Days Out – 2018 Seven Valley Railway Gala

It has been over a year since I visited the SVR for it’s annual autumn steam gala with my friends and again we took the walk through the xx country park ending up at Hampton Loade where we watched trains and ate cake. The was a star studded cast of locos with Britannia in the leading roll. There was also Royal Scott and the recently rebuilt J22 amongst others.

It was a beautiful autumnal day with distant whistles and the exhaust bark that could be heard up and down the Seven Valley.

Many photos were taken for reference such as tress and the general landscape in wonderful autumn colours. As I’m away from home I am absolving myself from 15minutes as I’m doing prototype reseach. I’ll post a short video once I’m home of locos going past!

Until next time..

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Reading Room 05

Whilst out and about today I saw that the latest MRJ on ‘Smiths’ shelves and took a quick flick through to see if it was one I wanted to get but with my new scan and bin it strategy it takes no physical space and limited digital estate so it makes sense to collect them all as you don’t know when a close interest in pre-grouping wagon chassis might hit! A rather cracking issue and particularly liked the Talyllyn wooden buildings article by Peter Kazer.

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Layout design drawing (1)

In a brief lull in this mornings schedule and a cheeky fumble on YouTube I came across this video of recent traffic movements with some interesting lash ups. It lead me to doodle up something that’s been in the back of my mind for some time and originally was going to be a narrow gauge logging layout. However in this iteration it is transported to the Swiss Alps and is a fictional RhB location. It’s certainly not the first time this noodling has come up and I’ve a couple of posts about this but I thought I would use the blog as a bit of a scrapbook to look back on long after the paper has been chucked or the digital doodle has settled to the bottom of the pile. I may mock this up at some point..

Until next time..

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Pressure valve(s)

Some times life throws curve balls and things don’t go according to plan, see last weeks post, and it seems as though I’m running in treacle. I did go upstairs and sit down at the modelling table but I just felt I wasn’t doing something that I wanted to be doing and just doing it for the sake of doing something. Maybe this is important but ultimately one has to feel like one is enjoying it. So this last week I have tinkered with a number of kits but I’ve been distracted by a number of things not least the gogglebox in this case Youtube. I started off looking for some info on soldering white metal kits and went down the rabbit hole of home casting. I have a 009 narrow gauge kit that I told a friend I would build and without too much exaggeration it is probably a year since I made that commitment. Now the fly in the ointment is that it must be decades since I last took a soldering iron to one of these stress inducing box of bits. I remember the first time I endeavoured to join even to bits of white metal together and ended up with a pool of molten gloop. This didn’t inspire courage or progress in this particular brand of model building and since that day I haven’t touched said white metal in any shape or form. However not one to shirk ones duties I decided to look up “effective white metal soldering” on the Toob to see if I could take the box of bits given to me and turn it into a reasonable rendering of a Bagnall loco. After watching these videos I decided the best course of action would be to get a sacrificial goat and test out my skills before committing to turn friends prized possession into another pool of crud.

Now some of the inactivity was down to the fact that next weekend I’ll be going away for a bit of a jolly to Wales to stay with friends and as is custom we will go an visit a railway of some shape. They are pretty much a cats swing from just about any railway related attraction in Wales and so quite often going down there provides a dilemma to which we should visit. Next weekend there’s a Gala at the SVR but I’m not totally sure of the itinerary yet.

So what of the fifteen minutes a day? Well I am in the process of building another baseboard to put a micro layout on and that will be the focus of my efforts for coming weeks until I can get room sorted out. Oh yes and then there’s the white metal kit and a track plan for that.

I’ll leave you with another sneaky peak at another stock roster for the up and coming layout on the last run home..

Until next time..

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Move to the left, move to the right

As the picture shows life is somewhat frenetic at the moment and although this looks like a complete mess it really is. Why post a picture then? Well not only is it a snapshot of time but also a rather graphic reminder to “Get things done!” I really struggle with all this time management malarky and seemingly to some I have all the time in the world but it never pans out that way in this little corner of the world. Search the internet and there is noooo shortage of gurus and experts telling you how to maximise ones time, get up at 3am and do your best work and a whole host of other mantras that breed success in life, but as you can see I am struggling to fight my way out of a pile of plastic boxes. Is this a cop-out, where’s the modelling you’ve been promising? Good point! Yes where is it? I look at prolific modellers and wonder how they manage to produce all these wonderful models and layouts…. but there is no secret and ultimately I am not following my own mantra, rather allowing lethargy to rule. In fact this the whole reason why I set up this blog and here I am a number of months in poodle faking my way through the internet lands of railway modelling. There’s always an excuse, family came to stay, hard day volunteering, didn’t have the right stuff to start or finish a project and so on.

However on a positive note writing about this inactivity consistently it is helping me be consistent about at least one thing. One can skip reading this but the act of sitting down once a week and typing away is some kind of discipline that is needed to carry forward any project. With on average 25 views a week and quite frankly I’m staggered that there are that many people visiting my record of inactivity it is however really about keeping momentum going in the face lethargy and hopefully inspire others suffering mojo motivation to consider giving a small bit of time a week to their modelling.

As the weather slowly starts to turn over into autumn and the nights start drawing in and the modelling season really gets into full swing there should be no excuses for me not making progress. I really need to start practicing what I preach.

With that in mind I am going to carry out an experiment of writing one post per day for a week to see if I can get the myself doing just 15 minutes a night and see what I can achieve. Putting things off and procrastinating was why I decided to start this and that’s pretty much what I have done since moving to this new house. So many plans on paper and in my head but that’s where there’ll stay unless I can at put aside fifteen minutes. These minutes may be used in different projects as I have quite a few builds to either complete or start for myself and others.

Until next time..

I will leave you with a little mockup

Kato Allegra 3 car unit

Kato RhB ABe 8/12 Allegra 3 Car EMU

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This is a bit of a red letter day for me for a couple of reasons; firstly I received my first Kato N Ge4/4II through the post, yes I know it’s been out for sometime but I have been saving up for this one. And secondly I have uploaded my first video for 15minutemodeller.

This may not seem much but it’s a bit of a step for me. I’m really not sure where this is going but thought it would be good to add another dimension to the blog. However this short clip has had me faffing around all day with it and I have a lot of admiration for anyone in video editing. I have not studied film making and besides knowing what a jump cut is that’s about as far as my knowledge goes. When you see the kit lists of some youtubers it’s enough to make anyone flinch at what must be the GDP of a small country to buy this level of expertise. I on the other hand have bluffed m way through with nothing but my battered iPhone 5S. Thankfully I have cut out the cacophony of the washing machine in on spin cycle, nearby neighbours discussing whether it will rain and the rather in my mind realistic grinding from the loco. This was/is just a test really and I guess I could have put a load more effort into filming the loco but as a late starter to the game I just wanted to get something out. Of course once you have finished a million and one ideas come to your head abut how you could have done better but I guess the art is to know when to give up. Besides the content is not exactly riveting even with a couple of card knock ups.

So will there be more? Maybe.. I really need to be building something to make it more interesting and as the current progress has only got as far as erecting a bunch of IKEA PAX wardrobes I am struggling to find the time to get my projects on the go again. However there is a lot in the pipeline, not least the brown envelope that thumped on the mat the other day but I’ll have to come back to that later. But doing all this video stuff takes time and I kind of see it as progressing my hobby, although in a round about kinda way and takes way more than fifteen minutes!

And finally to the object of the inaugural video, the rather lovely N Scale Kato Ge4. Until I got it out of its box I had only seen pics on the interwebs and I was a but concerned with the level of detail particularly around the roof area. It is however much better than expected and looking at it closely they have managed to get a good level of detail in the exhaust vents. The windows are a bit on the thick side but are acceptable to me and the undercarriage also passes. I am not looking for finescale fidelity on this loco but want it to look the part which it most certainly does. The decals are crisp in there printing and as you would expect from Kato the running quality is very smooth even on my undulating test track. All in all I am very please with this addition to the roster and now need some coaching stock to run behind it once I get the layout intended for it built. It also needs chipping at some point to bring it in line with the Ge4/4IIIs but I’ll do this nearer the time I need to start testing stock patterns and finalise what DCC system I am going to stick with.

It goes without say that these lovely locos would look perfect if towing some freight stock behind it, maybe some iconic cement wagons or one of my favourites Fads but I’m sure in the fullness of time we will get something to broaden operational fun apart from watching endless glacier expresses hum by.

Until next time..

P.S. at the time of posting I am unable to see why my vid is not available on YouTube but I will make another post once it is up and viewable if even only to have a bit of s chortle at it..

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A time to play trains.


Temp Table Top Switching Layout

Life seems to be rather hectic at the moment and progress on modelling projects has been slow again. In order to keep the mojo going I decided to go back to basics and relive those childhood memories of setting up the train-set on the kitchen table also I thought it would be fun. I’m not sure why I haven’t done this before as all of those years of saying I didn’t have space etc and yes while technically I didn’t have space for a traditional layout I could have had a micro table top setup. The table top was/is the answer to temporary ‘playing’ which in my view is one of the most important parts of railway modelling. So often I forget this and this is when I drift away from from my hobby. I would be playing even if I had a big layout; we can argue that is is all very serious and that we are reenacting the real world and using real constraints but after all we are just playing trains . It helps that in this case I am using N scale as the bigger gauges may be a problem to operational enjoyment but its not impossible to replicate something with interest.

As you can see this is a very simple inglenook though not the traditional 5|3|3 but a 3|1|2 but still enough to keep interest going for as long as one wants to spend. Typically this can be run on a simple system just marshalling cars to different locations but can be extended into a more complicated operations based, and I use air quotes around this word “layout” as at the end of the session it gets packed away again ready for the next time I feel I want to unwind or have an innovation to the process. I have very briefly looked into car cards and operational layouts but wanted something flexible enough to be able to spend two minutes or two hours, well maybe not quite that long but you get the idea. It’s amazing what the imagination can conjure up as a non existent world. Something not even Virtual Reality can compete with.

All I needed was a board, some cards, and a toothpick to make my  imaginary world animated. First of all I tried using some very tight radius (150mm) Kato curved track but found that the loco pushing would just derail the first wagon and then subsequent ones in rather spectacular fashion and that no matter what I did I couldn’t get a train round the curve. It’s no real surprise really and I kind of knew it wouldn’t work but never harms to try these things out just to make sure. Plan B was to then run have a straight layout but the problem then was how much space did it need to have three wagons in staging and a loco. Sitting next to me there were some bits of 6mm plywood which are 19″ x 36″ long from another ditched idea, that might do? It was a bit of a squeeze with over hangs diagonally at both ends but it did fit the required wagons and loco all be it at a jaunty angle as you can see.

I then thought about how I would marshal wagons around the yard and thought about flipping coins, rolling dice or using online random selection selectors! But then I remembered a card system that I had seen over on rmweb by an exceptional modeller John Flann and thought that I could utilise this for both wagon and spots. After a few trial runs I decided to ditch the cards for the spots as there are not really enough different locations to make it worth the extra complexity. I guess if this idea ever expanded it would be more suited to the multiple sets of cards. Then there is the possibility of computerised selections, but the purpose of this table top set up is to be able to just play and not too complicated. All of the selection could also be easily done with a dice as it nicely coincides that the spots and wagons add up to six. Yes I could pop down to the local D&D store and get multiple sided die but…. I settled on the pack of cards method. Now that the method of selection had been decided it just needed a loco.

I have four locos to choose from and they are all from the North Eastern part of America where my interest lie. Don’t ask me why as I am not sure my self but I guess it was something to do with the shortlines and the covered bridges, oh and probably the greenery. I would hate to add up the hours browsing nerail pics. I am not one for the desert sceneries and long block trains I much prefer seeing the odd wagon rumble by with an older loco in charge. Rather the ol’ Geep than the massive new breed of modular engines. I’ve always had a fascination for the covered bridges as I could never work out why you would go to all that effort, as hereabouts plain old simple limestone bridges dating back to pack horse trails are widespread and build with no frills to withstand wind and rains straight off the Pennines. One day I would like to attempt building a covered bridge but then I would probably need a layout to put it on! Back to locos, they are all NE roads as I said and at the moment pristine clear, bog standard, out of the box. I have yet to build up the courage to plaster grime all over them but feel this time is coming once I have learnt some weathering skills on a sacrificial wagon. At some point I was planning to DCC them, but when the decision was made to downsize my eclectic collection I decided that the US stuff was no longer required. Looking at it now I am starting to think I might have been a bit premature and that I don’t have a whole lot of stuff, i.e. 4 locos and 25 wagons, so maybe.. I would keep hold of them 🙂 I have always like the freight handling part of the shortlines which can be replicated for railways in the UK but you have to go back to pre-nationalisation to achieve this and for the moment I am not so interested in that period. So with the stock currently I have a bit of variety but without needing huge amounts of storage space. I also love the smoothness of the US stuff over cruddy UK locos, yes I know things have come on a long way since I last messed around with N gauge but the disappointment in those early years hasn’t left me, still. The more I talk about this the more I think “hmm just a little layout” But for the moment I will be happy to pack away my temporary layout till the next time I want to get it out and play… oh operate!

I am adding some websites I like and follow for possible ideas and resource. This website was the first I came across and for information about Ingelnook definitions and layouts it is a good place to start. Of course there is the evergreen site from now sadly passed Carl Arendt, however this is being resurrected over at I believe. Here are a few more to peruse;


Until next time..

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