Saturday, September 30, 2023

Saturday Film Club: Making Minifigs

OK, I love learning how things are made, and find the machines used to do it fascinating. A Lego mini figure is quite a simple toy, but the process to produce one, and the kit that does it, is impressive. But then it has to be, they make an awful lot!

Friday, September 29, 2023

I hate model railways


Cat with badges

A stuffed cat with a fine selection of badges spotted at a recent photoshoot. The thing is, I suspect I know where these came from. The L&WMRS has a badge machine, and in the 1990s, we made a lot of badges. Mostly for shows, but a few fun ones that we sold. 

"I hate model railways" was the second-best seller in the range, the most popular being "I love playing trains".  Quite often, they were sold as a pair, one for him, one for her!

The weird thing is, there's a chance that I made this very badge many years ago. Many hours were spent down the club restocking ahead of a show...

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Ye Olde Toy & Model Shop - Douglas, Isle of Man


A new addition to the Douglas shopping experience, Ye Olde Toy & Model Shop is handily placed for an excellent cafe, at which we enjoyed a late lunch thanks to the MER being packed, forcing us to take a bus back to the capital. In the rain. 

I suspect this is a pop-up shop in a spare unit, so wouldn't bank on it being there next year. The stock is a fascinating mix of second-hand stuff. Mostly railways and diecast cars, but with books, very old magazines (RM pre Cyril Freezer for example) and some other "antiques". 

Of course, this makes is just my sort of place, and being lucky to find it open, my Dad and I had a good rumage. 

The Ramsey sign topper in the middle of the photo? Mine for a tenner. It just needs to be installed out in the garden. Along with the cast Douglas badge that I suspect should be affixed to a lamp post. 

Prices were a mixed bag, but it's a case of if they have what you want, you aren't going to find another on the island...

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Waterborne Wednesday: Liverpool workboat

Crane boat

A mystery from my Manx trip. Spotted in Liverpool, while we waited to board the ferry, was this boat with a crane on the end of it. Oddly, I didn't take many photos, mostly because the view was obscured by the plans you canjust see in shot. 

Had I managed to bag the name of the vessel, we could have looked it up, but in this case, Buddleia stopped play!

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Ragleth runs


After the embarassment of leaving the blowdown valve bung at home, I thought Ragleth stll deserved to streatch its legs on the club track, so I dropped in there just before dusk last Thursday for a bit of a chuff. 

The good news is that the loco runs perfectly. If there is a problem, it's that she's too fast. I never went much above half regulator all evening for fear of launching the model off the baseboards. 

She chuffs well, and the cooler evening (and chuff pipe) resulted in some lovely steam coming out of the top. 

So, I need to assess my wooden wagon kit collection. We need half a dozen behind her to slow things down, and to look as nice as the Peckett with her three coaches. Good job there is a show coming up!

Monday, September 25, 2023

Marmagne SNCF


Simon posted last week - "I've had an interest in French railways (real and model) since the seventies, a Jouef model of the red and cream Draisine in your photo bought from the local model shop was what started it all..."

So I've dug out the rest of the photos I took of Marmagne. They are only mobile phone shots, I'd love to have an excuse to carry out a full photo shoot, but hopefully they show the quality of the modelling. Click on the picture for larger versions.

The layout is set on a rural branch line in central France in the epoch III era 1946 to 1970. Constructed by Roger Nicholls, it's now owned and operated byTony Durose. 

It is a really lovely layout. 6ft long plus fiddle yards. 


Sunday, September 24, 2023

009 Society 50th Anniversary show

DHLR micro

What a terrific day. 

There's no argument. This collection of 009 layouts, brought together at Statfold Barn to celebraite the Societies 50th borthday, was superb. 

It would be hard to pick a favourite as there wasn't a single duff model in the hall. Every single one was different, and none looked like a mainline station relaid in Peco "Crazy Track". It seems people are looking at prototypes and modelling them. 

I met many old freinds, and there was a lot of chat. To really appreciate the displays, I'd have needed to turn up on both days. Mind you, I'd probably have just done more yakking! If I saw you there, it was good to meet. If I missed you, sorry. 

Anyway, a couple of models that stuck in my mind were both of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. The Little Himalayan Railway is a micro, but unusually well modelled. When did you last see a tea plantation on a layout? I rather like the posters on the concrete wall too. Properly faded, and loads of identical ones - just like you see in prototype photos.

DHLR town

Somewhat larger, is Kurseong. Again, beautifully modelled and full of scratchbuilt buildings that look like the real thing. I'd love to do a proper photo shoot on it...

You can see a video here. 

And this is just two of the 50 layouts present. I snapped away on my phone, and the better images can be found over on Flickr

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Saturday Film Club: Steam day 2023

Steam day was fantastic. Please sit back and enjoy some slightly low-resolution (Didn't set the compact camera properly) film of the action. Sorry there's only one steam boat, things were a bit hectic.

And if you'd like some photos of the event - I've put an album up on Flickr.

Train 9

Friday, September 22, 2023

Plaster N gauge buildings


Three, very nice, N gauge (OK, scale, but you know what I mean) buildings, for a fiver. Thanks Elaine's Trains at TINGS. Apparently, they were part of a much larger collection, that mostly sold out on the Saturday. 

I'm told the manufacturer is SD Models, although they don't appear to be related to S&D Models, but I do remember hearing the name in the past. Do they still exist? 

Made of plaster, each model has been in the wars with chips and dings. I'm hoping that a little touching in with thinned paint will hide the worst damage. Being plaster though, the colours and wall textures are superb. 

To be honest, I bought these out of curiosity, and because I sometimes need to set up photographic scenes, and my N gauge building collection is minimal. These might appear in the few backgrounds in the future. 

This is one of the reasons I go to shows. You don't get bargains like this on the web!

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Can Ragleth save the day?


I really want to take two locos to the club steam day. The Peckett has a boiler certificate, and digging through a boxfile of correspondance (Including the hate mail I've recieved while editing mags. Yes really. It's pathetic.) I found another - for my Ragleth!

This loco has been sat in its wooden box since before the pandemic, so would it work? 

First, I checked the batteries. Unsuprisingly, they were dead, so for the moment I've replaced them with dry cells. I've not given up, just that charging, if it works, will take a while, and I'm impatient. 

While under there, the reciever is changed from a Planet to a RadioLink. Not essential, but I want to try the Planet in the steamboat. I think they are more reliable. There's also a long-term plan to put all the locos on Spectrum radios, but that requires me to find the receiver that came with SeaLion. 

Anyway, the good news is that all worked well, so it was outside to try some steam. 

Ragleth steams

Another result! I even gave it a little run up and down the garden railway. Not far, as the track needs ballasting and levelling, but enough to know it will move. And move fast, it could do with a bit of a load on the back...

Of course, getting the loco out again reminded me how much I like the proportions of this model. Perhaps more 7/8th than 16mm, it's a lovely chunky little machine, thay deserves a lot more attention and love. 

Update: Here's a handy hint. 

If you take the blowdown valve out while checking the loco over, don't leave it on the garden table, or when you get to the railway, your loco will be incontinent, and there will be no steaming, but plenty of embarasment.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Warehouse Wednesday - Chapel come garage



This is a weird one. Spotted on the road to the Snaefell Mountain Railway sheds, a cute, and very modelable chapel. With a row of lockup garages built on the back. 

I know no more, and certainly can't explain how this happened. However, you can explore further on Streetview.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

The perils of buying second-hand steam locomotives


My plan for the club steam day, had been to take two locos along. The Garden Rail Peckett and my Regner Willi. 

In preperation, because it hadn't run for a while, I took Willi down to the club for a quick spin. Chatting to the organiser, there was a problem. While I might be happy with my little vertical boiler machine, when I bought it second-hand, I didn't get the all-important boiler certificate. 

Not certificate, no running. Especially on public days. 

This isn't unreasonable. We've just had to cetificate all the boats for insurance purposes. On a public track therefore, proving that your chuffer isn't going to explode is fair enough. 

Of course, there's no time to get a certificate before Sunday, not helped by a pressure gauge that doesn't drop to zero. Yes, it goes up when the model is working, but you don't pass a test without a properly working gauge. 

This is a new problem, and one I'll need to attend to. Maybe there is a way to adjust these things, or I'll just have to buy a new gauge. At least access to change it is excellent!

So, if you buy a second-hand model, make sure you get a boiler certificate, or at least be aware you'll likely need to do something about it in the future. 

Anyway, I was allowed on the track during the evening. Five minutes to make a complete circuit!

Monday, September 18, 2023

Solder eating stalagmites


Last time I mentioned the Fantail launch, it had just passed a steam test. After this, I've been very busy, so left the remains of the Mamod fuel tablets in the burner pan, thinking they would be fine there. 

It seems not. Left to their own devices, they formed these little lumps in the pan, and spread around the outside too. I've no idea how this works, but it's a reminder to clean the pan out in future. 

Fortunatly, a bush with stiff, damp, long-handled brush, removed the muck easily enough, I managed to avoid removing the engine as this would require disconneting the couple, and I don't think disturbing the rubber tube is a good idea if it can be avoided. 

However, there was another problem. Both connections to the battery box that powers the radio had failed. 


I'm not sure. It's odd that both would break. 

Rewiring the box didn't cure the problem either, and a frustrating hour was spend re-attaching wires and changing the reciever. No matter what I did, I couldn't get the servo, or even a fresh servo plugged into the controller, to operate. 

At this point things looked a bit hopeless, but digging in the box of spares, I found a new bettery box. I also changed the recieved from a RadioLink to a Planet, wired it all up and got a result! Lots of faffing around, but the boat was ready for the steam day. 

On the day, I ran it for 12 minutes, retrieved the model and checked it over. 1/3 of a boiler and probably 1/3 of the two solid fuel tablets I'd put in. On that basis, I think the 20 minutes I've had in the past is achievable. 

I'll be careful to clean the pan out before putting it away in the future though!

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Burton Railex 2023

I love a little show, and so when I needed to head to Rollaston-on-Dove to take some photos for work, I wasn't exactly disapointed. Even though it was a Sunday, and just over an hours drive, I anticipated some interesting second-hand stall action, and a good chance, since the venue was a Scout hut, of cake. 

Well, the venue was a Scout hut, but a well posh one. Two floors, joined by stairs and a lift. Out the back, in the field used for a car park, a climbing wall, on the back of a huge outdoor stage. 

The good news was the second-hand stall, where I picked up my Dr X wagon seen on Friday. I just missed out on a boxed Hornby "Desmond" for 8 quid, but someone else was hovering up every loco in sight. Never mind. 

Layout-wise, the show punched well above its weight. Little Burton, at the top of this post, we have already featured in BRM, or I'd have booked a shoot on the spot. As it was I've taken some establishing shots for another layout, and booked an N gauge for a future shoot. 

There was also a stuning French layout whose names I can't remember, other than it was a play on the word "Marmite". Really lovely modelling, that I so wish I could photograph properly, but the overseas charms would scare the horses. 

Cake? None!

Yes, I remonstraited with the organisers about this. To be fair, this was the first show for a while, and in a new venue. I'm told this will be fixed next year - which is good, as I fancy a return visit. 

Sorry this is a bit shot. There's a video here with more of the show. 

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Saturday Film Club - Airfix Wild West Adventure Train Set

Last week's look at the Airfix DR X set was popular, but the general opions was that the set everyone really wanted, was the Wild West one. 

I'll agree, this looks a lot more fun. Loads of operating action. The coaches sometimes appear on second-hand stalls, and I've been tempted, but you really need the main set to make them work. Maybe one day.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Dr X Lowmac


Last Saturday, I feature a video on the Airfix Dr X set, and what do I find the next day on a second-hand stall? A Dr X Lowmac!

It seemed that fate was pushing me to spend four quid on a bit of nostaligia. Somewhere in my collection are a couple of these wagons with the lorry removed and some loads stuck to the deck. I seem to remember buying them for 50p each from a huge pile in Birmingham Beatties back in the 1980s. Even my pocket money streatched that far. 

Inside, you can see the outline of a missile that would be carried in the full set. Sadly, Pack B didn't include that detail. I wonder if Pack A did? 

I assume that the phosphor-bronze clips would normally hold the missile, but if you depressed the one on the bottom, the side would open, and the missle be ejected through the door for the bad Dr's nefarious purposes.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Garden Rail - October 2023


Garden Rail October 2023

40 years to build a garden railway? To be fair, Andrew Armstrong's layout, the Blackhead Light Railway, has been rebuilt several times in different locations, and there has been plenty learned along the way.

We've a fine selection of workbench features too:

  • Building 'Edward' from the railway stories in G scale
  • Measuring the power of a steam locomotive
  • Scratchbuilding a Kerr Stuart diesel
  • Fitting wagon wheels
  • Building a wooden wagon kit

There's also a review of Roundhouse Engineering's latest loco – Harrogate as well as a range of laser-cut platform trolleys.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Boiler testing day


I'm lucky, that my work is flexible. As long as there isn't a meeting, it doesn't matter when I work, just that the jobs get done. This allowed me to be at the model boat club in the sun for boiler testing day. Tha fantail launch sparkled as she sat on the bench, waiting for her turn with the club testers. 

We were in the company of some serious kit too. Proper boats, with steam plants that cost several time more than my model! For these, the serious testing kit is employed. For insurance reasons, the models must be tested every year, so we don't blow anyone up while sailing, especially on a public day. 

The simple plant of the fantail gave the testers a bit of a problem. Boiler pressure is low, 20-35psi, and there isn't a normal safety valve, just a length of neopropaline pipe that should be the weak link if anything goes wrong. 

Tester Chris had looked into this, and it seems the rules are sligthly different for an "Lo" type steam plant which is how mine is categorised. We discussed it a little and decided that the best plan would be to stall the engine and see if the pipe blew off. 

A few seconds before this photo was taken, the whole thing was smothered in steam. After a few seconds at stall, the pipe blew off, and emptied the boiler of hot gas. It was quite spectacular! Of course, this leave fire under the boiler and not much water in there, so I will need to point the model at the bank and hope momentum gets it there before anything melts .

All this satisfied the test, and the model has now been certified. 

I'm quite chuffed (pun intended) with this. I've never been certified before, and take this as me having done an OK job with the construction. 

At this point, I should have taken the launch for a little sail, but when reassembling it, I hadn't been realistic about the state of the rubber coupling. 

A replacement is in order, and adding the tube to my steam engine "flight box" for bankside repairs in the future.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Clean up and first run


No point in getting clever, the first place to start cleaning up the engine is down at the kitchen sink. 

A good scrub with soapy water and an old toothbrush removes the fur from the mazak, and a lot of the muck from the fuel pan too. I couldn't resist a quick polish with the springy metal stuff used for really stuborn muck on pans. I know it's going to get dirty again, but I find cleaning things theraputic sometimes. 

Obviously, there will be Brasso. If it's metal, I do my best to bring it up to a reasonable shine. Again, there's no logic to this other than it looks nice. I think I hope the boiler tester will be kinder to a gleaming engine than a mucky one. 

I prefer Brasso wadding, it smells a bit less, and is very handy for all sorts of quick cleaning jobs around the workbench. 

With everything cleaned and oiled, it's outside in the sunshine with a pack of solid fuel tablets. I'd forgotten the smell of these. Nothing like and nice as meths, but certainly evocative of a time spent trying to persaude a Mamod loco to find a happy medium between stationery and Mach 1. 

Anyway, a table and a half placed in the pan, and the engine dropped on top, I'm glad of my Accucraft flame/heat proof gloves for all this, and we have lift-off!

Monday, September 11, 2023

Prepare the steam boat!


A new event is on the horizon. The boat and railway clubs have joined forces for a steam day, with boats on the water, and trains on the new tracks. 

I have trains, but it's a very long while since my fantail launch saw the water. But, I want to be one of the few, possibly the only one, operating in both areas.

Exhuming the launch from storage, being out of use has not been kind. All the basswork has taken on a distincly green tinge, and the mazak (I think) parts of the engine are a bit furry. 

Add to that the radio reeciever is 26mHz, there's a bit of work to do before the model is ready for a boiler test. Yes, we are now official, so it will have to submit to one of those. I'm not looking forward to this as the model doesn't have a normal safety valve, and I soft-soldered the boiler together! 

Sunday, September 10, 2023

KATO at TINGS - mad, but I love it!


I only had time for a quite tour of The International N Gauge show this year, but still managed to book a couple of layout shoots for later this year. 

However, I found a favourite stand - the Kato Minidiorama Circus

It's mad. Lots of different little modules conected together. Difficult to describe, so here's some photos. 

Mad? Yes. 

Imaginative? Very. 

Do I want to have a go? Very much so!