Tuesday, 31 December 2019

New Year's Resolutions

The last time I made and kept a New Year's resolution the impact on my life was massive. In fact, it indirectly led me to where I am now, sat in the studio at the end our fenland garden

This year I think it is time for another serious set of resolutions around work, home and hobbies.

There is a degree of psychology involved in setting resolutions you are going to keep. Part of that is ensuring they aren't resolutions that are easy to break quickly. So I'm not going to resolve to cycle every day, but I am going to resolve to lose a little weight and to improve my personal best.

So my modelling resolutions aren't going to revolve around specific projects, other than not starting a new one* and channelling resources into the refurbishment and extension of the ELR.

The prime aim is going to be moving on some of the projects I've already got on the go, including those that have been on hold since the house move four years ago. That doesn't mean finishing entire projects, but rather about getting some of the sub-projects to a point where they are ready for use when I'm ready to progress the bigger projects.

So I might not get around to building a permanent 7/8ths line in the garden, but I will have the basic stock and structures ready to go. Incidentally, the new perspective that the studio has given me on the garden is proving useful for rethinking how we might use it in the future. Building the studio has also created a new more private enclave in the garden that I think might allow me to build a garden line safe from public view.

I'm 99% sure I've settled on the 16.5mm gauge version of TAoC, for reasons I'll explore more here as progress resumes. One of my last purchases of 2019 has been a Prototype Models kit for Wimlcote Station which was, of course, a key feature in Roy's original design. I'm not going to actually build it, since the artwork doesn't match modern standards. I'm going to use it as a reference point in deciding whether to go with the LCUT version or another approach. I've already sourced the goods shed.

It might not look like much yet...

* This comes down to your definition of new. There are three little projects that I've not started yet but that are on my project plan. The most significant is a 15mm gauge garden line based on a lonely stretch of the C&L

Friday, 20 December 2019

Annual Apprasial

Looking out from my temporary home office on to the ELR it is hard not to be depressed.  The goats and chickens have removed most of the ballast, and the changes we've made in the garden mean I'm going to have to relay at least a third of the line next year. On top of which Teddy is away for repair and Tug has one of those annoying electrical faults that I can't find time to explore.

More to the point, I still don't have power in the new studio/office, though hopefully, Jason, our brilliant local electrician, will be fixing that in the next few days. In fact he is hard at work as I write this

But there are reasons to be cheerful. I've got a nice mix of projects to get underway as soon as the workshop has power, and Teddy will be home soon. Well sometime next year, anyway

This year I just lost the time to keep on top of the maintenance of the ELR, given the additional damage caused by the goats and chickens and the wettest autumn here since 1880. A major challenge for next year apart from remedial maintenance will be getting the line fenced in to prevent livestock incursions. Another will be working out an alignment so that I can run a second road into the engine shed and build a lean-to for the carriage road.

It is also easy to forget that I've laid quite a bit of new track in the front garden. It is a strange perceptual thing though that plain straight track across an open lawn never seems that impressive, whilst the same amount of track with a curve and a view blocker seems so much longer.

I don't really see Tug fitting in with my long term plans. A BE loco pretending to be something else has never appealed to me. The CJF controller though has really impressed me and made driving  A BE much more satisfying than I could have imagined, so an idea is forming in my mind.

A Tug replacement? The new loco from ride on Railways
The track has become to resemble a WW1 trench railway

This was the same stretch the day Teddy first arrived, four years ago.

On the model railway front a few ideas are beginning to become more concrete with the prospect of moving into the studio. I've got several 7/8ths projects to finish off, and still no idea of where the 7/8ths layout will go without getting in the way of the 7 1/4" gauge plans.

I think I've just about come down on the side of 16.5mm gauge for TAoC project. It just seems to be in the spirit of the layout that it should be doable by anybody. I might even stick with tension lock couplings. It is, after all, all about compromise.

The other priority is a much-modified version of the Scalescenes boxfile layout using HOf/ 006.5m for the quayside line.

The five backburner projects are the expanded Cadeby layout, a portable 7/8ths micro layout, the next version of the Tanat Valley line, a Kinver Light  Railway style tramway and a 15mm scale  C&L line - though again I've no idea where that one will fit. It would be a bigger version of an aborted  OOn3 layout I started a few years ago that was a simple loop with a single siding.

Power at last!

Sunday, 8 December 2019

National Festival of Model Railways

Since Peterborough is on what passes for our doorstep in this part of the world I thought I would give this show a try this year.  Having said that the list of layouts didn't excite me, but it was this or Xmas shopping, so that was an easy decision to make.

As Phil Parker pointed out when we were chatting it is a show with a wide remit and a big audience to please, so it tends to have a bit of everything. Had I gone with a wad of cash in my pocket and some specific projects in mind I'm sure I would have found plenty of opportunities to spend it, with an excellent range of traders from the specialist to the box shifters, and if I go again they will be my focus. It was also nice that the spacious layout allowed plenty of room to get to the trade stands most of the time. Oddly the one I found hardest to get to was Freestone Model Asseccories. I wonder if that is part of what seems to be a bit of a renaissance for card models.

For me, there were just a handful of layouts that made an impression. Bewdley was interesting since it is a location I know well

I liked Burnham, but couldn't really get a good photo of it. I was relying solely on my mobile phone for once and I'm still getting the hang of using it at shows.

Leysdown was my favourite, I loved the spaciousness of it. I have to say it was one of a number of handful of layouts making really good use of subtle levels of sound as well.

Returning home I found a long-anticipated delivery from Rapido that certainly brings back memories of my mostly unhappy schooldays.

 And today I'm back to moving long-forgotten books and models into the new studio.

As well as welcoming two new goats into our herd, to wreck more destruction on the ELR