Showing up

Ebor  Group Of Railway Modellers Show 2020

Every now and then will need to push oneself to do things that one may not necessarily think about I want to do. This Sunday just gone, I decided to go to a model railway show in York. It is a small show has been running for nine years now and which I have been to a couple of times before around about the time it first started. As exhibitions go it is probably one of the closest ones to me but certainly not the largest. The main show at York is the Easter one which is situated at the racecourse in the Easter weekend. However I have been itching to get some provisions and also some inspiration. I always find going to a show usually triggers of ideas. This was no exception and there were three layouts that gave me a lot of food for thought. Talking to the owners the highlight of the show.

Much of what gives me inspiration is not the size of the layout for the number of trains, although there are some pretty stupendous large layouts; Copenhagen fields, Gresley beat, and Apethorne Junction. It may be just a quirky idea that the owner has had, or maybe some constructional solution that I haven’t seen before. In fact there was a number of these at the show.

Not for me the main line expresses thundering by, but a lone local shunting wagons around a small yard is far more interesting to me. I know this is not everybody’s cup of (insert beverage of choice) but I have long been fascinated by these bucolic scenes. I didn’t grow at the time when this was part of the living history but with the wonders of the Internet I can easily recreate these visual memories.

When one goes to a show there will always be a number of layouts that grab you and the majority that you may not find necessarily interesting to your interests and scale or scales. However I am trying to teach myself keeping an open mind is far more beneficial in the long run. One can learn from just about any body standing behind the layout as they have achieved something that I surely haven’t, yet. Whether that be an interesting take on creating scenery or a particular method of Electricals, there is some nugget to be teased out of a conversation. For far too long I have said and thought to myself “oh I don’t like that because… “However that was limiting my learning experiences that I could’ve been picking up from.

It is really all about the story. Whether that be the layout that you see in front of you or the person behind that layout. Both have interesting stories to tell and hopefully you can hear them. This weekend was very much all about this conversation. Thinking that I would pop in and have a look round take some pictures and video and then lead to meet up with family was far from the reality. Time flew by and in what seemed like a moment my phone was buzzing in my pocket with messages asking “where was I?“

For about three hours I had three conversations that were way beyond the value of the admission which was a poultry £4. I would’ve paid 10 times that for the inspiration and advice that I received from the very knowledgeable and gracious layout owners. I’ve always found that the best conversations I’ve had at railway shows have been with small layouts. I don’t know whether it’s something to do with the physical connection to their audience or whether it is that they have more time to be able to talk to people in front of the layout.

So what did I bring away with me from the show, well apart from some Rocket glue for my card building models that I’m working at the moment, I had an affirmation that my small space, shelf layout space, was going to be more than adequate for my needs. I think that I will be able to pretty much get everything including the kitchen sink in if I so wish. I also came away with some ideas for layout operation like point and signal operation, and ideas for transporting layouts around if I was ever to be invited to a show. I was once again reminded that for myself “Playing is important“ and having a layout to be able to do this with his key. Even if I switch a couple of trucks around for an hour that is really what I’m looking for. Don’t get me wrong building things he is just as important as playing with things as after all we are just playing trains.

You can check out my visit to the show over on my YouTube channel. Unfortunately you never get the real experience of having been there but I have caught a bit of the essence of the show.

EGRM Heworth, 2020 – Full Video – MODEL RAILWAY

A fork in the road

Whilst walking in my local park on a beautiful sunny morning, with the glimmerings of spring seemingly around the corner my mind turned to which notty road to follow. Since returning back to my YouTube channel with renewed enthusiasm I have kind of left myself a bit of a quandary. Once the infrastructure, i.e. the shelves are finished and I have space to start building my first layout, I am faced with this choice. In the blue corner, is the current intended project. This is the lightweight foam board layout I started last year. In the red corner, is the new upstart. The project I committed to maybe last year or the year before, I can’t remember now, with my friend Richard. However not happy just to commit to a project that had a deadline I decided to pile on the pressure and come up with, in a blinding flash of inspiration, the plan to sign myself up to the same challenge. Now granted I am only making “some” track for my friend, but the fact that he is/will be waiting on me before he can really get on and to the scenic side has added a layer of pressure.

Now to my own folly. Around the same time as a visit to this part of the world, we happened to realise that well know Steam Loco Tornado was working the local heritage railway. This then triggered a conversation about the line, history, and my thoughts and ideas about it. Some of the plans I daydreamed about as a youngster were still in the back of my mind. For whatever reason this small rural tiny backwater line had me gripped from a young age. I have talked about this obsession in previous posts before but all talking and noodling just re-awoke it. Having brought every book on and tried to accumulate any pictures I could all with the end goal of one day producing a layout of it. Its not an original idea and there’s been a number of layouts in the model railway press over the years but its an itch that just needs scratching.

Bringing that back to the current day I am faced with the option of abandoning my “mini” idea or hurl myself headlong into this. What is this idea we are talking about? Well, it is the Diamond Jubilee Layout Challenge of the 2mm Association. The deadline is late June 2020 and by my calculation, that is about 4 months. Now as I have previously said I have a number of tasks in my room that I need to finish, like some coving to put up and some paint touch up to be able to get to the point where I can start anything. Realistically that is probably going to be into March by my current rate of progress at which point I have to decide which path to take for the YouTubes. There is, of course, a plan C option, which is to run the project alongside but to document the DJLC for later, after the event, as a kind of retrospective. I’m guessing that this is the sensible thing to do, but then when have I ever been sensible! Also, the thing that has been flickering through my mind recently is that I could also do an idea I have also had in my head for a long time, portraying a seaside station on the south coast of England. This was hatched in a moment of madness when I brought a 2 car DMU and that I got wheels turned down for 2FS. That has also been gnawing away at me to build.

I’m not sure whether one or the other of my ideas would harder to complete than the other so I guess it boils down to what makes the most sense. Given that I have the rolling stock for the latter it would seem more feasible to move that project forward. I seem to be talking myself into this, but like all the cliches about “no pain, no gain”, “cracking eggs to make omelettes” blah blah blah… It might be a fools’ errand, but there’s nothing like being under pressure to produce some results.

So now some doodles of the ideas I have and maybe some ideas will flow from them.

First Idea

2FS Rural Halt
A rural halt in the North of England in 2FS

Second Idea

A modern seaside town in 2FS

So with all this in mind, I have to sit myself down and work out how, when and if I need to do this. So in the coming weeks, I will follow up on this as this is more of a sounding board to myself which I enjoy being able to do as in other formats it is harder to formulate these ideas without having to project rather than reflecting on. My not sure an hour of babbling on about a concept, track plan and execution would be that interesting to many people. I also like that here on the blog I can have these ideas and they can percolate through time without having to have a definite end. Quite often ideas can last for decades.

However, as the years’ tick by it is becoming more apparent that these ideas need turning into reality. In some ways having a restricted space is limiting, but in conversation with a friend yesterday I said that it actually fits my character much better. When I look at my modelling inspirations, Rice, Gravett and Nevard, to mention a few, on the whole, their layout output is on the more compact size. But the level of captured reality is inspiring. Thus proving one doesn’t need huge amounts of space.

In the time I have and the space constraints (around two feet in length) I think I can achieve something in 10-11 weeks. Anyway, we’ll see how that pans out. As my grandfather said, “Never sit at the front and never volunteer for anything!” From a man who volunteered for Bomber Command during WW2.

2020 New Beginnings

So over a year ago I made my last post here on my new blog that I opened to a fanfare of newness that the site just couldn’t compete with. Well that went well, right? Once again I am in the position of falling foul of the very thing I was trying to blog about. There is a pattern there. My name is Tom and I am a serial procrastinator!

Where does that leave this blog, well it’s almost an annual ceremony now, and I do know of blogs that are notoriously popular and have a similar posting schedule, but this is my attempt to change all that. Life has gotten in the way over the last year for various reasons but that’s honestly just excuses. Plenty of other people manage to carry on life and also spend time on their hobbies so what it comes down to in my mind now is desire. I am happy sitting around juggling track plans, watching training videos on line, and following other peoples modelling progress in forums et cetera and always have been a bit of an armchair modeller, or maybe that should be chronic?!

Once again I am at the starting point and thinking about which way to take my online modelling presence. In the last year I have not been totally idle, in that I have been tinkering around on the edges rather than creating actual things. During the spring and around the York Model Railway Show I decided to start a YouTube channel to help me document my progress, rather than talking about things on my blog. Daaan Daaaannn Daaaaaaa!! It was a way of pushing me to actually create things rather than talk about them. Well it went reasonably according to plan. It was rather nerve wracking at the beginning as I am very much not a natural presenter and more of an introvert. I think the joke is I have a face for radio. But it was interesting to see the small progressions in the short space of time when I did it consistently. By magic I managed to generate around 20 videos. Some of them were better than others, and due to the fact I wasn’t actually creating a layout or doing physical modelling particularly the content started to stall and I started filling it with visits to shows and visits to steam railways. Friends Kindly pointed this out and if you know anything about creating content for YouTube, the beast needs feeding if you want any kind of growth from it. This is a whole other topic and there are multitudes of people telling you how to clarify and maximise.. etc. But I guess anyone starting a channel is doing it for some kind of recognition. Some for money, some for fame, but in my case it is really just to help keep me motivated to enjoy a life long hobby.

However, it is my intention this year to rekindle the video channel and take it forward with some consistent modelling content where I show my efforts. Whether it be something that I am experienced in or whether it’s something I am a complete novice at, which in honesty is probably most things. Having watched some online creators talking about how to propel a YouTube channel forwards, it seems to be the opinion that one should niche down. Unfortunately this doesn’t suit my personality. So I am going to create what I enjoy doing and see whether people want to watch it or not. As I have stated on here before I have a very wide variety of interests when it comes to railway modelling and I don’t intend to stop that though it may put people of and annoy the algorithm. It helps me to be able to jump around, and I had become mentally stuck on something or more likely bored of it, due to attention issues. However I will try and keep content bundled into areas of interest, rather than flitting around. I also plan to add in occasional material like going to railway model shows or steam railways, but also things like how I create the videos which I think are of interest to some people, to see behind-the-scenes, and to see the technology used. One idea is to show The evolution of the layout through to it in quotes completion.

As I have a very limited space I see myself working on a number of projects to completion where they will make space for new ideas. Improvement though iteration. I see this as a truly blank canvas and unlike many I don’t maybe feel constrained by any particular boundaries. I don’t intend on amounting a massive stock for any, excuse the pun, platform as its not about collecting for me. This might all be different if I had a different space but I would like to think that this would be the way I modelled anyway. 

There is a lot more that I have in mind for the channel which really doesn’t fit here but if you are interested you can follow me over on YouTube. At the moment I only have around 30 subscribers and have not reached the point at 100 subscribers where I can claim the unique address for my channel. So one of the goals for 2020 is to get to 1000 viewers as this seems to be the point where are YouTube starts to promote the content to other people. This is also enough of a motivation to keep rolling out the vids. It seems to be a very dark art which I’m not particularly bothered about trying to game, as I really am doing this because I enjoy my railway modelling, if others enjoy this too then great.

So where does that leave this blog? Well I see it as running alongside my YouTube channel, as a place for my thoughts and ideas that don’t easily fit into a video format. More of a long form, considered scribblings. I also think this suits the type of content I enjoy writing and presenting. Some people enjoy the written word and pictures and YouTube is not for everyone, maybe a certain niche. It is my plan to carry on doing a post a week and maybe I will include my thoughts on current events in the railway modelling world, but it will be more of an archive of my thoughts and modelling ideas. 

I will probably link to some videos here but I’m guessing that most people that read this will already know of the YouTube channel. If not may I suggest you shimmy on over to I am trying out some modern getting things done techniques in order to keep myself focussed and maybe that will be a topic I follow up on in the future as to how effective they and I am. For someone who regularly suffers lack of focus I have a strange fascination with order.. 🙂

I will leave you with best wishes for the new year ahead and hope that we achieve what we want to with our modelling aspirations in our hobby.

Warley 2018

It’s late and I wanted to get something up for today and today I went to Warley. That’s the biggest model railway train show in the ??

Wow what a day! I really didn’t get to see anywhere near the layouts I wanted to see but I met many friends old and new that made that all worth while. I had planned on taking loads of pics and maybe even some video but I failed in my duties. The thing about the Warley show is that you really need two days to see it properly but that ends up being pretty expensive. One year I’ll do that, maybe. There was a wide mix and it amazes me that they manage to find enough variety to keep people coming back year after year. There seemed to be an emphasis on small layouts with many amazing examples of what could be attained in in some cases very small spaces.

Along with all of this were talks about 3D modelling and the level of detail that can be achieved in this case N scale. Pretty mind boggling. Then white metal soldering. This has always been a dark art in my books but 20 minutes of show and tell I am now ready to unleash my 18W iron on a 009 kit I promised a friend.

To top it all off there was the main attraction, with was discussing Nm9 modules for the Swiss stuff. I’ll go into more detail in another post but suffice to say this is the way forward.

Until next time..

Build this covered bridge

Punt da Rueun build

Having finally found some time to start some card modelling and following on from my post earlier to build this covered bridge (Punt da Rueun) mockup. Doing something physical, well almost physical helped by the fact that finally there is a working printer in the house finally. I have lost count of how many inkjet printers I have brought only to chuck later due to the ink having dried to almost carboniferous qualities, don’t get me started on what I think of printer manufacturing companies.. But now with the wonders of laser printing technologies I can start cranking out all manor of printed material. I have been working on the plan for Punt da Rueun using the measurements I gleaned from the web to make the initial calculations to build this covered bridge. I am currently working on the principle that this is a test run for a project to try out a build using basswood, which is something I have never done. Though I remember those dim distant days of gluing balsa wood plane kits together. But I need to work up to that and what better way than to start off with card. I have a ton of it and it is forgiving when you get things wrong. I have no shortage of the medium as I have inherited a life time supply. It is mainly mount card which comes in at around three to five millimetres which is a bit on the think side but gives plenty of rigidity, unlike the cereal packets that i normally use.

I decided to keep this simple and to just get started and to also test out my very rusty build skills. There are many ways to build with card and I really needed to remember how I use to navigate the process of scratch building. Getting a kit takes out the need to think through construction. It’s all there and done for you, all you have to do is make sure the list of parts fit. But working from nothing but a plan makes you think about the way that things are going to join together. This is part of the thrill to me and by doing I can start to see where I got it right and where can improve. Nowadays with the advent of lasers and CNC manufacturing and I use these in terms of cottage modelling it takes a lot of this process out of the build as it can be with the click of a button manipulated and calculated without so much as a blink of an eye. I’m certainly not against it but I personally enjoy the mental gymnastics to make it all fit together.

I took the drawings and spent some time on my computer creating the vector graphics needed to print out the templates to stick on the sides of the card super structure. As I said this was only ever going to be a simplistic dry run for the “real” build. But even at this early stage I realised that the prototypical length of the bridge was going to be problematic due to it not fitting on a single sheet of A4 paper. I guess I could have gone down the route of multiple pages but the thought of messing around with registration markings and the like. So I shortened the bridge by about 15% in order to squeeze it in. Even on the printout it is a pretty commanding structure and my initial reaction was I have got this wrong. Is it really that big? Popping upstairs to grab a loco I checked the scales of both it and the bridge and I was about spot on. Then came a frenzy of slashing away on a Swann & Morton 10A blade to produce two sides and two end. As you might have gathered this took a tad longer than fifteen minutes, but has finally got the stone, orange, cheese or snowball rolling down the hill. Next up will be attaching the roof and then getting a feel for the colour. This is to be achieved via the medium of acrylic paints and again I’m a bit rusty on the brush dabbling skills.

I took the time to make some notes as I went through the build and one of the things that became apparent is that I need a smaller cutting ruler I thought I had one. Of course if I get one I’ll find another three that had temporarily been mislaid and also a mini engineers square would be handy. This brings me onto the elephant in the room that is Warley. It would be and opportune time to get some needed tools and to see some pretty good layouts and also get to talk to someone about Nm9, but… it’s a bit of a trek and not to mention considerable cost for visiting a model railway show.. BUT! we’ll see later in the week as to whether I take a trip to the NEC

Until next time.. on “when I build this covered bridge”

Swiss HGem2/2 locos – Swiss small scale shunter

“Swiss small scale locos HGem2/2”. Yet another rabbit hole to disappear down into, that’s what I muttered to my self as I came across yet another Flickr library whilst looking for something else! You may ask why this and not say a whole range of other locos, but something just grabbed me about its simplicity and strange beauty. Yes it’s not going to be everyones cup of tea and I have had the same feeling about many of the modern freight locomotives introduced into this country in the last decade. But one of the factors that draws me in is the notion that this would not be “too” difficult to reproduce in model form. Well that’s what I have in my head, along with a bunch of 3D printer reviews and photo-etching blog posts.

The bonus to this particular Swiss loco is that I have found some rather comprehensive dimensional drawings. Which is usually the hardest things to come by. With a wheelbase of 4250mm it would seem to me that it might fit on one of the Kato motorised chassis 11-103, just. And unless I have monetised it in a previous cull I have a feeling that there is one in the bits box that I got in Porthmadog many years ago.

It would seem that the builders definitely followed the KISS mantra for this design and I am guessing that the operations for these Swiss made HGem2/2’s are relatively light weight and seem to be used purely for MOW duties, although I maybe completely wrong. There are a few shots of multiple locos lined up due for delivery to other lines and so they are not exclusively built for TPC.

Finally some pics of the loco in the wild with the TPC and some pondering about construction.

HGem2/2 Loco TPC HGem2/2

Until next time..

Covered bridges

Whilst watching a video on YouTube, which annoyingly I can’t now find, I saw out of the window of the train a covered bridge. I don’t know why but I hadn’t thought about covered bridges in ??
Punt da Rueun
I first came across them when I became interested in American North Eastern railroading. But I never considered that I would come across one whilst riding along on the way to Disentis. This sparked off the interest in building one again. After watching the video and taking that screenshot I completely forgot to reference it so I couldn’t go back. But then with the power of the internet I could within a short space of time track down that same bridge. I came across this website that catalogues all of the covered bridges in Switzerland, a no small project. In order to make sure I cross checked the screen shot with Google Maps with their Street View.

Google Street View Rueun
Google’s Street View of Punt da Rueun

They opened out it to travelling across the RhB in ?? which is pretty amazing . Once I knew it was the one I wanted to model I started hunting the net for more info. And lo and behold it came up trumps! With a number of pictures from different angles and most importantly some dimensional drawings. I am pretty blown away at the speed and ease at which I found this information and am appreciative of Werner Minder‘s website for taking out the guesswork.

Bridge Plans
Bridge Plans ©

The next question is what to build it in? My first inclination is to use Plasticard due to the stability and sizes of stock that can be found to match the prototype. Then I got to thinking maybe a natural material would suit it better and the thought of building it in a wood grew on me. The downside would be the possible warpage due to climatic conditions. As I have not built that kind of medium I am a somewhat of a disadvantage. But looking at the stock and prices of basswood it seems to even out the choices.

A brief check at a place I used to love pottering around after work when I lived in London shows that probably for a couple of sheets of basswood would probably do it. I would need to work out a proper cutting sheet though. The seeds have been sown and I am not trying to uncover one of the three cutting mats I own that have not surfaced since the house move. I can guarantee that if I go and buy another the other will apart out of the wood work to taunt me.. I have a box of fresh 10A scalpel blades just need to decide how I’m going to take this forward.

Till next time..

2mm SA Local Area Group

Last Thursday evening I attended my first Local Area Group (LAG) for the 2mm Scale Association in a long time and at a different venue than previous. The evening is primarily to do some modelling in convivial surroundings with drinks and a cake or two. More details can be found here Continue reading “2mm SA Local Area Group”

Bag of bits

marklin z scale station kit
Marklin Z scale station kit Wintersdorf

Well I was planning to show that I do actually do some modelling and this bag contains parts for a kit that I long ago forgot from where it came and even if I brought it. I have a recollection that I might have picked it up on a second hand stall but I wouldn’t swear to it. Continue reading “Bag of bits”