Tuesday, October 31, 2023

First end on


Here we go. 90 minutes of tacking metal in place with the electric iron, followed by lots and lots of checking with a square to make sure everything was in the right place was followed by a quick blast with the gas torch to fix it down. 

Followed by more checking to make sure it really was where it was supposed to be. 

I usually say that I can probably build any kit, because I'm not afraid of bodging. Indeed, I'm quite adept at it. The side positioning problem is the sort of thing that would have scared off a beginner, but with care, I've sorted it out. It can be done. 

And it might explain why the kit was cheap in the first place!

Monday, October 30, 2023

The perils of old etched brass kits


Oh, you think this kit building lark is so easy. Heats some solder up, chuck it in the box, give it a shake, and voila! A working loco. 

Not a chance. In the "good old days", etched kits were designed with a pen and paper. The parts would be drawn out several times the size they were required, and the photographically reduced to make the tools for the etching process. 

Sometimes, this didn't mean they were very accurate. This kit includes lovely pre-formed sides, which should drop into a half-etch line on the footplate. Everything held in place, and easy to assemble. 

Except they don't. The sides need to be fixed in place the thickness of the metal outside the etched line. 

Wish me luck...

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Midlands Model Engineering exhibition 2023

Severn Trow

Off to a hall that smells faintly of oil, for the MMEE 2023. As ever, a hall full of incredibly high-quality models, but IMHO, the best was this stunning, large, Severn Trow. What a beauty. Not just well made, but well painted, with a lovely weathered finish. 

I think I'll stop there, and just point you over to my photos on Flickr, to let the pictures do the talking.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Saturday Film Club: Talbot Matra Rancho test drive

Yes, I'm back to my Rancho obsession. I've seen this actual car, even leant on it, but never been inside. 

If I'm honest, I think this review might be a bit to generous. Rancho's are often described as underpowered and with heavy steering, but I'll let it pass. After all, this is a dream car!

Friday, October 27, 2023

Off to Gaydon this weekend

It's time to get back out on the road, but under my own steam this time. 

All being well, you can find me at The Great British Model Railway Show at the motor museum, Gaydon for a couple of days. I should be between the escalators on the way in as usual. 

My plan is to take along a load of Hornby Collectors and TT Club magazine projects, plus a few from BRM, plonk them on a table, and then sit there for two days, chatting with visitors. 

Do come along for a chat, it's always a pleasure to meet people who read my work.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Solebars and buffer beams on


Time for the gas torch to earn its keep. The larger lumps of brass are coming together, acting as too big a heat sink, for even my 45w iron to handle. 

The solebars are about 2mm shorter than the floor, so a line was marked 1mm from each end to aid positioning. A couple of small bulldog clips hold each solebar in place. Then some blobs of solder are applied with the electric iron.

Lashings of PowerFlow flux are sloshed on to the join and then the gas torch used to melt the solder, blowing it along the join - exactly as I hoped it would do. The gas gets the solder hot faster than the brass can draw away the heat, or at least I think it does. 

Buffer beams are added by resting them on a lolly stick and standing the floor on top. Again, a tack with solder allows me to check all is well before final soldering. 


Wednesday, October 25, 2023

The Alan Gibson Files: Vintage tank wagon


Vintage tank wagon

Another "Where did he find that?" moment with this rectangular tank wagon, somewhat buried in the undergrowth. 

Digging around the web, I find an RMweb thread with credible evidence that these lasted into the 1960s, a lot later than I had expected. That said, this one doesn't look like it has moved for a long while.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Two hours soldering


Two hours soldering while watching The Great British Bakeoff (sort of watching, paying more attention to the brass than the cakes). 

  • Nuts attached to the footplate, in the right place (took two goes for one of them)
  • Bufferbeams made from two layers of brass, sweated together. 
  • Solebars bent up, and the overlays fitted in the channel. 
  • The whole lor cleaned up with Hob Brite. 

I wonder if all the overlays tell me a bit about the era this kit was designed in? Would a more modern production require me to bomp out the rivets/bolts with a press? I'd prefer that to sweating layers of brass together if I'm honest. I even considered leaving the solebar overlays off for the moment and fixing them with superglue once all the hot work was complete. 

Still, the gas torch did the job, and I enjoyed blowing solder along the edges of the solebars.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Rothenberger Micro Soldering Iron & Torch Kit


Rothenberger Micro Soldering Iron & Torch Kit

Last week, I mentioned that my gas soldering iron was leaking, making it useless. A replacement was in order, and after a little digging around online, I opted for the cheapest option that could be picked up locally, the Rothenberger Micro Soldering Iron & Torch Kit from Screwfix

The kit is more comprehensive than it reall needs to be, containing the gas torch, a soldering iron bit, hot knife, a couple more nozzles, solder and a cleaning sponge. All in a nice carrying case, which seems strong enough to survive a bit of abuse.

Fiddling around, the soldering iron confused me. You can't unscrew the torch to fit it, and only after puzzling with the instructions for a while, did I realise that bit fits over the torch. The other parts then screw on to the end of the soldering bit, in place of the pointy bit. 

Of course, it was the torch I wanted, so I filled it from a cigarette lighter filler, it takes very little gas, so I assume the reservoir isn't huge. 

Turning the gas on using the nicely clicky slide switch, and pointing the end at a lighter fires up the flame. The length of this can be set using the control on the side. It roars quite nicely, and provides plenty of heat to melt solder on an O gauge kit. Just what I want. 

First impressions are positive. I'll let you know how I get on later.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

GETS 2023


Milton Keynes is a lot closer than Margate. Even when you discover the road through Towster is closed, and the diversion simple sends you back 5 miles, and dumps you at a roundabout with no useful indication where to go. An hour-long journey that took 90 minutes, and quite a lot of shouting at the satnav. 

Anyway, I got there. Joined the massive queue to get in, and half an hour later, was joined by Debbie, my boss. 

We'd decided that a trip to The Great Electric Train show would be useful. It's important in this business to keep in tough with the trade, and at Warners shows, we're both too busy to get around to everyone. With many recent changes at Hornby, Debbie hadn't met any of the new team, and I'd only seen some of them once, so time for a catch up. 

The only problem is that we spent the day rushing around, and didn't really see anything. I managed two minutes on the barrier beside the Waterman behemoth, and didn't see a train run at my end of the layout. There were trains, but in the distance. 

While chatting to Revolution Trains, I did get to have a look at the VoR loco being produced by ModelRail. Revolution has taken over the project management, and there was the pre-production model in front of me. I've seen it, and sadly, it's brilliant, so I still want one. In unlined BR blue please. Time to start saving pennies. 

We didn't even have time for lunch, but I had managed to score some excellent cake while waiting at the start of the day. 

Paul Isles

Paul Isles on the Accurascale stand handed over the last of their lemon drizzle, and it was very nice. Despite this, I couldn't persuade them to delay the new Buckjumper to give me time to finish my kit. I mean, it's only been paused for 30 years...

One thing I will say about walking around a big show with your boss, it stopped me spending money. All that chatting meant I bought three Christmas cards. Possibly the cheapest event I've been to this year!

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Saturday Film Club - LSWR T3 Class Supporters Launch Day

I'm featuring this loco launch for a couple of reasons. 

First, it's stunning restoration, of a beautiful loco.

Second, in the middle is a speech by my friend Anthony, now in charge of wheeled things at the NRM. He aludes to the loco being released from the national collection, but I know that at the time, it was very, very controversial. And he's been proved right...

Friday, October 20, 2023

Tri-ang advertising hoardings


Another second-hand stall find - three Tri-ang advertising hoarding, two with quite good adverts on, and one blank. These plus a station bookstall for a fiver seemed reasonable value. 

While the Tri-ang collection is probably as good as it ever will be, I've not got these, and don't suppose they were that common. Young modellers must have a station, but advert boards? A lot less important. Who wouldn't rather have another wagon instead? 

Nice to see that Margate and Ramsgate are being promoted at wonderful holiday locations. Presumably, you get there via the Minic motorway, which is a lot quicker than the M25 I have to use when I visit!

Nerdy note: the two purple hoardings have Tri-ang and Made in England moulded in the back. The brown version without adverts, is plain. Was there a reason? The purple match my very first station, so was the brown earlier? There's no information online. 

The bookstall, R69, is in really nice condition. I wonder if there was ever an issue with the advert on the front for "Mickey Mouse Weekly"? Maybe Disney didn't see it, or simply didn't care. And why did it replace the earlier "Railway Modeller" advert?


Thursday, October 19, 2023

Memories of the Yellow Pages in "The Collector"

Time for another retro build in the Hornby Collectors Club in house magazine. Inspired by this advert: 

 I've built the R421 signal box!

Pedants will note that in the advert, this is the R186, but that's actually the BR Black J52. My model is a 1980s kit, but you can still buy it from Gaugemaster. 

At the end of the advert, little Ben presents the box to his dad, played by Colin Bennett, who played Mr Bennett in the BBC kids show Take Hart. I always thought it was a shame that Ben couldn't be bothered to wrap the present up, just leaving it in a bag. Also, dad's model railway was pretty comprehensive, how come he didn't already have a signal box?

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

The Alan Gibson Files: Wantage Tramway No.5

Wantage Tramway No.5

Scanned from a 10x8 inch print, I've no idea where this was taken, or when. 

Looking at a history of the engine, a good guess would be Didcot around 1970. I don't think it would have run with a train at the Stockton & Darlington 150, the last time she ran. 

Now preserved in static condition at Didcot, I wonder if she will ever take to the rails under her own power again?

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Centre Models Leek & Manifold Coach kit


Ever since I built a Centre Models Avonside in a weeked at a show for a hastily-arranged demo, I've been fascinated by the firm, and their products. 

The locos, I'm reasonably familiar with, but I didn't know there were coaches. Until I saw this. 

Produced to accompany the firms' whitemetal locomotive from the same line, it's so different from the rest, I wonder if parts were bought in. 

Clear plastic, pre-printed sides look a lot like the products of PC Models, who made a range of standard gauge kits with printed sides. 

We also have a sheet of black plastic sheet, marked out for cutting, some whitemetal parts for bogies and solebars, etched balcony gates, and Peco wheels. 

To be honest, I don't fancy building this, as it's going to be pretty basic, and any attempt to detail will require paint matching, or even repainting, which takes away the point of the printed sides! I suppose in the era this was produced, it would be a significant aid to scratchbuilding, but now, nothing more than an exercise in nostalgia. 

That said, poking around in the box has been interesting, which is what this is all about. 

If anyone fancies adding this to their collection, £15 quid plus postage and it's yours. If not, I'll get around to popping it on eBay at some point.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Trackster repair


No modelling action this week. Work has been manic, with several evenings given over to me wishing paint and glue would dry faster to hit deadlines. However, I have bagged a few gems from various second-hand stalls recently, so I'll feature them to keep the posts-a-coming. 

Let's start with a fivers worth of Bachmann US road-rail vehicles. Picked up at the 009 Society 50th event, I assume it stayed on the table because no-one wanted a weird standard-gauge vehicle. Well, apart from weird me anyway. 

On the workbench, the first job was to clean the driving wheels. Since they also handle pickups, any dirt is going to be a big issue. Let's face it, slow running over pointwork is never going to be this models forte, but I'll give it a chance. 

The two stage gears are nice, but only when the worm meshes properly, and this one didn't. Not until I made up a little plastic piece to push the motor down when the body is on. I can't see how it's moving, but it certainly is, and this cures the problem. The cost is the back end sticking up slightly, but that's a bit of a dragster stance, and hardly obvious in real life.

Running still isn't amazing until the motor has warmed up. In reverse, it's quite sweet, but forwards is a little rough. Anoying that, but it's still fun.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Elizabethan model railway show 2023


Another work trip. This time and early start to photograph a layout spotted earlier in the year. They had kindly arranged for the venue to open for me at 8:30, but that still meant a 6:30 start to ensure I made it to near Nottingham in time. 

Work done, I took a wander around the show. For a small event, it punched above its weight layout-wise. There were a couple more potential layout shoots, and a few others I liked, but wouldn't have worked well on the page. Not an issue, they gave both owners and visitors a lot of pleasure. One needed three goes before I could get in front of it!

Cake was pretty good, a definite 7 out of 10. Should I have fancied it (I didn't), Bovril was on offer at the cafe. That's a first, but I didn't see anyone partake. 

Trade was mixed, but you could bag most things, apart from paint, for a layout. There was some good rooting around in the second-hand piles too, so something for everyone. 

A few phone photos can be found on Flickr.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Saturday Film Club: Love letter for a fire engine

Owning a classic vehicle doesn't make much sense. You have to think with your heart more than your head. In this film, Lawrie explains his love for his fire engine. It might be big, and sometimes need proper fixing, but that doesn't stop him. I watched this, and remembered why I so want my Beetle back on the road.

Friday, October 13, 2023

M&V Models, Alcester


Only 25 minute drive from me is this little gem of a model shop.Focussing mainly on plastic kits (Airfix, Revell and some other makes), there is space for a small amount of railway stock on show (more on the eBay shop), including some second-hand items, but the best thing is the ranges of consumables stocked. 

Humbrol paints, both enamel and acrylic, proper full racks. These alone will bring me back. Then there is plenty of Wills kits and Woodland Scenics items, plus Jarvis and a few other bits. Quite a lot of Deluxe Materials glues etc. too.

If jigsaws are more your thing, then there is a shelf of these too. Diecast car fans will be happy too.

I'm not sure how long the shop has been there, but it's accumulated plenty to rumage through as well as the new stuff.  

The website has all the details of the range.

Better still, behind me as I took the photo is an amazing old-skool hardware shop, and if you can't find the Humbrol enamel you want, there is a craft shop 5 mins walk away (near Waitrose) with another rack!


Thursday, October 12, 2023

November Garden Rail magazine


Garden Rail November 2023

Inspired by none other than PD Hancock, Alistair Ross built the Conegra Road Garden Railway around his garden, featuring some impressive and innovative bridges and viaducts, using materials you might not expect to find in a garden.

On the workbench we have:

  • A goods shed for Lynton
  • 16mm scale footbridge
  • An electric Peckett locomotive
  • Part two of the Boot Lane 'Nancy' build
  • A G scale passenger train in only 6ft

An automatic signal – which we are giving away the 3D Prints files to let you build.

Plus details of new products for modellers in the larger scales from around the world.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

The Alan Gibson files: Garratt front end

Copyright Alan Gibson

While searching for something at the railway club, I found a folder full of black and white photos, taken by my friend, the late Alan Gibson (the photographer, not the wheelmaker as he used to say) and thought it would be interesting to bring them to a wider audience. 

This first, shot, the most interesting of the selection, shows the front tank from one of the 0-4-0 + 0-4-0 Garratt locomotives that operated in the UK. Alan lived in Nuneaton, so he wouldn't have been far from Atherstone, where the loco now living at Bressingham worked. 

I've never seen a picture of an unattached front end. If you click on it, you'll get the full-size version. There's some good detail of the valve gear and fallplate for modellers, including me if I ever get around to my model!

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Chassis build


Despite being without a gas torch, I decided to have a crack at the chassis anyway. My 45w Antex iron is pretty powerful, and I hoped to at least tack it together so I could make good the joins later. 

The basic lump is a simple fold up job. Making sure the sides are at right angles to the top takes a little care, bu not much. Running solder along the fold line, as the instructions instruct, isn't a bad ideas, although once the motor supports are in, a fiddly job as they are a tight fit even with the etching cusp cleaned away, shouldn't really be required. 

My only complaint, is that the holes for the axle bearings are slightly oversize. To ensure a square result, the wheels and axles were fitted, and the bearings tacked in place. The result is a chassis that appears to sit flat. 

I'm still pondering the drive. My instinct now is to go for Delrin chain, which I'll need to order as I can't remember where I put the stuff I bought "just in case" years ago. There's some extra detail to add, and paint before then though, as getting the wheels off the axle is harder than I expected, so I only want to do it once.

Monday, October 09, 2023

Gaseous emissions


O gauge kits mean big lumps of brass, and for soldering these together, there's nothing better than a small gas torch. Using one allows me to blow solder along any joint, with the stuff running like water. 

Digging out my torch, I noticed it was emply of gas. Not a surprise, it's ages since I'd used it. What was a surprise, was when I filled it up, the gas started leaking from the joint between the handle and clear section. 

There's no obvious was to get in here and fix anything, so I've been looking at Screwfix for a replacement. I'll let you know how I get on with this.

Sunday, October 08, 2023

Elsecar (Barrow Hill) 2023


With the Elsecar Heritage Centre full of builder at the moment, the Yorkshire garden railway show has had to decamp to Barrow Hill roundhouse for a couple of years. 

From my point of view, this means it's less distance to travel, and a roundhouse is an interesting venue. It's years since I've visited, but pleasingly, there's still lots to see, with some nicely grubby locomotives at home. Not bulling each machine up means they have taken on the air of a working machine. OK, not the filth that modellers love, but not fresh out of works either. 

Layouts and trade were threaded between the tracks, no easy job, as the floor is far from even, which must have made leveling up a nightmare, although they did a much better job than the government has at "levelling up", and the later has an entire department including several well-paid politicians to do it. All our lot needed was some bits of wood!

I didn't notice any major omissions from previous years, although the venues being so different, it's hard to tell. I certainly managed to leave some money behind, as did my Dad. But then it's no fun to leave a show without a box under your arm. 

The only downside was the catering. Very good, but the queue took ages to clear. From joining it at 11:30, it took an hour until we had eaten, and that just a sausage batch and oversized profiterol.

This wasn't the fault of the staff, there simply weren't enough of them. Oddly for me, I coveted the salads dished out to the two guys (who didn't look like salad botherers) on the table. Beautifully presented, their only moan, like us, was the wait. Nipping in for a cup of tea wasn't an option, as many from the trade found to their cost. 

Apparently, talks are already taking place to sort this for next year - add a small tea bar, and there will be much money to be made, and many more happy visitors. 

"Would you like to be scanned?" asked Dean Punchard of Design Scan Print 3D. It looks like I'll soon be available to buy, as a file for 3D printing, for his patreon subscribers. I've been promised the files, and will see how they print. I also picked up a couple of his cheap figures, which I'll paint and report back on here. 

Overall, it was a good show. I've always enjoyed Elsecar, and moving to Barrow Hill hasn't done it any harm. Sadly, time and weather were against me exploring more of the outisde, or perhaps I should do a bit less chatting!

Saturday, October 07, 2023

Saturday Film Club: Moving millions

London Transport has always fascinated film makers - so many stories to be told of how the system, and it is a system, managed to move people around a busy metropolis. 

Friday, October 06, 2023

Monorails in Magazines 1918-1971 by Paul Langan

Monorails have been a technology that is coming soon for at least a century. 

Paul Langan has retyped 20 articles from old science magazines extoling the virtues of the latest monorail type scheme. Each includes the cover for the relevant magazine, as well as many of the photos and diagrams that accompany the text. 

Prett much every single scheme failed to take off. The exception is the Chicago World's Fair "Sky Ride" which existed for the duration of the fair, but is arguably a transporter bridge. Certainly not a monorail, as the cars moved along a set of wires. 

The promotors of each scheme were very gun-ho, with tracts of countryside being opened up in Canada, and pretty much all major US cities due to have their traffic problems solved. I'd be interested in a more detailed book that tells the fuller story of the rise, and fall of each. What happened? (I really should sit down and read Adrian S Gardeners books which probably provide this)

There are regular mentions of the Wuppertal system, and Binnie Railplane, both of which actually existed, even in the latter was only 130 yards long, not something many articles care to mention. 

Illustrations uniformly show something from a Flash Gordon film, with many truly amazing craft to be found zipping along in the future. There are some clever ideas too - one system has the cars running on a incredibly thin film of water for frictionless travel. 

Overall, this is a tale of misplaced optimism from a world where the future was going to be amazing. It's such a shame that none of it was ever realised.

Monorails in magazines on Amazon. 

Thursday, October 05, 2023

Crooked House in BRM


Model Crooked House
One main project for me in November's issue of BRM - if you've been looking at the news in the last few months, you'll have heard of the Crooked House pub. This apparently, well loved hostelry, was sold by the brewery and then burned down in suspicious cirumstances. 

David Wright very quickly built a 7mm scale model, and spotting a 3D printed kit, I made the same thing in 4mm scale. Add some prototype information by Andy "The Yam-Yam" York, and it's one of the most interesting features we've put together. 

Also on the workbench, modelling poppies in various forms. 

There's also my first TT:120 build for the magazine - a yard crane. 

Yard crane


For BRM TV, I look at stringing cranes, with a few different options. 

My camera has been out too. 

Pwllheli in P4:

Newvaddon Parkway in N:

And finally, College Halt:

Wednesday, October 04, 2023

Waterborne Wednesday: Magellan Delta

My parents have been on holiday in Cornwall, and return with some boat photos. The one that really caught my eye was the Magellan Delta - lovely sleek lines. 

A little digging took me to the builders website with more data.

This would make a terrific model, but calls for a couple of brushless motors, and it looks like it needs a bit of poke! 


Tuesday, October 03, 2023



"+ wheels and motor" - music to the model railway kitbuilders ears. Everything being in the box means no extra cost, or rooting around trying to complete the kit. Maybe said mechanical bits are rubbish, but it's a start. 

I really don't need a brass kit for a Y1/Y3 shunter. If I need an O gauge version, there is the excellent Dapol RTR model available for two and a bit times the price I paid for this collection of brass and whitemetal bit. 

But, a bit of me has been thinking some soldering would be nice. I don't often get to do this for work for a start, and I've always (!) enjoyed building locomotive kits. And yes, I have lots in the stash awaiting my attention, but the instructions make this look like a pretty simple build. 

Opening the box, it looks like all the bits are in there. Along with a reciept for £163!

I like the pre-formed body parts. Putting the bends in the corners isn't easy, as I seem to recall from building a Crownline kit many years ago. I seem to remember something about using a bit of tube around a bolt in each corner. No need for that here. 

The biggest issue I can see is the that model is single-axle drive. Should I try to do something about this? If so, buy an extra gearbox, or Delrin chain? I've not got a layout to run the model on, so as long as it moves for the moment, I'll be happy. 

Anyway, I hope I'll crack on with this and blog it for you next week. Don't hold your breath though, as there are always surprises...

Monday, October 02, 2023

Too much DCC


Making it to the Stafford scond-hand stall before most of the crowds, I picked up a few bargains. 

Starting at one end, I spotted an interesting 009 loco for a tenner. The guy running the stand was the seller, and assured me that it was barely run in 40 years, the only duff thing was the foam in the box, which he had replaced. It's a Swiss Waldenburg Railway 0-6-0 WB5 'G. Thommen', and certainly looked tidy. Plenty of waggly bits on the outside too. 

Skipping the many boxes of RTR OO in search of odd stuff, I reached the other end, where there was a kit which we'll talk about tomorrow, and a Minerva 'Victory' class. Missing a smokebox dart, and some lamp irons, they couldn't test it, but for £100, I knew I'd regret not picking up a prototype I like (I have the Planet Industrials OO version) more than I'd feel the pain in my wallet. Having just been paid for a magazine feature the day before helped. 

Anyway, I tested both with a 9v battery, but don't have any O gauge track to hand. So, off I head to the model railway club, where I hit a problem. There might be a huge O gauge layout, but it is powered by the evil DCC, rather than Gods own 12v DC. It seems that you can't run DC locos on the DCC layout (some suggestion that you can use it as Number 0, but this was firmly denied). 

The same problem occured on the little 009 module. 

In the end, the N gauge team, who do use the proper voltage, via Gaugemaster handheld controllers no less, let me waz it up and down in their fiddle yard. Despite being 40 years old,it runs very well, with all the bits waggling as expected. OK, there is the sligh wiff of electricals, but nothing to worry about. Maybe it's not Bachmann smooth, but definitely a very useful loco. 

On proper powered layouts. 

Sunday, October 01, 2023

Stafford 2023

Valley and bridge

In brief - excellent show.  Wel laid out, plenty of visitors and some excellent (with one exception) trade. I did so much chatting that I didn't get as much layout watching as I wanted in. Never mind, a top day out with vintage bus rides to from and to the station. 

More photos on Flickr.