Starting Them Young

Thomas building his first wagon.

We may have another contributor to the project soon!

My little boy, Thomas (well not so little now – he’s recently turned eight), and wants to have his own layout now – not the typical roundy-roundy that we might (wrongly?) expect a child to want but a shunting layout much like Paul Marshall-Potter’s Shelife – he had great fun operating this at Warley a couple of years ago!

And 3 links. He wants 3 link couplings! What have I created?!

To further his own skills, and he’s helped me with little bits and pieces but this is the first thing we’ve done where this is very much ‘his’ rather than him helping someone else. A Dapol (nee Airfix) 16t mineral wagon. And he has done really well – the completed underframe is 95% his own work. The only bits which aren’t are a couple of bits where a third hand came in handy to hold the odd bit or where I showed him how to use the tools properly and safely.

The result is very good indeed, nice and square and free running – once the body’s on I’m sure it’ll make a nice addition to his fleet.

The completed underframe – buffers and couplings to follow.


A trip to DEFine Modellers Day

James and I made the trip to Derbyshire for DEFine’s Modellers Day this weekend.

Splott – industrial modelling to a very high standard. We were really taken by this.

It’s not like a normal exhibition, it’s mostly demonstrations with a small number of layouts which gives a chance to chat in a relaxed and friendly environment. And I talk a lot anyway, so it seems an ideal day out for me!


There are some layouts at shows which get plenty of attention, but it takes a lot for a layout to get a lot of attention when only half of it is displayed and with only a couple of wagons on it. But Splott was just this – we were really taken by it. Steel workings in the Sectorisation period is very much up our street anyway, but when the modelling is this good, it would be hard for anyone not to be engrossed in exploring the layout. It really reminded me of parts of Scunthorpe too – the buildings are superb and really capture the feeling of this sort of location. I can’t wait to see it in its full form!

DEFine Modellers Day

The venue itself was a small village hall which made for a nice, intimate atmosphere. Unlike many village halls, it wasn’t cold or draughty, despite the horrible, murky weather outside. And the sandwiches were good too!

James S helps fund Shawplan’s next skiing trip!

The variety of demonstrations was excellent – I spent most of the day talking to a wide variety of people. All aspects were covered from track to wagons, scenery to coaching stock as well as Ian Penberth from PenBits demonstrating his superb sprung bogies.

Paul Gittins’ lovely 08 built from a Lima body and Crownline chassis – a similar approach to one of my planned 08s.

I was particularity taken by Paul Gittins’ display of his diesel modelling in P4. Paul’s Enigma Engineering is well known on the exhibition circuit – a small shunting layout which visitors can operate – but I’d not scene his mainline stock before. The 08 was based around a Lima body with a Crownline chassis (this chassis will be the basis for one of my locos) and despite the issues of the original Lima model, it looked superb! Oh, and it ran beautifully too.

Similarly his class 22 betrayed its basic origins, using a Hornby class 21/29 body which had been shortened, fitted with new Plastikard sides and roof overlays and running on a much modified Roco chassis. A superb example of diesel modelling!

Paul Gittins’ absolutely lovely Class 22, converted from a Hornby 21/29 body with Plastikard details and running on a much modified Roco chassis. Superb.

We had a lovely time and spoke to plenty of  equally lovely and interesting people! We’ll be going back next year!

A close up of Splott.

DEFine Modellers Day 20th Jan 2018 – Final Line up

An event worth considering if you’re free – all being well we shall be visiting!


With less than two weeks to go now its time to let everyone know the final line up for our DEFine Modellers Day on 20th January. As before, this is not intended to be a traditional exhibition, more of a forum for modellers of all capabilities to meet and discuss projects and maybe pick up or share a tip or two, whilst at the same time see some excellent layouts and examples of modelling. We are indebted to the layout owners and demonstrators who have volunteered to come along to make our day a success. There will be no traders present other than a few small traders who are providing demonstrations of their products.

The event opens to the public at 10 am and entry is a flat rate of £3. There is parking available on-site or on the main road and refreshments will be available. The venue is as…

View original post 526 more words

The Biggest Little Railway in the World

This has absolutely nothing to do with modelling the last years of British Rail in North Lincolnshire but it’s worth a look.

Channel 4’s The Biggest Little Railway in the World – building a seventy mile model railway through the Scottish Highlands.

Firstly, it’s utterly ridiculous.

Who thought that laying over seventy miles of model track was a good idea?

Secondly, it’s good fun to watch!

Channel 4’s The Biggest Little Railway in the World seeks to build a ‘model railway’ from Fort William to Inverness, the route which the proposed Glasgow & North Western Railway would have taken had it been built. I suppose it’s not strictly a model railway as such, in the sense that they are simply laying the track rather than anything else along or around it. Regardless, it’s quite an ambitious project – the track is quite different from we’re used to but makes a lot of sense. Interesting if you like engineering, railways and model railways.

I just hope it shows our hobby in a positive light – the passion and interest that those who build model railways have was clear for all to see. And we are mostly quite normal, regular people

Underwhelmed by Recent RTR Announcements?

Underwhelmed by the recent RTR announcements?

Well, there’s a simple solution… Get modelling!

If this is suggested on various social media platforms as a solution to the lack of a particular model or variant ready to run it’ll often bring replies of how the person doesn’t have the time or the skill to accomplish the task.

We’re not all born with the ability to assemble an etched brass kit or successfully solder white metal. We all have to learn. We all have to practice. We can all do this.

It might take you years to develop the skills but ultimately the creative side of the hobby is one which is incredibly satisfying.

Incident at Barnetby

60004 Lochnager heads along the slow line between Wrawby and Barnetby with the Tioxide working. Although not the neatest of photos with the p-way staff in the foreground, now we find it full of details – not the lack of hard hats on the staff.

A winter’s day at Barnetby in the mid nineties, 60004 Lochnager is bring a train bound for the Tioxide plant through the station. All is fine it seems, the train has come along the slow from Wrawby Junction and is signalled straight back onto the fast line beyond the station (the slow line beyond here towards Brocklesby has been out of use for a number of years by this point). Nothing unusual at all. Until the last wagon passes us.

The train has the road and moves steadily from the slow to the fast line.

We noticed that one of the wheelsets wasn’t rotating and had developed a terrible flat, obvious from over thirty feet away. The signalman at Barnetby East Signal Box had obviously seen around the same time we had, as at this moment we head the signal wires and saw the last semaphore bouncing after having been returned to danger in front of the train – something which, even when you know it’s the right thing to do in an emergency, feels very counter intuitive. It’s also a bit of a shock for the driver too.

The train came to a stand at the signal and very little happened for some considerable time. Traffic heading for Immingham, Grimsby and Cleethorpes came to a complete stand.

47677, University of Stirling, is passing the signal at danger proceeding towards the train to allow access to the cross over so it can be released. The exact reason for needing to do so with this loco wasn’t clear at the time.

The first thing which did happen was a light engine being allowed to pass the signal guarding the rear of the train in order to access the crossover in order to return back the other way. We saw 47677 University of Stirling slowly proceed towards the crossover where the driver was met by the signalman who will have been giving the driving his instructions.

47677 has just crossed over – the signalman can be seen by the loco, passing on instructions to the driver as to where he’s now heading. The Tioxide train can clearly be seen blocking the line in the distance.

Once the class 47 had departed it went quiet again.

After a while someone had arrived and was clearly inspecting the wagon – the decision was taken to set the whole train back (through quite a number sets of points!0 into the sidings alongside the station.

With a suitable gap in traffic the train is propelled towards the sidings.

The member of staff who had come to inspect the wagon can be seen along with the signalman carefully watching the train slowly setting back – no doubt keeping a particular eye as the errant wagon traversed the point work.

By now most of the train is in the sidings, the damaged wagon is well within the sidings and no further harm has been done. You can just see the first train heading for Immingham after quite a gap – an empty iron ore can be seen disappearing into the distance.

With the train safely in the sidings there then followed a mad hour or so as train after train passed, one after another with, seemingly, no gaps between them.

60004 Lochnager has now eased its train into the sidings, out of harm’s way.

In all it must have been a couple of hours from the train first passing to it being safely in the sidings out of the way.

And with the light fading 60004 Lochnager sits in the sidings waiting – we never saw what happened afterwards as we left once things quietened down. But days like this are the ones which fuelled my interest in the operation of it all. How everything works together, how the system recovers from something like this.

And it was all the more fascinating with semaphores and classic traction.

Project 56 – When Things Don’t go to Plan

Sometimes things don’t go to plan…

The model of 56044 with its grilles getting a bit of attention.

But more often than not we don’t show things when haven’t gone as we thought. We obviously want people to see us and our work at its best. But the problem is that it means people can lose heart when all they see in magazines and online is lovely examples flawless of model making. It’s like when you see a lovely brass locomotive in raw metal. You can’t see any solder on the surfaces, it looks so neat. But of course what you can’t see is how it looked before the builder cleaned up all the joints!

So here is something which didn’t go quite as planned…

The Shawplan grilles are incredibly fine – beautiful products really. In a previous post on this project the results and finesse of the grilles were clear to see and in its unpainted state the problem wasn’t obvious. However, once I primed the model, it became clear that superglue had blocked some of the holes in the mesh of the two cantrail grilles on the driver’s side. Not hugely but enough to really annoy and frustrate me. So I left it a day to see if it looked better in the morning. It didn’t. There was also noticeable glue around the bodyside grilles too on the body itself. A fine Garryflex abrasive block removed this with ease – you can see where I’ve tidied up the body in the photo from the bare plastic showing through.

One plan was to order a replacement set of grilles, but the existing ones would need to be removed anyway, so I very carefully removed them. Google told me that acetone dissolves superglue – so an old bottle top was topped up with some old fashioned, nasty nail varnish remover and the grilles left in there over night. A day or so later and I could pick off the errant glue with fine tweezers and the grilles are as good as new.

No disaster, no drama.

So if you’re starting out just remember, even after over twenty five years of modelling, I still get things wrong sometimes.