It Ain’t Half Hot Mum

Let off digging up the plum tree – it must have heard Maxine and I talking and immediately produced five plums.  Too hot to do much yesterday – how anyone can go and cram on a South Coast beach I don’t know.  Never mind the virus, the UV and sunstroke was lethal yesterday.

But I did get one useful job done.  About five years ago, I bought some UV and heat reflecting film for the loft room.  Fitting it looked a little complex, so it never got done.  But I’ve found my workbench unbearable in this hot weather.  It’s not just the heat of the sun – you can open the window, but the glare makes the usually helpful natural light too bright to work on little N gauge bits and pieces.

So I plucked up courage and fitted the first film.  Not too difficult, especially if one accepted one of two imperfections.  They would have been bad news on the lounge window, but no problems up there in the loft.  I managed to do a little modelling yesterday afternoon – still hot, but the heat and glare cut back a lot!  Just got two other windows to do now.

Still, my brick paint arrived in the post this morning, and a box of assorted scenics yesterday, so I’ll be making a little more progress over the weekend.

And here’s a modelling idea – how often do you put two locomotives onto a turntable.  Easier in the USA, where they were bigger, but I’m sure it must have been done in the UK with a couple of small tank engines.

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Covid-19 diary #20

Weather’s improved, and I may have to go and dig up some tree roots.  And Father’s day this weekend was graced by a phone call from Berlin, and socially distanced visits from the other two children on Sunday and Monday.

However, things continue to happen upstairs.  (Maxine joked that we achieve optimum social distancing  – one at the top of the house, one at the bottom of the garden!)

I trimmed a bit off my Rix overbridge to form one end of the scene and to hide the fiddle yard entrance.

The river/canal/whatever has been completed.  I bought some resin castings of sheet piled walling out in Stuttgart several years ago, as it looked good and “might come in useful.”  It has, and looks the part.

In the background, I have hacked about a DPM model transfer house, joining the walls to make a couple of longer, low relief structures.  These hide the over-long grass on the photo backscene, and leave the backscene buildings up the hill in the distance.  I started painting them, but dropped the paint pot.  Mess on floor and new internet order needed!

The final scene will look something like this.  One or two buildings may move a little, but it will look something like this.

So I really must start on that ballast.  No excuse till that paint arrives – together with some cobblestones, some road surface, bulrushes and a couple of trees.

And we have a name.  Roselle Park was no longer approproriate, and Earl’s Wood was the last layout, so I looked at my LV map, and came up with….

No idea why – it just has a nice swing to it.  The alternatives were ‘Interlaken’ to wind up our club Continental modellers, a Biblical ‘Nazareth’, or something very British.  But this will do.  In deepest New York State, it even has a lake to go with my layout….


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The eye of a needle?

We are often concerned about threading out model tracks around each other.  However, the prototype was very good at it.  Here are two pictures, rural and urban, that show how it’s done.

Midford, Somerset.  The Somerset and Dorset viaduct was built and is to the left.  The Great Western built one of it’s last branches underneath, threading the line over the road, the over the disused Somersetshire Coal Canal (the arch still standing)  and under the Midford viaduct.  Clearances must have been tight!

This tiny clip from the start of the Titfield Thunderbolt film shows trains on both lines – including a Wisbech and Upwell tram coach that has seemingly emigrated westwards.

Meanwhile, in London, near Brixton two suburban lines cross the road.  It’s a low bridge, and there can’t be much spare room between the rail lines.

Hope these give you some ideas, or at least an excuse, for your layout.

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Covid-19 diary #19 – Rapid progress…

It’s been showery and grey for a couple of days, so rapid progress on the railway.

Blue point controllers were bought in and were very easy to install, including the point frog switches.  The masking tape on the wiring will be replaced by hot glue when it’s all finalised.

Point control is entirely digital.  A piece of wire and a piece of dowel on the end!

Replacing the track at the end of the world.  I guess I need to build a fiddle yard.

I found the Dremel I bought cheap somewhere (it was still sitting on the loft stairs after 9 months or so) and it was a quick job to cut in Microtrains uncouplers, using a cutting disc.  Please ignore the melted sleepers!

And the first train runs on all tracks.  Usually this takes me years to do, not days.  There is something to be said for small layouts….

I resorted to cardboard to form curved corners to the backscene.  Last job of the evening.

And today I added the photographic backscene.  Not quite straight, but the borders will be hidden by the buildings on the layout.  The backscene could do with being a little higher, but this hardly shows from a normal viewing angle.  It won’t notice that the rails seem to drop into the river – really!

I suppose that I’ll have to start ballasting now….

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Covid-19 diary #18 – Cut and paste, N gauge style…

And now for something completely different….

Having built some rolling stock, I thought I’d move back to complete the two USA N-club modules that I’d been building.  But I just haven’t been happy with them.  It’s been a strange, shrinking, progression – first 2.8m of N-club boards, then simplified, then 1.7m cut back further.  And now….

I had bought a Tim Horn laser-cut baseboard, 3′ x 1′ size a while back.  It suddenly occurred to me that the sidings from the N-club modules would exactly fit within the board.  Add a couple of feet of ‘fiddle stick’ and we have an American shunting plank.  I decided to give it a go, keeping the LV theme, as I have all the buildings for the layout constructed.  Trouble is, the smaller the layout gets, the happier I seem to be with it!

The Tim Horn board went together very well and quickly – completely recommended for an easy but quality baseboard.  Unfortunately, he has stopped taking orders for the next 3-4 months, as the demand during lockdown has been so great.

A short, vicious, session with a saw or two extracted the board with the trackwork and wiring intact.  I’m very happy with the track layout, so I didn’t want to relay it.  You can see that there have been one or two other layouts of the sidings!

I then cut holes in the baseboard to fit point motors direct to the original track board, and allow the wiring to be reused.  It also allows the main siding area to be raised by 1/2 inch or so above the board, and I will have a water feature along the front of the board.

And the last step last night, fit the old board into the new.  Next job, point control, reconnect the point frog wiring and a backscene.

And hopefully, it will look something like this when it’s completed. The buildings will no doubt get rearranged, but this gives the overall impression.

Hopefully more next time.  My only worry is that I seem to enjoy hacking existing railways about more than building new ones!  And of course, I do still have to work out what to do with the N-club modules….

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Odd modelling ideas #6512 – these are totally prototypical!

First, one for the station….

Second, one from pre-lockdown.  Model this and neither the trains, nor the rail replacement buses need to move.

Lingfield Station crash: Four injured as rail replacement bus crashes


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Too true (from somewhere on Facebook)

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Minories – the next generation

There’s been a flurry of ‘Minories’ discussion again on RMWeb.  And here are a few of the new ideas.

Probably the optimum Minories arranagement, using two ‘Y’ points to reduce the reverse curves and straighten the platform.

An ‘almost’ Minories – it has a facing point entering the station, unlike the traditional plan.  This is more a scale version – it uses B6 points throughout, but is still quite compact.

I like this one.  Only two platforms, but extremely compact with some interesting pointwork.  This is drawn for PECO ‘OO’ points, but something similar would work in ‘N’.

American Minories.  A city Union Station, where the trains back into the station from the main line through the triangular junction.  The interest is in the switching to remove the head end cars and reform trains.  And latterly, USA passenger trains could be very short, so this layout could be operated fairly prototypically.

Finally, two different takes on the urban terminus.  In ‘O’ gauge, this layout omits one of the Minories crossovers.  Either it is assumed to be in the fiddleyard, or it is operated with one arrival and one departure platform.

And Priory Road – 2mm Finescale, and 5 feet long, modelling an urban terminus in deepest Essex.

Hope that’s given you all a few ideas!

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Covid-19 diary #17

Well, here’s the end results of the last few week’s modelling.  A GWR bullion van and two LMS horseboxes.  All could be better, but all look pretty good to me.  I’ve really enjoyed building the etched bogies and chassis, and it’s wonderful how the multiple layers of etched detail give the right appearance.  I think the main bonuses are that the etched items are narrower than standard ‘N’ items, and more to scale that way, and that thin bits, like the W-irons on the horseboxes are suitable thin.

I did make a mess of some of the brake gear, but that was more detail than the original kit had anyway!

Elsewhere, the two Gresley full brakes are waiting for the roof to be painted and fitted and some touching up of paintwork.  And new buffers for one, as I broke one fitting the corridor connections.  Brass buffers look better and are stronger, even if they may not be quite the right type.

All the vehicles need numbering and lettering – simple enough if tiny for BR.  I must order some Fox transfers, I guess.  And they need couplings.  I seriously considered fitting these vehicles with DG or B&B couplings, but having tried making them, it was too much like hard work.  I can solder up a 2mm chassis, but those little couplings defeated me.  I reluctantly decided to stick with the standard ‘N’ Arnold style coupling.  Dapol knuckles look a little better, but are very expensive.  The horse boxes can easily have couplings fitted, using those in the kits or Dapol conversion kits.  The Gresley’s have NEM pockets.  I thought that the bogies for the bullion van could prove difficult, but it turns out that the NGS coupling pockets – rejected as useless for my Warwells – will work very well here.  Moral of the story, never throw anything away.

I must try and complete the Gresley’s tomorrow, then look to something new.  Perhaps one of these?  A 1991 London promotional vehicle for the then new TravelCards.  That’s what I call a real-life kit-bash!

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Odd modelling ideas #799

Just the five pictures for you today, hopefully to get the ideas flowing.

A real location on South African Railways.  Most companies lift the unused track before concreting!  But put it on your layout and wait for the comments….

A shot of the Chicago ‘L’ terminus.  A real life minimum space layout.  Shades of Minories?

Minimum space in ‘N’ – Australian style.

And finally, our backscenes are so, so boring!  How about this angry Berlin sky as a setting for your trains?

And an old-style Japanese station – 50’s or 60’s?  Again very modellable and a contrast to modern concrete paved track and bullet trains.

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