Wordless Wednesday – My Little Helper

My Little Helper.


Scalefour North

Farringdon and The Boy

Another lovely show in Wakefield put on by The Scalefour Society!

Clutton by Tim Venton

Scalefour North is the northern show which the Society hosts – it must be one of the friendliest and most laid back shows you can attend. No barriers, so you can get up close and personal with the exhibits, or even the exhibitors too if you’re feeling brave!

And what a lovely selection of layouts too. David Furmage’s new layout, Clackmannan Goods, was a delight and I was very pleased to see it finished too. There wasn’t a bad layout so if I don’t mention it, that’s no an indication that it wasn’t worth looking at! But I really enjoyed seeing Farringdon – I remember this vividly from Model Railway Journal No. 77 (the tenth anniversary issue) from 1995 – I can remembering buying this issue myself at the age of eleven or so. Perhaps not the average buyer but the quality drew me in. Thomas was really taken by this and Clutton too. Both very good models of Grat Western branchlines – he has taken a liking to the GWR – I blame Father-in-Law 2.0 for this!

The whole show was full of conversation and cracking modelling – easily one of the highlights of the modelling calendar for me.

Forget what the miserable armchair types spout online, the Society is one of the friendliest and most welcoming societies I think you’ll find – if you model in 4mm scale to any standard, membership is well worth considering.

Clackmannan Goods by David Furmage

More New Buffers

Now they match!

After being very pleased with how the Lanarkshire buffers looked on 08632 I became rather dissatisfied with how the Hornby buffers looked.

Even in their raw, unpainted form the improvement is instant and you realise how undernourished the Hornby buffers are by comparison. And at £2.50 they are stupidly good value – beautifully cast and needing very minimal cleaning up. Superb, absolutely superb!

The York Show 2018

Every year since I was three I have been to The York Show with my Dad, and for the last few years with the Boy too.

Ferme Du Pont in 0-14, 7mm scale on 14mm gauge track. A lovely depiction of the WD railways on the Western Front in the First World War. The way the river and the bridges lead the eye into the scene is very effective. The height at which the layout was displayed was very pleasing, although just a touch too high for Thomas.

One very good thing about York these days is how diverse the exhibits are. I find it frustrating when I read online when people dismiss layouts simply because it’s not what they model. It’s very small minded – there’s always the appeal of someone who is doing something which is close to your heart. Of course there is – we are all like this and three’s nothing wrong. But to see diesel modellers dismiss steam era layouts as simply “kettles” or steam modellers similarly disregarding diesel era layouts as being just “boxes on wheels”- both believing they are amusing in doing so more often than not – is just quite sad really.

Frecclesham – 7mm scale in a relatively modest space. The backscene adds hugely to the whole effect of the model. It feels spacious and the scene has enormous depth to it. I’d like to do something like this with West Halton.

I think there’s something to learn from viewing all sorts of different genres. I like Warley because there’s always something you admire which you’d probably not have considered beforehand. I like how the Boy always seems to find something non-mainstream at the big shows. At York he liked an 0 gauge French MPD! York was particularly diverse this year.

This wide range of exhibits can be useful regardless of you own interests – never just focus on those layouts which are exactly as you model, open your mind to all you can see. Especially when the quality is high.

Ripponden – N gauge but with hand built track using, I think, 2mm Finescale components. A lovely balance between the two standards it would seem.

I first saw Ripponden at the other York show a year or so ago – it’s quite compact but the way it’s presented gives a lovely feeling of space, which is a good example of how to approach this sort of thing regardless of scale, era or genre. The use of hand built track in N is a lovely compromise between commercial N and 2mm Finescale. This sort of project can be the sort for thing to inspire others and spur them onto to tackling their own projects, even if it’s not in the ‘usual way.’

Dentdale in N gauge which made the most of the available space. Thomas seemed to quite like this one – he was at the right height for some lovely views! Photo – Thomas Wells

Ferme du Pont is a very niche subject but the presentation with a high track level and the use of the waterway and bridges, the whole presentation is suitable and an effective way to present a whole host of schemes. I think something like a subject such as Yates Duxbury & Sons’ Papermill, in Bury in Lancashire, where a like could be crossing between two paper mills over the River Roch? Well, the Yates like wasn’t quite like this, but you can easily imagine such a setting for an industrial line!

So always keep an open mind, don’t be blinkered.

Looking Beyond the Railway

National Coal Mining Museum

Railway modellers can be surprisingly blinkered.

Sometimes, even when the standard of model making is good, the setting of the model, the context, how it fits in with the real world, in society. I know full well that many out there don’t care, don’t understand this or are completely oblivious to this way of thinking. Plenty of modellers are quite ignorant about how the railway itself works, let alone anything beyond the railway boundary. Reading some contributions to some Facebook groups is just cringe worthy.

Yet I think that an understanding of how the railway works and how it relates to its surroundings is the point when we cease to be grown adults playing with trains and become model makers creating something special.


The hobby does, of course, take many forms. I love seeing the displays of things like Hornby Dublo or Tri-ang at shows. But whilst at first this really is old blokes with train sets, what these society displays really show are how the models and toys themselves have impacted upon the hobby. We’re seeing them in a context which gives it deeper meaning.

American model railroaders seem much more au fait with given their layouts purpose – operation is always presented as a key part of the hobby in North America if you read something like Model Railroader. Industries are often used to give featured layouts a purpose, a reason for running trains. And even allows for trains to travel from one place to another, with a purpose, without entering hidden sidings. Of course in the UK we mostly don’t have large cellars or basements for a large empire but we can still learn from this. Even where we model just a ‘typical’ country station without a large industry, understanding the locality will provide sources of traffic within the goods yards. Certain areas may provide more arable produce than livestock or something very specific to the area. Getting a feel for the locality and the industries/local economy can really bring a layout to life.

Hunslet stored at the National Coal Mining Museum.

This is why museums such as the National Coal Mining Museum can be very useful for us. I went there the other day for the first time with my family. The museum offers underground tours of the colliery but you have to be five to participate and my little girl is only three. Plus she’s a little bit mental so being trapped in a confined space underground with her would require much bravery.

Thomas Hill loco on display at the NCM.

Museums like this are a wonderful resource, as well as a good family day out – the colliery themed adventure playground is worth a mention here too! It touches upon railways in terms of the exhibits, including the industrial narrow gauge usually found under ground, as well as displays about the role the railways played in transporting coal and allowing the industry to flourish. Combine this with the displays and exhibitions about the coal industry and the social side and you can see not only the role that railways played but also how the integrated and were integral with the industry’s development.

And it’s not just the big museums like this – many little local museums, whilst bereft of full size exhibits, can contain many gems about their areas and associated industries. They open up fascinating opportunities to learn and further your own understanding – personally, I think this makes projects much more satisfying.


Pilots’ Progress

New electrical conduit fitted to 08405 – 08632 in the background has also received the same treatment today.

I’ve had a bit of time to spend on the first two class 08s for West Halton over the last couple of days. Both are getting to the stage where it’s details which are required. The Hornby model less so, but there’s plenty to add to the Bachmann model. Most of this will be pipework beneath the cab and valances.

Both models are lacking the electrical conduit on the side of the ‘bonnet’ whose function I’m not entirely sure about. Answers in the comments please! I’m simply modelling what I see.  And it’s surprising how much of a difference fitting this combination of 0,33mm handrail wire, Plastikard, plastic rod and a short bit of fine fuse wire actually makes.

Applying the black around the window using a bow-pen compass. Much quicker than masking it all!

The locos display an almost limitless number of livery variations – even what at first glance appears to be the same livery. Looking at those locos in plain grey  display variations. Almost as if those painting them simply applied the black to the cab windows as they felt on the day! 08405 had quite a small area of ‘black’ only around the side windows and by the cab doors. I say ‘black’ as I didn’t use black. It’s actually a mix of Humbrol Tank Grey no. 67 and Matt Black no. 33 to take the edge of the colour and blend in with the rest of the slightly faded appearance the loco displayed.

The rest of the black is added with a fine brush.

Rather than mask and spray the colour I applied it with a bow pen compass, where I can easily follow the edges. The technique is more usually associated with lining steam locomotives, indeed this is where I have used the technique normally, but it does have its uses for diesel locomotives.

So, we’re getting there with these. Slowly but surely.

More on the Janus

The Temporary Workbench

Time passes too quickly. And without you really noticing at the time. I mean, it’ll be twenty two years this year since The Verve released Urban Hymns. To me, that still seems like a fairly recent album. Clearly it’s not… I’ve even noticed #20YearsOfBWitched appearing on Twitter – it doesn’t seem like they have been around twenty years.

And in a similar but not as extreme way I hadn’t realised it was about six weeks since I last touch the Judith Edge Janus but I managed to have a decent bit of time on it over the weekend.

The current state of things – bonnets nearly completed, just handrails and bonnet door handles required.

To be honest, I’m probably complicating things to a degree with how much time I’ve spent on certain aspects – that’s aside from travelling to Scunthorpe to measure one! Trying to make the radius around the radiator grilles as large as possible where the front panel meets the rest of the bonnet is a good example. Trying to make this as large as possible to improve the appearance without affecting the structural integrity of the bonnet. It’s slow work, care needs to be taken to make sure it’s consistent all the way round.

The sub assemblies which have so far been partially completed.

I’ve also changed my mind a couple of times on the exact form which the suspension will take. Originally I was going to have three point compensation with no fixed axles I think I’ll go back to the simple three point compensation with one axle fixed in place – which means I’ll have to reinstate the fixed bearings! I do like sprung locomotives and stock, they tend to glide along and be quite elegant. These things, in my memory, didn’t glide they bumped about, especially when driven in a less than sympathetic manner.

It’s the most fashionable of approaches, indeed I’ve seen people make ‘luddite’ sort of remarks about people still using compensation instead of springing! One thing in favour of continuing to use it is that it is very easy to set up, very reliable and not as sensitive to the exact distribution of weight within the model.

The instructions suggest simply using bent wire for the bonnet door handles, but I’m not so sure. So I’m going to see if N gauge/2mm scale handrail knobs can be used/modified to represent these – I recently used 4mm scale shoulderless ones from Alan Gibson for an 0 gauge project and that seemed to work quite well. It wasn’t a Janus, by the way, but an LNER A6… I think it’s the little things like this which will really make the difference.

We’re getting there though, slowly but surely.