Tuesday, 21 November 2017

I don't care who lives there, it's mine, I tell you!...

A recent dialogue on a model railway Facebook page has uncovered somebody else who used to stay at my favourite B&B in all the world.
This is Bryn Mawr, a "Gentleman's Residence" to the much grander Plas Tan y Bwlch, down the road. Built in 1843 by the Oakley family, massive mine and land owners in the area of Maentwrog, North Wales.
We stayed for two holidays with the redoubtable Mrs. Roberts in the village of Maentwrog, a charming old lady we found by chance, the first time we just took off for a holiday to Wales.  My Dad never booked a holiday because he never knew when his work would thin out enough for us to go away.  So he'd come in one lunchtime and tell my Mum to pack....we'd be leaving that evening and driving overnight to Wales.  He fancied Wales. We went up via Lake Vyrnwy and Bala and ended up going past the then new Trawsfynnydd Nuclear Power Station to Maentwrog.
Mrs. Roberts fed us like royalty, put us in feather beds and assumed we would be going to church (chapel!) on Sunday.  Only time we ever went to a normal service in our lives.  Mum had to borrow a hat, which she never usually wore.  The thundering bloke up front (what do they call Welsh chapel vicars?) gabbled on for what seemed like hours in Welsh and no doubt had a good dig at the English while we were there.  The following year we were told with near apoplectic apologies that she was full for the week and all she could suggest was a "nice Liverpudlian family who planned on opening Bryn Mawr as a B&B having just bought it in a bit of a state."  We left Mrs. Roberts to her guests and chapel and found an imposing Victorian pile up a steep entrance drive. Dad pulled the Westminster round in a lazy arc and almost immediately a shiny sleek Red Setter bounded round us and peed on every wheel. This, we would come to discover would be a ritual he never forgot, every time we stayed.  Some years we went up three times a year. Sometimes just once.  In those days you just went away with a cursory call to the school or maybe a note if you had time. We never did and, of course, I never missed a thing, such was the snail pace at which anything happened at Romford tech.  And anyway, if they wanted professional PA equipment for their damned sports days, they'd button it and wish me a nice holiday.
On fussing Rex the Red Setter sufficient to allow access, we were welcomed by George Brake and his wife, who explained that we could stay in the one room available if we didn't mind the smell of paint.  So captivated were we by the house, the dogs (don't forget Pepe the untrimmed poodle who never moved from the threshold when people appeared) and the Brakes, that we agreed to anything he asked.
In fact, over the length of that holiday we helped paint three rooms, which Dad then plumbed safely, as he did the kitchen.  He then found that the Lister Autostart generator needed a good going over, so he fixed that, mechanically and electrically.  All this and we still got a holiday.  When we left, George refused to take a penny.  Subsequently, we stayed another 12 times, always working on the house in some way and always never being charged. Only on the final occasion did we actually pay as the Brakes had decided it was all a bit much and they'd had their daughter's wedding to pay for and were regretfully moving on.
As soon as we realised we would be unlikely to stay again, we missed it. Because of the weather that last year, my Dad refused ever to go again to Wales!  We went once as a family when I now had kids the same age I was then.  I couldn't even get up the drive as they'd fitted gates and they were locked. I couldn't do more than show my family old cine we'd took of our holidays there. Of Dad's constant efforts to take a picture of the place, but he could never get a view from a distance, unlike now.  Apparently the grounds lost 450 mature oaks in a storm of 2013.
Long before that, "MY" house had been bought by that effete, fat, stargazing mincer, Russell Grant.  I was told that by the manager of the Oakley Arms in the village when I decided to ring him off the cuff one day.  I emailed Grant, but of course, someone like him would never answer.  Now he's trying to flog it, or maybe he has.  Had to drop the price too.  Apparently the daft sod spent half a mil on a bloody kitchen!  Chances are he don't even cook!  The Lister Autostart must have gone too.  
We always started the day by running round switching lights on until the familiar wheezing noises resulted in a pulsing light and dim effect until it all smoothed out to a rythmic chugging. At night, the last light switch would have it slowing down to a final wheeze and all would be calm.

Who owns it now I neither know nor care.  They will NEVER appreciate Bryn Mawr like we did.  They simply wouldn't have the ability or reasons to love it as much.  They will have shelled out 1.25 million for it, with everything sorted, done and dusted.  George paid about 4000 for it back then and had all the fun of simply making it work, with our help.  Alison's Welsh fiance told us where to find the best beaches (Borth y Gest) and how to get into Portmeirion for nothing down the side of Bertrand Russell's house or round the headland from Boston Lodge.  We took the Festiniog Railway from Bryn Mawr's own halt, took Rex up the hill for walks or over on the river for a swim.
It will always be MY HOUSE.  And bollocks to Russell Grant and his kind.

Monday, 13 November 2017

More than a shed...more than a hut, even...

I have been unhappy with the modified Nissen hut I made as the blacksmith's son's workshop lately, so decided a new one was required, especially since finding a picture of and modelling the office, so here it is. The basic shell of the car and mainly 'bike repair workshop.  Based on this one:-
Thanks to whoever put it up.

I didn't quite have the width for this one, so reduced it a little, but it'll take a very good model of a Mk. 2 Cortina with the doors slid shut, so will be just fine for the kind of vehicle he's used to.
Once again, made in Foamex, but this time I have played with impressing a stucco finish with coarse sandpaper, rolled over the surface.  The roof is styrene and will be done as sheet Asbestolux.  No gutters as there's overhang enough to drain off into a ground gulley.

I also have a petrol pump which I made years ago from my own etches, so that can go on there and be used for the trains and the boats.  Being red diesel it'll not be used for lorries. 
Believe that, you'll believe anything!
Doors are made to hang from a girder so they can be shown slid open or kept shut, so a little interiority may be necessary.
Here seen with the new Yard Office.  The beginnings of a point can be seen being set up with PCB sleepers.  I hate making track.  I have no idea how to wire it or operate it!


Sunday, 12 November 2017

Frank Lloyd Wright built canal yard huts?...

I'm sure all you intelligent, well read souls know that the American architect of mainly big posh houses, Frank Lloyd Wright was known for a couple which had the mountain as the back wall.
Imagine my amazement, when I saw this on the 'net:-
Whoever put it up, thanks.

Lantern Yard has a rock formation at its back edge and I wondered if there might be a chance of building into the rock for a Yard Office to go with a new workshop.  I never thought for a moment there really was one!
I put this up on a forum and was told all about copyright crap...AGAIN!  So, because I can't be arsed with these turds anymore I deleted it. No bugger was interested anyway, but then, no bugger's interested with what's on here either!  I don't care. I don't give a toss about locos, kits, playing trains, all that stuff. It's just showing off by people with fat pensions.
Anyway, I liked it so much I made it.  OK, I had to trim the roof back a bit, which is a shame, but the larger wagons would be rather close to it. I might be able to extend what I've done a bit. As you can see, the roof's a mess anyway.  My version has to be a bit degraded to be real-looking.  I'm assuming the extra corrugated where it's a bit saggy is over an afterthought of a small privy for the Yard Manager.  Just the gutter to make and fit now.
The enamel paints are mainly in the office of a primer, as the gouache or acrylics I detail with don't stick well to the neat Foamex.  The roof is hand pressed aluminium foil from Chinese takeaway tubs, which can be bought in piles, cheap from supermarkets.  I press them with a modified coffee stirrer in a "mould" I made of styrene rod. It makes a single, scale sized sheet of corrugated tin.  Here, they have been assembled and trimmed to fit the rock behind as have the Foamex end walls.
The Foamex has been impressed with the back of  scalpel blade and a thick steel rule.  Corners are mitred so the blocks can appear to be going round the bend, as am I.  The blocks are scale 440x 225x 100Napoleons.
Window frame is to represent an old Crittal steel framed job with opening lights in the middle and is made of Plastikard Microstrip.  Do they still call it that?  To go with the steel window, I've used more ally foil bent into an L shape for the cill.
I think the difficult part will be getting a grubby white finish, bearing in mind there was no brilliant white before PEP came on the market.  So I have to make this off white whitewash, gone grubby.  Wish me luck.  
I really am becoming Mr. Hut.  My neighbour when I was growing up really was called Mr. Hutt!

Pedal power...

I had a few days of making pedals for the Vincent.  Every one different as they all do a different job, but not even a stylistic similarity.  Phil Vincent didn't care about such things.

Kick start, now gear pedal and the little indicator thing that, if the rider took his eye off the road and craned round for a gander, would tell him what gear he was in.  All cottered or pinch bolted to their relevant shafts.

On t'other side we now have the brake pedal and the initial brake cable fittings all triangulated to the foot rest so it'll cast easily.
Complete with tiny nuts and bolts.

Copyright....Phooey...

I did try another forum recently. Slow it was, but then a response. One from a Health & Safety fan about knife use and then today another from someone fretting about 2 pictures I found on the net.
Now I don't care what the info sites say.  If you put a picture on the 'net without a "watermark" or whatever clever bit of cyber kit stops me downloading it, then it's published and that, by my logic means it's public. End of story.

Now if you want to sue me for finding your photo and thinking it good enough to share with a tiny readership because it tallies with a point I'm making, then you go ahead and send the old cease and desist shite, matey. I ain't got a pot to piss in, so good luck with that. 

I've had more work stolen by foreigners than I care to recall. Bugger all I can do about it, so just bite the lip and know my original was better because it was the first.

If people want to get snotty about about their little snapshots, they should at least say who they are and would users be kind enough to credit them, in which case I'd happily concur.  Otherwise tell your proxy champions to shuck the fuck up!

And that, as far as I can see, is the last model railway forum available to me, so now it really is here or nowhere.  And really...who actually cares?

Friday, 10 November 2017

Just for kicks...

I decided to make the various foot parts for the Vincent model. First were the foot rests, both different to some degree.  The left side hangs from a longer bar than the right and it is less cranked, but has more going on as the rear brake, also foot operated pivots from it. All this results in a very complex shape.
While I was at it I finished off the castings of the seat dampers, made from one brass master. I made both adjusters in brass and slitted the damper body, drilling for the rod that goes through them.

Next day I made the right hand foot rest and whilst waiting for an answer about the bottom section, also made the kick start, which is very big.  Filed a 1/8th" rod so it was a flat, but round edged section, annealed it for the cranks in shape and bent it up to shape.

Today, the left foot brake pedal for the rear brake and the gear shift lever.  That should see the full set of foot levers complete.


Monday, 6 November 2017

I do like a bush!...

Having a few moments in between jobs on the Vincent while bits dried, I came across my stock of rubberised horse hair and other scenic essentials.  So I cut a small piece of it and shaped it up to fit the inside corner of the chimney on the Lengthan's hut.  I'd painted the chimney (made of Foamex) last night and turned a brass chimney pot for it.  Today I painted some green staining where the bush will be and put in some cracks with a knife point.
I then painted the horsehair with gouache paint green so there was a slight tinge of green with the brown of the horse hair.
Glued on the model with Evo-Stik which is perfect for this kind of irregular material.

I'd decanted some used tea bag innards a few weeks ago and left to dry on the top of the gas boiler in little plastic pill pots. Today I had a look and they've all dried beautifully, so I tipped them out and found some as fine, some as less so and some clumped together like flower heads, so I masked the body of the hut with cut paper, sprayed with Harmony hair spray and sprinkled with the tea.  Driven on by my success I did much the same with the short length of shrubbery along a natural line on the lockside.  I find that the essence is to carefully shape the stuff with sharp scissors and use plenty of separate pieces, not one long line.  Also, allow some tealeaves to fall onto a darker painted sward beneath and just outboard of the hedge where muck and bullets lie.  Here's the result.
More weathering needed on the stucco of the chimney stack yet, but generally I'm happy with this. I may now add more colour if the hair spray is set, especially to the hedgerow.


Sunday, 5 November 2017

Do what yer like then...

I never do anything particular at the weekend, just go with the proverbial flow.  So, I had a go at the wooden model of Heather Bell which is lined up for the Lantern Yard set-piece.  Another plank in the chine layer on the near side (canals don't do port and starboard, just near and off-sides).
That dried quickly so I cut another two and glued them into the stern post rabbet. I'll leave them now over night to really harden off.  Pear being such a hard, close grained wood, takes a while for PVA glue to reach a decent bond.
The big bits of wood are the engine beds, which were made of solid oak in the real boat, 16" x 6" and the full length of the cabin and engine 'ole.  There was an old, original, chamfer on the insides of these up where the original Petter 15HP semi diesel flywheel was.  You can just see the scarph joint on the end of the plank.  These were 2'-6" long and placed so as not to weaken the hull anywhere.  This pattern of plank ends was known as the shift of butts, except that was on Nelson's ships. I doubt if the canal boat builders at Nurser Bros. gave it a second thought, but when I restored Heather Bell I certainly did.  I still have the scale drawing labelled "Shift of Butts plan".  Pompous sod that I am.
So....that sits on Lantern Yard, glue drying, what next?  


Ah, yes, I do think that the caff is not that obvious a chamber of epicurean delights without some mention of the fact on the structure, so painted "CAFE" on the wall and to make it interesting I put a crooked arrow under the word to indicate that the end door was the one to use, the side door having been permanently blocked to stop people risking life and limb under the wheels of a narrow gauge industrial loco heading for its night's resting place under the shelter next to the caff.
I also set the model more positively into the filler base and added a paved gulley and drain hole at the front as well as behind. The one behind actually drains the sloping area twixt cafe and caravan.  There is no guttering on the cafe, hence the gulley.


Finally, meant to be tomorrow's first job, but I just couldn't wait to see it, I removed the foil wrapped 12mm diameter copper tubes from the Milliput lining of the cylinders in the taped together Vincent crankcase halves to see what had resulted.  Well, not too bad, but some filling will be needed to smooth it all out.
Anyway, here are the two "cylinder barrels" in position. Nice positive location.
Pictured in the bright sun in our lounge this cold day.



Saturday, 4 November 2017

Chim, Chim, cheree...

Sang the lovable Dick Van Dyck when he affected that excruciating Cockney accent in Mary Poppins.
My cafe and cafe caravan needed chimneys, so out with the brass tube and the brass shim.  The caravan one had a slope filed off the end so it would accommodate the slope of the caravan roof and was soldered to the shim, which, once the slope was aligned, was trimmed to a square.

On the cafe, because the fiction is that this one is still in use, so would need a witch's hat cowling to keep the rain out. I turned a collar that would fit the flue pipe, then cut 3 gaps with fine files in the top until I had three spikes to which I could solder a turned cone with a recess into which the legs would fit. I glued the cowl to the legs as soldering would have melted the first joint. 
The whole thing was then pushed through another piece of shim and all fitted to the roof.
Painted and then weathered with powders as whilst soot may be black, wood burner tar is actually a rather nasty brownish colour, so that was brushed on flue, roof plate and roof, as it is pernicious muck that runs everywhere. Ask me how I know!

The caravan flue, but now out of use.


Both loosely in their places on Lantern Yard.


I finished the cafe with 240 grit wet and dry sandpaper cut to a scale yard width strip Evo-Stikked on.
The caravan now has fake plywood sheeting around it's base to stop draughts and a set of steps has been made to get up to the floor level.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Chains, chains, everywhere man is in chains!...

Well, if not IN, then involved IN.
I was sent a pack of bits made by Tamiya, the well know over-pricing experts, for a 1/6th scale chain meant for their Honda kit. I needed this for the Vincent model because I have to make the sprockets to the correct pitch and that will be entirely governed by the chain available.
The pack was woefully badly packaged and so one of the 4 identical sprues was totally useless. They renewed that, which told me that the chain was £34 including p&p, which is frankly, taking the piss I reckon. Anyway, we now have a good, unsmashed pack which I am putting together at the rate of an inch a day and that's more than enough for something so complex and tiny.
Here it is so far, in it's little jig which is on each of the 4 identical sprues.


I have also been making brackets and plates for the Vincent master.  They all look different dependent upon which pictures you choose in the books, so I've done a kind of compiled average.  They look serious enough to be correct!


Last evening I spent some time adding gutters to buildings that needed them.  I started using my special press, but the aluminium I have is too thin and deformed and the brass shim a little stiff, so the punch broke!  I got enough shape from the punch to finish them anyway and then a bit of brass rod bent to represent a downpipe.  Still need the gutter support brackets, but  got the downpipe brackets done.  It's amazing what a difference something like a simple gutter makes to a model. My punch does scale 6 foot lengths with the ribbed, joggled joint section (the discernible "bump").

Thursday, 2 November 2017

You can't beat Speedos...

Having made the sub cover on the right hand side's engine casing main cover, I then realised there was a big speedo drive on that.  So, seven turned brass bits later and some fiddly soldering, here's the item on the newly sprayed cover.
Some nuts, bolts and plugs turned, 6 sided and added where I can. Some will have to be added when the models are assembled as they'd hook in the mould and break it.
So nice when everything ends up the same colour.


MRJ's latest...

Regular readers will know I'm a huge fan of the work of Gordon and Maggie Gravett.  Apart from his books, of which I have a couple, Gordon is a delightful guy to have a chat with, which I did when he was displaying Ditchling Green at the Spalding show a few years ago.  He has Austin 7s made from kits for which I did the masters on the layout, so that was a good ice breaker.
Their latest layout (the French Pempoul was in between and I didn't care for it much, being French) is known as Arun Quay and is a beautifully observed depiction of an East Sussex estuary quayside and it's little locos and stock.  In 31.2mm gauge (I don't begin to understand why) it still looks very finely made.  The buildings, as ever, are superb. Sussex flint perfectly depicted.  Small stores and workshops only. Nothing flash or big.
But for me, the really clever bit is suggesting the river by painting it at the back of the narrow board and merely suggesting it with a railing and a very quayside type of building. Not for Gordon the obvious and usually ill portrayed wharfside splash of fake water with an even less well modelled boat.
Just check that brickwork.  Gordon uses the very longwinded method of covering a core with Das clay and then engraving the bricks in to the surface.

Alas, I don't have a scanner, so can find no more pictures than these on the net that will open.
Everything done to one high standard.  Anyone can do this with sufficient care. But very few bother.

Now, thanks to the blog's very good friend, Frank who is a magician with these machines has found a way of sending me the Flikr pics.  These are from Phil Parker, btw, another model railway blogger.
Here is the one I really wanted to show.
That small office and the railing next to it just scream "riverside" at us and the old boy fishing, leaning on the railing is perfect.  Apparently his old overcoat is modelled in Milliput with a belt from the foil of a wine bottle cap.  Proper modelmaking.
Perfect observation of the little black shed.  And a really delicate railing.
Railways might be the excuse for this kind of scenery, but it's barely necessary to have such a wonderful set-piece.

These picks from Phil's Flickr album.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Sweet Gene Vincent...

I'm sure I've mentioned that I am making a 1/6th scale Vincent Black Shadow in brass (mainly).  This is a BIG model!
I've had to buy several sizes of brass rod for frame members and turn down from half inch bar.  I also ran out of 1/16th" sheet and got the last offcuts from a local engraver, but soon used that up and have had to buy more.  Bloody hell!  have you seen the price of materials these days?  Ebay had to be trawled for what I considered a decent price.  Every price hike is dent in the coffers.

Here's the latest work on the Vincent model. Engine crankcase halves, covers and sub covers.


I used car body metal bashing techniques to make the crowned shape in the teardrop shaped cover and the round clutch cover.
The metal is heated to red and allowed to cool down, then with a pear shaped box wood dressing mallet (but a ball pein would do) the metal is hammered into a dip in the end of a log or a dip in a lead ingot which I happened to have. Neither will mark the outside of the piece.  Then the cover is silver soldered to a rim made of a strip of 1/16th" brass and all rounded off with files.
Where the shapes are too complex to make without extreme difficulty and waste of now expensive brass I've done them in Ureol and Milliput epoxy putty.  These parts will be moulded in silicon moulds requiring no heat to make them.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Who are the Post Office kidding?...

I ordered some more nickel silver to finish the bodywork of a loco model and eventually, 4 days late, it arrived in a Royal Mail clear bag saying it had got damaged coming from abroad!  Even though the envelope in which it started its journey had a Birmingham address on the back.  It was buckled, rippled, dented, curved two ways and had been heavily hit on the end.
This supposed to be delivered flat and smooth.
This crap is what it arrived IN, with the PO trying to wriggle out of any responsibility. Fortunately the company said it started off in Birmingham and have assured us of a a replacement.
Meantime, I can apply my lovely English wheel to it and take all the dents and ripples out.  They don't need to know that!

Monday, 30 October 2017

You gotta love a hut...

Just painted the roof slated on the Lengthman's hut and put some powder weathering on it.  Enamel first, then various mixes of Vallejo acrylics, which have an unusually fine and dense pigment. Slates vary twixt dull grey and a bluish look, which I've hoped to capture.  The stucco render on the end was painted with a stone enamel and then powdered with a few likely streaks.  Gutters and pipes to go.


This is between work on the Vincent engine, which, having cooked a bit in the oven, now needs some sanding before paint.
And a few holes drilled round the edge.


Sunday, 29 October 2017

The Hell with forums, FB pages and all that trash...

Two posts in one day, already! Oi Vay!

Ha!  I've had it with forums, (fora is it? if you're a pompous arse).  And FB pages.  And every shade in between, not that are any, but you know what I mean.  The last forum I was on for all of a fortnight before some little Hitler claimed I wasn't playing nice as he ungrammatically put it. All because I slagged off RMWeb, like all other well-thinking people on the same forum. What hypocrisy!  It's OK for the established ones to slag off RMWeb, but woe betide a new boy they don't know who actually MAKES stuff from scratch to use his immense experience to criticise the most widely criticized model forum ever.  And the Stormtrooper accused me of even more posts that people had allegedly complained of my tone on, even though nobody had spoken to me about it.  So I said goodbye to that one. My last forum. No regrets, they ceased to be of use or interest to me.  Some of the members were delightful correspondents and helpful and generous to a T, but the bosses?  Oafs to a man.

FB pages, the last claimed to be for scratchbuilders, like me, because it was good to swap news of cheap ways to make stuff, but when I dared complain about the cost of wagons, either kit or RTR being silly, somebody got snotty about discussing personal finances!  These turds tell themselves something and then believe the bollocks.

So off I come. I also killed the pages I started because nobody ever left a comment, so FB, for me now, is just chat with one or two people, a way of relatives and friends sending me pictures.

Forums?  Go stuff yourselves you silly little kit snobs.

As I don't give a shit what any of them think, I will just put pictures up on here of stuff as I do it.  or maybe I won't even do that!  Does anyone really care?

I must go down to the mud again...

In keeping with my lovely old set-piece of Paglesham with the dinghy, I have been making some Fishermens' sheds, huts, whatever you want to call them. All are intended for a set-piece based on Southwold Harbour, where the little 3 foot gauge Southwold Railway had a small branch, which came to nought really, although a bit of light flat-bottomed rail survives at the edge of the land next the River Blyth.
All are based on real buildings, but may have some slight changes of detail, finishes, etc.  So far there is a small, well kept hut, a larger, neglected one and a smokehouse/fresh fish seller.
All are made in Foamex, a wonderfully compliant material which is a self skinned PVA foam . I use 3mm as it is nicely self supporting but not long winded to cut. I mitre the corners just by laying the scalpel over to an estimated 45 degrees and glue with Evo-Stik impact adhesive.  The planking can be impressed with a scalpel-scoring and the corner of a steel rule, leaned over and run along so it represents shiplap.  On brickwork, you can impress the courses and do the verticals to place the bricks with a narrow home made chisel or a sharpened piece of brass.  Stucco can be done by pressing some 60 grit sandpaper into the surface with a small hard roller, like a wallpaper seam roller.  I use it for the doors too.  Cut it out, score the planks, set it back and glue it.  Done.
Bare Foamex, with planks scored with the back of a scalpel blade. Door cut out, scored and replaced. Styrene strip framing.
Painted with enamels, wiped off with a finger and re-painted with designers' gouache in patches to represent where the tar has weathered away.  An attempt, not too much, has been made to paint wood grain on as that shows up strongly when the aged wood silvers with no paint on it.  These are the two main weathered walls. The other 2 don't get so much wind and rain and so have a little more tar left.  The door is painted in a different grey with some bits of Foamex left unpainted to represent where the grey top coat has flaked away from the primed wood.
The finished hut, with styrene roof, covered in 240 grit wet'n'dry paper and real wood hold down strips, all weathered with ground chalk pastels. Some evidence of junk inside with some fine netting representing old fishing nets and the odd wooden block and notice from the Harbour Master.
The littler hut is a better kept example. He's been flogging that dinghy for years, if there's owt left!

The smokehouse/ fishmonger's stall.  Menu boards inside.  "A" board for outside. Varnished plywood for the counter and blue marbled Fablon covered top.  If you know what that is, you ain't no spring chicken!  There will be a bricked paved area out front when it's finally set in it's scenic position.

Another set-piece that's even older, but not so muddy, is Lantern Yard, for which I just made this to give a bit of extra interest in the canal lock area.  It's a canal Lengthman's hut in brick. Foamex, with hand impressed bricks, individually painted, just now requiring a slate roof and some rainwater furniture.
Oh and a door knob and some glazing!  Note the correct brick bond, including Queen closers at door and window reveals.  I trouble over such things.  And who's to tell me otherwise?




Saturday, 21 October 2017

Greasers rule...

When I lived in Devon, there was a gaggle of greasy haired, leather clad feckless youth on bicycles who used to hang around the village clocktower in the middle of the triangle which we all called the square. Indeed our address (one of them) was The Square.  The other was 1, Market Hill, as we lived on the corner.
These lads were collectively known as The Grease.  To be elevated to the giddy heights of the name Greasers, they will have had to obtain, learn to ride and maintain and be seen everywhere on high powered motorcycles, which means they couldn't have gathered under the clock tower as there wouldn't have been space.  But as a demonstration of terminology in those days it will suffice.

Greasers could also be known as Ton Up Boys, especially if they rode any of the then very few 'bikes that would actually do the magic Ton.
One 'bike that would, every time, no sweat, was the Vincent Black Shadow, the Lamborghini, in the 50s, of the motorbike world. Poster boy of the world of leather jackets, big boots and white scarfs.

And it is one of these that I am engaged in making a brass master pattern for in the big 1/6th scale.
Getting the pictures you really need, rather than a proliferation of those you could do without is a complete pain as these things are so very valuable now that people are loath to admit ownership, lest their premises are raided by theft gangs with Hyabs and smart trucks.
Eventually I found one in bits amongst no less than 8 others in Norwich and photographed and measured to my heart's content, til I had enough to start drawing one up.
Work began and we now have a lot of little bits and pieces that will one day make up into a little replica 6 times smaller than the real one.
Left hand crankcase and primary chain case nd clutch cover.

All the wee bits and bobs so far, including painted seat and tank in Ureol, front and rear forks, upper frame member/oil tank, susension, etc.
Headstock...complex!
Upper frame member/oil tank with headstock in place.  Everything hangs from this simple assembly.

I am now concerned with making the right hand side of the engine, which is very much more complex in shape that than the left side.  I am making these crankcases in Ureol and they are being cast in silicon moulds come production time.

More as it happens


Friday, 29 September 2017

Old farts, sit on their Pub bench like book ends...

On Tuesday evening I went to a meeting of people from the local O gauge group, who, as far as I knew had started meeting up for a friendly chat every week instead of waiting every month for the main club get togethers. I assumed it was also because the monthly events are usually at members' houses and in their gardens and not everyone is into garden railways. I certainly am not. Why model in a scale that suits scenery and then make it run through throroughly un-scale scenery. So I don't go to the monthlies any more.
I had a few questions and thought a Tuesday nighter would be ideal. For many reasons I haven't been for a couple of years and so I thought an email to someone who always went would ascertain the continued habit.  But no answer came, so I went anyway.  I poodled over in the newly reducing daylight and seemed to be one of the only ones there.  I bought a customary half pint of something that looked interesting and went to sit at the table where we always sat. But, after a long time away I thought a polite "is this the model railway people?" would be in order.  A mean faced little man then made every pained expression his permanently tight facial muscles would allow in an attempt at protest, but he managed "well you're here now, not much I can do about it".  He interrogated me about my likes in the hobby and why I hadn't attended very often.  If my beer had been of a lesser quality and cheaper, he'd have been wearing it.  He then went into a diatribe about somebody having caused problems and nearly caused the end of the meetings, so disruptive was he and so now it was all only by invitation.  He neglected to explain how anyone might be invited.  He said how they only liked about 6 people to attend.  As the 9th one arrived I fell into conversation with a chap who clearly remembered me taking a particular model when I last went and he had a very good answer for the problem I had with it.  Exactly the point of the meeting I would have thought.  But the mean little man constantly looked around like he was losing control of things and boy, he didn't like it. He didn't like one of HIS friends sitting at the other end of the table and insisted loudly that he move to a spare space at the "top table".
THEN.....the man who apparently had caused all the trouble 2 weeks earlier turned up.  Suddenly, the mean little man went quiet. A burble went round the table. Somebody was volunteered to "say something".  Something was said, awkwardly. The man said he attended other things at the venue and didn't know what the fuss was all about, but the offended ones insisted that he leave or they would all cease to meet there, which would cripple the sports centre (Ha!). I could no longer stand the tension, so I said clearly they would all be happy if not only the miscreant left but me too.  Outside I met the lady who runs the place and told her of what was going on in her establishment.  She was very annoyed.  I opined that perhaps they'd kicked out the wrong man. She said she kicked people out, not them.  There was also a chap who'd been told to remove his noisy child by one of the old farts and a separate barney had kicked off over that.  I can only hope that I helped to cause sufficient trouble to ruin their evening and any to come.

Their actions were so much those of Old Farts that I felt like a 20 something for just a while there.  If I ever become like them, shoot me.  I drove home in my drophead Peugeot and left them to their Honda Jazzes and Mondeo estates, poor old fools.

I shall now do my models entirely alone away from these turds and their petty squabbles, their kitbashing and their damned illness swapping conversation. 

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Summer is a-going out...

That's it, a bit of bad weather, a change in the day lengths and light style and out comes the buildings and set-pieces, I start looking at the scenery and railway forums and FB pages.

Of course, every year I notice changes to the hobby.  More and more RTR stuff, even in O gauge, more and more 3D printed crap, more and more quite impressive laser cutting and laser engraving.  A bloke doing kits for Great Eastern buildings!!  How esoteric is that?

But...at what cost?  Said buildings are bloody expensive.  How many wealthy people are champing at the bit for some out of the way Great Eastern Railway buildings that nobody ever heard of?  Or a £45 lineside hut!!

The one thing you can't get away from is that almost no proper modelmaking is being done. What people like to call scratchbuilding.  A few smaller buildings perhaps, but nothing of any note or importance.  Great Eastern's all very well, but where's the Somerleyton or Maldon stations?  The ones we remember.  Made in card or ply or Foamex.  Nah, forget that.  I don't know if my chum Iain Robinson  is still making buildings for his clients or if he's jacked it in with his blog, which I miss badly. There were some others who made stuff on commission, but they are always held up as some sort of modelmaking Gods, when really all they are is examples of the kind of modelmaker we all were when there were fewer kits available or when we just couldn't afford the silly prices being asked.

We naturally set to with a sheet of nickel silver and a Skinley blueprint and started cutting and soldering. It really isn't difficult to cut and even with the most expensive kits you still have to solder, so why bother?  Learn to cut and save yourself 300 quid to start with.  Not much we can do about the outrageous cost of wheels, but all else is cheapish still. Motors, gears, metal.....not too bad on the whole.  These days finding drawings is the problem as none of the mags publish them any more. Unless you want to do narrow gauge and then the old Roy Link mag, the Industrial and Narrow Gauge Review, Gawd bless its lovely layout and highest standards.  I haven't seen the MRJ for a while, so can't say if they still have the odd drawing of any use, but the comics don't.  They are just running catalogues for RTR.  By the time you've finished making a branch line to their standards you could start a packaging company.  All out of boxes.  Even the O gauge guys now have endless RTR locos to choose from.  250 quid and up, right up, to 4 figures and beyond.  When you consider the average age of model fans these days, you have to wonder what kind of pension deals these old farts were on.  They can't all have been senior civil servants and teachers!  I know a chap who went to a large model show and was relieved of 500 notes for nothing in particular. Not a loco or a major purchase,....just stuff!  Lucky old him. That's what I might spend on a car if I needed one, but my hobby?

Oh well, back to my brass, my bench and my bashings.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Where did you last see it?...

If I knew that it wouldn't be bloody lost would it?
Why do people ask that stupid question?  I last saw it in the corner of a caravan that is now a pile of junk, dismantled and waiting to go to the scrapyard, so was it really there? I doubt it.

I have recently misplaced  two blowtorches, a Calor, my old retainer, never went wrong in years and a Rothenburger that I bought to replace the Calor when the latter went seriously missing for ages.  I need to do some brass softening and silver soldering, but on giving up with the search and buying a nice old Taymor off ebay I find that that is no better than the Silverline I repiped, thinking it was the Rothenberger, only to find it was the one that Silverline told me to throw away and they'd refund my money, which they did. How the hell did the Silverline appear on my bench?!  And why would the Taymor do the same....big licky yellow flame and no blue?
A further search found nothing so I ordered a new handle and burner and we'll start again.  I did however, find a load of good hose so I needn't have spent a fiver on 2 metres of new hose yesterday. Because that was a bit on the big side I made an enlarged adaptor on the lathe to take the bigger bore, but to no avail.  Now I have to wait till Wednesday for the courier to bring the new one on the back of his squeaky bicycle from a distribution depot in the Badlands, West of Mordror or some equally forbidding place in the midst of nowhere.
Then and only then will a) I be able, I hope, to make a silver solder joint and b)find the previous two torches which I know will work better than the new one.

Anyone want a Taymor "vintage"?

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Changing tack....

I have a few model boats for Radio Control, some finished, some 80% done, but the trouble is, where the hell does one go to use them?  OK there's a river up the road, but it could get awkward if they head off into the reeds.  And my yachts are too deep keeled to come to the edge of the river, meaning I'd need waders to get in there, which I don't fancy.
So, why the hell did I build a model of my old home, Vanity, a Victorian Cutter, when, with it's 14"of fin keel with a 10lb. bulb on the end, it needs special places to sail.  The only place I can use it is, at the closest, Sheringham, a day trip away.  Same comment for my Marblehead.

Motor boats, except for my restored and original Aerokits which are now over 50 years old, bore me after 5 minutes.  I like making them, but using them isn't really my cup of tea and having batteries around which rarely get used is the same as having dead batteries.  I assume my older radio gear works, I haven't tested it.  My new stuff has to be "bound" to the Rx and I have no idea how that is done.
So, realistically, why have any model boats beyond the restored originals I had as a kid?

Should I just flog it all off?  I'd have to finish the unfinished ones for them to be worth anything at all.
Give them to the kids?  They wouldn't  know what to do with them!

It looks like static models are the way to go these days.  That and my paintings.
How things change without us giving them a thought.

Friday, 16 June 2017

an APB on Iain...

It has only just occurred to me that a good place to ask about our chum Iain Robinson would be right here, where he had commented so valuably.
We all know by now, no doubt, that his blog has been removed. I asked him by email if all was well and have had no reply, so if anyone has any idea what has happened to Iain, please let us know by commenting.

An APB on Iain....

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Never mind the quality...

.....feel the width, as they say.  Well the width of my wife's Pashley Picador Plus trike is certainly there. It wouldn't go through the gate, but the quality is shite.  No messing now, call a spade a spade...shite!
A make considered lazily by us all as a "Best of British" had the kind of paint on the mudguards that you would have expected from a just post War Beetle.  I couldn't understand why there were such rust bubbles on the mudguards, until I gave it a poke with a screwdriver and a four inch plate of thin cellulose just fell off.  No primer!!  Where the hell is the quality in that?  For some odd reason, one mudguard has a white primer on the outer surface, but none where the rain gets splashed inside and the other two have no primer at all.  I have a feeling the chain guard is a similar disgrace.

I find that appalling.  The construction of the mudguards is nowt special either.  Something with turned over edges, for strength, needs to be dipped to make sure the paint gets in there.  Ha! No chance.  If this thing just came off the slow boat from China I wouldn't be surprised.  They are £745 new!  I wouldn't pay a fraction of that.  Ok, I didn't anyway and I want to sell it well, so I will file the crap off the mudguards, sand, spray with self-etch primer and then spray with black enamel.
I'll show bloody Pashley what quality is!

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Everybody loves a mock up...

Work has gone well with the Vanity model.

It started today with a desire to see the water line on it with tape, so that I can take it over to my son's garden pond and see just how much weight I have to put in her to make her float on her marks.
So, while I was at it, I thought I'd attach with more tape the spars to get an idea how big it all was.
Allowing that the mast is maybe not fully seated by a few inches and that the boom needs to be shortened a couple of inches,.....it's big!  That's a full sized door it's up against.


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

A gentleman of the cloth...

Well, it worked and worked well.  Rather than go for expensive, springy, have-to-wait-for-the-postie Fibreglass cloth in order to sheath my model of "Vanity", I elected to do the tight-arsed thing and use J-Cloth, that cotton waste stuff used for cleaning. It's very strong, is a non woven mesh so strong in every direction, lightweight and goes exactly where you put it.  Once the resin has gone "cheesy" you can cut through the laminate with a knife and, with a wet finger, stick the remaining cloth edge down.
First side done and bang on. Tother side tomorrow, all being well, then finally a test with a waterproof hull to see how much weight it'll need.  Rather than expensive lead shot, I may use the pennies I've saved for years. It's either that or I cash in the pennies, 2s and 5s and pay for lead, but I'd rather not.
Here's the first side before a quick trim.

The apparent moire pattern is the check print on the J-Cloths.  These, btw, came as a huge bundle for less than 2 quid in Poundstretchers!  Then, when you're done, clean up with one.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

...The Owl, The Pickwick and the Fields' Gar-Den...

They come, with the Waverley pen, in fact, as well as a boon and a blessing to men, as sometimes a curse. At least for this old fart they do. I love gardens. I love to have one, to look at one, to stroll into one, but you gotta look after them and that is getting a lot more like hard work.
But, planting the 4 Garlic plants my wife had brought on from simply planting a single clove of the stuff and waiting no great time at all, was very pleasant and took less time than my knees require to play up.  The plants, whatever they may look like below ground level are now over a foot tall and I just spent a happy half hour digging the ever present grass out and cleaning the ground next to the Honeysuckle and planting them straight from pots to ground, which, despite the dust dry top is reassuringly moist 2" below.
Woodland strawberries replanted into a nice big pot, placed in a garden bed (the garlic has gone into where we penned off a section for fruit and veg).  Fuschias are already flowering in hanging baskets.
The wildflower section has some huge results from the haphazard scattering of seeds meant for birds and bees, well, bees, anyway.  Gawd knows what they are, but they have heads on them, so something's about to happen.
And so goes the gardens. Constantly requiring attention and watering this time of year, although tomorrow night is set to be a heavy storm, they tell us.  I can quite see how this lark could become a real hobby, but it would still leave you doing little but reading seed catalogues (whatever they are!) for half the year.

With that in mind, I have been getting on with my model of the yacht "Vanity", on which I used to live when I was young and stupid.
The hull has come off its building board and is currently being fitted for its deck, having had its insides coated with epoxy resin.  Soon, I will be doing the same plus cloth to the outside to ensure I have a waterproof, strong hull.  Vanity was always painted black so a good finish is essential. My somewhat hurried hull building has showed up in some lumps and bumps, which will be filled first.
Meanwhile, back in the indoors workroom, I've been making deck furniture and spars.
Here's the aft decklight:-

And here's the forward companion and bitts in roughly the same relationship to each other as they will be on the deck.:-
The companion is nothing fancy as this was where the crew entered their quarters.  It had lift out boards, rather than doors.  The sliding lid is yet to be made.  I have used the same Cuban Mahogany as I did for the hull, sawn from some old chairs my Grandad made.  The bitts are made from a piece of steamed pear I found. 
As you can see, the corners of the casings are made with real dovetail joints and the corners of the lids of the decklights are made with mortice and tennon joints, so every part of these structures held together without glue initially.  I used superglue for these which, to my utter surprise, worked very well.  I figured, since they would be varnished after these first two coats of cellulose sanding sealer they'd be waterproof.

Damn!  I didn't water the front garden!...