Wednesday, 27 January 2021

B Prepared

The last few weeks have seen me concentrating on another production run of kits to send to Light Railway Stores, after the last lot flew off the cyber shelves in record time.

I sent a selection down south this week, but they didn't include any B wagons or ballast wagons because I am waiting on a resupply of the brass bogie frets.

However, I am trying to get ahead of the game and getting the casting done so that as soon as the bogie parts arrive they can be packed and despatched.

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Exhibition-Free Zone

2021 is only three weeks old, but sad to say, it already seems clear it's going to be a another write-off as far as model railway exhibitions are concerned.

Despite the accelerating vaccine programme, during the last week we've seen shows with dates as far away as November being cancelled, such is the crippling uncertainty around when lockdown restrictions will be lifted, and to what extent.

In so many ways the pandemic has been good for the hobby, with so many of us having more time on our hands.

Manufacturers, and suppliers who sell online, have seen very healthy sales as modellers take on new projects as a way to take our minds off what's going on.

But all of this is happening in the home.

Model railways have become a solitary activity once more as clubs have had their doors shut for the majority of the last year. 

What will it mean for model railway exhibitions and the layouts which are shown there?

For the last 25 years my only opportunity to 'play trains' has been at shows, mostly with our layouts Dduallt or Bron Hebog.

For the second year running the chances of either of them being run at a show are looking very slim.

For me this has coincided with my youngest reaching the stage where he's ready to start playing with 'proper' trains, and Himself has built him his first OO layout - a rather neat little set up with passing loop, sidings and isolating sections which folds up and can be stored under his bed on casters.

With his birthday coming up this week I spent many happy hours browsing the websites of the most well-known model stores in search of a bargain birthday present.

And now in idle moments I find myself daydreaming about how a permanent layout could be shoe-horned into the family home.

Is this going to be the legacy of Coronavirus?  That the best modelling is done on a small scale, in private, only to be shared with others online?

Who is planning the big, hopelessly impractical exhibition layouts any more?

I hope I'm wrong, but the longer this goes on you do begin to wonder....

Friday, 22 January 2021

Wee Pipes

The boiler unit of 130 is getting tantalisingly close to being ready to paint.

This week, aided by the flow of new photographs of progress at Dinas on the real locomotive, representations of the thin pipework on the 'engine' could be added in brass.

There's been so much added to the model which is over and above what comes with the Backwoods kit, and - naturally - each of the WHR machines is different.

All we need now are to see some pictures taken from the opposite side and Himself can get it finished.

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

The Dregs

Casting operations are paused while I wait on a new supply of resin arriving.

Such was the brisk demand for wagon kits and other castings in 2020 that I got through the previous 1kg consignment in record time, and now I only have the dregs left in the last of the decanted miniature bottles, which are much handier to use and an insurance against spillage disasters.

I did wonder whether I was going to hit trouble when it came to re-ordering, given all the issues with Brexit and that the particular brand of resin I use is imported into the UK from Germany.

Fortunately, the only delay this time is due to the relocation of the UK warehouse. Fingers crossed the importer keeps stocking it.

Hopefully there won't be any issues, either, when I come to get in more of the RTV silicone rubber I use which comes from a company in Northern Ireland.

It seems crazy to me, as a bloke in my mid-40s, that such things should ever be a consideration but these are the daft times we've found ourselves in.....

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Hello Dolly!

Narrow gauge projects are still taking a back seat this week, so Himself has been working on another epic brass signal construction for the new club layout, Kirkconnel.

There's been a lot of puzzling around the 'dollies' on this skyscraper, and how many there were - and when - with much pouring over photographs. 

Connecting this up, and making them all work, is going to be a challenge in itself, but I wonder whether the biggest issue is going to be ensuring that they stay vertical.

This comes from a notoriously clumsy individual who's been known to accidently catch a signal or two when moving, cleaning , or generally being anywhere close to a layout.....

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Missing Piece?

For quite a few months the boiler unit of our 130 has been hovering on the cusp if completion, with just the final pipework around the front of the cab and top of the firebox to finish off.

That's because we were waiting to see the exact position of the pipe runs on the real locomotive first.

This week some pictures emerged from Dinas, courtesy of the FR GM, Paul Lewin, that might allow Himself to get cutting, bending and soldering.

With the power bogies and their bodywork painted and lined it's just the middle bit of the Garratt still in brass.

Perhaps there might not be too much longer to wait to see ours completed.

Tuesday, 12 January 2021


To adapt a phrase, necessity is the father of invention....

A wire on an electrical connecting socket broke the other day on my son's OO layout at my house, but the only one of us with a pin removal tool is Himself.

A Covid-compliant trip was organised to collect the said device to enable me to effect a repair (which didn't take more than a couple of minutes with the soldering iron).

No sooner did I message Himself to make arrangements to return the gizmo to him, the next time I was passing his house, he informed me that in the meantime he'd been channelling his 'inner Stefco' and come up with a homemade version, so I should keep hold of the original gear.

Now, I happen to think that's rather impressive, and worthy of a wee blog post.