Friday, 8 June 2018


I try and keep my professional and hobby blogs separate, but sometimes something happens that is so important that it needs to be said on multiple platforms.

We tend to be a very male, and if not autistic then at least unemotional group of people.

I would have said I'm a hundred times more emotional than my cousin Danny, but he is the one who killed himself.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

More Progress

I dread to think how long it is since I last modelled in OO9. Suffice to say it wasn't in the current century, and my eyesight was a little better.

Thankfully, or perhaps not, a camera and decent sunlight makes it a lot easier to see what you have done, if not what you are doing, as these WIP photos show.

So still quite a bit to do still. As well as quite a bit of retouching I definitely want to replace the front glazing.

There are two things in my defence. The first is that these are horrendously close up shots of a very small model, and the second that the body is a very basic WSF Shapeways print.

That was quite a deliberate choice because I wanted to see if I could use the coarse surface to aid a look of dereliction on what was never meant to be a working loco but parked at the end of a siding mouldering away. It isn't meant as any criticism of the base model.

At that time I hadn't realised just how rough even a more expensive print can sometimes be. In fact, it can vary considerably even when you order two prints at the same time.

I was actually surprised that the flat surface cleaned up quite nicely though with a lot of effort. Where it has caused difficulties is the window frames where the graininess is still very apparent.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018


Well, it is very much one step at a time but ten days in the UK has allowed me to make some progress on what I think of as the basic locos for Rails Round the Rectory.  These are the locos intended either to be found mouldering on the siding or to be the operational workhorses leaving the Narrow Planet kits to be used on high days and holidays.

Building these from basic 3D prints has been entertaining and a learning process. The next stage for all of them involves bending small pieces of wire.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

16mm AGM 2018

Thanks to Easter I found myself getting back from the Netherlands at 11pm on Friday night, before flying back on Sunday afternoon. Anyone sensible would have just stayed out there and chilled. But then it is the 16mm AGM weekend.

So off I popped to the local showground.

Sadly I made a major logistical mistake and at the last minute took my little Sony camera rather than one of my trustworthy Fujis. All I can say is that I apologise profusely for the accompanying photos.

I found the whole experience slightly odd this year, for reasons I'll try and articulate. 

First and foremost it struck me how small 16mm seems. Not just in comparison to the ELR, but to 7/8ths, plenty of which, incidentally, was on show. I don't mean that in any derogatory sort of way, but it made me think what 16mm does and doesn't suit in terms of layout design and garden setting.

It was whilst pondering this that I ran into David Rowbotham, who suggested the idea of an indoor quarry layout with overhead  power. Now just a few minutes earlier I'd walked past the Houstoun Gate Locomotive Works stand with their new kit for the OH powered Wittenberg Schafer Loco that had already caught my eye when it was announced. It also chimed with the number of excellent small prototypical models on offer from the like of Matt Nunn's Harecroft Models and others.

So a few strategic purchases were made with two ideas in mind, one an indoor industrial line and the other an outdoor micro layout with more of a touristy feel to it.I've not quite decided on the location for it, and one idea is that it could be made relatively portable, like Brian Dominic's "Slugs' Crossing" 

But generally not much at the show grabbed me personally. I like that there seems to be more emphasis on scale, and that the layouts on display have largely moved on from being portable test tracks, but with the exception of some breathed upon 7/8ths scale Bagnals nothing left me feeling envious. I did get the feeling that despite the purists disdain the Silver Lady from the TV was generating a lot of interest. which is a good thing. Somehow though I missed a point of focus.Perhaps we were spoilt last year with having 15" gauge steam

Incidentally as well as those I've already mentioned it was to chat to so many people, including David Mees and Phil Parker. It seemed fitting to run into Phil in the queue for food.

Anyway here are some of the photos:

The Model of the Year is always one of my favourite parts of the show. I was terrible at taking notes this year, so I'm not sure whose 7/8ths Simplex this was.

I have a real soft spot for the DHR Railcar

I loved this collection of 24mm gauge locos, all built for a relatively small cost 

One of the best Mamod based Geo England locos I've seen. I can't believe we've never seen a commercial version other than the Kenversions pastiches

One day we'll see a proper 16mm W&LLR layout

Super Nellie from Smallbrook Studios. I have the Gn15 version to build one day. Very impressive.

There were several excellent versions of the Accucraft Bagnal on display, as I've mentioned. This one is by Rhos Helyg but the Berry Hill Works onewere alsoso excellent. And yes, I am still tempted.

I do like the Bole Laser Craft kits

"Where are my brakes?" said Skarloey

 Probably my favourite layout in the show

I don't know if it was the Railway Modeller effect, but Hambledon was getting a lot ofwell-deservedd attention.

A truly large scale MOTY entrant

I've found the MOTY entries look a lot better later in the day when more light falls on them

Another of those 24mm gauge locos. Hard to believe this began as a Faller loco

I nearly missed this, but I loved this large scale barge

And my final MOTY photo, of one of my favourite prototypes, my family having strong links to Fivemile Town.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Rails Round The Rectory

I'm one of those odd people who doesn't see indoor modelling as a Winter activity, but one for the Summer nights. So with the clocks changing and a long weekend I've made another effort to restart progress on the Cadeby inspired micro layout.

I'm a big fan of both the Petite Properties kits and the Redutex self-adhesive textures sheets. In fact, I've had some of both in store for a long time so I decided it was time to actually do some modelling.

I still haven't got the hang of getting the quite thick Redutex to go round corners. I've also been experimenting with a combination of "watercolour pens" from Arteza and gouache colours to build up texture.

Talking of texture, having finally got hold of a Gorden Gravett's book on modelling broadleaf leaves I thought I would have another go at trees, since they were a big feature of the garden at Cadeby. This was really nothing more than a 3D doodle, made from twisted wire, acrylic gesso, and artificial hair. Still a work in progress, but it is amazing how many deficiencies a photo reveals.

Having said which I still think it is better than my attempt at a tree on Apa Valley using a commercial armature and rubberised horsehair., despite the best efforts of my workshop assistant to get in the way.

Incidentally, that is a Tim Horn display stand on view, the start of the shed containing Teddy's 4mm layout and a corner of the baseboard.

A story for another day is about how I very nearly made a very silly mistake with the wiring....

Monday, 19 March 2018

The Joys of Spring

Spring,  whether meteorological or astronomical, is upon us. This was abundantly clear during the weekend's trip back from Shropshire to the Fens, as we passed through Rutland.

At least The Beast from the East 2.0 wasn't as bad as the original one when I was one of the few lucky people who eventually managed to fly back from Schipol to the UK. With the new season, I've said arrivederci to Milan, and my weekly commute now takes me to Eindhoven. Travelling on the double-decker trains the view is actually, and perhaps not at all surprisingly, not that unfamiliar compared to home.

So I'm still not getting much time at home, and what free time I have is focussed on the vegetable plot. Even Teddy is yet to turn a wheel this year, although hand traming has been much in evidence with the ELR earning its keep on agricultural services.

Still, with the lighter nights, a week working from home, and prompting from a number of recent articles I'm beginning to consider what modelling I might get down to, given a fair wind. Another factor in this is finally being able to reach the baseboards intended for TAoC. They seem to have stood up to storage in the shed better than expected, and a rearrangement of the home office means I might even be able to find a semi permanent location for the scenic boards at least.

Chris Ford has, of course, beaten me to it when it comes to completing a  version of TAoC. Dare I say I've actually found that quite useful because I now feel a bit freer to interpret it slightly differently now he has proved a more or less authentic version is possible. Given the number of brand new OO gauge locos that have accumulated in my desk draw whilst the boards are in storage I've also decided not to build this version in EM. What I still haven't quite decided is whether it will be based on the Tanat Valley or if I'll use updated versions of the structures originally suggested by Roy Link.

Meanwhile, I'm doing some sporadic work on the Cadeby cameo, with work focussing on tree building.

Monday, 15 January 2018

CMRA Exhibition

The Chiltern Model Railway Exhibition  has never attracted my attention before, but when I looked at this year's list of layouts a number stood out, especially Arun Quay.

And so last Sunday I caught the slow train to Stevenage. 

First impressions were not good, with no signage to the appropriate entrance, apparent chaos in the the ticket office and crowds around the first few layouts. On the plus side the volunteers were all friendly, and the exhibition guide was substantial with decent layout track plans in colour.

One of the layouts near the top of my "must see" list was the 3mm scale Lakebank. I do like 3mm scale and Lakebank is a good example of it. I did struggle to get any decent photos of it though. Actually, I struggled to get decent pictures of any of the layouts despite using my trusty Fuji XM-1 which is normally ideal for exhibtions. Partly that was down to the lighting, both in the halls and on individual layouts, and partly, if I'm honest, down to me taking a risk and using different settings from normal. Lesson learned

Next to Lakebank was Addison Park, another 3mm layout but this time of an LT station. Perhaps a little impressionistic it still rewarded a few minutes of my time, and by then the crowd had started to thin a little.

Those who can remember that this blog started out being based around the Tanat Valley Railway will know I have a soft spot for the Cambrian, but not for unpronounceable names like Llangerisech. This was one of the many excellent 2mm layouts at the show. Not the easiest line to photograph under exhibition conditions, a tripod and focus stacking would do it a lot more justice.There is something jewel-like about a really well-modelled 2mm coach.

And talking of jewel-like, what about this exquisite 2mm narrow gauge WIP?

Staying with a Welsh theme we come to Ynysbwl. Oh if ever a layout would be greatly improved by even a simple white backscene!

I've got mixed feelings about Shelvington and Rydes Hill. I like it, but I think the narrowness of the baseboards makes it look slightly artificial The really well-modelled CLASP station building also brings back too many memories of waiting on Sunningdale Station for the last train, which often never turned up. The bridge and the disused platform track are nice touches, as is the use of technology to display what it going on.

Bridges were one of the themes of the show, along with wartime settings. A layout that brought both together was The Bridge at Remagen, though you wouldn't know it from this picture of the paddle steamer 

Now I come to think of it  a lot of layouts featured ships, as well as a wartime setting, so I guess it is time to talk about Kingswear. If golf is a good walk spoiled, then Kingswear is, for me, a good layout spoiled by the WW2 element. Having said which it was clearly a popular aspect of it with the public, and it is quite well done.

Keeping with the South Western theme I really liked the 7mm broad gauge Teign House Sidings

Whilst maintaining the riverside theme was Lower Exbury

And then there was Sutton Wharf

So talking of quays...

Even Martin has enthused over Arun Quay . In fact I was expecting crowds around it and struggling to get a decent photo of it at one of its first public outings.

Far from it.

Why? It is undoubtedly wonderfully modelled, with some really good and different scenic ideas. The Wow factor is I suppose reduced for anyone who already knows Maggie and Gordon's work. It is exactly what you would expect from them. Phil Parker probably put his finger on it when we were chatting about it earlier today "We are all going to end up taking exactly the same photos of it" Now he also added, and I think he is right, that part of the fun will be seeing the detail that gets added over time.

Mers les Bain, in 1/32nd scale, is perhaps what Maggie and Gordon's Pempoul might have looked like if it had been built with the aid of shots of calvados.  It is rather good, though also rather populated. But look at the set piece of the boules players. It is a great example of figures in a natural looking static pose.

Staying with narrow gauge in France we have another wartime layout, Up The Line

And another intriguing narrow gauge line is the live steam Hambledon Valley. You really have to see this one running to appreciate it.

That might also be true of the Aerial & Pickles line that features working transporter bridge. I did take a video, but trust me, it is so slow watching paint dry is more exciting.

But at least it gives me a lead into the other American themed layout, Mauch Chunk

By now my ability to keep a narrative theme going is reaching its limit. So the last layouts to get a mention are fairly random.

Rannoch Moor, another 2mm line, supports my view that you don't always need a train in the picture

But if you do want a train it might as well feature my favourite little Tanat Valley 2-4-0, as here on Sandford & Banwell.