Sunday, April 30, 2023

RMweb members day 2023

A lovely day out, plenty of chat, some excellent cake and really impressive layouts. 

As far as layouts go, I can do no better than point you at Callum's video. He's captures everything, and this saves me the bother.

What the video can't communicate is the freindliness of the event. It was like a group of old freinds getting together to chat about toy trains. Most of us only know each other, if at all, via the forum, but this doesn't matter. You talked, people talked to you. And a good time was had by all. 

Refreshments were donated, and one of the first to go was this excellent corgette and lime cake. 

Corgette and lime - get us with the sophisticated flavours!

The event is open to all, and we don't charge to come through the door (donations accepted though) and there's not much in the way of advertising. No banner out front, or even a poster. If you know, from RMweb, then you know. Despite this, the morning was as busy as we would want it to be. Too large a crowd and you'd ruin the day as people struggle to get around the hall. 

As it was, after lunch, I shot three layouts, one of which is firmly in "Layout's I'd like to build" category. A good day.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Saturday Film Club: Snow Hill Station in the 1960s

I only know Birmingham Snow Hill station from it's rebirth in the late 1980s. I walked through the tunnel and marvelled at the new look, clean lines. 

What I didn't understand, is the older version. How did such a massive station all but disappear? This video shows (in silence) the glory days. Oh for a time machine!

Friday, April 28, 2023

Bristol bound today


An early start this morning, to get to the Bristol Model Railway Exhibition. 

The show opens at 12:30 today, for a full day, until 7pm, and then we are back for Saturday and Sunday too!

I'll be on the World of Railway stand with some models for you to look at, and always ready to chat toy trains. 

See you there!

Bristol show website.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Appearing in Engineering in Miniature and The Collector

A couple of extra chances for Phil content this month. I've been a busy boy. And don't I know it - phew!

We start with a quick show review in Engineering in Miniature magazine. 

Since I was going to be hanging around the Midlands Garden Railway show anway, editor Andrew asked me to take some photos and write a few words. 

Easier said than done - the light in the exhibition hall is terrible, and my camera gear isn't really set up for this sort of job. At some point, I really must dip my toe back in the DSLR world, but that's not going to be soon. Plenty of other things to drop a few hundred quid on first. 

Anyway, there are two pages of photos and some words, most of which I'll admit, are writen by Andrew to fill the space. I'm just not of the correct mind for some of this - out of practise I expect. 

Moving to The Collector, inspired by a trip to the Severn Valley Railway, I've writen some options for making barrow, or foot crossings for your layout. 

While on the face of it, these are simple enough, although I suspect a lot of younger modeller don't realise they exist, there are traps for unwary. We want a model that looks nice, and doesn't upset the trains!

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Warehouse Wednesday: Minehead goods shed

I'm very busy right now, so here's a couple of photos showing Minehead goods shed from last weekend.

Minehead goods shed

It's certainly an attractive, and well restored building.

Here is is, with a chuff-chuff. 


Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Wired up and working


Since I can't hide the Loco Remote and battery in the water tanks, they have to fit under the footplate. Fortunatly, there's plenty of space under there. 

The Loco Remote is fixed to one end with some Velcro. The tiny battery tucks onto a ledge I made with plastic, held to the chassis with the original fixing screws. It seems pretty secure there. 

Best of all, Loco Remote include all the cables, with plugs fitted, required to entend the leads the length of the chassis. It's a very neat install really, and works perfectly.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Getting tanked up


Regular readers will know that my plan had been to build a pair of side tanks for the steam tram. These would replace the saddle tank that I didn't like, and provide somewhere to hide the Loco Remote unit, and battery. 

I marked out the area that would need to be removed from the top of the lower section, and floor of the body, and drilled holes in the corners. Then scratched my head. How to remove the rest? 

Chain drilling and joining up the holes is the obvious way. Trouble is, to get into the places to drill with the two halves of the body screwed together, required my only super-long drill bit. The chances of this surviving the dozens of holes to be made, was slim. I don't have a tiny saw that can cut out from a hole start either. That ABS sheet is hard.

To be honest, I couldn't see an easy solution, and so I left the floor intact. A bit of investigation showed the control and battery could fit under the floor, so the tanks weren't needed to hold them anyway. 

I still made the tanks of course. Simple plastic boxes with a bit of tube on top for a filler. Rivets are slices of rod smoothed with lashings of solvent. 

Fixed into place with Revell Contacta glue, I think they look the part and add something to the interior of the tram.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

I built a garden railway (again)!


As you might have spotted in yesterdays post, last weekend, I built a garden railway. 

It was brill. 

The downside of all this work, and chatting though, is that I didn't get to take much of a look around the National Garden Railway Show. What I saw looked good, but as far as reports with photos go, sorry. 

Never mind, have some video of a few trains on the layout. 

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Saturday Film Club: National Garden Railway Show 2023

Rob takes us on a quick tour of the NGRS, culminating in a chat with yours truly.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Having a quick tug in the middle of the town...

Phil Parker driving Tug

I drove a train!

The train in question is James Finister's Tug, running on Steve Purves's There and Back Light Railway. The line had been laid at the top of the Parade, in Leamington Spa. A message on Facebook made me drop what I was doing, and head into town to see it. 

On arrival, Steve was running trips up and down the line, then it rained, and the crowd hid. The sun came back out and Steve offered me a drive without passengers to drum up interest again. I'm not that big on driving trains oddly enough, but having had a go on his Scamp some time ago, the larger Tug looked like it should be simple enough. 

And indeed, it was. The basic Pheonix loco has been fitted with a tramway type controller that is really lovely to use. I'm told this is about a third of the price of the loco - but it's worth every penny. The handles feel properly chunky, and it is just like driving a real tram. 

Despite being electric rather than diesel, the loco has plenty of grunt for a couple of bogie coaches. The route here includes a low speed bump, which you don't even notice. The whole thing is smooth and easy to use. Even a novice driver like me finds it easy, especially as the conrol acts and a brake when you notch back. After a couple of attempts, I felt in charge, in a good way, when I reached the end of the track.

For big, fat blokes, Tug is a much nicer drive than Scamp. You sit in it like a proper narrow gauge engine, rather than perching on top. In fact it looks like a proper NG engine. And would make a nice model. Mind you, with the price being similar to one of the better 16mm scale live steam engines, I can see the appeal of owning the real thing!

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Plenty of layouts in BRM May, and a case in point

I think this is the first time I've been able to say this for years, but there's no actual model making from me in the latest issue of BRM. 

I've not been idle though, instead you have a couple of layout shoots. 


First, Stafford Station in N gauge. The advantages of the smaller scale are that you can fit a pretty expansive trackplan into a normal loft, without squashing it to look ridiculous. 

I know the station, and the miniature version is a really cracking piece of work. Better still, it looks right as the full-length trains pass through, as you can see from the BRM TV feature I put together at the same time. 

Moving from 2 to 7mm scale, we have Orford. 


We've also moved from the Midlands to Suffolk, and several decades into the past. My early exhibiting days were spent helping out with a mid-Suffolk layout, so this resonated with me. It's a typical branch line railway, well modelled, and just right for a little pottering around with O gauge stock. 

I remember the shoot fondly, as the owners wife fed me some delicious cheese scones as I worked. 

Digital readers also get a video interview with the owner, and the chance to see trains on the move. 

Elsewhere, my display case odessy continues, this time with a trip to Airframed, to see how a professional makes the things. 

It's always pleasent, watching someone who really knows what they are doing with the materials of their trade, and as I own a couple of cases from this source already, interesting to see how they go together. And it persaudes me that I do NOT want to have a go myself!

There's also a review of some military vehicles and ModelU figures.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

My favourite part of the NRM


Previously known as "The Warehouse" and now called the North Shed, this is the home to lots and lots of bits of railwayana, that simply can't be shown any other way. All museums have a reserve collection, but few chose to let us see it in this way. 

You can argue that none of the objects are displayed to best effect - that's the point. Visitors have to hunt, and so every time you (or at least I) visit, you'll find something new. 

The variety of different items amazes me. Especially the models built, not for enthusiasts, but for those running things. Miniature trains designed to show new rolling stock before it was built. 

My highlight this time was a model of Birmingham International Station before it was built. Frustratingly, the lighting and display case combined to make it unphotographical, but I still enjoyed it - fascinated that the airport shuttle had sloped ends as it does today, but not like the original maglev!

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Find me a driver


Th tram needs a driver, and the only unpainted figure I had was too tall. As, it seems, and I, in miniature form. 

Digging through my collection of people, I found a couple of G scale crewmembers, that are quite a bit smaller. 

They fit nicely in the tram, but I think are a little too small. Someone about 10mm taller would be nice. Something on the NGRS shopping list I think. 

Of course, I driver this small, is going to need a step on the outside to help him get in through the door!

Monday, April 17, 2023

Painted body


Fire up the Badger 100!

Keeping the upper and lower halves of the tram sperate, makes painting easy. The top is Revell 48 - Sea Green - because I'd lost the Humbrol Grass Green I bought for the job. On balance, I think I prefer it, so a happy accident. 

Skirts are Humbrol 153 - Insignia Red. I'm out of practise, and made the mix a bit thin, so the finish isn't as good as I might like, but it will do. Plans to lightly weather the tram are in my mind, and this will help. 

The main thing is, I much prefer my livery to the one on Boot Lane's own model which has a hint of mock tudor about it. Each to their own of course, but since this my blog, I get to choose.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

York 2023

York is like a big, comfortable jumper. Maybe it's a little tatty, but you love it and keep putting it on. 

I found my first programme for the show recently - it was from 1983, making this a staggering 40 years since that first visit. 40 years, where I have missed very few show, either as a visitor or exhibitor. 

It's a different show to many. Trade includes many smaller maufacturers, and not significant "box shifters". If it's bits you want, then York can still deliver. 

Layout quality can vary a bit. The venue isn't actually that large. Big layouts are found on the ground floor, because they simply won't fit anywhere else. This space isn't that big either, so while there will be a couple of biggies, most are more modest schemes. 

Now, much of my visit was taken up with talking, as it do often is these days, but a couple of layouts really caught my eye.  

York station

York, in 2mm finescale, built by Peter Kirmond, is a work in progress, but isn't too far away from completion, and will be stunning when done. 

The scenic section is less than 10 feet long, and shows a slice of the station, through which run trains from the late 1930s. Visitors peer into the scene and marvel at the roof and footbridge as the trains pass in front of them. 

At the other end of the scale, and winner of the Mal Scrimshaw award is Roadrunner by Les and Leane Conn. 

Roadrunner layout

This could so easily have been a fun idea, badly executed, but, despite being very simple, looks great. The scenery, easily recognisable from the cartoons, is made from insulation material, and is covered in details familar from the show - or the Acme catalogue if you have one to hand. The modelling is lovely, and really captures the correct feel. 

Obviously, there was far more to see and enjoy than just these two, but I did so much chatting, I could have done with another day for watching!


Since this is my blog, you will be expecting cake, and I'm afraid, there wasn't time for a trip to the official restaurant, but I did blag my way into the exhibitors tea bar for refreshment and traditional, Yorkshire parkin. It was OK. A bit dry, but as I don't think I've had it before, I suspect it's not tuned to my delecate, southern tastebuds. I'm still glad I tried it though. 

The good news is that Saturday's gate was very healthy, so we can hope that a show, now in it's seventh decade, will continue for a good many more. And all being well, I'll be in the queue again, next Easter.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Saturday Film Club: Behind the scenes at the Thrill-O-Matic

I don't like funfair rides. Yes, this makes me a bit of a wuss, but I don't care. 

However, if I visited Blackpool Pleasure Beach, I'd be tempted by the gentle charms of the Wallace & Gromitt "Thrill-O-Matic". I'd be even more tempted by the chance to tour the inner workings, but we can at least do this via YouTube.

Friday, April 14, 2023

Off to the National Garden Railway Show

All being well, as you read this, there is a hire van outside my house, and it's full of borrowed plants. Later today, I'll head to Peterborough to build another "Layout in a day" for the NGRS. 

Yes, I am nervous about doing this. It might be the fourth year, but as I make it all up on the spot, I'm never sure everything will work until I leave for the hotel in the evening. 

More details of the show on the NGRS website - if you are visiting, please drop by and say hello!

Thursday, April 13, 2023

More than just track and trains in May's Garden Rail

Garden Rail May 2023

Garden railways are more than just track and trains. The Stella and Corglass Railway has provided its builder, Peter Dawes with a focus while he recovered from illness, and terrific friendships along the way. Both line and owner are now thriving, a tribute to our hobby. 

Also in this issue: 

  • Part 2 of our Cornish pumphouse build. 
  • Building a Gauge 1 J38.
  • The wonderful world of tipper wagons. 
  • Building Ivor in G scale. 
  •  Coaches from cardboard. 
  • Plants for garden railways. 

Plus all the latest product news for larger-scale modellers.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Warehouse Wednesday - Thetford Station

Thetford Station

Driving back from Bressingham, I passed through Thetford and spotted a sign to the station. Since I wasn't in a rush, I took a little detour to have a look at it. 

Thetford Station telephone box

The station seems to be two buildings - one red brick, one blue brick. I'm assuming the blue is a later addition since it doesn't look anything like the rest.

Thetford Station signal box

 Unsurprisingly, the signal box has seen better days, but at least it is still standing, and reasonably intact.

Thetford Station loading dock

This was the big surprise though - loading gauge! Is there another on the real railway? It's even complete, not just the support with the curved bit missing.

Thetford station platform

Finally, a quick look down the platform with some very attractive canopy supports. 

Much useful history can be gleaned from the Wikipedia page.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Boiler painted


A blast of matt black aerosol provided most of the colour for the boiler. The rest of the work was just picking out the pretty bits. 

Wooden cladding is a couple of coats of Humbrol 93 (Dessert sand) given a wash of Agrax Earth Shade afterwards. I'm not aiming for perfectly clean, so the mottled effect looks good to my eyes. With this in mind, all the black is dry-brushed with Tank Grey too. 

Gold is Darkstar Molten Metals Regency Gold. A couple of coats do the job here, and it's not too bright. Yes, I know that Non Metal Metalic paints are fashionable, but I've not had the chance to play with the set I bought last year, and I like the Molten Metal range anyway. 

This is looking promising. Maybe a bit more caracture than finescale, but that suits my large scale modelling.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Boiler built


With a free Saturday afternoon, and a freshly purchased DVD box set of Blake's 7's first series for background, I got some time in on the steam tram. 

Boiler fitted, I could move on to the rest of the interior. At the front, I scratchbuilt a smokebox door from Plastikard bits and pieces, based on prototype photos. I'm sure that the kit includes this part, but I've lost it as the tram has moved around over the last few weeks. No worries, I'm pleased with the result, and enjoyed noddling around with bits of plastic. 

At the back, all the required parts were still with the kit, and it only took a few minutes to fit them with superglue. I particually like the firebox door, which is nice and chunky. There are a pair of water glasses, but these can stay off until after painting.

Sunday, April 09, 2023

Statfold Barn model railway show 2023


Look at that FILTH! 

Lovely stuff, and a good part of the appeal of the Statfold Barn show. 

The main event takes place in an excellent exhibition hall. Because of the venue, there is a higher percentable of 009 layouts than normal, but that suits me perfectly. Trade is perhaps a little box-shifter heavy, but this is a general show with a good percentage of families in attendance, and so specialists aren't going to do well. There was a reasonable mix of new and second-hand on sale, with a few gems for those with a sharp eye. 

Nice as the layouts are though, the other appeal of the venue is seven steam locos and a tram batting around the site. The £14 ticket covered everything, including all the rides you wanted. The only extra bill would be for those wanting to try the "Driver for a fiver" sessions - and there were plenty of takers for this!

All in all, an excellent day out. My only complaint was that the excellent cake stall that's been present in previous years hadn't turned up, but since my Dad and I arrived when the show opened, and left as it closed, we can't complain. 

Most of my photos are of the real stuff I'm afraid. There was a little layout shopping for work, but I can look at toy trains every day, and they don't smell as nice!

Photo gallery over on Flickr.

Friday, April 07, 2023

Wardie Master Models Good Yard Crane - I bought it for the box


Spotted on ebay a few weeks ago, and bought for a fiver including postage, it wasn't the model that specifically appealed to me, but the box. 

I'm not a box keeper. In fact, I'm all for throwing the boxes model railway arrive in, away as fast as possible. Use the stuff. Run your trains. Then if they must be put away, a proper stock box is a much more efficient use of space. And don't give me that stuff about the boxes making them easier to re-sell, if that's the plan, you can't weather them, or add a crew to the footplate. 

Something appealed about this though. Maybe it's the way the box is designed to display the contents, presumably when in the model shop. The crane is pretty complete, just missing a hook, and it works. 

Made of metal, I wonder what sort of factory Wardie ran. I imagine lines of men in overalls putting these things together on long benches. I doubt there was much in the way of mechanisation, or production line working - but I could be wrong. 

I'll admit, I know little of Wardie's history, but there is an excellent page of catalogue scans in the Binns Road Website. It certainly looks like an interesting range to collect - far harder then old Dublo or Tri-ang, but providing that satisfaction of finding more obscure items in good condition. Start with ebay, and then resort to digging around second-hand stalls and old model shops. 

Bonus. With the crane came a buffer stop and fog hut. 

I really don't need another thing to collect of course, so now I have to work out what to do with this stuff. Any takers?

Thursday, April 06, 2023

Body in primer


There's not much detail to go on the steam tram body - just some handrails. The knobs for these are nicely 3D printed, and I reamed them out to take a 2mm thich piece of plastic rod.

They are a little brittle, but spares are provided. As it was, when I felt one crack, I stopped reaming and the crack didn't cause the end to fall off. A good wash of ABS solvent stuck them into the body and fixed the rod in place. 

To add a little relief, some half-round strip runs around the body. Tacked in place with Revell Contacta cement, more ABS solvent fixed it. Once dry I sanded the corners for neatness. 

A spray of pimer brings it all together. I'll need to attned to all the corners as I didn't get them as snug as I'd like. Working with clear plastic makes it difficult to see what you are doing, or at least that's my excuse!

Now I've got this far, the plan to just get on with it is proving right. I like the look of the model, and while I can see some tweaks to come (should there be a step to help the driver in and out of the doors?) the proportions look right, so I'm happy.

Wednesday, April 05, 2023

Warehouse Wednesday: Southam Police Station

Southam Police Station

A photo grabbed because it shows a useful (to modellers) building, that I suspect won't be around much longer. According to the sale document, it will be replaced with "20 supported units" and space for Police car parking. The facade will stay, although if it will change (surely the right hand side will need windows adding) it's not possible to say yet. One local paper suggests it will simple be demolished, so I've no idea what will happen.

Built in the 1960s, on the site of some cottages, it's a typical, for the era, clean-lined building. The size would be ideal for the larger layout, even though it's actually quite a small station. Dating from the days when the fuzz were more local, and the town bobby would give a clip around the ear for scrumping apples, it's at least the right era!

You can see the Police station on Google Streetview.

Tuesday, April 04, 2023

Boiler tubing

In this episode, our hero proves that sometimes that junk you hang onto for many years, does eventually come in handy.


If I'm fitting side tanks to the tram, the great big hole in the top of the boiler needs to be covered. I could have solved this by fitting the tube upside down, but that didn't occur to me at the time, so now it needs a wrapper.

I've recently curved some Plastikard very succesfully for a set of 16mm coaches, using my metal rollers. A few trips back and forth, and the roof pieces were a perfect fit. On this basis, I tried to roll something near to a cylinder. It sort of worked, and I hoped superglue would do the rest. It didn't. The plastic gapped at the bottom and couldn't be persauded to lie flat against the 3D printed boiler.

Attempt two involved finding some suitable tube to do the job. After a bit of rooting around, I rediscovered a plastic tube that once contained the paper for a fax machine (ask your grandad kids) from the late 1990s. I kept it, because I just knew it would come in handy one day. 

Using a pipe cutter, I chopped off the correct length. The cutter ensured the ends would be square, and is far easier than a saw. I did need a saw to slit along the bottom though. The fax tube is too small, but can be prised open to clip over the 3D printed supports on the smokebox and firebox. 

While digging through photos, I found a French steam tram with wood cladding on the boiler, so I've scribed the planks on the tube, it will get boiler bands later. 

The whole lot was fixed in place with epoxy, and left overnight. The result is nice and solid. OK, there is a gap underneath, but no one will see that. 


After all this, perhaps it's time to upgrade my rollers to a set like this, seen at Statfold Barn last weekend...