Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Halfords Artfx spray paint


For Doncaster show in a couple of weeks, I need a BRM sign for one of the stands. The best way to to this, it seemed to me, was to ask Justin at ScaleModelScenery to laser-cut a couple for me. Using an electronic copy of our logo, he quickly had a pair of signs in the post. 

Obviously, they needed paint, and my first thought had been some Halfords car paint. In the store though, I spotted a more limited range of colours called "Artfx". Since I needed red and white, the range wasn't an issue, and they are a couple of quid cheaper then the car paint. 

I primed the laser-cut MDF with white car primer, to seal the material and give the top colours a bit of punch. After that, I tried out the Artfx paint. 

I wouldn't say the spraying is any more controllable than car paint, but the output does seem softer, and easier to use. There are no runs in the paint, but coverage was impressive. It certainly works well, even on the edges were a little of the laser burn was showing through my primer. The red really stands out, as I hoped it would.

Apparently, and unsurprisingly, the paint is an acrylic base, although one strong enough to resist being washed off my hands easily!

The finish isn't matt, more a slight eggshell. This looks great on the signs, but you may need a varnish topcoat for modelmaking.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Good wood


Working on a water tower for a future BRM project, I got lucky when painting the roof of the resin model to represent wood. Since it's not part of the main article, I'll mention it here.

Over a grey primer base, I laid down a coat of Lifecolour UA717 Cold base colour. While this was still wet, I streaked in some UA718 Cold light shade. All colours (should that be colors?) from the "Weathered Wood" set.

The result looked really good. Faking wood isn't easy, but this worked a treat. 

Once dry, I washed the roof with thinned cheap dark brown acrylic for a little weathering. 


Monday, January 29, 2024

Getting out on the new track

Another "I've been running steam trains" post I'm afraid. Actually, I'm not. The social side of large scale railways is something I'm keen to develop. It gets me away from the computer, and away from work, even if this is a bit of a bussmans holidy. 

The Saturday running session was the first regular use of the Outdoors@l& circuit. My 16mm models were restricted to the outer track, where the spacing is a little more generous. That suits me, however it was a windy day, and one corner of the circuit is quite exposed. As we rounded the corner, suddenly my very light four-wheel coaches were blown onto their sides. 

Hastily packed them away, I carried on running light engine, with both my Peckett and Ragleth. Both behaved well, despite others misgivings about getting the models to light on a cooler day. A propane/butane mix fired up easily enough - I don't know what the fuss is about. 

A hour and half's running, and we repaired to the pub for lunch, a good say had by all. If you'd like to join us, hit the link above and get in touch. 

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Vintage building in "The Collector"

My latest project in the Hornby Collectors Club house magazine, is a build of the 1980s version of the Scenerama kits mentioned on this blog some time ago. 

When moving into the Hornby range, the walls gained a moulded brick finish, rather than the origional stickers, but otherwise are unchanged. There is a bit of flash on the mouldings, which makes me think that the moulds weren't in great shape - hence the model not joining the others in Gaugemasters "Fordhampton" range. 

The finished model is very nice. There are anoying gaps around the bottom of the windows, a consequence of the kit design, but generally, this is a pretty good kit, and the results would sit well on any current model railway.


Saturday, January 27, 2024

Saturday Film Club: 1980: The SCI-FI Models of MAT IRVINE

While I've always been a fan of Mat Irvine's model making, this feature is something special. For a atart, the style is very much of its time. I'm not sure who Eric Thompson is/was, but he needs to be back on TV along with Richard Stilgo. 

Them we have models made for serious science TV programmes, not something we see much of nowadays.More please!

Friday, January 26, 2024

1994 Brandbright catalogue

I might have been messing around with garden railways since the 1980s, but not properly messing around. Not like those time-served members of the large-scale modelling community. They can bandy around old product names in a way I can't - I wasn't there.

For a start, I did garden railways because they were cheap. I could mess around with plastic wheels, bits of wood and card, and the results were fun, if not particually good. I wasn't a member of the 16mm Asscocation, no cash for that. This was an era (for me) when one of those lovely cheap Slatford Models kits was a big Christmas present rather then something my minimal pocket-money could streatch to. 

Anyway, I need to improve my education, and spotting this attractive catalogue on eBay, I snapped it up. At the time, Brandbright were pretty much a one-stop-shop for garden railway stuff. 

We kick off with steam locos - Roundhouse (several pages), Maxwell Hemmens, Finescale, Pearse, Wrightscale, Mike Chaney, Merlin, Steamlines, Shawe Steam Services. Then battery powered diesels - Friog, Writescale, Brandbright and on to two-rail - Greenland Models, RSSB, Bachmann, Brandbright railcar kits. All desirable, and there are several I'll be looking out for on the second-hand market. 

Rolling stock - many pages. And components. So many things you can buy to decorate your model. I'm sure this is where the chimney and dome for Ben came from. In fact, the MDC signs are looking familair too. Did I have a copy of this many years ago, and have forgotten? 

Of course, pretty much everything in this catalogue is still availabe. In fact there is far more support to modellers now. OK, some of the steam locos are now "vintage", and only seen on the heritage stand at shows, but the pictures are pretty. 

Oh, and there's a suplement, with even more good things. 

I've always fancied a Cricket, ever since I saw one running in a YouTube video. Do you think if I sent them a cheque, I could pretent my order got lost in the post? 

Like a lot of old catalogues, this one is a wonderful, nostaligic read. No photos, only attrative line drawings, and a lot of them, for illustration, it's of its era, and that's the best thing. 

What's your favourite catalogue for browsing?

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Here comes the Fire Engine (and signal box) in March's BRM


Morris Fire Engine
I'm always looking out for interesting and unusual project for BRM, so when I spotted this whitemetal kit for sale, it jumped out at me. 

We don't mention whitemetal much nowadays. Years ago, you couldn't more for people wrangling with the stuff, but it's fallen out of favour. Still, it's fun to look at the old skills, and the quality of this kit makes life a lot easier. I've even soldered it together for added disaster potential. 

Best of all, I managed to sneak a joke into my intro. I wonder if anyone spotted it?

Some projects have to be found, others find you. Offered the chance to build the superb Intentio models signal box, I couldn't say no. A real hi-fi kit (reflected in the price TBF), it's a joy to assemble. The biggest problem is that I only had a couple of pages, so we'll be returning to this model in a coule of months. 

My short feature this month involves putting a wood load into a wagon. Just the sort of job to occupy an evening, and one where you'll see a satisfying result. 

Finally, we have a DVD again, and my contribution, apart from the voice-over, is weathering an N gauge wagon. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Warehouse Wednesday: Tenterden Town signal box


Tenterden Town signal box

Digging through old photos, I find some from the 1980s of Tenterden Town signal box, on the Kent & East Sussex Railway. 

I've always thought this to be a very pretty signal box, well worth a model if I had the time. A nice size for most layouts too. 

I'm sure someone will point out that a few levers on the platform would be more accurate, but I don't care. Preserved railways have to look attractive, something the K&ESR manages very well. Pretty railways with good toilets and a cafe attract repeat visits. And that keeps the steam trains running.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

When the bottom falls out of your flight box


"Oh dear*", I said when I picked up my box with all the tools and potions required to run a live steam locomotive, and the bottom fell out, dropping the drawer full of tools all over the gravel by our club track. 

Five minutes later, having managed to find everything among the stones, I resolved to do something about it. 

For once the useful wood bits pile yeilded something that would do the job. A length of L-shaped moulding which now wraps itself around the bottom of the box. For good measure, there is more inside the drawer, which was also looking a bit suspect. And lashings of PVA glue too. Can't be too careful.

*Those may not have been my exact words.

Monday, January 22, 2024

A rucksack fit for a railway enthusiast



My rucksack has been falling apart. Properly giving up the ghost, with the main zip chewing the material around it, and then losing a grip on the body of the bag. And that's on top of the mesh bottle holders becoming saggy and useless years ago. 

Finding a replacement has been time-consuming and tricky. For a start, it needs to be a reasonable capacity. Not 20 litres, as seems very common with online offerings, or large enough to carry a bus. The old Timberland one is 35 litres, and I often fill it up at shows. Nothing less will do. 

It's also the rucksack I use for work, so nothing outward bound please. And no camoflauge. I hate people who aren't in the forces, but dress in camo to make themselve feel "hard". 

So, sensible colour. Sensible size. Space for camera gear, or Japanese robot kits. 

I looked in every sort of shop that sold rucksacks, and found they were too small, too large, or looked like they would be at home on Snowdon. Online, there were lots of poncy versions, all too small. Timberland only make child sizes too. Pity as their rucksack had given me excellent service, so I'd have bought another happily. 

By chance, I was meeting a friend outside Sports Direct last weekend. A text saying they were delayed saw me wander in out of curiosity, and there it was. A Karrimor 40 litre bag. In sensibl grey. OK< a little bigger than ideal, but as I have to carry some medicinal stuff all the time now, I don't worry about that. 

So, happy Phil. 

The problem is, what do I do with the old rucksack? This thing has been around the world with me. It deserves more than ending up in landfill. A Viking funeral is called for, or perhaps conversion into a time capsule in some way. Still pondering this, suggestions welcomed...

Sunday, January 21, 2024

If you know what it is, bargains can be found...


IOM railway axle box cover

Listed as "Vintage Isle of Man Metal Plaque - Shipping Line", the moment I spotted this on eBay, I knew it had nothing to do with boats, it's an axle box cover from an Isle of Man Railway wagon. 

Knowing this allowed me to snag it for a not very bargain price, but maybe a tenner or so less than it should be. 

Interesting that other examples have IMR cast in the front, rather than the triskelion. Mind you, my personal selection of views is limited, and shots in books aren't that clear. I'm assuming that both existed, but that three-leg version is incredibly rare and valuable. 

The colour is a bit of an issue. It's should be black, but as the plate is very firmly bolted to the board, and the nuts buried in filler around the back, getting it off for a strip and repaint isn't going to be easy. Fortunatly, the colour isn't unatractive, so I can live with it for now. 

Length: 17cm

Height: 11cm

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Saturday Film Club: Happier alone


I'm a sucker for stop-motion anmiation, and this short piece about being an introvert is an absolute delight. 

Not only do we get the film, it ends with a behind-the-scenes look at the filming, showing how the models were made. If you'd like to know more, there is a more detailed look here

Friday, January 19, 2024

Rapido iron mink


A week ago, I brought you a Bachmann open wagon. This Friday, it's a Rapido Iron Mink. This model was a gift (not just to me, they didn't just make one) when I visited the UK headquarters last month. 

I'm guessing that it's an incredibly rare example, worth many millions of pounds. Probably a lot less since I cit of the plastic cover on the box, and then damaged it getting the model out, but hey ho. Easy come, easy go. I'll never be a millionare...

The model celebraites the UK arm's 5th birthday, and I suspect examples will be available as promotional items in the future. But for now, you can covet my example. Now, where's the weathering powders?

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Warehouse Wednesday: Roofing an Oast House

According to Wikipedia: An oast, oast house or hop kiln is a building designed for kilning (drying) hops as part of the brewing process. They can be found in most hop-growing (and former hop-growing) areas and are often good examples of vernacular architecture. Many redundant oasts have been converted into houses. The names oast and oast house are used interchangeably in Kent and Sussex. In Surrey, Hampshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire they are called hop kilns. 

Trundling around Kent last month, I failed to find anywhere to bag decent shots of them, which would be perfect for this feature, but on a narrow lane (Kent is full of them. Why?) I spotted this and quickly pulled over to grab a phone photo. Needless to say, I was almost imediatly honked at by someone who pulled up behind me!

I suppose the design of the rafers isn't a surprise, but you don't often see them exposed like this. It would be a very modelable scene, and save the effort of putting the tiles on a conical roof. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

(Non)Muscial TB4- Part 2


And there we are - done! I can finish projects!

With the two halves of the body screwed together, presumably to allow access to the battery, the rest of the bits clip on easily, although I used a bit of glue too. 

Lines and text are thin stickers, described as "seals" in the instructions. Some, like the line around the nose, are weird shapes, but fit really well. I've left the body in unpainted plastic because this is a quick and fun project. Also, it's a better colour than the can of spray paint I bought to paint it. 


Only 9cm long, this isn't going to take up much space in the display case, and I think it looks pretty cute. Someone's done a good job of caracaturing the Anderson craft. You know what it is, but it's more cartoon than realistic. 

I'm still not sorry the sound unit packed up though.

Monday, January 15, 2024

Musical TB4 - Part 1


Surely a musical Thunderbird 4 shouldn't morph into a major time-consuming project? After all, I only paid four quid for it, so the end result doesn't have to be that special. 

Imai's CD Boy TB-4 kit is designed to be easy to assemble. Pretty much clip together with no painting. 

One snag is that there should be some axles, and a couple of self-tapping screws in the bag, but these were missing, as the kit was shop soiled. Not a problem, I'm not worried about wheels, and suitable screws were found in my drawer of bits. 

More of an issue is that the circuit board takes a G8 battery, the one supplied in the kit is furry, and I could only find a G10, which is thicker. It goes in with a shove that breaks the board, but proves the circuit works. Shine a light in the bottom of the model, and it plays the Thunderbirds theme tune. Until it packed up. I decided I didn't care as the noise was getting on my nerves. 

After this, there is a bit of pre-painting for chubby Gordon Tracey, and some vents I decided would look better silver (as per the real TB4) than yellow.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Warley - RIP


Warley wristbands

Boy, am I glad to get to the end of the week. With a bit of luck there won't be another panic to write news, as yet another major piece of the model railway jigsaw crashes and burns. 

Anyway, the latest to go is the Warley National exhibition. To be fair, we knew a little about this on Tuesday, when the AGM details were leaked. The trustees made it very clear that they wanted to knock the show on the head. Numbers through the door were declining slowly, as was the number of traders, with many specialists deciding to rely on internet sales, rather than travelling to a show for people to handle, but often not buy, the products. 

The killer though, was there simply weren't enough members willing to take on the enormous burden of running the show. Even if you ignore the 100 person strong army required to set up on the Friday, many recruited from other clubs, a show this size takes a lot of organising. 

Rumours about this have been circulating from years. It's been noticable, that Paul Jones, the original exhibition manager, has struggled to pass the baton on. Although it doesn't help that we all know him, and will wander over for a chat. 

When the official statement came out, of course there were plenty of people who see it as the begining of the end for toy trains. 

My favourite moans, on Facebook, start "I've never been to the show, but..."

Followed by a rant that it cost too much to get in, and the petrol bill would be too high. Quite what the organisers are supposed to do about this last one has always been a mystery to me. I seem to recall someone suggesting that there should be a subsidy for those travelling a long distance, but it never went anywhere, because it was a stupid idea. 

My guess is (I'm sure I've said this before) is that those making the most noise, never, ever go to anything that isn't toy train related. Entrace is fairly middling. Certainly cheaper than football, or even a couple of trips to the cinema. As for food. Bring your own if exhibition prices scare you - there were always a lot of seats put out for sandwich munchers!

I've attended pretty much every NEC show, and a good few of the Harry Mitchell Centre events that preceeded them. I've been as a punter, exhibitor, trader (sort of, with BRM) and demonstrator. Being reasonably local helps of course. No need for any accomodation for me, I'm cheap!

Warley was a show like any other. I think a lot of people tried to relate it to "normal" events, but you couldn't. It stood alone, and realising this helped a lot. Don't try and spend hours in front of every layout, there isn't time. And you can't dig through all the trade in detail either. 

The work required to put on such an event was imense, yet generally, things ran smoothy. OK, getting in and out of the hall might try your patience, but that's the problem when a large number of people want to enter or exit the space in a short period of time. Full credit to the Warley club team for making all this happen.

I'll miss Warley. It was show I enjoyed a lot. But others will shuffle around to take up the gap in the calendar. Some will benefit a lot I suspect. And in a couple of years, the NEC event will be fondly remembered but the hobby will move on.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Saturday Film Club: Behind the scenes in the model railway world with Phil Parker

Yes, 40 minutes of me waffling, and being interviewed by Dawn Quest. Hopefully, I make some sort of sense, and people have said nice things about the piece, so sit back and enjoy.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Playtrains - RIP


Slipped into this weeks Hornby announcements was one that didn't get much coverage - the cancellation of Playtrains. 

Devised as a simple train set system for 3-8 year olds, I always thought that it was rather good. Testing with a friends daughter, produced my best video so far

The basic idea involves plastic track, and remote control battery powered trains. Not disimilar to the Marklin MyWorld system, the beauty, I thought, was that a child could build a real model railway with points, loops and sidings, safely and easily. The rolling stock would survive tumbles and it made noises. What more does anyone want? Low prices? Well, £250 would have bought you everything in the initial range - three trains and loads of track. 

However, I don't know what I'm talking about. When we went to Margate, my boss said her son had played with it, and then lost interest, there wasn't enought to engage him. And a couple of hours later, Martyn Weaver, the new head of brand, said exactly the same thing - almost word for word. Parents have an insight that I don't share. 

When explaining the reasons behind the cancellation, Martyn said they knew the details of every grandparent who owned a layout, because they had bought into Playtrains, but none of the parents, because they hadn't. 

So, a replacement system will be developed, hopefully by next year. Hornby still want this market, they see it as important for the future of the hobby, but Flash and co will be out in the cold. 

All this means, I was probably right when I suggest adding some Playtrains to any Hornby collection. Mint sets will be rare in a few years time, but you can run them on normal OO track, so they can mix it up with older models on a collectors layout. Most importatly though, the less succesful ranges are always the ones collectors have to search for. 

You know, I might have to take my own advice. Time to do some online shopping.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

February's Garden Rail


We capture the last days of Charlie Walton's Hylands Light Railway, before a house move means it will be relocated. The unusual, and simple design, would work perfectly for many people. It's certainly a hit with his granddaughter!

There is a bumper selection of practical projects this month:

Building a laser-cut permanent way locomotive kit.

Stock boxes for wagons and coaches.

A simple steam tram.

Miniature lamp posts.

Scratchbuilding a Bagnall wagon.

A first London tramcar.

Refurbishing an older model.

A simple four-wheel coach.

Plus, all the new products for modellers in the larger scales including four new locomotive announcements!

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Hattons - RIP



Quite a bit of this week has been taken up dealing with the news that one of the best-known model railway retailers, Hattons, was to cease trading. 

It's one of those businesses that, for me, has always been there. Since it launched in the late 1940s, technically it always has been. My first aquaintance was via the many pages of advertising in each issue of any model railway magazine. Page after page of toy train delights, that you could ring up and order in those pre-Internet days.

Years ago, I can't remember exactly how many, but in the 1990s, we were exhibiting at Liverpool show. Having set up, and found our accomodation on the edge of Sefton Park, my Dad and I took a stroll. Pretty quickly, were in one of those areas that, when you see it on the news, would generally be on fire. However, we also spotted the famous Hattons store, and resolved to visit when it was open on the Monday. 

I don't know what I expected, but the showroom was tiny, dark, and if I'm honest, not very exciting. Look past the counter though, and the stockroom streatched out into the distance, just like the end scene in Indiana Jones. A phone constantly rang. 

Suddenly, a customer came in, looking for a controller. Without thinking about it, a staffmember grabbed a train set, split it down, each item having its own cubby hole, and handed the customer the controller. Job done. 

I can't remember what I bought, it wouldn't be very impressive, and we concluded that what they had, was what was in the advert, and pretty much nothing else. Quite an experience. 

Years later, I visited the newer shop by Penny Lane for MREmag business. The showroom was more impressive, and lighter. You couldn't see the storeroom any more either. 

Finally, there is the Hattons hub in Widness. A couple of visits, at least. The model shop was stocked so you could walk in off the street - a requirement of both Bachmann and Peco if you want to stock their ranges. I enjoyed a proper look around this site, including the super-effieient packing fascilities. 

I've never been a big customer, but when I've needed quick and efficient service, they have always been top of the list. I'm going to miss them. 

Obviously, the people I feel story for are the staff. Running the business down seem to be being handled in a measured way, so with luck, alternative jobs will be found. I've met many of them over the years, and without exception, they are nice people.

Looking after RMweb, it's really telling just how many people feel the same way. Hattons was a big part of their modelling lives - an institution as much as a retailer. I know that for Australians, it's the most popular store for UK products, and wonder where they will transfer their business too.

Ultimatly, this is NOT the end for the hobby, as one forum poster suggested, and in a years time we may wonder what the fuss is about. We might even see a soft-landed Hattons still exist in some form. Who knows? It is a bit of a shock though.

Tuesday, January 09, 2024

Porter at work

Another from the old Banbury show files. This time, from 2012, is a random shot taken on an O gauge layout. I take a lot of these, just odd photos of details that catch my eye. 

The cat is a nice addition to the scene, and a reminder that everything in this picture has been placed there by the modeller. There's quite a lot of work, and no small amount of whitemetal castings, on view here. But that effort is what makes for an interesting layout.

Monday, January 08, 2024

Dockside buildings

Since I'm a bit sort of new content right now, I'm digging through old photos. It's an interesting job, and from 2009, I find this taken at Banbury show. 

I believe the layout is "Milton Quays", built by the Milton Keynes model railway club. This is a small section as I recall, but the quayside was the bit that interests me, hence the photo. 

Some nice scratchbuilt dockside warehouses here, and a USA tank shunting in front of them. This will have been built from a Wills whitemetal kit. No RTR version then! And yes, I do have one of those kits stashed away, and do intend to build it. One day. 

I'd say this is a shot before the crowds came in, due to the lack of rolling stock. The loco will have been track testing - a quick whizz around the layout to prove everything works.

Sunday, January 07, 2024

Chuffing at Kidderminster

 As promised, a selection of photos taken on a wet Saturday on Kidderminster station.

Maybe it's just me, but I really like the smell of a steam engine. I also enjoy being surrounded by steam when the draincocks are opened. That probably just sounds wierd...

There were plenty of families enjoying train rides, good news for the financial health of the line, and also the future of railway enthusiasm. 

The locos were beautifully turned out, and the carriages with just the right amount of dirt for them to look like working rolling stock. I found myself looking in the back of a brake coach, and drifting off to the days when this would have been a common sight on a branch line. Not something I can remember, but this is as close as I'll get. 

What I could remember, is when both the Peak and Class 20 in the station would have been earning their keep on the main line. Did I spot them when before they became pampered museum peices? I must see if I can find my old Platform 5 book. 

The weather might have been iffy. Cake at the museum was unsually far too sweet even for me, and in the pub, I sat next to someone who thought I was a football fan, but what a nice way to spend a few hours.

Saturday, January 06, 2024

Saturday Film Club: Moving a tramcar

On the face of it, this is an interesting video showing how to move a full-size tramcar from one museum store to another. 

However, look in the background. These stores belong to the Science Museum, and contain stuff not on display. At least not yet. I understand that the new store will be accesable to the public in some form, and looking at what's in there, I fancy getting inside.

Friday, January 05, 2024

Last shop of 2023...

My usuaul plan on the last Saturday of the years, is to head to the Severn Valley Railway to watch some trains, visit the annual book sale in the museum, and have lunch with a pint in the station pub. (Photos from this on Sunday.)

In amoungst this, a stroll down to Footplate is very much part of the day. And the law says, if you visit a model shop, you must buy something, no matter how small. 

Exacly what I would be leaving with was an easy choice this year. The moment I spotted a Tri-ang Giraffe car in the cabinet, the only question was the price. The giraffe has both ears, a rare thing!

Chatting away to the owner, his offer was very reasonable, so I didn't argue. In fact I felt duty bound to add to the pile. 

Hidden amoung lines of Oxford and EFE second-hand road vehicles was this Lesney Beetle. Not a bad fit for OO gauge, I hadn't spotted the missing engine lid, but for a couple of quid, I felt sorry for it. I'm sure it will find a home in a diorama at some point. 

Finally, a mint Bachmann wagon. 37-078X. According to Ramsay's, this is a limited edition model produced in 1989. I just liked the look of it, and can find a spot in the Hornby collection for a wagon representing a competitor. 

Apart from that, and a couple of pots of Revell Anthracite paint, that was my spending dome for 2023. Well, apart from the pint and burger, but those don't really count.

Thursday, January 04, 2024

16mm scale L&B Plaform Trolley

Another festive kit from Coach & Wagon Works. The parts are all laser-cut and slot into each other perfectly, with plenty of positive location guides. 

Using Deluxe Materials Laser-Cut glue, assembly only takes a few minutes. Probably the slowest job being putting the wheels on the axles and making sure they are vertical. 

I made one improvement - adding a very thin piece of wood along the main side rails. This covers up the lugs holding the platform in place, and makes the unpainted trolley look better. Whether it's worth it once the model is painted is up to you. The version on the website looks quite nice. 

Slightly crude models like this are perfect for me and my preference for caracature figures. Something highly detailed would jut look wrong with them, but this works well. 

Cheap, and simple to assemble - a winner for me!

Wednesday, January 03, 2024

Calendar Day

As usual, the years starts with me trying to fill in all the essential weekend events on my various calendars. Mainly Phil shows are in itallics.

10/11 February - Festival of British Railway Modelling (Doncaster)

2/3 March - Midlands garden rail show

16/17 March - London Festival of Railway Modelling (Ally Pally)

30 March- 1 April - York

27 April - National Garden Railway Show

28 April - Key Model World

3-5 May - Bristol

11 May - Llangollen Garden rail show

14/15 September - TINGS

28 September - Yorkshire garden rail show (Barrow Hill)

28-29 September - Stafford

17-20 October  - Midlands Model Engineering show

26/27 October - Great British Model Railway Show (Gaydon)

9-10 November - IPMS 

14 seems a bit low - but then Warley's not on there yet, and a few others are floating around. I'm sure the list will grow, but if you want to meet up, there's the first options. I'm always happy to chat modelmaking, so please do come and find me.  


Tuesday, January 02, 2024

New Years Day steam


Cake Steam Tea

One of the successes of 2023, was finding a group of friends who run small steam locos on a line in Rowington on a regular basis. Several times last year, and once already in this one, we've taken over Ken's railway in his front garden, and put on a bit of a show. 

Locals usually turn up to watch, chat and ask questions, as well as enjoying the excellent catering on offer. In return, they drop donations in a box. Boxing day saw the best part of £100 raised for Myton Hospice, and we've also collected money for the local air ambulance. 

It's a nice little group of half-a-dozen or so. We work informally, trying to keep one, or better still, two, trains circulating, so there is something to watch. 

News Years Day saw us meet for a quieter couple of hours, and just enjoy the chat, and three flavours of cake on offer. From my point of view, every session makes me more familiar with running steam, I learnt that today was cold enough to need the burner on Ragleth winding up more than normal for example. All things I'm supposed to know being in charge of Garden Rail

Next, I must try to track down the local 16mm Association people. I have visited a few times, but believe they have moved meeting location. The thing is, garden railways are a very social hobby. I struggle with this a bit, but making the effort does pay off. Especially, when you don't have a working line yourself.

Monday, January 01, 2024

2023 - Review of the year

354 posts this year. A couple of breaks, one enforced by a trip to hospital, so not too bad I suppose. It certainly proves I can waffle a lot!

Visitor numbers remain constand at 250+ per day. Down from the highs of a few years ago, but I'm still very flattered that so many people drop in so often. More video would probably raise this, but I really don't have time to do more of that!

None of the projects I mention every year, and can't be bothered to cut'n'paste into this post, have made any progress, but then you will have guessed that. 

My Beetle still sits in the garage, as the person I talked to last year about a restoration didn't bother to get back to me. Frustratingly, a visitor to the recent  Rowington steam event was Fuzz Townsend of Car SOS and Practical Classics fame. I kept trying to have a chat, and everyone in the room seemed to conspire to keep me away from him. Another missed opportunity!

Still, how about looking at the models I did manage to build? 

The first project completed was a 1/4 scale VW engine. 

It works too - I made a video to prove it. Now living in a display box above my desk, it still gets the occasional run.

Next, for the garden railway, a Boot Lane Works steam tram. 

A Gauge 1 van from a half-built Slater's kit. 

G scale Lanz Bulldog tractor.

I tried to build a Bond Bug kit, but it all went a lot wrong at the painting stage. 

A replacement kit has been aquired, no easy job as they had sold out everywhere. Mine was picked up at the IPMS show, but when I was at Hornby, they also had some on the shelf. I just need to find the time and enthusiasm to have another go. 

And, apart from a half-finished Sentinal shunter kit, that's pretty much it for 2023. Another very not impressive year of modelling output. No layouts, no boats, half a loco. 

My excuse is that on the odd occasions I have the time for personal modelling, I'm still struggling a lot of the time for motivation. When I do have some spare time, which is less often than it should be, I'm too tired to get stuck into things. It would help if I wasn't so good at aquiring new projects. When they arrive, I'm all fired up to get stuck in, but the flame goes out almost imediately. 

Sadly, this means less interesting building stuff, and more random waffle. Thanks to all those who stick with me for that. I take it as a compliment that I'm not that boring! 

As I said yesterday, I've no idea what 2024 will hold. Trying to set myself some targets for the year, in an effort to provide motivation, the best I can come up with is getting abroad for a holiday. Lisbon is currenlty favourite, I wonder if I'll manage it? 

There have been plenty of shows of course, and a few steamups locally too. Getting away from the computer helps a lot. Being able to enjoy the social side of garden railways is great, and I could really do to make even more of it, especially since my lakeside trips seem to have dried up as Thursday mornings involve horrible weather, or a looming deadline that keeps me at my desk.

Thanks to everyone who keeps reading this stuff, it is appreciated, as are the nice comments posted occasionally. If I'm helping - I'm happy!