Stafford Show

I’ve just returned home from an enjoyable day at Stafford Model Railway Exhibition. I was helping out on Phil Greave’s lovely Ellesmere, and after some morning hiccups, settled down nicely. I have to say shunting is becoming the thing I really enjoy, and on Ellesmere it was no exception (especially with a 57XX at the front)!


I also had chance to look at Phil’s new Hatton’s 14XX….


I have to say it looks exceptional, a really fine piece of locomotive. Sadly it didn’t run too happy, but this appears to be down to the Ellesmere controllers rather than the loco. As mine will be DCC it should be ok.

Oh and before I forget, I picked this little chap up today from Mister Wright. More on this when it’s weathered.


The highlight of course, was to catch up with friends and discuss our current projects…that’s what makes the hobby for me.




Operating the full layout….properly!

Today has been an eventful one!

This afternoon I took delivery of the Cwm Prysor Fiddleyards from Tim Horn. Things didn’t go as smooth as hoped initially, regarding mating the boards to the main layout…..eventually though, we got there.

Here is how things look now!


Blaenau Ffestiniog/Trawsfynydd Fiddleyard below. The cassettes are split into loco, single coach passenger and two coach passenger/goods trains. They are clipped together with bulldog clips and the beauty of this, is it allows locos to be taken off and turned without actually handling them. However, do not touch both sides of the cassette at the same time when connected to the layout! 😉


Bala Fiddleyard below. The cassettes are connected to a transition piece which draws it’s power off the main board tracks temporarily. However for shows it will have it’s own connectors off the main bus wires.


Some extra items from Tim, the frontage to the platform made from laser cut MDF (sadly the brick work isn’t going to be visible to the public, because it looks very nice!)

The platform itself will be made up from polystyrene which will then blend into the hillside as the real thing did. Also can be seen is the entry culvert for the stream that ran into Llyn Tryweryn. This will be covered in Das modelling clay, before being carved to represent the stone work.



It’s been very enjoyable to actually run trains over the full length of the layout tonight. The only thing, is I must not get too distracted running trains, or I’ll never get the layout finished!

Thanks for your patience today Tim! It was well worth the effort!



Enjoying the Hobby

Apologies for the rather ‘basic’ title of this blog, but it sums up how I’m feeling at the point.

I have now finished the landscaping on the other board that runs behind the railway. I’m rather pleased with the results from this, which was probably the hardest task landscape wise.



The landscaping in front of the layout will be catered for once the electrics are done, the priority with the rear being finished was because of the painting of the backscene.

Today I was demonstrating wagon building and weathering at ‘Thirsk Model Railway Exhibition’. It was an enjoyable day meeting new people and seeing friends. Good banter was had all around with Ian Fleming, Ken Gibbons and Jonathan Wealleans, who was showing his beautiful LNER coaches and wagons.


Jonathan also had a couple of items for me, two corridor Collett Coaches he had built and painted for me as a part of some ‘horse trading’. One is an E152 Brake Composite which will be permanently coupled to a Hornby all 3rd. I’ve a photo of these two seen at Trawsfynydd and Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1951, with the all 3rd still in Chocolate and Cream, a nice contrast!


The E128 will be run on it’s own, as a mixed train or possibly joined to another Hornby all 3rd (in crimson and cream).


In the meantime, I really better look into making a start on wiring the layout, just so I can run something up and down. Once happy with this, I will complete the points and get those wired too. I also have the fiddle yard boards on the way, so hopefully in the not to distant future (by late October I hope) I will be able to run the layout properly.


Back on Track

‘Schools out for summer!’ the lyrics go, and my start to the Summer has been a nasty stomach bug. One week on, and I’m still not quite over it, but I’m getting there. It’s funny the psychological effect something like this can have on you. Last weekend I felt like giving up the whole hobby, and seriously wondered how I could possibly feel positive about the layout again. Thankfully, those feelings have passed and today I began fixing the landscape to the boards.


Insulation polystyrene two pieces thick glued with PVA, was shaped with a woodlands scenics polystyrene cutter. Some work with a bread knife was required to cut out the area of the moorland road.


I will now need to do some work in the foreground, but it’s the area along the back scene I wish to get done before Tony Wright comes up to paint the back scene. The polystyrene will covered with modrock before scenic work.

9793 approaches Cwm Prysor with a Bala bound pick up goods.



Mineral Wagons – Part 3 ‘Planked ex POs’


So from the 16T, I have moved onto the planked ex Private Owner. The RCH design is most familiar to ex railwaymen and modellers a like. When we tend to think of POs, it’s easy for our mind to only think of the brightly coloured wagons supplied by model railway manufacturers.  I think we have all been to several shows where their bright liveries have been seen festooned on many a  BR period layout. The truth of the matter is that, yes at one time the POs were relatively well maintained by their owning companies, however the degradation had set in during the Second World War and come the Nationalisation of the Railways in 1948, they were all inherited by the newly formed BRITISH RAILWAYS. Like they had in the war, BR were relatively happy to continue to patch them up where possible and simply add new P prefix numbers.

I picked up this Tir Pentwys Pontypool PO a few weeks ago for a good price (I’ll go onto cost comparisons later) and it felt somewhat appropriate. The first stage was the use of a fibre glass brush, to just distress the lettering slightly, but to also give the paint something to key too. The next stage was the adding of replacement planks and further washes followed. The interior was also painted and given several dirty washes. Transfers added were from Model Master, and further washes to finish. The chassis as to represent wood, was painted with a mix of Matt Black and Humbrol 98 ‘Chocolate’ (another method picked up from Ian Fleming). Final touches was the addition of a little bit of powder work on areas of the chassis.



Another cliche that you see on layouts is to the other extreme, exPOs all in unfitted grey. From what I have read, when BR decided upon it’s wagon liveries, it wasn’t automatically transferred over to the older POs, rather being concentrated on new wagons being built. It wasn’t until around 1958 that someone high up at BR instigated the painting of the ex POs, and at that stage it was only ever going to be a smaller number that received the livery, as scrapping of older pre war wagons was somewhat imminent.

Photographs too can be deceptive. It’s quite easy for what can appear to be an unfitted painted wagon, to actually be bare timber. However I have seen a couple of photos on the Blaenau Branch of grey exPOs, and I do like the livery. Now some may say I am being hypocritical in my time period of operation (1953-1959), so periods are somewhat mixed regarding stock. However along as I get the balance right, I don’t believe this to be too much of an issue.

My exPO was a Bachmann Grey model I bought a year or so ago, however my views on this are well known to my blog readers, and it’s been repainted with Revell 76. With this one, I wanted this to be in relatively good condition, with just a small amount of weathering (slight rust on the iron work) to take the edge off it.



As can be seen in the first photograph, both wagons have been fitted with my removable coal (based on the Geoff Kent method, but with a twist) more information of which can be found on my thread on Modellers United here. Both wagons have been fitted with Ambis hooks and links.

I touched on cost earlier. Now the Tir Pentwys PO, I purchased last week brand new for £7.45. I have picked up a pack of three limited edition Bachmann POs (theres a nice Cambrian branded one in there) and individually they worked out at under a tenner each. I had considered purchasing the new Oxford Rail PO, but once I saw the work required to bring it up to the same standard as the Bachmann model and as I could obtain Bachmann models for the same/lower price, I couldn’t see the point and would prefer to focus my modelling skills elsewhere, but each to their own. 🙂

To bring this to a close, it’s been a rewarding project. The Tir Pentwys although wasn’t timed, must have taken in the range of 3-4 hours, but it’s been very enjoyable. Once again, like I mentioned in my 16T article, the most important aspect as been preparation and research. Instrumental again has been the works of Geoff Kent and John Hayes.

Finally, I’d like to wish my followers a very Happy Easter, and for those going to York Show, see you on Sunday. 🙂


Trip to Stafford and Cwm Prysor’s future

Last weekend I took the trip to Stafford Model Railway Circle’s  Annual Exhibition. I was in two minds about taking the trip with the stormy weather forecast. I took the decision to go, and I’m glad I did. I had visited Stafford two years ago as an operator with Gresley Beat, and didn’t get chance to see much of the show. This year I went as a punter, and very much enjoyed it. I left the house early for the trip South, and arrived at 8.45 and thankfully was able to park on tarmac. The Staffordshire Showgrounds parking is designed for grass parking, and you can imagine the state of the ground with the current weather.

The stand out layout for me, was possibly one of the smallest, the P4 layout ‘Cheddar’. Beautiful modelling, which draws you in. The back scene is a piece artwork in itself. Photos of which can be found here. Trade wasn’t bad, some specialist and a fair amount of RTR traders. Personally I would have liked more specialist traders, but it’s the way of the hobby, with the likes of the fine scale shows being their more likely home now.

The highlight overall though, was the social side of things. It was good to see Alan Buttler, Geoff Taylor and the gang from Mid Wales. Good banter all around! I have to say though, I’ve never spent so little at a show, £1 on 10A scalpel blades. I take this as a positive shift in my modelling, not like the early years when I would have to buy a loco at a show.

Regarding Cwm Prysor, the tag line sounds quite serious, although it’s far from it. Realistically, the layout can not stay in my work room. There isn’t space for the fiddle yards, and it is certainly not going to do the layout any good being transported along a narrow landing and stair way each time I have a show. So, plans are a foot in the garden…..



Trees are gone to make way…..make way for something else! 😉

(oh yes and as you can see, I did break the garden fork in the process)

Modelu 3D printed Lamps-Review

As I mentioned the other week, I was sent Modelu’s prototype lamps to give feedback on the design. When received, Alan already told me he was working on a V2 which would have subtle improvements. The Production samples arrived on Friday, so this weekend was spent preparing them, one for review and two….for my Panniers! 😉


The lamps come in their natural red resin. This substance is a little waxy, but most importantly it’s rather flexible, which I shall come back to later. I initially gave it some wafts with the Halford’s Acrylic White Primer. These are literally very light coats, you are not intending to give it as a full coat, just something that the enamel paint can key to. It should be noted that while it’s in it’s primer stage, be careful when touching the lamps as the primer is likely to rub off. Once dry, I carefully brush paint the lamp with Humbrol ‘matt white’.

What makes these lamps a step up from the prototypes, is the lens included with them. These are stuck to a self adhesive tape, and require gently peeling off. Do make sure that the silver/reflective lens shaped paper is attached to the lens. I use the self adhesive residue on the lens to my advantage when attaching to the lamp. I used the edge of the scalpel blade I’d peeled the lens off with, to transport it to the lamp. It slots in relatively easy, make sure it goes into the lamp with the bulbous side facing out. To be sure the lens wouldn’t come adrift, I gave the lens a coat of Klear, to protect everything.


Final stage was weathering, with a dark mucky wash, to just linger into the corners. It’s interesting when you look at photos of real loco lamps that they can vary from very clean, to down right mucky…which must have been an offence I presume?

Overall, these have to be the finest lamps produced in 4mm. I mentioned earlier the downside of the waxy resin, this isn’t so much a negative as it’s not a problem once you have added the top coat. The really positive side of the resin, is the flexibility. Those handles are incredibly fine (and finer prior to painting). The flexible nature of the material, means that even with some intentional rough handling (excuse the pun) that those handles survived being dropped onto my workbench and even the floor. The addition of a lens I think really gives a very nice effect, the reflection differs in lighting in quite a subtle way. The slot for the lamp means no more drilling out holes for the irons to fit and as these are GWR, the slot has been drilled in the correct position. It has also been refined, so that it’s a nice snug fit for etched lamp irons (I use masokits). For those with thicker RTR lamp irons, there will be an option with a hole in the bottom of a second range of lamps.

Modelu are working on producing loco lamps for the big four (and BR) plus tail lamps. This I’m most interested to see, as I’ve been informed you can buy a red lens.