Thursday, November 30, 2023

Danger: Boat club auction

The annual model boat club auction can be dangerous. Since the members never want to spend any money, I've picked up rather more "stuff" than I should, because it's fun to bid. I also feel sorry from the auctioneer as he struggles to extract money.

This year, I wasn't only planning to buy, but had four boats in the sale too. One had a reserve, but really, they just wanted new homes. 

And it worked. Well, nearly. The Star pond yacht didn't sell, but everything else did. Some cash in my Dad and I's loco slush fund. 

And I manged to pick up some useful goodies. Three Planet recievers - the ones I use in boats and can't get now unless you pay really silly money. 

Oh, and a radio control Duck. 

My excuse - I like ducks. So, for a fiver, I've given it a new home. Building one has long been on my plan, now I don't need to worry. If it works anyway, far too cold for testing right now!

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

My first garden railway


Garden railway

Digging through some old photo albums, I found this shot. It shows my first garden railway. 

The track, Peco SM32, is laid on a bed of pea gravel sitting in a trench. I think there are short wooden posts bashed into the ground every couple of feet, and the sleepers are screwed to these. 

A Mamod loco, built from a kit, is posed with a set of Coopercraft wagons. It's not running with them because the somewhat excitable speed control on the loco would yank them off the track. 

I'm pretty sure I still have everything in this 30 year-old (at least) photo. The track is in a cupboard. The loco stored safely with the rest of the 32mm stuff. The wagons are on the bench, awaiting a little cleaning and renovation. Even the hut, made from a solid bit of wood, is in the garden railway bits. 

One day, thanks to my greater knoweldge and experience, all this will run again. For now, the line slumbers...

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Goodies from the IPMS show

Now, it would be rude to go to a plastic kit show, and not come away with at least one box, wouldn't it? 

Well, I wasn't rude. I also know why I have a 35 litre rucksack. 

Starting with the big buy, a kit I don't really understand. It's a sort of walking robot suit, that a pilot sits in and operates. More than that I do not know as all is in Japanese.

My guess is that this is from a Manga cartoon of some sort. I'm not into manga, but I just love the idea of the model. It looks fun, and that's what the hobby is about. It's also as far from toy trains as you can get, and still be making models. 

If anyone can enlighten me further, I'd be fascinated. 

Thunderbirds kits

These three were proper bargains. Dug out of a box of similarily packages models, I eshewed the Japanese robots, I haven't built last years purchases for a start, aiming for Gerry Anderson pastiche's. The exciting thing is that the two CD-Boy kits include sound chips. What is the sound? No idea, but for four quid each, I'm happy to find out. 

OK, there is one Japanese robot, but he's from the same box of water damaged (so I'm told, hence no boxes, but a saving of six pounds in the TB4 kit) stock. It turns out there are two robots in the kit - one is a pendant for the SciFi robot loving love of your life presumably. 

TB3 is just because that's my favourite Thunderbird. I think there was a CD-Boy version, but someone snaffled it just before me, such is the scrum around these boxes.Boo. 

Kate - I'll be right there, is a kit I've been meaning to buy for a while. Purely because the main character in our excellent novels is called 'Kate'. She doesn't look much like the plastic Kate, but I think I can fix that. The model is from a range called "Dangerous Curves". I leave investigating further to you. 

The gladiators were two quid from the Bachmann MCC stand. I can't resist a bargain, and feel they might one day be made into a model of the people discussing things on a popular web forum. 

Something a bit more sensible now, a set of graduated sanding sticks. For the moment, these will be kept for best work (yes, I do some!) especially the really fine ones. 

The bookazine has Daleks in it and some behind the scenes stuff, and was three quid. I'm not flicking through a mag for that price, I'll take the risk on the content being interesting. Get me. 

Finally, a Bond Bug, to replace the one I messed up. This has been a tough kit to track down, it's been such a good seller that all the retailer are out of stock. Possibly one of Airfix's best sellers of recent times. 

And the SR-N1. Well, it's another kit I've always fancied, but not enough to shell out eBay prices. 

All this probably looks very profligate. Just north of £100 blown on plastic kits, that I might never get around to building at my current rate of progress. I don't care. This show has been on my calendar for a long while, and I was determined to enjoy myself. Part of that is buying interesting kits, and dreaming I will one day get around to building them.Maybe it could be said that I left with a bag full of dreams...

Monday, November 27, 2023

IPMS 2023


"I've seen some photos, and it doesn't look that busy." said one of the great brains on Facebook. He was pretty quickly corrected. The show was well back to pre-Covid levels of attendance, both visitors and traders as far as I could tell. 

Walking around the mainly trade area on Saturday morning was difficult. Getting into those second-hand kit stands was difficult. And it stayed a lot like that until late afternoon. I know that because I got in just after 10, and left about half past 5. £23 for severn hours entertainment. 

As usual, I largely ignored military models and stuck to things I liked. Even doing that meant I filled my time. Apart from at lunch, when by chance, I ended up chatting to Chris Sandham-Bailey, who designes the transfers for Airfix, over a rather nice burger meal. 

Yes, I bought some stuff. You don't go to a show like this and NOT leave without at least one box. Well, not unless you are dead miserable like the guy on Facebook, and I'm sure he wasn't there, and just wanted to rubbish to show to make himself feel superior. 

Well Mr Facebook, you missed some amazing modelling. But, we need to let the photos do the talking, so head over to my Flickr album and enjoy


Sunday, November 26, 2023

Artisan and Reenactors Market

Artisan and Reenactors Market

Since lots of people will be at the biggest model railway show in the UK today, let's look at a decidedly non-toy train event. Sacriledge it might be, but I enjoy a trip to see something different occasionally. 

Held at the Warwickshire Events Centre, the show supplies those who like to spend weekends pretending they are living in a different time. A bit like those who write in to my local paper for whom the time is always Georgian, and anything new is BAD. But I digress. 


Like model railways, there are a lot of cottage industries involved, although they seem to manufacturer some impressive clothing and hardware. The helmets above are all hand-made, and the ones I spotted cost less than £200. That seems a bargain for a bespoke item. Costumes will come in at quite a bit more than this if you want something top-end and Elizabethan, but there are cheaper options. Not that this matters, if you take pert on the sort of recreation that involves hitting each other, you'll be buying armour or at least chain-mail, no matter what the cost!

As well as costumes and weapons (three bow and arrow makers in the hall), there are cooking materials, eating and drinking vessels, coins (I bought a replica Roman coin, and a real one, both for the price of a coffee), materials for making costumes, food and drink. After writing this, I'll be supping a session bottle of mead. 

Just like model railways, there's a lot of detail to consider, and I can see the pleasure in getting involved with all this. I still don't fancy going away and role-playing historical people, but as a break from modelmaking, it was well worth the £4.50 to go in. The costumed stallholder and even attendees made it worth that.

Steampunk gun

Mind you, some of the protective wear could be useful at Warley...

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Saturday Film Club: SRN-1

To celebrate the arrival of the re-issued Airfix SRN-1 hoercraft kit (yes, of course I have one) a couple of videos showing this interesting machine.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Off to Warley today


You won't be surprised that today, I'm off to Warley to help set up the BRM stand. 

During the show, I'll be the one hanging around a table full of models, and happy to chat toy trains. So, if you've any modelling questions, or just fancy a natter, head to stand A16 and I'll be happy to oblige.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Steaming with a head torch

Phil steaming at night

On bonfire night (5th November for non-UK readers. When we traditionally burn Catholics and eat baked potato) it was back out to do a little charity steaming. This time we were collecting for the Warwickshire Air Ambulance

Reaslising it would be dark, I invested in a head torch so I could see what I was doing, and not set fire to myself. 

A chilly evening, we weren't as well patronised as in the warmer months, but a steam procession of little chuffing locos kept us all entertaining. When we weren't scoffing jacket spud and the odd cake that is. 

Seeing other people's locos can be a bad thing as temptation is always lurking for the garden railway enthusiast. The evening started with a 16mm scale "Diana" - not the 7/8th scale Accucraft model, but a scratchbuilt example. 

Then there was a cracking Locoboxes Garratt.

It might have waggly cylinders, but this example trundled around perfectly, and (maybe it was dark) you didn't really notice. 

I'd taken my Ragleth and Merlin locos. The latter would have benefitted from thicker steam oil, but one going, steamed well enough. Ragleth just gets on with it and chugged away well. OK, maybe not the most exciting loco, as there are so many out there, but it's a nice steam. 

One problem, I forgot to check the batteries in the radio control unit, which decided to beep anoyingly. Of course, I didn't have any spares, and couldn't turn it off while the loco was in steam! Another lesson to learn.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

A cream K6


Hull K6

On a recent layout shoot, I found myself near Hull. Now, the thing I know about Hull, is that their telephone boxes are cream, and don't feature a royal crest. It's all to do with being part of a seperate network to the Post Office - you can read the full details here

I've known about these boxes for decades, ever since reading the excllent book, Requiem for a Red Box. But, being a long way from the area, I'd never actually seen one. 

Ignoring how weird it sounded, at the end of the shoot, I asked if there was a cream box in the vicinity. The layout owners looked at me a bit old fashioned, but thought there was one in Brantingham, a couple of miles away. 

Off I set, and eventually found myself in a picturesque village, and beside the duck pond, was the object of my search!

No longer a working telephone box, inside is a little guide and history. Apparenlty, this is the most Westerly cream box in the district, so I was lucky to find it. It's condition is excellent, so obviously a well-loved piece of the landscape. 

You can visit the box on Streetview. 

Hull K6


Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Quick work Inglenook


Inglenook model railway
Someone who has been active on the model railway building front, is my new friend Alastair. We first met at the Great British Model Railway show, and talked about building small layouts. He was looking for a simple first project, and I suggested an Inglenook shunting puzzle. 

Away he went to look up the concept online, and when we next met at the model railway club, was fired up about the concept. I provided a bit more advice, especially about using Torry's Hardware for the wood, and this is the result a week later - a working layout!

The Torry's team added to my advice by suggesting softwood rather than a plywood beam around the edge. They also advised on the tools and fixings required - all excellent service for a beginner, and the reason I always recommend them. 

Anyway, at the club, the layout arrived, and works perfectly. Point operation is digital (you poke them with your finger) for the moment, but slots are fitted underneath for point motors in the future. 

Whan amazes me, is the neatness of the baseboard. Definitely something to be proud of. Now, if a raw beginner can do this in a week, what's stopping everyone else? 

Update: The layout is now wired, complete with point motors, and fully working!

Monday, November 20, 2023

Cleaning up


In the last three weeks, progress on the Sentinel has amounted to an hour of cleaning up the soldered joint around the base of the body. 

While there wasn't much solder, a neat right-angle here will make the model look a lot better, so I set to with scrapers and fibreglass pens to remove any excess metal. A bit of care is required to avoid scratching the brass, but that's mainly angling the metal scrapers sensibly. Then letting the fibreglass do it's job. I'm always amazed how effective this is at burnishing away everything but the brass. 

If I ever get as far as priming the model, hopefully this effort will be worth it because you won't see anything!

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Driving trains on the Bredgar and Wormshill Railway


Phil on a loco

While I'm still stupidly busy, some days at work are more fun than others. Last week, I was invited by a model railway manufacturer, to join them on a staff awayday at the Bredgar and Wormshill Railway. Not a line I'd heard of, partly because it's in deepest Kent, a bit of a drive for me. 

The railway is a bit of a plaything, much like Statfold Barn. No line existed, until the owner needed somewhere to run a collection of 2ft narrow gauge locos. Since then, it's bedded in nicely. The collection has grown, and there is an impressive works to maintian, and build, new rolling stock. 

The collection of locos, both steam and diesel, is impressive. As a fan of weird locos, I was very happy. In addition to the railway stock, there's also vintage tractors and a substantial G scale model railway. 

Now, I'm not really that into footplate action, but the others insisted I have a go on both the Quarry Hunslet and Barclay diesel - and they were both great fun to drive. I'd happily have had another run on the Hunslet as I felt I was getting the hang of it and fancied a go on the controls with less instruction. However, lunchtime got in the way, and then there was video to shoot, and chatting to do. 

The cake is excellent though, and the cafe opens to the public, even when the line isn't operating, so if you are in the area, it's well worth checking out.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Saturday Film Club: Yorkshire Coast Tramway

Here's an odd one - a standard guage Manx tramway with non-Manx trams, and a city that certainly isn't Douglas. 

Some terrific work though. Lots of working road vehicles, and lots of very recognisable buildings. I'd love to see it in real life. Sadly, the work involved in setting the layout up, means the model probably won't be out in the future.

Monday, November 13, 2023

Time for a break


Sorry, I've been so busy lately that there's been no modelling for well over a fortnight, and no prospect for the foreseeable future, so not much to report on the blog. 

I have some ideas for future content, but right now, I need to work. None of this is helped by taking a couple of days off to visit shows, so it's my own fault really. Sorry about that. Try again next Saturday.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Disapointed Sinclair owner


Phil in a Sinclair C5

When I was at school, I was  Sinclair kid. A ZX81 followed by a Spectrum meant my computer heart belonged to Clive. How I, and the other Sinclair kids looked down on those with Commodore computers. (We all looked down on the BBC Micro owner, whose parents were teachers, although we secretly envied them Elite). Our computers had more games, and could be programmed in proper BASIC. 

They pointed out their computers had proper keyboards, sound chips and more colours per sprite. 

And so it was that I was fascinated when Sir Clive launched his electric vehicle, the C5. OK, it was ahead of its time, and derided by the press, but I've always wanted one. The only thing stopping me was sensible storage arrangements. 

Until I visited the NEC Classic Car show this year. A kind person on the C5 display let me sit in his machine. 

I can get my feet on the pedals, but only just. Actually rotating them would be another matter. I'm just too tall. 

And now very sad.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Saturday Film Club: Meet the "RAILWAY MANIACS"

We head back to 1975, and the popular BBC magazine show, Nationwide. Martin Young on his journey across the country as he chats to the ultimate "railway maniacs."

Friday, November 10, 2023

Weetabix vans


Hornby Weetabix vans
Last week, we had the Weetabix racer, so now, thanks to more rooting around in boxes under a trade table, a pair of Weetabix rail vans. All for a couple of quid each. 

Ramsay's tells me that these are both R728. The left hand one being produced in 1980-81, and the right hand one with skinhead characters, 1986-9. The latter has a replacement roof, and I think a more modern chassis as there is a lot of underframe detail if you tip the model upside down. 

The older model will probably follow the racer, but the other really ought to be a magazine project. Not sure what (suggestions?) but I'd like to keep the totally unauthentic livery. Perhaps a finer chassis and a little weathering? 

The more I look at these, I wonder if a little collection of Hornby advertising vans is in order. A rake of these would look really nice, and wouldn't break the bank. However, I think I have too many toy trains I don't get the chance to run already. Perhaps a OO garden layout? Stop it Parker!!!

Incidentally, I mentioned a missing Matchbox caravan last time. This has now been found hiding in the back of my car, and is lined up for a project.

Thursday, November 09, 2023

Off to Jersey for the latest Garden Rail


Garden Rail December

Star of social media and local TV, the Jersey-base HSBA railway comes to Garden Rail. Built by Curtis and Nikki Stanier, this beautiful, G scale line is regularly open to the public, and has raised a huge amount for charity along the way.

As a special treat for December, we also visit the Arrowbear outdoor Lego railway in the USA.

With winter on the way, and the workbench beckoning, we bring you some fun projects: :

  • Building a rail truck from a souvenir.

  • Adding fish traffic to your line

  • Building a railcar from a damaged coach

  • A selection of small, fun, locomotives

And if all this is too much, we prove that garden railways are good for you!

Plus our usual extensive new of new products for the large-scale modeller.

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

The Alan Gibson Files: Another mystery steam loco

Mystery steam loco

Another mystery loco. I'm not even sure what sort it is!

Last weeks, was apparenlty taken at Hockley Heath steam rally, late 1960s - is this one? It would make sense. 

Anyway, over to you. Thanks in advance.

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

Brake van update


Brake van chassis
Last year, the the GBMRS, I started work on an O gauge Parkside brake van - LNER 20 Ton Toad E - kit. That year, I managed to assemble the floor, solebars, strengtheners and three W-irons. 

This year, I added the fourth W-iron, and all the axleboxes, which slide up and down nice and freely. This kit is different from previous Parkside models I've built in this area. And extra plate on the outside, behind the axlebox, keeps the glue away from the places where you really don't want glue. 

You might considetr this slow progress, but my feeling is that if you get any modelling done at a show, then you've had a poor demo. I take a board and a kit more as a prop than to get the thing built. As such, I consider my lack of progress very satisfying!

Monday, November 06, 2023

Camera balancing


Taking a photo

Having arranaged to take a set of photos of Life in Longmorn, I packed all my gear up, for what was to be an early start. We might only live 15 minutes drive away, but it's still an early start. 

Getting to the layout, I opened my bag, and realised that I'd brought eventhing, except my Splat tripod. For most of the work, I could use a normal tripod, leaning over the baseboard edge, or beanbags. But, as ever, there were times I really missed it. 

Not to be beaten, I made use of amy tiny tripod, beanbags, and a nicely solidly built cottage, to prop the camera (thank goodness it's a small one!) to get one of the owners favourite shots with a 48DS in front of the distilery. 

The results look great, but it's not always easy. 


However, for my pains, I was presented with some shortbread, made very close to both the prototype, and the owners house. Now, I love shortbread, but even I can't eat this much in a weekend (OK, I could, but even I know it wouldn't be good for me) so forced it on my visitors to my stand. See, cake goes both ways!

Sunday, November 05, 2023

Great British Model Railway Show 2023


Phil Parker chatting at the GBMRS

Busy. Non-stop chat for pretty much two days. Brilliant fun, but tiring. 

While the initial rush wasn't massive, once it finished, the crowds just kept on coming. Being next to thye up escalator meant we got a feel for the numbers. On the couple of occasions I managed to escape to go to the toilet, or collect lunch (sandwich, fruit and a cookie), the aisles were challenging to navigate. You could do it, but it was slow progress. 

Richard Proudman and Simon Kohler

I had all sorts of people sat opposite me for a chat, with much advice dished out over the weekend. There didn't seem to be any single question that dominated, although I helped a few beginners with ideas, one of whom has gone on to join our model railway club!

All this chat meant limited time looking around, but the star of the show for me, was the Tri-ang Battlespace layout. 

Battlespace Turbo cars

The three Battlespace Turbo cars, one original, one khaki and one modified to look like the original catalogue painting. At the end of the show, the owner generously let me have a go with his ultra-rare Q-Car too! 

Cake news - I photographed a layou, and was presented with a box of shortbread, and top bloke, Robert Shrives, brought along some delicious blackberry chocolate brownie. 

A really enjoyable event. What I saw looked great, and the people I talked to seemed to be enjoying themselves a lot, so roll on next year!

Saturday, November 04, 2023

Saturday Film Club: I bought a garage find Matra Rancho. How rusty is it?

No, not me. Martin from Grand Thrift Auto. In this video, he discovers the true horror of his Rancho. Which is in the bronze, my favourite colour. It's even got the lamps on the scuttle. I'd like those too. 

What I wouldn't want is all the rust, and there is a lot of it. Still, this is a cautionary tale...

Friday, November 03, 2023

Weetabix racer


Weetabix racing car
A bit of nostalgia rescued from the bottom of a 5p each, diecast cars box at a recent show. 

I had one of these - in fact, it's probably still in the loft somewhere. Back in the 1970s, if you collected enough tokens from boxes of Weetabix breakfast cereal, and sent them off, you got a Corgi model in the post. The first offered was a lorry, but this was followed by a racing car. Broom Brooooom!

Weetabix racing car

Anyway, I know someone who works for Weetabix, so picked this car up and passed it on as a present. Apparently, it has gone down very well and is being boroomed around the desks in the office. I apologise if this means a disruption in production. 

At the same time, I bought a Matchbox caravan - but now can't find it. It's not in my rucksack, nor, as far as I can tell, in the back of my car. I wonder what happened to it?

Thursday, November 02, 2023

Save a 2nd hand station in BRM

Digging around in the back of my local model shop, I found a Hornby station. It had been stuck together, and obviously spent time on a layout, before ending up in a box, at the back of the shop. For £25, I rescued it, and then gave it a makeover. 

The result, in my opinion, looks pretty good. Nothing too difficult, or expensive, and the model could now sit on any layout and look the part. 

Elsewhere, I've taken a low-relief chapel, and given it a bit of depth. 

I'm not a fan of a flat row of buildings along the back of a layout, but doing something to improve matters isn't too hard. 

There's also building a snowman (it's the December issue after all), screwdrivers, grass and some nifty track laying tools. 

My camera has been out again for Lockdown Fen: 

Lockdown Fen

A lovely little micro layout, just the sort of thing I like to build. Speaking to the owner, he's happy that I've managed to make it look a lot larger than it really is!

Finally, one of the odder layouts I've photographed - Roadrunner. 

It's the December issue, so we get to let our hair down a little. The thing it, this sort of modelling is hard. I've seen many really clever ideas like this let down in the execution, but not here. The landscape looks just like the one from the cartoons. All the accesories are sharply modelled. OK, it's not conventional, but that doesn't mean it's not a good layout. 

And on BRM TV, I'm showing how my gas torch works. 

Maybe not everyone needs one of these, but it doesn't do any harm to learn about them. After all, who can resist an interesting addition to the toolbox?

Wednesday, November 01, 2023

The Alan Gibson file: Mystery narrow gauge locomotive

I've got nothing. I don't know what this is (OK, it's a steam locomotive), or where it is. Based on the other photos, I'm going to say 1970s, but even that's a guess. Suggestions in the comments please.

Love the hairy rope stopping people wandering over the track, and the rudimentary rolling stock though. 

Update: I asked my friend Andrew, editor of Narrow Gauge World, and he suggested, "It's one of the standard Bagnall 0-4-0STs that include the likes of Pixie, Sir Tom et al, but which one is a big question. I'm wondering if it might be the earliest days of Amerton or Threlkeld, or the short-lived line at Crich."

We will keep digging.