Thursday, February 29, 2024

Up on his wheels

This stage had me worried. It seems there is an error with the suggested wheels for the OO version of Ivor. If you use the suggested size, they overlap. Would the same problem exist in 7mm scale? If it did, that's an expensive problem!

Fortunatly, no. The Slaters 7862W's are a perfect fit. The flanges are prettyclose, but apparently this is correct. 

One pair went together straight from the packet, the second needed a little easing with a square needle file to slide onto the axle. Even then, they are stiff, so a touch more work is required. 

Now, if someone can tell me where my Allen key for the centres has vanished to. I'm sure it was in the drawer with Romford screwdrivers and back-to-back gauges. But not any more.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Warehouse Wednesday: Glasgow Harbour Tunnel


You won't be surprised that while In Glasgow, I took some photos of the interesting buildings to be found. First up is this round structure, with a matching one on the other side of the river. 

My guess was that these were the ends of a tunnel, as they look very similar to those found on the Grenwich foot tunnel in that there London. 

Two days later, I was proved right. The BBC published an excellent history of the tunnel, which still partly exists. How handy is that? 


Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Chassis built


The chassis is bent up easily enough, and the accuracy is such, that the tabs and slots on the long footplate section fit together perfectly. 

The bearings are spares from my stash, and two pairs of different styles, but they will work perfecly well. Oddly, one of each pair was a pig to solder in place. They turned black and had to be removed to be cleaned up again. The others went stright in perfectly. No idea why, but that's kitbuilding!

The bearings have been reamed out to provide free movement for the axles. A little more tidying up, and I'll be ready to fit some wheels.

Monday, February 26, 2024



I now know what I'm doing!

Having said I didn't have any instructions for Ivor, two sets have now arrived. One from the manufacturer, and another (thanks) from blog reader Mark A Greenwood. I think a third set would have been supplied by a friend on Facebook, but I turned these down as two sets is plenty!

The are lovely. Perhaps not completely conventional, but great to look at. Loads of exploded diagrams and drawings extracted from the CADs used to design the kit, plus photos of a build, which proves it can be done. I think this is a builders kit, even though the prototype is pure fun. 

Now, I just need to find some G1 handrail knobs. I'm sure I have some around here somewhere...

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Lego loco

Lego loco

Another random photo filling the Sunday slot - a Lego industrial spotted next to an excellent copy of BRM. TBH, I can't tell you much about this I'm afraid, but I like the model.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Saturday Film Club: 19 Days in August

A BBC Midlands programme covering the remodelling of Proof House Juntion, just outside Birmingham in the year 2000. 

I can't imagine any TV company making something like this now, and to be honest, it has slightly limited appeal (but you lot are target market). Nice to see Don Jones of miniature Birmingham New Street fame too.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Model Rail Scotland


Here's a first. All being well, as you read this, I will be taking park in Model Rail Scotland with the World of Railways stand. 

Glasgow is a show I always wanted to do with Melbridge Dock, but never had an invite. It's a very long journey, a 5.5 hour drive I've not looking forward to if I'm honest, but we are exhibiting, and they need someone who can talk toy trains, so I'll load up the models and see how it goes. 

If you are visiting, please say hello. And if there are any Scottish cakes going...

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Water tower, platform and deckchairs in the Spring issue of BRM


A real mix of projects in this month's BRM. I kick off with West Hill Wagon Works modern N gauge platform. Nice kit full of 3D printed detail, and probably the only way you can model a modern pre-fab platform, especially in N!

The kit doesn't include a way on and off as the prototype has the ground built up at the back - so I needed to build a similar bank. As ever, I've gone a little off-piste with the build, but there are good reasons for this. Anyway, slavishly following the instructions is no fun...

Jumping up to 7mm, a Skytex water tower. I like these resin kits, they are very accesible and not difficult to build, but hopefully I have finesed it a little. In addition, on BRM TV, I demonstrate how I painted the stone finish. 

Finally, a bit of madness - etched brass 2mm scale deckchairs. These are Severn Models kits, which seemed like a good idea at the time. Fiddly? Very? Satisfying? Very much so. 

I've also been out with the camera to capture some excellent layouts. 

Tytton Hall Yard - a real crowd-pleaser of a OO roundy-roundy. Well, it was at Doncaster where you couldn't get near it all weekend!

At Doncaster 2023, I shot the 009 and OO layout, Lower Hanworth. Square layouts provide lots of angles to work with, and I think I've managed to produce some views that you can't easily see at a show. 

Finally, Hay Town, and attractive GWR "might have been" terminus. Very pretty, and with loads of well-modelled detail.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

New techniques


There's a slight snag with building Ivor. The power to half the sockets in our house are electricity-free. Two electricians have investigated, and the second one is coming back to have another look and see if he can fix it for more than 14 hours. 

Of course, my workbench is in the dead zone, so soldering has to be carried out with the gas torch, which demands a slightly different technique to the Antex. The joint has to be prepared, fluxed and a little bit of solder put in place. Then hold it all together and blast with heat. It's not as easy, but I've managed to get some joins made - at the cost of two burnt fingers!

You might ask why I don't use the soldering iron attachment instead - simple it seems to take forever to warm up, and I couldn't be bothered to wait. Anyway, blowing solder around joints is good fun!

So, it works, but I'll be glad when the power returns to the sockets!

Tuesday, February 20, 2024



Time for another loco kit, well the Sentinel has stalled, and I'm enjoying the soldering. The PH Designs kit has been in my stash for several years. Bought as a present, one of those things you appreciate, while knowing it means quite a bit of expense to buy all the other bits required to finish the job. 

Anyway, my thought had been to use the gearbox from the Senetinel, but on opening the box, I'd already sourced one from somewhere, so all I had to get were the wheels Slaters 7862W. Ordered direct from the maker, they arrived the next day, and I just ignore that they cost nearly 50 quid! O gauge isn't cheap. 

Ivor the Engine was my childhood TV train. Thomas existed only in books, TV was in the future. I liked the quiet, home-spun style. And I loved the dragon, Idris. 

Anyway, the kit is a mix of brass and nickel-silver parts, with details 3D printed in resin and cast in metal. What I don't have is any instructions, although such a simple (I hope) model shouldn't require them. 

If all else fails, I know Ian Mellors has built one, and will be happy to answer any questions.

Monday, February 19, 2024

All aboard for Titfield!


An electrical fault after a power cut required the attentions of two different electricians, and really messed up my modelling plans - so here's a photo of my Rapido-built Titfield Thunderbolt set, bought with my own money (if it's anyones business), on Ferness Quay. 

Well, I had the layout out for testing, and it seemed a good chance to test the model, which runs very well indeed. It's the cheap standard set without sound, but I have blagged a set of figures when I was last down in Rapido HQ. 

An odd set. I doubt anyone really needs one for their layout, but the film is held in such affection that lots of people want one, including me.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Doncaster 2024


A somewhat damp trip up the motorway (if you have automatic lights, switch them ON!) delivered me to The Festival of British Railway Modelling. According to Facebook, it's ten years since I took my first BRM project layout "Edgeworth", now I display a range of projects carried out since then. 

Some have been many times before. The Wagon kits in every scale display still attracts loads of attention. TBH, I'd have expected not to be taking it any more because people would be bored of it, but no, it is still popular. Grandad's Trains is still the star attraction, but closely followed by the railway in a cake cover. 

It's nice that people enjoy these, and are so keen to chat about actually building models. Of course, this means I spend all weekend gassing, and hardely get out from behind the stand!

When I did, I carried out a couple of photo shoots, which pretty much filled my layout watching time. Not that big a problem, as the show was busy. Very busy. Several layouts were two deep all weekend - gratifying for the builders, and a sign that the hobby is far from being on its last legs. 

I did grab a few photos though: 

Thanks to Ian from West Hill Wagon Works, for dropping off a couple of delicious pieces of rocky road cake, and to the Elaine's trains team who organise our trip to the fish'n'chip restaurant for food on Saturday night. 

Good weekend? Yes. Next stop, Glasgow...

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Saturday Film Club: The electric village, Kinlochleven

When I mentioned old electric locos yesterday, the ones operating around the aluminium smelting plant of Kinlochleven were what I was thinking of. The history of this remote town and it's hyro-electric plant powering the smelter, is fascinating.

Friday, February 16, 2024

It's an odd little tram, but I like it


Last weekend, I looked to buy a bogie coach, and ended up with a job lot of G scale stuff. There are a few nice wagons, which will find their way on to eBay I suspect, and a bag with some conversions in. 

These are all four-wheel coaches of verious makes, plonked on a power bogie, and fitted with a pantograph. Value - pretty much nothing, but someone has enjoyed modifying things, and that's fine by me. 

One, in particualar, appeals to both my Dad and me. It's an LGB coach, perched atop a Bachmann (I think, it's not LGB) power bogie. The ends appear to be scratchbuilt, but when pushed into place, are a nice fit. Controllers can be found inside where the driver should stand. The model runs well enough too.

Were I to be picky, it would be nice if the body sat lower on the bogie, perhaps by modfiying the solebars in some way. As it is though, there's definitly a whiff of early electric locomotive about it, some of those appeared to be perched on their power unit. 

Fun has been had building this, and apart from some repairs (the missing step is in the bag) and a cleanup, this is joining our fleet. I know we don't have overhead wires fitted, but I'm not going to let that worry me. We are outside, the rules are different!

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Permanent Way Clearance Car


Permanent Way Clearance Car

My Dad has been busy building a Timpdon Models Permanent Way Clearance Car. This clever bit of kit should help us get the garden railway working this year. 

At one end, as a set of profiles that can be set to the loading gauge of your largest locomotive - in this case Ragleth - so we can test that it's not going to whack anything when running. I know I could just push the loco around, but this is far less vulnerable. 

Painting the wasp stripes was easier than expected. The yellow base coat was entirely masked with Frogtape, and then using the etched lines, I cut away the black areas and sprayed them. I assume that cutting pushed the tape into the etched lines giving me an excellent seal. At least that's the only explanation I can come up with for such a neat job first time!

The rest of the wagon is sanding sealed and then sprayed with Sea Grey, a colour we have plenty of from battleship building. It looks appropriate though. 

Let's just hope it works!

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

I'm in the Yorkshire Post!

At the Festival of British Railway Modelling, I was interviewed by none other than the Yorkshire Post. Cue plenty or arm waving, and pontificating about the future of the hobby. And film of model trains.

Yorkshire Post coverage.

 I was also interviews for the Trains in the Attic YouTube channel:

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Roxey Mouldings 7G40-18 gearbox


7G40-18 gearbox
In the box with the Sentinel is this gearbox from Roxey Mouldings. Like most of these sort of things, it folds up from flat. One slight difference is that one side is seperate, and soldered on then ready. 

Everything lined up perfectly, and the tabs dropped into their slots with only a tiny bit of wiggling. The bearing holes had to be opened out with a tapered reamer, as I would expect, but the whole job only took a few minutes. There are slots for the screws in the motor, and these benfited from a few strokes of the file to open up. Some Blu-Tack in the screw heads was also helpful.

There are some really nice features such as access holes for the grub screw in the work gear. 

Turning the motor over by hand, everything is super smooth, and all feels solid. 

The only problem is that the sides are only a couple of mm smaller then the Sentinel wheels. That's not going to work. I'll have to find another home for it, and an alternative drive train for the loco. So, it's going back in the box for a while to let me figure it out...

Monday, February 12, 2024

Well, that's not going to fit.


Exactly how the Sentinet should be powered, has always been a mystery. The is a motor, and a gearbox, and a pair of motor supports in the chassis. The only support one end of the motor though. 

Anyway, I robbed the gears from the 'box and assembled them, and the motor, into the chassis as best I could. Initially, it looked promising, but sadly, the gear wheel is too large, and rubs on the motor support. A couple of mm and we'd be good to go!

OK, squeezing the Delrin gears would be "interesting", but I think they might just have cleared the motor.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Random train


Ever so often, Andy York and I have to hand over various models to each other for work. To make things a little easier, we tend to meet at Water Orton, half way between us. When they, in a pub car park (the town not big on anywhere else to meet, such as somewhere with cake) we stand and watch a few trains go by. Sometimes we even take a photo. 

So, today is a random photo of a train from our last meeting.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Saturday Film Club: Edinburgh Waverley in 1986

This is what railways used to look like. All those locomotives - and hardly a multiple unit to be seen!

A real nostaligiafest, and all the better for it. Considering this was shot on VHS, the result isn't too bad either.

Friday, February 09, 2024

Off to Doncaster this weekend


It's the Festival of British Railway Modelling in Doncaster this weekend. As usual, I'll be on one enf of the BRM stand with some modelling project you'll have seen in the magazine, and as much chat as I can manage. 

If you are coming up (and why not, it's a lovely show) then please drop by and say hello!

Thursday, February 08, 2024

March Garden Rail


March brings you a bumper issue of Garden Rail. This month, our lead layout is the stunning Lazy Grange Bay 3, built by Michael Duffy. This isn't just a garden railway, it's an entire world in miniature!

On the workbench this month:

  • A 16mm fish van
  • Anglicising a pair of Gauge 1 railbuses
  • Sorting out a live steam Hunslet with new radio control
  • Refurbishing lineside details
  • Turning a G scale diesel into a steam tram
  • Building a real life diesel-electric locomotive
  • Creating a locomotive from cardboard
  • A 3D printed snowplough

There's also all the latest new products for modellers, and a review of the Regner Guinness live steam locomotive.

And finally, the complete show guide for the Midlands Garden Rail show!

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

Sorting out the bearings


Nice fat things O gauge bearings. Plenty of lovely brass. 

Pity most of it gets filed away. 

First, I reduce the thickness standing proud of the frame side, so the back of the wheel has a tiny amount of side slop. We don't want it running on the bearing, increasing friction. 

Them a reamer is used to open up the hole. I'm sure this sounds odd, but the holes are normally, slightly smaller then the axle diameter. This alloows them to be opened up so the wheels spin freely. An added advantage is that if the bearings aren't perfectly in line, the long broach will line the holes up. 

All that brass swarf, it does seem a bit of a waste, but I'll trade that for good running.

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

Axle worms


Finally, some spare time to have another tinker with the O gauge Sentinel shunter. First time since November last year!

All the wheels and axles were looking a bit rusty. I think I'd missed some flux cleaning on the chassis, and fumes in the closed box has affected the surface. A hour with mild abrasive, a fibre pen and even Brasso saw them restored to good condition, at which point I noticed something odd. 

Each axle has a worm on the end, for the wheel to screw on to. The other is plain for an insulating plastic bush to slide on. 

I've never seen this before, and can't think of any good reason for it. Surely, some of the time, the wheel is rotating in a way that will unscrew it from the axle? I suppose a shunter is likely to travel as far backward as forward, but I just see the wheel coming off at some point, or at least unscrewing enough to make trackholding tricky. 

Can anyone explain? I'm confused.

Monday, February 05, 2024

Last train out of Hattons


Last week saw the final end of the story that is Hattons. For years, they have been the go-to supplier for many modellers. In some ways they were the "Hoover" of the trade as their name was the first one to come to mind when anyone though of a big model railway business, or to use the term "box-shifter". Even though there are plenty doing the same job, their name just stuck. 

Anyway, they made the best of the last few weeks in an effort to clear out the warehouse. This is a very tidy closure, with no-one left out of pocket. No shutting the doors, and walking away here!

I'm not a fan of trawling though businesses as they run-down. It all seems a bit distasteful, picking over the carcass as people are losing their jobs, as though cheap toy trains are the most important thing in the world. That's probably just me being a bit over-sensitive, and if the stuff is for sale, I can't really criticise those who choose to snap up those bargains. 

I wasn't totally imune. Daily emails encouraging me to pay one last visit eventually took me to the site, and I bought one of the more numerous items - a Dapol O gauge Terrier. 

All those childhood visits to the K&ESR obviously influenced me, as it's a class I really like. The quirky Victorian design appeals, expecially the cab roof. Recently, I was admiring an example operating on the club O gauge layout, and thinking, I must order some lining and numbers. It just looked lovely.

Being practical, I'm only ever going to build tiny O gauge layouts (Cue next week being asked to build a mahoosive 7mm scale station...) so I'm sure a Terrier will find a use one day. And if it doesn't, well, it cost less than many OO locos. 

Anyway, thank you Hattons for all your service to the model railway community. 


Sunday, February 04, 2024

Aldergrove in the last standalone Traction



I remember buying the first issues of Traction magazine, when it first appeared on the newstands 280 issues ago. I'm not really the target market, so didn't carry on. However, there is a demand for more vintage diesel content, so from the next issue, it will be merged into BRM, and that means a four-wheekly appearance. 

What I didn't imagine all those years ago, was that my layout photos would make it into the final standalone issue. My shoot of N gauge layout "Aldergrove" is there though, and I'm quite chuffed. (OK, "chuffed" isn't an appropriate term for a diesel mag, but you know what I mean.)

Of course, Traction in BRM means a demand has been created for even more blue diesel layout shoot, so if you have something suitable, drop me a line at work with a couple of photos

Saturday, February 03, 2024

Saturday Film Club: Adam Savage Meets Aardman Animations' Puppets!

I love Aardman animations work - most days start with an episode of Shaun the Sheep - and exacly how the modelmaking is done fascinates me. To see several characters, and to be able to work out how large they are, makes this well worth the watch.

Friday, February 02, 2024

Vale of Rheidol in the 1980s


A few more old photos dug out of an album. This time, my only visit to the Vale of Rheidol railway, which looks to be from the 1980s. 

Sadly, the locos were no longer in the rail blue livery, but at least they were still owned by BR, so I could cross all three off in my Pltform 5 spotting book!


It was obviously a day full of Welsh liquid sunshine, and I probably took these photos on my trusty Zenit 12 camera. It might hav weighed a ton, but being rugged and reliable, would carry on making photos rather better than its bargain price suggested.

As I recall, my Dad and I travelled by train that day. Hardly surprising, as in the one photo I appear in, it looks like I'm 13, and he doesn't drive! It's a trip I really should repeat, once I've saved up for the train ticket. Things have changed a lot there. Still no rail blue steam engines though...

Thursday, February 01, 2024

Driving in my car


Last weekend, I was helping a friend with some video editing for a conference she's working on. Something a bit different, and I enjoyed the task. The end result of all this is to be a series of videos on Instagram. 

All this got me thinking about a fun little film. The challenge being that it would have to be shot, and edited on my mobile phone. If I were 12 years old, this would be the easiest thing in the world. I'm not, so some thinking was required, but I managed it. 

Quite pleased with the result. Maybe I need to play with this stuff more?