Sunday, March 31, 2024

Practical Classics Resto show 2024

Mini based kit car

I normally frequent the November NEC classic car show, but despite being a Practial Classics reader for many years, I've never been to the March restoration show. Until now. 

It's a smaller event than the November one, but over a tenner cheaper to get in. I even paid for my parking in advance to save another fiver. 

Once inside, at 9am, the hall seemed quiet, but picked up during the day. I'm not sure we'd have minded giving the exhibitors an hours lie-in for a 10am start really. I left at 4:30 (show closed at 5) and had covered it twice, and watched some of the stuff on stage. 

This is a very practical show, with many cars being worked on during the weekend. PC assembled a Mini in their excellent stand I mean it's got a shed with a kettle in it. I'm thinking ahead to the BRM stand at the NEC later this year. Can we have a shed?

Practical Classics stand

Like all classic car show, the emphasis was on walking around admiring the vehicles. Those there are far from exotic. OK, there's big money stuff in the auction, but even prices there didn't seem outrageous. 

Most of the space is given over to clubs, and if you can find one that covers your car, this ought to be good news. Sadly there was nothing for Beetles, other than a general VW club. Maybe they are still seem as "trendy" rather than "classic". People wanting to boast about engine capacity and how much they spent to get everything done, then discuss the merits of the greasy bits underneath, and how you can make them work better. 

If I have a slight moan, it that the trade is a bit heavy on replica sign tat. Although signed as Autojumble, there were precious few piles of ruty bits to dig through. I suspect the cost is a bit high for that, so those stands will stay in car show fields. I wasn't parted with much money!

Will I go again? Yes. I enjoyed it a lot, and now I have a better idea what to expect, will get even more out of it next time. It's worth checking the on stage features as I learned a lot about applying filler, and found a bit of inspiration on the PC stage. 

One thing - talking to the team behind the mag, I suddenly find myself in the opposite position to my normal role at toy train shows. There, I'm the face the punters know, and sometimes are a little nervous to approach. I did get over myself you'll be pleased to know, and have a chat with the editor about a certain orange car in my garage...

You'll be wanting the photos over on Flickr.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Friday, March 29, 2024

Another Beatties bag


The rest of the team on the BRM stand look at me like I'm weird, when some top person (sorry, didn't get a name) appears on the stand at Ally Pally to hand me a bright yellow carrier bag. Regular readers though, will know that this makes me very happy. Another one for the collection!

This must date from the height of the Beatties Empire, as there are a lot of stores listed. I'm particually fascinated by "Leisureworld, 2 High Friars, Eldon Sq, Newscastle" - was this a shopping centre? The internet is strangely silent on the topic. Sounds fun though.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

A quick and dirty wagon


Coal Wagon
A tight deadline, and a need for a wagon to load with coal. I could use a clean one, straight from the box, but it would look so much better if it was suitably dirty. How fast can I muck up a model? 

Little more than 20 minutes it turns out. If I dry each stage with a hair dryer anyway.

Step 1 - Lightly abraide the sides with a fat fibreglass pencil to add some wear. 

Step 2 - Matt varnish the model. 

Step 3 - Dry brush the black bits with Humbrol 67. (Sorry, an earlier version of this had 69. I use Tank Grey, not Yellow for weathering! )

Step 4 - Dry brush the metalwork with Humbrol 70.

Step 5 - Add some Revell 9 streaked lightly down the sides. Again, mostly dry brushing. 

Step 6 - Give the model a wash with black Citadel wash, dragging it vertically down the sides again. Use the same stuff inside the wagon. 

And there we go. Not the most sophisticated weathering job in the world, but not bad. Some powder would really finish things off, but I wanted to keep my fingers clean to use the camera, so it can wait.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Warehouse Wednesday: Finnieston Crane


Finnieston Crane

Final set of photos from Glasgow - and I've saved my favourite to last. The amazing Finnieston Crane.

I'm not going to pretend to know very much about this, instead check the Wikipedia page.  Instead, enjoy a selection of photos I took over the weekend. 

Finnieston Crane

Finnieston Crane

Finnieston Crane

Finnieston Crane

Finnieston Crane

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Making a diorama base


For work, I make a lot of small dioramas. These usually have a 4mm thick MDF base, because it's cheap and I just hack a bit off the big sheet in the garage. MDF is pretty inert, and for my purposes, isn't affected by anything I use on top of it. 

Handy, because most of the time, what goes on top first, is some ready-mix DIY wall filler, smoothed with a wet pallete knife. Plywood would go all wobbly.

Much of the time, I'm building a slice of scenery, which needs a raised edge along the back, and this time it occured to me that it I made a gaffer tape wall around the edge, it would be less faff than piling the filler up, and then sanding it back. 

And it worked!

The trick seems to be to split the tape so it's only sticking to the side of the MDF. I used a full bit at the back, tucked under the board to fill the gaps between the split stuff, and it leaked a little. Also, harder to remove. The trick for this is just like masking tape, almost fold it back on itself when you peel it away, and it doesn't bring the plaster with it. 

I'll be useing this technique again...

Monday, March 25, 2024

Baguley-Drewry comparisons


Baguley-Drewry models

A rare opportunity presented itself recently. The new Bachmann 009 Baguley-Drewry sent to BRM for review, found its way to me. Which gives me the chance to compare it to the kit-built version I made years ago. 

The first thing to mention, is that they are slightly different machines. Bachmann's is the 70hp loco, while the Narrow Planet kit represents the 99hp variant. Basicaly, the bonnet is longer. 


Apart from that, you can see the family resemblance. 

The RTR model is very nice. A diecast body gives it plenty of weight, and on test at All Pally in my cake cover layout, it ran very, very sweetly. 

Having said that, the kit, a mix of 3D printed and etched parts, stands up perfectly well to it. The main difference is paint, perhaps I'm not as good as the Chinese factory, but it's not far off. Running is as good as the RTR model, thanks to the TomyTec chassis underneath. 

Baguley-Drewry models

Cost? The kit (when available) is £40 plus chassis. RRP on the RTR version is £119.95, but this will be discounted. So, even allowing for the chassis, this kit would be a bit cheaper, but of course, you still have to assemble it. Not a difficult job by any means, but if you are scared of modelling, then that will be a hurdle. 

Mind you, if you have a suitable layout, you'll need one of each, so go for it!

A full review of Bachmann's loco appears in the April issue of BRM.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Ally Pally 2024

The London Festival of Railway Modelling took place last weekend, and as usual, I spent the weekend on my feet, talking to anyone and everyone. I've heard suggestions of 6000 visitors on Saturday, and they all seemed to want to ask questions!

So, my exploration was pretty limited, but there were some cracking layouts to be seen. 

The first one I spotted, partly because it it's displayed higher than most, and nicely, brightly lit, was Tramlink. This is a very modern scene and there's no hint of the steam era.

The Royal Albert Bridge is apparently part of a Great Model Railway Challenge layout - and it's a fantastic model. Once that quayside is complete, I'll defintely be chansing it to photograph for a magazine feature. 

The Yard is O16.5, industrial, and full of operating features. I'd love to have the skill to produce something like this, but the engineering is beyond me. It's very much worth a look if you get the chance to see it at a show. 

And finally, the best pair of Lego layouts I've ever seen. Better still, they could be driven, using what I think are Scalextric controllers, by the public. I should say "the kids" but I had a go, and so did my boss!

These are just four of my favourites, but there were plenty more. Tradewise, the show is a bit box-shifter heavy, but that's the consequence of a London venue pushing the prices up. There was plenty of variety though, and the prices on second-hand items were considered by many to be more reasonable than normal. I picked up a Tri-ang wagon to match the giraffe cars for £6, which is definitely a good deal. 

One complaint - that floor is HARD - I certainly knew about it by mid afternoon! But it's well worth it for all the chat. If you came along, thanks very much, I hoped you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Saturday Film Club: Rustival 2024

I enjoyed Rustival a lot - and here's a chance to enjoy it on video. The speed at which it was produced amazes me. Online the day after the event. How do they do it?

Friday, March 22, 2024

Perfecta Kit No.1


Perfecta Kit No.1
Picked up at Ally Pally last weekend, this might be one of the rarest, and most unusual things I've ever bought at a show. 

Perfecta Kit No.1 should allow me to motorise an Kitmaster/Airfix Pug. All the parts are in the bag, including the four nickle silver tyres that are fitted over the wheels to allow them to pick up power. This ia all very clever, and makes me wonder that the time and effort that went into producing this. How many did they sell? 

The main thing missing from the bag is a motor. Tri-ang X.T.60 is recomended, the same power unit used in "Lord of the Isles". Not, as I assumed, "Rocket" or something from the TT range. Handily, the same stand I bought the Perfecta kit from, could also supply the motor. What are the chances of this!

I've heard of Perfecta kits, and seen adverts for them in old model railway magazines, but this is the first one I've got my paws on. 

The plan? I'd love to use the kit to motorise a loco. A bit of a dream at the moment, but it doesn't hurt to dream. Anyway, I think this is one thing I would have regretted not buying if I'd left it.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Tufts, chips and layout shoots in April's BRM

As the latest BRM hits your doormat, there's plenty of my stuff for you to enjoy (I hope). 

They made me do some DCC!

I'm making grass tufts too.

My camera has been out to photograph other people's work: 

Burdock - N gauge with a wonderful range of unusual rolling stock. 

KBN Wagon works - O gauge with industrial shunters. 

Llanfair Caereinion - Welsh 009. 

Those who know me will realise that these three layouts are right up my street. Odd rolling stock? Yes please!

On BRM TV, I'm taking a look at Hornby's latest offering, a "Layout building kit", and there's also an interview with the builder of Llanfair Caereinion, which is well worth a look.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Inlaid track


Inlaid track

A few more pics from Glasgow, this time some inlaid track along the quayside.

I don't think this is decorative stuff installed recently. If it is, turning the area into a car park hardly seems like the best use of it afterwards!

Inlaid Track

For modellers, the challenge is the rail itself. I've read suggestions of soldering a piece on its side along the running rail. That would be tricky, but looking at this stuff, I can see how it would work. 

There is also an inlaid weighbridge table. 

Something I've not seen before. Obviously the cobbles fill the space where a cast iron table would be. We can't have Audi's falling down holes, can we?

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Repaying my Dad, one kit at a time


Young Phil benefitted from a Dad who had a repository of plastic kits, many of which he was allowed to build. When I say build, I was probably about 10 or 12, and while I could stick things together, and slap some paint on them, the results weren't great. I enjoyed them though.

Needless to say, those kits helped turn me into the modeller I am today. I like to think my abilities with glue and paint have improved a bit, but we're all on a learning curve. 

One range of kits I remember were the "Those Magnificent Flying Machines" set. My Dad was into aeroplanes, and had aquired these for some reason. And he let me build them. 

Of course, time passes, and now these things are collectable. I've seen them on sale for £60 several times. We're into the buy it and stick the thing on a shelf world at that price, unless you are really keen.

But, I always felt a little guilty about sticking my way through these kits, and so when one turned up on eBay for sensible money, I snapped it up, and it became part of my Dad's birthday present a couple of weeks ago. 

Quite what he's going to do with it is a conundrum. Parker senior is not exactly short of potential projects himself, so I think this is going to be a long way down the queue! 

And no, I'm not looking to replace the rest of the set. Well, not unless I spot some more bargains...

Monday, March 18, 2024

Mind your language!


I'm clearing up some paperowrk from recent events, and found this from the Glasgow show. It's the instructions for the setup period.

There's nothing unusual in here - Hi-Vis etc. All pretty standard for shows in exhibion halls now. 

But tucked away, "No swearing or use of offensive or rascist language on site."

I'm all in favour of the lack of rascist language, but who's policing the swearing? And what is the penalty? 

Do different words attract different punishments? 

Sadly, we didn't get the chance to find out. Although I heard a few people experimenting!

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Rustival 2024

Rustival or bust

 How good was Rustival? Very, very good. 

Organised by three YouTubers, the idea was that less traditional classic cars would gather that the Motor Musuem Gaydon. Less E-Type jags (there were two) and more Mini Metros. 

The thing is, the classic car movement is evolving. Stuff built in 1999 is 25 years old! Da kidz are driving "vintage" vhicles that I remember being introduced, or at least seeing everywhere when I was a kid. And by this, I mean boxy Volvos. 

Indeed, I was one of the oldest people at the show. This suggests that far from fading away, classics are still popular. I enjoy reading some of the stories that are typed up and hung in the windows of the exhibits. 

Not that I could read them all. With only a couple of hours, there's no way i could taking the best part of a 1000 cars that turned up. Far more than the organisers expected, and boding well for the future. I suspect there will be more than a couple of trade stands next year. Some autojumble would be both nice, and appropriate!

Anyway, I need to chose a car to take away with me. Will it be the amphibious Land Rover? No, interesting, but too ugly. A Citoen with funky suspension? I think the DS is one of the most beautiful cars built, but no. 

It's the Toyota Sera. I've heard of it, but never seen one for real. Now I have, I want those doors!

Saturday, March 16, 2024


This one will probably allow me to appear in the Facebook Dull Men's club, but stick with it. This 1982 documentary is wonderful, and watched with the benfit of hindsight, very dated. The micro pager that appears is the same size as a modern mobile phone for example. But who would have predicted advancements in that area in the early 80s? 

More importantly, the moves to System X exchanges helped my late friend Dave win the Railway Modeller cup. As a telephone engineer, he found himself based in an exchange that has swapped mechanical switching for electronic, freeing up loads of space. In which he built his layout "Scotland Street Yard". An unexpected benefit!

Friday, March 15, 2024

Off to London


Time to get back on the road, after all I've had a whole weekend off this month, this time to Alexandra Palace in London. 

The BRM roadshow will be in the magnificent hall, and I'll be on the end of the stand with some modemaking for you to enjoy. 

Please bring along plenty of questions, I don't want to be lonely!

Full details of the show can be found here.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Garden Rail April 2024


There are two influences on our lead layout this month – owner Phil Clarke's love of the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway, and a Spinone puppy who can demolish a train in seconds! A high level line full of L&B locomotives ticks all the boxes, and provides a substitute for driving real trains.

On the workbench:

  • Mark Thatcher looks a budget range of kits

  • Building a McEwan Pratt locomotive, and something suitable for an estate railway

  • Creating stunning buildings

  • Building a low loader wagon

Plus all the latest product news for the large scale modeller. Available from all good newsagents.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Warehouse Wednesday: PS Waverley


PS Waverley

One benefit of the Glasgow show is that the hotel and venue were a short walk apart. Better still, if I picked the right bridge to cross, I could see the PS Waverley tied up at the quayside. It's not every day you get to see the last ocean-going paddlesteamer at breakfast time!

I've never been on the Waverley. Really must make up for that ommission one day. 

For more information, visit the Waverley website.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Not too good to mess around with


At the Midlands show, I managed to pick up something that I've wanted for a long while - a Tri-ang Big-big diesel shunter. 

An odd beast, it's pretty much perfect for 16mm scale, and sits oddly with the O gauge items in the rest of the range. No matter, I've never owned one, but thanks to Elaine's Trains and a very reasonable price (£25), I now do. 

I could have paid a fiver more and bought a much nicer example. One without a dodgy paint job. In fact it looked pretty pristine. Not mint, but really good. 

Too good to mess around with. My plans for this (one day!) involve litle more than a better repaint, and some light detailing. I want a model that looks like a breathed on Tri-ang model. The sort of thing you'd have seen on 16mm layouts, when these things were newish. 

Am I daft to think like this? I've only saved a fiver over buying the better model. But then this might have sat unloved on the stand (I doubt it to be fair, there's a demand for them) and I feel I can do stuff without feeling I'm messing up an original model.

Monday, March 11, 2024

Photos from the Midlands Garden Rail show 2024

St Trinians Wickham trolley

Yesterday, I talked about the Garden Rail stand at the Midlands show, but didn't mention the event itself properly. Lack of time when typing is my only excuse. 

Anyway, what was the show like? Good. I enjoyed it, and so did a lot of other people. According to the organsiers, attendance was around 2000, most of whom visited on Saturday, which certainly seemed busy. Sunday was quieter, but still pleasent. The day to be there if layout watching and long discussions were your intention. 

I didn't get much time for wandering, so I can't really comment on the layouts, other than to say I saw lots running at all times.

Cake was excellent. Day 1 was an apple and goo slice, and Sunday, a glutten free Victoria sponge. Chicken rolls both days too. I can't complain about the catering certainly. 

Anyway, you want photos - there is an album here.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Midlands Garden Rail Show 2024

Some of my Glasgow time was taken up with a problem - what could I put on as a stand at the Midlands Garden Rail show? We'd booked a stand, but for various reasons, there wasn't anyone from the office to help man it. I was on my own. 

A quick check with the organisers and I knew I had three 6ft by 2ft tables, and some electricity. A bit of measurement and I realised that a circuit of the tighted LGB track would fit. All it needed was decoration. 

A couple of bags of compost, some potting grit for ballast, a roll of "grass" aquired in a workshop clearout, all topped with a couple of trays of flowers, and I had a solution - a cut-down "Layout in a day". 

My pair of LGB Toy Train locos put in sterling service hauling a couple of flat wagons and a coach around all day. I did have to scrounge some Blu-Tack to stop the brnaded loads sliding around, but apart from that, it all went well. We even sold some subscriptions. Not bad considering the leaflets didn't turn up until Sunday, the quieter day. Thanks Evri for taking four days to perform a 24-hour service. 

I'm quite pleased with the look of the layout. OK, it's simple, but shows that there's little in the way of limits to building a garden railway. Watching a train run in a circle is suprisingly realxing, according to the lady on the model engineering stand opposite!

Saturday, March 09, 2024

Saturday Film Club: Extension building at the L&WMRS

My model railway club is running out of space. Years ago, we built our clubrooms, by converting an old drying barn, and folishly thought that 3500 sqaure feet would be plenty. There was even talk of letting club members bring their own layouts along to help fill the space. 

Now, we are crammed in like sardines. Something needed to be done, and for years, we'd had a plan to add a mezanine floor. A big, and expensive job, but adding a significant amount of space, and the only option other than moving - which would be even more expensive!

So, with some experts in the club who know what they are doing with all this, we have set to, cleared the place, and started work. I say "we" because despite my enthusiasm to be part of the team, I can't get time off to be there. Even weekends are filled with shows!

However, I can keep up with progress, thanks to these excellent videos showing the work going on. Please like and subscribe to them, so you too can enjoy this massive (for a model railway club) build.

Monday, March 04, 2024

Time for a break


It's that time again. I've been so busy recently that any thought of modelling for my own entertainment has been out of the question. 

Two weekend shows on the trot hasn't helped. If I'm honest, I need to take a few days away from here as I'm so tired I'll just type even more gibberish than normal!

There are a few potential posts lined up, and hopfully I'll be back at the end of the week with something for you to look at. 

In the meantime, there's a lot of links in the right -hand bar. You can't have read ALL of them surely? 

See you later.

Sunday, March 03, 2024

Glasgow 2024

Glasgow 5

The floor is hard, very hard. And three days, two of which are 10am to 6pm, makes for a long event. 

Having said that, it's very friendly, and you see layouts that don't make it south of the border very often. 

Trade includes all the main manufacturers, but otherwise is the same mix as any of the larger shows. 

I'm not sure what I expected really. Maybe a bigger event? It's a similar size to Ally Pally, but is always talked up to be a major event. Can't argue that it is a big event, but perhaps, like Niagra Falls years ago, the build-up made me expect more. 
Mind you, if I'd paid to visit, I'd have been very happy. Six hours on the road is a bit much just for a visit, but a couple wouldn't be unreasonable, and would be rewarded with excellent entertainment. 
Anyway, it looks like we'll be going back next year! 

Glasgow 2

Friday, March 01, 2024

Midlands Garden Rail Show this weekend

Another weekend, another show. This time I'll be on the Garden Rail stand at the Midlands Garden Rail show

As I write, I'm not actually sure what the stand will look like. The person who was organising it has had to go off sick, so I'm left to my own devices. I have a few ideas, we'll just have to see what transpires. 

If you want to know more, come along to the show!