Wednesday, 28 March 2012


The garden railway faces many dangers, not the least of which is Mac the Cat.

What's that little green animal that keeps popping in and out of the catacomb?
I suppose I'd better do my feline duty and try to catch it.

I'd categorise that as an "animal, small, good for a game, possibly edible".

Oops. I think  I overdid that. It's dead. What a catastrophe - no fun at all!

This could be a catalyst of trouble.
Still, while I'm, here, I'll see if there's another one in the hole.

This hole doesn't cater for animals of my size.

You might think I'm too big, but I'm Mac so I categorically refuse to give up.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Movie Day in the Garden

My recent attempt at filming the garden railway was some way short of successful, so today I had another try, with a little more success. While I had a freight train made up for filming, I staged a few cameos for the still camera.

A Great Eastern Railway J70 tram engine, which has somehow found its way
onto our garden railway. They were specially built for unfenced roadside and
dockside tramways, where cowcatchers, sideplates and a bell were required.

A Somerset & Dorset 7F 2-8-0 crawls up the 1 in 50 bank towards the viaduct
with a heavy mixed train of 26 wagons, assisted by a banking engine pushing
at the rear.

A Somerset & Dorset 7F 2-8-0 crawls up the 1 in 50 bank towards the viaduct
with a heavy mixed train of 26 wagons, assisted by a banking engine pushing
at the rear.

A Midland 3F 0-6-0 "Jinty" assists a heavy mixed train of 26 wagons up the
1 in 50 bank towards the viaduct.

A Somerset & Dorset 7F 2-8-0 crawls up the 1 in 50 bank towards the tunnel
 with a heavy mixed train of 26 wagons, assisted by a banking engine pushing
 at the rear.

And finally, the video is at

Following complaints that the video included no passenger trains, an addendum was prepared the next day, and is at

... and here are a couple of pictures.

Work-worn 9F 92203 assists 34067 "Tangmere" up the 1 in 50 with 12 coaches.

... and when I've had enough of the models, this is what's on the other side of the fence!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Garden Shed?

Is it a mobile garden shed? No, it's a shunting engine which the quarry company has borrowed while their own engine is under repair. It came from a railway part of which runs unfenced along a public road, hence the sideplates, cowcatchers and bell.

The tram engine, awaiting identity and further detail and weathering.

I'll now switch my narrative from Model Land to the Real World.

The tram engine was built from a Nu-cast kit that has been waiting in the cupboard for some time. It sits on a Tenshodo motor bogie, which despite providing a ridiculously high speed at full voltage (especially as the prototype was governed to a maximum of 9 mph), also provides acceptable low-speed control and a prodigious hauling power equivalent to 9 typical RTR coaches up a 1 in 50 gradient.

This leaves four loco kits still in the cupboard in varying states of early assembly. They can expect some attention in the coming months, when the surgeon has had his way with me and I am restricted to light desk duties for a while. I'm minded to start with the Fowler dock tank, a useful litte engine once seen in the streets of Greenock between Princes Pier and the many other docks and harbours in that part of town.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Steam in the Garden

A couple of weeks ago, Penny spotted an advertisment in the local paper for a steam-hauled excursion to Bristol via the main line from Waterloo. That meant it would be passing the end of our garden, so after confirming details and times, we invited a few interested neighbours round for tea, cake, and viewing of the train! Bang on time it thundered past, leaving behind a heavy pall of smoke.

"Black 5" no. 44932 thunders under Haynes Bridge ...

... under the signal gantry ...

... and past our garden on its way to Bristol.
I note that the two lamps on the front of the engine are positioned for a passenger train on the much loved and long lamented Somerset and Dorset railway, which once ran from Bournemouth to Bath, Bristol and the North.

With the real train gone, we got down to the serious business of testing the garden railway, on which I had spent a few hours yesterday reversing some of the ravages of winter.

Lucy watches as a train runs over the length of track she has just cleaned.

Never one to miss an opportunity, I dug out a Black 5 similar to the real one that had passed by earlier.
"Black 5" no. 44762 bursts out of the garden tunnel.

"Black 5" no. 44762 rattles across the garden viaduct.

And finally, the new quarry shunter, an Andrew Barclay 14" 0-4-0ST built from a kit of parts, was given a thorough test run - and passed with flying colours!

No. 1 simmers at the bottom of the quarry.

No. 1 thunders up the short, steep (1 in 14) incline out of the quarry with a single wagon.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Andrew Barclay

Although there is lots to do on "Mineries" and the garden railway, I decided last week to spend some time on one of the half-finished projects sitting in the cupboard. So out came the Andrew Barclay 14" 0-4-0ST, which was still a half-assembled body and a pile of bits. A few evenings work and it was running, a few more and it was running better and looking better.

The new Barclay shunter, waiting to be decorated, detailed, aged and manned.

Thursday, 1 March 2012


This week I spent a bit of time catching up on the backlog of locomtive weathering, and trying to bring a bit of organisation into the process. Lined up waiting were 4F 44560, BR 5MT 73001, and 3F 43218.

My previous attempts at loco weathering have involved 5 or 6 blobs of different coloured paints on an old plate, mixed "on the hoof" in different proportions, and dry-brushed on with a stiff brush until I'm happy with it. I had noticed that the basic brew was quite a consistent mixture of just 3 of the colours, with little bits of the others added where required. So to streamline the process, why not clean out an old Humbrol tin, and fill it with some of the basic brew, pre-prepared?

The first engine to try it on was 44560. The first itertion looked ok, except that it was a bit over-glossy.  I had recently finished three if the colours and replaced them with new tins. I have noticed that Humbrol's paint ingredients seem to have changed; it smells different, and separates out more easily. And I have now found that when dry-brushed, it glosses up much more than the old formula.

After several experiments, including adding Carrs weathering powders both in the paint and applied afterwards, I had something worth pausing with, albeit that a second iteration would be needed. The result is seen in the photograph, with 44560 standing beside his stable-mate 44417.  As always, the photograph shows up the shortcomings. The smokebox rust needs toning down, the buffer beam needs tidying up, and 44417, one of my early weathering attempts, needs lots of finishing work.

4Fs 44560 and 44417
The other two engines will have to wait until I'm happy with 44560.

(... several hours later ...)

OK, that's better, but they're not finished yet!

(... two days later ...)

I've now plucked up the courage to have a first pass on 73001 and a second pass on 43218, and here's the result.

The class 5 is still looking a bit patchy, but 43218 is much improved. There's still work to do though. (Note: 73001 is as she was in 1965, with painted-on front number and shed code.)