Evidence of actual modelling

Cherish it, this doesn’t happen very often any more! I recently got hold of a job lot of old Nine Lines and Dundas Models (yes, that old) kits on eBay and this week have been working through them. Well, the first one. Okay, most of the first one.

W&L van brake gear

I decided to add the linkage rod to the brake gear, one of those little details that never really gets mentioned but makes a subtle visual difference without too much effort. Firstly, and carefully, drilling holes in the brake lever and the pip on the solebar representing the supporting bracket to suit the 0.5mm wire I had to hand. With the wire a firm fit into the brake lever I then worked out where the single brake hanger should be positioned, a packing piece of 0.75mm styrene was needed to get it down to the right height.

W&L van brake gear

Once everything was drilled and lined up, I glued the brake lever to the side of the van, and then spotted a little glue on the underside of the floor in line with the appropriate wheel and nudged the brake hanger into position. A spot of glue in the back of the hanger secured the wire and finally, once dry, I trimmed off the excess.

W&L van brake gear

Although its not particularly obvious once the van is the right way up I think it does add something, and the wire is also a useful support for the otherwise dangling end of the brake lever – a fragile piece on many kits.

Just weight, paint, couplings and roof to finish this one off now. I might even get on to the second in the batch this month…

Posted in 009, hacks, model railways, narrow gauge | Comments Off on Evidence of actual modelling


After taking the Narrow Planet sales stand to the 009 Society AGM at Rainford in Merseyside, Tom and I spent an enjoyable week with a couple of other friends in north Wales, staying in Llan Ffestiniog. Enjoyable, despite the rain, fog and cold weather which seem to have been standard so far this year across the country. And the endless roadworks on the A470. Because after all, as long as the narrow gauge trains are running then who cares?

Here’s a quick run-down of what we got up to.


Actually not too wet, and a drive over to Llanfair Caereinion for a ride on the W&L. Our train was hauled by Resita No. 19 which is looking and sounding good after some recent work.

Resita No 19 at Llanfair

At Welshpool we found that the sheds were open, allowing a close-up look at Monarch and Sir Drefaldwyn in storage. Quite a lot of ‘measurement by iPhone’ would go on during the week…

There was a lot of this


A ride on the Ffestiniog, the way up was fairly sunny but the clouds descended as soon as we were through Moelwyn tunnel and came back down with us all the way to Boston Lodge where we alighted for a pre-arranged tour of the works and sheds.

Taking water at Blaenau

Earl of Merioneth on shed

“Blodge” is a busy place and there was a lot to look at, and thanks to the FR for letting us look around.

The weather cleared up again later on, so on the way to visit John Wooden near Llanberis we stopped off for a walk around Dinorwic quarry. With tips and inclines looming out of the mists it was very atmospheric and made us want to return for a more in-depth exploration another time.

View over Llanberis lake


Another drive, this time down to Aberystwyth where we caught the morning departure on the Vale of Rheidol by the skin of our teeth. I hadn’t been on this railway for around 20 years and wasn’t sure what to expect, but the views were spectacular and lot of work is going into restoring the old halts along the line.

Prince of Wales at Devil's Bridge

Afterwards we met up with Neil Rushby at the Corris Railway, where he is part of the team working on beautiful replicas of the original railway’s carriages. He was kind enough to give us a tour of the works and planned extension at Maespoth, and the small museum at Corris itself.

Maespoeth yard on the Corris Railway


Staying local again, we first went to see the morning FR & WHR departures at Porthmadog Harbour before heading over to the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway for a good look around the museum.

Garratt 143 crossing Brittania Bridge

There’s a lot of stuff packed into Gelert’s Farm now, including some recently arrived stock from the sadly closed Abbey Light Railway, and plenty of measurements were taken for future projects.

ex-Abbey Light Railway McEwan-Pratt Baguley petrol loco at Gelert's Farm

In the afternoon, we were foolhardy enough to brave the semi-open coach on the Welsh Highland, travelling up the line as far as Rhyd Ddu to swap on to the return service. The weather meant the views weren’t up to much, and the experience through the long Aberglaslyn tunnel behind a Garratt in a coach with no windows was “interesting” to say the least.

Approaching Bryn-y-Felin

However the steak in Spooners afterwards made up for that!


Final day on the rails, and a visit to the Talyllyn Railway which was a first time for me. Not sure how its evaded me this long, as its a wonderful little line and very friendly. We had some Narrow Planet stock to drop off for the shop, and on the way back down alighted at Pendre for a visit to the sheds. Again thank you to the Talyllyn for their help and making us feel very welcome.

Edward Thomas runs round at Nant Gwernol

Midlander, Tom Rolt and No 10 in Pendre yard

We rounded the week off with a call in to Tan-y-Bwlch to see the last down train of the day, and then a pie and a pint in the Oakley Arms ahead of the long drive home the next morning.

Merddin in the woods above Tan-y-Bwlch

Posted in ffestiniog, narrow gauge, photos, preservation, welsh highland railway, wllr | 1 Comment

Let’s go round again

Having said in January I didn’t have anywhere to run my own product(s), its taken a further two months to rectify that. But here it is.

Narrow Planet test track

You may note the Peco goods stock, picked up at Shepton Mallet while helping Tom operate Isle Ornsay, and very nice it is too. Southern Railway livery is not outside the bounds of possibility for a 2’6″ gauge railway in the Kent/Sussex borders.

Which brings me on to…

Planning again v1.2b

The as-yet-unnamed plan for a new 009 incarnation of the High Weald Light Railway, picking up from where the first attempt at Fairlight left off but at the country end of a growing preserved line. Time period “now”. Think Welsh Highland-style “interim” infrastructure with Welshpool & Llanfair or Sittingbourne sized stock.

After much reflection 4mm:ft is the scale I’m most comfortable in, and the subject matter an itch I really want to scratch. Coercing Cranbrook, despite how much I have enjoyed looking after it, to be what I wanted it to be never felt quite right. So its moving on (a good home has been found, I think) and the space will then become available to go the way I want to.

Posted in 009, cranbrook, fairlight, model railways, narrow gauge, O16.5, planning, track plans | 4 Comments

Review of the year

Railway Modeller review

Well that one goes without saying. To get a (positive) review of a kit you designed and made in the magazine that, back in 1984, got you into the hobby in the first place is I think something to be be proud of. Ego trip be damned.

This was the logical conclusion of quite frenetic (for me) activity to get the damn thing finished and sellable after realising in late August that it needed to be done by late October or another year would pass. I got there, just, and so far the reaction has been very pleasing. Thank you to everyone who has supported my endeavours either in buying the kit or ordering plates. For 2013 my aim is to write some software which will generate most plate artwork for me, with the effect of both making the service quicker and giving me back more time to work on other things. Because there’s a growing list, with some interesting ideas on it.

Personal modelling didn’t really get a look in in 2012, after all that. To be honest I didn’t especially have the inclination either. This year feels different already, though. I have an urge to get back into doing 009 again led in part by wanting some of the Peco RTR and also the realisation that I can’t actually run my own product anywhere. Plus there is a very interesting format for the Dave Brewer Challenge at ExpoNG. I’m not sure what this means for Cranbrook, though.

Posted in 009, baguley-drewry, ego trips, meta, model railways, narrow gauge | 3 Comments

I’ll cut ya!

Not a personal threat, don’t worry.

The main thing I learned during production of the first batch of Baguley-Drewry kits was that while getting the parts made by the 3D printer and etcher was easy and reasonably quick, actually making all the bits of packaging to present them nicely was massively tedious. The nights before ExpoNG saw a few unscheduled visits to 3am armed with a steel rule and a scalpel and I knew I didn’t want to go through all that again with the next lot.

Fortunately technology has come to the rescue with the purchase of a Silhouette Cameo cutting machine, which basically looks like a printer but has a cutting blade where the print head goes. Just like a printer you send it files and it cuts them onto paper, card, vinyl, even thin plastic or material. Its primarily designed for scrapbooking and other paper crafts, and will probably get some use as such from the rest of the family, but for my purposes its turned out to be pretty much perfect.

I'll cut ya

So now the machine does the work, sounding like a combination of a staple gun, scanner and the Eastenders theme tune, and I can sit back and get on with other stuff. I still have to actual put the bits in boxes, but you can’t have everything, can you?

As well it as being the packaging robot, I’ve also realised that this can be applied to many other areas of modelling. Cutting mock-up parts for buildings, or even fine detail for final use such as window frames or decorative canopy parts that would take ages if cut by hand and never come out quite the same twice. You could see it as a bit of a cheat, but I say if you have the technology, use it! I haven’t quite figured out reliable cutting of plastic sheet yet, but I’ll get there.


Here’s the packing line for the second batch of kits, the Cameo has taken packing time from a couple of long evenings down to a couple of hours. Actually almost all of these have homes to go to already (although some will be FR shop stock) so I soon need to start the cycle all over again…

Posted in baguley-drewry, hacks, kits, model railways, narrow gauge | 2 Comments