Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Painting plastic bits


I've mentioned in the past my aversion to self-coloured plastic parts in kits. Mould them any colour you like, but I still prefer paint on the completed model. It's just looks better to me. 

The VW engine is supposed to be screwed together, the only tools required being some clippers to remove parts from the sprue, and a cross head screwdriver. No paint. 

Anyway, I want my model to look a bit more realistic, and so the manifold and exhaust parts have been given a spray of grey primer, which looks the part to me. The carb and end of the oil cooler are a random silver, possibly aluminium, from the paint drawer, and the body of the coller silver from the Liquid Metal range. This should be finned, but hopefully simply painting it will look OK through the clear fanhousing. 

It's difficult to decide how much to paint, but I'm working on the basis that if it's coloured plastic, then I'll look at a better colour. I do wonder if someone is going to produce a more detailed carb though. Possibly a job for 3D printing.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Rapido UK Hunslet

Rapido UK Hunslet

Another new toy. This time the latest product from Rapdio UK - a 16 inch Hunslet loco. 

Bought, with my own money, for one simple reason - I had a ride in the cab up and down the Chasewater Railway last year. We filmed this for World of Railways and it was a cracking day out. 

Now, I would have been interested in this loco without that. Industrials are my thing, and the Centre Models whitemetal kit has long been on my radar. However, a top-quality RTR version will do, especially if I can have it in the colours I know it best. 

For World of Railways, I recorded a quick video, and since I bought this model, I can't see it hurts to share this here:

First impressions are good. Checking with Rapido Andy, the buzz on running at speed should fade with running in, and also a better controller, they most definitely do not recomend an ancient H&M!

One area that lets the model down a bit are the plates, so a set of etched versions has been ordered from Planet Industrials. Once they arrive, I'll fit a crew, and 3D printed model of me. That, and the hatch seen on the preserved prototype but not the model. 

The reason for this terrible omission? 

Technically - the preserved Holly Bank No.3 is not No.3 either - it’s actually Darfield No.1. And the "real" Hollybank never recieved a roof hatch. 

But, I remember the hatch, because I spent a lot of the journey poking a camera out of the top - so I'm going to have to try to work out the size of the hole, and hack it into the roof of my model!

Sunday, January 29, 2023

03 shunter - at York?

03 shunter

I was probably very excited to see this 03 shunter - we didn't get anything like it where I live, and I've always been a small loco fan. Hence, the 126 instamatic was pointed through a fence to capture this scene. The ex-steam tender converted to a snowplough won't have registered, but is interesting today.

I have a feeling that this is somewhere around York in the 1980s, but can't really be sure, so don't quote me on it.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Saturday Film Club: Famous and in demand

A 1963 film from German model railway brand Märklin, showing how they assemble model trains. Even if you don't understand th German narration, it's an interesting watch.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Beatties 16 ton mineral wagon


R244 Beatties wagons made by Tri-ang Hornby

File this in the "how come I've not posted about this before" group. Answering a question on RMweb last week, I assumed I'd have a photo of the classic, yellow, Beatties wagon online, but I didn't. Shear bloodymindedness made me dig out a couple, and take the picture above. And so, I'm putting it here, so I can find it in future. 

According to Ramsay's Guide, R244, was produced in 1973 as a special edition of 3000. The address of four stores were branded into the side using a technique called "heat printing", leaving them slightly proud of the surface. The guide suggests a tenner for the value, and I don't think this has changed much in years. I don't think I've paid that much, but then I'll sit and wait for these things. If you really must have one now, ebay can probably sort you out for this sort of cash. Boxed examples cost a little more. 

It's such a shame all the shops have gone. It would be fun to photograph a wagon in front of each now though. A project for the future perhaps.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Miniature railway plus loads of video in March's BRM


Miniature railway
My over Christmas project this year is a miniature railway station, now appearing in BRM. The seed for this is a 3D printed train from West Hill Wagon Works. All I had to do was build a station, and add the scenery! There's a lot of kit-bashing going on here, something I love. But then, I tend to treat kits as raw materials anyway. Well, there's no fun in building to instructions, is there? 

This is the theme of my practical video for BRM TV - basically, messing around with Metcalfe kits. You'll notice that I call them "Hacks" because I want to sound down wid da kidz. 

It's a bit of a Metcafle-fest this time as we had headed north to pay them a visit. Nick Metcalfe generously gave Howard and me a tour of the factory, so we could see exactly what goes into making one of the popular card kits. I found it very interesting, and hope viewers do to. 

Finally, our festive waffle went down very well, so Andy, Howard and I are back on a Teams call, talking about Hornby's new announcements. 

My camera has been out again. 

Abergavenny Blackbrook

First, for the P4 Abergavenny Blackbrook, and then the S scale Arcadia. 


All this in the March 2023 edition of British Railway Modelling.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Spot the Warehouse Wednesday - Huddersfield

Huddersfield view

There is a warehouse in this photo, but you'll probably want to click on the image to see it full-size to spot it!

A trip to Huddersfield last week for a layout photo shoot saw me find lots of warehouses perfect for this feature, and pretty much no-where to park to take the photo. This shot is from the layout owners road, and a really stunning view. A bit less snow would have been appreciated though!

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Off my rockers?

The push rods are connected to the vlaves by a series of rockers that effectivly reverse the direction of the thrust. On the real VW, it's important that the gap between rocker and valve is correct, and setting it is a bit of a baptism of fire that looks complicated, but I don't think should be that bad once you get the hang of it. 

If you look at the left hand side (in the photos) of each rocker, there is a bolt in the end that can be screwed in and out. A lock nut stops it moving. The principle, as I recall, involves rotating the engine so the valve is open, undoing the locknut, adjusting the bolt with the aid of a screwdriver and feeler gauge, and then doing the locknut up again. The engine must be absolutely cold when this is carried out. 

All this is theory, and I never had the bottle to give it a go. It's a job I'd want someone talking me through in person for the first time I think. The principles are simple enough, but you must have the engine correctly rotated for it to work. Later engines had hydraulic lifters, so you were spared all this. 

On the model it's a bit of a fiddle to slide all the rockers on the metal shaft, get them in position and then put th shaft into the supports. Still nicer than crawling around on the floor adjusting oily bits though.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Heads up!

The moving parts of the VW engine get every more exciting. We're on to the cylinder heads, with their valves. 

These are driven from the shaft in the centre, via pushrods (on the right in the photo) which operate through pushrod tubes (on the left). These move in and out, operating the rockers (tomorrow's blog) which move the valves. 

Anyway, the valves are made up of three parts, including a metal spring, which push together through the head. Those springs are ingeneously supplied threaded on a cable tie, so they don't get lost in transit. 

The heads are attached to the crank case with screws, and some carboard gaskets, not far off the thickness of the real thing, fit between the two. Getting these to sit flat might not matter for the engines operation, but they do for looks, so it's shiny white side against the crank case as the depression from the die cutting alots them slip in easily. 

Those push rod tubes are solid on the real engine, although collapsable versions are sold so you can replace one without removing the head. Removal can be a brutal operation, and it's essential to ensure the seal at each end seats, as they are full of oil which will otherwise "mark the spot" where the vehcile stands!


Sunday, January 22, 2023

K&ESR in the 1980s

Tenterden station on the K&ESR in the 1980s

A couple of photos showing the Kent & East Sussex Railway in the 1980s. We holidayed in tents down there for a few years, and my dad and I really liked the atmosphere of the line. For a few years, we were members, although very much sitting at home enjoying the magazine types - it being a long way to nip down to help out!

Interesting to see the top photo has someone using a cine camera, something you rarely see today. Video camera were available, but they were chunky devices with a seperate camera (about the size or bigger than the one in the photo) plus a video recorder unit you lugged around dangling from your shoulder. A far cry from today's mobile phones with their much higher quality recording and ability to share it worldwide in seconds!

Tenterden station on the K&ESR in the 1980s

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Saturday Film Club - Kathy Millatt builds a Complete Model Railway in 8 weeks

Building detailed layouts to a tight deadline is something I'm familiar with - but I'm not alone. For the TV series Hornby a model world, ace modeller Kathy Millatt built a micro "Port Dinorwic", based on a real prototype. 

Sit back and enjoy being talked through the process. While making a video like this might look easy, it's really hard work with many hours of editing, and that's on top of having to build the model in the first place! 

Port Dinorwic

With my press hat on, I got a preview of the first few episodes of the TV show, and realising that Port Dinorwic was in the first episode, saw an opportunity. Kathy lives about 25 minutes from me so I fired off an email to see if a photo shoot was possible. It was, and so there will be a full feature in the Spring 2023 issue of BRM. To be fair, while this is an opportunity for the mag, I'd have photogrphed this layout if I'd seen it at a show - very much my kind of model!

Friday, January 20, 2023

Saltford Models "Polar Bear"

Warning: This post is going to make many of you very jealous. I amd slightly sorry about this, but only slightly.

Saltford Models Polar Bear

Last week, I was shooting a layout for BRM. It's a narrow gauge model and the owner is a really interesting guy. We both come from the era of kit building, early MRJs and other stuff from the 1990s. He has (among other things) an Isle of Man project on the go, so we talked all things Manx. 

"You might like to see this." he said - and handed me a very tiny locomotive. 

Well, dear reader, it was a kit I had heard of, but never actually seen. Saltford Models 009 "Polar Bear" from the Groudle Glen Railway. Bearing in mind the tiny size of the prototypes, making this thing work was a masterful piece of work. 

As I say, I had heard of the kit, seen a photo in a GGR booklet, and sniffed around a couple of examples on eBay, always being comprehensivly out-bid. And now I was holding one in my hand. Of course, I took photos, with the loco balanced on a 50p piece to give you an idea of scale.

Saltford Models Polar Bear

OK, let's be honest. This is not of the quality of Bachmann's Quarry Hunslet. It is a fairly basic model, but then that's what you got. Brian Clarke produced one of the most interesting ranges of models in 4 and 16mm scale. I've built a couple of the later, and know a really top modelmaker who built a 4mm vertical boiler loco. Admitedly, he replaced a few bits, but that's partly because he wanted working valve gear - John was like that. 

Anyway, we are chatting, and it turns out he owns more than one kit. I couldn't resist saying "If you ever want to dispose of that, please give me first refusal." Then we went back to the shoot, and more chatting. I do a lot of chatting while taking pictures, it's a bit part of the job and a lot of fun. It helped the room was full of fascinating stuff - including several Centre Models kits and a covetable K's 0F shunter. 

When we finish, I can't resist mentioning the Polar Bear kit again, partly hoping he'd name a price, and that price wouldn't be too painful. He didn't. He handed the kit to me and said I might as well have it, since he'd never get around to building the model. 


Now, to be fair, there are a lot of projects awaiting attention. And the "kit" is more a box of bits, many of which have been assembled in the past. This isn't going to be a shake the box job. There's a good chance not everything required is in here, but I have a loco body, chassis and motor. I'm sure the rest isn't beyond me. 

Interestingly, the box is supplied by "Brian's Kits and Bits" - Brian and his wife stayed at our house a few times back in the 1980s when they attended the Leamington Show. Another connection!

One thing we discussed is how some projects are simply meant to be yours. While throwing money around can do the job, if you are patient, and keep your eyes open, very often, the kit/model/car you desire will eventually find its way to you. It certainly did in this case!

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Turning the engine over


With everything installed in the crankcase, I removed the timing lock things and gave the engine a quick twiddle. All works well, there's loads of space in the cyclinders, I could almost get away with painting the pistons as the wear on them would be very localised. 

Anyway, all good so far, next it will be time to look at the heads with plenty more fiddly bits to fit.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Warehouse Wednesday: Knowle Wharf

Knowle Wharf

A quick lunchtime stroll with a friend ended up on the canal at Knowle, where I spotted the fantastic wharf building. Tiny, and pretty simple, it would be an easy modelling job. The supports for the roof being a bit fiddly, but if you soldered them out of metal section, they would be plenty strong enough, yet slender. 

At this point, I'd love to post some history, but when I search for the company website, my virus scanner throws a wobbly about out of date certificates. You may have more luck.

Knowle Wharf

Instead of history, please make do with a jug in the shape of Donald Trump.

Trump jug

Tuesday, January 17, 2023



We have gears - both the timing gears for the bottom of the distrubutor and connecting the camshaft and crankshaft. There's even some pieces to hold these in the right places respectivly so the eventual timing is correct. It's all looking a bit clever to me. 

The gear on the bottom of the dizzy is interesting - it's one of those engine components that I have known about, but never seen. Plastic kit modelling can be educational!

Juggling this all into the crank case is a bit of a fiddle, but once you work out which holes the various pistons go it, th whole lot drops together nicely. All the gear mesh too, I wish this was always the case with models I build...

Monday, January 16, 2023

Announcement excitement


Airfix Bond Bug

After last week's Hornby group announcements, I'm sure you are all desperate to know which ones excited me the most. Well, even if you aren't, this is my blog...

Number 1 - Airfix Bond Bug. The moulds have been found and refurbished for the most interesting car from the old 1/32nd range. Let's be honest, Reliant's cheese-shaped three-wheeler is an amazing looking vehicle. I'll admit that I slightly regret not buying one seen in the window of a local antique shop 20+ years ago for £500. I've not idea if I could fit in one, and suspect the ride whould be claustraphobic if I could, but it's bright orange, how could I not want at least a model? 

On another note. With a bit of modification, could this make an interesting small spacecraft? 

Fab 1

Number 2 - Scalextric FAB1. It's scary to think that Thunderbirds is set around about now. So, it could be me driving Lady Penelope around in the big pink Rolls, along all those weirdly empty motorways seen in the show. 

Actually, it's better I stay away from slot cars as the Tyrell P34 looks tasty (always loved that car) and a Series One Landrover? That's a mad racing car surely...


Number 3 - Hornby Dublo Deltic. I've never really got the whole Deltic thing. Perhaps it's because I've never seen, and heard, one working, but I'm much more a fan of a similarly shaped Class 37. However, Hornby are producing the prettiest Deltic for the collectors market and I think it will be a nice looking model. Admitedly, I'm mostly swayed by the illuminating headlights. In fact, they sort of remind me of the classic Dock shunter in that respect. Same nose I think.

Close call - the two-tender Flying Scotsman in Amercian tour guise. The double tenders are as interesting as a six-wheel formula one car as far as I'm concerned. I remember being being fascinated about them as a kid. 


Number 4 - HM7000. While the locos are a bit of a dream, I'm unlikely to actually buy them, the new control system does strike me as something I want to know a lot more about. The idea that you have a super-stay-alive capacitor in there makes me wonder if this is a step towards battery powered locos. 

Being able to fiddle with settings on the move sounds good, and putting a lot of the "brains" in a smartphone, seems smart. I'm hoping I get to play with one of these for work. It might be a bit of a gamechanger for model railway control systems. A nice example of the Margate team looking to the future. 

Anyway, that's my list. Did anyone else spot something to pique their interest?

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Winston Churchill in the 1980s

Winston Churchill  on the RH&DR in the 1980s

Another shot from my trusty 126 camera in the early 1980s. We holidayed several times in Kent, and enjoyed a few visits to the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway. I don't remember many trips on the line, but my Dad and I would visit the stations while Mum and sister enjoyed the beach. 

Sadly, I don't think these pictures add much to the history of the line, you could probably take the same shots in the summer any year. Even the fashions won't change much. 

More details of the loco on the RH&DR website.

Winston Churchill  on the RH&DR in the 1980s

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Saturday Film Club: Building an Albatros

Building this kit is hard enough, filming the process using stop-motion animation, is just amazing!

Friday, January 13, 2023

Mystery brass lamp

Brass lamp

Mystery time. I spotted a nice looking brass lamp on ebay and thought it would be perfect for the front of the Peckett. Six quid later, the lamp is mine, and what a cracking littl model it is. 

29mm tall, 14mm deep and 12mm wide, it's a mini-masterpiece of the lost-wax casters art. I'm guessing it's a second, as the refelector inside has been fitted back to front, but I'm sure I can do something about this. 

However, it's so nice, I'd like to some more, but can't identify the manufacturer. The seller is no help - he picked it up in a random box of castings. I thought about Swift Sixteen, but their lamps are solid, and can't see it anywhere else. 

So, can anyone in blogland suggest a supplier? Thanks.


Thursday, January 12, 2023

Plenty of practical in February's Garden Rail


February 2023 Garden Rail magazine

What happens when a civil engineer sets out to build a garden railway? Well, Martin Crapper put together a very practical line, perfect for the steam operation he wanted, and in the latest issue, he tells us how it's done. 

There's plenty on the workbech this month too: scratch building steam locos, wagons, chassis building and museum quality Talyllyn Railway coaches. Oh, and just in case we are accused of bias by Welsh narrow gauge fans, an England loco, built in cardboard!

If operation is your thing, how about an Inglenook shunting puzzle in 16mm scale - perfect for the space-starved modeller too. 

All this plus the latest products for the large scale modeller.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Cylinders and camshaft


So we can watch the mechanics of the engine work, most of the main parts are moulded in clear plastic. 

Just like a real VW engine, the cylinders bolt (OK, screw) on to the side of the crank case. They are also handed, the cooling fins sticking out the sides more on one side then the other. You can't actually fit them the wrong way around, so not to worry. 

All those cooling fins are essential on the real engine, but will, I fear, obscure the view into the model. However, so far this is nicely taking it's design cues from the real thing. 

The camshaft is a metal rod with four lobes slide over it. The rod is D-shaped so you can't go too far wrong, as long as you pay attention to the drawings in the instructions. I spent a while trying to figure out where I'd gone wrong before reaslising one lobe was fitted back to front. That would really ruin the timing!

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Pistons and crankshaft


Pistons and crankshaft
First out of the kit box are the parts for the all-important pistons and crankshaft. Time to find out how well this thing is designed!

The instructions mention a knife, clippers and a screwdriver being the only tools required for the build, and the last one is supplied. No glue or any other modelling equipment. Sensible, when your audience isn't hard-core plastic kit builders. 

The parts are nicely moulded, and clip off the sprues easily enough. Using a sharp knife, I trim the residue away and start assembly. 

Each piston head is made from two parts and these push together over a plastic wrist pin that retains the connecting rod. All seems pretty solid and unlikely to disassemble itself while working. Since I can't paint these parts, it would rub off when the model is working, I sand and polish the pistons, but I'm not sure it's worth the effort - they looks a bit better maybe, but you can still see the sprue marks. 

The rods fit on to the shaft and screws hold the rod cap. There's plenty of play in the who setup, possibly as much as in a real engine, but I'm sure this is to ensure everything will work. 

All the bits fit together perfectly, and the screws bite into the plastic easily enough. You are warned not to do them up too tight, but you'd have to go mad to do much damage I feel.

Monday, January 09, 2023

1/4 scale VW engine


VW Engine
I first spotted the Franzis range of working plastic kit engines at the London Toy fair in 2020. Sadly, I didn't take any photos at the time, but really liked the look of them. To me, they hark back to the Revell "Visible V8" I drooled over in the 1980s Model Maker magazines. That kit is still available, but over time, my tastes moved towards the VW Flat-four found in the back of my Beetle and Campervan. The V8, with all it's working part, still looks great fun, but this is fun, and useful. 

It's no surprise that the VW engine joined the range a few years ago. Let's face it, there are millions of these things out there, and they are now owner by people who aren't scared of a bit of tinkering, so will like a hands-on project for when it's too cold to get out in the garage. 

Anyway, a few weeks ago, this was my big Christmas present. I know I don't need any more kits, but I also don't need socks or other stuff people give as gifts, so I might as well go for something fun. 

The big shock is that I've started building - my first project of 2023!

Inside the very high-quality box, is a mass of individually bagged sprues, some metal rods, springs fitted to a cable tie to keep them under control, wires and even a small screwdriver that doesn't appear to be rubbish quality. 

Also not rubbish, is the A4 softback instruction book. 2/3rds of this is a pretty reasonable history of the VW Beetle, and the engine that powers it. Yes there is Hitler, but also a lot of stuff from the 70s and right up to the end of production in 2003 (I still wonder if I should have blown my savings to buy a last edition new car. I'll never have the chance to own a new Beetle again.). It's a booklet worth keeping in the future - how often do you say that about the instructions in a kit? 

By the end of the build, I should have an electricly powered model flat-four with all the main parts moving, and lights to show the spark. A proper desk accesory that will be fun, and educational, for the future. That's the idea anyway.

Sunday, January 08, 2023

Class 58 on MGR hoppers

Class 58 at Leamington Spa in the 1980s

I've found an old scrapbook with some of my early photographs in. They are all a bit loose, so I thought it would be a good idea to scan some in, throw a bit of Photoshop at them and save to disk. Then post them on the blog for your entertainment. 

OK, my photography skills, and certainly the equipment available to me at the time (1980s I think) aren't anything to get excited about, but a look back the best part of four decades has to be interesting. 

The original photo is just under four inches sqaure, and I'd guess was taken on an Instamatic using a 126 cartridge film. 

What we see is a Class 58, one of my favourites, hauling MGR hoppers through Leamigton Spa station. At the time, these were bang up to date - we still saw 16 ton minerals trundling through. Merry-Go-Round was a bit revolutionary. 

Sadly, the hoppers are gone. No idea where the loco is as I can't identify it, and the K8 phone box on the station platform is a memory. There's a good change, the DMU in platform One isn't around either. Even if it was, the buffer stops have been moved back along the siding so it now wouldn't get in the frame. You don't see platform trolleys nowadays either.

Saturday, January 07, 2023

Saturday Film Club: Roundup of 2022

Some waffle from the BRM team - well, me, Andy and Howard anyway - as we take a look back at 2022, picking our favourite models, projects and events from the year.

Friday, January 06, 2023

Rare lights?


Dinky light set
Here's an interesting little "collectable". At the recent MRC open day, the second hand stall had a small box of these Dinky lighting kits - but we struggled to work out what they are worth. In the end, we agreed a coupld of quid for this one, but did I get a bargain? 

Dinky lighting kit

Inside, we have a single bulb, protected by a cardboard tube, and the stamped metal holder complete with a length of wire. Screw the bulb (OK, it's a bayonet fit, but you know what I mean) into the holder, attach the wires to a battery, and you are good to go. 

Why Dinky produced this is a mystery to me. Which buildings were you going to light up? Presumably ones you had built yourself, but would there be enough people doing this to sell these kits? Probably not, if couple of dozen are found in 2022, but it's an interesting item.

Thursday, January 05, 2023

Industrial Narrow Gauge Stock and Trackwork by Sydney A Leleux


This is defintely not a mainstream subject, but it's right up my street. None of the well-reproduced photos is what you would call "beautiful" but they are chock full of visual interest for the narrow gauge enthusiast. 

Chapters are: 

  • Skips
  • Tippers
  • Hoppers
  • Tippler and tubs
  • Opens
  • Flats
  • Tanks
  • Air compressors
  • Transporters
  • Special wagons
  • Coaches
  • Track (general)
  • Points
  • Turntables
  • Crossings
  • Emptying methods
  • Derailments

Each chapter is composed of photos with long captions, two per A5 page. There are also some vintage adverts for equipment. Most images are black & white, but a few are colour. Paper quality for the 68 pages is excellent so the images aren't muddy.

If there is one thing to be learned from studying the photos, it's that there's no such thing as standard rolling stock, and pretty much any design a modeller can imagine will have a prototype somewhere out there!

I can understand why this is an unusual subjest - enthusiasts like to take photos of locomotives, and hardly any appear on these pages. When you are using film, the temptation is to stick to the exciting stuff, and so the rolling stock isn't captured, but we all need far more wagons than locos (yes we do!) so we ought to have more photos of the latter. 

I picked my copy up second-hand, and Plateway Press don't list it as a current publication sadly, but it's worth keeping your eyes open for.


Wednesday, January 04, 2023

Trains on the carpet

It seems that running trains on the carpet is the in thing at the moment - Vlogger Sams Trains does it a lot and loads of people watch his stuff.

Well, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, so here's a procession of LGB and Playmobil locos running on a rug for your entertainment. 

(Actually, the white Stainz is my Dad's Christmas present, and we just wanted to give it a run.)

Tuesday, January 03, 2023

Watching trains on the SVR

ex-GWR 1500 class 1501

It's nice to get out of the house post-Christmas, and my trip of choice is to the Severn Valley Railway to watch some trains. The low winter sun produces some lovely effects if you walk to the far end of the car park and get on the opposite side of the train to the platform. 

Not being warm, I picked up a hot chocolate and mince pie from the museum and hung around, trying not to step in the puddles while I waited for the train to depart. At the head was ex-GWR 1501, making short work of the coaches, which looked reaonably well patronised. 

Also working trains was 40 106 "Atlantic Conveyor". I'm told that this is an economy measure, diesels being cheaper to operate than steam. Mind you, the steam heating boiler was working well, judging by the plumes emitted from the loco. 

40 106

I find it slightly depressing that I'm old enough to remember Class 40s leaving stations for real. And now they are preserved.

There was a third train in operation, but I missed it as I'd taken a stroll down to Footplate Models, and that trip lasted nearly two hours, thanks to much chatting with the proprietor. I only bought one kit for me, it was a work strip to aquire parts from my next BRM project. Honest. 

Another advantage of visiting between the two big holidays, is the museum book sale. Held upstairs, there's always something interesting on offer. I came away with a few, some of which will be revieed on here eventually, including a Maxn publication that I don't think I have in the collection. 

The only downside was having to drive again. Last year the car took the strain because I was wary of Covid. This year, there were no trains! Maybe in 2024...

Monday, January 02, 2023

Calendar Time


History is interesting, but best viewed in hindsight. For years I've been writing a post just after the review of the year, about filling in my calendar with shows, but looking back at the last couple of years examples, the gist has been that shows are dead and I wonder if we will ever get out again. 

Happily, my 2022 post was proved wrong in many ways. Stafford show did go ahead, but in the autumn rather than in the snow. Other events also happened. Despite my doom-laden 2021 post, we go to events pretty much normally (I'll not be subscribing to The Lancet then!) 

So, the calendar is out and I'm busy filling in dates for all the major garden railway shows and the three Warners events, as I (hope) expect to attend all of them in some capacity. There are a few other must-visits such as York and Warley to go on. 

Then there will be smaller trips out such as local steam-ups. I don't expect to go to many of these, but if they are on the calendar, I can see if I can make a few. As you'll have read in recent posts, I'm really getting in to village hall size events. Small, freindly and often with excellent cake on offer, they are low-pressure days out where I'm not trying to talk to all the trade, or find layouts to photograph. 

I'm also going to plan on another trip to the Isle of Man for the enthusiasts week. Getting back to the island would be fantastic. More cake eating at the end of the Groudle Glen Railway!

Apart from this, I was reminded recently that I've never seen the Battle of Peasholm, so a trip to Scarborough is on my mind. And I have half an idea that a tour of Germany to take in Miniature Wonderland, Wolfsburg and Wuppertall would be a really nice idea, even if a bit of a challenge to organise. 

My feeling is that we should see big shows back this year. And tiny little ones. What we'll miss is the mid-sized events that will struggle to attract the trade. After years of working online, my guess (and it is a guess) is that trade stands will want to see 4-5000 people in front of them over a weekend to make it worth packing a van and booking a hotel. Specialist events will fare differently as they should have a higher percentage willing to spend money, but perhaps not as many as people believe. 

I'd also like to do a few events that I've not been to before. Blackpool Model Boat show appeals, but if anyone has other suggestions, I'm all ears. Where do you plan to visit this year?

Sunday, January 01, 2023

2022 - Review of the year

In theory 2022 should have been a very much upgraded version of 2021. With Covid receeding as a menace, we were finally allowed out to meet each other, something I mentioned last year that I missed far more than I expected I would. 

Sadly, when spring arrived, so did a large number of Russians in someone else's country. While not affected as badly as those in Ukraine (thank goodness), it still weighed on my mind. I'm no good when the drums of war are beating and so my head wasn't really in something as unimportant as building toy trains and boats. This sort of thing puts what I do into perspective, proving what a pointeless activity it all is. 

Needless to say, the old project list can be copied from 2020: 

  • 7mm scale Garratts STILL haven't been out of their boxes. I'm looking for a new builder for the one I've been commissioned to produce, something not helped by the death of my friend Trevor who was looking out for me, and has the comissioners details. This is going to take a lot more sorting now.
  • 3mm scale Class 25 hasn't bothered to build itself.
  • O gauge "Flying Banana" railcar, still in the box. With a RTR model on the horizon, should I just give it up as a bad job?
  • 4mm GWR steam railcar, I know it's one people would like to see finished. Me too. There's also a RTR one of these on the way, I've actually handled the decorated samples.
  • Still can't face finishing the Cravens DMU.  

There's no progress to report on the Beetle either, but I have managed to locate my camper van thanks to a lucky spot on Instagram. I've chatted to the person looking after it and will arrange to drop in to have a proper look and work out the next stages. Mind you, I said this two months ago, but time and weather have prevented  anything happening. 

If none of those have moved forward, what did I get up too? 

I built FAB 1 from a plastic kit.

Controllers can now be connected to layouts for testing easily with my new powerbox. 

Finally built a Mine Hutch from Harecroft.

Birkhill Fireclay Mine Hutch 

A mock Georgean house from a Hornby kit. 

After two attempts, I built a Cooper Craft Provendor wagon kit. 

And finally, there was a trio of 3-wheel Japanese plastic kit vehicles. 

Apart from that, there isn't much more to show. No boats, no non-work layouts or even a new model locomotive to show for the last year. 

Digging back, I see a lot of months where the posts have gone out, but there isn't anything resembling a project. Part of me is quite impressed with myself that I can generate content - only six days this year have been missed - out of thin air! 

One area that has improved is taking trips out. I've visited plenty of events this year, and even managed a quick trip abroad, and that is a good thing. I love getting out an about, meeting people who read this blog, or my stuff on the page. It brings me alive and restores some of my enthuaism for modelling. If I've chatted to you in 2022, thanks very much. 

None of this has helped my "modelling mojo" much I'm afraid to say. Projects still call out to me, and I've added a few to the stash, but once there, the enthusiasm wanes and I don't get around to any of them. Hopefully, I can lift myself out of this over the next 12 months. It's not like I don't want to build things, just that there is always another deadline looming. You can tell you are a writer, apparently, because you simply can't not write. Modelling is the same. I remember grabbing any odd moments for a little progress, because I couldn't not grab them. That feeling hasn't been there for a while. 

I know, stop moaning Parker, plenty of people are worse off. 

Ho hum. Let's see how it goes. In the meantime, thanks for reading the blog over the last year, and please carry on doing so over the next one. And if you see me at a show, come over and have a chat.