Monday, July 31, 2023

Wheels on


The running gear on these coaches is minimalistic, but it's simple and robust, just what you need in the garden. 

Bearing are fitted in the MDF sideframes, and I reamed them out a bit to give a touch of slop to help in less than perfect track. 

Other than that, glue one solebar in place, let it dry, then fit the other one, trapping the wheels in place. Check it rolls and if so, let the glue harden. 

One issue, there's no marks to show where the solebars go, so a bit of jiggery-pokery was requied to work out how far apart they should be, 55mm, and marking things out either side of a centre line.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Smallspace 2023

Eagle transporter

Yet again, Hanslope Village Hall hosted a superb sci-fi show. Loads to see, including the entertaining Avenue Who, a cross between the Muppets and Dr Who. I'd not planned to stay as long as I did, but had to wait for the 1pm performance, and it was well worth it. 

Inside, there was the usual (!) selection of high quality modelling and trade. Outside, Daleks, K9 and R2D2 trundling around. 

I took a lot of photos, and you can find them on Flickr.

Saturday Film Club: Building an Admirals Barge


If you remember last Sunday, I mentioned the KMBC Navy day, and the superb steam boat I really loved. 

Well, David Brook has put together a video showing how he scratchbuilt this fantastic model. 

You can watch it here.

Friday, July 28, 2023

N gauge station


Preparing for the filming I didn't get to do, involved digging out all the Billy Bookcase layouts. Well, I wasn't going to waste the opportunity to take some photos. 

Both the OO and 009 layouts have been in front of the camera many times, but Rushton, the N gauge member of the trio isn't so widely used as a photo background. 

I was always pleased with the slightly desolate air of this model. Very Stopping Train Britian with a blue DMU standing in front of the very basic platform shelter. We don't build enough miserable layouts.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Blue paint


The other area I was going to be responsible for was paint. While Dad is happy enough splashing a coat of cream inside with a brush, the exterior really wanted spraying. 

My choice was a Halfords rattle can. Can't remember the colour as all this was a couple of months ago, and we used it all up. 

Lessons learned on the first coach was that even after sanding sealing, the wood, and especially MDF, really soaks up the paint. The trick is to apply several coats over a couple of days, paying particular attention to the sides of the framing and insides of the windows. 

By letting the paint dry, it seems that this stops the material acting quite so sponge-like. Perhaps it dries in the pores, and each subsequent coat fills them up. Dunno, but if you don't, the edged all look rubbish compared to the flat panels. 

This was supposed to be an easy job...

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Warehouse Wednesday: Groudle post box


Groudle Post Box

If all has gone according to plan, as you read this, I am on the Isle of Man. So, let's have a Manx photo. 

This post box can be found beside the Groudle tram stop on the Manx Electric Railway. It's a nice, simple feature, and quite old as we are one king back on the front!

As far as I know, it's still in use. Perhaps I'll test it with a postcard if I get the chance.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023



OK, I couldn't resist getting involved a little.

The framing is nice, but to my eye, the coach sides still looked a little flat. What they needed IMHO, was hinged standing out. 

The positions are etched into the wood, so all I had to do was cut short lengths of stripwood and glue them in place. Then the coach was ready for a dose of sanding sealer. 

You might wonder why I didn't put the bump stops on as well. I was tempted but they aren't that prominent, and I was busy...

Monday, July 24, 2023

16mm scale wooden coaches


My personal modelling has been very limited recently, but fortunatly, my Dad has been busy. We felt we needed some rolling stock to run behind the Peckett, and other steam locos, and while there's a lot of 45mm stock on the shelf, it's mostly LGB Toy Train, or Playmobile. Fine when running with plastic locos, but it just doesn't seem right to couple them to real steam. 

Anyway, the couplings are wrong. 

Luckily, he had three IP Engineer freelance short coach kits to hand and fancied having a go. The first was built as a test, worked out well, so he moved on to the others, which is what we'll be writing up here. 

The models are standard IP style laser-cut MDF and plywood. To get to the stage shown above, you make up an MDF box, and glad it with ply framing. I'm told, everything fitted well, with just a little care required to line things up properly. PVA was the glue of choice, and many clamps were used as well. 

The results are nice and solid, ideal for haulage with a steam engine.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Navy Day 2023

Steam launch

I'll admit, I'm not into grey boats, but it's still worth a strip down the boat club for Navy Day. 

Some superb modelling was on show as ever. The highlight for me though, had to ba a stunning steam launch. No guns, so presumably the way the admiral and other senior ranks, would be taken to battleships. Whatever, it is an amazing piece of work. 

Cake was excellent with some delicious lemon meringue tarts. I only sampled one, but it was tempting to have a repeat visit...

More photos from the day over on Flickr.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Saturday Film Club - An Eagle obsessive

I've always said that the Eagle transporter from Space 1999 is my favourite space ship. It just looks right - a real space truck, just what you'd need living on the moon. 

Interesting then, to see this collection in a US sci-fi convention with the model in many, many different scales. The guy is a collector, rather than builder, but he seems to know his stuff and I envy him a shelf full of these things!

Friday, July 21, 2023

Tea, tram and cake


Cake, tram and tea

A couple of days after I escaped the hospital, a parcel arrived for me - with instructions on the outside to open it imediatly as the contents were perishable. 

Inside, were some cakes. From my colleagues - a really touching gift. They know me well, and discovered that the famous Betty's Tearooms will send treats by post. 

Anyway, I munched through the fondant fancies over a few days, and when I reached the last one, felt I ought to make an occasion of it. So, out with the Boot Lane Tram, and a nice cup of tea.  

Coupling up a short train (I ran out of coupling chain) there was a flat wagon at the end, so the cake went for a ride!

After a few curcuits, I retrieved it, and can confirm it tasted delicious!

Thursday, July 20, 2023

G scale Lanz Bulldog


G Scale Lanz Bulldog
And with one bound, we were finished. 

First thoughts - this is an impressive size. 15 1/2cm long and jus under 11cm tall, the complete model certainly has presence. I suppose in G scale (1:22.5), it really should, and I really ought not to be surprised. 

G Scale Lanz Bulldog

Part fit was excellent. Apart from opening out some holes for the steering (which does work), it's a case of sticking part A to part B. The paint seems to stand up to glue pretty well, and while the weathering isn't sophisticated, it works pretty well. Mud and panel wash would enhance it, but I plan to load this on a railway wagon at some point, and assume it will have had a little bit of a wash before shipping. 

G Scale Lanz Bulldog

Posed on the prototype, all I learn is that tractors are a can of worms as far as details go. The real thing has a different exhaust, but another in the collection uses the same stack. I'm thinking that on-farm modification was common, and if prototype fidelity is your dream, pick one, and model it. 

Did I enjoy the build? Yes. I wasn't in the mood for heavy modelling, I just wanted to stick bits together. At least a large box has been removed from the office. Or at least it will one I've squirelled away some useful parts, including a rather nice tractor seat. But that is for the future...

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Steering and suspension


Now for the fiddly bit - the steerting. A couple of pre-bent lengths of brass wire are included, which have to be slotted through the plastic pivots and arm. 

I'd pre-painted everything, and let it dry for a couple of days. No point in letting soft paint gum everything up. As it was, every single hole required cleaning out with a broach as the stubs to fit in them are all slightly too large. 

Having done this, I was surprised that it all worked. If I'm honest, the setup isn't exactly robust, and I can see it all being glued up solid at some point, when part of it breaks. 

There is even movement in the front axle so the tractor can stand on uneven ground. It pivots from a support in the middle and on the back or what I assume is a gearbox thing sticking out of the front. All very clever. 

 Interesting to note, something I only spotted in the photo, the kit dates from 1995, so it's nearly 30 years old!

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Big bits, swift progress


Detailing the Bullodog isn't a slow process. Great big lumps of plastic clad the inner body shell. Part fit is excellet, so it's just a case of splodging on some Contacta cement and pushing the part into position. The nearest to difficult, is making sure the louvres on the side are the right way up. 

Around the back, there is a hatch that can be opened behind the seat. Is this a boot for the farmer to store his tools and sandwiches during the day? 

All the mudguards are on a single part, and it locates on to a few stubs, but I found a clamp helped it sit perfectly on the side of the body, there is a couple of mm gap otherwise. No problem getting the clamp in on such a large model though!

Talking of big lumps, I made up the wheels. Each tyre is solid rubber, and quite a weight. The centres just clip in, making sure the treads are the right way around at the back. I'm not sure if the colour on the tyres is mould release, or some sort of weathering. I don't dislike it, so it can stay. Maybe a wash of brown will sink in and give it a bit of colour eventually.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Do NOT glue...


The Bulldog should, if built correctly, have working steering. This means there are quite a lot of parts that mustn't come into contact with the glue. 

First, we have a sterring stuport, which is made in two halves with a plastic axle within. First go, glue seeped where it wasn't wanted and gummed it up. I quickly pulled things apart, and then had the good sense not to try and rush thing - leaving all the parts to dry before sanding and reassembly. 

On the second attempt, with some really tiny dots of Contacta cement, all went well. 

The cog you see poking out of the bottom of the support, should engage with a cog inside the body. A cog, I had forgotten to fit. 

My excuse is that, if fitted when the instructions tell you too, one end is floating free and will fall out. So it's Pola's fault. 

Anyway, the bidy had been assembled by this point and a sensible person would just write off working steering as a gimmick they didn't need. I'm not sensible, so forced a blade along the join and prised the body halves opon. OK, a bit of plastic cracked, but it's plastic, a touch of glue will fix this if required - it wasn't. 

I'll admit the job was a bit brutal, but at least the steering should move!

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Melbridge on the TV

Watching an episode of the TV show Not Going Out, a detail caught my eye. 

It seems one of the children in the sitcom attends Melbridge Park Academy. That's odd, because Melbridge doesn't actually exist. We have built several layouts with the name, but pinched it from the 1942 film, Random Harvest.  

At the time, we were struggling to invent a town name, and Melbridge was convincing, and certainly better than anything we could come up with. Try it for yourself - it's harder than you think. 

So, how come the TV people used Melbridge? I'm assuming they also nicked it from the film, or perhaps there is a railway modeller on the production team?

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Saturday Film Club: ASTEROID CITY, miniature effects

Hat tip to Ben Buki for this one. Another behind-the-scenes from a current film. Fascinating stuff that makes me want to go and see the movie.

Friday, July 14, 2023

Wickham shed, scammells and wheel cleaning in BRM

Another busy month for me in August's edition of BRM. 

I start by building a Wickham trolley shed in O gauge. 

This makes use of an Ellis Clark laser-cut kit. It's one you don't really want to build to a deadline, or at least start earlier so the excellent detailing can be enjoyed. 

Elsewhere, I look at replacement bodies for Scammell lorries. 

What I find is all model Scammells are not the same, making the project trickier then expected. 

There are a few shorts too:

  • Wheel cleaning
  • The colour of jeans
  • New panel wash
  • Sanding sticks

I've been out with the camera and captured the 009 Layout Ashgate. 

and in N gauge, Low Fell. 

 On BRM TV, I'm visiting the TCT 3D print show. 

and briefly appear in the film on Rail Live, although for most of it, I'm behind the camera.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Ups and downs in Garden Rail


Garden Rail August 2023

We're going up and down in the world in August's Garden Rail.

Starting with the down, Paul Galyet has constructed a slate quarry in his back garden. It's one of the most unusual layouts we've ever seen, but captures the famous Welsh lines perfectly and provides a home for his collection of small locos.

Over in the USA, John Carmichael spotted a space on his line, and decided a cliff tramway would be ideal to fill it. He takes us through the design so anyone could consider adding a bit of height to their own line.

Also featured:

Building a Gauge 3 Terrier

African coaches

A Welsh slate wagon

Adding a pony truck to a Peckett

Building storage boxes for your locos

Four 16mm scale buildings for £100

Plus all the latest news for the large scale modeller.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Warehouse Wednesday: Bus stop

Bus stop

Spotted somewhere in the Cotswolds when I was on a photo job, you could lift this sign from the picture here, and stick it on a bit of rod for a convincing scenic addition. 


Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Need some black


Assembly starts well enough with a shelf stuck in one side of the main casting, but then it's time to move on to the cab area. 

Here, we find that everything is painted, except the black bits, which are self coloured. Were I a bit more with it, I'd get the airbrush out and shoot some Revell 9 over the sprue, but right now, I'll got for the easier opion of spot painting controls and pedals. 

Talking of these, someone at Pola didn't measure the holes as they are too large for the support. I'v flooded the hole with plastic cement and plonked the pedal in, with the plastic touching one edge. They stay upright, and in the morning are solid enough, just requiring the underside to be sanded flat again. 

Bit of a bodge there, but it works. 

Monday, July 10, 2023

A pre-painted Bulldog


Time for a simple kit. Last year, I finally sucumbed to a G scale Lanz Bulldog kit from Pola. An odd choice you might think, except that my first novel (still available) culminates with a tractor chase featuring one of these. Inspiration came from the tractor collection on the farm my model railway and boat club live on. When I found out this was the sport model, well, it had to be the hero vehicle. 

My collection now includes several models, but this will be the largest one so far, and a nice load for the garden railway. 

There are plenty of bits in the box, and a surprise. The kit is not only pre-painted, but pre-weathered too! OK, it's a basically a dirty wash, but the results look pretty effective. 

Most of the model is plastic, but the chunky, solid tyres are rubber, and it will have some weight when built because of this. 

This isn't going to be a serious project. Used outside, there's no point in wiring up the engine or adding too much fiddly detail, but I'm not in the mood for this. Anyway, there is a MiniArt kit in the stash for the same prototype that would be a better bet...

Sunday, July 09, 2023

Time to have your say

Slight grumpy post alert.

There's a lot of "consulation" around railways right now. Let's start with the plan to close all the ticket offices in England. 

The argument is that most people buy online or at ticket machines these days and we all need to move with the times and scrap the people sat behind a window. I can see how the maths works, but there are a few issues for me. 

First: I'm good with technology, but the Chiltern Trains ticket machines at my local station are a great example of truly terrible usability. Who decided they needed a shopping cart? When you buy tickets, it's normally for a journey you are about to make. They aren't bloody Amazon where you'll fill a basket with different products. 

Talking of baskets, the governments example if the self-service till in a supermarket. Apparently, these are wildely effective. Unless you have actually used them, in which case you'll have spent ages waiting for someone to come and dig the thing out of a hole when something unexpected happens. Not too bad in a supermarket where a quick flash of a card will usually fix things so the shopper can get back to the task. In a station, the person wandering around (we are promised they will be there, this isn't about reducing staff..) will then have to untangle the passenger (I refuse to call them customer) journey, almost certainly ending up punching the whole lot in from scratch. 

And what happens when the machines break? I've been at the station more than once when all five are out of action. Presumably the ticket barriers will then open so we can buy on the train, or even, not at all? 

If you want to have your say on this, visit the Transport Focus website. 


Over on the Isle of  Man, the government is "consulting" on the future of the heritage railways. They want to find out who uses them, and why. 

Suggestions are made that the MER could be cut back to Laxey. And the steam railway shortened in a similar way. Both run at a loss, and plenty of gobby people on the local newspaper websites and Facebook groups are calling for them to be scrapped entirely. 

Part of me should be pleased. No IOM transport would save me the grand that it will cost to visit for a week. An amount that would get me somewhere sunny, with plenty of spending money to boot. The island would be spared those pesky tourists, and all their infuriating money being pumped into the economy. Those hotels could be converted to something else. Not sure what, but that's not my problem. Don't say TT, that's only two weeks, and anyway, lots of Manx want rid of that too. 

Obviously, I think this is A. Bad. Thing. 

Anyway, you can have your say on the Manx Government Website. 

Saturday, July 08, 2023

Saturday Film Club: Behind the scenes at Century 21

An interesing interview with designer and model effects expert Mike Trim about his time working on the Anderson shows. Be prepared to weep at what happens to the models at the end...

Friday, July 07, 2023

Garden railway runs!

While I was lounging around in hospital, my parents had worked on a pleasent surprise for me - they finished assembling the track in the station area of the garden railway - and it runs!

Everything is joined with rail clamps, a fiddly job, but one that should save us from disconneted rail ends as the track moves when heating up and cooling. 

Obviously, there is work to do fettling it, and ballasting once we are happy, but it's a huge step forward. One I haven't had the time, or enthusiasm, to do for a while. But now, well, we can run some trains!

Thursday, July 06, 2023

Lego London

Lego London

I recieved a lot of lovely messages while in hospital, once of which suggested ordering some Lego to aliviate the boredom. A suggestion borne out of experience sadly. 

Once back home, I sort of took this advice and treated myself to a build using a kit I'd bought from the Leicester Square store when working at Ally Pally show earlier this year. 

Set 40569 is the London Postcard, and features Big Ben (OK, technically the Elizabeth Tower), Picadilly Circus, and the London Eye. Does anyone remember the fuss when the latter was built that meant it had to be described as temporary to get it through planning? Oh, and a red bus. 

The 277 pieces entertained me for over an hour, and I like the result. It's a bit of fun, which is what I needed. Perfect.

Wednesday, July 05, 2023

Warehouse Wednesday: Pipework

The view from my hosptial ward wasn't exactly inspirational, but I did find the pipework running along the top of a nearby building interesting*. Some good joins in the yellow one for a start, and plenty of lagged black pipes too. There's a lot of detail in this shot, and it wouldn't be difficult to model. Start with some Kinghtwing pipes, and do the rest with bitws of wire wrapped in Rizla papers. 

*You can deduce from this, how bored I was. Or maybe how boring I am.

Sunday, July 02, 2023

Out of service

I'm writing this on my phone from Hatton ward in Warwick hospital, where I've been since Tuesday. A routine blood test showed a problem with my kidneys, and I was rushed in for bladder drainage.

All this messing around means no modelling obviously, so I've nothing to write about for a while.

Normal service will (hopefully) be resumed eventually. 

Update: I escaped on Saturday, but still a little slow. 

Saturday, July 01, 2023

Saturday Film Club: The Special Weapons Dalek

Not your usual nerdy Dr Who stuff here. OK, maybe a little, but there is an awful lot covering the development and construction of a new type of Dalek, including the multiple rebuilds the prop endured after appearing on screen. I love that it owes a lot to a plastic bin and plant pot holders!