Sunday, June 30, 2024

Garden Railway Specialists open day 2024

A couple of days last week were spent at GRS's annual open day. Aimed mainly at LGB enthusiasts, we were joined by Sinisa Stanisic from the firm, who helpfully gave a short talk on his role and the company history. After that, he was around all the time to chat to those there, and answer all their questions. I've also interviewed him for September's Garden Rail so you don't miss out.

At the front of the shop, there were two circuits, one pure LGB and the other for people who wanted to learn how to steam a loco, an opportunity several took up. It also provided entertainment for some passers by, including a couple who live-streamed it to friends in the USA. 

The LGB circuit was operated using their CS3 DCC system, and on Sunday, I sneaked in and had a go with it. There is a large touch-screen with plenty of icons, and even without tuition, I managed to make a train move. OK, it the slowly crashed into another train because I couldn't see the emergency stop button, but at least I made it move, and worked the points. By the time Andy got back to the stand to see what chaos I was causing, I'd got the basics mastered. 

He then showed me a few more menus, how to change locos etc. and it all seemed reaonably simple. I was also impressed that one of the sounds in his diesel was an ice cream van...

Foodwise, there was cake. GRS are always very generous when it comes to the catering. Even more exciting though, buckets of Markin jelly steam engines. We all ate several of those!

Saturday, June 29, 2024

Saturday Film Club: The last run of a narrow gauge diesel locomotive in industrial service in a British factory.

From the Facebook post that alerted me: 

It's at Painter Bros. Hereford and shows Lister Railtruck 40407/1954 in 2011 when I bought this, and the other Lister 54181/1964, which had already been lifted off the track by the overhead gantry crane. To the best of my knowledge the title of this video is correct. There are a tiny number of other British industrial locations which still have narrow gauge tracks, an even tinier number with locomotive haulage, and preserved locomotives have operated on industrial lines. But I don't know of any other locations in the British isles where a narrow gauge diesel locomotive has run in a factory in industrial service after the day I shot this video. Immediately after the last frame of this video the crane lifted 40407 off the rails and an era ended. At 1:30 you can see one of its successors, a battery electric machine.

Friday, June 28, 2024

Tri-ang "Push and Go" steam engine


What can I get my Dad for father's day? That's the question every year, and in 2024, I spotted just the thing - a Tri-ang "Push and Go" steam engine. 

It wasn't something he had expressed a wish for, but for a tenner, it would be a bit of fun, and could then find its way into the Tri-ang Collection.

Finding out more about the railway "Push and Go" range is tricky. There's loads on the road vehicles, but little on the trains. Digging around on the web, I can't find a clear picture of this loco, but there is an American (early Transcontinental?) diesel called "The Diesel Flyer", which could be had with a couple of coaches. For European markets, the same set, but with a German diesel. 

Some excellent photos of the range here. 

You could also have a small (0-4-0) tank enigne with three  trucks, and a old-fashioned single-wheeler. 

This model isn't perfect. One of the wheels is broken, but at least it's reasonably straight. The diesels seem to suffer from distortion, ending up distinctly banana-shaped. 

I love the way the smokebox door is decorated with a wonky transfer. Why did they make it in black, for a red loco? 

And yes, the mechanism does work, but not very well. Rev it up and there's lots of nois, but not much motion!

My Dad was delighted with his present, understanding the spirit in which is given, and having a good laugh about it. Who doesn't want a toy train, and it's better than socks!

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Märklin jelly trains


Märklin jelly trains

I love a bit of model railway merchandice, and so when I found these bags of sweets from German firm Märklin on offer at the recent GRS open day, I made sure I snaffled a few. To be fair, there were around four buckets of the things, and even the decent size crowd only managed to munch their way through half of that...

Produced by Haribo, the sweets are sort of steam engine shaped. I can't identify the class, but I'm pretty sure the liveries are wrong. They taste just like any other jelly sweet, but, if you need a railway themed suger rush, this is just the ticket.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Warehouse Wednesday - TS Vancouver

Kings Lynn - TS Vancouver

Moving along with lest weeks' warehouse, we find a row of brick built buildings, and TS (Training ship) Vancouver, the sea cadets home. It also provides a food bank for the local area.

It's an interesting, square, building that would be easy to model. The building is currently being renovated. Special attention should be paid to the massive slap of a flood defense door. All the buildings along the quayside have some method of keeping the water out, another very modelable feature.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

I've joined G1MRA


Catching up on jobs I've been meaning to do, I've finally re-joined the Gauge One Model Railway Association, normally refered to as G1MRA

I was a member years ago, but didn't renew because I had too much other material coming in to read, and if I'm honest, the magazine wasn't inspiring me. However, a chat with the new chairman, and some prompting by Liz Marsden, combined with a desire to not only see more G1 in Garden Rail, but to do a little work in the scale myself, saw me sign up. A 45mm gauge track at the club doesn't hurt either.

A few days later, I recieved my membership pack. There's a card, plenty of paperwork including track standards, safety while handling inflamable spirits notes, a list of traders and details of the items available through the society shop. There's also a couple of magazines, which I'm pleased to say, seem to have much more life in them than during my previous spell of membership. That's not a criticism of anyone involved, I know just how much work it is to put together a society magazine!

Anyway, on a sunny day, I've been working through the first mag, and there's an interesting article about Alex Jackson, or coupling fame, and his G1 models. Some nice practicals too that highlight the different approaches required for a larger scale. 

Will I get onto some G1 projects? Well, there is a 3D printed Pug that I've looked at a few times...

Monday, June 24, 2024

The antidote to modern RTR


We've been having a bit of a clear-out at work, and among the stuff that has come my way "to do something with one day" is this N gauge locomotive. 

What is it? Well, according to Gaugemaster, it's sort of based on the LNER ES-1. Except it's not. I suppose it has a pan, and sloping ends, but there the similarity ends. The real ES-1 is a bogie loco, so a lot longer, and pretty much unlike this model in every way. 

But I still like it. This harks back to the 1970s, when foreign models would be rebranded into a BR livery to gain UK sales. I'm sure I remember an 0-6-0 Class 17, and Playcraft and Lima were perfectly happy to do this. It's not something we've seen for many years, modellers having become more discriminating/picky over the years. Until this model from Kato. 

But, I feel this has a place in the market. For £42.50, we have a well made, and decorated little model. Plus points are that the pan is really delicate - and it runs sweet as a nut straight from the box. I mean really sweetly. Had young Phil been modelling in N, he'd have loved this. A new loco for the layout!

And I think there are plenty of people who will feel the same. They are the ones just getting on with building a train set, without worrying about modelling anything specific. A nice looking, superb running, locomotive for a very reasonable price, will do perfectly thank you. 

Obviously, this marks me out as a "non-serious modeller" to be shunned, but then part of the appeal of this is how much some sections of the hobby will hate it. I might brandish the model at shows like you would with a cross and vampires!

Now, I know some of you will be suggesting that the best think I could do with this model is rob it of its chassis for a 009 project, and if I were sensible, that's probably what I'd do. However, I like this so much, it's going in the cupboard as a collectable. I wonder if I can find one of those Class 17's now for a "Locomotives that don't look at all like the prototype" collection...

Sunday, June 23, 2024

A couple of lifeboats

Sorry, I'm a bit busy right now, so not much time for personal modelling, or blogging. Please enjoy a couple of photos from the recent KMBC open day of some visiting vessels. I like orange boats, wish I had to time to build more...

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Saturday Film Club: The Hollyhead breakwater railway

This is an odd little film, on an interesting subject. Ignore the robot voiceover, with its use of "zero" when "Oh" would be better, and enjoy a selection of still images, some of which were new to me. You'll also need to ignore the odd appearance of a Hornby 06, under what I think is a Lima container crane in the middle of the film. 

It's still well worth a watch though. Now, how about a model? I have a loco...

Friday, June 21, 2024

First time on the track


Now I have a carrying box, the Roundhouse loco is much easier to move around without risking damage, so it's off to the L&WMRS outdoor track for a proper run. 

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Loco box


Loco in box
My Dad's had a little production line running recently, turning out boxes for both boats and trains. Quite a lot of our garden railway stock now has a proper wooden home now, which will keep it clean in the garage, and make it easier to move. 

Of course, while he was at it, he made something for the Roundhouse loco. 

The boxes are pretty simple, aided by being able to buy the plywood ready-cut from the ever-excellent  Torry's Hardware. He simply takes a cutting list along, and the next day, picks up the peices. A little sanding and glue later, we have a box.

Sliding perspex fronts are an upgrade on the plywood ones we used to used. It's handy to be able to see what's inside, and the boxes now double as display cases, well, we're quite pleased with what's inside!

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Warehouse Wednesday: Sommerfield and Thomas warehouse, King's Lynn

Sommerfield warehouse

Finally, an actual warehouse on warehouse Wednesday!

A recent visit to King's Lynn has provided a little material, and we start with this impressive 18th Century building (Historic England listing here) constructed in yellow brick, with a pantile roof. 

According to Lynn News, the building was originally rail-served.  There are some excellent historic photos of this over on the King's Lynn Forum. 

Finally, a wobblycam look around the inside. 


Tuesday, June 18, 2024

New magazine: Petite Properties 100% Smaller scales


Petite Properties magazine
It's always nice to see someone still has faith in paper magazines. With the demise of various Dolls Hourse publications, Petite Properties has launched their own.

First impressions are, it's quality. Lovely paper, excellent print and really nice photos. At 100 pages, it's nearly bookazine teritory as, for this first issue, there is a lot more content than advertising. 

The mags USP, at least for the dolls house world, is that it deals in 1:24 scale and smaller. Traditional dolls houses are 1:12, with the little stuff hardly getting a look in. Railway modellers might find this a bit large, but our sizes do, and will, get a look-in, and there are plenty of techniques that can cross the bounderies of the hobby. 

A good example, is the piece of glue. Yep, the sticky stuff and a good, solid, explanation of the verious types on offer, and where you should use them. 

Modelling-wise, there is a stunning Cornish harbour scene in 1:48. I can't help looking at it and think I'd like to recreate it in 1:72...

Dolls house mags have always been about people too, and there are more face on the page than you find in model chuffer mags. Perhaps this is because of the reader demographic which tends to more females, who are just interested in how other humans think, rather than arguing about the orientation of bolt heads on a model? Possibly, also a reflection that when you see work exhibited at shows, you can chat to the person who made it. I know we do this at train shows, but it's taken a while to drag the modellers into the limelight on the page!

I'll admit I've always liked Petite Properties models, and Bea and David, so maybe I'm biased, but I really like this magazine. It's different from my normal reading, in a good, and inspiring way. 

The magazine is only available direct from Petite Properties, in print and digital forms.

Monday, June 17, 2024

Beetle, done


Back in January, I mentioned I'd bought a battered Matchbox VW Beetle, mainly because I felt sorry for it. At the time, Paul B pointed me in the direction of repro engine bay covers. I bought one, and it then sat around for months, until I got around to finishing the project. 

Drilling though the rivet, the model came apart, and I decided to try to strip the old paint off, before a respray. Well, half an hour in full-fat Nitromors didn't shift it. That stuff was put on properly!

In the end, I sanded what I could and then sprayed the car with Halfrods paint. Anoyingly, I didn't have any satin black, but the matt isn't particually matt, so that would have to do. I'd reached the stage where I wanted to finish this more than I wanted it perfect. If I change my mind, more paint won't be hard to do. 

The whitemetal engine bay lid isn't a bad fit. Not worse then then the Lesney original. I don't pretend this is a full restoration. If I wanted that, I'd find the proper plastic polish, something else that has hidden itself. A quick go over with Brasso improves the glazing a lot, but (again) it's not perfect. 

What it is, is back in one piece. As Voltaire said, "Perfect can be the enemy of good" and in this case, it doesn't help that the camera is a bit cruel. The model looks OK, and most importantly, is finished. It's easy to end up with half-built projects because they aren't going to be perfect, but sometimes, ir's better to push on and get the job done.Well, that's my excuse. 

Look, an engine!

Sunday, June 16, 2024

7mm Narrow Gauge show 2024


Roundhay Roundhay

In the sunshine, the area around Burton-on-Trent town hall is really rather lovely. I wasn't there to enjoy the architecture though, it was the annual 7mm Narrow Gauge Association event, and I was there for inspiration. 

Favourite layout - Roundhay Roundhay. 4ft by 2ft, continuous run. Easy winner of the "Layout Phil wants to build" prize. I took some photos for BRM later in the year. 

Gants Hill

Gants Hill is a model of Plesy's undergroud factory, and won the best layout prize. A really interesting prototype, and well modelled. 

The Heart of England modular layout managed to look like a proper narrow gauge station, not something always achieved. 

Welton Park has been in front of my camera before - but more vehicles and people have been added. 

And for the life of me, I can't remember the name of this loco. I know I've seen it on 16mm layouts a few times, and have even published something about its build many years ago in Garden Rail. Can anyone remember? 


And the cake. I know this show will offer an excellent selection from previous visits. The chocolate scared me, it was massive, so I went Victoria sponge, which tasted fantastic, but was sufficient for the day. A friend who did risk the chocolate confirmed my fears...

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Saturday Film Club: Then and now: RNLI lifeboats over the years

Lifeboats are brilliant, and this is a film about their development. Seriously, how brave did you have to be to go out in a rowing boat? I wouldn't fancy it much in a modern vessel!

Friday, June 14, 2024

Over on the outdoor track



While all the model boating took place, the team behind the L&WMRS Outdoor track, put on the bit of a show, and of course, I couldn't reist taking part. The back of my car was pretty chocka!

Anway, first up, Ragleth. As ever, a good, soild session, although she seemed more lively than normal. The regulator never went much above half way. Pulling skips wasn't the most reliable activity as they bounce a bit on the points and crossing, bouncing sometimes meaning leaping off the track. 

I did manage a couple of circuits with a train on the second boiler fill, but it wasn't the most relaxing time. 


The Peckett worked perfectly, but by this point, ideas of putting some coaches behind had gone. The wind would have lifted them off the track. Never mind, we enjoyed many circuits light engine in forward and reverse. Oddly, running out of gas backwards, the loco stopped quite close to my position, not like when this happens in forward motion, that's always on the other side of the track!


Star of the day though, had to be this Gauge 1 A4 on a train of Mk1 coaches. A lovely loco that was running well, it's owner kept it going most of the day too. Best of all was the noise as the coaches found the rail joint at the end of the bridge, superb. 

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Back on the water - Pigeon Pie


Pigeon Pie

2007 was a good year for my boat modelling, not only did I build Little Miss Minty, as seen yesterday, but it also saw me finish the pride of my fleet, Pigeon Pie. 

The model is from a Metcalf Mouldings River Star kit, and you can read about the build in some of my earliest posts.

I've built many boats sinve this, but Pie is still my favourite. I love the design, and don't think I did a bad job building her. There are other kits of this quality in the stash, and I hope that some of them meet this standard. 

Anyway, I hit a problem with getting Pie on the water.  Power is supplied by a modest 6v gell cell battery. One that hasn't seen a charge in many years, and was dead as a dodo. 

I improvised with a couple of the smallest gell cells you can get, but they offered only five minutes on the water, followed by an embarassing wait while the model drifted to the bank so I could retrieve it. 

She still looks good on the water, and I can always buy another battery. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Back on the water - Little Miss Minty


Little Miss Minty

For the open day, I decided that I wasn't going to just sail the "Thursday Boats" that live at home for the rare occasions when I get to go to the weekly club sail. No, I was going to get boats that haven't seen water for some time, and use those instead. 

First up, Little Miss Minty

Built from a Goearge Turner kit, you can follow the build on the blog here. It's scary that this was in 2007. And I'm not sure how much time the model has spent afloat since then. 

Anyway, I found the Ni-Cad battery and gave it a gentle charge. Electricity seemed to stay inside, at least enough to make the model work. I did have to swap out the old-fashioned reciever for a 2.4mGz one, but nothing else changed. 

On the day, Minty sailed well, I'd forgotten how good on the water she is. Sadly, the battery could really have done with a few charging cycles to bring it back to life properly, as we only managed about ten minutes, but they were good minutes, and I am happy.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

More junk


At the weekend, we had the model boat club open day, and since I'm short of material, we'll start by looking at the junk I bought from the bring'n'buy stall. I know these sort of posts are popular, because after any big show, someone always lets us see photos of the goodies they have bought. Sadly, it's usually N gauge in boxes. I'm sure the stuff I buy is much more interesting. 

Anyway, I am now the proud owner of: 

  • A small round rasp. This will be a very handy woodworking tool for when I drill holes in slightly the wrong place. 
  • A wide and very, very soft brush. Ideal for dusting models before taking photos. 
  • A gas-filler adapter. Well, you can't have too many of these. 
  • A spring balance for testing loco traction. It's much easier to read than the one I have, and reports in kg and lbs. 
  • A Speed control. 15A, so loads of grunt. No idea if it works. 
  • A doorbell button. Well, someone had to buy it, and I have ideas for a push-button operated model. I now have the button...

Total cost, a fiver. This is why I love rummage boxes.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Cleaning up the boiler

Lady Anne's boilder was letting here down. Matt, and slightly greasy, it contrasts with the high-gloss paintwork on the rest of the loco. 

With the body off, I had a go with some Turtle Was "Safe cut" paint restorer. It's T-cut in a different bottle, basically, a very mild abrasive. 

Starting in a spot that would be hidden by the side tanks, I started polishing, and after a few minutes, the paint started to look better. After half an hour, I was pleased with the result. OK, not perfect, but a much better match for the tanks. 

How long will this last once the loco is fired up? No idea, but at least I know how to clean it up again. 

Sunday, June 09, 2024

Makers Central 2024

Feeling blue

I've heard about "makers" events for years, and always been tempted to go to one, but other things have got in the way. Finally, an event and a spare Sunday appeared at the same time, so I could give it a go. 

I'm not really sure how to describe the show. There was a mix of trade selling tools and equipment, others selling craft products they had produced. Some seemed to just be showing off stuff they had made, and a few stands gave you the change to try your hand at different making techniques. I had a go at pyrography, and made a nice coaster with a picture of an owl on it. 


Helpfully, the design is drawn on for you to burn, I'm not that good an artist, although the face at the bottom is all mine!

The other aspect was a theatre where various YouTubers and other makers were interviewed, or gave talks. Colin Furze is the big star, filling all the seats plus a crowd several deep around the edges. We also had a motorbike that can travel sideways, and a guitar maker who had to learn the value of her craft. She started by charging £6k for a hand-made instrument, and now charges £36k. There waiting list runs to three years!

Overall, even after a couple of weeks cogitation, I don't know what to make of it. I enjoyed myself, but then I always do when looking at people making things. I wish I'd signed up for a couple more hands-on sessions, but they seemed to be making stuff with little actual purpose, unless you want a tile with attractive squiggles on it. Not sure I'll go to another, but I am glad I satisfied my curiosity.

Have a look at some of my photos on Flickr.

Saturday, June 08, 2024

Saturday Film Club: The Autotanker: BP's Lost Tanker Of Tomorrow!

An interesting film covering a vehicle that I remember from the Matchbox range, but always assumed was freelance.

Friday, June 07, 2024

Weathering powder, a fire engine and road roller in BRM

Plenty of Phil content in July's issue of BRM. 

My main project is a scene involving an old steam roller. 

Although we talk about the roller, it's really an excuse to cover several scenic techniques, so there are two types of field, and some cobbles. 

I've also built and N gauge fire engine. 

I think this one has come out rather well. A few transfers would be the icing on the cake, but I didn't have any handy when doing the build. It looks OK without them though. 

If you aren't familiar with weathering powers, I've produced a quick guide. 

There's plenty of reassurance that you can reverse the effects, at least on rolling stock. 

My camera has been out.First, in OO, we have West Street Station. 

And in N gauge, Monkchester. 

Thursday, June 06, 2024

Garden Rail July now out!


Garden Rail magazine - July 20204

The Garden Rail team don't just write about large scale railways, once a year, at the National Garden Railway Show, we build one too! Read how we got on with our “Layout in a Day” as well as all the other news from the event.

On the workbench this month:

  • Bonsai trees

  • Lights for coaches

  • A 16mm scale bi-plane

  • Adding a standard gauge feeder line

  • Building a tunnel maintenance train

  • A modular garden line

  • Fettling a Mike's Models locok

  • Building a SAR brake van

Plus lots of news for the garden railway enthusiast.Available from all good newsagents.

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

Curing the wobbly boiler, for now


The biggest worry with the Lady Anne, was the wobbly boiler. Everything worked fine, but the boiler shouldn't move when you prod the dome. 

With the boiler off, I spent a lot of time trying to work out how the thing was supposed to be attached. After downloading the instructions for the kit version of the loco, and reading this online build, I think the answer is that the two screws going through the Boiler Mounting Foot should screw into some threaded fittings in the boiler. 

Mine didn't. In fact the screws that were fitted, were too short to extend beyond the back of the foot. 

Pondering how I fix this, I wondered about putting some packing behind the foot to effectivly clamp it between the foot and smokebox. Experiments with card seemed to show this would work, and intiailly, my plan was to replace this with shim brass. 

With another nights sleep on the problem, an even simpler solution came to me - slightly longer bolts. Digging through my collection, I found a couple that could be shortened to stick out the back of the foot by around 3mm. Not much, but enough to lock the boiler in place. For the moment anyway. 

Needless to say, I worried that I'd damaged the boiler, so indulged in a little steam-up in the sunshine. 

All was fine, and it gave me a chance to set up the radio control system to put the controls on the right transmitter sticks. 

So, that's my solution. For now. Not ideal, but better than wobbling. 

What I think has happened, is that when the loco was dropped on the floor, bending the chimney slightly, is that the bolts through the Boiler Mounting Foot have sheared off. My bet is that thier remains are still in the back of the boiler. To get those out means dismantling the model, then drilling and tapping the holes to remove the old bolts. That's a lot of work, with no guarantee of success. I could end up having to replace the boiler itself - £552 from Roundhouse right now. 

Long term of course, this is the right course of action, and maybe I'll have another look in the winter. First, I need to replace the pressure gauge, and a few other bits. At least the smokebox has the right number of bolts holding it down now, which will help a little.

Tuesday, June 04, 2024

New radio in


The old radio reciever was firmly stuck to a plate inside the tank with (I think) a sticky pad. This sucummed to my screwdriver and the old unit lifted away. Cleverly, the aerial wire runs up the wiring loom and clips to a terminal inside the roof, so this can act as an aerial. 

My new Radiolink unit won't use this, hopefully the 2.4ghz system won't need it. It's a bit smaller than the old reciever, and with a bit of prodding will fit in its space without the sticky pad. I'm wondering about adding some insulating balsa wood on the plate to reduce the amount of heat getting to the electronics. 

Wiring wasn't hard once I remembered that the battery connection doesn't have to go to the bottom set of terminals. Working out which wire goes where is still trial and error, but doesn't take long, and now I have a controller that isn't falling apart, and is the same one used for the other steam locos.

Monday, June 03, 2024

Body off

Any work on the Roundhouse loco needed to start with removing the body. I was sure the radio reciever was in one of the tanks, and it should also allow me to investigate the wobbly boiler issue. 

Using a newly made cradle (See August's Garden Rail) I flipped the loco upside down, and undid any screws I thought might be holding it in place. They all released easily enough, apart from the two at the back of the cab, which were fiddly, but doable. 

It was very greasy under there, so the first job was down at the sink with some turps and loads of kitched roll to remove the slime from all the places it was hidden. All steam locos will get like this, but as I'm going to be poking and prodding around, let's make it as pleasent as possible.