Cameo Layouts – Wild Swan Books

IMG_2722.jpegYesterday saw a package thud through the letterbox and much to my enjoyment it was my long awaited birthday present. Having seen the book at the York 2017 show earlier in the year I knew I wanted to add it to my smallish book collection, yes small, having learnt from book hoarding parents and I have managed over the years to keep my buying habits under check. I just love Wild Swan books and although there are quarters that see them as over priced (due to them being soft back) but I just like the house style and presentation. It would be all to easy to go mad but then thankfully finances dictate a very austere approach.

Iain Rice is one of the greats off model railwaying in my humble opinion and I have pretty much got most of the books he has published. His ethos resonates with me and I really enjoy reading through his process and get great enjoyment out of his illustrations too. Having had a quick flick through it looks like it is going to be another essential motivational book. Following on from that a challenge or competition has sprung forth from this and until recently I was unaware of this. Much discussion and cogitation can be found over at rmweb where one of the proponents frequents and entrants projects will be documented and open for all to see.

I am considering this very carefully as I found out at the NEAG35 meet the 2FS Association are planning a layout challenge too to be completed for the 2020 Diamond Jubilee and this would conflict with that goal. However as both would be micro-ish layouts it is a possibility but I would need to come up with an idea for the cameo as I have already got the inspiration for the 2FSGJ layout. It would be very interesting to do something I have never done before, i.e. scale/gauge; could be S Scale, 3mm, or some other really esoteric combination. Given the smallness of a cameo layout stock creation could be kept to a minimum which is the main stumbling block of moving to another scale and maybe a jaunt into a larger scale would allow for more detail than I am use to. But this is all academic at the moment and pure speculation.

As you can also see my fix of Model Railway Journal also turned up at my local newsagent. It is the only mag that I would subscribe to and not destroy to digitise as I did with all my previous Railway Modellers and other mags and if I buy any now after the once over they get scanned and then put in the recycle bag. But MRJ is an archive that is work keeping in it’s original form as I do go back time to time and look through at random issues. I am slowly trying to work my way back to issue 0 via mainly the internet although unlikely to find that one but every time I go to a show or railway I look out for them.

So the library expands and gives more food for thought and maybe I will spend the  weekend noodling up some ideas for a six foot cameo layout! Lets see where it takes me.

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An experiment

I have been thinking about doing this for some time and never have gotten around to it until now, this being using YouTube as a form of journalling. I’m not sure where I will go with this but I think that if a picture says a thousand words then a video must be ten fold of that. Now I am not naturally an extrovert and see many pitfalls in exploring this medium but I have learnt so much of the hours spent watching all sorts of things that I can see much benefit to posting actually progress rather than written. I am also aware of production value and can see from my first effort it need a lot of thought an planning to get quality footage. Then there’s the editing and that’s an art in it’s self but I hope to be able to improve with time and loads of research on, er, Youtube.

So without further ado here is my first effort taken at the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway at there 40’s Gala weekend. There is some rather poor footage due to white balance set completely wrongly on a secondary camera and with hindsight I would have do a lot differently.

Here begins a journey so lets see where it goes

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The Big Idea.

Although no physical modelling has taken place so far I haven’t been idle and in fact I see  3D modelling to be just as relevant and enjoyable as the real modelling. As I stated in my last post getting to the point where I have a layout space is still someway off and all the prep that need to go into that will take up the majority of my time at the moment. You can see by the picture below that there is an ideal wall space for the shelf layout and IMG_2311.jpegalthough I looked at using the longer wall on the other side of the room but I have deliberately settled for the shorter one as this restricts my natural expansionist tendencies, well at least for the time being. At the moment it is an easier space to convert as well as there are some pretty hefty cupboards around the rest of the room and it would make for storage difficulties due to there being not much else in the house. You may note the mattress on the floor however this will not stay there and once a suitable bed is procured will disappear to the other side of the room. I did ponder a Murphy bed but in the end too much hassle for not much gain.

So this is my blank canvas a where I get to do my modelling and where I need to map out the space requirements. From the window side to the door frame I have 6′ 6″ exactly but I am thinking about having a drop down bridge that would need six inches to allow it to be attached to the wall and braced vertically therefore giving me six feet of useable space. Then comes the basic concept; although not actually modular the structure of the railway(s) will take a similar approach in that the boards will be have a common interface with the fiddle yard or staging and will all be three feet long allowing them to be housed below the running layout in some custom draws that I thought could use the draw front as the back scene once turned round. All this is a concept at the moment and needs to be somewhat tested out.


Here is the digital mock up and with the frame and brackets I can place the layout height at pretty much anything I like. At the moment I am pondering a eye level sight line and as I don’t see multi-hour marathon operating sessions it would be like having a standing desk, and that gives good separation to the workbench and layout. Many people may say “isn’t this too much effort going into a six foot self layout” but for me playing around with the building block gives me just as much fun.

I’m off to test some things out at build a 1:12 mockup of the room. My findings in the next post.

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Kato Swiss RhB – 2017

Something I am pretty excited about is the forthcoming Kato additions to their 2017 Swiss Meter Gauge RhB range of stock. It would seem that they are expanding the range due to popular demand and the novelty value that everyone thought was going to be the case when Kato first started producing this line has been proceeded with some very popular stock choices bearing in mind this is really aimed at the Japanese tourist market and not the railway modeller. It would seem although with the addition of the 2017 items I thing the pendulum is swinging the other way and now modellers are hungry for more. Kato must have seen the surge in orders, I am of course basing this on pure speculation as I have no figures to back it up, as a green light to grow the range beyond their coasts.

Like most of ‘us’ European modellers I can’t wait till they bring out some wagons, and the speculation of what that might be is fun. I would guess it would probably be a cement wagon or maybe a container bogie wagon given the ubiquity of them. But thats way off in the future and for the moment I would have to get filling the penny jar for the first wave of coaches and a Ge4/4III or two.

So here is a bit of a peek at whats coming.

and a link to Gaugemaster‘s site in the UK though I have brought from Japan before but I need to work out the costings now due to currency fluctuations, but I can also recommend TrainTrax and have had very good service from them. Anyway exciting times.

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Once again…..

Ok, so this time I looked it wasn’t so bad in the length of time since my last posting to my blog though no physical work has taken place since then mainly due to a move of house that took some doing. However on the plus side I now have a dedicated, warm and comfortable space to inhabit and model. I will add more detail about space and plans in future posts as I am still wrestling with a ton of home chores including build my own bed and a stack of book shelving. So that in turn leads to other ‘dependencies’ in the works i.e. clear out the garage to make space for the tools that making things with are needed then that will lead on to works starting on the railway front. Well that’s the plan.

I am quite excited as I have a space of around six foot six inches, so a typical shelf layout space however I have some ideas for this to help combat my attention span deficit. Then there is the work bench that needs to be planned and as this is a multifunctional space it is going to need to accommodate a computer space too, more of that story later.

This spurt of effort comes about from attending the NEAG35 meeting for the NE Area Group of the 2mm Finescale Association, to mark 35 years of their illustrious group. I met up with the guys from the group I use to be in when I lived in London and got to see their layout fully operational for the first time. I can only claim to have soldered a couple of wires in the control panel but it is a truly great layout in many ways but not least for the architectural modelling and a really talented bunch of modellers they are. For more and better pictures take a look at their blog as I was too busy having fun playing trains! Following on from that my friend Richard and I, who was up with the operating team but stayed over for a day, had a day out at the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway where they were part of a 1940’s weekend. The railway had taken on the appearance of one at war and there were loads of people dressed in period clothing seemingly taking it really seriously. This as a roundabout and longwinded way of saying I came away inspired and ready to fire up 15minutemodeller again and to actually achieve something.

So the mean time I will leave you with a couple of pics from last weekend and will start put down plans and progress, though typically Summer has come to this corner of the world and the desire to be outside may outweigh the need to model 😀




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Track plan patchwork


Today has been spent tweeking the ‘plan’ in Templot and although this is primarily for building prototypical track plans for the more discerning modeller however I am rather abusing that premise. There are other programs available but I like doing all my noodling with it and use it to see how and where the track joins need to be place although this is now defined by the choice of base board length that I have chosen due to a number of choices that include size, weight and portability. The plan does fit into the space pretty well and I haven’t cropped all the pages so that I am not getting a completely accurate picture but at the moment I am just checking clearances both for track and stock.

Once I have the final plan I will only print out the crossover as this is the only part of the layout that I will be building and its at that point I will tighten the placing of ties and check rails etc. The rest of the track will be laid out once glued down but it will only act as an aid to general position. I will be able to work on the crossover once I have the supplies which I will get from the Warley Show next month.

One of the changes required is the straightening of the road coming out of the crossover and given that that road is much longer than I had expected now seeing it in the flesh so to speak, I may add another road, a team track nearest to us. There are also a few tweeks elsewhere but these are just minor. Not shown here is a template for a six axle loco based on a SD40, probably the largest loco to do any switching on the layout which I am using to  highlight the pinch points. I am not one for the huge AC44’s or SD90’s and much more a fan of the smaller Geeps and if and possibly when it is attached to anything else then the big horses will just be passing trough.

I just need to get on now by finishing the boards and legs off and as usual life is interfering with me playing but I’m not sitting around idly and count the time spent on the computer in the evenings as modelling time, it’s just a digital version.

Till next time..

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First branches


Following on from yesterday I post my interpretation of the track plan I have been noodling around on back of envelopes over the last few weeks and gives me an idea of the setting for the layout. As I sit here with Autumn settling in around me, the trees are changing colour but not in the way they do in the location that I am trying to capture but I have been noting and grabbing some pics as a sort of reference, yes I know I don’t need to leave the comfort of my armchair but it helps to have reference even if only for future projects. So I have been concentrating on looking for locations via the wonders of online mapping services that will conjure up a shoreline with small towns and small trains and by that I mean not half mile long ones. I have plenty of saved images of proto short trains saved from image archives my favourite being nerailorg

With the width of the boards being eighteen inches I have some space to have a life away from the tracks and although the buildings in HO are going to be fairly big I have to see what fits in that space even if I have it as low relief but the trees are going to be an important feature.

The basic plan is for two industries yet to be decided, and then two exchange or interchange? tracks nearest to us where freight is swopped to another railroad yet to be decided also, yes its all pretty much up in the air at the moment as I would like to base the location on somewhere semi prototypical although I am not adverse to completely free styling it. And finally a possible loco servicing point on the nearest track at the far left. Maybe I should have jotted this on the sketch 🙂

The plan is to use Peco code 83 flexi and a mixture of #6’s for the main and #5’s for the yards and the crossover for the industries which will be hand built on PCB ties. For the moment the switches will all be hand operated and I am considering either complete hand operated or under board rodding with operation from both sides but not sure about the knobs sticking out but will wait to see when I get there although thinking about it it would save leaning over scenery etc.

For the moment that’s all and tomorrow I will have the track plan finalised and printed out for when the boards are complete and I have the board legs to stand it all on, although the bulk of modelling is probably going to take place on the kitchen table board by board. Till then..

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