A call to arms

For the first time in a long time this morning I logged into RMweb to see if anything new had occurred. Almost instantly I found myself fists clenched and teeth gritted, I have no idea why I do it to myself. I think RMweb, and forums in general, are a great idea and resource. The problem mainly seems to lie in the people who use them. 

As the arguments and petty squabbles per quality modelling thread on RMweb worsens, it’s worth looking into it a bit more.

It doesn’t take long on any online forum to find the culprits who are at the centre of most of the rage inducing posts and low blow comments. These people also rarely seem to do any modelling, in fact some of the most prolific keyboard warriors have very little to show for all their talked of knowledge.

 We hear the same excuses; money, time, space etc

I’m sorry but it’s rubbish, for somebody who also has none of the above and probably even less I still find time to do some modelling.

I don’t have a layout, but that does not mean you cannot model, I have two shoe boxes under the stairs that contain my tools, and a shoe box full of models requiring attention. My dining room table is my workbench. Modelling isn’t about building expensive brass kits, a parkside dundas kit can be brought for sub £9, or detail up an older model. Modelling doesn’t always mean money, or space.

And as for time, what on earth are people doing with their days? By the time the computer is loaded up, the internet connected to and your first post typed out you could of easily stuck some brake shoes down on a Dundas chassis.

So this is a call to arms. Stop typing, find those old models, take 10 minutes out of the day, cut a bit off, stick something on. Modelling is our hobby. Please try it, you don’t know what you’re missing.



Distressing the Diagram 108 (and 9!)

Well, a very productive weekend draws to a close, and we have taken advantage of the good weather by building Oly a shed, thereby freeing up his old shed to become a modelling ‘den’ and also having a first go at some ‘proper’ weathering for the humble 16T mineral wagon.

On the wagon front, the candidates selected for initial experimentation were a RTR Bachmann dia 108 vehicle, a similar example from the ancient Airfix kit, and a dia. 109 example with riveted sides, built from the Parkside kit.

Techniques and inspiration came largely courtesy of Ian Fleming’s Windcutter workbench, links to Ian’s blog can be found here and his workbench on Modellers United here. For anyone interested in the history of these fascinating wagons, and notes on the variety within a fleet which ran to hundreds of thousands, there are some really interesting pages on Ian’s blog which I would recommend reading…..

So with an al-fresco workbench set up and Sheryl looking really enthusiastic, we got to work:

16T 003 (Large)

First up, the Parkside rivetted body example. This had previously been weathered using the salt technique, but still remained pretty clean. Oly built rust up on this one mainly using dry brush techniques, using a selection of different shades of brown to give the rust some texture. Finally, a dirty wash was applied to bring it all together:

16T 006 (Large)

16T 007 (Large)

Similar techniques were used for the Airfix model, although this was distressed further than that above, but using the same techniques:

16T 008 (Large)

The Bachmann model was first treated to a repaint from factory grey, which is too dark, using Phoenix Precisions BR freight grey. As the model features brake shoes on both sides of the model and no top flap doors, I wanted to model it as a recently replated example. The upper sections of bodyside were treated to a mixture of browns, then a layer of Humbrol Maskol, before the whole body was painted. On peeling the maskol off, the chipped old paintwork of the original body is left to show behind the newly painted plated sections. A narrow bead of lighter coloured rust hints at new rust starting to form along the weld line between new and old metalwork. After taking the photos I realised I am yet to fit a bodyside stripe so this is next on the to do list!

16T 009 (Large)

16T 010 (Large)

All these photos are cruel close ups really, and show all the bad bits much more than in reality, the old statement ‘the camera never lies’ is certainly the case here,,,,,

With these experiments carried out, we can now hone the techniques over the rest of the fleet – you can never have enough 16 tonners, and one of the joys is making each one subtly different from the next within a rake of otherwise very similar wagons.

On the shed front, the erection of a new shed at the bottom of the garden has meant work can start on first clearing out then insulating and lining the old shed by the house ready for modelling…… Here is Chris laying the base for the new shed to sit on (excuse the arse crack):

16T 001 (Large)

And here is the old shed, gleaming in its new coat of paint that Sheryl applied while we were creating havoc down the garden:

16T 002 (Large)

So not a bad weekend overall, I have decided to have a bit of a break from work on Waldo and concentrate on some wagons to keep things fresh, so hopefully some will emerge next month.



On the workbench: May 2013

It is that time of the month again, and Chris has let me take the reins.

We have just got back from Railex in Aylesbury. Great show, brilliant trade support. We saved near on £30 on postage by simply having so many quality suppliers in one place. The layouts were also of a good quality, a good showing for 2mm fans. Fence Houses is so big I still cannot quite comprehend it. The stand out layout was Leicester South GC, it’s one of those layouts that a magazine shoot just doesn’t do it justice. It’s LOVELY and it was nice to see a young ‘un operating it with some skill. Me and Chris commented that it was a great idea to attract all the families on Sunday through a discount, to give it a sort of Railway Folk/General Public two day thing going on. Unfortunately we went on Saturday and it was busy with the usual rude unwashed barging around and generally murmuring critical comments all with seemingly gigantic cameras and video equipment.

Anyway what have we been doing? Well it’s been a big month really, the wife has signed off permission for a railway den. So a new shed is going up next week so I get the original one (it’s quite nice and next to the house, with power etc) so over the next couple of weeks it’ll be emptied and turned into something more suitable. A plan already exists for the room (I’ve had my eyes on it for a while). Everyone has to model at least one BLT and I haven’t done so I’m going ScR one coach trains in the 60s. More of that in the coming months.

So Waldo is slowly evolving into something. I’m not going to lie, this layout has stalled more times than a Granny in a Metro. It’s been a trek, but finally, and much thanks to Chris, there is real light at the end of the tunnel and soon it’ll be out of his loft and back with the club. Life after Waldo is a thought we haven’t give much time too.

The track has been mostly painted and ballasted. That signal box is not staying, it’s just merely showing you where the real one will go when that is built. Our Wills arches will soon be going a nice shade of Yellow brick.


And here is what it’s all about, proper traction.


At my end I’ve finally gotten round to Chris’ EPB. It’s been hanging around like a bad smell for months so it was nice to get her done and packed off back to it’s home depot. It was pleasant to work on a model that really apart from a few people and a weather did not need anything else done. It’s a lovely thing.


My ScR fleet has finally been finished with the purchasing of some Shawplan bits, D5326 features HEAVILY in the shed visions.



And that’s about it for now. Stay tuned and remember:




On the workbench: April 2013

Another boring month on the workbench, although plenty of modelling has been going on it has revolved around wiring, and as such there is no real visible progress on the stock front, although with the wiring done the layout is moving along on the bits you can see!

Anyway, the important news is…… IT WORKS!!!!!

On top of the baseboard, the tracks towards the right hand fiddle yard have now been layed. Running out of chairs meant that only one of the lines got concrete sleepered track, the down line having to revert to wooden sleepers – perhaps the 4mm Pway gang will be along soon to relay it…



I have also managed to get the track painted and the first layer of ballast down on the low level. There are a few bits where it will need some additional chippings added and it all needs weathering but so far so good!



The first of the arches are now in place supporting the high level lines on the right hand end of the layout – this end is supposedly more built up than the left hand end, at which the track is largely on an embankment. Using second hand arches from the previous club layout is far from ideal, there is still a lot of work to be done to them to get them looking realistic and they need repainting, but we will get there! The arches will be occupied by a variety of small businesses, and some basic fronts have begun to appear, mainly scratchbuilt from mountboard.

This photo also shows what Oly has been busy on this month – the Marina in that beautiful shade of brown custard is from the Oxford Diecast range, and would be a brand new rep-mobile in the period modelled – seemingly said rep has not yet treated it to a wash…. This along with the other cars are awaiting some new number plates and etched mirrors before being signed off as complete.


We have also been doing some experimenting with brick colours and weathering in order to represent the yellow London brick that will help tie down the location of the layout. So far this is the result achieved on the test piece, which we are pretty happy with, although a couple of different shades of weathering could do with being introduced for variety. Paint is a mix of Revell Dark Tan and Desert Sand, and weathering is from some black artists pastels:


Finally, to leave you, a photo of a Crompton running off the Southern region onto Midland metals with a Brighton to Cricklewood parcels train, it almost looks like something from a Bradford Barton book!


Thats all for this month, hopefully Railex at the end of May should provide plenty of small parts needed to get loads of loco projects that have been hanging around for ages finished!





Show Review – Crawley 2013

Although somewhat delayed, I felt it was worth putting a few words together in retrospect of the recent Crawley Show – one which I attend on an on/off basis depending on the layouts attending.

The 2013 show saw Highbury Colliery attending, which, coupled with an empty diary made it worth the rail journey to Horsham for a look around.

Overall I found the quality of the show to be somewhat mixed, there were some excellent finescale layouts on display and some of a somewhat dubious standard….. Highbury Colliery stole the show for me, although I was also impressed with the large EM SR layout set in the New Forest – despite the operators somewhat uncomplimentary remarks about P4 modellers which I decided to ignore….

Looking at the Crawley MRS website I see ‘Cliffhanger’ won layout of the show – having seen it at Warley last year and been unimpressed, my opinion was not changed on the second viewing, but there we go, others obviously like it!

I didn’t get a chance to grab any photos on the day so its words only today I am afraid. I see next year that both Woodhead in N and Kier Hardy’s Wibdenshaw are attending, so that is already in the diary!

Next up on the show calender – Railex at the end of May!

On the workbench: March 2013

Firstly, apologies for the lack of any updates for February, I think missing the second monthly update means that we didn’t get off to a very good start. Regrettably real life got in the way and we have both had a hectic couple of months with various things going on…..

Over the last couple of weeks, I have dug Waldo Road Junction out of its corner and restarted work on it. Despite things having stalled pretty dramatically on it over recent months we are now trying to finish the layout ready for summer. This is not due to any impending exhibitions but a bit of a challenge to ourselves in the hope we will get our arses into gear and get something done!

Anyhow, as implied above, this months updates are nearly all layout based, so without further ado:

As can be seen below, the track is all down and sleepers laid ready for the rail. Most of the trackwork uses C&L bullhead rail in Exactoscale sleeper bases. However, the main lines closest to the camera use C&L sleepers with flat bottom rail, representing some reasonably recently relaid track.



Next up I have been working on the control panel. Although nothing particularly exciting here are a couple of photos just to show things are being done!

Overall impression of what the top will look like when done:


View inside, the box will be connected to each scenic board of the layout individually.



Finally, just so we include some trains, here is a shot of the Western posed on Waldo with a couple of vans that Oly has recently weathered – standard Bachmann products, they are currently awaiting 3 links fitting then will go into service.Image

Thats about all for this month, happy modelling and hopefully there will be some more interesting progress next month!

Whats been happening in the works? January 2013

January is traditionally a bit of a quiet month in the workshop, mainly due to temperatures in the loft being closely related to those outside, ie. bloody freezing! However, a couple of modeling nights have been spent working on various projects, and as this is the first update I guess a few things done in previous months can be included for good measure…


 English Electric type 3 (Class 37) D6707 is now finished apart from weathering. Based on the plain green Bachmann model, she has gained full yellow ends along with various other details, including frost grilles and the nose handrails missing on the Bachmann model. Split box ‘tractors’ were rare in the Valleys, so D6707 will be appearing on Black Gold bringing in a train from the north:



Next up we have Brush Type 2 (Class 31) 5647. This started life as a blue Hornby model and has been completely repainted into green by Oly. For a first ever repaint she looks bloody good in my opinion! The loco now awaits funds being freed up to allow the purchase of Shawplan Laserglaze and some headcodes, before entering traffic. A few Brush 2’s got down to South Wales on various occasions, and with the direct connection from the north on Black Gold we have plenty of excuses for running her:



In for more extreme surgery, a Bachmann Sulzer Type 2 (Class 25) has seen the attention of a razor saw, the incorrect cabs being removed. These will be replaced by some resin or 3D printed cabs as soon as they are available:




Another Sulzer Type 2 (Class 25) completed just before Christmas is D7569, a Hornby/Bachmann cross breed. Created using the far superior Bachmann chassis, with the solebars removed, allied to a sound chip for maximum ‘Sulzer Beats’ effect and mating it to a Hornby 25/1 body created this beast:


The Hornby body was greatly improved using Shawplan’s Laserglaze, conveniently released for this model at Warley last year. The body has been completely repainted into plain green from the blue it wore before:Image

A replacement etched radiator fan grille and fan have also been fitted to the model. This was one of the weak points to the Hornby body in our opinion and its replacement greatly improved things:


The Bachmann chassis, with the hideous solebars, has been modified to better represent the real thing. Now much has been written about how best to do this, probably the most detailed and accurate account being by Jim Smith-Wright for his New Street layout. Our way is somewhat more basic and involves disassembling the chassis before attacking the plastic moulded frames with a razor saw or side cutters and then a selection of files until it the plastic is gone, apart from the cross bar ends which should be there. From the side the result is much more convincing:



Oly has also knocked up this rather nice BR standard brake van from an ancient Airfix kit:



As well as experimenting with using salt to weather some 16T mineral wagons, the one on the left is again from an Airfix kit while the one on the right is a Parkside kit for a rivetted body variant. We will try and add a ‘how to’ on weathering in this way at some point in the future, when another batch is under way:Image


I have also been working on the points for Black Gold, downstairs to avoid the cold. As can be seen these are constructed using copperclad strip sleepers and code 75 bullhead rail. Although lacking the chair detail of other methods, copperclad construction allows a reasonably quick completion, and once they have been weathered and ballasted, it is unlikely that anyone will notice the chairs are missing, especially on the main line which is towards the rear of the layout. Templates to work from are drawn in Templot, the full size plan being printed and attached to foamboard for construction work, the foamboard providing a strong base to work on.

The points pictured below will form the junction where the single track line down the valley diverges from the twin track main line, which then also singles as part of the 1960’s track rationalisation in the area:



Hopefully these points along with the others will be more or less complete by the end of February, providing other life matters don’t get in the way!


That’s about all that was achieved last month, with a couple of things from last year added to bulk it up, we shall have to see what February brings…..


The case for something finer

As it snows outside it’s time for the first post. Not so much a monthly update as it will normally be, more of a small note on why we do what we do. Its became apparent that the detail now available on ready to run T&RS has made us forget the golden years of the detailed train set.

The problem facing modellers today as they progress through their experience and requirements is the infrastructure available to them is the same as it’s been for generations. 

Finescale track is the answer and contrary to popular belief it is not the hardest thing on earth. We’re newish converts, we reached the stage when Peco, or other manufacturer’s products, weren’t hitting the spot for us. As our stock become more detailed and we required more levels of realism the only option we had was to start working with finescale track. It has surprised us just how easy it really is. 

Stoating Bank was the first layout me or Chris had made with finescale track and hand built points, and we got it wrong, and we learnt. Your expensive models deserve good track, and with a little effort it isn’t far off achieving. And finescale to us doesn’t mean EM or P4, it means OO finescale. Under weathering and at exhibition distances only the truest of purists will see the difference. 

Imagine in your head, the exhibition layouts that have stuck in your mind as achieving the level of awesomeness you too want to gain? And then think how many of them we’re laid with Peco track?

Finescale track is the path to model railway happiness – we’re sure of that. 

You can let your imagination run wild too, no longer confined to the specific shapes of Peco’s turnouts. Your free to model exact locations, curved points, anything that takes your fancy!

There are three companies selling ready to go flexi track in finescale for OO, so take your pick and give a section a go. But we warn you once you’ve gone finescale, there is no going back!

When Chris gets a moment I’ll get him to upload some of Black Gold’s turnouts currently under construction and a quick note on stages. I’m back upstairs with my cup of tea to finish my LMS brake van.

Happy Modelling folks and stay warm its cold outside!



Welcome to our blog, which will feature updates on what has been happening on our workbenches alongside progress on our layouts.

The primary focus of our modelling is the transition era of British Rail in the late 1960’s up until around 1972, with a wide variety of liveries around.

Check back soon for some updates.


Le Bassin

sidérurgie miniature

Large Slim and Tonic

A journey through a quarter-life crisis, weight loss and getting somewhere.

Yeovil Model Railway Group (YMRG)

Making The Biggest Layouts That Will Fit In Our Huge Clubroom - since 1974


South Wales Steel in the 1980s

Two Bolt Chair

4mm finescale modelling, slowly

A Model Meander

[mee-an-der] noun: a circuitous movement or journey.

Kyle of Sutherland

A record of my P4 layout Kyle of Sutherland, which I scrapped in 2018, and the continuing work to upgrade and improve its finescale trains, locos and rolling stock

Model Railway Musings by D827 Kelly

Model railway planning, design, building and other things related

Amtrak in the Heartland

Devoted to the history and operations of Amtrak in the Heartland of America.

Dominion & New England Railway

Building an achievable transistion era O scale layout

That Railway Girl

“Anything is possible on a train: a great meal, a binge, a visit from card players, an intrigue, a good night's sleep, and strangers' monologues framed like Russian short stories.” ― Paul Theroux, The Great Railway Bazaar

The Erratic and Wandering Journey

Railway Modelling in S Scale (1:64) and Scale 7


N-gauge modelling (and beyond....)

The Niagara Branch

Penn Central's Connection to Canada in HO Scale


Come along on my knitting adventures!