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Photographer, scribbler, model maker, beer fancier, self confessed train nutter & general nerd.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Forest of Dean Colliery Update

Progress is now moving forward at a good rate. So much so that I hope to be taking it to a show in Warminster on Saturday the 17th of June. Well, that's the plan, I do have a standby layout just in case.

The track is now laid and wired up, above we see the basic diorama style presentation. Built in lighting has also been added. I use photographic bulbs, they give a good level of light, without being too cool or warm.

View looking stage exit right, the pub provides a good scenic break. There will be a level crossing there too.

The track plan here, subject to a few changes should give an idea of where I'm going with this. Foot print is around 4ft 3" by 1 foot deep.

Preparing the backscene, using Halfords automotive paint on to card. Most of the backscene will be hidden behind trees and buildings, so nothing too detailed or complicated is fine.

The card backscene was later inserted in to the diorama case and glued in to place. The pegs are just holding the top in place while the glue sets. PVA in this case.

The track has also been ballasted using sand. This is just a sub layer, a slurry of modelling clay will form a fine screed over the top to give the impression of fine cinders and clinker. The later colouring, which will be far removed from the clean and clinical look here.

The photo taken on my Polbrook Gurney Colliery layout will demonstrate where all this is going! It can be tricky at times to imagine the finished result. Luckily this is a proven method. Fingers crossed!!

Here is my deadline! Gulp.

Ps. Here's an old blog post from a few years ago explaining my ballasting in greater detail. http://nevardmedia.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/creating-effect-of-ash-ballast.html

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Tuesday Photo

Click for a bigger view
44417 carefully propels a rake of empties up the gradient in to Polbrook Gurney Colliery. Note the ancient tipping wagons to the right. It's likely they were used for removal of spoil.

The 4F started life as an Airfix model dating from around 1982. Recently I commissioned Phillip Hall to pop a decent chassis under it. Phil, with his amazing mechanical skills has made it fully compensated with pick ups on every wheel including tender. It sticks to the track like a limpet, and has an incredible pulling power. To try to match the fabulous chassis, I performed some cosmetic work on the rest of the engine with a new paint job and lots of extra detail. This one really is a keeper, and the odd time I do an exhibition, this little beastie will run all weekend even on the dirtiest track without missing a beat.

The contractor's wagons are part of a rake of 3, from the excellent RT Models white metal kit range.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Ahead of its time?

Dug this late 1970s Airfix 14xx out the other day. I recall it was one of my first weathering exercises around 1980 using airbrushing and dry brushing. I also added etched cabside plates.

The body with separate handrails and other detail was well ahead of its time for UK outline back then. I think it still looks pretty good. Sadly the chassis is quite the opposite, almost 40 years on it's s very much a non-runner. Might be worth putting something else under there from Comet or High Level in due course.

Here is the little locomotive posed on Brew Street, my recent 'nano' layout.

Above photo grabbed on the new (ish) iPhone 7, click on it for a bigger version.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

On track...

Forest of Dean Project update...
Cork sheet as a track underlay is so 2007 darhlings...
I lay my track on 6mm foam board, then insert and glue it in to the diorama case. It's much easier to align the trackwork properly outside the diorama case. That Bertie #borderterrier supervising.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Cornish Engine House

The latest building for my Forest of Dean project.

Knocked up the last week on and off; a scratch built 'Cornish Engine house', which would have been used to pump a mine free of excess water. It's made from embossed plastic card, cornflake packs and coffee stirrers.

The stone courses don't quite match nearest the cam because I'm a bodger. Some ivy growing up the side will take care of that as a bodger's fix! The building on the right and chimney are Skytrex mouldings. Scale 1/76. The engine house is around 8 inches high (20cm).

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Ready for the NEC

Click to enlarge!
Just doing final bits to Brew Street for the NEC (it will be on the Model Rail mag stand). I have very limited space, so the fiddle/staging yards are just a couple of modified cassettes. They clip on either end as and when required. 

The built in lighting holds its own even in daylight. Punters at shows are like moths, they are attracted to bright lights. Tip; if you have a really crappy layout, light it nice and brightly - they'll come flocking to it like bargain hunters to the model railway manufactures'  when they're flogging off all the old tat at the NEC Warley Show first thing Saturday!

A proper feature on the build of this layout is in the current Model Rail magazine (December 2016 / No. 229)


Tuesday, 15 November 2016

In Print

Part 1 of my little microwave sized nano-trainset has just appeared in Dec 2016 Model Rail magazine. The feature covers the first stage of the build, with plenty of illustrations of my kack-handed bodgings which try to fool people in to thinking that I know what I'm doing.

Click photo for BIGGER image

Yesterday, I penned part 2 for the January 2016 issue of Model Rail which will be out in around 4 weeks from this blog date. Or if you're reading this post in 5 years time - look on Ebay! The photo above is destined for part 2 - don't tell my editor though!

The little 'trainset' should be on the Model Rail stand at the NEC Warley Show on 26/27 November 2016 for people to poke, prod and generally comment on just how much smaller it is than they thought it would be. It really is small, imagine a foot print two A4 sheets of paper end to end - that's it!
Model Rail is available in all good news agents and super markets, all for just £3.95 - around the price of a pint around these parts! www.model-rail.co.uk

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Grubbing Up

First stage of weathering up the Model Rail limited edition USA tank. I don't want it to look like it's been in Barry Scrapyard for 5 years like many do, more a warm oily rag look of a working engine. Click for a bigger version.

I'll leave it for a few days before tackling it again with finer localised weathering. Weathering is best something not rushed, it's easy to overdo things in 'one sitting'. I'll need to sort out a crew too.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Combwich Box

A little signal box I knocked up in the very early 1980's from plastic card, bits of card and some clear packaging. It needs a little tender loving. Click on the above photo for a bigger view.

It's survived 35 or so years quite well. The celluloid glazing (with frames drawn on with a bow pen and gouache paint) has distorted over time sadly. Some nice etched frames would be nice, but it's unlikely I'd be able to find something off the shelf. Might have to dig out the bow pen again and a slightly stiffer clear plastic sheet.

The little building is based on a standard London & South Western design, I think from some plans in a magazine from the time. Magazines 'back in the day' would often feature such plans drawn to popular scales. The scale of this model being 1/76.

I've posed it on my latest little project (purely because it has some nice bright lights built in) called Brew Street. Use the Combwich and Brew Street 'labels' below for more about those layouts.

Friday, 28 October 2016


Thursday afternoon saw the final wiring go in to place. I won't show you that, because I'm no ambassador of layout electrics. Just imagine a few random wires. That's all I'll say on that matter. It works though.

Point operation is simple, just wooden knobs attached to wood dowels with a bit of wire poking up through the baseboard to the point tie bar. Push. Pull. Easy. Cheap.

Note the 'acoustic' controller, a trusty Gaugemaster feed back style hand held unit. No DCC for me, I've tried it, and do own some Lenz DCC thing, but prefer the analogue approach (I prefer acoustic guitar to electric as well, works in a power cut too). I've far too much stock, and even if there were enough hours in the day to convert it all, I really cannot justify the cost. I only really play trains at model railway shows - maybe one or two shows a year.

I still need to sort out out a couple of fiddle yards, I do have two generic cassette yards I use for all my layouts, but they're really too big for such a tiny layout.

Brew Street will form part of the Model Rail stand at the Warley MRC show at the NEC Birmingham 26 & 26 November 2016. See you there.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Having a Quickie

Click to enlarge
One Sunday afternoon, I was up in my railway room having a rare tidy up, and whilst looking at those ‘wall flower projects’ (things we’ve built, but have no home; they sit on shelves not joining the railway party) we all have. I wondered if some of them could be incorporated in to a small ‘quickie’ project, a project that could be completed in a very much shorter time than previous layouts.
Click to enlarge
I had a spare made up ‘Tim Horn’ laser cut baseboard (2 x 1 foot / 65 x 30 cm), so I grabbed a few of the buildings to see if I could make up some kind of workable composition that a railway could fit in to.

Click to enlarge
The whole project took around 50 hours spread over two weeks.
You'll be able to read more about this and how it was done in the next Model Rail magazine www.model-Rail.co.uk out in around 3 weeks. The little layout will be on show on the Model Rail stand at the NEC Birmingham 26 & 27 November 2016. Pop by and say hello!

Saturday, 14 November 2015

New Layout!

Having pondered for long enough, a Forest of Dean inspired layout will be my next project. Time now will be devoted to research and book buying mostly. I find that aspect vital for capturing the right feel. This new book from Black Dwarf Lightmoor makes a great starting point http://lightmoor.co.uk/view_book.php?ref=L9983
The size of the scenic diorama type set up here is 6' 6" x 12" (2m x 30cm)

For the first time ever, I'm trying out some laser cut baseboard kits from  www.timhorn.co.uk

A scene that could pass for somewhere in the Forest of Dean in the mid-1960's. It's a scene from my 'Ironstone' project, I may well physically extract this cameo and incorporate it in to the new bigger project with a little brute force and recolouring! Quarrying was quite a feature of the Forest of Dean area.

As part of the process I'll make mock ups of possible scenarios using any old buildings kicking about in the parts/spares/reject bin to try to get an idea.

Thursday, 9 July 2015


Until yesterday, I'd not had the space to set up Combwich since 2011, so a well over due photosession has been taking place on and off over the last 24 or so hours...

Combwich is my oldest layout, starting it layout around 1979, it then went in to storage between 1985 and 2000. Work on it has continued on and off since then. It's been to a few shows in recent years and is popular. It looks pretty and runs well, but the 35 year old wiring really needs to go at some stage.

Scale OO (1/76)
Size: 14'00" x 2'8"

Useless trivia: everyday working steam finished on the Southern Region of British Rail 48 years ago today - 9 July 1967.

Click to enlarge...

Monday, 4 May 2015

Taking a Tablet

The other day I was lucky enough to be given a brand new iPad Air 2 tablet.  I'm not a techy type, rather preferring things to be made of wood, however it has an 8 million pixel camera which is high enough res to actually be useful in the real world and not just Facebook.  It also has very good low light and macro ability, so tried it out on one of my layouts. So here was have a Beattie Well tank well away from its more usual native Cornwall, and now seen on my tiny representation of a small imaginary corner of the Rutland ironstone field. 

I don't think it will replace a proper camera for anything too serious, but it's ideal for stuff like this, and may see the occasional use for the odd magazine shot that a more conventional camera cannot access. 

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Hiding those Flying Ducks and Lawnmowers...

I've not found the time to photograph my own layouts recently, but a little earlier on found a few spare minutes to pop the camera on a tripod and grab a few of Buckminster Ironstone my little quarry layout.

The shots have not been messed about with in post production; a high backscene as here being vital for good photography - unless you want to start messing about with *CGI to hide those flying ducks or lawnmower hanging off the garage wall. We're still a bit behind Europe and the USA when it comes to backscenes, most still being happy with a bit of 6 inch high tatty blue painted MDF with fingerprints and damaged edges. It's changing slowly though, as people start to record their layout build progress with small digicam or mobile phone camera and realise the limitations of such a low backscene for decent CGI free photography.

Click the photos below for a full screen view...

The summer of 1969, a Class 25 still in two tone green is seen shunting at Buckminster Ironstone. The class one head code is interesting, and one that no doubt flummoxed the number crunchers. The crew probably did it on purpose just for gags (cue serious comments...)

Radstock captured positioning wagons under the loading hopper at Buckminster Ironstone. Note the ancient internal user contractor's wagons in the foreground.

Radstock simmers at Buckminster Ironstone Quarry

Radstock simmers at Buckminster Ironstone Quarry

*computer generated imagery

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Rochdale Model Railway Exhibition 11 & 12 April 2015

A few snaps from last weekend's excellent exhibition, grabbed of Polbrook Gurney Colliery during one of two of the quieter moments. This is the furthest north I have taken this layout so far. Click on the photos to make them larger should you like...

Friday, 10 April 2015

Ready for the road...

Yesterday afternoon was spent sorting out Polbrook Gurney Colliery for its trip up to Rochdale, for what will be its most northerly trip so far. 

I tend to only do shows that are fairly close, not being a huge fan of Britain's weekend roads with all the overcrowding problems they bring, as support stocking beige Rover driver meets white Audi Coupe and Lithuanian artic driver together in a three way punch up bringing the inevitable motorway closure. I guess I'll have to leave lots of time. And when I am stuck for 8 hours, I'll have packed a small guitar or ukulele and songbook to practice some songs for next week's open mic down the local. 

I've set the layout up to check it all over, having not run it in earnest for well over a year, the play aspect of toy trains doesn't really interest me. A weekend operating a layout usually satisfies that lesser need for another year! Others are different I know, but for me it's the creation rather than operation. So if any reader here pass by and want to operate the layout for a spell, you are very welcome, be warned though, I might vanish for a pint and leave you for several hours. 

Rochdale Model Railway Exhibition
The Coach House, Lodge Street, Littleborough, Lancashire OL15 9AE

Monday, 6 April 2015

Polbrook Gurney Colliery Roadshow

Rochdale Model Railway Group MODEL RAILWAY EXHIBITION
Saturday 11th & Sunday 12th April 2015

Playing Trains

I don't do many shows far from home, however because the social element promises to be particularly good, Polbrook Gurney Colliery is going to head north of Watford Gap for possibly the only time this coming weekend.

'Rochdale Model Railway Group
In the style of our early exhibitions, showcasing the finescale modelling of our members and friends:

Littleborough Coach House
Lodge Street, 
OL15 9AE (close to the Railway Station) 

Saturday 11th & Sunday 12th April 2015 Saturday & Sunday 10am to 4.30pm Admission - £3.00 Under 16s accompanied by an adult - Free Layouts, Refreshments, Free Car Parking.'

I must apologise for the irregular posts here, however we all increasingly spend more and more time with this interweb thing, so this sadly has been one of the first things to be neglected in an attempt to address a healthy balance.

I do however very regularly post model railway  to my Facebook 'Like' page, and hopefully you'll be delighted to know that you don't need to have a Facebook account to see this page.


Broken blog photos I've noticed this blog has rather a lot of damaged imagery for some reason. Being realistic I simply don't have the time to address it all, but as time permits I'll remove lesser stuff and repair the more popular posts - this might take some time though!

Monday, 26 May 2014

Railex 2014

Photo: Buckminster Ironstone, seen from the staging/fiddle yard end taken at the little layout's outing to Railex over the weekend. The loco, which was a visitor courtesy of Paul Marshall Potter, is a tweeked Hornby Sentinel. These inexpensive and very useful small engines are great runners. You can 'Like' Paul's Facebook Toy Chuffer page here. . Click photo to enlarge.
This weekend was Buckminster Ironstone's first outing. The show of choice being Railex in Aylesbury - a superb and fabulous showcase of some of the best modelling.
The tiny layout only has one point, so visual interest was enhanced with actual loading of wagons. Real crushed ironstone was considered, however it tends to produce are large amount of dust as well and clogging up the hopper. A workable alternative was chosen in the form of fine sand, which had been sprayed with a little red primer to give it a reddish hue. This flowed well through the hopper, and with the inevitable spillage, there was the risk that it would get in to locomotive mechanisms, but I was prepared to take the risk, which in the event was not a problem. The sand was washed prior, this might have removed any elements such as salt or mud which could make sand grains stick to loco wheels and maybe work up in to mechanisms.

Finally, I must thank Graham Muspratt for giving up his Saturday to play trains, and for Paul Marshall Potter for giving me several well needed breaks on the Sunday
Disclaimer for precious or nervous types; If you want to mix sand and toy trains; don't take my word for it - run a test if you want to try this out for yourself.
Photo: fine sand caught in action dropping into a hopper wagon. Click photo to enlarge.