Planning the plan.

E23359A7-868B-4FD8-BD13-81D45D10B07CI do love a plan especially when it comes together! For me the planning etc is all part of the fun and I see it as a way to minimise risks of getting things wrong. Maybe it’s a throwback  to my professional career but I like to have an order of doing things. I know my friend Andy is the complete opposite and likes to make it up as he goes along. The diagram or mind map as it’s known is not particularly in order but then I will take each section and break down further to give me a more granular approach. I can hear the groans and sighs but it’s what make me happy and it’s my railway as the saying goes. I haven’t quite got to the point of having post-it notes on walls in agile/scrum fashion as even I think that is taking it too far but the digital cork board works for me and as we have access now to all this technology it would be rude not to use it.

I would say that this map is pretty generic to any model railway as there is a set progression that to a certain extent can’t be altered. Obviously nothing is going to happen with out a baseboard and wiring without track is pretty futile. But all this helps me to build up a picture in my mind of how it is all going to fit together and I feel that will lead to a more positive outcome from my efforts. Some might say that all this time spent putting plans together could actually be used building stuff but for me the time spent noodling ideas out will in the end lead to a much better railway. I also prevail on my friend for long chats that also help flatten out all the kinks which also helps with the outcome and in fact I think this is a very useful method of layout planning and whether you talk to a friend, go online forums or hang out at your local model shop (if you have any now) yakking with people there just getting different opinions will possibly help you to create a better layout.


Above is the initial plan for my layout in rough form and one that has not been tested out  in real space and for all the 3D planning and mocking up it’s no alternative to the thing in the real space and as I have found many times before that one can be seduced into thinking it will all fit then only to be disappointed that it won’t. I suppose that that’s where the “make it up” brigade kind of win out as the are just making the track plans to fit the space they have.

As you can see there are three levels to the layout with helix turns at either end. The journey starts at the bottom level which will be an underground station like Chur and there is the possibility that it could share space with standard gauge push-pull sets but storage space maybe an issue and also it would mean buying non standard stock which I am not going to do in the current mode of downsizing all the extraneous stuff. I have yet to see if there is enough space to fit in all the rises and desents and although the Kato stock handles some pretty fierce gradients I want to make these as trouble free due to the nature of inaccessibility of the track. But again the real, tactile mock-up at 1:4 scale will hopefully illuminate any glaringly obvious foobars I may have made.

So that is a taste of what I am trying to achieve. I have a number of tasks and ideas to carry out before I can move the bedroom build forward but look out for more of this story unfolding in the forthcoming weeks. I am also planning on documenting some of this in video but I have a lot of steps to get to that point, not least my inexperience of creating anything like this. I know from my own experience that the moving picture is far more engaging that the written word but I do like this format and plan to carry it on alongside any video.

Till the next time..

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New beginnings, again.

After some what of a long hiatus I have come back to 15minutemodelling with a renewed vigour and desire to take this somewhere other than the siding to nowhere. I was feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the lack of any progress with real modelling and didn’t feel that blogging about ideas and plans all the time was actually getting me anywhere. In the intervening time I thought long and hard about my direction and where I wanted to put my efforts with the little time and resources I have and settled on the one area I really wanted to model. To that end I took the rather hard decision to rid myself of all of my disparate collections of scales and gauges that I had accumulated over the years and in some cases decades from gathering dust in boxes unopened and unloved.

I am currently auctioning off groups of items in anything from Z to O scale and I didn’t realise that I had so much stuff and let’s not mention the duplicates! Once my horde has been monetised I will have the funds to get exactly what I want from baseboards to stock and electronics for this layout. It has been rather a cathartic riding myself of decades of “stuff” and centring on the one thing that I really want to model with out the distractions of multiple scales. I have always been a rubber gauger and allowed myself to get carried away with the notions and dreams of one day producing quality modelling in all these forms. As time has ticked by I came to the realisation that this was never likely to happen and that I shoud give up on this misguiding utopia. Looking around there are skilled and talented modellers that manage to juggle the different disciplines of railway but in my limited research they do tend to stick to their preferred medium. Obviously there are always exceptions to the rule but I am not one of them leading to the ephifany that I am and should be a one trick pony. This has freed up my thinking and allowed me to concentrate my efforts to actually achieve a built and finished layout. I currently have a bit of shelf space that I can utilise that I won’t get into trouble from unhelpful or inflexible landlords for drilling into walls and putting up electrics.

As I have talked about on this blog some time ago I do enjoy the challenges of layouts in smaller spaces and for me it has to be operations. I get enjoyment out of organising freight stock so for any layout there has to be some reason for movement of freight as I am really not into watching commuter trains hurry by. I love seeing old footage of a sleepy line switching out some old vans and yes I know that this may have only happened once or twice a week on the smaller branch lines and this doesn’t translate well to a model railway if run somewhat prototypically but then I am not interested in running a timetable from one summers day in 1951, but you get the picture.

This leads me on to the here and now and the reason for returning to 15minmodeller. Having de-invested myself of all of those distractions I have decided to focus all my attention on modelling, wait drum roll please, Swiss metre gauge. I have always had a fascination with it from when I was pretty young having Combe across it in some books given to me by a relative from far off lands. More specifically I will model the RhB, this is mainly in part due to Kato bringing out its range of 1:150 “Little Red One” line. This sparked off in me the realisation that I could actually achieve a layout in a limited space and that wouldn’t break the bank. With all the existing N Scale infrastructure and possibilities it just made complete sense, something could be was found to adapt if needs be rather than having to scratch build to some arbitrary esoteric scale I had picked this week. That’s not so say that this doesn’t lend its self to scratch building in fact I have thought about many things that will need to be manufactured this way.

Over the coming months I will be mapping out the plan and hoping to get started on the real thing. However the blog is not just about modelling a railway I am hoping to try out new skills and methods that I want to document into a kind of manual for myself of how to build a model railway as I have never done one for myself and as the saying goes today is a good day to start. I want to try and set myself some kind deadline for progress however small but those 15 minutes soon add up. Hopefully my next post won’t be so long overdue.

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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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