Sunday 28 June 2009

The Dennis Allenden Fan Club

Yesterday I took a trip to Bala, the pretty way, which just happens to pass the Bala Lake Railway at Llanuwchllyn. They serve excellent tea, scrumptious cakes and a fine selection of pre owned model railway magazines. I left with a handful of Model Railway News and it's sucessor Model Railways. I was particularly pleased as there were three articles by the late Denis Allenden. Quite apart from being a model making genius, way, way ahead of his time, he was quite simply the best writer to have ever written about our hobby. Even if you're not interested in the railways of France, try to get hold of some of his work; it's learned, witty and without a trace of being forced.

Saturday 27 June 2009

Time to Tidy

My railway room/workshop is in a mess at the moment. It seems to be one of those things like hair turning grey or eye sight deteriorating that sneaks up unnoticed in stealthy increments. I find that once the chaos reaches a certain level it has a detrimental effect on my model making; with nothing turning out as I'd hoped. Just before the need to clean became apparent I managed to fit couplings to a pair of coaches that I converted from cheap continental horse trams some time ago. The couplings were folded up from Paul Windle etches, slightly modified to pivot, and only fitted with loops at one end. Whilst this coach was in bits I painted and fixed a pair of passengers in place. The clutter began to tell with a less than neat paint job, but as they're riding inside I reckon that this time I can get away with it.

Tuesday 16 June 2009

How Green Was My Valley.

It's a big hurrah as I've finished the basic scenery on Chwarel Bach, the posh name for the pizza. I've dusted off one of the lines passenger coaches for the occasion, though if you look closely it's obvious that there's some work still to be done in the coupling department. I'm looking forward to a bit of gentle pottering as I add detail and further structure to the layout. But for nowI'm happy to sit back and admire the scene bathed in the evening sun.

Monday 15 June 2009

Blackpool Trams

A while ago I considered trams to be a distinctly inferior species of train, however these days thanks to several visits to Blackpool I'm starting to appreciate their charm and variety. Though most will have an impression of Blackpool's system as a tourist amusement that shuttles along the prom from amusement park to candyfloss stall, there's far more to it than that. Though the southern section runs along the prom, the middle is more interurban in character on its own right of way before heading through the centre of Fleetwood down the middle of the road as most Victorian city systems did. Tucked away behind the prom are the car sheds, though not accesible to the public there are good uninterupted views from the street.

If your appitite has been whetted for a visit, I can thoroughly recommend 'The Gallery' bed and breakfast run by my friends Paul and Mimmo. It's boutique hotel in style and comfort, though at far less than boutique prices. It's close to both trams and Blackpool North station. Click on the picture above for full details.

Transport of Delight

When my beard wasn't grey, I had an MGB. Though it used almost as much oil as petrol and had it's fair share of rust I was very fond of it. Part of it had to do with the comfort of the driving position and part the satisfying amount of torque the engine put out. I was delighted when a 4mm (ish) example was one of Cararama's first releases. I repainted the model to match my long gone motor; I believe that the colour was called sandglow, though I reckon it was closer to baby poo in tone. The wheels were a bit of a disapointment being printed wire spokes, not at all convincing. I attempted to represent the Rostyle wheels my car had by over painting the printing. Last week I noticed that the Cararama Capri had Rostyle wheels, though painted silver. Last night I prised the Capri's wheels free, repainted them and bunged them in the MGB. Result, it now looks like it should have done. The photo shows the model on its new rims with a set of my original attempts behind.

Wednesday 10 June 2009

Wagon Train

You might have noticed the wagons lurking on the high level line to the tip in the post below. I was rather pleased that after a week of fruitless on and off searching they turned up quite unexpectedly when I'd turned my attentions elsewhere. All three are Parkside kits and were built at the same time I started putting more effort into my EM gauge stock. I wanted to see if it were possible to get away from the chocolate box image that 009 had at the time and portray the sort of decrepitude I remember from poking about the quarries at Blaenau Ffestiniog and Penmaenmawr in the seventies. The wagons are a visual sucess but their extreme light weight means they are very sensitive to track imperfections, but this won't be a problem in their role of decorating the line to the tip.

A bit of background.

I felt a bit arty yesterday morning so decided that it was time to get the paint out and start sloshing it about on the backscene. I find that I have to be in the right mood for model making or it all goes horribly wrong. The right mood for soldering is not the same as the right mood for painting. In my earlier years I never stopped to differentiate; maybe it wasn't so important then, maybe I'm fussier about the results now or perhaps my younger model making was universally iffy anyway. Anyway I'm rather pleased with the results with the sky and outline of distant hills increasing the depth of scene. I prefer hand painted backscenes over the current vogue for photo composites as carrying the same level of craftsmanship and artistic sensibility over from 3D to 2D and using similar materials somehow unifies the whole.

Wednesday 3 June 2009

Preview ....

Persuasive fellows these men of the cloth; I've been talked into both contributing a short piece on Shell Island towards a book and taking it to the Tywyn model railway show this year. Mind you given that to all intents and purposes they are professional speakers then shouldn't be too surprised. The Tywyn show is on the 25th of July this year; I'll post further details nearer the time. I believe that the book will be out later than this, certainly my copy won't be delivered until about the same time. By way of a preview for both here are a couple of shots of the layout.

Tuesday 2 June 2009

High on a hill side.

The last pieces of landmass went down at the weekend. A further line was laid on the shelf above the tunnel heading from the quarries off scene at the left to the tips at the right, behind this a continuation of the hillside was formed again from corrugated card covered with the plaster, sawdust and glue mix. I now plan to work from the stream upwards applying all sorts of stuff to try and transform what looks like desert into the lush greenery of Wales.