Postcards from Stevenage

Last weekend saw the CMRA holding it’s annual exhibition in Stevenage, always a worthwhile trip with some top quality modelling on show and plenty of familiar faces to have a chat with… it’s also pretty good from a trade perspective, plenty of specialists are there providing a one stop shop for your modelling needs – I was able to stock up on plenty of scenic bits for BWS (some of which have already been fitted!) while I also getting lumbered with a request to buy enough modelling supplies to keep Mark Tatlow going for the next decade…

Here’s a few photos of some of the layouts that caught my attention around the show:


SQ out on the road again…

This weekend, Six Quarters will be out on the road again, somewhat more local than other recent shows as we are at Canterbury for the CCMRS show:

More details Can be found here

Fingers crossed there will be no rewiring or similar major surgery required prior to opening time… if you are at the show come and say hello!

BWS Update 8: That deadline is approaching quite quickly!

Remember that time I thought I had ages to build a layout for the MRJ Cameo Competition?

When I loosely said I expected the layout to be ready in the first quarter of 2019 it seemed pretty distant, as we are now knocking on the door of December it’s suddenly starting to creep up a bit quickly!

Don’t panic though, all will be fine… there’s still 3 or 4 months to go and I feel a lot of the slow stuff that takes a while and doesn’t really produce much in the way of visible progress is now done, so hopefully in the next update things will look a lot closer to completion! Providing I continue to make progress at my current rate I’m comfortable it will be finished in time….

So what have I been busy on for the last month or so…?

In the last update I’d just finished attaching all the cosmetic fishplates- in this update I can say that the trackwork has since been primed. I used a mixture of grey and red primer for this to (hopefully) give a decent base to build colour on. This is something unashamedly copies from a number of other people, but I can’t remember who to credit them! Getting all the track painted the same colour immediately made a big difference to the layouts appearance.

Because we are professionals here at OTCM towers, I then cleaned the track and managed to dislodge a load of the cosmetic fishplates I’d just fitted, so then spent a bit of time reattaching these. Rather than admit this was a bit of a cock up and I didn’t use enough glue the first time round, we shall say this was vital testing to ensure nothing falls off on the layouts first exhibition outing…

With the priming out the way, it was time to apply the first coat of the new shade for the backscene – B&Q ‘Light Rain’. The initial shade chosen, called ‘Fog’, was too grey for the look I am trying to get, and also reminded me of the odour Oly likes to leave behind in the bathroom, so needed replacing.

half way there on the backscene painting, the left hand end looking much more natural in my eyes.

Under the boards and out of the way, my temporarily glued in controller wiring had mostly collapsed and was hanging loose…

This has now been fixed properly using cable clips, something I probably should have done ages ago.

With the track primed and ready for painting, I started on ballasting. On the industrial lines at the front of the layout I use the term ballast loosely as it should really be compacted ash and various other waste. To replicate this I am using a method that I first saw back in 2011 when Chris Nevard was building his Catcott Burtle layout, namely DAS modelling clay compacted around the sleepers and then stippled with a stiff paint brush before being painted. More details can be found on his site Here

Obviously this still needs painting, and is quite time consuming if you want to make it look good (which obviously I do, whether it will or not is another question…) but so far I am happy with the results.

Next up, I’ve been cracking out the tile grout, to use as the surface for both the coal yard and the road at the rear. Before anyone asks, no I don’t know why I used white stuff when I could have used black!

Hopefully it’s evident in the photos that I have also bedded in the puddles added before applying the grout, as per the advise given in Gordon Gravett’s book (again, but why wouldn’t I want to copy him) so this too is now ready for painting. I spent a while creating some ruts in the coal yard, where the resident digger has been on manoeuvres. The plan is to fill these with water after painting…

With the ballasting Of the front sidings under way, I thought to keep things fresh I’d also crack on with the rear lines, which I wanted to ballast ‘properly’. Therefore out came the airbrush and a mix of brown/black muck was sprayed over all the BR trackwork.

I’ll add some further variety to this with some brush painting and powder work once it’s ballasted. Note that the industrial lines will be painted separately.

I’ve also got round to fitting a chip into the second Hornby Sentinel that will grace the layout, number 34. (No nice names round here…) having seen Andy’s new Sentinel, which uses the original glazing but with the edges coloured black, I decided to do this until I can be bothered to fit the excellent Laserglaze I have sat in the ‘to do’ box for it.

You may also notice the introduction of some ballast in this shot – this isn’t secured at the moment, but it’s getting there!

Lastly, I got a bit more done on the JCB I’ve been working on for the coal yard last night. It seems a while since I last did anything to it but after pinching some plastic rod at last weekends modelling day I was finally able to crack on. She’s not 100% accurate, or even 80% to be honest, but looks a bit more the part than the original mouldings Dapol supply with the kit.

I now just need to fit the hydraulic hoses (there’s a plan for that) and it will be ready for painting and weathering, then parking at the front of the coal yard.

To quote the one time BR advert that is considerably older than us, ‘we’re getting there’


November Modelling Day

Yesterday I met up with the usual bunch of trouble makers (minus Oly), not to visit Warley like everyone else in the hobby, but for our (roughly) quarterly modelling day. We like to keep these very informal so the usual format is a couple of hours modelling, a pub lunch and then a few more hours modelling…

I managed to get a few things done, trying to focus on things for BWS which can easily be carried out away from the layout – as such I put together a Stoneybridge Structures office building, to sit in the coal yard at the very front of the layout. This is key to blocking the view of the ‘hole in the sky’ when looking at the layout from ground level, and I had intended on scratch building a structure to fit when by chance I found this kit, which has saved me some time – lo and behold not only was it the same style as my planned structure it came within a couple of mm of the intended size too!

I also managed to get a couple of walls cut out for the drivers mess room, working off a mock up made from MRJ card. This may only be a simple structure but it is the first one I’ve ever built from scratch, so it’ll be a bit of a learning curve… hopefully the finished item won’t look too bad!

I also took delivery of Mark’s latest signal for the layout – an LNER ground signal to replace the LMS/BR standard designed one as he decided that wasn’t right for the layout!

So what did everyone else get up to? Unfortunately I forgot to take any photos (I’ll use the excuse I was too busy modelling…) but in between talking a lot, Pete spent the day cutting and then glueing hundreds of individual Perspex panes of ‘glass’ into his overall roof. Having done one and a half ridges out of 9 required in a day it might take him a while, but the results will be well worthwhile! John spent the day fettling the Dave Bradwell A1 chassis he has been building for ages (what a kit) which by the end of the day was running a lot better than at the start of the day, while Mark spent the morning breaking things then the afternoon having an in depth conversation with a P4 Jubilee while playing around with a SPROG and the various functions of a sound chip.

In other news, plenty is going on with BWS still, it’s well overdue a progress update so I’ll aim to get one done ASAP. A little side project has been a Bachmann 03, which started out as the military one and was picked up for a good price ex set on eBay. An evening spent removing the transfers and repainting the white wheel rims and handrails in black has left her looking a lot more industrial – she just needs a new identity and some weathering to be ready for traffic.

That’s about all for now, happy modelling!


Brighton – There are no givens

It’s been a while. Well for me anyway, Chris has been keeping you all up to date with BWS and the filthy goings on. It’s exciting for me to see Chris get so far with a layout and our group of friends are all horned to see the end result. I’ve known Chris for a decade and this is the furthest I’ve seen him get with a layout.

But how is SQ? The lump of plywood and cheap hairspray was at Brighton this weekend and still teaching valuable modeling lessons.

It’s been a busy 2018 for me with work and life. I’m now living with my girlfriend, considering summer last year I was living with my now ex wife there’s been three house moves in that time. So while my life’s improved SQ has been the child of a divorce and has lived as a travelling gypsy, never quite at home and always ready to be evicted by angry locals.

Pre divorce it stood all set up and operational all the time, which meant you could do all the work you needed too. Now it lives in my Dad’s insulated shed all separated and I live a 10 minute drive away. Therefore before Brighton I had no pre show checks or run through and in fact I’d not touch it or looked at it since June when I attempted with not enough time to sort out the fiddle yard.

I had a plan though, we could finish the wiring on Saturday morning with Chris’ help. We started at 0800 and still had issues at 1000 which is never what you want when the punters arrive. We tried to take away my bodges and add in something more professional. However I’d forgotten to insulate the copperclad I’d replaced in the fiddle yard (school boys) and the wires between the main board and the second board changed colours (more school boys). Both faults compounded to make a bit of a shit storm pre opening. Mark Tatlow helped by plotting all sorts of revenge as similar fates on Portchullin had been a hallmark of our weekends away and our taking the piss. Oh dear.

Chris’ exertion can be measured in the amount of exposed arse crack. Currently in this photo, it’s early on, if you ever see an inch exposed things are usually going very wrong.

I could not help laughing when you can only shunt one half of a 4 foot layout, trying to talk to punters as two men are underneath, behind a curtain shaking the board and swearing as molten solder drops onto their skin. SQ had seemingly become possessed by a poltergeist with tourettes.

But thanks to the effort of Chris and Mark it not only worked but slowly the wiring went from a bit ‘dodgy’ to proper exhibition layout spec. By Sunday the running repairs were made permanent and I’d learnt, regardless of life, pre show shake downs are needed. Even if they are in your girlfriend’s front room. Also that dog leg in the fiddle yard needs sorting, the track looks like it was laid by a pissed Stevie Wonder.

However we were lucky to have this pair of beasts from Ian Forsythe come and sit on the layout pre opening.

But Brighton, once the layout settled down, was everything you want from a show. My mind was blown by the attendance solely due to channel 5’s Great British Model Railway Challenge. Now I know a lot of stalwarts aren’t a fan, but after this weekend I most definitely am. I was converted by my kid’s faces while watching it but to see all ages turning up to their first ever show on the back of a TV programme, bring more of that on. It can only be good for our hobby, bakers probably hate GBBO but look what insanity that did for the hobby of baking and breaking bread is bloody dull. I saw that effect at the weekend and I liked it. So by Sunday hometime about 25 kids had shunted on SQ, all in the hope just one asks for a train set for Christmas.

I just hope one day when one of them grows up and is writing the new digital hologram Wild Swan book (Ed – easy, they still take cheques) he credits getting into the hobby from some long dead modeller who once let him shunt a coal wagon with a badly done Dapol Austerity on a little remembered layout called “Six Quarters”.

Catch us next at Canterbury Model Railway Show in January and this Month’s British Railway Modelling.

Happy Modelling,