Saturday 23 November 2013


There will be a slight interruption to modelling proceedings...

...Hopefully normal service will be restored before too long!

Friday 15 November 2013

Starting the Tram Loco

I decided the mounts that came with the chassis could be used, I selected those intended for the Billard as being the most suitable. Soldering them on was a little tricky, this would be easier before fitting the running gear to the chassis. The motor end bracket needed trimming to clear the rubber band drive.

The tram body etch is typical of Worsley Works, neat but basic and without instructions! I still find getting four sides square and aligned and soldered together a big challenge, but after an evening of fiddling I've got it as good as I am going to. Hopefully any remaining gaps can be filled and any misalignment put down to "character".

As yet I haven't fitted the roof, I need to find a suitable chimney first, and it might be better to leave fitting it until after sorting out the floor and interior. The etch includes multiple pieces to make up the distinctive U-shape buffer-beams of the Wantage Tramway prototype, however:
1) I can't make out how they are supposed to go together, and
2) being rather wide to suit the standard gauge prototype's buffers, I don't think they will suit a narrow gauge loco.
I think I will make up buffer-beams and side skirts from plasticard, the Wantage loco spent most of its life without side skirts but I will need them to hide the small wheels.

If you didn't know this was supposed to be a standard gauge loco you would never guess, it is tiny! At 27mm wide it is admittedly slightly wider than most 009 stock, but well within the variations of narrow gauge and as seen here, it looks at home with my Parkside "GVT style" coaches. I've bent the chassis mounts so the height looks about right, though I have yet to find a way to attach the chassis to the body.

So far a promising start, though it might be a while before it progresses much further, due to the impending house move!
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Sunday 10 November 2013

Brighton Show 2013

Yesterday I popped over to the Brighton MRC show, a typical local club show in a rather cramped venue but not far to go and usually worth a visit. It was good to see a good Narrow Gauge presence. Here is Raven's Rock by Tony Hill in O-16.5, based on Dinorwic slate quarry scene it is impressive and detailed, really capturing the feel of the Welsh slate quarries.


Fairleigh Down in O9 by Jason & Mason Pendrey is a very different theme, inspired by MOD arms depots. It featured computer-controlled DCC trains, automated bunker doors, and a radio-control tank.


This 009 layout wasn't listed in the program, but I think it might have been by Phil Gardner, is a nicely done "Rabbit Warren". This type of layout has long been subjected to ridicule but I think it's great, popular with non-enthusiast show visitors and not too serious!

This layout also shows the new Peco RTR coach can take some seriously tight curves, I don't know how tight they are but that can't be more than 9" radius I reckon!

Not NG (except in the Great Western sense) but with some superb buildings was Woodstowe by David Cox in 00 scale.

There were a few other good layouts too, some I had seen before but most not, so an enjoyable show.
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Tuesday 5 November 2013

A collection of projects

Since we are expecting to move house soon I had cleared away all my modelling materials and most of my tools into boxes, I even finished Thakeham 3 weeks before EXPO to allow time for this. But as is the way with house moves it seems we are still some way from the big day, so a box was reopened and some projects dug out.

Bottom left is another Egger coach grabbed at EXPO so I can increase my rake to three, or run a second mixed train (Awngate only fits two bogie coaches).

Above that is a Wantage Tram etch, along with a Halling chassis (top left) I got to go in it. However the Halling doesn't fit as it is too long, a shame as they are superb runners, so I have other thoughts developing to use that. Meanwhile I picked up a Meridian MPD18 chassis kit at the Convention.

Bottom right is an impulse buy from EXPO-NG, a WW1 Simplex should fit Awngate nicely. My son wants me to build the full armoured version but I'm leaning towards protected. This was bought with the MPD18 chassis to fit - but this time a Mk2 version despite being bought just a month later than the first I bought, hence the different packaging!

So there is plenty to get on with. The coach is probably the easiest having done two already, and the Simplex if a "proper" kit so should be reasonably straightforward, but I'm keen to start the tram loco to have something a bit different for Awngate, even though it may be the most complex project here.

So here is the MPD18 Mk1 chassis! It proved fairly quick to put together, though being tiny it is rather fiddly. The etch fits together very cleanly, I'm not convinced by the motor mount but it seems to work. I'd rather have larger wheels, these are just wagon or pony-truck wheels and I think they'll struggle to pick up power well. The axle is small too,

A couple of tips to anyone building one:
- Two brass tube sleeves are supplied to allow the worm gears to fit the smaller diameter axles. The instructions suggest drilling holes through the sleeve tubes to allow the superglue in to attach them to the axle, this sounded fiddly so I simply cut across the tube with a razor saw until a hole appeared.
- The pick-up on the insulated side is supposed to be fitted under the chassis by gapping the tiny PCB and soldering the upper half behind the lower part of the chassis side. I found this impossible, it would have been easier before assembling the running gear into the chassis. But then I realised I didn't need to bother as it could be superglued to the outside of the chassis and work just as well!

Considering it's tiny size and it is the first 009 chassis I have ever built (other than a Salford Models Hudson diesel which I failed to get working as a teenager) I'm rather pleased. It seems to work - but only with a finger on it, as it is too light to pick-up power! I need to add more weight to properly test it.
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Sunday 3 November 2013

EXPO-NG 2013 - The other layouts!

There were lots of other good layouts at EXPO-NG too, I mean the invited layouts! One I had been looking forward to seeing was Nottery Quay (009) by Chris O'Donoghue, as this featured in the 009 News in my early days of 009 modelling. It is still a brilliant little layout and a classic example of getting atmosphere into a small model, and despite appearances it is definitely Not Rye.

The other end of the same layout is Shell Bay, the opposite extreme in that instead of a busy harbour scene it is a desolate sand dune, with an amazing sense of space in a very small area.

Minibury Abbas by Chris Krupa is another 009 layout than inspired me in my early modelling days, so much so that I pinched the track plan for my layout Boxton, which was designed to fit a caravan locker but built to take to university. It was nice to see the layout again and great to see it looks and runs as well as I remembered!

Grindley Brook (009) by Tim Ellis is a layout I have followed on the NGRM Forum, Tim not only clearly has a great skill with the scenic work but also builds superb model locos, far too many for the layout so there was a display cabinet full too.

Tim certainly has an eye for detail, it's hard to believe the scene below is in a space less than 6" x 12".

Also on display was another of Tim's models, this workshop in O9 represents that of a miniature pleasure railway. This is the level of detail often seen in Gn15 layouts.

On a completely different note this model in 7mm scale by Bernard Junk (gauge unspecified... I suppose it counts as Narrow)  is of Le monorail Lartigue. Yes the French prototype for this monorail did actually exist, and a better known similar system using the same principle also existed in Ireland. And yes, this model actually worked - how I have no idea, but with a significant wobble as it went!

I could go on and on, because there were many superb layouts, but I will leave you with a link to the full set my photos - click the link below. Enjoy!
EXPO-NG 2013

Friday 1 November 2013

EXPO 2013: The Dave Brewer Challenge

This year's challenge at EXPO NG marked 30 years of Expo Narrow Gauge, 40 years of Meridian Models and 45 years of the Greenwich & District Narrow Gauge Railway Society. The rules stipulated the layout must be triangular with sides in the ratio 30:40:45, up to a maximum of 1.8x those numbers in cm. This makes for an unusual and challenging layout to design. You've seen enough of my entry so here are the other entries - there were 5 in total, which is less than most recent layout challenges and I think reflects the difficulty with the triangular constraints.

I'll start with the winning model, Windrush Wharf in 009 by Richard Holder, featuring a canal and warehouse, yet also providing a surprisingly rural and detailed scene. The track plan is the old-favourite inglenook, albeit well disguised, making for interesting shunting, while putting the backscene around the two shorter sides allows it to fill a corner. The over-bridge suggests more of the line is off-stage and allowing it to be added to a larger layout.

South Calene Palm Oil Plantation in HOe (I didn't get the builder's name) was much smaller model in an original setting, I do like the palm trees. Operation was more limited though, passing wagons between the two tracks via the working turntable (probably as tedious as Thakeham!).

A Cut above the rest in 009 by David Bumstead is a fictional lawnmower factory. The track-plan is original and interesting, with sector plates in each corner. Good use has been made of Metcalf card kits and the track is inset into a cobbled yard made from DAS - as I did with Landswood Park. I think a little weathering and more details - particularly to give the railway a sense of purpose - would add a lot to this model, but  given the clever design and tidy construction you'd never guess it was built by a teenager!

Finally this original interpretation attracted a lot of attention... Again I didn't get the builder's name, or the scale (I guess it is 1:1), and no it wasn't real cheese. But it is nice to have some humour at an exhibition, I bet it stumped the rivet counters!