Monday, 21 November 2011

Rusty rails

 One of the tedious tasks when building a layout is to paint the rails.  There are various methods nowadays ranging from spray-painting the track in situ to a rather natty looking gizmo I've just discovered on the web which uses a tiny foam wheel to apply the paint to the rail sides.  I opted for the old-fashioned brush painting way.  As long as you get comfortable, put some decent music on and concentrate it soon gets done.  Rather than using a paint shade marketed to portray rusty rails I use ordinary Humbrol Matt Leather enamel (62) suitably thinned down.  To my eyes the branded "track colour" is simply too dark in a small scale.   

It works!

A couple of weeks ago I finally completed the wiring on my new layout "Chipping Compton".  Test running it was successful apart from a minor wiring error which was soon remedied.  As on previous layouts the points are controlled by using the simple wire-in-tube method but this time rather than using metal tubing for the wire to run through I used PTFE tubing.  Model Signal Engineering sell a nice low-price kit.  The tube runs can just be seen running across the board on this view of the scenic section of the layout.  As I had used 1/8 cork sheet to cover the ply baseboard it means the tubing is hidden nicely in narrow trenches in the cork meaning it is flush with the surface.   The shaped blocks at the foot of the backscene will be hidden by scenery and are there to provide additional support for the backscene. 

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Nostalgia Corner

Back in the 1970's the Malmesbury area group of the 3mm Society exhibited a lengthy branch line layout.  I first saw it at the Wales & West of England show which in those days was held at the Victoria Rooms in Whiteladies Road, Bristol.  This layout was certainly a major factor in my decision to switch to 3mm scale.  Looking back to old show guides of the time it was either called The Acton Turville and Milbury Railway or The Foxham Extension Railway and was certainly unusual for the time as it operated with full bell codes and real block instruments.  If you have any more pictures of this layout or even recognise yourself in this picture please leave a comment.  The late Paddy Lockstone was I believe responsible for the model of the station building in the centre foreground which is a replica of that at Malmesbury station.  

Monday, 26 September 2011

Track relaying

Ever since I laid the track on Chipping Compton I've never been completely happy with the way the main running line crosses one of the baseboard joins.  Despite the fact that nothing has yet run on the layout under it's own power I could see a very slight "ramp" effect which was just visible to the naked eye when looking along the line from track level.  Granted, my chosen wheel and track standards are not finescale (more "intermediate") but I just was not happy.  So Friday night I set to and cut out a short section either side of the join and very carefully let in a section as per the picture.  Care was taken to ensure it was an exact fit with no gaps either end. The picture also shows the two copper-clad sleepers used to strengthen my track adjacent to baseboard joins.  Once in place both rails were cut with a fine razor saw....after the rails had been soldered to the sleepers of course.  I'm glad I carried this out as I'd never of been happy with it the way it was and running would have suffered too.  Once ballasted this job would have been much harder (and messier to do).   In short, never rush building your layout, take your time to get it right at each stage.

Westfest 2011

A couple of weekends ago saw me down in sunny (make that rainy) Bournemouth for a small 3mm scale exhibition organised by Steve Fackrell and his local group of the 3mm Society.  Among the layouts on display was Nigel Cullimore's "St Levan".  The whole layout is seen here demonstrating how compact it is but also showing that it doesn't look too cluttered.  A cracking little layout in fact.

I've converted this shot to greyscale to give it a bit of a period feel.  A classic GW branch line view with the classic GW branch train of a 14xx and autocoach.

Station building for Chipping Compton

Camrail gave me the opportunity to put in some hours on the station building.  This is the forecourt side of the William Clarke building from Barber's Bridge.  The brickpaper used is from Howard Scenics and whilst intended for 4mm modellers, looks ok for 3mm scale.  I have scribed horizontal lines along the courses to give it some texture.    

Sunday, 24 July 2011


This weekend saw myself and my brother Richard demonstrating once again at Camrail in Bradford-on-Avon.  This year this 2 day show had a theme focusing on the light railways of Colonel Holman F. Stephens.  As well as several layouts following this theme the Colonel Stephens Society were in attendance and if any light railway devotees are out there and were not aware it was going on then they missed something quite special.  My own demo table had 1/3 of my new "Chipping Compton" layout on show.  The buildings are not in there final positions though.                                                    

One of the Colonel Stephen's layouts on show was Rye Town and here we see "Tenterden" approaching the terminus with a goods working.  

The Weston, Clevedon and Portishead Light Railway's terminus in Weston Super Mare was a humble affair and this 4mm scale model is a very fine portrayal indeed.  Here we see one of the ex LBSCR Terrier tanks standing at the platform having just arrived from Portishead.                 

Autocoach heaven

The weekend of 2/3 July saw the Dean Forest Railway run their Branchline Gala.  This featured the debut of Mike Little's second autocoach into service.  His 14xx number 1450 is seen here sandwiched between two autocoaches just after leaving Parkend and about to pass over a foot crossing.  The car nearest the camera is a BR-built type and has been named "Chaffinch".  Whilst not running in BR service with this name two cars from this batch were indeed named "Wren" and "Thrush". 

Track laying begins!

It's been mentioned on this blog for months but track laying finally commenced on 15th June.  Here we see the engine release crossover being started.  Why start at this end of the layout you may be asking?  Simple, to ensure there really was enough space for the largest loco intended to run on this layout (a Collett 2251) to fit in here with a little room to spare..   

Marking out

Back in late May I began to plot the final position of the track on the baseboards which by now had been covered in cork sheeting.  Here we see one of the boards all marked out.     

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Railex 2011

The Risborough club have done it again and this year's Railex at the Stoke Mandeville Stadium is as good as ever. Lots of quality layouts and lots of people paying to see them so not many photographs this year. Highlights for me included the delightful Nettlebridge Valley Railway by Neil Kinison. A freelance light railway very much in the style of the late John Ahern's Madder Valley.

I was particularly pleased to see Trerice by Iain Rice. A minimum space depiction of a Cornish clay drying facility but not cramped and totally believable.

I also managed to get the PTFE tubing and wire for the new layout so I came away very happy!

Friday, 27 May 2011


I have finally reached the stage where track laying can begin. The two scenic boards are ready having had a layer of cork sheet glued down and the track layout plotted out. The position of the various structures has been confirmed as this view of one of the station boards shows. On the shopping list for "Railex" at Aylesbury tomorrow are some necessities such as ballast and PTFE tubing for the point rodding. At something like ten feet in length the whole layout seems large compared to my previous layouts. I must say that whilst I have no intention of rushing this project I am looking forward to getting some track down. As a side project I have decided to change the choice of station building for Chipping Compton. Rather than the small wooden building from Hannington on the Highworth branch I have opted for one of the "William Clarke" type from the Gloucester - Hereford line. As I am once again fortunate to be demonstrating at this year's "Camrail" show in Bradford-on-Avon on 23rd & 24th July I shall spend the time gainfully employed on this.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Cat-proofing your layout

As with all my layouts, it was always the intention to protect the sections when not in use under purpose-made covers. These not only allow the layout to be transported safely but keep the dust off and also inquisitive moggies! Storing them away in a corner would result in having to move stuff out of the way and inevitably deter quick modelling sessions on the layout itself. The solution was to fix up some shelving in the railway room enabling sections simply to be selected for working on. Here we see Tilly seeing if it's a good place to sit.
The baseboards have taken a lot longer to finish off than expected. The shelving has already allowed more time to be spent on them (I'm fussy when it comes to woodworking) and tracklaying should finally start soon.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

I'm back....and still building wagons!

Apologies for the length of time since the last blog entry. Rest assured I have still been busy modelling though. I have made precious little progress on the boards for Chipping Compton but have made up for it in the last few days by having a go at the covers for each board. I have spent my modelling time mainly building more wagons but have taken steps to improve their appearance by adding etched brake levers and "V" hangers ets. One wagon (seen left) has been fitted with a Fencehouses etched chassis albeit with Worsley Works brake levers as the ones with the kit were rather flimsy in comparison. That's no reflection on the kit, just my soldering skills!