Thursday, August 31, 2023

Bond Bug body


The Bond body is a prettysimple afair. A top and a bottom, the later includes the wheel arches, slot together nicely. Handily, there's even a seam running along the join on the real car to save us some sanding. Mind you, since it was a fibreglass moulding, I suppose that's not much of a surprise. 

Interior detail is limited to a gear lever, hand brake, pedals, staeering wheel and speedometer. Plus "the dude", but he goes in later, after painting. 

The canopy just sits in place right now. Part fit is all pretty good, especially for a kit whose origins are the best part of 40 years ago. 

One nice touch is this piece of sprue to hold the wheelarches apart the correct distance, which can be cut away later. 

The chassis plugs into the bottom, and fits perfectly too, which was a relief!

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Bond Bug chassis


Starting with the chassis, the kit shows its age. The side rails are joined by four cross pieces, and it's all a bit floppy. My solution was patience - three cross pieces fitted, and then the whole thing left to harden overnight, suitably propped up on a flat surface. In the morning, it was nicely solid. 

After this, the suspension components were fitted. The location, and angles of these is a but vauge. For example, the rear trailing arms don't stick straight back, but splay out a little. Glue, let it go tacky and then try to position them in the right place worked here. The shock absorbers need to go in at the same time - a three handed job really, but I managed.  

At the front, the steering arms are just as bad. All hanging in mid-air until you get glue on them. Not sure how you'd sure this, although more accurate holes in harder plastic would help perhaps.

The engine assebled OK, but exactly where it fits in the chassis is a little mystery. It sort of sits between the middle cross member, and the front one. Except that if you do this, the fan and the front crossmemeber try to be in the same place at once. I bent the fan to clear, but the results aren't pretty. Fortunatly, they will be hidden. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Bond Bug


Airfix Bond Bug
When the Bond Bug appeard in the Airfix Vintage Classics range, I was soooo pleased. It's a car that has always fascinated me, even though I doubt I'd fit in one. Many years ago, an antiques shop had one in the window for £500, and I did seriously consider it, although on balance, not raiding my savings was probably a wise move. 

It's not just me either. This has been the most pre-ordered kit in the range ever, so there are plenty out there who like orange wedges of motoring fun!

Mostlty produced from original, and refurbished, moulds, the parts are clean, but moulded in a slightly soft plastic. Not Dapol soft, but not as hard as you normally find. 

The exception are the clear parts, which I believe are new moudings, reverse-engineered from original parts borrowed from a collector. Certainly not bought - original kits are stupidly expensive!

Transfers are also new, and well up to modern standards. 

In theory, this should be a quick, and fun, build.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Trainer repair


I'm quite pleased with this - I fixed something and it's stayed fixed. 

The lace loops on a pair of trainers are only leather, and one wore through. No great surprise, they aren't new and have been tied and untied many times. 

The cut through was reasonably clean though, so I wondered if I could repair the look. Well, it turns out that by wrapping a strip of denim, cut from some old jeans, and fixing it in place with a tiny amount of contact adhesive, I could!

The repair seems to be holding, giving the shoes more time before they get thrown away. There's plenty of life in the soles, so this could be quite some time.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Model Tramway Exhibition 2023


Lego trams

Of to Crich Tramway village for the annual model tram exhibition. And, this is difficult to write. It wasn't very good. 

Normally, I'll be positive about a show. Any show. But this one. Oh dear. 

Walking in, the were some excellent Lego trams. You can tell the boat and dreadnaught easily enouhg, and that's pretty hard to do in bricks. The owner was letting people drive too. It's the perfect first sight for a very public show. The only cost to get in was the museum admittance, so there would be plenty of non-enthusiasts exposed to the hobby for the first time. 

Another highlight was Kennington Tramways, a layout I photographed for BRM years ago. It looks brilliant, and works well. 

There were also some 3/4 inch trams running up and down a length of track. Pretty much all you can do in this scale, but they look good. A mine-based model railway was very average, but it worked and the operators were chatty, always a good thing. 

The Model Bus Federation were represented by a diorama showing a garage, which most people ignored for the model fire engine putting out a smokey fire next door. Quite cleverly done, and appealing to the kids. 

KW Trams brought an excellent selection of kits for trams in many scales, and road vehicles. A future magazine project was aquired.

After that though. Hmmm. 

30 feet of Tramway and Light Railway estates sales didn't take any money off me, and you know how easy it is to sell me stuff from a second hand stall. Quite a few big ticket items with built and unbuilt kits plus RTR foreign trams, but  very light in interesting bits. Not taking cards wouldn't help either. Not many people carry a few hundred quid with them nowadays. 

The bookseller was finding the same thing. I bought three interesting, and cheap books. Being able to pay by card would have liberated another 12 quid for a book on Toronto trams, since I've ridden on them. 

Finally, there was a tram-building demo complete with small, and working, albeit with mahoosive pans on the top of the trolley poles, Brimingham tramway. The demo is transported in a suitcase. How do I know? Because said suitcase was dumped on the table amid a pile of clutter. My workbench is a mess, but I'm not appearing in front of the public at a show. 

And that was it. If you had travelled specifically for the show, you'd likely be disapointed. It all looked so tired. What happened? I've certainly been to TLRS shows in the past that have been much livelier, and several times the size. I hate to criticise, as I know that all the work is done by volunteers. That said, years ago, the policy was not to pay expenses for layouts. Perhaps people have decided that it's not worth paying to travel and put themselves up for a couple of nights? 

Or, maybe the truth is that there aren't any model tramways out there to exhibit. I hope not, as I'd love to bring more to people's attention in magazines. I guess I love tramways, but appreciate the overhead makes building them tricker. Maybe another problem is the glut of diecast trams available. If you like trams, perhaps this tempts you to collect, rather than build? 

Friday, August 25, 2023

Kitmaster Italian tank loco


Kitmaster Italian tank
I present to you, a properly rare model. 

Kitmaster's Italian State Railways Class 835, was not one of their more popular kits. Launched at the very end of 1959, and priced at 4s 6d, it didn't survive to be released by Airfix. 

In Stephen Knight's book, Let's Stick Together, he tells us it's a popular class of 0-6-0T shunting locomotives, that could be seen all over the system. Nicknamed the "Caffettiera Tank" because of the unusual arrangement of safety valves and domes, which (apprently) resembled a coffe making machine. 

Should you wish to motorise the model, one of the Arby "Perfecta" kits was designed for it. 

This isn't what makes the model rare however, and certainly not what parted me with seven quid to own it. 

The rare bit is that the wheels and valve gear on the model operate smoothly. Not just judder around if you push hard enough, properly smoothly. You'd think they were made of metal. Heck, I've built chassis that don't run this well!

Long term, I'm thinking that a bit of weight, and a powered vehicle (sadly, not the working Kitmaster van already in the collection) would be perfect. I'm certainly not going to mess with such impressive workmanship in any way!

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Area 51, Bristol

Area 51

Running early for a photo shoot last week, I parked up opposite an interesting row of shops in Bishopton. I'll admit that the main attraction was Joe's Bakery, well, that and a parking space I could fit the car in. 

However, I struck lucky. Opposite the car I spotted Area 51. A model shop!

Inside they spcialise in the Dungeons & Dragons style of models, but not in a Games Workshop way, the place is full of tubs containing sprues of the plastic parts used in these games. There's also a fine selection of ready-built, to various standards, models. I can't claim to know the prices, but they look to be quite a bit cheaper than buying the kits new. 

I'll admit to being more than slightly tempted by some sci-fi scenery, but decided to be sensible. Don't need any more projects. If I have to go back again though, I may not be so restrained. 

As well as model, there is the range of Citadel paints and materials. Plenty of sci-fi books (not Logan's Run though, still looking for that one) and board games, both news and pre-owned. There's a bit of comic book action too, both on paper and in miniature form.

It's an unusual shop, a bit weird for some tastes perhaps, but that's not a bad thing to my mind. 

Check out their Facebook page.

(I know you are wondering, the bakery was as good as it looked. Much more retraint was called for!) 

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Warehouse Wednesday: Charlbury Station, with an unusual phone box

Charlbury station

With a bit of time to kill on the way to a BRM photo job, I followed the signs to Charlbury Station. I'm always curious to see a new station, and I fancied a toilet stop too. Getting in the car park was easy enough, but paying for it wasn't They don't let you buy an hour, and I didn't fancy paying Cotswold rates for a full day.

So, I had a quick look around in the 20 minutes permitted "drop off" time, and found an interesting feature. 

K6 telephone box

The telephone box out front, might be a standard K6, but the crests on the top are covered with plastic BR badges.

BR symbol

These aren't quick, or temporary fitments.Not a detail I've seen before, and I've looked at a LOT of telephone boxes. Has anyone else seen this? Is it treason to cover up the royal crest? It's a mystery...

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Norway bound in Garden Rail


We're heading to Norway to visit the Bottom Hill Light Railway, built by Tom Lymga, this month. In its truly spectacular setting, this line sees regular running sessions from Tom's friends, which has encouraged him to develop the layout and he passes on some lessons learned.

On the other hand, if you want to share your line beyond nearby enthusiasts, we explain how to show it off to best advantage on video, and are looking forward to seeing the results.

Practical matters covered are:

  • Building a Boot Lane Works 'Nancy' chassis
  • Scratchbuilding coaches in G scale
  • Building simple steam engines
  • Adding a heat shield to a Regner Tram
  • Adding quick track power connections

There's also a review of the Garden Railway Specialists Peckett and all the latest product news for large-scale modellers. 

Buy this issue online. 

Monday, August 21, 2023

Kidderminster steam festival 2023


Steam at the Severn Valley Railway? Not really a surprise - until that is, you find Kidderminster station forecourt chock full of steam lorries and rollers belching out the lovely smelly mix of coal and boiled water. Fantastic. 

I'd been looking for a day out by train, and spotted the SVR was hosting this event. Well, the station has a cafe, and so does the museum. That, and Footplate models is just down the hill. Lots of good stuff even if (like me at the moment) you find walking around a lot slightly uncomfortable.

Manx Foden

The first machine to catch my eye was a Foden, apparently from the Isle of Man. That's good stuff if it is, the trip to Liverpool would take about 6 hours non-stop!

It wasn't my favourite though, that accolate has to go to something smaller.

Little lorry on the hill

For most of the day,like the others, it sat idling, but early afternoon saw most of the machines taking a trip down the steep hill into town, and the back up again.I couldn't find out if this was a scartchbuild or based on a kit, but I'd never have got it home on the train, mores the pity!

More photos on Flickr

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Warwick Classic Cars 2023

1966 Beetle

A sunny morning in the centre of Warwick, where, ironically, I'd travelled by bus, to see the annual classic car show. 

It's a relaxed afair, with a random mix of vehicles parked around the market square, and into the side streets. 

I had a good chat with the owner of the car above, a near dream Beetle for me. All the features of the later bug, with the exception of disk brakes, but with the lovely sloping headlamps. Keen to find a restorer for my car, I was given some pointers. Better still, a little later, I was chatting to a freind who now works for somewhere that prepares classics for shows. Hopefully he has some contacts too. I'd really love to bring Marigold here next year. 

More photos over on Flickr.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Saturday Film Club: Apollo Toys Micro Train Set

This is all Ben Buki's fault. He pointed out that one of these is up for sale on eBay, and I wanted to know more. A quick search brought up this video, and I'll admit, it looks great fun. 

Must resist the auction...

Don't need any more toys... :-)

Friday, August 18, 2023

Lacquer the lobster!


While down at the RMweb members day earlier in the year, I enjoyed the Metal Head sculptures, by local artish Steven Heard.

There is a trail you can follow - using this map - if you are in the area. It's well worth it, as these are brilliant. 

Anyway, I was admiring some animals outside the town Internet Cafe, and they owner told me that Steven was appearing at a craft show in the next building!

Off I trotted, and there he was, along with some other work he'd produced. Well, this seemed like a good time to do a bit of present shopping, since I know my Mum loves this sort of thing. She also loved lobster, so the choice of subject was easy. 

Best of all, I was able to grab a photo of the man himself with the lobster. 

The only problem is, this needs to live outside. So, once it had been handed over, I promised to give it a bit of weather protection. 

Spraying lacquer onto metal isn't a great idea if it's cold and damp. Hence the delay of many weeks while I waited for the sun to come out. When it did, the lobster sunbathed on the garden table to get the metal nice and warm, then half a can of Halfords' best was applied in several coats, being sure to protect the nooks and cranies. 

I know this won't last forever, the lobster will still rust, but hopefully more slowly. 

You can read more about the Metalheads project here. 

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Coaches finished and running

And here we go - the coaches doing exactly what we wanted them to do - looking great behind the Peckett. 

We're running on the new L&WMRS Outdoor 45 track. Sorry about the lack of chuffing in some shots, the loco is a long way from the camera!

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Roof rolling



Nice thick plastic sheet is included for the roof, but in the past I've found that simply bending it on the model produces a dip in the centre, if a full set of internal ribs aren't fitted. 

However, if the roof is rolled back and forth in the rolling bars, it takes a pretty perfect curve, and is simple enough to glue in place with more Speedbond. 

I'm quite pleased with this trick, and will definitly be using it in the future.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Handles and droplights


Let's get back to the wooden coaches. 

Door and grab handles are nicely moulded, whitemetal fittings. A little fragile, but there are spares provided. There's very little flash too. A quick coat of brass colour paint and they are ready to be fitted into holes drilled in the sides. 

With the body painted, the droplights, which have been stained with a water-based wood stain, are fitted and the model glazed. A bit more plastic would have been appreciated here, but with care, and plenty of Deluxe Speedbond, all goes in nicely. 

Monday, August 14, 2023

Thatched cottage, 009 wagon and photos in the latest BRM


Another busy month in Septembers' British Railway Modelling magazine. I start with a Scottish cottage based on a Petite Properties kit. The scary thing is, I knew it needed to be thatched, and that's not something I've ever done before. 

A little experimentation, and I think I've pretty much pulled it on. It's not Pendon, but not bad, and most importantly, achievable for the reader. 

There's also some wagon building in 009. OK, assembling a plastic kit wagon won't excite everyone, but there are some (hopefully) useful techniques thrown in which should make the article more generally useful. 

I've also built an N gauge travelling workshop, and looked tweezers, coal and brush restorer. 

Camera out, and I've two layouts in this issue. 

Aldergrove, in N gauge, is an attractive and interesting layout that anyone could seek to emulate. Yes, it's all Metcalfe buildings, but well assembled, they really look the part. I've long argued that consistancy is more important then anything else, and since nothing stands out as better or worse than anything else, the overall picture is really impressive. 

Queens Street is a minimum space O gauge model that is packed with detail. I loved it, shooting at the last Guildex, determined that we'd get it on the page. It's very much a layout I'd like to build, which is good enough for me!

On the DVD, yes, newstand copies get a DVD this month, I'm showing you how to gas a locomotive. 

We've produced a series of tips, in the manner of the 1990s BBC2 series Trade Secrets. The trouble was, that two days before filming, I ended up in hospital, so only recorded a single segment. Fortunatly, Howard was able to dig a load of stuff out of the archive, and the result looks really good.

Back issues of September 2023 are available from the World of Railways store.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Mystery grounded coach body


Spotted in a model shop. But what model has been used to create this grounded coach body? 

I'll post the answer in the comments later...

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Saturday Film Club - Isle of Man Steam Railway 150 Anniversary

After a week of Isle of Man posts, I had to try to find some video of this years events, and were we go. Focusing on the steam railway, it gives you a flavour, and maybe might tempt a few to visit in the future.

Friday, August 11, 2023

Groudle Glen Railway


Now for the jewel in the island's railway crown - the Groudle Glen Railway. Easily the best in the world, and home to the greatest steam loco, "Sea Lion". 

Two visits this year. The first was in the morning of a rare all-day session on the Wednesday. This was very busy thanks to a weather forecast promising heavy rain at lunchtime. Trains ran as often as possible, and full. And fast. "Otter" was in charge, and the driver was rattling along, faster than I recall travelling on the line!

We headed out to the cafe for tea and cake, with the return behind electric loco "Polar Bear" which had been pressed into service to ease the strain. We managed to leave just as the first spots of rail arrived. I suspect the afternoon was quieter, but reports after the event said it had been the busiest day anyone could remember - good news for the line's income!

If you follow the GGR Facebook page, there have been many impromptue videos published as they get ready for the day's operation. For both my Dad and I, these were a bit of a lifeline over lockdown. A chance to see our favourite railway, even if we couldn't visit. 

Chance was taken to thank the chairman for these, and later Alex Brindly who films them, which resulted in a quick tour of the sheds along with a few funny celebrity stories. Guy Martin visitied on the quiet, and was due to have a steam ride along the line - then he saw the two Hudswell diesels, and shot underneath them, completely in his element!

Sunday's return trip was for the extravaganza, when all the locos would be running. We enjoyed a trip behind diesel "Dolphin" at first. A proper trash, as the hill might not be steep, but it is long. Challenging for a small loco on a well-loaded train. 

Three decades ago, I stood on this bank and watched "Sea Lion" run around the train and take it back to the main station. Once it left, the scene was desolate. Rails, a station sign, and nothing else. In the years after, the site as been rebuilt, complete with the excellent cafe. All the rolling stock has been rebuilt, replaced or heavily refurbished. It's here, more than anywhere else, that you notice the changes over the years. 

We managed a couple more rides, finishing with a special - double-headed "Sea Lion" and "Brown Bear". It's alway tough to tear ourselves away from the Groudle, but this provided a perfect finish, and definite high-point for our week. One day, we hope to be back. 

 I'm gradually uploading extra photos to Flickr. 

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Queens Pier - Ramsey


On our first visit, 30 years ago, we stood at the gated entrance to the Queens Pier, and looked down the line that ran along it, out to sea. At the time, it all looked very complete, just closed. Hardly surprising, as the site had only been closed for three years at the time. 

Since then, we'd seen the loco and carriage at the Jurby Transport museum, and to be honest, assumed that would be how things would stay. But no. In 2015, an agreement was reasched to start restoring the pier, and work commenced in 2020. 

Now, five bays have been restored, with the steel for two more on site. 

The loco and train have returned to their proper home, and efforts and being made to have these running so visitors can take a ride up and down the length of restored pier. The loco is a fantastic looking fake steam engine on a Planet Diesel chassis. I've taken shots that may one day allow me to build a model...

You can support the efforts of the volunteers, and keep up to date with progress, by visiting their Facebook page

Wednesday, August 09, 2023

Manx Electric Railway - Laxey Shed


Another new site to visit, and another tricky one to find. After our SMR experience, I spent some time studying the map, and still managed to miss the road to the Laxey sheds at my first attempt. 

We eventually arrived a couple of minutes after the official start time, but fortunatly, I knew the chap running the tour, Dave Martin, and he had no problem. As it was, he had started on the history of Car 23, the only stone carrying tram anyone knows of. 

23 is an interesting vehicle. At present, it's stored out of use, but as Dave says, bringing it back into service for a special event wouldn't be too hard. Last time was in the 1990s, when they ran with deckchairs in the wagon bodies for people to ride in. Modern H&S might put a stop to that now, but I'd still be up for a ride that way!

The shed is mainly used for storage, and it's where the wire team operate from. We were able to take a good look at carriage 52, their PW wagon with lift and wire holders, plus all the tools they need for a job. A tram is coupled to it at all times in case they need to rush out to a job. At present, this is an electric car, but this will soon be replaced by No.34, "Maria", which has been fitted with a diesel generator. We did spot this out and about, but were driving at the time, so no photo. 

Dave tells the tale of the shed fire in 1930 that destroyed the original structure. The first powered fire engine was called out from Douglas, and when it arrived, they discovered that the hydrant in the nearest road had been tarmaced over the week before! Two hours of manual chiseling to get to the supply rather scuppered the chance of effective fire fighting.

All in all, another excellent talk. I'd not had high hopes for this one - we booked on because it's not somewhere we'd been in 30 years, but Dave and team did an excellent job of bringing it alive. 

Finally, another special treat. £3 for a Wickham trolley ride to Laxey station and back. It might only last 3-4 minutes, but operated between the trams, and was terrific fun!

Tuesday, August 08, 2023

Isle of Man Steam Railway sheds


30 years ago, on our first trip to the island, by asking plitely, my Dad and I were allowed into the steam railway sheds for a nose around. "Don't touch anything sharp, or fall down any holes" were the instructions given at the time. 

The highlight of the day was a couple of locos in the running shed, taking on water, and filling it with steam and smoke - terrific!

Nowadays, a combination of health & safety plus the advent of ways to flog some of the very pocketable bits and pieces lying around, means tours are guided by the volunteers, but that's not a problem. 

And at the end of ours, a loco came in to take on water, and recreate the end of our visit three decades ago - and it was every bit as much fun. 

Since we've toured the shed many times, I didn't take many photos. The railcars haven't changed, and much of the rest of it looks the same as before. 

It was nice to see Number 16's wheels. A boiler has been ordered, and the rest of "Manin" is in the north of the island recieving attention. It looks like she will be running again eventually, something the railway will be pleased about as they need a big loco for the heavy dining train. Apparently, the job is being broken down into sections that are under the spending level that requires a more seior sign-off, to ensure it gets done. 

New to me is the ballast tamper. It's an impressive machine, but doesn't see a lot of use apparently, misy packing still being carried out by hand. I'm certainly not offering to make a model of it though!

Monday, August 07, 2023

Snaefell Mountain Railway sheds


Yes, I've been on holiday to the Isle of Man, and you are now invited to a week-long slide show with a few of the highlights. There is no escape, but I'll try not to be too boring. 

We started with a trip to a new location to me, the Snaefell Mountain Railway car sheds at Laxey. 

These took a little finding as they are up a very steep hill on a side road. It's not a public area, so there aren't any signposts, even when we arrived for a special event. 

Finding the sheds, the scene you see was laid out. Two railcars, the tower wagon, Tram 1 heading off to the top of the mountain, and Car 6 under construction. 

Our guide was the man who runs the maintainence operation for this, and the Manx Electric Railway, and he provided a perfectly candid talk on the problems the line had had, and what's been done to cure them. For those who don't know, the line lost a car which had been parked just off the summit due to some building work. Brakes not properly applied, it headed off back down the hill, until hitting a curve to fast and becoming matchsticks. 

A while later, another runaway shot across the Bungalow Crossing at 45mph with the Fell Brake not working properly and a full consist of passengers.

Both were due to lack of maintainence - something now cured thanks to a new regieme which is suspect wasn't easy to force on the staff. The addition of magnetic track brakes now proves three ways to stop the cars and should ensure no repeat of these problems. 

We were treated to a quick demo of the Fell brake on the bogie above. It's simple enough and can be lifted on and off by one person. OK, there aren't any shoes fitted at the moment, but the principle is simple, and should, if properly adjusted, work well. 

Outside, car 6 is under construction. The new regieme won't treate this as a restoration, it's a new build and therefore has to pass current bus safety checks. The body frame is 50mm box section, hidden by some lovely carpentry. This proves a roll cage, and should see 6 being the one car that doesn't distrort as it climbs the mountain. 

Computer modelling has proved that the car can take a hit from traffic when it crosses the road, and seats will no longer be screwed to the floor (there's some wonderful odd angles these have been driven in looking for wood) but fitted with bus-type tracking, which again, will be hidden. 

The basic wiring of the rest of the fleet has been replaced with C-Bus wiring which, amoung other things, will allow for regenerative braking so trams coming down can power trams going up. 

We were the first public allowed to walk through the car - and it's a stunning piece of workmanship. 

If I'm honest, I'd expected this to be the least interesting visit of the week, and it turned out to be a highlight. The SMR has been through some tough times, but it looks like they are behind it and those trams will carry on climbing for a long while yet.