Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Cheltenham Model Railway Show

Spent the majority of the weekend at the show looking at layouts or buying photos from Stewart Blencowe's stand. Mike Corp's brilliant 3mm scale "West Harptree" was there and as well as taking even more photos of this inspirational layout I spent a far part of Sunday operating it as well! The running on this layout is faultless with there being no stalling and finger poking required at all. The only time a loco refused to budge for me was down to my error. I just wish I could achieve this level of reliability with all my locos. Next time you see this layout at a show take some time to really watch it and appreciate 3mm modelling at its very best. This view shows virtually the entire station area and you can see the layout in a forthcoming edition of "Railway Modeller".

Almost there!

The final stages of building the 57xx pannier are now within sight as this view of the bunker rear shows. Much extra detail has been added including the fire-iron and lamp brackets. I intend to make a set of fire-irons and the inevitable bucket to hang on the back!

These views were taken a couple of weeks ago and since then I have added the injectors and top-feed pipes. The cab roof will be fitted after all the painting has been completed and a crew added. The smokebox door handles are 4mm items cut down in length and thinned down a tad. Much better than anything I could cobble together and I don't care for moulded-on ones.

Friday, 14 August 2009


A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the Camrail show in Bradford-on-Avon whilst demonstrating 3mm modelling alongside my brother who was showing his 7mm scratchbuilding exploits. One of the layouts on view was the N gauge rendition of Ashburton by John Birkett-Smith. The quality of modelling and sheer artistry on this layout demand detailed study.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009


On Sunday I visited the annual Wells show and as always it was a great exhibition with superb layouts and good trade support. Amongst the layouts was a model of that old favourite amongst GW branch termini, Hemyock. Chris Lamacraft's EM portrayal of this bucolic byway is simply stunning.

Pannier progress

Quite a bit of progress has been made on the 57XX pannier previously mentioned on here. This shot of the completed chassis was taken back in June. Halfords matt black spray paint was used.

After fitting the motor, gearbox and wheels I tried it for size with the completed running plate assembly and after a small amount of filing it all fits perfectly. My standard choice is for a Mashima 9/16 and Branchlines RSL gearbox. The coupling rods are secured at this trial stage by plastic sheathing from layout wire. They will eventually be soldered on with Romford crankpin washers at a later stage.

Here the cab assembly, bunker and tank castings are put together loose just for a trial fit.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Railex 2009 Aylesbury

Made the annual pilgrimage to the Aylesbury Show last weekend. It never fails to offer top-class layouts and this year was no exception. I particularly wanted to see Faringdon by Stephen Williams, a fantastic layout full of well-observed detail and perfectly portraying the terminus as well as a wonderful scenic section on the way to the fiddle yard. It is everything a good layout should be...but then again I'm biased being a Great Western branch line devotee! The layout was operating in BR (WR) guise (on the Sunday at least) and ran beautifully. Rather than post the thirty-odd pictures I took of it on here treat yourself to Model Railway Journal 77 or part 3 of Stephen's series of books on GWR branch line modelling from Wild Swan Publications. This little cameo on the platform is very pleasing, portraying a slower pace of life in a world now vanished. Not one passenger with a mobile phone, no graffiti and not a hi-vis jacket in site!

Here we see a typical WR branch line scene with a 57xx pannier and B-set just arrived at Faringdon with a van in tow. The prototype for the distinctive station building still survives today, in use a a nursery.

One of the best 3mm layouts around is West Harptree by Mike Corp. It portrays a fictional GWR branch in North Somerset with a connection to the Somerset & Dorset, hence the appearance of this LMS 3F 0-6-0. This layout is always a delight to watch, particular attention is paid to reliable running and it shows.

Monday, 11 May 2009

The inspiration

Way back in the early days of this blog I mentioned that my new 3mm scale layout was inspired by a 4mm scale one from the early 1970's by John Flann. Here is a photo of "Little Hintock", a layout which has always been one of my favourites. My interpretation is called "Chipping Compton".

Monday, 4 May 2009

Not another pannier!

Over the years I've built a fair number of locomotives and being a devotee of ex-GW branch lines a high percentage have been panniers of one sort or another. As any 3mm modellers reading this will know, if you wanted a 57XX type you used to have to either scratch build or use the old GEM kit. The GEM kit was (and still is) perfectly usable but when the Brynkits one came on the market its etched brass and resin construction seemed to make an even better looking loco achievable. Having already made an example of the 8750 series from a Brynkits etch I thought it would be nice to have another from the 5700 series with its older style cab. I'm taking my time with this one as it will hopefully become the staple motive power for the new layout and special attention will be taken to ensure it runs as well as possible. The following photographs and notes are not intended to be a guide to construction as the instructions provided are perfectly adaquate, they are merely here a a work log to show I've been doing something!
The first part of the kit to be completed was the cab sub-assembly which is mainly another fold-up unit apart from the rear end which just slots nicely into position. The trickiest part without a doubt was the beading around the cabside aperture. As an exercise to get back into soldering again after many months it worked quite well and I am particularly pleased with the look of the cab rear windows and their coal bars.

Next to be tackled was the running plate which consists mainly of 2 etches which are simply sweated together. The lower one incorporates fold-up spasher fronts to which the splasher tops are soldered. Side overlays include front and rear steps.

The kit uses an ingenious fold-up method and makes a really good entry-level kit for anybody new to chassis construction. It is pretty difficult not to assemble it squarely. This is the 14th one I've made using this concept and I must mention that I have removed the spring detail from the frames below the 2 front axles. This is done merely to allow my choice of pick-ups to be used and does not detract from the finished appearance.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

New start

After having another enforced long break from modelling I'm back with a vengeance. The wagon projects mentioned in the last posting (so long ago now!) have almost been completed as well as a couple of others. The new layout is still in the "flat pack timber" stage but the concept remains unchanged. To kick off what is really a relaunch of this blog here are a few photos which prove I have been busy at long last!

This ex-GW Iron Mink is from the Finney and Smith range and is produced for them by Cambrian.

This ex-LMS 3 plank open is from a 3mm Society kit produced by Parkside.

One of the "SNCF" type of mineral wagons produced for the 3mm society by Parkside kits.