Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Narrow minded?

As posted on the FR e-group by Dan Crow, a very nice little summary of why I too find narrow gauge railways most intriguing:

Narrow gauge railways have many advantages over their standard gauge brethren:

They are human scale; rather than huge fire-breathing dragons huffing in some cavernous terminus...

They are our size: carriages just big enough to hold a human frame; locomotives that a few strong arms can lift back onto the track when they go wandering.

They are individual - a class of locomotives on the narrow gauge means two engines that are somewhat alike, not hundreds of identical machines.

Each line and item of rolling stock is idiosyncratic and personal. They are built to serve a specific need and not as general-purpose transportation systems - they are specific railways built for local needs. Each railway is indelibly shaped by its purpose and the landscape it travels through.

They are humble. They do not set speed records, nor carry great bulk of goods. They trundle up the valley to retrieve a few trucks and trundle back to the quay. In other words they are of their place, perfectly fitted into the landscape,both natural and human. They are about, and of, their community, not commerce.

They are your family, not your boss.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Progress on coaches...

Really pleased with myself - completed the superstructure of my first, full, 'do it myself' coach. FR observation no. 100, now mess coach 1000.... The tip cleaner I bought at the Warwick show really helped the soldering iron and it works like a dream now. cool.

The completed side. Just needs a roof, bogies, door handles, glazing, couplings and painting!

The funkey, WHR saloon and now 1000 make a nice line-up!

Oh and lest I forget, some plastic wagons and FR coach NO. 37 I made a few weeks back too that are now in the glass cabinet for some reason I forget now...




Hi all,

Visited Warwick show yesterday, and this is what I found....

Clarendon in P4 - gorgeous stock, love that lined LNWR stuff, very nice station building canopy...the curved area at the other end was not quite as good, but clearly a quality layout. 9/10 (tempted to drop it a point 'cos it's P4, but I'll let it off on this occasion. Just would seriously annoy me if I can some LNWR OO stock, which I couldn't run on it!!)

Vine Street. O gauge - immaculate locos and stock and with sound!!! Cool. Cracking scenery around the bridge (see photo above) too. See this video: that I took on my digicam for a sense of it - just needs smoke machines and it'd be perfect. 9.5/10

Sutton Folly. what was cool about this layout was that kids were operating it (any kids attending the show) from a position in front of the layout. Too many people in our hobby put down kids, by adding 'this is a scale model, not a toy; and associated nonsense to their models. The kids love it and frankly if our hobby is to survive into the future, these kids are our market.

Some nice scenery on Dalmally.

N gauge now. Gordano Bridge and my does this layout have some bridges - must be about 10 separate bridges on the layout!!

Narrow gauge!!! Hooray!!! South Arpafeelie Mining Co in 16mm scale. Big, heavy (apparently) and quite nice. Just one loco doing a loop, nice though and good trackwork which looked like the real thing would have been - i.e. not in any way perfect!

Otherwise the show was good. A decent selection of traders - 247, mercian, squires etc and I picked up a few tools and bits...
Overall show rating = 7.5/10 would have been much higher with some 009 or 0-16.5 interest!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

101 uses for a cocktail stick and other short stories...

Hi all,
Sorry for the delay in posting...I did warn you about the shed!!!

Well, the shed is up, glazed, felted and locked. This has cleared a load of room in the garage (more space for the layout!). I forgot to take an image of the shed completed before it got dark, so you'll have to see the standard sales image (you get the idea, it's a shed!).

So, what's with the odd title?? Well, we did manage to do some soldering this weekend... Below is the evidence, a WHR saloon. This kit is from allen doherty (worsley works) and is one of his 'scratch-aid' kits. i.e. sides, ends, floor, bogies and a few other bits, but no roof, door handles, wheels, bearings, couplings, interior detail etc. However, you get what you pay for and they are the only kits available for these coaches, so it's either these or scratchbuilding, which is a dark art practised by strange people with far too much time on their hands!

However, I do have one major gripe with these kits....the instructions...they are very brief (one page a4), include no diagrams and in many cases are completely impossible to understand. But, I suppose I should be grateful that nice Mr Gray has sent me the drawings of the coaches and that this coach even has instructions, other worsley kits I have in stock, don't have any instructions at all!

Anyway, back to those cocktail sticks. I discovered this weekend that the perfect tool for holding a nut that you wish to solder to a piece of brass is in fact a cocktail stick. This will hold the nut where you want it, is wooden so you don't get burnt fingers and stops solder from going down into the thread. cool! Claire and I walked down to the co-op today to get some cocktail sticks, oh and some other shopping and stuff, but that's immaterial, we got the cocktail sticks!!

I also learned a few other interesting things this weekend. But before I impart this knowledge, I must say that the usual stuff you read in books absolutely applies ... cleanliness, enough flux, enough heat from a clean and tinned iron and 'confidence' apply.... Without these soldering is 100 times harder than if done correctly. Certainly, if you lack confidence, the shacking hand can make certian joints much harder than necessary(!)

So, some other tips...

- always start in the middle of a joint - a quick tack of solder to hold the two pieces together is always good, but start in the middle to allow for expansion by heat and also because it's not as far to drag the solder along the joint.

- use some cork (from tracklaying) to hold pieces, it doesn't get hot!

- collect many and various shapes and bits to hold pieces together, I have used blu-tack, offcuts of wood in varying sizes, masking tape, clips etc and of course cocktail sticks! (you might be getting the idea I'm impressed by the cocktail sticks thing eh???)

Anyway, one WHR coach is nearly done, a few others have also been removed from the fret, cleaned up and started - the production line is well and truly up and running. Bring it on!


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Quick update (can't think of an amusing title this time, sorry)


Quick update:

Found some time today to finish the cutting and extraction of the last few bits of extraneous cork (it was laid in big sheets as that was easier, allowing cutting out later). Also the track was finally fettled into alignment and the final 50 or so track pins were punched in. I am 3 pins short (unbelievable eh!) so a trip to Derby model railway shop (trainlines) tomorrow is in order.

Now all I need to do is get some milled angle for those excellent worsley works B wagons I got for Christmas (4 off) and get moving on construction... I wonder if trainlines do that too???

Progress over the next week or so is likely to be hampered by the need to erect a shed. It's a long story, but basically we need room in the nursery, so some stuff has to go in the garage, but the garage is full of layout(!), so the gardening stuff in the garage has to go in a shed, so I need a shed!

Long term of course this shed could be a nice starting place for a garden railway ummm, that gets me thinking, but for now I suppose I really ought to finish Rhyd Ddu and not dream on about other projects!


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Striking while the iron is hot!

Hi all,

I'll leave my views on the secret art that is soldering for future posts, but yesterday produced the correct set of circumstances for some coach modelling i.e. Thomas went to sleep early!!

I started work to finish off a project I started a while ago (my first soldering job) on coach 100, now the WHR mess coach No. 1000. Image below...

I soldered the doors on, folded up and soldered the bogies and tidied up some of the previous attempts at soldering. This kit is now ready for final assembly of the sides and floor. However, I need some advice on this and need to study some photos of the coach in its new 1000 guise before I progress, so I moved on to...

The WHR saloon...I removed the sides and ends from the fret, cleaned them up and then removed the floor, soldering this into its required shape (a U shape) and did the same with the mini U shapes that help form the sides and ends in the corners. Following this, I thought why not do the same for other similar coaches and start a kind of batch production. So...

The WHR brake saloon was next, followed by the Pullman.

Hopefully, these coaches can be finished with floors, sides and bogies completed when Dad comes up next weekend. So, until then, I put down the soldering iron (with a gasp of relief that I hadn't done too much damage with it so far!).

I then found a parkside plastic kit of FR semi-open No.38 and so, in a quick half an hour, I completed this kit, with bogies, internal seats and brakes all cemented in place. All this requires now is the roof cutting to exact dimensions, the vac pipes glued on and painting...


Monday, January 01, 2007

A diversion...

So, happy new year to all readers of my blog and welcome to 2007!!

My first post of the year has something to do with Wales and railway modelling, but not narrow gauge or 4mm scale. It is in fact, my Dad's layout (the railway artist's -

Firstly, it's in 3mm scale as is standard gauge. For those of you who might not have heard of 3mm modelling, see the society site at

It's a junction, where main line Cambrian coast services meet branch services from Caergwyddno. Where I hear you ask? Well, that's an interesting story...

It all relates the the legend of the Cantre’r Gwaelod (in English, the low hundred). For more info see

Basically, Cantre’r Gwaelod extended some 20 miles west of the current shoreline into what is now Cardigan Bay, and was ruled as part of the Kingdom of Meirionnydd by Gwyddno Garanhir (Longshanks). The land was said to be extremely fertile, so much so that it was said that any acre there was worth four acres elsewhere (certainly the kind of place a railway might serve).

The catch was that the land depended on a dyke to protect it from the sea. The dyke had sluice gates that were opened at low tide to drain the water from the land, and closed as the tide returned.

One night a storm blew up from the south west, driving the spring tide against the sea walls. The appointed watchman, Seithennin, a heavy drinker and friend of the King, was at a party in the King’s palace near Aberystwyth. Some say he fell asleep due to too much wine or that he was too busy having fun to notice the storm and to shut the sluices. The water gates were left open, and the sea rushed in to flood the land of the Cantref, drowning over 16 villages.

OK, so this legend is apparently dated as 600 AD, well before railways, but it's a nice story and something to get people talking.

A visit to Sarn Gynfelyn, a natural causeway integral to the legend, and Borth Sands where the remains of an ancient forest are revealed at low tide show perhaps why the legend continues to this day. Another cluster of ancient tree stumps is located in the mouth of the Dovey Estuary.

In 2003, British scientists unveiled a scanning technique that can create a map of sea beds to identify where people might have lived in the sea off the current Welsh coastline.

Back to the fiction Caergwyddno is the castle of Gwyddno on this area now flooded by Cardigan Bay... The actual station is called 'Glaslyn Junction' and features a lovely Cambrian-style river bridge. This would place the station somewhere between Porthmadog and Minffordd on the Cambrian coast line.

The station name board - not painted, but printed on high quality inkjet paper on a home printer. I will use the same technique for the Rhyd Ddu nameboards, the font is arial black.

That bridge, the water is modelled using woodland scenics 'realistic water' and it looks pretty realistic!

The goods shed, a card shell faced with DAS modelling clay and scribed, a technique likely to find use on Rhyd Ddu with all those stone walls to model!

The station building. Why brick, when the good shed is stone? Well, the branch line was there first (600 AD!!) and the Cambrian brick style came with the main line, but they kept the good shed, or something like that!

A view along the layout, about half finished. The points are operated by the 'wire in tube' method, there will be hidden sidings both ends, 2 controllers (DC not DCC) and a backscene (maybe a painted draped curtain), lighting and final scenery. The area to the left of the image above may well become a row of houses...

Nice eh! The first show is likely to be in Cheltenham in April...