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Thursday 21 March 2019

I've Only Gone and Done It!

I have always looked upon 0 gauge (7mm) rolling stock and layouts with a degree of envy. Can't put my finger on it, perhaps it's the sheer size that appeals to my masculinity. The reason I never worked in this scale is the cost of items and the space required, both being about twice as much as 00 gauge. (More than twice the cost if wanting a tender locomotive and rake of coaches.)

Having seen Arun Quay at the recent Basingstoke show my concerns about space requirements were quashed because here was a 7mm scale layout in only about 7 feet that gives an authentic looking scene with operating potential. I became hooked.

Arun Quay is a shunting layout using the LB&SCR  'Terrier' tank engine and a few wagons. The 'Terrier', or A1x to give it its class name, is an attractive locomotive to the eye. I set about browsing eBay for similar and came across the highly detailed Dapol RTR offering (Arun Quay's is kit construction).

The RRP of the Dapol is £225 but I found and bid on a second hand model (32661) that had a couple of minor cosmetic issues. I won the auction for a price considerably less than the RRP. On its arrival it looked as good as new with very little evidence of use and I quickly fixed the cosmetic problems.

I have no other 7mm items, not even track but, I set up two lengths side by side of old Triang Hornby 00 Series 4 to test the loco, which ran perfectly. (The 2p in the photo is to indicate the scale and not the price I paid!)

The prototype 32661 was allocated to the Hayling Island Branch Line from the 1930s until withdrawl in 1963 and the shed code on the model indicates the home shed to be Eastleigh.

My plan initially is to acquire a small range of wagons. In order to minimise cost they will probably be scratch built. In fact when it comes to track and scenic items then scratch building must be the norm to save on cost.

I have in mind a 16T mineral wagon with coal load, a 15T ballast wagon converted to carry new SR line side huts (Ref: The Model Railway Journal #62), a SR box van and a goods brake van. I expect a few more will follow and maybe a Brake 3rd coach. It all depends on how good my scratch building is.

When I have sufficient to operate a shunting yard I'll turn my attention to a layout. To accommodate this in the railway room one of my other layouts will need to go to make space. The layout location is likely to be fictitious but, influenced by Southern practise and landscape.

I have to admit that it all sounds a bit daunting for me. When I moved from 00 to N I had no qualms but moving up to 0 gauge requires greater emphasis on detailing in order to create an authentic scene like Arun Quay. I'll be disappointed if I cannot achieve that benchmark.

Monday 18 March 2019

Low Relief Dairy

This 4mm scale building is made from a card kit given away free with the March 19 Hornby Magazine. It is destined for my Grandson's model railway.

The kit makes up into a nice looking, robust model that is 27.8 mm long x 14.4 cm high x 3.3 cm deep. The window frames are not supplied by the magazine so I designed and 3D printed them in white plastic and fixed them to clear acrylic to represent glass.

It required a full day to make, including bespoke windows.

The milk tanker is a Hornby model.

Saturday 9 March 2019

BNHMRS 36th Exhibition

This is becoming a pilgrimage. It is the 9th successive year I have visited this Basingstoke annual show. I know it's 9 years because my grandson has accompanied us every year since his birth.

We attended shortly after opening on the first day, not the best time because the crowds are horrendous at that time. Thankfully, the three halls of exhibits thinned out as the morning wore on affording better viewing of the layouts. I am in need of inspiration for my next project and hoped the show would reward me in this respect.

The extent of layouts, traders and modelling standards was very high, as usual. The Basingstoke club (who's exhibition it was)  was one of the competitors in 'The Great Model Railway Chalenge' TV programme and their winning layout Santa's Holiday - 00 gauge was on display. If you saw the TV programme you will know the teams were under pressure to build a fully working model railway within a couple of days. Watching the TV programme I was left with the impression that the builds were a rushed job resulting in poor quality modelling and unfinished look. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this layout was well finished and a worthy winner of their heat in the competition.

In choosing a personal best in show it is difficult not to ignore Copenhagen Fields - 2mm scale set in the 1920/30s. It is quite a coup for the Basingstoke club to show this famous layout belonging to The Model Railway Club, a London based club and the oldest in the world, I believe. It is a massive scale model of an urban area near Kings Cross station. London. The standard of modelling is very high. My attention was drawn to the finely detailed road vehicles because I had experience of scratch building 2 mm road vehicles and it ain't easy. Their efforts surpassed mine.

The layout has been on the exhibition circuit for a long time, reflected by a deep layer of dust that dulled the colours of the models.

I must ignore Copenhagen Fields as my choice for best in show. It has had plenty of  praise heaped on it by others already.

My best in show choice goes to Arun Quay - 7mm scale. I have said before that achieving a high standard of modelling in the larger scales must be a special challenge. Attention to detail cannot be ignored since every missing brick and blade of grass will be noticed. This model is only about 7 feet long (+ small fiddle yard) and yet it appears larger due to the thoughtful placement of objects that give balance to the scene. The track plan is comprehensive offering a wide variety of shunting movements, yet nothing is cluttered. In particular  I liked the treatment of the River Arun. The quay faces the back scene but stops a few inches from it. The river is part of the back scene, all expertly painted. The gap and drop between quay and back scene is a visual trick that gives the river perspective and substance. Building construction is very fine made from foam board covered in clay with each brick scribed on!

It was not until I read the exhibition booklet later that I learned the modellers of Arun Quay were Gordon and Maggie Gravett who created the acclaimed Pempoul that has appeared in magazines and on TV. That explained where the the high standard of modelling for Arun Quay came from.

Seeing the exhibition certainly excited me to want to start another modelling project but what to do I need to think hard about. I'm certainly drawn to 7mm scale having seen Arun Quay and others in this scale but cost and space may be prohibitive. (I already have five layouts in 00 and N!)

Saturday 2 March 2019

A Diversion from Railways - Corgi 417s Restoration

Nothing much happening on the railway front so my attention was drawn to my old Corgi vehicles in need of restoration. Most of my collection was sold many years ago when in my late teens but, three were held back. These being the Bentley Continental 224 (my favourite); the Hillman Imp (the full size version being my first road car) and the Land Rover 109" W.B. 417s Breakdown Truck, (Too damaged, in my opinion, to sell).

The first photo shows the truck in its damaged state. Actually the only bad thing about it is the broken jib, a common problem for this model. The canopy, hook and chain are also missing. The tyres are in excellent condition. Usually for a model of this age (early 1960s) the tyre rubber perishes.

As a child I had plastered the model with transfers. These were rubbed away using cotton buds and toothpaste, which is a mild abrasive that does not damage the paintwork.

I decided not to repaint the play worn finish but I did want to restore the jib, chain and hook.

The remains of the jib are held to the body with what look like rivets but in fact they are stubs moulded with the body, the ends of which were swagged over with a press. The reddish hue is remnants of the red body paint that also covered the stubs.

To remove the jib the swagged ends of the stubs are destroyed. For replacements I found some rusty nails the heads that were about the same size (shown top left in 2nd photo). However, the nail heads were flat. To round off the edges, like the swagged stub ends, light hammering around the edge of the nail head formed the round. Having rubbed off the rust with wire wool the shiny steel was dulled down by heating the nail head over a gas hob flame.

The swagged stub heads were drilled and filed away taking care not to drill away the entire stub. The third photo shows what remained of the stubs.

The replacement jib and hook were purchased from ACME 3000, an eBay seller (search eBay). These are a good match in style to the original except the rivet detail of the original jib is lost and the white-metal casting is softer than the original.

The new jib was fitted over and held in place temporarily by the stub remnants. 

Fortunately, the diameter of the nail was smaller than the stub diameter so with the jib in place holes for an interference fit were drilled into the stubs taking care not to drill all the way through.

The nail head was then cut from the nail (4th photo) and the end tapered to mimic the drill point since this leaves a tapered base to the hole. There is not a lot of meat on the stub so tapering the end is worthwhile to get full penetration into the hole.

The stubs were then hammered home. (compare the result shown in the 5th photo to the original in photo 2.)

The tight fit was good but it would not take much effort to push the jib and see the nail head rivets pop out. I did not want to use glue but succumbed by dribbling a little Superglue between jib and body for reinforcement.

The original chain was in fact yellow string. All I had to hand (thanks to my wife) was yellow silk thread. This was tied to the winder and hook with double overhand knot.

Now I am on the lookout for a replacement canopy, unless I make one out of a tin can.


The Bentley needed new tyres, spare wheel and rear lights, which were purchased from
Aaron Die-Cast Recoveries.  It still needs a jewelled yellow headlight.

The Hillman Imp needed new tyres and rear window. The tyres were bought off eBay and the rear window home made using transparent acrylic.
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