Monday, May 20, 2024

Stamford 2024

Cato Inferno

Regular readers will know of my enthusiasm for loco model railway shows. Get a good one, and the layouts on display will be punching well above the weight of the event, and so it proved at Stamford. 

I'd gone along to photograph Harbourne St Mary for a future issue of BRM. While there, the Market Deeping club, who run the show, had asked me and my boss to judge the best layout competition. 

Comparing one layout against another, when they are all so different is really difficult. We got the list down to six, and over tea, decided to award the prize to Daisy Lane, a 4mm scale MPD with some really nice detail in the buildings (no roofs, so you can see this) and a set of weathered stock. Part of my reasoning was that I've seen MPDs done so often with weathered buildings, and stock straight from the box, it's nice to see things done properly. It's also a modest size, the sort of layout people can realisticaly aspire to building. 

And yes, I have got a photo shoot booked in later this year. It definitely needs to be on the page. 

Essex Brick

So many other layouts stick in my mind though, such as the 3D printed Essex Brick. Not realistic, but with a real Steampunk vibe going on, and it all works automatically.

Brief Encounter

Brief Encounter achieves something that again, I've seen tried, but rarely as successfully - a monochrome layout. Sat in the hall, it really stands out with it's grey colouration. Sadly, the baseboard is so packed, it wouldn't work on the page, but if you get the chance to see it for realy, don't miss out. 

Trade was good, but not brisk thanks to a well-publicised stunning day outside. The sort of weather that makes most people head for a pub garden rather than an exhibition hall, even one with excellent cake. I felt for the show manager. As he said, you can't control the weather. 

Anyway, there are more photos on Flickr. 

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Llangollen 2024

Main hall

The weather was kind. Too kind for me to consider wearing the official Garden Rail tweed jacket to a garden railway show!

The venue was, as usual, nice and spacious, and light inside. Not problem with photography here. Which doesn't explain why I mainly took pictures of the less serious models of course, that's just the way my mind works. I blame buying a steam loco early on, it jumbles my brain. 

Anyway, what I did get the chance to do was chat to a lot of the trade, and some of the visitors. The general concensus was thet the NGRS show had been successful, with plenty of money spent. Happy trade means no problems rebooking them for next year, so a happy exhibition manager. 

The layouts were nice, and we had the chance to see some vintage models running, including a Sgt Murphy.

Sgt Murphy

It's interesting to see the rise in interest in these older models. I'll admit, they fascinate me, and I suspect there is a meths powered loco in my future...

Anyway, you can look at the full set of photos over on Flickr.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Saturday Film Club: Build a Dune buggy

I've always wanted to build a kit car. Probably a dune buggy. 

Of course, it's very unlikely I ever will. And even if I did, the mean streets of Leamington Spa aren't the idea home for it. And I'm not nearly cool enough to drive one. 

But it doesn't do any harm to watch the film and dream...

Friday, May 17, 2024

The cheap way into Roundhouse ownership


This is my new toy. A Roundhouse Lady Anne. Bought at Llangollen garden railway show last Saturday. 

I'd normally say I hadn't planned to buy this, but in truth, there was an inkling. Right at the end of Ally Pally show, I spotted that Footplate had a green one on the stand, for very modest money. I asked what was wrong with it, and the answer came that it was a bit scruffy, but otherwise OK. 

Now, if I'd seen that loco at the start of the show, there would have been a lot of pondering. A Roundhouse loco was a hole in my collection. I've toured the factory and seen the quality of the work. But there was no way I could justify the outlay to myself. Even the kits (which I'd stilll love to build) end up north of a grand by the time you buy all the bits. Excellent value for money, but still a big chunk of cash. 

Anyway, having seen Footplate at a couple of shows since, and the stand being devoid of loco, I assumed I'd missed my chance. Not to worry I thought. 

But at the garden railway show, the green loco was back. And joined by a black one. Each for £600. I asked, and was assured the loco had steamed. It felt OK when I turned the wheels, and was pleasently oily in the right places. I took a deep breath and handed over my credit card. This may be a bargain, but it's still not something I'd planned or saved for. 

Back home, a chance posting on Facebook about the Paul Perryman estate sale allowed me to start digging into the models history. From the serial number, Roundhouse told me it was built in 1999 by Harry. I have now comunicated with the first owner, who sold it to Paul. I also know it has been run with 40-50 wagons on the back relatively recently. 

Now this might be a bargain, but there is work to do. The boiler moves slightly. It's greasy and dull. The loco was once red, but repainted black after falling off a table and becoming scratched. This also explains the very slight lean of the chimney - not something I spotted until it was pointed out. 

The first job is to steam the model. From that I'll get an idea of the work required. Being Roundhouse, all the bits are available, and the model can be taken apart using hand tools if required. 

Assuming it's as good as suggested, then after 25 years, this thing was excellent value for money. It's not like it's never been used after all. 

Anyway, the adventure starts here. I'm looking forward to this one. Quite chuffed with my new purchase.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Bus stop, ballasting and dry-brushing in June's BRM


Bus stop

I've gone Old Skool with this month's main project - a steam era bus stop diorama. It revolves around using some materials that many modellers will hav forgotten about for the greenery in the background. There's nothing wrong with them, but others have come along. 

 This also inspired my BRMTV feature this month - dry-brushing brickwork. 


A perenial topic we have to cover is ballasting track. Yes, you've seen it before, but not everyone has, so I've covered the basics in four steps. Partly because I needed a 009 photo plank...

My camera has been out again: 

The Viaduct in N gauge. 

Longmorn in OO. 


And Foxbury in TT.


Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Base painted


I don't like paper wraps on kits much. Adding my own surface detail is more my bag. For a start, it means I can be consistant across a layout. The wraps will be excellent, and there's a good chance anything I paint won't look as good. 

Anyway, that's why the greenhous base has been dabbed with different emulsion paints to look a bit like concrete, and the walls are covered in brick Plastikard, painted and dry-brushed to look like brick. I should do the inside walls, but they won't easily be seen. 

Before all this, the top part, and top of the brick wall, have been sprayed with white primer which looks pretty good. 

Just the glazing to go. I'm not looking forward to that.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024



Various models land on my desk for work. Most simply require photography, others assembly and then photography. 

Last week, this rather nice greenhouse from ScaleModelScenery arrived. I don't know what it was about the photo on the packet, but I felt the urge to build the model straight away, and it's a long while since I've felt like that!

For the magazine page, a simple build will suffice as I only need a single photo. 

But I fancy going futher. A paper wrap is included to cover the brick base, but I don't like these much, so some Plastikard will be brought in. I'll paint the concrete base too, another wrap as supplied. 

Glazing using the celophane packet is suggested, but some clear sheet will look better I think. Nothing major, just a few tweaks to improve what is already, a really nice model.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Adverts. Grrrr

Paul asks: Have you changed your advert settings? They're now appearing in the post as well as on the right. A bit too intrusive for my liking.

No, I haven't. It seems that Google (Moto: Don't be Evil) has decided my blog needs more adverts. When I look at it, there is an anoying slide up advert at the bottom. Paul's seeing adverts in the posts. I don't have control over either of these. 

And, I don't make any money from them either. The only remuneration I get is if you click on the sidebar advert. 

I assume that this is Google looking for payback for hosting Blogger for free. Unfortunatly, they don't offer a paid-for ad-free version (Wordpress do). If they did, I'd probably take it up.  But they don't. Odd really, as this would be a more reliable source of income. Perhaps the joy of being evil and forcing adverts onto people's content is more fun. It's not like they need the money. 

Anyway, apologies for the adverts. Ill do a bit of digging to see if there is a way to calm them down. If not, I'll have to think about a bigger move to my own webspace, but that's a massive technical challenge as I'd need to move the photos currenlty hosted in Blogger too. And it needs to be automated. With 4600+ posts, I'm not doing it manually!

Sunday, May 12, 2024

More magnolia


You don't mix a can of trade emulsion with a Tamiya paint paddle! No, we need a special mixer bit fitted in a power drill to do the business. 

And mix it it did. I'd already finished off (with Dave's help) one can, and once everyone had gone home, I was on a mission to paint three bays and the back wall. I wasn't leaving until they had all been given two coats. That's about 9 litres.

Being a generous space, this isn't as bad as it sounds. No furniture to get in the way, and you can use a big roller. It was still a couple of hours work, but the results were pleasing, and this Thursday, we are having our first club night, back in the clubrooms!

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Saturday Film Club: Two Ton School Run arcade machine

"I often have ideas on the train." Tim Hunkin demonstraites and then explains how he built a fascinating, mechanical, arcade game.

Friday, May 10, 2024

A busy weekend ahead

By the time some of you will be reading this, I'll be on my way to London for beer with a few mates, some of whom have an involvement with model railways. Hopefully, the train back will be comfortable enough for snoozing.

Tomorrow, I'm off to the Llangollen Garden Railway Festival. You might wonder why I need another dose of garden railways so soon after the NGRS - well, the problem is that at that show I was tied to the stand, and didn't get the chance to wander and chat. Freed of my professional obligations, I can do what I like. Although, this is mostly catching up with the news from the trade. 

That's a run of 2 hours to the west of where I live. Sunday sees a run of nearly two hours to the east, to visit the Stamford Exhibition. Here, the plan is that I photograph a layout before the show opens - at 10am. Apparently, 8:30 is the earliest I can get in. Plenty of time, although it still means an early start for me!

Once the show opens, I'm going to be helping judge the best layout competition, so if owners want to prepare their bribes now. Cake is always appreciated. (Note: I am of course joking, about the bribe bit. Anyway, I'm not judging on my own, so it won't help.)

All this means modelling time is non-existent. Sorry, if this means slightly dull blog posts as I'll need my sleep!

If you are visiting either of these events, please say hello. Always happy to chat.

Thursday, May 09, 2024

Garden Rail June 2024


What do you do when your garden is on the site of an old castle? Name your railway after it of course! The Cleobury Castle Light Railway is Ken Walsh's second foray into 16mm outdoors, and he shares the tricks he has learned in our June issue.

Moving on to the practical features:

  • Servicing a Vale of Rheidol Railway locomotive
  • Building a Festiniog 'might have been' brake van
  • Chinese railway coaches
  • A 16mm scale canal boat
  • Create a miniature Talyllyn layout
  • A coal yard for your line

Scratchbuilding inclined plane wagons

We also review the Accucraft Shay, and bring you the latest Product News.

Wednesday, May 08, 2024

Refresh the modelling board!


"It will last a little bit longer..."

That's what I kept telling myself. I knew the game was up - the rubbery green slab I do all my modelling on was looking particually disgusting, but I didn't feel like replacing it. The surface is a mass of paint and glue and grime. I scrape it every so often to keep the top surface sort of flat, but it's days are numbered.

This is silly. I bought two new green self-healing modelling boards at York - weeks ago - and they sit in their packets. 

Finally, I've bitten the bullet and replaced the board. With one I bought to replace it months ago. The York versions will wait until another day.

Tuesday, May 07, 2024

More mine hutch wagons


Late in the afternoon of the NGRS, I realsied I hadn't bought any toys. This will never do, so since the first Harecroft Mine Hutch wagon had run so well earlier in the day, I decided a couple more would be a good idea. 

With bank holiday Monday nice and clear, I sat down and built my kits, and asside from a few issues pinning the axleboxes to the solebars, they went very well, and my little train looks nice. 

Now, I had taken photos for a build on the blog, but when I come to post them, realised that I'd already produced a detailed build! So, no point in repeating myself. It does leave me very short (read: completely out) of content for this week I'm afraid to say. 

Mind you, I have enough photos for a Garden Rail article...

Monday, May 06, 2024

Key Model World 2024

Dragon Rapide

If there was a show that could have my name on it, it's this one. Plenty of modelling disciplines, all in one hall. Just my sort of thing. Yes, there were railways, but I see a lot of railways. Some plastic modelling and working model trucks, that's what I want!

Because of the NGRS, my visit was on Sunday, but talking to people who were part of the show, that was the best day as Saturday was very busy. Apparently, the first crowds rushed in, and filled the barrier of the "Making tracks layout", which proceeded to misbehave all morning. Stage fright? 

I ignored the trains initially, and enjoyed the excellent plastic modelling dioramas, model boats, then the Tamiya trucking, Gauge 1, and then model railways. 

Each discipline more than put its best face forward. If you hadn't experienced one before, you saw the good stuff. OK, there weren't many boats, but those that were there were excellent. 

I enjoyed lots of long chats with people. Accucrascale fed me two lots of cake. The only thing I didn't really do, was lean on a barrier and watch a layout, but I ran out of time!

Favourite thing? In the kids zone, branded MCC, they were building pine car racers. I've never seen this before in the UK, it's massive in the USA, and yet the kids were loving it. Who wouldn't like to paint their car-shaped bit of wood, nail the wheels on, and rance it down the ramp. Then take it home with pride. I want to have a go!

Duff bits? We could have done with more plastic kit trade to tempt those who might fancy a dabble with a kit. There were a few, and some very nice top-end stuff (£700 for a Dora gun) but the show needs a Hannats or Wonderland models. That said, this will probably happen. There was (apparenlty) a lot of waiting to see how this new show went before comitting. 

And it went well enough that the hall, plus adjacent one, has been booked for next year. These sort of events are massive in Europe, could this evolve into the UK version of Dormund?

Check out the album of photos on Flickr.

Sunday, May 05, 2024

The National Garden Railway Show 2024


I did it - again. 

A smaller "Layout in a Day" than normal - 7 by 6ft rather than 3metres squared, but because it was on tables, I don't think anyone minded. In fact, there were many compliments for the display, I'll take that thank you!

Wandering around was limited, and what did is being turned into magazine content. One issue with the new hall is that the lighting is a bit dim, so photos have all been taken on my phone as it copes with the lack of light better than my camera. I think the results are acceptable though. They had better be, I can't re-take them!

Saturday, May 04, 2024

Saturday Film Club: Disney does tools

A facinating education film from Uncle Walt - quite a task to animate, in a world where each frame has to be hand drawn!

Friday, May 03, 2024

Book review: The Ian Allan book of Model Railways


Picture the scene. It's 1960. Sitting around the Christmas tree, Ian opens his present from Bill, Maureen and Hugh to find an inscribed copy of Ian Allan's Model Railway book. Apparently, there has long been a need for a book about the subject that can be understood by younger enthusiasts, and according the author, this is it. 

It's an odd book. The text is light and breezy, but there are technical details to be found. Sometimes it gets very prescriptive - the third of a page warning against the use of hardboard for baseboards is very stern. 

Providing an overview is complicated by this being the era where two and three rail were vying for domiance. Many of the models from one manufacturer were incompatible with those from others. We still have to briefly discuss methods of propulsion, because some will want to use clockwork. 

After a while things settle down, and we look at locations for storing a layout, and have some interesting takes on baseboard construction. Of necessity, this is all a bit brief, although I like the idea of building the model in effectivly an upturned tray. 

Scenery takes up a good number of pages, but you have to pay attention as it's a whistle-stop tour. When it comes to buildings, Builtezee are mentions, as well as Airfix (not forgetting to put the windows inside the model, and add sills to the outside) and some new guys called Superquick. The author is very impressed by these, althoug he seems very impressed with lots of things. 

Wiring only gets three pages, including one full of sketchy diagrams, which seems a bit odd as I can see that this new-fangled two rail stuff would be confusing to many people. It's especially odd, and narrow guage modelling qualifies for five pages!

The other odd thing is that the book doesn't really finish. The text just stops at the end of the NG chapter. No conclusion or wrap-up as you'd expect today. 

I'm not sure how much his present would have helped Ian, but it would certainly have fired some enthusiasm in him, for nothing else then to buy Model RailwayConstructor, thanks to the numerous adverts on the pages!

Thursday, May 02, 2024

Dotti and barrels


Finally, we have an IP Engineering 'Dotti' - which I serialised on this very blog six years ago

At shows, Dotti has always been very reliable. Not too fast, and happy to plod around for hours on the two AAA batteries tucked under the body. Replacing them requires undoing a couple of screws, but isn't too bad a job, even at a show. 

Behind the loco, we have a superb Meadow Castings kit. Why these easy-to-build and nicely detailed kits aren't more popular is a mystery to me. I really need to add more to my fleet myself. After this, we have a Phil Sharples fuel bowser. Not currently available, it was like all his kits, a bargain. Looks nice with a little work too. 

Bringing up the rear is a scratchbuilt brake van, also serialised on this blog. I can't remember how well this slightly top-heavy model runs, we'll find out. 

At the show: As reliable as ever. Trundled around with half-a-dozen Big-Big skip wagons. Battery lasted well over an hour, but I've lost one of the retaining bolts when i removed the chassis to replace them.

Wednesday, May 01, 2024

A heavyweight Simplex


Another Simplex, this time an IP Engineering whitemetal kit. Built for a Garden Rail feature on soldering whitemetal, this is one heavy beast. 

In theory, this should be good, but I've found that on the lightly laid Faller plastic track, it finds everywhere where the ballast isn't as supportive as it should be, and if there is a slight gradient anywhere, the two AAA powered model struggles a bit. Four-wheel drive would be useful, but retro fitting the PS Models version would be very difficult, building a new kit would be easier!

One of the battery boxes needs replacement, but apart from that, it's a nicel model. 

The wagon is from the re-born Coopercraft range, hastily painted to add variety to the stock. 

At the show: Ran happily around the layout, until it didn't. The gear train seems to have locked up solid. Needs investigating, but I (for once) sensibly realised this was better left until I got back to the workbench.