Sunday, December 31, 2023

Review of 2023 - The Work Projects

Time for a quick look at the projects I've built for BRM this year. I'm working on 2023 rather than magazine dates for simplicity. 

March kicked off with the miniature railway build based on the West Hill Wagon Works railway, with lots of Scale Model Scenery bits and a fair bit of kitbashing. 

Spring was Practical Phil free, apart from some layout photography, but I was back in April. 

An Ahern-inspired cardboard goods shed, proving modelling doesn't have to cost a fortune. 

And in the same vein, cheapo display cases for your models. 

June, and I'm building something in 009. 

Yes, a layout under a cake cover! It's proved to be popular at shows, with a nice mix of modelling and cute factor. One couple were inspired to look at running 009 around their wedding cake. 

July saw the start of the redesign for our Practical offerings. My first contribution being an upgraded resin building. 

plus a K6 telephone box and painting people. 

August, and I'm going O gauge with a Wickham railcar shed. 

and a look at Scammell rebodying, which turned into an investigation of the various modelling options in 4mm scale. 

A new technique to me in August, thatching a roof. 

Followed by building a 009 wagon kit. 

October, and I was down to turn a Dapol van body into a scenic grounded body. The trouble is, to look good on the page, it needed scenery. 

So, what I didn't cover on the page, was revealed on BRM TV.I really like this little scene. It's nothing special, but very attractive at the same time. 

There was also a look at the new Tramfabriek 009 couplings, which I think should be causing more of a stir than they seem to be. 

We got newsy in November, with a build of the recently demolished "Crooked House" pub. 

I built it in 4mm scale, David Wright built his in 7mm, and Andy "Yam Yam" York provided the prototype notes for one of our best looking features. 

My first TT:120 project for BRM is this laser-cut yard crane from Osbournes Models. 

With the Cost Of Living Crisis™ on people's minds, I take a 1980s Hornby station in December, and upgrade it. 

This isn't the station I planned to do, but when that idea went bad, a quick root around my local model shop found something very suitable. Fortunatly. 

There's also fattening up an N gauge chapel designed for the backscene. 

We reach the end of the year with a trip outside to build a stile. 

And I join the circus, the Kato circus with a micro diorama. 

On top of all this lot, there are a few four-step micro projects, lots of video work and quite a bit of layout photography.  Oddly, looking at the list, it doesn't seem that impressive an output. After all, there are a couple of months where I was otherwise engaged, and you won't find a project layout other than the cake cover one. 

I've no idea what 2024 holds (OK, some idea, we do have a planning document), but then I didn't forsee two of our team being made redundant (Ruth and Howard), something I still don't understand, but will have an impact on the time available. 

And there are Garden Rail projects. One of which, if I find the time will be another biggie, but we'll have to wait and see. 

Thanks to all those who have read my witterings on the page and helped pay my wages. It is appreciated, and I hope I've assisted you with enjoying your hobby.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Saturday Film Club: Boxing Day Steam

Well, the Boxing Day steam afternoon was very pleasent. I couldn't resist filming the locos on show. Apologies for the jazz soundtrack, there was a lot of chat, which drowned out the chuffs!

Friday, December 29, 2023

Putting the pressure on Willi


Pressure gauge

If I want to run Willi on our club track at public events, it needs to pass a boiler test, and the problem with that is that the gauge showed around 10psi, even when the boiler was empty and loco cold! It seems that one of the first checks is that the pressure gauge works, and this one didn't. 

A new guage was £22 from and I've finally go around to fitting it. Well, Boxing Day was to see some steam action in Rowington. An event that will sadly mean me missing the annual visit from my cousin. Don't worry, we'll both get over it...

Anyway, fitting the new gauge was simple enough with the aid of a small spanner (6mm I think) and a touch of liquid PTFE on the threads. Somehow, on the final tightening, I managed to get it wonky. I'll fix that later. 

I wanted to make the best of the late afternoon sunshine for a quick test. Very quickly, it became apparent that the gauge worked fine. Winding the gas up a bit, the safety valve fires off at around 3 bar, which seems a little high, although it's slowly venting steam a bar below that. Working pressure is 3 bar apparently, so I'll stop worrying. You have to get the burner to very loud to get that anyway, and I prefer these things to be a whisper. 

The loco steamed well on blocks, and no leaks around the pressure gauge, so I'll call that a success. Not that impressive I grant you, but then I am still new to this live steam tinkering.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Getting muddy with BRM

In February's BRM, I'm getting my hands dirty, building a cattle creep. 

The basic kit was picked up at the 009 Society 50th. It's simple enough, but gives me opportunities to cover some useful scenic techniques too. One of which is making a muddy area, for which I've used Humbrol Smart Mud. 

Since this is new, BRM TV viewers get a demo. 

This was filmed on a Sunday (tight deadline) twice! After the first go, I discovered that setting the camera to manual exposure, I'd also set it to manual focus, so the whole lot was fuzzy! Since the job involved trying to get various materials to dry faster than they really wanted to, so a bit stressful. 

I'm also looking at wiring. 

 Wiring articles are tricky, but hopefully I managed to demistify the worst of all those cables. 

And the camera has been out for Bunkers Lane. Just my sort of layout. 

Well, this one's based on SeaLion, so I was defintly going to take a picture, wasn't I?

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Class 58

Class 58

A random view of a Class 58 in original livery. At a guess, taken in 1984 as the sides look dirty. Always a class I liked the look of. That I remember them being introduced and taken out of service in the uk, makes me feel old...

Somewhere in the stash is a Hornby model, plus the Craftsman detailing kit. A sensible person would replace the pair with a Helajn model, but as I don't actually need it, that's a decision that can be safely put off.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

TNT boxes


In my Christmas stocking this year, a little kit from Coach & Wagon works, for some crates marked "TNT". Perfect for that point in the afternoon when I'm too full of turkey to go for a jog, but need a little something to occupy my brain. 

The parts are laser-cut, and slot together perfectly. 

I used Deluxe Materials new Laser-Cut Kit Glue, something I'm testing, and just happened to have on the bench. Tp be honest, I'm not sure how different it is to the excellent card glue, other than a fancy precision dispenser. It's very runny, but grabs quickly, and seems to dry without leaving blobs if you are a little more generous than required. 

A finishing touch is to paint the letters red, harder than I expected as they aren't that clearly cut when you are close enough to try poking a brush in there. To be honese, they look pretty good left slone, but I was in the mood to paint things. I did give up on the strapping, as painting it black looked rubbish. 

Boxes are 31 by 19 by 15mm, and a nice fun detail for your G scale or 16mm trains. And all finished in time for tea. Turkey sandwich anyone?

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Model Railway Club Open Day 2023


In the run-up to Christmas, I like to take a trip to London to enjoy the lights and general festive decorations. This year, I was particually keen to see the amazing library St Pancras Christmas tree. The date was a bit up in the air, until I realsied that the MRC were holding an open day one Sunday, and a quick check on the web showed a train to the capital would be possible. 

The tree is amazing, but not as comfortable to sit in as you might think. The cushions on those wooden seats are only printed!

Anyway, it's a short stroll to Keen House, where I was welcomed with open arms. Once I'd paid my entrance fee of course. 

In the main room, with the test tracks and second-hand stall, could be found part of Copenhagen Fields, the newly operational York Road tube station. 

York Road

Chatting to Tim Watson, the plan is to automate it using DCC so a series of trains can be operated without someone stuck on the control panel going mad. 

A suitably festive addition could be seen on the roof. Tim wasn't happy with the chunky nature of these reindeer, and so they were destined for some modification to make them more finescale. This work has now been carried out, and written up for the club newsletter. 
Up in the library, we found "Sandy Shores" and "Canutte Road Quay" operated by Jamie Warne and Graham Muzpratt repectively. It was good to see both layout and enjoy long chats with their operators. 
Interesting too, to see the new-look library. Previously a collection of metal cabinets, the new fit-out with folding doors hiding the bookshelves is a lot nicer to look at. I understand that there was to be an opening ceremony with Pete Waterman the next day, and a photo shoot for Hello magazine. 

I'd no idea how long I'd be at the event, a couple of hours was my guess, but this turned out to be an underestimate. The MRC, and it's members, is an interesting place. Well worth the trip if they have an open day. 

After this, there was mooching around Covent Garden and Leicester Square. I can't get over the size of some of the decorations, and the special displays put on by various firms. 

After that, a quick tube back to Marylebone, and a train back home reading my traditional London purchase, a copy of Private Eye

An excellent day out. Topped off by the topper on Leamington Station post box...

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Saturday Film Club: Banbury level crossing

Quite an innocuous bit of film this one, but all the more interesting because it shows normal life in the now distant year of 1987. I like to kid myself that this wasn't that long ago really...

Friday, December 22, 2023

A selection of Santas


While we all know there is only one Santa, I seem to be amassing a collection of them!

The latest, at the front, comes from Motley Miniatures, and was picked up at Rowington a couple of weeks ago. He's useful, because he is sitting down, not standing like the two HGLW versions behind. 

He's even a good fit in the HGLW sleigh I mounted on rail wheels. 

Santa in sleigh
I wonder where I can photograph him over the festive season?

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Festive unboxing

I've finally caught up with something passed my way by West Hill Wagon Works a few months ago. It's a festive unboxing of a rather superb Class 37 enginer, in Guage 1!

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

The Alan Gibson Files: Somersault Signal

somersault signal

This image isn't very large, 5 inches by 3, and the original is pale and indistinct. A little fiddling in Photoshop darkens it and allows a proper look at the signal Alan was photographing. Sadly, no details of the location are available, but it's certainly an interesting angle to look at the mechanism.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Festive Hornby and the WonderWorks



This time last week, I was down in "sunny" Margate to visit the good folks at Hornby. Sadly, I can't tell you anything about the things I saw, other than to say the building looks really nice lit up for Christmas. Well, nice except the sun is going down, and I still had the M25 to tackle...

Plastic kit Phil

I did manage a tour of WonderWorks, the new-look visitor centre. The old place was looking a bit tired, and the refit has turned it from a bit of a maze, to somewhere that's easy to get around. It's bright and inviting too. The old version was a bit like a museum with some interactive stuff bolted on. This version is much more coherent in that respect. Basically, it's a family-friendly tourist attraction. 

Maybe I lament some of the older material not being on show, but that's because I am old and nerdy. The average 10-year-old would not be interested in cases full of Tri-ang. There are still some, just not as many. 

They will be interested in the info on how kits are made now, with both railway and slot car displays. If you are interested in modern production methods, this is great. 

That's not to say history has been ignored. Fitting 100 years into the space must have been a challenge. 

My favourite exhibit? A wooden motor mockup three times life size, as part of the display showing how Scalextric cars used to be designed. 

Worth a visit? On balance, yes if you are in the area, or can arrange to be so. Take the family too, I think they will enjoy it.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Beatties for live steam!

Beatties live steam leaflet

Mamod has a new owner, we covered this in Garden Rail last month, but by coincidence, I found this Beatties leaflet on the RCTS stand at a show for 50p a few weeks ago. Just think, all these models are still available. You can even get spares for them!

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Steam at Rowington 2023


Santa and K6

Half an hours drive away from me is the village of Rowington, home to a 32mm gauge line I regularily run trains on, and in December "Steam at Rowington" organised by John Sutton. While a village hall show, it's a terrific village hall show. 

Four layouts, two in 16mm scale, one in G, and a 7mm scale Listow and Ballybunion project, were to be seen, plus eight quality traders. This event punches above its weight!

On the stage was a 16mm layout, complete with an "Otter" from the Groudle Glen Railway. My Dad loves this loco, and it would sit very nicely with our 7/8th scale "SeaLion". Based on a Boot Lane Works loco, unavailable in 45mm gauge, it's got us thinking about our own model. Sadly, this tiny Bagnall is a bit odd, and there isn't a plan, to my knowledge. Some dimensions are available from the Groudle book, but I may have to take a tape measure on a future visit to the line...

In the centre of the hall is a 32mm gauge oval with a scenic area representing a TR halt. Lots of lovely steam running here, but clearances had to be checked as they were tight!

Finally, a bit of L&B (not that one). If you know your history, you'll recognise this as the basis of the prototype locomotive. Sadly, my photo of the scenic section didn't come out, but it's looking good. There is even the remote possibility of the best known rolling stock appearing as kits...

The cake situation was excellent. A really light and fluffy chocolate cake with such an airy cream centre. One of the best I've ever tasted. A perfect pre-Christmas event.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Saturday Film Club: A model airport

I'm not too sure what to say about this. The model is impressive, and popular enough to have been shipped around the world for display, but, it's not great, is it? 

I'd love to know more about it. What happened to the display? How did it work? 

Looking online, a fiver buys you a souvenier postcard showing the whole scene. 

There's a mention in the Canberra times, where it appears they hired a female assistant locally. Does that mean the young lady in the film isn't the owners wife? 

Another apperance is hosted on Facebook, although the quality is a bit ropey. 

Whatever, a facinating model. Very much an early Miniature Wunderland.

Friday, December 15, 2023

Aero Windmill


Picked up when clearing out a workshop, something novel - a windmill water pump supplied as a kit by Aero Manufacturing Co.LLC of America

The model is 48cm tall, and made of galvanised metal, with the exception of some steel rods for the pivots. 

The instructions are with the model, and shows that it would have arrived as a set of metal strips, to be bolted together by the modeller. A plan is included to aid assembly. 

I've always been abivelent about these pumps, they are more a feature of the American west, than the UK, although they certainly were seen in this country. Now I own one, it will have to become parts of the layout. I'll oil the steel bearings, and possibly paint the parts that should be painted looking at the manufacturers models. I won't be trying to replicate the text on the tail though!

Thursday, December 14, 2023

January 2024 Garden Rail


A garden railway is a long-term project. 18 years after his line was first born, Ian Midgley takes us for a journey along the Silverdale Light Railway (North). Plenty has been learnt along the way, but the moment Ian sees a whisp of steam from an engine trundling down the garden, it's all worthwhile.

On the workbench this month:

  • Building a Modeltown steam lorry
  • Anglicising an LGB locomotive
  • Fitting Regner locos with radio control
  • Making ceramic buildings
  • Simple, remote point control
  • Scratchbuilding a sheep wagon.
  • Building a travelling van
  • Creating timetables using dice

Plus all the new products for modellers in the larger scales.