Sunday 17 December 2017

Happy Christmas from the Isle of Stoner

Lord and Lady Stoner and the staff and management of the Isle of Stoner Railway wish you all a very merry Christmas and holiday season.

I thought I'd show you the whole of my Christmas diaorama. It's only anout a foot square but with careful framing makes an effective place to pose a little winter train. I  made it a few years ago now and it is also allowed into the house as a Christmas decoration.

I hope Father Christmas brings you all the toys you want and you have a peaceful Christmas and new year.

Saturday 9 December 2017

A new hope

Well, another show is over and the layout is in a pile of bits back home. Manchester MRC show was Underhill Town's last public outing, it is too unwieldy to keep dragging about the place. I've decided to make some changes to it and to install it in the garage. More on this later.
The operating dept, apart from myself was Dave Firth from work and the esteemed Charlie Insley who did sterling work both operating and supplying additional motive power from his enormous collection. Many thanks to both as the weekend would not have been half so much fun without them. Charlie also took my new Narrow Planet Bagnall, Jim home with him and sorted out the chassis.

Jim, sulking in a siding on Saturday minus whistle

Numerous line ups took place, here are my Nettie and Charlie's version, both Chivers Skylarks

I was very pleased to see lots of people looking at the layout and many people said very nice things too

Arkwright on a goods train

Charlie in action

Favourite guest loco of the weekend was Horsa, a Paul Windle built Bagnall

Horsa really looked the part with the PECO L&B set


I even coaxed Dave onto the controls

My train of various PECO four wheelers, some converted, some as nature intended

Four CWR Fletcher Jenningses. Charlie's in green then my Titania another of Charlie's and my Oberon

All was quiet down at the cheese factory

The new Bachmann 04 bash was at home with the PECO skips

Jim and his cousin

Three Minitrains Boehler conversions, my Sally, Charlie's in the middle and then my brown Krauss. Eigiau has sneaked into the back row too

Mrs Gubbins is waving flowers at nobody again in Parrot Inn square. The fountain was by far and away the most commented upon part of the layout

A view through Post Office alley
I haven't entirely worked out how to fit the layout into the garage yet but a plan is evolving. Because of the way the room is I need to have Underhill Town itself at the left of the layout which means that a tunnel will need to be created under Church Lane and the current entrance through Parrot Cutting will become the headshunt. It isn't a perfect solution as all the sidings are entered from the left but it will give me some shunting practice.
Next to the new tunnel will be a new section of railway to include a junction which will lead to Town Quarry via a steeply graded branch line. The quarry baseboard will sit in front of and below the Town board. The really tricky part of the whole endeavour will be to move the control panels from behind the layout to the front. The quarry board is relatively simple to get at but the Town board will require some fairly major dismantling of the road at the back of the layout.
Once past the junction board will come the beach and then a new more compact fiddle yard. Should keep me off the streets for a while. The only section which won't survive is the Cheese Factory, some of the buildings will move to become an extension of Underhill Town and I will try to find a place for the nursery and possibly the factory itself.
In the meantime, Arnold Lane Wharf has several invites for next year to keep me out and about.

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Hello again

I've had a bit of a quiet time over the summer when it comes to modelling but with the return of the exhibition season and the longer, darker nights I've started on some new projects and resurrected some older ones.

First a bit of a catch up. Since my last post Underhill has had an outing as has Arnold Lane Wharf. Arnold lane came along for the ride to Wigan as part of a very successful F&WHR trade stand. It is such an easy layout to set up and despite being small, provides hours of shunting fun.

As an extra bit of the F&WHR stand

Wigan is a nice show so I was very happy to be invited back

I bought a couple of Colin Ashby coach kits at the show

Here are the finished items with a couple of others
The next new thing is a Tomix Percy bash called Fred. I've had one of these chassis before but sold it on, but when I saw one for sale on Plaza Japan I couldn't resist. At first I wasn't sure what to do with it but eventually I just got the big box of bits out and had a rummage to see what might fit.

This is how he ended up
The metal chassis block is quite a big lump and so whatever you do with this chassis it ends up rather tall. I'm pleased with how he came out in the end and I've decided that it was made by Hunslet as the cab windows have that sort of look, however it could just as easily be a Manning Wardle...
Complete with lining. (The chimney looks bent but it's an optical illusion)
The first big outing of the year for Underhill was all the way down South at Swanley and ExPong, what a long way down the country but again a cracking show which I was flattered to be a part of.
A couple of nights before the show I decided that Underhill Town needed a cattle unloading ramp so I knocked one up out of bits of plasticard etc.

It looks the part and should there be any sheep or cattle to unload it will make things easier.
The show went very well and the layout attracted some very nice comments and seemed to attract quite a crowd. As ever the fountain in the town square seemed to be one of the most popular features.

The trainee operator, Chris Parry
One thing that transporting and setting up this layout has taught me, is that it is too big and too heavy so after its next booking at Manchester (2nd and 3rd December) I will be retiring Underhill. I have a few ideas about what to do with it but in a lot of ways a fresh start might be the best idea. watch this space.
Black is the new black

Fred awaits the right of way

The silly small carriage set, they made a few runs
Narrow Planet launched a new kit at ExPong for a very pretty little Bagnall based on the locos at the Rye and Camber tramway. It fits on the Minitrains Porter chassis which is an 0-6-0 so the kit isn't an exact model. It comes with parts to modify the valve gear but the less buggering around with chassis the better. It follows their usual paradigm of a 3D printed carcass with etched overlays.


It went together very easily and I spent a couple of happy evenings adding some details, a waft of primer revealed a few little things which needed some filler and then he was ready for the paint shop. It has been noticed that I've put the tank etches on upside down... doh. Too late now.
Jim, just waiting for his name plates

While looking for something else I happened across a bright yellow Bachmann 04 that I bought a year or so ago. It didn't run properly so I put it away for later attention. As with many of these 03s, 04s and 08s if the pick ups aren't adjusted properly they don't run well, this was all that was needed to get this one to run as nicely as the others I have. The next question was what to do with it? The very first one of these chassis I bought I just took the cab off, added a few bits and turned it into a freelance cabless shunter. I now have two, a dirty green one and an alarmingly bright yellow one.
The new one under construction

The old and the new
It will definitely get some weathering to tone it down a bit and it probably is rather too modern for the IoSR's 1960s setting but my layout, my rules. It will live in the Town Quarry sidings for now.
The last thing I needed was another loco right now, especially in the lead up to Christmas but those nice German folk at Minitrains have finally launched their two French locos; The Decauville Progres and the Schneider Locotracteur. Both are superb little models and both items of desire, however I have opted for just a black Decauville... for now.
My one

Some visitors having their photos taken. The red Progres is very pretty too.
Anyway, that just about catches up with that and now it's off to Warley with the F&WHR stand this weekend and then Manchester with Underhill the weekend after. My first visit to Manchester so fingers crossed.

Friday 16 June 2017

Braking point

Since my last post I've exhibited Underhill at the Bala Lake Railway model railway show and I had a very entertaining weekend despite the lack of attendance. On the Saturday I was joined By Charlie Insley who not only operated the layout for a good long while but who also brought along a pile of his lovely locos too.
Packed in the van, ready for the off

Charlie's prototype, the straight from the box and my fiddled with Bagnalls

An Insley made CWR Fletcher Jennings

Another of Charlie's locos on a goods train
Also making a guest appearance on the layout were three locos built in the 1960s by Huw Jones. Lovely things they were too. The Baldwin was made from one of 10 kits produced by the London area Group of the FR society in 1966, although on a slightly more recent chassis it happily pottered up and down.
Two years younger than me and in better condition
With some of it's own wagons
Huw Jones

Static exhibit but actually my favourite of the three

A familiar looking loco
On the Sunday I was joined by Martin Hallet for a while and he took over the reins for a while while I wandered about the rest of the show trying not to spend any money... largely successfully.
Martin in action

That rarity - the public

Still enjoying the fiddle yard

After the show in Bala I realised that I needed another brake van so I had a look in the unmade kits box and found a Parkside Dundas VoR van. This is a great kit and very versatile, over the years I have used it to make all sorts of things... even brake vans. This time I thought a fairly straight build would be suitable but I also noticed that I had a slightly broken PECO GVT van to hand and that the duckets are a very nice thing. Offering them up to the kit I found that with a little trimming of the back they would fit nicely.

Finished but unpainted
This left me with the remains of the PECO van and the duckets from the VoR van... hmm. I'd always thought that having the duckets in the middle of the van looked odd so I decided to rearrange the PECO van.
Without ducket

With new ducket and added microstrip panel

Ready for some top coat
Arnold Lane Wharf had an outing at the rather good but tiny, Borth y Gest show. It behaved itself very well and fitted in the 'Up!'. It wouldn't have done with the attached proscenium arch which houses the lights so I took a saw to the uprights and made it a bolt on fitting. The whole process of setting it up still only takes about 20 minutes and it will be easier to store too.
I wanted to get the PECO van ready in time for this event and it was finished in the paint shop just in time. I have some transfers to add but they didn't make it.

It was a very good show with some excellent layouts, organised as ever by Paul Towers. The weather outside was awful, indeed some of it started to seep through the walls of the building but considering this and the rather obscure location there was a pretty constant stream of people. It was nice to meet up with some old friends and also to put faces to names from t'internet.

Paul with his famous smile

The whole show

A blast from the past with an excellent display of Lone Star 000 gauge