Wednesday, 14 December 2022

Chuffin' 'Eck

I've quite often found myself in the situation where you end up saying: "If you can't beat them, join them."

Within my family I'm often reminded that I was the person who was quite determined never to get a mobile phone, and now - like most of us - it has to be almost surgically removed from my grasp.

So it is with DCC power and locomotive sound.

The trigger has been the arrival of 4mm RTR narrow gauge locomotives in recent years.

Himself was first to crack, chipping our Bachmann Baldwin, just to see what it's like.

Then, when the Double Fairlies were released last year, he plumped for one of the sound-fitted versions of Earl of Merioneth, and a DCC controller beneath the Christmas Tree.

A few days ago I was unable to resist placing an order for a be-chipped 'Garrarway-era' Linda.

Himself's techno enthusiasm has been encouraged by fellow modellers at the Greenock club who operate many of their 00 layouts with button-pushing handsets and a cacophony of chuffs, whistles, horns and throbbing.

So it was with much excitement at Manchester that we were able to have a play with a remarkable sound-fitted Bachmann Britomart, which had been adapted by an old friend of ours, John Gay from Digitrains.

As you can hear from the video the effect is really quite remarkable - even running on DC-only - especially considering it was something the manufacturer decided not to attempt.

To achieve it John has placed a speaker in the cab, disguised by model crew who've each had to have one of their legs amputated, and a 'stay alive' capacitor has been hidden in the cab roof.

That really is something to put on the wish list.

Monday, 12 December 2022

The Cream Of Manchester

Five months ago when I wrote the previous post on this blog - like the famous legend on the FR timetables  'Train Services Suspended' - I left open the possibility that I may post again.

As I wrote at the time, I had simply run out of things to say.

Well, after our experience at the Manchester MRS exhibition at the weekend, I've found I do, once again, have something to say, and it would be the right thing to say it here.

I'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone who came to spend time watching the layout, to share their thoughts on it (and the prototype) and to those who went on to put an X in the box on the voting form for the Best Layout.

We were beyond honoured to receive the shield for this on the Sunday afternoon, having on Saturday evening been judged the best in show by the members of MMRS - the first awards for Bron Hebog.

To receive these awards was incredibly humbling given the remarkable standard of all the layouts at the show.

There was not one on display which did show exceptional skill and dedication - with many of them being to EM or P4 standards (in 4mm) or finescale 2mm - and the four of us who travelled with the layout were astonished to hear its name being called out as the winner at the presentations.

(A shame we weren't allowed to take the cup and shield home with us for the next 12 months...)

I can't make any promises about how regular posts on this blog might be, but what I can say is that I found the whole weekend - surrounded by so many enthusiastic and appreciative people - to be restorative and cathartic.

Can't wait for Warley next year!

Friday, 10 June 2022

Where This Train Terminates

You may have noticed that posts on here have become rather infrequent, of late.

I think I may have a chronic case of Blogger's Block - I have simply run out of things to say.

There is modelling going on, but mostly it's for personal enjoyment and not necessarily for public show.

As I posted a few weeks ago, the layout is essentially complete now, and the locomotive and rolling stock collection has reached a certain maturity.

And anyway, the stats would suggest that interest in this blog, at least, is waning. 

The pageviews stats reached a plateau have been in steady decline over the last couple of years. 

I did think that the pandemic might have reversed this decline, as people spent a lot of the extra time they suddenly found themselves with building layouts.

Or, alternatively, that the return to exhibitions might boost readership and awareness again, but neither has proved to be the case.

In fact views now are back to where they were 10 years ago.

Strangely enough, this has come just at a time when the profile of 009 - and FR modelling - has never been higher with the emergence of some terrific RTR products.

Is this coincidence or somehow connected? I have no way of knowing.

I don't want this blog to become something that withers away, where people wonder what's happened to it?

Better, I think, to properly draw a line under it and explain why posts have stopped.

It's not going to vanish - well, not for as long as the Blogger servers stay online - and everything that's been posted will still be here to read.

I shall keep updating the exhibition diary if any new dates come in, and there are other pages with galleries of the layout, features on the rolling stock and video footage.

It might be something I come back to, or I might not, we'll see how it goes.

Sunday, 29 May 2022

Make It Stop

It's a contentious opinion, but I'm already fed up of the Platinum Jubilee, and there's still best part of a week to go for us in the media and every part of the service economy to work itself into a frenzy.

It's not a republican sentiment, or any ill-feeling towards the monarch, but more that I instinctively adopt a contrarian attitude when I perceive that I am under some expectation, or obligation, to get excited about an event, or behave a certain way, and when everyone leaps onto the same bandwagon.

I feel exactly the same every four years when the [football] World Cup comes round.  (So, yeah, 2022's a bit of a bummer!)

Right now it feels like you can't move for bunting, the union flag is being plastered onto every conceivable item, and anything that moves - or doesn't - is being painted purple.

Peco has even produced a special edition purple bug box, and it won't surprise you to learn I have absolutely no intention of purchasing one. (And certainly not at £34.95!)

But then again, we don't need to.

As Peco point out, there is a precedent for a purple Small Birmingham, and it dates back to the days of the 'Minffordd Shuttle', when number 4 was returned to service in what was called 'Damson' livery.

At the time it was believed this was a heritage colour scheme after the discovery of fragment of this colour, but it is now known to have been just undercoat.

You can read more about this model in a previous post, but for now its done its job as a vehicle for me to post a rant about the national celebrations.

Monday, 23 May 2022

Toned Down

Princess has returned to the test track from Himself's where it had been sent for the application of a little subtlety.

As it comes out of the box the Kato / Peco England has a number of things which betray that it was produced to a price - or for a certain aspiration of specification -  but these can be easily attended to.

Among the things Himself has done is apply some black paint to the upright at the end of the slidebars, which stands out like a sore thumb in silver.

A brush over with matt varnish makes the smokebox look like a loco that's had a fire in it, and the cab roof looks an awful lot better when it's not black and shiny.

It's also had the happy effect, to my eyes, of making the chimney look a bit fatter and much more prototypical.

The vac pipe bags look a lot more realistic when they are no longer black plastic colour.

The last thing he's done, which you might not notice until I point it out, but is one of those things you can't unsee once you've spotted it, is to run some black paint around the edges of the cab opening,

The livery finish on these models is really very good, but they are badly let down that in places like the cab doorway the black edging is only on the sides and doesn't extend to the edges which remain shiny, maroon-coloured plastic.

It really stood out when you looked at the engine in 3/4 view.

It's such a small thing but it makes such a difference when you fix it,


Friday, 20 May 2022

A Bit Of Bob

It's been so long since I did any narrow gauge model making that I can no longer remember what it was, or when it was I was working on it.

However, the castings for FR super saloon 808 (aka BOB) have been gathering dust on the shelf and pricking my conscience for many months now, so I this week I decided I'd better pull my finger out and do something with them.

Part of the reason for the long delay - aside from a general lack of motivation ever since the Glasgow show - is I had run out of the 60 second superglue I've taken to using for assembling resin parts.

It has the benefit of allowing a decent amount of repositioning while not leaving you waiting for ages for the parts to bond, which I've found has always been the case with the so-called 'rapid' epoxy resins.

However, in one of the small DIY shops in town - and we are fortunate to have two here - I came across a 90 second Araldite product which comes in a double syringe dispenser thing.

I was sceptical whether it would actually bond in 90 seconds - it's more like 490 in my experience - but the join does seem to be less brittle than one made with superglue is.

We shall see how it stands up to all the handling as I fit the floor and roof.


Monday, 16 May 2022


There are a few things in the railway modelling scene which defy their age, and some of them are in the old Kitmaster range of injection moulded plastic kits.

Despite its longevity I reckon the footbridge kit is still up there as one of the user-friendly and adaptable you can get.

I first knew it when it was branded as part of the Airfix range, and these days it's under the Dapol banner, and we had one on our large OO gauge layout in the loft.

It was the obvious choice for me to use at the station on the 'test track' because I needed something that wasn't standard sized and could be kit-bashed to link platforms at different heights on the standard and narrow gauge.

As luck would have it I found one in a bargain bucket at the Kyle MRC show in Troon on Saturday where the Greenock club were exhibiting their small Banffshire terminus layout Inverboyndie.

The first change I made was to cut out one of the sections on the upper set of stairs, because if you mount it on a platform the deck of the bridge is so high it would give the passengers vertigo!

The second, more involved, alteration, was to insert an extra segment into the deck to stretch it to the length I needed.

This classic kit has always come with the option of a plain sheet section in the middle, which could be used as an advertising hoarding, but I've never been convinced that it looks very prototypical (although  I'm sure somebody will prove me wrong) so I prefer to have another cross-brace section.

With no spare parts available in the kit I rooted about in my diminishing stock of Evergreen strip and found some stuff that was roughly the same dimensions, and knocked up something that could be used as a master to cast pieces to be inserted between the two halves.

Being slightly impatient, and keen to get the job finished in a day, I made up some RTV rubber with a generous dosage of catalyst which meant the mould was set within a couple of hours and I could quickly cast my two copies with the last dregs of resin I have available.

With that done the first section of the bridge is complete.  Now I need to buy a second kit (probably at full price on the web) to complete the second half stretching across to the NG tracks.