Thursday 31 December 2009


I hope you all had a good Christmas! Mine involved a long drive to my parents, seeing friends and family, enjoying time with the kids, a tummy bug, and now a stinking cold. Pretty typical really! Nonetheless, at least I have some time off work. So what did Santa bring? Well, nothing big this year, but I did get some interesting reading:

I've rather enjoyed Paul A Lunn's series of articles in Railway Modeller proposing micro-layouts, obviously enjoying micro-layouts myself I was pleased to get his book on the subject. It contains a selection of ideas similar to the articles in RM, with some attractively illustrated plans. To my mind many of the plans verge on the gimicky, with extremely short trains (30cm in OO gauge?!) and much use of traversers, sector plates and loco lifts in the operation of them - personally I prefer layouts with slightly more prototypical operation. Also I thought the text could have been more in-depth in places, explaining construction and operation better. However there are some great ideas, and the first section of the book gives good tips on designing small layouts.

The biggest omission to me though was Narrow Gauge - using NG is extremely popular in building micro-layouts, so it seems odd that it is not even mentioned. I guess the book is aimed at the mainstream, RTR-using modeller (all plans use OO scale), but scales such as 009 and O-16.5 are established and popular and given the subject of the book I think they should at least have been suggested.

This is another book of plans by Iain Rice, and those that have read his other books on the subject will find no surprises here, just lots of great ideas for layouts in a variety of spaces, all with good scenic and operational potential, and well-illustrated and explained. Some may not like his style, and not all his ideas will suit, but his approach to layout design has inspired me over the years. And yes, there is even a narrow-gauge plan!

A friend of mine is a big fan of the Sittingbourne 2'6" gauge railway and is planning a layout based on the Bowaters Paper Mill. I know very little about this system so when I saw this book by David Hammersley at EXPO-NG I had to get a copy (although the elves came and took it away so Santa could deliver it!). As the name suggests it is packed full of photo's, showing the atmosphere and detail of this industrial narrow-gauge empire, with a number of colour photos too. The captions are informative as is the brief introduction to the line, overall a great book for the narrow-gauge and/or industrial railway enthusiast, and for any modeller!

Wishing you all a Happy New Year, and hoping for some more productive modelling!
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Saturday 12 December 2009

Work in progress (but not mine!)

OK, so I still haven't had much time for actually doing any modelling! Various other distractions, including small children and their usual tendency to pick up any bug going, and the usual pre-Christmas nonsense (why do we spend weeks preparing for one day?), have got in the way. However I do have a few projects lined up for the new year.

Meanwhile I thought I'd show some photos of some friends' work-in-progress, which have inspired me. Mark Holland is building a model of Welshpool, he showed this at the Haywards Heath club show back in March, at that point he had only just got the station and yards to a reasonably complete state. However at a recent club-night he brought along the next board which contains the line winding through the streets and back-yards of the town. Now Mark calls the layout "Spirit of Welshpool" as he does not claim it to be an accurate representation - indeed a lot of selective compression has taken place and a few landmarks have moved! - but nonetheless comparing the under-construction town scene with old photos in books it is instantly recognisable. Bear in mind that this is only Mark's second model railway layout, to embark upon such a model is quite a feat!

This is where the line crosses the canal, and then Church Street, and dives between the shops. These have lighting and will be fitted out. The canal wharf has been "moved" to add interest to the scene.

Behind the houses and shops, the line ran over a stream - and along it! - on a strange bridge-over-culvert arrangement. When complete there will be railings, washing hanging out ...

In the background is the garage, where cars always seemed to be parked inches from the loading gauge of the passing trains! The church would be to the right. Mark has based the buildings on old and modern photos of the area, although they are not accurate representations and many are missing, it really captures the atmosphere already. There's a lot of work left to do though!

Finally, here is another work-in-progress, my friend Rob is building this model of a Darjeeling railcar using a Worsley Works kit on a Kato chassis. It has now been primed, and I can't wait to see his painting skills again. This model interests me as I have something similar waiting on my workbench ...

Incidentally, these photos were all taken with my latest mobile phone. Normal room lighting and no tripod. It's amazing what they will do these days, I don't think I could have got better photos with my "proper" camera!
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