The Modelling Bureau

I do most of my modelling in the garage, which is kinda cold in the winter. I saw an old writing desk on ebay and I thought it would make a great modelling bench. I brought it for £30. The writing surface / closing top was broken off so I had to repair the wood and replace one of the hinges but this was easy to do. It was a very dark brown colour so my daughter and I sanded it down and gave it a few coats of paint. Here it is. I’m rather pleased with it.

The drawers will be useful to store all the odds and ends that I’ve accumulated.

The front folds down to create a work surface. How many modellers can say they have a leather coated workbench 🙂 Best of all I can close it and the bits and pieces of whatever I’m working on will be hidden from view. My family approve!

I will use the pigeon holes to store things like styrene sheets.

In the middle are some small drawers…

.. which will be ideal for storing essential supplies for long modelling sessions !


Kirklees Light Railway

On a misty day in April I visited the Kirklees Light Railway a 15 inch gauge line in West Yorkshire. It was a quiet, mid week timetable and the rostered loco was ‘Hawk’ a very elegant 0-4-0+0-4-0T Kitson Meyer. The main station is Clayton West and I arrived to find Hawk being turned on the turntable.

The KLR runs on an old standard line, built by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway in 1879 and closed to passengers in 1983. The line was reopened as a 15 inch gauge line in 1991, and grew in stages until it reached its present length in 1997. The driving force behind the creation of this miniature railway was Brian Taylor. He must have been quite a guy. Not only did he get a light railway order and construct the line but he built four steam locomotives that are still used on the KLR. Hawk is one of these locos and was inspired by a 2’5″ gauge Kitson Meyer built by Andrew Barclay Sons for export to Chile.

A nice view of the cab.

A close up of one of the ‘bogies’.

Clayton West is a very well appointed station. Here’s the shed and the turntable.

Sitting patiently in the station was Jay, a 0-4-0 diesel.

The line runs for approximately 3.5 miles to the other terminus at Shelley. It’s a great ride, along the wide ex-standard gauge trackbed, under the original bridges and through the 467 m long Shelley Woodhouse Tunnel. I’m told this is the the longest tunnel on any 15 in gauge line in Britain, and that wouldn’t surprise me!

On arrival at Shelley, Hawk uncoupled from the train and was turned on the turntable.

A nice bit of steam, probably enhanced by the misty day!

Note the buffers on turntable.

I liked the simple, but functional water cranes on the KLR. The rust is crying out to be modelled 🙂

The KLR has some very elegant closed coaches.

There are even cushions – luxury for a 15 inch gauge line.

I like the conversion to a guards van.

..and the guards compartment.

It is often the little things that make a visit to a railway extra special. At the KLR your ticket is valid all day and you can travel as much as you like. I did two round trips, pausing only for an excellent saugage and onion bap in the Buffer Stop Cafe at Clayton West. In the Cafe they were playing a nice mix of Motown music, including the marvellous Tears of a Clown by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.

I would have liked a book on the KLR but, strangely, the shop didn’t have one. Instead I brought a book on the Fairbourne Railway (!).

I had a good day on the Kirklees Light Railway and I’m very tempted to return for their Steam and Diesel Gala in September.


Layout Legs Eleven

My family are away for a few days and I’m using the opportunity to push on with some more woodwork.

I’ve made legs for one of the baseboards. The legs are 44mm x 44 mm timber and the bracing is 43 x 20 mm. They are joined together with 40mm screws.

Next I added some 8mm bolts and wing nuts. (I brought these from Bolt World on ebay. I couldn’t resist a shop with a name like that!)

I added a couple of horizontal pieces of 43 x 20 mm to create a frame.

One of the baseboards can be placed on top.

Yeah, it works!

Now I need to repeat the process for the other baseboard.

Beds and Bucks Narrow Gauge Modellers Open Day 13th May 2018

The Beds and Bucks Narrow Gauge Modellers are holding their annual Open Day on Sunday 13th May at Barton le Clay Village Hall, Hexton Road, Barton Le Clay, Bedfordshire, MK45 4JY.

We have these layouts:

  • Longstone    Gn15  Graham & Caroline Watling
  • Achalraj (Himalayan Mountain) 009 Malcolm Harrison
  • Samsville and Surrey Mines  009  Garry Edwards
  • Farr End   009   Peter Cullen
  • First    009   Stephen Clulow
  • Launceston Steam Railway 009   Richard Holder
  • Lesobeng 009   Paul Spray
  • Coleford 009   John Wilkes
  • Bridges  009   Hugh Milward
  • Rokeby  009   Peter Blay
  • Angst-Lesspork  009  Hugh Norwood
  • St Ozmond’s Bay 1:35 by Chris Krupa

And these Associations and Traders:

  • Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway Society
  • Model Roads and Tramways
  • Narrow Planet
  • 12 volts DC
  • James Corsi
  • A1 Models
  • The 009 Society Sales Stand

There will be refreshments and the Beds and Bucks team to help you throughout the day.

Opening Times: 10.30-16.30. Admission £5.00, accompanied under 16s free.


I hope to see you there…


The Backscene Boards

This blog sounds like it’s about a boy band. Fear not, it isn’t. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been building the boards to form the backscenes for my new layout. They aren’t fancy. The boards are 3.5mm ply, glued and screwed to a soft wood frame.

I gave the layout side of the boards a couple of coats of white undercoat. I may paint them a light sky blue or I may glue a backscene paper to them. I haven’t decided. Either way the undercoat will stop the brown of the ply showing through. The lower part of the backscenes will be masked by the edge of the baseboards so there’s no need to paint them completely.

I screwed them to the baseboards. No glue this time. I may want to remove them in the future.

Here’s the ‘scenic’ section of the layout.

This is the ‘station’ section. I realise most people make the backboards before they lay track and add point motors. I laid the track first because I was keen to see if I could get DCC working. I had to handle this baseboard more carefully when I was fixing the back board.

Now, look at this. The two boards joined together!

When I finish a job I always stand back and look at what I’ve done. It’s the best bit!

It’s been quite a lot of work to make them (thinking how to do it, buying the wood, cutting it to size, constructing the boards, painting them and attaching them to the baseboards), but it’s very satisfying to see them in place 🙂

It’s A Cover Up

Recently, someone asked “Why does your controller have a cover over one of the buttons?”. Well, there’s a story behind that.

I want my locos to run on DCC and DC layouts and I fitted them with DCC chips that will work with both (Digitrax DZ126 for those who are interested). But I didn’t have a controller. I wanted something simple and I didn’t want to spend a fortune, so I opted for a Bachmann EZ Command  controller which was £58 from Hattons. Perfect.

Being new to DCC, when the controller arrived I actually read the instructions. Twice. They are very clear and easy to understand. Press a button from 1 to 9 to address a loco, select forward or reverse and turn the dial. Simple.

If you want to run DC you can use button 10. This sends DC to the track. The instructions clearly state you should not use this with N gauge locos as the current will burn out the motors.

I connected the controller to my oval test track and gave it a go. Did the loco run using the default DCC address for loco chips, number 3? Yes, it did. It worked first go. Could I change the loco chip to another address, say number 1? I tried. Did the loco run with number 3, no. Did it work with number 1, yes. Success! Could I reprogram the locos direction (forward / reverse)? Yes.

With everything working well I was becoming quite excited, rather like a kid in a toy shop.

I kept playing. What happens if I try running the loco on DC? I pressed button 10 and turned the dial… there was a ‘Pfutt’ sound… the smell of smoke filled the air… and the loco didn’t move anymore. Ah!

Now, I knew that would happen. I’d read the instructions (twice), but I did it anyway.

Luckily the chassis was a Kato 103 and it was not too expensive to replace.

To avoid the risk of burning out more motors I’ve covered button 10 with a homemade cover made from plasticard and I’ve araldited it in place.

Rather elegant, don’t you think? No. Well, at least I can’t burn out any more motors.