Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Maps - old and new

I've come across a few good map websites in the last couple of weeks - some were posted in a thread on RMweb and I found a couple more too. Old OS Maps has maps from the 1940s with a google map overlay and links to other interesting map sites. New Popular Edition Maps has OS maps from the 1940s and is adding postcode data to them.

Web services company Fonant have produced this cool Full window map browser which demonstrates what can be dome with the OS OpenSpace API. Another website that uses this API is Where is the path? - which supports split screen mapping with OS maps (Current, 1930s and 1940s), Google Maps, Google Earth, OSM, OSM Cycle.  It doesn't support every possible combination but it does quite a lot. In single map mode it has handy arrows that point to magnetic north and true north and the google maps screens support Wikipedia and Panaramio layers. There are more OS OpenSpace projects in their gallery.

The lounge

The lounge is fairly large and has the advantage of being a reasonable temperature, having power and light already.  I had been thinking of building a modular 009 layout which I could set up on the table, but I've been wondering if I could build a semi-modular or sectional 00 layout instead. I've always thought layouts should be at table height or slightly higher, and don't think I like the idea of building folding legs so hadn't really considered the lounge 00 layout larger than the table. However my Father-in-law's N gauge layout uses stacking plastic stools as for support. They're cheap, strong, don't take us much space and I expect a couple of us will be sitting on them for Christmas dinner. The lower hight of the layout means that it's easier for children to see, and I can still get near eye level if I sit on the floor.

So how would this theoretical 00 layout work? I'd need to make most of the baseboards fairly narrow to keep down the total baseboard area like on Richard Lake's Rothervale, to keep the storage space required as low as possible. I'll have to experiment a bit more but I think I could keep most of the straight boards down to 9-12" wide and fit in a double track main line and still have a bit of scenery. Since that's only 54-72 scale feet, and the Railway Technical Web Pages say that a modern 2 track alignment is around 50ft (15m) wide I'd better explain how I might make that work. I don't plan to have the track running in the centre of the boards most of the time, in fact some of the time the track may be very near one edge. I've checked the width of some railway lines around Southampton using Google Maps, and 2 track lines seem to be about 30ft wide.  Since the British loading gauge is relatively small and these lines aren't modern builds it's no surprise the alignment is narrower.  Within 30ft of the edge of the alignment there is scrub, grass, small trees, fences, and in a couple of places the edge of a river so I could probably imply that there is something more interesting just off the edge of the board.  The occasional bridge over or under the railway will add interest too.

I did a bit of playing with some flexi-track and an intermodal twin set an to find out what radius curve they looked reasonable on - I can't remember the exact numbers but I do know that it would fit between the fire-guard and the sofa, and wasn't far off the 800mm radius that number6 is using as his minimum radius for Southerham. To fit a continuous run in and not have to step over or duck under my minimum radius will have to be less than this - but it'll still be big enough that RTR stock shouldn't have an problems. Number6 has also started work on some baseboards that look fairly similar to the design I have in my head. They look good and he says they are fairly strong. I think I'll probably make the boards for the curves slightly wider since I intend for at least one of my curves to be scenic, and I want to be able to add enough scenery so they don't look too much like a large train set.

I don't want to be over ambitious so I'm thinking that I'll build a module that's has a small yard and a mainline, some curved boards to make an oval, and a straight board to finish the oval.  If I'm feeling really ambitious I might build a fiddle-yard too.  I think I have enough enthusiasm to get something built, I just need to find some time and that's likely to be difficult over the next few months.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The shed?

We have two sheds in the garden. A shed would probably need less work to make it suitable for a layout and has the advantage that I can go to the shed without fear of waking sleeping children. The larger shed is 8ft square, but that one is at the bottom of the garden and doesn't have electricity. I've contemplated setting up a solar power system to charge 12v batteries, but that would be a serious undertaking and I'd need heating in winter, so that's unlikely to happen. I'm not sure how much it'd cost to run mains to it but I think it will be needed for storage so it's probably not an option.

The smaller shed is 6x8th and does have electricity, but also has the freezer as there's no space for it in the kitchen. It is possible to fit a surprising amount of model railway in an 8x6 shed, but I'd need to remove everything else, and work round the freezer, and probably board up the window. I'd be limited to fairly short trains which in some ways is an advantage since they cost less to buy, but I suspect I'd be limited to 2 intermodal twin sets, and I'd like a slightly longer train than that. A narrow gauge layout in shed is still a possibility if I don't build an 00 one there.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

A Loft Layout?

Cropped from this photo by Jon Bryant / CC BY-SA 2.0

My dream layout is a large tail chaser where a train can run for a reasonable length of time before it gets back to where it started. I think this quote sums up what I want far better than anything I could write:

...my real hankering is for a big layout. Not just long sweeping curves and sidings you can lose a few wagons in but a recreation of the linear space the real railway has. I like the approach to a town and the junctions, sidings and yards you pass as the train slows for the stop.
- number6 of RMWeb, describing his plan for Southerham.

The only place I have room for something like that is the loft. I think it would be 00 rather than 009 and based in the South East - probably the South Western Main Line or one of the connecting lines. I'd build a double track loop round the edge of the loft with a 3rd rail, with some of the track being partly hidden (not so much 3rd rail fitting needed). There will also be some double or single track lines which leave the main line and crosses the main line at least once, perhaps including a junction loosely on Worting Junction. A small yard, and perhaps a couple of sidings elsewhere would certainly be part of the plan and I'd like to include a station, though I probably won't run many passenger trains - the station may be based on Eastleigh, but probably with smaller platforms and buildings - maybe looking more like Shawford. In my ideal world I'd also include a representation of a depot - perhaps based on the Northam Desiro MPD - however in my current house I doubt I have the space. Anyway, this is a dream and since the loft needs quite a lot of work to make it suitable for a railway it will probably stay a dream for a few more years.


Tail chasing

I mentioned a while ago that I've been considering building a mini OO layout to give me somewhere to run my SG stock until I can build something bigger. However I'm not sure if that is what I really want so I was pondering if I should build something else. Either something slightly bigger - to give longer sidings and allow the trains a bit more of a run, or build a micro shunting layout, maybe something like an English version of this French micro, or a layout in a box file or two. However I'm not sure how much I'd operate a small shunting layout, and it's not exactly suitable for running intermodal twin sets on. So I don't think don't think I'm going to build any of those options. What I really want is a tail chaser. But I don't have much space so where can I build it? Well I have 3 ideas - first up the loft...

Saturday, 28 November 2009


A couple of weeks ago I found a couple of videos on YouTube showing what looks like standard (if a little short) intermodal containers being hauled on wagons on the South African 2ft gauge lines. I've lost the link to the first video I found but here's the second one. I'm guessing that the containers are 10ft long ISO containers, it's difficult to tell exactly what they are from the video but I'd be surprised if they were much smaller. The wagons they are loaded onto don't appear to be specially designed for carrying them as the containers look slightly wider than the wagons but it shows that transporting ISO containers is possible on 2' gauge.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

A1 Models 009 Diesels

A while ago whilst browsing Mick Thornton's pictures of Sussex Downs Group Open Day I spotted this picture of a body kit for the Bachmann Plymouth. The kit is only £6.95 and it's available from MG Sharp and Parkside Dundas. it looks like it should be a good introduction to soldered kit construction, and saves me from scratch building something on my Plymouth chassis.  Martin of the Mog Trains Blog has been building one too.

A1 Models now make a second version of the diesel, and a boxcab loco for the Kato tram chassis, both of which are £7.95. Over on ngrm-online "Snowdon Ranger" has detailed how he has built all three kits in his workbench thread.  He's also build the test etch for their next release - a centre cab diesel which was inspired by his conversion two of their original kits which recently featured in the 009 News.

At Warley I bought the second version of the Bachmann Plymouth conversion kit and some brass rod and tube to make an exhaust for it. It'll be the first brass kit I've built and I'll let you know how I get on.

Monday, 23 November 2009


Emsland-veenbaan by Spijkspoor

I had an enjoyable day out with my father in law at the Warley Show on Saturday. There were a lot of very nice layouts and we didn't have long enough to look at any of them. We missed quite a lot too (including Dinas, Briding Noora, Fisherton Sarum, Willesden Junction and the T guage layout) since we wanted to be back in the South at a reasonable time. I can see why they offer two day tickets! If we go again then I intend to get advance tickets and the show guide in advance so I can work out what I want to see and get into the show and start looking at layouts as soon as we turn up.

Whilst I'm not usually that interested in European trains my favourite layout was Emsland-veenbaan (listed as Emsland-Moortrack in the program), the detail and presentation was stunning. It was a fairly large layout (9x5 meters), but by no means the largest at the show. The presentation was unique - it was a larger oval with a high backscene and completely hidden fiddle yard in the middle. The fiddleyard was accessed by a door at one end of the oval. It combined a double track H0 mainline, a lower level line to some docks, an H0e line and an H0f Peat line. Starting at the access door and going clockwise, once side of the oval was coastal with the H0e line running past a lighthouse, over a bridge and past fishing harbour. The H0 mainline and dock line then appeared and ran past/through the docks. At the other end of the oval the lines ran through a small town and the dock line disappeared. The main line then ran on an embankment behind a line of trees (something I have been thinking about including in a model) and then an H0f (6.5mm gauge) track appeared from under the main line. This ran to a scene where traction engines were cutting peat.

I took a few photos which I've uploaded to Flickr. Some still need some editing.

For pictures of some of the layouts I didn't photograph see Colin Lea's post, Phil Parker's Photo set, this photo set, or this gallery

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Flickr Galleries and The Avontuur Railway

Recently Flickr introduced galleries which they describe as "a way to curate up to 18 public photos or videos of your fellow members into one place". There is a limit of 18 photos, and you can't include any of your own photos, but they allow you to write a reason why you chose each photo and an overall description. Flickr has some good photos for modelling inspiration and I think galleries could be a good tool for collecting them for projects. I've also recently be looking at pictures of the South African narrow gauge lines so I decided to put some rather nice photos of the Avontuur Railway into a gallery. The Avontuur Railway was 177 miles long and ran from Port Elizabeth to Avontuur. The tourist Apple Express runs from Port Elizabeth but many of the stations, including the terminus at Avontuur are now closed. To see what Avontuur looks like now take a look at these recent photos posted on RMWeb.

I've also been watching more YouTube videos recently. Here are two that I found and watched with my daughter tonight.

A Class 91 crosses Van Staden's Bridge:

An NG15 leaving Port Elizabeth:

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

A different perspective

Purbeck - 009
John Thorne's Purbeck - picture by fairlightworks

What does this photo have in common with the photo in my last blog post, other than the fact that they're both model railway, neither were taken by me, and both use a Creative Commons License?

If you've not spotted it yet it's that both use the same Walthers "Glacier Gravel Company" kit. It's odd that I've seen Purbeck at every exhibition I've been to since I got back into model railways and have looked at photos of it fairly recently, but it was only today that I realised that the building on it would work with a standard gauge layout.  When I wondered what kit it was I realised where I'd seen it before.

Since posting this will mean that there's no longer a post showing any modelling I've done on the front page my next post had better be about something I've done!

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Dales Peak

Photo by Ian Robins. CC-NC licensed

Ian Robins' Dales Peak is a loft layout which is under construction. It is set in the Peak District and inspired by Tunstead Quarry. It's a two-level affair with multiple loops round the loft which always scores points with me. It also has a few locations so there will be a point to the train movements. There will be a couple of stations, a cement works, a quarry and a stone wharf. See Ian's trackplan for how it will all fit together. More pictures of this layout can be found on Flickr, the layout also has a blog and a website

Looking through the blog has given me another option for a building for my OO module. The kit in the photo above is Walthers "Glacier Gravel Company", the loading hoppers and building building behind are very close to what I had in mind, so I might be able to bash something suitable out of this kit.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Buildings for OO layout

I spotted the Knightwing Mine Top Buildings whilst browsing their website the other day, and started thinking about buildings for the small OO layout I was planning. I'm not sure the Knightwing buildings (which were originally produced by Heljan as "Tucson Silver Mine" are quite what I want, they feel a bit too old (and American) for my purposes. I'll keep a look out for other kits but I might just scratch build something, maybe a bit like this sand loader or this silica sand loader, thought neither is quite like what I'm after.

Thursday, 10 September 2009


Riverside by Fairlight Works, CC

Yesterday I spotted this photo which Steve Fulljames took at the Welshpool & Llanfair Gala. It stuck me that it'd make a good section on a shelf layout. The front edge of the baseboard could be cut to match the curve of the river with a few feet of the river modelled. The trees would disguise the fact that the layout was narrow. The trees in the middle distance provide a good exit point form the scene. Since I don't know what is behind the camera I can assume that the something similar happens there and make the module a couple of feet long in 009. Ian Holmes reminded me of this photo today when I read his post about a mystery baseboard which would be ideal for a scene like this. I also found Neil Rushby's other blog today and I've been reading some of his ideas about presentation which are similar to the ideas I'd had about this mini layout.

Of course it has the disadvantage that it'd be operationally rather dull, but it would work as somewhere to photograph stock, or part of a larger layout. I probably won't build it of course, but if I blog about it then it'll be here if I want to come back to it later.

Thursday, 6 August 2009


Recently it seems that every time I some free time to do some modelling there has always been something that I'd rather do, like going for a walk or going to the pub. If I had a rainy Sunday afternoon I'd probably spend it modelling, but if the sun is shining it seems a waste not to be outside enjoying it. I suppose that doesn't matter but it can lead to me getting a bit disheartened by the lack of progress on anything on my to-do list. However I just need to remember that it doesn't matter if I make slower progress than almost everyone whose blog I read, and that there's more to life than model railways. Recently I've enjoyed reading about other modellers doing things like installing church PA systems, building radio control ducks, gardening and finding wildlife in their garden. I wont bore you with any posts about filing and sorting out the house, but I do have some non-model railway projects planned that some of you may be interested in which I might post about.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

To do list

Stephen over at Fairlight Works posted a to-do list for his newly acquired O16.5 layout Cranbrook Town. I've decided to post one too so I can keep track of what I'm doing and hopefully get some of it done.

Narrow Gauge
Removeable roof by Fairlight Works, CC

Finish building drewery bash diesel
Fix roof onto coach using the method show on the right.
Scratchbuild some small bogie coaches
Buy paint and paint coaches
Build slate wagons
Build open wagon
Improve open coach (and possibly re-paint)
Buy and build A1 models diesel

Pizza Layout
Build a cottage
Make a base, so that it can be rotated.

Standard Gauge
Weather wagons
Detail class 73
Get some wood and build a baseboard for the small layout I was planning.
Decide on a what stock I want to run
Order a KQA pocket wagon?
Buy and build a C-Rail tanktainer (or possibly more than one) (Parkside sell them)

Saturday, 16 May 2009

The Riber Valley Light Railway

A new few new NG blogs have appeared recently. One that has caught my eye is The Riber Valley Light Railway by Simon K. Simon is modelling fictional railway serving a colliery in the North Derbyshire Coalfield in the '50s. He has a senario, a track plan and has completed some coal hoppers and his first loco, a Dapol Railbus bash on a Piko chassis. He's also growing some trees, which is something I'd intended to do this year too. I'm not sure if it's too late to plant some this year but I've ordered some Teloxys aristata and I'll give it a go anyway. Whilst searching for seeds I found a Teloxys Aristata blog which has weekly updates growing these plants.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Painting flint and other progress

Last time I blogged about the pizza I was trying to work out the best way to make it rotate and was ready to try painting the flint wall. I've not thought any more about rotating and I've been putting off the painting. A few weeks ago I had a go at painting and wasn't at all happy with the results. After a third attempt I'm still not happy but since the wall is going to have plants growing up it I may leave it. I've also put some more polystyrene in between the card framework. The theory is that they'll be something under shell of the landscape which should make planting trees easier. I've covered the who lot is masking tape and also slapped some dirty black paint over the track. The bridge now has some retaining walls on the inside of the curve. I'll add some wooden planks to hold up the steeper bits of embankment either side. I've also put the first layer of glue on the pond - but I touched it before it was dry and there is a finger print. I'll know for the next layer.



Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Narrow Gauge Intermodal wagons

Andy in Germany has built a 1:55 40' container and is planning on building a narrow gauge intermodal wagon for it to run on. A comment from TomC suggests using this RhB wagon as a basis for a model. Andy is planning on making a wagon with a 40' deck with the bogies under the deck to keep the length down. Whilst I think that a narrow gauge version of the FLA Lowliners would be ideal that is not something I am going to attempt in OO9. My plan has been to a wagon with similar dimensions to the RhB wagons but similar styling to the EWS FAA so I'm pleased to see that something like this does exist.

The only trouble I have is trying to find time to design and build an intermodal wagon when I'm struggling to find time to finish the pizza or anything on my workbench!

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Eastleigh Lakeside Railway


We went to Eastleigh Lakeside Country Park on Saturday and took a trip on the train to celebrate my daughter's first birthday. Here she is pointing at a fine little Garratt. The railway runs from one side of the park to the other and has a return loop at both ends. This picture was taken at Monks Brook Halt (though you can't get to the brook from here). There is a small playground here and we also walked round one of the lakes. The round trip is about a mile long - we took the return trip on behind a Royal Scot which they seemed to be having some problems with. In fact they replaced it with a diesel for the last train of the day when we got back to the main station. It was an enjoyable afternoon out on the railway and it was good to have an excuse to ride on it.

Friday, 20 February 2009

KQA 'Pocket' wagon and 40ft 'High Cube' containers

© Rob Jefferys, used with permission
Dapol have announced KQA 'Pocket' wagon in OO and N and 40ft 'High Cube' containers to match in both scales. This will make it possible to model trains like the one pictured without building kits. If you can't wait for the Dapol model or enjoy building kits then then KQA kits are available from ATM in 2mm scale and Genesis Kits in 4mm scale. I'll be waiting for the Dapol model though.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Narrow gauge diesel progress

I've made some progress with the Drewry bash diesel. I took the kit, chassis, some plasticard and some tools away with me at Christmas. However I forgot to take pack the glue so nothing got stuck together. I spent some time cutting and filing off moulded handrails and other details that I didn't want. I also had a bit more of a think about how the cab is going to look. My plan is to build a locomotive with two bonnets, as this will make the locomotive roughly the right length for the Bo-Bo chassis. The Drewry has only one bonnet and has larger windows at the back of the cab so I couldn't fit a second bonnet and keep use all parts of the cab. I considered cutting down the second bonnet so that it was lower than the windows, which would give the driver better visibility, however this wasn't the look I wanted and I couldn't see how I could do this with the Drewery bonnet sides. The only thing for it was to clone the cab front in plasicard. I started work but still haven't finished the windows yet. When I got back I glued the larger bonnet together and used some milliput on mounting hole for the horn and a couple of places where there are dents in the moulding. Next task is to finish the cab and then work out how to make the second bonnet end.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Mike Hamer's B&M Railroad

You may have noticed a new link has appeared in the standard gauge links section. I thought I'd write a short blog entry about it - I may go back and blog about some of my other links in future. I found the B&M Railroad from a post on RMweb in the excellent Southerham thread by number6. Like him I'm a fan of American layout designs and would like to incorporate some aspects into my loft layout. The plan of the B&M is superb and gives an amazing sense of space in a 11'x13' room (which is tiny by the standards of American layouts). Now how can I include similar ideas and a double track main line? Well I've got plenty of time to think about it and already have a few ideas. Number6 has given me a few more things to think about with his plan.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Astolat (Guildford) Exhibition

We took a trip to the Astolat model railway circle's annual exhibition on Saturday.  The main attraction for me was Cement Quay but I was pleased to discover that there were quite a few narrow gauge layouts there too.  I took photos most of the the narrow gauge layouts but I missed out Hayesden.  Fortunately there are already some good pictures of that layout on Flickr.  Two standard gauge layouts that stood out were Westcliff and Bulverhythe Sussex.

Generated by Flickr Album Maker

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

More planning

I've had a second go at planning the layout, this time I made some point templates by drawing round my two Peco points and cutting them out.  I wanted to see if using Peco asymmetric 3-Way points would improve the plan so I made an estimated  template by overlapping two templates.  I was considering using two 3-ways, one by the fiddle yard exit and on above where the class 09 is.  However after playing about a bit I decided that I'd be better off without the one by the fiddle yard exit and I'm not sure that the other one would add enough to the plan to make it worth including.  The advantage of avoiding the 3 way points is that I can use code 100 track which is what I already have.  I did consider using Peco code 75 points and SMP bullhead flexi-track but my aim is to get something built quickly so I'll probably stick to what I've got for this project.

The orange juice, shoe box, Boggle, Fluxx, and Swiss vegetable bouillon are there to give an idea of what it might look like with buildings there - you'll have to use you're imagination!  The Jenga pieces and takeaway menu over the fiddle yard entrance represent some sort of loader (possibly stone). I also plan to put some kind of pipe bridge or footbridge over the middle of the layout to add interest.  The siding with the two badly weathered tankers will have a second loading/unloading point - possibly for fuel.  The tankers themselves will be sprayed with grey primer and have some subtler weathering applied!  I also need to work out a way of hiding the fact that the siding with the class 57 in will run right into the corner of the layout, I think some small trees could come in useful here.

I'm off to see Cement Quay in Guilford on Saturday.  It'll be good to see it operating and I might have the chance to get some bits for my layout too.  John Thorne's Purbeck will be there too which I'm looking forward to seeing again.  Anything else will be a surprise as there's not a layout listing on the web.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Planning a small standard gauge layout

As I mentioned in my last post I'm planning a small standard gauge layout. I'm going to try to keep it fairly simple so that I can get it built fairly quickly. The layout will be based around the trackplan from Chris Nevard's Cement Quay. I'll be reducing the size of the scenic area 5'6"x2' to 4'x18" by taking out the narrow gauge and using small radius points.

I laid out the trackplan on the table - though I don't have enough points.  The paper and boxes along the left are where the back sceene will be.  The track along the left is there because I was considering having a through track where I could take photos of passenger trains of intermodal trains - however I think that would make the layout too cramped so it won't be making the final plan.  The track middle track at the bottom of the picture will be the fiddle yard exit - the siding that the tanks are on will also run into the fiddle yard to allow a longer train to be backed into this siding.

I've done a second draft of the plan in mirror image and moved the points around to adjust the siding lengths - I considered using 3 way points to get longer sidings - either the symetrical type (which I don't really like the look of) or the asymetric ones - but I think I will be able to avoid using these.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Standard gauge plans

© Rob Jefferys, used with permission

I've been quietly planning a standard gauge layout for a while now but I've not blogged about it, mainly because I was still trying to decide whether my scale strategy involved standard gauge. I decided a few months ago it did and ordered a couple of Bachmann diesels and intermodal wagons. I got a few more wagons for Christmas and I've also got some old OO stock from the last model railway I built in my teens. One of the advantages of OO is that I can build a layout without any kit or scratch building if I chose to - which is a big plus when I'm struggling to find time for model making. My long term plan is to build a continuous run layout in the loft, set in the Southern Region post-privatisation with mostly freight traffic but the option of running DMUs (or even EMUs if any suitable stock becomes available). However the loft needs boarding and insulation adding beneath the rafters and I need to research how to do this properly so that nothing falls down. I still have plenty of other DIY jobs to do around the house so I doubt I'll start work on the loft before the Autumn. Not having anything to run my new toys on for at least a year is no fun so I decided to build a small OO layout. I'm going to make it 4' by 18" so that I can get it into the loft. It will have a cassette fiddle yard which will probably be another 2'6". I spent an evening drawing out track plans for small layouts that I like and seeing if I could fit them into that space. I've decided on a track plan and just need to finalise the siding lengths and decide what freight facilities the layout will have.

Narrow gauge fans - don't worry I've not abandoned the delights of 2' gauge and I've even done a bit of OO9 modelling over Christmas. I'll post again soon with some pictures!