Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Warehouse Wednesday: Fire escape


Fire escape

Strolling around Northampton, I spotted this lovely, boxy, building. You can see it on this Streetview link - which is handy, as I couldn't get an angle to show the whole building. 

I did rather like the fire escape though, and felt a couple of shots would be useful. This is the sort of detail that looks great on a model, but because it's fiddly (those stairs!) to build, frequently gets missed off. Or maybe, people don't see the point. When we built our clubrooms, one member moaned that we'd included a rear exit for emergencies, because the office he'd worked in during the 1970s didn't have one...

Anyway, assuming you do care about the lives of your minitaure population, I hope these shots provide a bit of useful detail. 

Fire escape

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Brakes on



The van kit came without instructions, but fortunatly, they can be downloaded from the Slater's website. Handy, because without them, I'm pretty sure I'd have assembled the brake gear incorrectly. 

I'm used to the idea that half-etched lines mean fold, but the size of G1 bits mean that items like the push rods which would, in 4mm scale, be a single plastic moulding, are a bit more detailed. Specifically, the double push rods have a gap between them. I'm sure they don't on the standard kit, although I'm also sure that finescale fans will have an etch to do this. 

Joints are brass pins, the kit includes some very fine bolts, but I've rescued these for use elsewhere. The pins look fine, and are superglued in anyway. In fact, the who construction owes a lot to superglue, a bit of a surprise, but it works. 

Some vans were only fitted with gear on one side, but since the previous owner fitted shows on both, and I don't like wasting parts, I'll repeat all of this on the other side.

Update: I've just fitted the brakes on the other side and realised these are back to front. Push the lever and the shoes move away from the wheels! I'm not sure how I'll fix this to be honest...

Monday, May 29, 2023

Fame is, R7361


Parkers Newsagents
I am properly famous. Never mind having your name in lights above a theatre entrance, or appearing on billboards. There is a building in the Hornby Skaledale range named after me. 

When sitting through the new year announcements last December, this model, R7361 Parkers Newsagents (I'm sure there should be an apostrophe), it was heavily hinted that the name wasn't a coincidence. 

You can argue that they have to call it something, but I've known the people at Hornby for a long while, so have decided that the model is named after me. 

Inside the box is a rather nice building. Not perfect of course, and in the July issue of BRM, I've made a few modifications, which have ruined its collectable status. I'll have to buy one and keep it mint. They probably worked that out. It's a marketing ploy...

You can buy Parkers Newsagent from Hornby.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Llangollen garden rail show 2023


They get lucky with the weather in Wales. At least when it's time for the Llangollen show anyway. Just like last year, it was beautiful. I'm not sure how much fun the event would be in the tent-style venue in the winter, but who cares? 

The run from home was just over 2 hours - not bad at all. Had I realised we'd do so well, I'd have bought advanced tickets. As it was, my Dad and I joined the queue just before 10:30 and it took a little while to process us. That's a good thing, as we want shows to be busy!

There are two halls, a smaller one mainly trade and the big tented area with trade around the side and layouts in the middle. As ever, I did a lot of chatting, and my Dad left some of my inheritance behind in return for some models. 

Sadly, we'd have done a lot more, and taken a lot more photos, except a minor familiy emergency caused us to leave at 2pm, when we'd barely been around the event once. Needless to say, what looked like a mountain from Wales, turned out to be a molehill when back home.

Maybe next year...

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Saturday Film Club: A Train Ride Makes Everything Better

An interesting video from Geoff Marshall, and one I fully agree with. Sometimes, taking a train ride give you free space and time to process thoughts, or just to relax. Sitting in a seat, watching the world go by lets my mind drift in (generally) a very positive way. 

I'd even extend this to just watching trains. I don't understand this, but sitting on a station watching trains go past, I find a really pleasent way to pass time. There's no spotting going on, truth is I couldn't identify most of the units on the modern railway without looking them up, just viewing an orderly world getting on with things.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Time for a break

It's Saturday evening, and I'm warming up Photoshop to process some pictures I urgently need for an article, after which I have two more to write before the end of the week. Which means lots of time building models and none spare for Blogging. 

See you in a few days. Try not to cause any trouble while I'm away...

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Saturday Film Club: Shunting the NRM

A little bit "gosh wow", but an interesting look at moving large trains in a relatively small space.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Potential crime didn't pay


There are many skills I'd love to aquire - ventriloquism, riding a unicycle properly (I can wobble about on one) and picking locks. 

There's no real plan for that last one, I don't see myself as Raffles, the gentleman cat burglar in the future. I'm just curious. There is a lock-pick set in my tools, and I sort of understand the basic concepts, but aquiring skills requires practise. 

A handy tool for this is a transparent lock, and I thought I'd found on in an antique shop recently. 8 quid, it looked like a bargin. 

What it was, is not a lot of money. Far from a bargain though. 

For a start, look at the keys. Have you ever seen ones like this? Nope. No point learning how to pick this lock, as you'll never see another. 

Worse, when I unlocked it, the whole thing jammed solid and wouldn't lock again. Pocking and prodding resulted in the thing falling to bits - and it was still jammed!

Thursday, May 18, 2023

A nice layout, a nice layout cover and a bit of tech in June's BRM

One of my fastest photo shoots ever leads the June 2023 issue of BRM. 

A Nice Layout

The photos for this feature were taken on the Sunday morning at Doncaster show - giving me only 45 minutes to do the job, about 30 less than I'd really have liked to capture all the angles on this fascinating N gauge layout. The operators were exceptionally helpful, running trains exactly where I needed them which meant I bagged everything needed to the article. 

I've also built a little layout, you can guess what the cover is!

And for BRM TV, I'm looking at new, and old technology.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Hello from a K8


K8 Phone box

Spotted during an essential coffee stop on the way to a photo shoot in Hereford. I've always liked the K8 telephone box, and it's nice to see one still on show - although perhaps a coat of paint is called for?

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Wheel woes


The van is up on its wheels, but fitting them wasn't quite as easy as I'd hoped. Both axles could be persuaded into the axle boxes, but neither rotated anything like smoothly. 

Examining the problem, I spotted that the freer axle was 58.5mm long, which the other measured 62. How? 

The axle eneds didn't look that special either, some polishing required. 

Supporting each axle on a fine foam sanding block, which helpfully cleaned it as I worked, the wheelset was spun using an electric screwdriver, which I gently attacked the end with a sanding stick to smooth it, and round the corners a little. 

The long axle was reduced in length by 2mm using a fine file and then repolished. Still not entirely happy, a 3mm diameter bit was spun in the axlebox as best I could. Finishing with a countersink bit ensured there weren't any burrs. 

If all this sounds crude, it is. Opening out the bearing would have been a lot easier if it wasn't fitted - my version doesn't allow for a nice squre opening out, but it works.

Soon, the long axle ran perfectly, but the short one mostly worked, but sometimes didn't. A 1mm long piece of copper stuffed in each axlebox removes most of the sideplay, and improves things a lot. 

I suppose this is all part of the "fun" of buying a second hand kit. There is some satisfaction in solving the problems after all!

Monday, May 15, 2023

MR (big) box van kit


Spotted on a stand at York, a Slater'S Gauge 1 box van kit. Part built, but, as far as I can tell, complete, and priced about £30 cheaper than buying new, I snapped it up. 

I've built this kit in 4mm several times, and always liked it, so why not try in the larger scale? 

First impressions are good. The previous builder has done a good job. There were obviously some issues with the moving (sprung I think) axleboxes, but these have been resolved. 

It all seems nice and square. In theory, this will be a quick project. The instructions (missing from my box) have been downloaded, so let's see.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Coronation steam


Coronation Sunday was glorious. A day full of lovely sunshine. Unfortunatly, we'd arrnaged to enjoy a running session on the Monday - when it rained. 

No matter. A good time was had by all. My Merlin Mayflower looked lovely on a set of Isle of Man coaches, which pleased me, since I also have a set for future use. 

There was, of course, cake. Thanks to the WI. 

John brought along this rather attractive South African prorotype, which ran very sweatly. 

Up for sale was this Mat Muckly, scratchbuilt Shay. Sadly, a bit out of my reach, but it is lovely. 

A nice Roundhouse Billy looked lovely in black, and steamed perfectly. I've always fancied building one of these from a kit, something watching, and hearing it, putter around made me even keener for. 

A rare loco - the very first Fine Scale Engineering line from thje guy who built the chassis. He could be persuaded to part with it, but for about twice the price of the Shay!

A bit of a Frankenloco now. There's an Edrig chassis under this body, and the control mechanism is "interesting" - but will be sorted out. 

And finally, not steam, but another Mat Muckly model. This time a galloping goose.

Despite the rain, trains ran from 2 to 6pm, and plenty of passers by were entertained. Money was raised for charity too, so a good day.

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Saturday Film Club: The Girder Bridge and Thunderbirds

Sit back, and enjoy this exploration of the uses the humble Airfix Girder Bridge was put to in Thunderbirds. If that sounds nerdy, it is. And brilliant.

Friday, May 12, 2023

My first gauge one wagon


In my stash of future projects is a Barrett Steam LNER J65 live steam kit. Picked up at a bargain price, that still required me to go and have a sit down, cup of tea, and slice of cake to decide money from the building socity would be better off turned into a dream kit, I'm hoping to do a Peckett-style build in Garden Rail later this year. 

If I have a loco, I'll need a train. Not a layout, our club is busy building one of these, but I need rolling stock. 

A quick chat with a professional loco painter tells me that a pre-grouping livery can be on the cards, which means no BR wagons. 

Chatting to Graham Langer, it seems that Accucraft's range of PO wagons isn't going to be easy to track down. And then I spotted one for sale on Facebook, which was with me a few days later. 

Do I like it? very much so. Price-wise, it's about two Rapido wagons, which isn't unreasonable if you look at it this way. Which I plan to do, to spare my wallet the pain. 

My aim is to have five wagons and a brake van. That will look lovely in my eyes, and if built up over a long period of time, not be too eye-wateringly expensive. There is the posibility of a four-wheel coach too, so a mixed train is a possibility. 

I'm not going fully RTR. Looking around, if you can aclimatise to £75+ wagons, there are a few very tempting kits out there too. Very tempting. Watch this space. 

Thursday, May 11, 2023

A locomotive cavalcade in Garden Rail


Garden Rail June 2023

Our “Layout in a day” for the National Garden Railway show might only exist for a few hours, but during that time, we managed to run 14 different locos on it, including some live steam. Enjoy a procession of trains, along with advice for would-be fast garden railway building in this issue.

We also take a look at:

  • Building a super-detail Simplex from a very basic kit
  • Loading wagons on a budget
  • Techniques to make your operation more enjoyable
  • Taking a popular exhibition layout on tour
  • Building a bridge
  • Anglicising an LGB Feldbahn loco
  • 3D printing telephone boxes and a newspaper kiosk – complete with free files for you to use

All this plus the latest product news for the modeller in the larger scales.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Warehouse Wenesday - Metropole Garage

The last couple of shots from Maidenhead. Maybe not that exciting, but as I got wet taking them, I'm going to use them!

I can't really work out how this building should work. Were it not for the stone name above the main entrance, I'd assume it had been something else, and the lower sign is a later addition. 

How do you show off the cars with no windows at the front? And it's in a side street, so limited passing trade. 

On the side is a more conventional building/workshop. It's a lot younger than the stone building, so presumably has been replaced at some point, although not recenly as I suspect a 1970s vibe.

Tuesday, May 09, 2023

Completed tram (well, nearly)

Steam tram

I'm calling this one done. Well, nearly anyway. I little revisit will be made in the future. 

The finished tram, looks in my opinion, very good. Adding a set of names plates from the 247 Developments range (got to thier ebay store for the larger scale versions) breaks up the single-colour sides for a bit of interest. By the way Ceridwen is regarded by many modern pagans as the Celtic goddess of rebirth, transformation, and inspiration - OK, not that well connected to a steam tram, but not offensive either. 

STeam tram

All the detail inside makes a difference. I'm going to stick to my guns and not glaze the windows. I'm just not comfortable with glazing, and since it's my model, they stay open so all the fumes can escape. 

Work to do? Well, I want to break out the airbrush and add a little, light weathering eventually. The skirts especially could do with a but of grime, and some soot marks on th roof would be nice. 

When we ran the tram at the NGRS, it became apparent that a hook in the top of the coupling was too tall. This needs to be a removable pin which retails the chain coming out of one of the slots. That shouldn't be too hard to do, and would be more prototypical too. 

Overall - this is a really nice kit. Assembly is easy and if you don't faff with the inside, quick too. The result is a pleasingly sharp model. 

Thanks to commentators on this thread, I've learned a lot about prototype steam trams too. Thanks very much for this. I hope anyone wanting a similar education finds the comments and follows the links. It's a fascinating subject.


Monday, May 08, 2023

Tram roof


The tram roof makes use of a 3D printed interior skelton, on to which the builder sticks a piece of plastic. The holes for safety valve and chimney are pre-cut, which makes me hope I didn't make the replacement boiler any longer than I should. 

1mm thick plastic is quite strong, so I stuck it through the rollers to put a curve on. The supports are also strong, but it makes sense to reduce the conflict between the two. 

Removing the 3D print supports was a fiddly job. Lots of triming with some flush cutters and sanding. You could probably skip that step, and I wasn't entirely sure I needed to do it, but I'm glad I did.

Sunday, May 07, 2023

Bristol 2023


When the show opens at 12:30 on Friday, and doesn't close until 7pm - that's a loooooong day...

It makes for an interesting mix of crowds though. Were I local, I'd probably take the afternoon off and go on Friday. But I'd just as happily been waiting on Saturday. As it was the hard-core modellers were split over the two days, meaning Saturday morning wasn't the crush you'd normally expect on the first day of a large event. 

Our stand had to be relocated to the central hub between the three halls, as the planned location didn't offer enough headroom for our backing banner. Initially, this wasn't great as the visitors shot by us in search of the next bargain, but once things settled down we were soon chatting away, selling subs, and giving away prizes on the tombolla. Three days in a warm, dry hall, and I sounded like I had a cold on the following Wednesday, despite drinking my own bodyweight in liquid each day. 

The show was terrific. I carried out two layout shoots, and would have happily added another three if there had been time. And that takes account of many of the best models already appearing on BRM's pages in the past 

Trade wasn't bad either. Very typical for a big show with a few "box-shifters" and plenty of second-hand on offer. Squires and H&A models provided the more specialist "bits" support as they always do. You could buy loco kits in a few places, but there was nothing to make me skip the "no more kits" mantra. 

Mind you, I did go project shopping with my boss for an hour, to restock the work project cupboard, so I won't be bored!

My favourite sight? IsamBIRD Kingdom BrunOWL, a stunning stature, beautifully painted with scenes from Brunnel's life and work. It's being used as part of a stand, but I'd have found a way to get it in the back of my car if that had been an option - even if I'd had to use a can-opened to take a bit of the roof off!

All in all, a really good, and somewhat underatted event. At under 2 hours from Leamington, it's not too bad a run, but there were lots of layouts from out of my area, and therefore new to me. To many though, it's not on their list of regular haunts - it should be.

Saturday, May 06, 2023

Saturday Film Club: LNER Royal Train stories

Well, I really needed to find something suitably Royal for today, didn't I? What with Charles getting his new hat and everything...

Friday, May 05, 2023

Desirable property in the (Tri-ang) countryside?


Tri-ang forge
Picked up for a couple of quid at Bristol, for many, this is a rather uninspiring lump. To those in the know, it's one of the first "ready to plonk" buildings. 

According to Pat Hammod's book on Rovex, the Tri-ang Countryside Series, originated with a firm called Young and Fogg, who specialised in making rubber toys containing noise-makers. Tri-ang asked them to produce a range of rubber buildings. In the end, they were made by IMA Ltd, part of the Lines empire, who took over the firm. 

Tri-ang Forge

My model is the R363 Forge. Manufaturered in 1960-62, price 2/11. Pat tells us that 1886 models were produced, all sold in plastic bags with a card header designed to hang on a hook in the shop.

Sadly, the rubber shrinks and dries out, leading to the mishapen appearance. These are rare, but those examples I have seen, are all affected this way. 

I think I probably got a bargain here. Mainly, because so few people knew what they were looking at, and even fewer wanted to add the model to their Tri-ang collection as I do. It just shows, if you keep looking, there are jewels out there...

More on the Tri-ang Countryside Range of models.

Thursday, May 04, 2023


5 years ago, I was in Canada, at a model railway show. And ran a Rapido APT-E on my tiny layout. It didn't fit.

Wednesday, May 03, 2023

Warehouse Wednesday: Minehead RNLI station

Minehead lifeboat

Built in 1950, and enlarged in 1993, Minehead's lifeboat station is home to a D Class and Atlantic 25. Both are launched by Tooltrack tractor. 

An attractive building, made of the local red stone, it can be found at the quayside end of the prom. 

Outside, one of the many Maidstone metal figures guards the doors. 

Tuesday, May 02, 2023

Iain Rice tools


This is probably going to sound a bit silly, but at the members day, one of the guys was disposing of tools belonging to the late Iain Rice. And I bagged these three. 

We were looking at the dregs of the collection, but no matter. These belonged to someone whose words I have enjoyed over the years, and will act as a momento. Some, probably the Olfa cutter, might even have appear in one of his books. 

All three are actually useful, so they won't be tucked away in reverence, that's not the point of tools to my mind. They will join Alan Gibson's. John Web's and my grandads tools in my toolchest. And when I use them, I'll think of the person in whose footsteps I'm following. 

Monday, May 01, 2023

Early closing frustration


Since I live as far from the sea as it's possible to get in Britain, for the members day, I decided a Saturday night in Minehead would be nice. 

Travelling down in the morning, I arrived around lunchtime, partook of a lovely jacket spud and beans in the cafe at the West Somerset Railway station, and then strolled around the town. 

Frustratingly, many of the most interesting shops closed early. A classic case being the antique shop with a large scale loco in the window. While I'm not in the market, I'd liked to have had a proper look, at this, and the one inside. 

It wasn't the only thing that caught my eye either. 

See also "Sweets and Models" - a model shop with a sideline in jars of sweets. I am looking for a can of red spray paint too, and they had paint racks...