Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Additions and Changes

The last couple of months have been quite busy, and very odd. It has felt very flat, but there is much to look back on that is good.

Work has been relaxing for the first time in twelve years, with a noticeable drop in my blood pressure readings. The end of lockdown means we've been able to spend a lot more time with family as well.

Thanks to Little Orange Hen the ELR's solitary coach has had a major makeover after the damage done by the goats.  

The skip chassis has also been reunited with the skip for the first time in ages, and, after much digging out of track has even made a trip to the current end of the line.

Like many photos from the early days of preservation schemes, this gives a false image of progress since this alignment is still likely to be abandoned

Other additions have been on the livestock front. We now have two geese. 

Blue and Bell.
Pomeranian Saddlebacks

It doesn't end there. We've taken in six more feral kittens from local rescue organisations. Normally Summer additions to the feral population don't stick around, but this bunch seem friendlier than usual. One has even been purring, which is a first.

Feral Feeding Frenzy.
The kittens aren't in this shot

Then there was the shock of waking up one Sunday morning to discover Simon the cockerel wasn't as past it as well all thought when Barb paraded out of the compost bins with her nine chicks.

They are now in the awkward teenager stage, but happily all nine are doing well

PS. Writing this I'd forgotten I'd left a previous post in draft. It is a long story related to the geese and chickens and my beloved changing her mind multiple times, but I've had to lift the 7/8ths test track.

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

A micro diversion

A few years ago I got given a small bottle of port in a wooden display case. It was around the time the Oxford Diecast IoMR loco came out, and I kept the box to build a static diorama as a memory of all the time I spent over there working for their government. hat in itself is a long story for another day. Needless to say the diorama never got built, partly because I lost the loco in the house move.

Now James has built my Ruston Proctor I decided the box would make a nice setting for it, but would also let me try out some scenic ideas ahead of Grundy's Yard, especially around modelling water, which has always been a challenge for me.

A failed project by my wife means I have a lifetime's supply of perspex, and it has made life a lot easier.
The photo, showing all 22cm of display area, also reveals the loco now has a chassis. As always I find it fascinating to watch these HOf/OO6.5 locos at work even though the low voltage controller is single speed. Why I think it works is that the magnet adhesion, Magnadhesion to those of my age, compensates for the scaling of physics and reduces the small scale "wobble"

The eagle-eyed will notice that the track in this picture is the dummy plastic track produced by Aufhagen

I'm still contemplating whether to use this or to make the display operable. I have some scenic ideas in mind. To the left the railway will appear from under a bridge, and to the right will enter an industrial building borrowed from the canal boxfile. I'm still wondering about the backscene and whether to include trees.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Ruston- Proctor

I've always liked 18" gauge railways. I think it must go back to seeing pictures of the ex-Woolwich stock when it was at Bicton. I've always had a soft spot for the early internal combustion locos as well. So when Narrow Planet introduced a 006.5 kit for the Ruston Proctor it went on to my wish list. It would probably have stayed there if James Hilton hadn't mentioned that he had a slot available if I wanted a built and finished one.

Those of you who follow his blog will have already seen the result.

It is posed here on my 009 layout, so it would be off the rails, if it was actually sat on the right chassis. That is in a box somewhere. 

This picture is an attempt to give an idea of scale. That blue loco is actually a HOf one. Having a thing for the Ruston Proctor I have some other supposedly "4mm" prints from Shapeways lying around. They are massive in comparison. 

So what am I going to do with it? It was originally intended for the Scalescenes canalside boxfile layout. I'm still playing around with ideas for this. I don't want the railway to overpower the scene, and I want it to look integral to the site. In the meantime, I have a display box that originally contained a miniature bottle of port that I think would suit a static diorama.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

A Bank Holiday in Skeggie

I spent a lot of my childhood in Blackpool. For a few years, my parents ran a pram and toy shop in Cleveleys. My first school was Norbreck Infants, and even after we moved to Birmingham all my school holidays were spent in Blackpool with my Gran.

I think I saw Blackpool at its best. Most generations probably think that.

The tram fleet was still diverse, and not yet worked to death, and new developments were still happening. The illuminations were truly magical and reflected the space age when anything was possible.  Every Summer season a new celebrity would live in the bungalow at the end of our avenue, and at the other end was a tram stop. The circus and the Tower were magical, the Pleasure Beach and the Golden Mile still felt like old-time fairgrounds, and the trawler skippers still had cash burning in their pockets. There were even steam trains to be griced, at least for a few years.

I go back occasionally. It is a long time since I last went for pleasure, but work has sometimes taken me there. The last visit was ghastly. I was running a training event at the Norbreck Castle and it was dreadful in every respect. We walked into one pub and because we were a team and relatively smartly dressed for Blackpool they thought we were the bailiffs.

The one bright spot was my fellow lecturer had been heavily involved in the broad gauge project at Didcot.

Anyway, despite that, I will still defend Blackpool to the death as the best British seaside resort.

But we do like Skeggie.  We love Sunny Hunny, I crave Cromer, but Skeggie is the family choice for a day out.

So that is where we went on Sunday. 

We weren't alone.

A quick aside. The last time we visited was back in September, I think, during one of the partial relaxations of lockdown. Everyone was very sensible. This time, despite being fully vaccinated and not going inside anywhere I still felt a lot less comfortable. To be fair, families on the beach were being very good at social distancing. Elsewhere though the 2m rule and masks had clearly been abandoned. 

It was lovely to see that the town has made use of recent funding to make it more attractive, and it shows. I'm looking forward to the pier refurbishments as well, now it has changed hands.

One of the major changes has been the entrance to the car park that now takes cars away from a pedestrian area.

Now the interesting thing about the car park is the seaward boundary of it it was the route of one of the three* incarnations of the Skegness Minature Railway. Visitors today will note that since that map was made the pier has been truncated and more land has been claimed from the sea.

* I might have miscounted

I believe the later versions of the line ran on the other side of the lake. I'm sure I knew that once, but can't now find the evidence. This is an oddly neglected bit of the resort.  An old miniature golf course is left abandoned.

And the much loved Fairy Dell paddling pool is unopened 

There is also this superb, Emettesque kiosk

Perhaps what is needed is a new miniature railway? Perhaps if the Wells Harbour line is forced to close this would make a good new home for it?

Anyway, to close on a  positive note, it was great to see some steam in action for the first time in over a year.

Monday, 31 May 2021


 I have many happy memories of cycling around Ireland in the company of good friends, many of them Americans with Irish roots. As one of them was brusquely reminded by her grandmother when enthusing about how green the country was  "There is a reason it is so green, and that's why I couldn't wait to get away from it" Having been wetter than in an swimming pool on some of our trips I can understand that sentiment.

As I write this we appear, after a dry but cold April, to be on course for the wettest May in many years. It is a miserable sort of wetness. A dreary day in day out sort of month. Even the chickens are roosting an hour earlier than I would expect at this time of year, and Issy and I aren't far behind them. According to Alexa the weather forecast has been "More of the Same" for days.

Spring is relentless though. This week, the hawthorn, and do we have a lot of hawthorn or do we have a lot of hawthorn, has started to flower.  The grass is as green as in Ireland, and the dawn chorus now begins at 4.10am. I know that because it wakes me up every morning.

It also means the natural daylight in the studio is a lot better.. I've mentioned before that I'm not one of those Winter modellers. I like natural light. I've even managed to start tidying up the workbench.

One incentive to do so is to find a home for a birthday present, a spray booth.  It is only a relatively cheap Chinese made model, but the absence of one has always put me off using an airbrush. It is a reluctance that goes back to university days and a year sharing a house with a chemist. Since then I've always been worried about the health issues linked to our hobby.

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Apres Le Deluge

May Day reminded me of the bank holidays of my childhood: Driving rain and gale-force winds. As a result the studio has sprung several leaks, though thankfully at the office end, not the workshop one. Still as they used to say "'Ne'er cast a clout till May be out" 

I might not have cast any clouts , but I did shovel a lot, and I mean a lot, of goat and chicken poop moving around the big compost bins to accommodate the new home for the chickens and the ELR's trailer. The big move itself will have to wait until calmer weather. 

Meanwhile,  with the 7/8th trial track lifted I need to find a new home for it. I'm sure I've mentioned before that I find it harder to home a railway in this big garden than in the smaller ones I'm more used to. I suppose my criteria are more complex now. It has to be relatively hidden both from public view and from livestock, not impinge on plans for the ELR or the (future)use of the garden, and not make mowing any more of a pain than it already is.  If ever we build the planned big wildlife pond it will be a no-brainer to run it around that, but that is a good five years in the future.

At one point I considered running it along the dyke, but now that has been cleared out I don't think it is feasible, which is a shame in some ways because it would have added a striking vertical dimension. On the other hand, the idea of putting it on the other side of our fence is still an option. I should add that our fence is well within the perimeter of our property, because it is there to keep dogs in, not people out.

Or, in the short term, there is the new vegetable patch, which I really need to focus on this year. Currently, it is a mismatch of the old fruit trees, the compost bins from the days when we didn't use a mulching mower* and the hurried relocation of the raised vegetable beds to avoid the attentions of the livestock.

One of the raised beds will be used for a simple 16mm layout, primarily for use of grandchildren, but I'm thinking about consolidating the old compost bins to provide a base for the scenic section of 7/8ths

*I had real concerns about adopting mulching rather than collecting grass to go in the compost bins, but if you cut frequently, slightly more than you might be used to, it works really well. I still use a collection box for mowing within a yard of the paths and house to stop it staining the paths or getting trodden into the house.

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Another One Bites the Dust

I had plans for this Bank Holiday weekend.  I was going to progress Grundy's Yard to the point where I could start the scenics, and get the 7/8ths line fully commissioned.

Then my wife, as she has been doing for the last 57 years,  threw a spanner into the works.

Having spent last Winter convincing me to house the chickens in a part of the garden I argued against she suddenly decided they need to be moved, and before next weekend, so she can show off her finished caravan/she shed.

And where has she decided they need to go? On the site occupied by the 7/8ths line.

So it is no more.

To make the move I also have to move four large, full, wooden compost bins, and the trailer for the 7 1/4" stock. so that is basically it for my BH weekend. I love her dearly, even if for 57 years she has been dedicated herself to making my life difficult.

Friday, 23 April 2021

Setting the Scene

 I think I'm at the point where I only have one major design choice to make about Grundy's Yard.

It is a big one though.

How do I present it?

The view from our garden gate

What spurred me on to build the layout was an archived article on  Deryck and Peter Featherstone's Abbey Road and Barton Bendish, which was built without a back scene, as was quite common then. But I've always been critical of exhibition layouts that don't have a deep, relatively seamless back scene.

When I built the last OO9 micro it didn't have a back scene built-in because I intended it to be viewed from any side. The original idea had been to have a detachable one for photographic purposes, attached by magnets. In reality, I've taken photos of it outside with a natural background, or indoors with the generic sky blue walls of the studio behind it, as with the current cover photo.

In designing Grundy's Yard Iain Rice's book on cameo layouts has never been far from my side. It should be a shoo-in for cameo style presentation with a fully curved back scene.

But at the same time, I'm a  little uncomfortable about it.  


Well, a curved back scene is going to eat into the available space on the layout. Bear in mind this is set in the Fens, where space is one of the most obvious landscape features, along with our big skies. And that is another issue. Back scenes work well, very well, when modelling a scene with hills and buildings in the background. It is much harder to get the right back scene for open-countryside.

Look at the photo I've included. It is, quite literally, the view from one of our garden gates about five minutes ago. Wouldn't that do? 

Well no. 

Having the crop, winter-sown wheat, in the foreground gives you a sense of space, but the perspective is wrong. But if I cut out the crop the scene will lack the important middle distance.

And in any case, it is the wrong crop for the time period and season, and there are too may modern elements along the skyline.

Then there is the feeling that cameo presentation has become cliched. Now don't get me wrong, I like it, it is a vast improvement on the past, and I have ideas for using it in the future. 

Decisions, decisions, decisions...

Monday, 19 April 2021

Thieves of Time

Phil Parker recently linked his blog to an article about lockdown "brain fog". I suspect it rang bells for a lot of people after the last year. Some seem to have relished the time to complete "Lockdown Projects" but for me, a key question is how have I done so little in so long a time.

Now in my defence, the virus has had virtually no impact on my work, other than a lack of travel. But all the same 2020 seems to have been a none year and I'm worrying 2021 will go the same way. Not least because I'm still trying to catch up with the aftermath of 2019. Thi picture of the ELR that popped up on my Facebook memories really brought it home to. That view is now one of total goat devastation. I decided to do something about the fallen branches from the trees they have killed.

But Jaffa had to get involved

This why I can't use a chainsaw in this part of the garden.

Then I made another attempt at rebuilding the goat shed. Guess which goat, and which piece of wood I needed next.

Being fair to Jaffa, it was Oreo who was the real pain in the butt when I actually started the repair, at one point trying to eat the cordless screwdriver whilst it was on.

So once again a weekend was lost with no progress on Grundy's Yard, except for the realisation that my cunning plan for the second baseboard wasn't going to work

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Minim St

This is very much a back burner, but imagine this bit of the classic CJF Minories plan as a micro layout, with the road bridge moved over to the right as the scenic break, and built at this sort of an angle. Presume as well that the MPD is at the terminus end of the station, and carriage sidings and a dockside branch are on the right- I would extend the loco siding and add a turnout on it to serve the branch and to act as a platform for mail and newspaper services. You could keep the inner city vibe that is at the heart of the plan, but the mention of a dockside branch also hints that I'm thinking of a Great Yarmouth/Kings Lynn/Hunstanton influence.

The underlying concept is that you could run very short trains and no one would notice, at least not in photos. The operation wouldn't be that satisfying for those running the layout, but it could be arranged so that something was always going on for the observer.

Early morning an 08 enters the scene and shunts the empty newspaper stock from the goods bay to the seldom-used Platform 1a. Then it heads off to the dock to collect some fish wagons for the Flying Kipper. A loco (I'm thinking a small roster of  BR standards and early diesels)  takes the empty newspaper stock to London, another takes the fish service. It is a short train but will pick up many more wagons en route to London.

For the next two hours services are a mixture of local DMUs, the hourly direct service to London and then the more frequent connecting service to somewhere like March.

Freight services during the day include outbound frozen fish and inbound supplies for the town and the trawler fleet.

Later on, there is a rapid succession of local hauled excursion trains arriving, with foreign traction, from London and the East Midlands. These require some nifty moves to free up the platforms and store the empty stock.

The day quietens into a gentle routine, before a flurry of returning excursion stock.

The last services are a lone local DMU, the return of the empty fish stock, and at 2am the newspapers arrive...

A 47 rests in the little bit of daylight at the end of Birmingham New St. The sort of atmosphere I envisage for Minim ST, but without the brutalist architecture.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Busy as a Bee

 It is Spring, which means lots of bumblebee queens have reappeared, along with wasps, ladybirds, and a myriad of other little creatures.

That also means it is a busy time in the garden for me, so I've taken a week's holiday. My first days off since September as I had to work over Xmas. I'd hoped to use some of the time to tidy up the studio end of the office, and to begin work on Grundy's Yard. It hasn't quite worked out like that. The good news though is that I've got done a lot of those silly little jobs that were always of higher priority than modelling, but hard to fit into a short Winter's day.

So the patio and paths have been weeded and jetwashed, the lawn aerated, fed, reseeded and mown, the bikes have all been serviced, the BBQs cleaned and repaired, the fencing made positively poodle proof, the garden furniture restored, trenches dug, cables buried, the hot tub recommissioned, garden tools sharpened and a start made on the relocated vegetable garden.

On top of which the chickens have been released from their government-imposed lock down for avian flu, and six new rescue girls have joined the flock.

Have I achieved anything railway related?

Well, I've levelled the 7/8ths line, and realised that Scale Model Scenery do a lot of useful bits and pieces that can save me time - especially when it comes to the next project, the canal-side boxfile + diorama. As do Vintage Minature Models.

I've also done some restoration work on the baseboards for Grundy's Yard. Perhaps that isn't quite the right word. A quick recap, they were built back in 2013 using an Iain Rice idea of lightweight L girders made from cheap roofing battens.  That was in the days before laser cut boards were commercially available. It was also in the days when I hadn't done any woodwork for thirty years. Since then they have been in less than ideal storage conditions, and my skills and tools have both improved. So refining is a better term than restoring. Everything is now smooth and seamless. I am going to have to build new parts to join the baseboards together, simply because I'll be inverting the board for the dockside scene to model the water at low tide. On reflection the baseboard design still has a lot going for it. It is certainly lightweight and relatively strong.

I'm less and less convinced that the Tim Horn baseboards for TAoC are salvagble. that is no reflection on their superb quality, but they didn't cope well with their time in a damp shed. If they aren't then I have a plan B both for TAoC and for using them for a couple of experiments. 

One of them is an old idea for a micro EM layout, that was meant to be the next stage in the Apa Valley saga, but built in N gauge and expanded slightly and put into a totally different context to become a mini Minories style station. The idea that came to me at about 3am this morning was I could build it so you never saw the complete length of  even a relatively short train of four coaches

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

On The Surface

I think I've mentioned that I'm building Grundy's Yard on an old baseboard that doesn't really suit under baseboard wiring and point control.  Even if it did, I would still be trying to keep as much as possible above baseboard. The Cadeby layout suffered badly from being turned over so I could work on the electrics, especially the trees, which lost much of their foliage.

I've never been happy with my various attempts at manual point control. They have worked, but always felt a bit Heath Robinson.  When work on TAoC recommences I'll probably use Blue "manual" turnout motors. Some would quibble about the cost but I want something that will be as foolproof and reliable as possible. Having said that I could even use the Morgan Design TOUs again.

Bodging the point control on Apa Valley. How hard would it be for someone to produce this as a commercial product? So many of us have done it.

Back to Grundy's Yard, I  want something foolproof and reliable. I'm using Mercontrol to operate the points, the question is where to place the microswitches, and what type to use. Where to place them depends on whether I value accessibility more than reliability. The type depends on the location

What would make life very easy would be if the Peco undertrack microswitch could be attached directly to a turnout, rather than to the point motor, and had arms to attach an operating wire to. I'm wondering if I could adapt them in that way, possibly in conjunction with the adaptor base. I'm also hoping that the tolerance that seems to be built into Peco's products designed for use with their somewhat brutal point motors might avoid the need for omega loops, which would be one less thing to hide.

Perhaps counterintuitively, I'm trying to avoid soldered joints in the wiring. That isn't because I don't trust my soldering, but as we know soldered joints do fail, and given the surface mounting I don't really want to be waving a soldering iron around in close proximity to the scenic stuff.

I have a horrible feeling that I'm about to fall into my usual trap of embarking on a project partly inspired by stuff I have lying around and then using something completely different. Yes, I have considered biting the bullet and building a new baseboard. I might still. The deciding factor will be a decision about how I'm going to display the layout. I'm normally passionate about the need for back scenes and the value of proscenium arches, but the Cadeby layout actually works very well without either, especially now it is on display in my studio, where the walls are painted sky blue for a reason. 

What I'm definitely thinking about changing is the surface material. I had two layers of foamboard in mind originally, which worked really well on the  Apa Valley (remember that?) micro and I have a large box of it taking up space in the studio. I will still make use of it, but I'm beginning to think it would be sensible to use something else for the trackbed at least, like balsa foam.

With the end of lockdown in sight, I do find myself considering Grundy's Yard as a possible exhibition layout. That is very unlike me. It is actually behind my thinking about making it as foolproof as possible. It isn't intended to be compared to the seminal Outwell Basin Wisbech & Upwell layout, but as a simple example of a layout anyone could build, and find space for, whilst raising standards without going full-on finescale.


Friday, 19 March 2021

I Had A Dream.

 Quite literally, I had a dream.

I've not been one hundred per cent happy about the approach I was taking to control of the three-way point on Grundy's Yard. The answer, or at least part of it, came to me in a dream. Needless to say, it turns out to be blindingly obvious in retrospect and just involves using a different type of microswitch and trusting a type of wire connector I've not used before to enable maintenance if required. 

I think I'm going to have to build a structure to hide some of the workings, but by a happy coincidenceScalescenes generously made available the ideal building for that use from their back catalogue.

With a little more time on my hands than normal, having got the Danish presentation out of the way, I've been thinking about revisiting the Scalescenes Canal Boxfile layout as well. My plan for this has long been to use it as the basis of an OO6.5mm layout with perhaps a little bit of standard gauge, and mounted on a slightly larger baseboard than the boxfile. It helped that I found some of the stock that I'd lost, which gave me a chance to compare an 009 loco with a HOF one 

Saturday, 13 March 2021

Costs, Complications and Exhibitions

 Did I really think I could build Grundy's yard mostly from the store cupboard at a low cost?

Well to be fair, I have mostly been using the storecupboard. It has provided the track, the ballast, the baseboard, the trackbed, most of the scenic materials, most of the electricals, and pretty much all the stock I'll need.

Yet I've still spent a fair amount of cash.

What on?

The biggest single cost has probably been couplings, and this photo lets the cat out of the bag that I'm using Kadees. I came very close to retaining tension locks, since I'm not planning to re-gauge any of the stock to EM. It feels like a big investment, but I have two other projects where I'm planning to use them anyway so I will be able to spread the cost out. It might seem odd, given that I've never built an exhibition layout in my life, that my choice was partly based on possible exhibition use and what I've observed on exhibition layouts. Which is, essentially, that at exhibition viewing distances Kadees are no more obvious than S&Ws.

Then there is point operation. I discovered I had fewer wire in tube components lying around than I thought I had. I suspect actually that means I can't find them and one day will open a box to discover a hidden stash. The layout does only have the one, three-way, point, but I  wanted the freedom to operate it from front or back. The baseboard I have lying around also dictates that control has to be surface mounted. Rather like the couplings the cost mounted because there was no way to buy just the components I needed for this layout.

Having said which I realised afterwards that I'd forgotten about another idea that, I suspect might be more robust and cheaper in this situation.

Finally, there have been all the little things that add up. Appropriate buffer stops, a water crane, and a brake van. I suspect I'll probably need to top up some scenic materials as well, and some figures and a lorry, perhaps.

I still think that when I add it all up and share the costs across other projects I'll have spent less than £60 specifically on the finished layout. But I reckon I've spent at least twice that on initial capital outlay. Then there is the value of the things I already had to hand. 

The title of this post alluded to complications as well as costs, though obviously there are links between them. Oddly, and this applies to my day job as well, striving to simplify things can add complications. Mechanical point control in this case will probably end up costing me more than using Peco point motors and built in microswitches, as well as being less foolproof to install. Other coupling systems would in some ways be less complicated to install. Opting for possible operation from front or back has definitely complicated things. As has going for keeping everything above the baseboard. Mind you, needless to say, as work has progressed I've come up with ideas for doing things differently next time that might genuinely make things simpler.

I alluded to exhibitions earlier. I very much doubt this ever will make an exhibition appearance. However, that remote possibility has been part of my thinking, partly because the subject is of local interest and I'm involved with local heritage groups, so who knows. The "what if" exhibition scenario is definitely behind my desire to have it operable from front or back, particularly in a post-Covid world where exhibitors will be encouraged to social distance from attendees.

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Displacement Activity

I've mentioned before that the virus hasn't had much impact on work, apart from the lack of travel and missing physical conferences. In the background, I've been busy recording podcasts on various esoteric subjects, such as the use of robots in the service industry

I'm supposed to be writing a session for a virtual conference being held in Denmark next week. In theory it should take me an hour or so to do the slides, since it is my specialist subject and I try to avoid subjecting the audience to death by Powerpoint.

But, like many of the colleagues in the industry, it seems that the dreaded writer's block has struck me down. In my case part of the issue is that since we've had the garden office built I'm keeping more regular hours, which makes my wife happy, but 8.30am to 6pm isn't my most creative time.

So today I decided to start "tidying" the studio side of the office. In reality, that means moving things around in a vain attempt to make room to start work on Grundy's Yard.  The one good thing to come out of it is that the OO9 micro has been retrieved from the back of a cupboard and is now back on display. The downside is I'm going to have to do some work to get it presentable and operational again.

The new location means it is at eye-level and viewed from a different angle, rather like the way you saw Cadeby from the main road. In fact, I think the view works so well I might incorporate an element of it into my trial OO6.5 layout.

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Grundy's Depot

Over on the Micro Layouts Facebook group, Keven Prince reminded us all of a seminal 7mm micro layout: Deryck and Peter Featherstone's 7mm scale Abbey Road and Barton Bendish Light Railway. Designed for a student study bedroom the station area measured a massive 5’6”x 1’4” and appeared in the November 1972 Railway Modeller. Being based on a mix of the Wissington Light Railway and the Wisbech & Upwell it took me a matter of seconds to decide a version of it would be a suitable second board from my planned micro based on White Swan Yard. Playing around on the existing second baseboard from that scheme suggested it would be most sensible to just build it as a mirror image inglenook that could also be operated as a self-contained cameo. Fortunately, I already have most of what I need to build it in stock. In fact, I have a horrible suspicion most of the things that I've ended up buying for it are lying around somewhere in forgotten storage boxes. The only specific purchase has been the Arch Laser GE Goods Office, everything else will come in useful for other projects. Well, apart from couplings. But I'll come back to those in a separate post. My aim is to keep it simple, whereas I know the White Swan board will require a lot of scenic work even in OO and even though it shares the same basic track plan. The one complication is to leave my options open as to whether to operate it from the front or back. And why Grundy's Depot? Well simply because they are the big local farming family and using that name doesn't pin it down to a specific fenland location.

Monday, 25 January 2021

New Year, Old Projects

You don't need me to tell you how difficult things are at the moment. Actually, I was on a call with colleagues from Australia this morning and they seemed to think it was a miracle anyone was left alive in the UK. My mother in law gave us a fright by ending up being treated on a Covid ward on NewYear's Eve, but thankfully appears to be recovering. An outbreak of bird flu in the UK also led to the urgent need to get the chickens into a covered enclosure. Amongst it all, I seem to be keeping busy. I've worked seven of the last eight weekends and Xmas day itself was the only Bank Holiday I managed to have off.

So modelling, unsurprisingly, isn't making much progress.

The 7/8ths test track is slowly bedding in, though it won't be until Spring that I'll be able to level it for the Summer. It is seen here with a tinplate tram on it, a late Xmas present from the step-son. Definitely more 16mm than 7/8ths, but perhaps with some potential to run on the vegetable patch line when I get round to sorting that out.

Talking of which, here is a much younger version of my stepson, sculpted by Rob Bennett, sat waiting for a train on the test piece I built for the vegetable plot project. It is stood up to the winter quite well so far. And yes, I do trim the grass with a pair of scissors. Both photos show the obtrusive ranch fencing. It disappears in the vegetation during the Summer, but I'm going to have to think of some way of disguising it at this time of year.

One thing I have been able to do during lockdown is to explore the remains of some more of the local agricultural tramways

This is one of two surviving loading banks on the Lawyers Farm railway, near Holbeach St Matthews. It is relatively easy to trace the route of this one.

Next is the Lighthouse Farm tramway. This is an odd one. It is on the mouth of the River Nene and served a farm built on land reclaimed in 1910 and 1917 as successive sea walls were built. Another wall built, I believe, during the war means it now sits still further back from the sea. The mystery is the only route map I've ever seen of it, in the Oakwood Press book, doesn't make much sense compared to the layout of the fields it ran through. This is actually a photo looking back towards the 1917 sea wall from the current one, so the tramway would have run from right to left behind the lighthouse. You can't actually see where it would have run from here, but the lighthouse is of interest in its own right. One of a matching pair designed by Sir John Rennie to guide shipping in from the Wash I'm standing on what was once pretty much the seashore. It is famed as the pre-war home of Sir Peter Scott, and it was here that he underwent the conversion from wildfowler to conservationist. It is also currently for sale if anyone is interested.

What of other on going projects? Priorities are some 7/8ths rolling stock that just needs a little work and space to finish off, a RC ship to be built once I get the RC gear, and a single baseboard OO shunting layout based on a mix of Kings Lyn  and Great Yarmouth

There are, needless to say, many other projects lying around the studio including TAoC baseboards. Roy Link's recent sad death does make me think I should return to that, and I'm still gathering bits and pieces for it.