Saturday, 31 December 2011

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'...

Last night I sat at the new workbench and actually wondered what to do!  It's almost as if I'm out of practice...

Thinking back a couple of days, my Dad had shown me his Boxing Day project of building a home for his Modelex rolling road, comprising of a small baseboard, a short running line and his rolling road firmly fixed down.  I had been impressed with his rolling road when he first purchased it and had researched something similar for myself, however being a multi-gauge modeller it would be expensive to buy one in 16.5mm gauge and 9mm gauge.

Enter DCC Concepts, who have devised a nifty re-gaugeable set of rollers that sit on conventional track and can be gauged for 9mm, 12mm, 16.5mm and 18.2/18.83mm gauge track by use of different inserts.  This allows folk like myself to benefit from one set of rollers to suit several projects.  I purchased a set online earlier this year and although I have been able to test them, I hadn't put any thought into how they could be set up longer term.

The Rolling Road being tested by my industrial diesel on the 9mm gauge track.
The set-up above was created by recycling parts of the balsa framed/foam core topped baseboard from the 'Misterton Fen Tramway', hacked about to create a board 14" by 6".  Track takes the form of a length of Roco HOe track given to me a couple of years ago by Jordan Leeds and a length of Peco code 75 that was fished out of a bin last year, left by someone who couldn't see it's usefulness once it was kinked!

Electrical set up, plug in, one switch, simples!
The electrical connections are also salvaged from the MFT, let into the baseboard frame at a point where some damage had occurred to the balsa wood frame.  A slide switch allows the user to switch between the 16.5mm and 9mm gauge tracks.

So far I have only found one problem... the bogie mouldings on some American Bo-Bo diesels don't clear the rollers properly.  It's a good job you can run things up and down the tracks as well!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

The Test of Time

'Shifting Sands', my O9 representation of a seaside miniature railway, has not operated in over 18 months, in fact I can't think when it was last operated before it went to Cleethorpes for display in 'Rails to the Sands' during 2010.  Although the layout has been home for the best part of two months, I have not had the opportunity to carry out any test running due to other commitments.  However, on Christmas Eve time came into my hands and I was able to remove the layout's cover and see what was what.  Barring a couple of loose scenic items, quickly fixed, there was no damage to the layout and a visual check of the wiring confirmed all was OK.  Out came the stockbox and after an initial quick 'one loco in steam' check, other items emerged to be "tested"...

Operating 'Shifting Sands' perched on it's box-cover on the future  nursery floor.
The layout itself performed faultlessly, I didn't even have to clean the track as 'Shifting Sands' rails have been coated in graphite (from an artists pencil), a trick well known to members of the Gnatterbox Gn15 forum to improve electrical conductivity and reduce the need for cleaning rails and wheels.  There are some cons to this method but nothing that affects a small, level layout such as this.  Some of the loco fleet did require a drop of 'Electrolube' in places to improve their performance, but after a while all was running well.  Sadly the light wasn't too good that close to floor level in the evening and the resultant photos aren't shareable here.

However, a second running session today in daylight has allowed a few more shots to be attempted, and also allowed a different selection of stock to be operated, including some from my 'O9 Heritage Collection' that aren't always seen in operation.

'Intrepid' with coaches built by Clive Mortimer for his 'Great Ouse Valley' project.
What have always been known as the "Romney's" on 'Shifting Sands' are in fact coaches started by prolific scratchbuilder Clive Mortimer for a project called the 'Great Ouse Valley Railway', which Clive started but decided not to pursue several years ago.  I was gifted his half started coaches and finished three of them off, with a lot of rebuilding, as the initial enclosed stock for the layout.  Later replaced in service by my own scratchbuilt stock, these coaches are now showing a few signs of ageing such as warping roofs and a few knocks and chips in the paint.  I am in two minds whether to repair them or conserve them as heritage items!

'Thunderbolt', my first conventional O9 steam loco, with Owen Ryder/Avalon Line coach.
My Owen Ryder/Avalon Line 'Ratty' coach is perhaps a little on the big side for 'Shifting Sands' as it is wider and longer than the home-brewed open coaches, but it is of importance to me in terms of O9 history as it represents the early commercial period and a prototype vehicle as well.  It isn't as smooth on it's bogies as the  stock running on MicroTrains trucks, and has therefore not seen as much service as other coaches.  'Thunderbolt' had become overshadowed by my Pacific 'King George VI' in recent layout appearances, but this simple Bachmann conversion should not be overlooked as a source of scale-outline miniature railway motive power.

And finally....

'Pandora' in the dunes.
I could not resist this shot of 'Pandora' in the headshunt by the dunes.  Happy days....

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas (DIY is Over)

Well here we are, Christmas Eve.  The last major house renovation job of the current projects is complete, the hall, stairs and landing are now fully painted and carpeted with only a few minor finishing touches to add.  A huge sigh of relief was heard when the carpet fitters left yesterday afternoon!  With no major DIY tasks planned for the next few months, I could finally undertake the job that bridged the gap between DIY and model making, creating my new cupboard based workbench.

And here it is:

The eagle-eyed will see that it is a little higher than the artists impression from August, as it became obvious through experimentation that a stool was easier to manage in the space than a chair.  This doesn't worry me, it also creates a good height to stand at for quick tasks.

The basis of the new workbench is a piece of timber furniture board from Wickes, which goes against my recycle-where-possible ethos, but seemed a better option than a piece of contiboard or MDF.  It is certainly solid, more so as it is braced underneath with sections of 20 x 15mm timber, sourced from the 'railway department' stash and bearing 30p price tags from the local hardware store's bargain bin!  The same stash provided 9mm quad bead to go around the edges to catch rogue wheels etc from rolling away.  This is very much a work in progress and is currently being varnished to complete the job.

Finally, from the archives, a 2007 view of the Somerthorpe Miniature Railway...

Sunday, 4 December 2011

In Triplicate

At the Wakefield exhibition last weekend I grew weak at the knees at their legendary club second-hand stall and came away with an N gauge Bachmann Spectrum F-Unit for the agreeable sum of £15.00.  Thinking back to last year's show I seem to recall doing something similar, indeed I may have chosen not to buy two on that occasion...

This style of F-Unit chassis formed the basis of my first O9 loco back in 2003, when I purchased one very cheaply at a Toyfair as the basis of my first steps in O9 motive power.  With a stylish body formed from Dapol railbus and drewery shunter parts I felt that the resultant loco captured the spirit of 1950s and 60s 15" gauge design and wouldn't have looked out of place at Dudley Zoo or Fairbourne.

These were early, perhaps pioneering days for me and much procrastination followed as to what the layout that would inevitably follow would be.  At one stage the whole project hung in the balance but despite a half-hearted plan to sell up and return to 'OO', the blue diesel was not going to be sold.  What eventually emerged was of course 'Shifting Sands', but by the time the layout was complete, the blue diesel had started to look a little on the small side next to 'Cumbria', my Ratty inspired steam tram locomotive.

A rebuild saw 3mm added to the height of the loco with a new frame below the body, and at this stage an Atlas mechanism was installed.  The main reason for this change was that at this time I was using a set-up of old H&M control equipment and the setting required to get the best from the Atlas mechanism matched those used for the Kato 4w chassis found under many of my other locomotives.  The original Bachmann chassis ended up under a 'twin' built for Andrew Blackwell.

Last years chassis purchase ended up under my 'Christmas Project' of a third locomotive. The long term intention for this was to actually replace the original locomotive in the 'Shifting Sands' fleet and allow the original bodyshell to be restored to it's original appearance for display with my older coaching stock.  With the purchase of a further chassis, and another railbus and drewery shunter kit to hand to build another loco, the story is unlikely to end here!

Sunday, 20 November 2011


Yesterday, whilst discussing the price of a forthcoming 4mm scale item, my Dad commented that "he had forgotten that railway modelling had become a consumer activity." I had a chuckle, but the more I thought about it the more it rang true, I think that were I not a narrow gauge modeller I would have to seriously consider what I was doing.  Some time ago, almost five years ago in fact, I wrote (in one of my unpublished ramblings) that:

"Whilst I like the high quality RTR releases you can buy today I have no desire to build another full-on layout for them, and I am restricted in what I can buy new anyway as the prices are rising way beyond my modelling budget.  Perhaps this is why narrow gauge (in the way I have approached it) appeals as the relative cost is in fact cheaper than going down the RTR route."

Whilst I'm not convinced that there should be an anti-capitalist model railway movement (though the thought of protest camps in Margate, Barwell and outside Hatton's raises a smile), I am convinced there is another way.  Back to those old musings:

"I admire those modellers who seem to make a little go a long way, the Martin Hogg and Bob 'Blackcloud' Hughes' of the hobby who seem to be in the right place at the right time to pick up the bargains and produce an endless stream of new layouts and ideas on what seems to be a shoestring budget.  Perhaps I am a little envious of what they achieve, and perhaps sometimes the inspiration just doesn’t flow at this end….

I rambled on a fair bit in those days...

"I admire those who don’t get uptight about new releases and who are prepared to take a similar approach as I do to my O9 modelling, for example I think Neil Rushby is a genius who can turn just about anything into a great looking model, and who isn’t in a rush to buy latest models and gadgets.  His minimum space philosophy also rings true with me, practical home-use layouts are where my interest lies."

So being an O9 modeller, especially of miniature railways, means that you have to build most things yourself and not spend a fortune. So off the the pub for a few pints in the knowledge my money was safe.... Then this morning the telephone rang, an excited Jordan 'Rough Shunter' Leeds reporting live from the NEC at possibly the most consumerist model railway exhibition of them all:

"I've just spoken to Allen Law at MG Models, he's doing a full etched kit for 'Katie' and 'Siân' including the chassis...."

I'm presently reassuring myself that it is etched brass and I'll never be able to build it.... <gulp>

Sunday, 30 October 2011


An apt title in more ways than one.  Much focus in the last month has been on home decorating, the recently split-into-two bedroom and nursery are now painted after a couple of marathon sessions and several days of follow-up.  At present I am painting interior doors in what will be the nursery (I get in trouble for calling it my "temporary paintshop"!).

But the other reason it is an apt title currently sits in the corner of that same room....

It's 'Shifting Sands', back from 'Rails to the Sands' at Cleethorpes, bringing along with it a little souvenir of the exhibition in the form of it's interpretation card!  Changes are afoot for the exhibition at Cleethorpes and there may be developments to report in the new year.  For the layout I will be carrying out an electrical testing session soon to ensure all is well (some may call it playing trains...)

Today was the last regular operating day of the 2011 season at Cleethorpes and despite a damp start, the day turned out sunny and not too cold, warm enough to enjoy a ride in a Sutton Miniature Railway open coach behind 'Sutton Belle'.

Elsewhere on the railway work is underway on locos and rolling stock ready for the santa specials in December and the 2012 season, which will mark the 21st year of operation by Chris Shaw and the present company.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Minimum and Miniature at the NRM

Another day out?!  Well, this was a trip with a purpose, as my visit to the National Railway Museum in York was for a meeting of the Miniature Railway Museum Trust.  Formalities didn't take that long so there was plenty of time to look around and see the recently altered displays, plus the added attraction of it being the 'LMS Weekend' with many visiting standard gauge locomotives in steam.

Taking pride of place in the recently extended (and in my opinion much improved) entrance hall is 18" gauge Horwich works locomotive 'Wren'.

Sadly 'Wren' goes un-noticed by many, but it is good to see minimum gauge equipment in such a prominent position. There is plenty of space in that foyer, perhaps Bassett-Lowke no. 10 'Little Giant', tucked in her usual (badly lit) corner of the Great Hall might fit?

Outside, in the South yard, there have been improvements on the 7 1/4" gauge line, where run-around loops have been added at either end (and an extension at the far end) and a new Mardyke Deltic delivered, named after the NRM's own 55002 'Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry'.

Monday, 12 September 2011

A Bouquet of Steam (or 'Black Prince' in't North...)

A welcome break from the tedium of "having the builders in" was a trip to the Kirklees Light Railway's annual steam gala on Sunday 11th September.  Over the past few years the Kirklees supporters group has managed to pull together a star-studded line up of locomotives from many other 15" gauge lines, such as Cleethorpes, Windmill Farm, Rhyl, Ravenglass, Evesham and New Romney.  Last year the RH&DR's 'The Bug' made the trip from Kent and left several people wondering whether the holy grail of 15" gauge visitors, a Romney Pacific, would be next... after all, Cleethorpes borrowed 'Typhoon'....

I was informed some time ago that 'Black Prince' was the most likely candidate due to the slightly more tolerant wheelbase this machine has, being built for the German exhibition railways of the 1930s rather than the Romney main line.  Around the exhibition theme the Kirklees gala grew to include two examples of the pioneering 'Cagney' American 4-4-0 locomotives and the rather unusual (and something of a first) inclusion of the two RH&DR permanent way internal combustion locos.

The star attraction - RH&DR no. 11 'Black Prince'

'Black Prince' is a much rebuilt machine, one of three built by Krupp, Essen, in 1937.  Krupp only built these three 15" gauge locomotives, others for the German exhibition circuit being built by rivals Krauss, an example of which has yet to visit the UK.  By contrast all three Krupp locomotives are in the UK and the other two can be found at Bressingham steam museum.  Imported in 1976, here is a view of 'Black Prince' in the early 1980s to show just how much the loco has changed.

'Black Prince' at Hythe in the early 1980s. (C) Richard Peake

Although both of the 'Cagney' visitors, no. 44 from Rhyl and the "Peruvian Cagney", privately owned, had made trips to the far end of the line, we had to be content with a "Cagney Cannonball Express" shuttle as far as Cuckoo's Nest, which on a sunny day has a pleasant feel far away from the madding crowd, reminiscent of another age, perhaps a 15" gauge Surrey Border and Camberley?

Cagneys at Cuckoo's Nest.
Cagneys running around.

'Redgauntlet' and the 'Scooter' were busily occupied at the Shelley end of the line operating a shuttle service 'top and tailed' with resident loco 'Badger'.  Both of these vintage machines have a tale to tell and we will revisit them in detail in future blog entries, especially as both form the basis to kits in the MG Models range.

Redgauntlet and the Scooter at Shelley.

'Black Prince' is the largest loco to have visited the Kirklees line, so large in fact that an event usually reserved for visits to the Ravenglass and Eskdale was recreated in West Yorkshire.... the splitting of a Romney loco for turning.

Black Prince being turned at Shelley.
Driving without the tender!

I've only ever been to a Kirklees gala on a Saturday before,which despite the attraction of the 'late night' departure and return in the dark, has stopped me from travelling on the legendary "Shelley or Bust" 5.00pm train with all available motive power.  Although only featuring four machines this year (there were fears of a flattened 'Cagney' in front of 'Black Prince'!) this was certainly worth the wait.  On the return the two RH&DR internal combustion machines were added to the back, adding to the cacophony of sound in the tunnel, 'Redgauntlet' has at least five horns...

"Shelley or Bust" awaits return departure.

All in all a very entertaining day in the company of fellow miniature railway enthusiasts.  A huge 'well done' to the Kirklees staff and volunteers!

and it's good night from him....

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Sherwood Forest Railway - An O9 Modeller Trip Out

Due to various factors trips out to miniature railways have limited been in their number this year, so the chance to pop along to our local line was greeted with open arms yesterday.  First opened in 2000 as an added attraction within the Sherwood Forest Farm Park, the railways owners, the Colley family, were faced with a challenging situation late in 2010 when the farm park owners decided to close to the public to concentrate on farming.  Having decided to go ahead as a stand-alone attraction, the railway has carried as many passengers in 2011 as last season, and plans are afoot to develop the attraction over future years.

Motive power is largely provided by the two Keith Hardy built 0-4-0STs 'Smokey Joe' and 'Pet', the latter of which was in service on our visit.  Both should be running on August bank holiday weekend.

Yours Truly after a trip on the footplate of 'Pet'
 One of the fascinations of the railway for me is the continued use and restoration of the coaching stock built by 'Minirail' for the Longleat Railway in the 1960s.  This stock was certainly a product of it's time, but has proven to be solid and comfortable at many homes, the operational fleet at Sherwood Forest has come via Rhyl/Tal-y-Cafyn and Brocklands in Devon.  Four more sets of components, recovered from and donated by the Lappa Valley Railway are stored awaiting future use.  O9 Modeller is proud to have played a small part in their discovery and a general interest in their wellbeing from the Colleys!

The latest Minirail restoration at the SFR
With a charming rural location and friendly reception, the Sherwood Forest Railway makes a wonderful trip out, as well as the railway there are children's play areas, picnic tables and hot and cold drinks, ice creams etc served from the ticket office.  For more details of running times please see the railway website and for all the latest information the railway's Facebook page.

Rural charm at the SFR
From an O9 Modeller point of view, our friend Pioneer was spotted at the end of the line, apparently she has had a run this season and a small amount of
work done to the mechanics...

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Misterton Fen Tramway - Really the End...

I've mentioned the Misterton Fen Tramway before - here in fact.  This micro O9 layout got started but never hit the mark, and today saw the demise of it's second incarnation as a end-to-end version.

As the rails were soldered at the joiners I had to carefully heat these up to remove the plain track from the turnout, but before I did a quick photo was in order:

After a short while, with all joints unsoldered, track started to be lifted, no doubt due to be recovered on a seaside miniature railway somewhere!  All electrics, switches, plugs etc have also been recovered for re-use.  In fact the board itself is now stored back in the same place it had been, with thoughts of how it might be used in the future (the distant future I hasten to add!).

Although theoretically part of my great sort out to enable use of the railway cupboard as a workbench location, it hasn't actually made any more space but gave a strange satisfaction I had done something, just as I achieved a few days ago when I stuck new axleboxes to a 4mm scale kit-built van prior to sale!

Finding what can be disposed of and sold is a tricky one.  I have to remind myself it is about the space not the money (useful though that is).  Interestingly I have found that most of the things that are going belong to a period some time ago, or have been bought very recently during my indecisive years.  Not a lot of 7mm scale material has been identified yet, however I have had to make a decision that O14 will have to wait for a long time so I have put up for sale a job lot of parts I had stashed away, in the form of a track starter kit, turnout levers, built skip wagon and a bonus of a Phoenix figure.

Edit in response to Skylon's question.... it would have looked something like this:

Monday, 8 August 2011

Secrets of the Railway Cupboard Part 2 - The Big Secret!

Two months ago I let readers of the blog into my railway cupboard, which quite frankly, despite all my hard work painting it, looked more than a little untidy once refilled.  However, two months ago now seems like a very long time ago... Life has changed.

A fortnight ago my wife announced that there will be a new arrival in the Peake household in the first quarter of 2012 (and no, not from Hornby).  Yes, we are expecting a baby!  Due to this there has to be a major re-organisation of our "living quarters" and the original, mark 1 plans for a railway room/study have been dusted off, typex applied and 'Nursery' added instead.  Of course this has a major impact on my intended scheme for an alcove based desk and possible test track above.  Indeed, the alcove itself will be no more as the chimney breast will have give way to make more space in the bedroom.

And it will be a bedroom only, no space really for model trains.  Or will there...?

Plans are afoot to re-organise the Railway Cupboard to provide some additional shelving (white) and a built-in but lift-out workbench (yellow).  Granted, there will have to be some ruthless clearing out of the "someday and maybe" projects, and all those things on the shelves that shouldn't be will have to go elsewhere, but there is a chance it could work.  Things have to change whatever happens, time and pennies will be in short supply in the months/years to come so a carefully planned approach is required.  I'm still working on that...

Saturday, 6 August 2011

The ones that got away... No. 4 'Pandora' (Mk1)

Now where were we?  I'm not sure where the last month has gone, so my apologies for the lack of blog entries. Some big changes are afoot which I won't go into yet, but watch this space...

Fourth in my series of locos that never quite made it is, quite frankly, scraping the barrel somewhat, but I came across this picture this afternoon and thought I might as well share it.  Before 'Pandora', the 2-6-2T loco that runs on 'Shifting Sands', was built, the same chassis was to have been host to a steam outline locomotive based very loosely on the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway rebuilds of Severn-Lamb 'Rio Grande' locomotives.  These tall, thin, low boilered machines were used in the early years of the CCLR operation between 1991 and 1995.

Rebuilding a Bachmann US 0-6-0 body got me this far:

The idea was to complete the locomotive as a 2-6-0 with large rear overhang, which would just about pass on a steam outline machine with no boiler/firebox to worry about.  I have dug into my archives to find a drawing of the whole loco:

Maybe it is an idea I might revisit one day?

Sunday, 3 July 2011

The ones that got away... No. 3: Class 30 Atlantic

So we've had an abandoned 'Badger' and half-baked 'Pioneer', but the third loco in this series is different in a number of ways.  Firstly, I actually still have the bits (although finding them proved fun), and secondly should it ever get finished in this form, it will be a static model.

It is perhaps the holy grail of miniature railway modelling to achieve a model of a Bassett-Lowke 'Atlantic', certainly the person who produces an early style 'Little Giant' of Class 10 outline, to scale, will be worthy of much more than a shrubbery. There are design features across all three of the Bassett-Lowke Atlantic designs that make locating a ready-to-run chassis a potential problem, that is before you consider the issue of there being no ready to run N gauge Atlantics!  The driving wheelbase is very tight, and perhaps almost impossible to scale.

So my attempt was to be a static model in the style of Kitmaster, based around the undergubbins of a Del-Prado 'Flying Scotsman' model:

As can be seen, several years ago I got as far as rebuilding the chassis as an Atlantic and shaping up a running plate. Andrew Blackwell had suggested using parts from Dapol Drewery Shunter wheels as splashers which I duly did, before giving up on the model as other priorities took over.  The shape is certainly there...

The Del-Prado tender chassis was re-shaped to look like two bogies rather than the 4 fixed axles of the A3, and at this stage things faltered as I couldn't decide which way to go next, did I go for a fictitious name, or model 'Synolda' or 'Count Louis'?  Then I hankered after 'Count Louis' with the later, longer tender and things ground to a halt, not before I had wondered about one of the Sutton Miniature Railway locos, then couldn't decide between them either!

One person who has proved more decisive is Tim Ellis, a member of the NGRM Online forum.  Tim has taken on the completion of a loco started some years ago by another member of the forum based around a Minitrix pacific chassis.  I seem to recall that I had some correspondence with the original builder over the choice of chassis and even which N-Brass fittings to use for the chimney, dome, buffers etc based on my experience.  Tim has finished the loco off as 'Count Louis' and it has won much praise for it's appearance (as has all of Tim's work):

(C) Tim Ellis

Tim's entire workbench thread can be found here, with the Atlantic build starting on page 11 (my apologies for non-forum members, but trust me, it is an incentive to join!).  Tim has promised me an extra special picture of the loco on his O9 micro layout but he is a busy chap...

So what hope is there for the rest of us?  Well, I do have a Minitrix chassis courtesy of Andrew Blackwell, and one day an Atlantic may be built on it following Tim's lead.  However, like a bolt out of the blue, there is a remote possibility of a commercial model of a Class 30.  Roger Chivers, of Chivers Finelines fame, has recently posed the possibility of a kit to build one of these delightful machines here.  If you would be interested in the model, please do respond to the forum thread and make yourself known - with no commitment to buy at this stage.

Us O9 modellers live in interesting times!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Creative Thinking

Finding myself in the centre of Sheffield last Saturday I had the opportunity visit the Model Transport Exhibition exhibition organised by local members of the Model Bus Federation. A mixture of buses, trains and trams, including a rather nice 7mm scale tramway with scratchbuilt trams.  A long, long time ago I was a member of the MBF and it was interesting to see the diverse range of models now available in both die cast ranges and in resin kit form.  Most of my model buses had been much kit-bashed Dinky Toys Atlanteans, Tower Models plastic kits and scratchbuilds!

Finding nothing to buy other than a Gn15 sized point lever and some old coach bogies, I headed away from the show to find the Sheffield branch of the Antics chain.  I had last visited this store when it was owned by TAG Models of Doncaster (now part of Modelzone) and I was curious to see what had changed.  Looking around the store I was struck by a couple of thoughts.  Firstly, the price of die cast buses has exceeded anything I have seen before, one of the reasons I stopped bus modelling (apart from a slight loss in interest) was that prices of die casts were rising out of my means, I was literally priced out of the market!  I have had a feeling for several years that any interest or involvement I still have in 4mm scale model railways is likely to now head the same way...

My second thought was actually just how lucky in some ways I am to be a 7mm scale narrow gauge modeller.  Almost nothing is handed to you on a plate, which is not only good for my pockets, but generates an air of resourcefulness and creativity in using what you can find at shows, and on occasion in model shops.  And yes, I did find something of use in the Sheffield branch of Antics.  They were selling 1/50th scale Preiser unpainted  figures for 75p each.  "Too small!" you might cry - but the seated figures aren't far off the same manufacturers 1/43rd scale examples, and of course there is also the blatant fact that there are smaller people out there, if nothing else they will pass for teenagers.

Now I don't think this is a general Antics initiative as I bought something similar on my last visit.  The Preiser 1/50th set is rather a mixed bag so getting these figures this way is fairly cost effective.  They will be added to the figures stockpile for a future project, or may even be used within my older stock to increase passenger numbers.

Oh, and I haven't forgotten the next part of "The ones that got away..." I'm just executing a rather cunning plan... ;-)

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The ones that got away... No. 2: 'Pioneer'

Another of those locos that got started but unlike a Mastermind question, never finished.  This loco was born out of a desire to build a small pleasure railway loco for a box file layout that would use some 4 wheeled coaches I had built.  Rather than re-invent the wheel, I opted to model what is possibly one of the oddest ' steam outline' locos to ever grace 15" rails, the 1947 machine built by Ken Rosewell of Bristol, 'Pioneer':

Now in case you think I am making this up, here is a YouTube video of the loco in action at Pixieland near Bude, Cornwall, courtesy of Nick Tozer: Pixieland Miniature Railway - 1993.  The original machine had a somewhat hazy history, but was eventually sold to Pixieland by the Trago Mills shopping chain.  After replacement by an Exmoor Steam Railway 0-4-2T loco 'Dennis', the loco was grounded, eventually being re-united with it's wheels by the Sherwood Forest Railway when it moved there late in 2007.  As can be seen, at some point (pre move) the body was rebuilt to a loose 'diesel outline'.  The loco is very much in need of an overhaul and is seen here on a rare outing on a passenger service in Nottinghamshire:

Coming next in the series... well, I'll have to find it first...!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Welcome to Friends Old and New

Just a quick post, right on top of The ones that got away... but just a word of welcome to those who are finding this blog for the first time and to those who have linked to it.  I was especially happy to find I'd made an entry over on James Wells' Eastmoor blog and also to see a reply to one of my posts from Ian Holmes over in Minnesota.  Ian and I have mulled over many a scheme together both online and in person and I appear to have put an idea in his mind again!

So welcome to O9 Modeller....


The ones that got away... No. 1: 'Badger'

Looking back through some old pictures the other day (when I say old I mean from the digital camera before the present one), I found a picture of an O9 loco that I started and never finished in the way intended.

This was to be a representation of the Kirklees Light Railway's 0-6-4ST 'Badger', based on the Bachmann 0-6-0 chassis with a suitably 'bodged' rear bogie.  It almost worked, however I became frustrated with the model after I had to raise the cab side sheets (really should have replaced them) and add another layer to the saddle tank, which incidentally started life as half a well known brand of glue-stick:

I was also becoming concerned by the way I would treat the bottom of the firebox and disguise the fact that it was sat outside the frames rather than just between them.  Maybe I should have built 'Fox' instead?!

What did eventually happen is after some dark thoughts of building it as a (hush) 009 loco to sell, the project transmogrified into an almost Frankenstein like creation that incorporated elements of Kirklees, Exmoor and Ravenglass ('Bonnie Dundee') design, mixed with a little Haldane Place magic to become... 'Pandora':

Coming up next in this series, a contender for 'worst steam outline loco ever'....

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Further Deformation or Diluted Essence?

Last weekend I outlined how several months ago I had considered rebuilding Shifting Sands to fit into the railway room I then had planned, essentially elongating the layout into something that ran along two of the walls.  The drastic cutting of the baseboard was also given some thought in a second version which really would have put a new perspective on things.  Back to those 'lines of indecision':

White lines - existing edges and centre; blue line - existing backscene base; red and orange lines - proposed new baseboard edges.
Yet again the back of the layout and the ice cream parlour would be lost, but the twist would have been that the baseboard would be turned through 180 degrees to make the shaped edge the front of the layout.  A new backscene along the present front would have depicted a holiday park, and the sea would have been visible beyond the dunes, which would be to the left of the revised layout.  Again the running line would have been straightened out into the longer run.  Sadly there isn't a composite sketch to show you this time as I didn't have the right view to make one from and couldn't take one as the layout is on display at 'Rails to the Sands' in Cleethorpes.  I thought I had made a trackplan sketch but can't seem to locate one...

My main concern with this scene was that the layout was built to be viewed from one direction, turning it around would destroy this. Although I was open to the possibilities created there would need to be some work to change things, I was especially concerned about the platform fence blocking the view of trains in the station, however realistic this might be!

Eventually this image did make another idea form in my mind.  My new workbench looks set to be located in an alcove just over 3' wide by 1' deep.  The area over the workbench will be ripe for shelving that could possibly hold a micro layout.  Now 3' isn't that long a run for a miniature railway, even in O9, but what if I added a fiddle yard around the corner when in use?  Could the head shunt be on a similar bolt-on board?

Essence of 'Shifting Sands'?
The kick-back from the fiddle yard (on the right) would be to allow handling free operation and exchange of locos, something I wish I had incorporated on the original 'Shifting Sands'.  Well it worked on paper, admittedly a scale-less sketch, but would it really work.... as with the development of 'Shifting Sands', I turned to my test track to mock-up what might be possible:

White lines - fixed baseboard edges; yellow lines - bolt-on boards
It is certainly feasible, but there would be issues with uncoupling on a 10" radius curve using MicroTrains couplers and the same issues I have on 'Shifting Sands' coupling back up after running around.  It was also rather too close to the original layout in many ways, and risked moving from diluted essence to poor pastiche. As any over-the-workbench scheme would essentially be a home-use test track, I asked myself could I get away with even less?  Is a loop a real necessity if a loco-swap was an alternative?  I doodled again:

Simplified over-workbench test track.
I have cunningly disguised the lack of a full loop by making it look like there is one, but as it crosses a road or pathway there is a gate across the far end.  It is a busy day and rather than run around, locos are simply swapped over.  Something similar used to exist at Lakeside station on the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway and sometimes was operated in that way:

The Cleethorpes Gate in 1995, with 'Little Giant' and 'King George V'.
The eagle eyed will notice that the ice cream van makes yet another appearance in the triangle of land between the station and fiddle yard kick-back on the plan.  I have no objection on this test track scheme to the kick-back being at least partially visible in the scenic area

This set-up, if built, could easily represent the other end of the Somerthorpe Miniature Railway, the much fabled 'Somerthorpe Promenade'.  Alternatively, I could really shake things up and set it in a town park, farm park, stately home or abandoned standard gauge trackbed.  OK, perhaps not that last one in that space....

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Secrets of the Railway Cupboard

So, as revealed in Sunday's post, the planned railway room was knocked on the head by a combination of cost and common sense.  I'll admit there followed some dark days full of contemplation, soul searching, potential sales lists and listening to to The Smiths... (OK, some of that might not be true, I certainly didn't manage to find the Smiths CD).  Perhaps I really felt that something had to change or give in modelling terms in order to carry on?

Whilst I'm still working on how to provide more space for layout building in the future, I at least have allocated work space (and a grand plan to use it) and I still have my storage facility.  Enter the railway cupboard (though not literally as you are likely to stub your toe!).  Our house is blessed with two walk-in wardrobes/closets and the one in the main bedroom has been the railway cupboard for many years.  Over that time random shelves have been added and I'd got it pretty much to suit my needs.  However, most of the paint and some of the plaster were falling off the wall and the gloss woodwork was going a sour cream shade.  So bad in fact, that I didn't take a 'before' picture to go with this 'after' one:

Refurbished Railway Cupboard.
As a summary of work completed, I removed a false ceiling at door frame height and all but one shelf; the middle rear shelf is original, those above and below are copies in the original architrave support/floorboard plank style; side shelves are pine on recycled brackets; the ceiling was papered (over the cracks!) and painted; the walls have been patch plastered, filled, base-coated and emulsioned; skirting and shelves primed and painted in water based satin (for speed) and the door frame primed and glossed. To finish off the floor has been covered with hardboard followed by self-adhesive vinyl planks.  Despite an injection of capital from the 'modelling fund' to buy some timber and the flooring, I've made as much use of left overs and recycled material and left over paint as I can to keep costs down.  Almost looks to good to put anything in there!

But I did....

Rather full!
To be honest there is more in there than usual, the contents of two stacking crates and everything to the left hand side on the floor is usually on or under the workbench, and will hopefully be out there again soon.  In usual form 'Shifting Sands' would sit on the left in it's storage box, taking up about 28" x 11".  I have made careful provision for storage of larger items in the refurbished cupboard, the lower shelf is over 4' from the floor, allowing me to store timber and perhaps one day a 4' long baseboard end-on.  Unfortunately there's a long way to go before we get to that stage, and there still might not be enough floor space to make it work.

So one thing that did occur to me was whether 'Shifting Samds' could be rebuilt in a format that took up less storage floorspace?  This would actually be a return to the very early days of the design when the idea was that almost everything over fence/figure height would be removable for storage and the board stored in under 6" depth.  I produced another of my composite doodles to see how it might look with a few of the bulkier buildings removed:

A less visually bulky, reduced height 'Shifting Sands'
The ice cream van makes another appearance (I do actually have the model in store), along with a camper van, also from Oxford Diecast.  The removeable backscene would be reduced in height to the line just visible sketched behind the vehicles.  A new, lighter weight, storage box would be made to complete the transformation.  Something does appeal to me about the simplicity of this arrangement, but echoing back to my previous posting, would it again be tinkering and diluting a proven concept?