanised when new, but this has worn away on the top.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Does red paint make it better?


Trying to reduce the impact of the buffers, I've tweaked the livery slightly over the prototype images I can find. Fully red beams with black faces look mahoosive, but painting the back beam black seems to help a bit. 

I'll admit they are still big lumps on a diminutive loco, but there's no point in having something that won't couple to my existing rolling stock. 

With a bit of luck, some weathering will take the edge off them too. Which means I need to connect up the airbrush, currenlty in use powering a steam loco chassis for a Garden Rail project...

Monday, September 12, 2022

Chunky buffer beams required


Working on a model that's already built, rather than a kit, isn't always easy. I've come to fit the buffers to the Lewin, and on the prototype, these are chunky lumps of iron-faced wood. 

I always used Sprat & Winkle couplings, which require a bar between the buffers, and space behind this for a hook. 

If I were starting with a kit, the beam itself could be a lot thinner, allowing hook space with less bulky buffers. But I'm not. The best I could do is removed a millimetre of whitemetal by sawing the ends and carving the rest away with a sharp knife. The 3-link coupling hook prevents serious filing to achieve the same result. 

The faces are built up using plastic sheet, with rivets (bolts?) added from cubes of Microstrip and lashings of solvent. 

The end result is bulkier than I'd like, but at least it works. Industrial locos were known for chunky buffers anyway, and I'm not going to pretend this is a perfect model of the Seaham Harbour machine - not least because I can't face doing the lined green livery!

Sorry the model is so dusty. It's a trick of the camera, highlighting dust you can't see normally. For work, I'll spend time dusting, both physically and electronically, but on the blog, I keep it real (as da kidz say).

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Postcards from Guildex

My visit to Guildex last weekend was busy. Lots to look at, plenty of people to chat too, and despite what you might read on the interweb, the wifi worked fine. 

Anyway, I didn't have time for a proper report, but here's some snaps grabbed on my mobile phone. 

Le Depot d'Eu

A mystery (it's not in the showguide) micro.

Orford hut. 

Norman Colliery loco shed. 

St George's Dock. 


Norman Colliery

Norman Colliery.

Ruddlemore Wharf (Gauge 1).

Little Phil, or maxi cake?

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Saturday Film Club: Rimutaka Incline

After last weeks' look at Kiwi trains, Rhys got in touch to point me at this video. 

He tells me, "We see the longest lasting and last Fell incline in the world. The locos had 2 engines running at different speeds (one on a center rail) and it required 5 locos to haul a 250 ton train 3 miles up a 1 in 15 incline. The 2 engine "beat" is really something else."
It's not the last Fell incline, the Snaefell on the Isle of Man is still running, but the Fell brake is only used as an emegency device now, and unlike Rimutaka, the trams never used it for haulage. 

This is a fasincating film for all sorts of railway views. Mutiple locos in a long good trains? Wow! And I really like the "Tin Hares" too.
Thanks for the tip Rhys.

Friday, September 09, 2022

GEM Uncoupler ramps

GEM Uncoupler ramps

This is why I love a proper, physical model shop. One full of "stuff". Looking for some uncoupling ramps for a project, I find a packet of GEM ones that must date back into the 1960s. I've never seen them before, and happily handed over a few pence to purchase something no-one else will want. 

Inside the brown envelope are a dozen pieces of thin, clear plastic (possibly acetate) 86 by 12mm. There aren't any instructions, but I guess each is fitted in place with track pins, allowing for a bend that will lift the Tri-ang and similar couplings. 

All for 2/6 including purchase tax.

Thursday, September 08, 2022

Making trams move in BRM October

It's BRM day today, so what have I been up to? 

On the workbench, I take a diecast tram and make it work with a simple-to-use chassis kit. The results are very effective, and miles away from the jackrabbit starting sometimes seen in the past. 

Talking of the past, on BRMTV, I take a look at various ways to build operable trams. 

The cupboards and display cases have been raided o provide examples of the different models, and in more then one scale too...

My camera has been out again too, with all the main feature layouts being Phil photoshoots. 

Kingsfield is one of the larger layouts I've shot. A big roundy-roundy, it's not an easy one for a small-layout fan like me, but I've tried to take plenty of different angles, so the result is unlike any photos you've seen of this model before. Digi readers also get film of trains moving, and they are very impressive.

Oldshaw is a layout I remember seeing for the first time at Burton-on-Trent many years ago, and I really liked it then. There's probably a blog mention somewhere. 

Anyway, it has a new owner and I finally caught up with the model for a shoot a few months ago. A modest size, there are loads of wonderful views to work with, making my job easier and hopefully, resulting in some interesting images on the page and screen. 

Finally, a real tiddler - Ewe is tiny, but still full of atmosphere. Proof, if it were needed, that a small layout can be visually interesting and fun to build. Then you take it to the RMweb members day and some idiot insists on pointing a camera at it!

All this in the Ocotber 2022 issue of BRM.

Wednesday, September 07, 2022

Warehouse Wednesday: Chester brick-built garages


Taken from the city walls around Chester, these garages (I think) are interesting, if not exciting prototypes. 

It strikes me that if I was building a model, there doors would line up better with the gully in the roof. As it is, it's almost like this is two buildings stuck one on top of the other. 

There's also that little hatch in the wall on the left. What's that all about? 

Looking at the green doors, I can't help thinking that this is a municipal building. The Corporation owns it and stores vehicles behind those doors. From the days when "The Corporation" ran everything in a large town or city.

Tuesday, September 06, 2022

Mini Phil Painting Guide


Mini Phil
Jacket - 118 dry bushed with 93

Jeans - 144 dry brushed with a 144/147 mix

Hair - 67 dry brushed with 64

Skin - 61 dry brushed with Precision flesh/61 mix

Teeth - 147

Shirt - Precision maroon with 64 lines

Trainers 246 with 67 soles

Laces - Precision warning yellow

Buttons - 70

(This post is to remind me of the colours when I paint the rest of the figures. All colours are Humbrol enamels unless otherwise stated.)

Monday, September 05, 2022

An army of Phils

Phil times six

OK, I'm not quite sure how this happened, but I commissioned Rob Bennett to make a little model of me. 

And at the same time, decided that the world need lots of little Phils. So arranged for him to take a mould, and produce half a dozen copies. Unpainted of course, I want the fun of painting myself. 

I've given a couple away, and the first has been spotted in the wild on The Vale of Weedol Tramway. If you feel the need for your own mini Phil, drop Rob a line. Or better still, comission your own miniature, it's great fun!

I wonder where else I will appear?


Sunday, September 04, 2022

Crewe 2009

Crewe 2009

 I'm a bit busy for posting right now, so here's a random photo of Crewe (I think) from 2009.

Saturday, September 03, 2022

Saturday Film Club: Little Engines of New Zealand

I'll have to confess, at the time of posting, I haven't found time to watch all of this video, but I will do. Lots of converted cinie film showing steam operations on the other side of the world from me. Some fascinating little shunters.

Friday, September 02, 2022

Ruining a collectable?


Coventry Wagon
Looking for fodder for an upcoming BRMTV video, I grabbed this Coventry Collieries wagon for a bit of interior work. It wasn't until I got the model back home I realsied that it's a rare collectable. No.397 of 504 according to the card. It's even come from a model shop that no longer exists. 

Ah, the heady days of working in Warwick with two model shops in Smith Street. One sold diecast cars and Humbrol paint. The owner was a nice guy and I made many a trip there during my lunch time to stock up. 

Castle Trains were a proper model shop. The owner was an IT contractor and left the shop in the care of his wife during the week. At weekends, he could usually be found at a show, attending them up and down the country. As I recall, it was a modest, well-stocked shop, but she didn't like me much as once she found out I was a member of the local club, every visit saw me on the end of the moan that the members weren't patronising the shop enough, as though that was somehow my fault. If I walked past, it was on the other side of the street so be safe. My wallet probably benefited!

Anyway, I don't know how I came to own this wagon, but it's no longer got a box, or a certificate. The model is by Bachmann, and very nice. It's a local(ish) company too. 

So, if you have one of these, I've just made yours a little more valuable. Please send me 10% of the increase...