Sunday, 21 December 2014

End of year report 2014

I recently received a gentle(!) nudge on the progress with Tredethy Wharf... so thought I'd create an end of year post as a round up of what little I've achieved this year.

To say the least it's been a dismal year for modelling and I'm starting to wonder how the guys who produce quality layouts in quick succession do it. With all that my wife and I have had around our necks this year; work, renovating the cottage next door, fostering, attempting to downsize (as we've decided to stay put and not move into a larger house) by clearing space in house and Man Cave, plus the normal life stuff, I've been seriously thinking of scrapping the whole project and waiting for retirement to make a fresh start. Many nights on the way home from work I've thought "Yep nothing much to do tonight so I'll crack on with a bit of modelling for once" only to get home and something gets in the way. All very frustrating.

What's not helped recently is my wife having fractured her knee cap and damaged cartilage after a fall. This has added another job to my list, that is me being her "man slave" as she's been on crutches for the last couple of months. Thankfully she's on the mend, down to one crutch and starting to weight bear. She's going to be off work until mid January but hopefully I'll get some free time for modelling soon... Well, we've heard that one before but I can but hope...

I've felt what little I have achieved this year has not been worth mentioning in individual postings on this blog. There have been a few little projects started but non completed and little progress on Tredethy Wharf, however, as an end of year round up here goes...
  • Converted a few Bachmann wagons to P4 (a very easy task), still need to weather and renumber some of them and/or add detail to them.
  • Laid down a few more lengths of Cornish Hedge on Tredethy Wharf but not applied any paint or foliage.
  • Tested a couple of methods for the hard standing area around Tredethy Wharf sidings, but not decided on the best method or the paint/texture finish.
  • Applied transfers to the first eight clay wagons and tentatively used an airbrush for the first time (with a spray can as propellant) dusting them with a thin coating of white acrylic to represent clay deposits/dust.
  • Started cutting out the sides for the Farm Cottage that is required for a scenic break at one end of Tredethy Wharf.
  • After the purchase of a lathe at Scalefour North... (a bit of an impulse buy to say the least)... In the last couple of months I've managed to receive one tutorial off a local S4 member but still trying to find time to do the 'set' exercise of turning a few washers.
  • One of the S4 guys has kindly lent me a spare compressor for use with my old airbrush. Though all connections fit and it's ready to use I've not, as yet, found time to fully get to grips with it. 
Apart from the above it's been a very lean year for my hobbies, especially as on the wargaming front I've only had a couple of games. Oh... I've managad to paint one battalion of a German WWII Luftwaffe Field Division but still need to finish off the bases on those...

Headmaster's Report
Ian must try harder in 2015 and stop coming up with so many lame excuses.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Scaleforum 2014

Better late than never...

Scaleforum was an excellent show, with a superb spread of P4 layouts from the very small (Manston Brewery Ltd and Llanastr) to small (Wheal Elizabeth) to the very large (Epsom & Epsom Town and Calcutta Sidings) with a good spread in the middle (Knutsford East Junction, Lowburn Park, Midland Sidings, Sandford & Banwell) not forgetting the unusual (Axalp in P87 scale). Trade support was, as usual, excellent. Unfortunately I was not of a mind to splash out on many purchases as I've plenty to be getting on with, but I did fill my pockets with a few items, oh.. and a couple of books or three... don't tell the misses Pike...

A few of my snapshots of the layouts below;

Knutsford East Junction
Knutsford East Junction

I believe this was Knutsford East last show. I'd seen it a few times at previous shows but at this show I took time to appreciate it more. Taking in the train movements quality of track and stock along with the smaller details of the layout.

My first sight of this iconic layout. A small piece of P4 history.

Lowburn Park
Lowburn Park
I found Lowburn Park an interesting layout set in the Newcastle area in the period 1905-1910 with the unique electric locos of the NER. A nice mix of shunting wagons in the exchange sidings along with through passenger and goods workings complemented by buildings and scenery that seems to capture the area and period well.

Manston Brewery Ltd
Manston Brewery Ltd
I have one word for Manston Brewery Ltd.. Exquisite..

Midland Sidings
Midland Sidings
Midland Sidings
Midland Sidings was one layout I kept gravitating to regularly over the weekend. I think with this layout, it was the operation of the exchange sidings and impressive backdrop of buildings that captivated me. It was also one of two layouts that used Dingham couplings. The debate is still out as to which autocouplings I should use. Seeing them at Scalforum has given me thoughts about trialling them on a few wagons for my Tredethy Wharf layout.

Sandford and Banwell
Sandford and Banwell
Sandford and Banwell
Over the course of the weekend I kept regularly going back to Sandford and Branwell. This was to admire the quality of track, buildings, stock and ground cover. I thought all aspects were excellent and to a standard that I hope to achieve. While studying the layout I overheard a few comments from onlookers that it looked too clean. Yes it may look very clean but I didn't have a problem with it. From a personal perspective, if I can create a layout that looks as good as this and with stock that ran as faultlessly as I witnessed I'd be overjoyed.

Wheal Elizabeth
I've always enjoyed seeing Wheal Elizabeth and hope to again, I suppose it's not surprised considering it's a Cornish China Clay Dries. Unfortunately, yet again, I didn't get to see the Beattie Well Tank in operation.. there is always the next time...

The few photos I took of Epsom Town, Calcutta Sidings and Axalp are of very poor so not worth posting. That said Espom and Calcutta layouts were impresive due to their size - both over 50 feet long. Axalp was a mind blowing layout, with its mixture of track gauges within the same length of track, some triple gauge, it must be a nightmare to operate. It takes track building to a different level... awesome!

In the demonstration area I was able to sit down in front of Ray Hodson while he was showing techniques and equipment required for resistance soldering. I found it very informative and he was able to reduce my apprehension about this method. Hope to give this a go on some brass etches in the next couple of months. I probably didn't spend enough time in the demonstration area taking in all the advice that was on hand. Must make better use of this facility next year.

Overall I'm in awe of the skill, dedication and effort put in by everyone involved in building all the layouts that were on show at Scaleforum. All very inspiring, and I'm already looking forward to Scaleforum 2015.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Calmer times ahead

Well it's been a while...but hopefully over the coming months I'll be able to get back to working on Tredethy Wharf and finishing the first batch of clay wagons.

We both had no idea how much time turning next door into a holiday cottage would take up. But, at last, Spireview Cottage is finished and we have had resaonable success over the last couple of months with lettings. It's been a surprise how many enquires we have had considering, at the moment, we're only on one web site. Being new to this holiday letting malarky we weve been caught out with the amount of time involved in taking bookings also cleaning the cottage after guests have departed. As the weeks have passed we're gradually becoming more organised. There are still tasks to start and/or complete with marketing but we are both starting to allow ourselves some hobby time. Yipeee...

If anyone is curious about the cottage, more information can be found on the Owners Direct website. We have also created a Facebook page. If anyone would be willing to spread the word via likes and/or shares... we would be very grateful.

Monday, 30 June 2014

More excuses for lack of progress with Tredethy Wharf

Well... I must continue to apologise for the lack of posts during the first half of 2014. As an explanation all I can offer is you read my wife's blog.

The above link should show you postings relating to the work we're doing on the holiday cottage next door. They don't show all the work that's been taking place just an overview. We've started using tradesmen where we can for a few reasons, the first is because it is taking us too long to do all the work ourselves, (I've only been able to apply myself to short stints during weekday evenings with a few more hours at weekends but with delays due to unforeseen problems as well as weekend Fostering placements we were getting way behind schedule); the second is that the tradesmen will do a better job; and thirdly there are some jobs I'm not up to doing.

The current arrangement with a decorator is a bit on the loose side, when he is available he is working along side us. We hold a quick site meeting in the mornings (before I leave for the paid job) during which we catch up on the state of play and plan what each of us can do next. I'm currently concentrating on the utility room as well as doing a lot of the very basic prep work in each room, leaving the final touches to the professional.

We can't believe all the work that has been involved to get this cottage back up to an acceptable spec. It was certainly not a wreck when we started but it was in serious need of some TLC and tidying up but we're very pleased with the way the new kitchen is starting to look.

Bespoke kitchen with oak worktops and renovated table and chairs
Fridge/freezer and Larder unit with microwave inside
Spiral Staircase
There is still plenty to do in the rest of the house but it's starting to come together. We think there are only about two weeks of work left before the woman's touches can be applied to make it presentable.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

How about Grogley Junction as a roundy roundy??

A question has been asked recently as to how I'm getting on with finalising the track plan for the Grogley Junction project. This was during a conversation in which I received an offer of help to build the track... Now I do like building track but due to the complexity and the time it would take me to build this proposed layout I'm of a mind to accept some help. So state of play with the track plan is as shown below:

After having a few discussions during Area Group meetings along with witnessing large tender engines negotiate 3 foot curves on a P4 layout, the track plan has been developed into a roundy roundy. I do like the idea of having the ability to run trains continuous for running in purposes and for occasionally sitting back to watch them go by. This is only if the layout will still give me the option to run sequences that have a purpose and marshalling goods trains will continue to be my main focus of interest.

The addition of the fiddle yard in front of the window does mean it is taking up more space in the 'Cave'. With the layout bowing out into the room this is an area that needs some further thought. There's not much space in front of the window for a multi road yard so cassettes will probably be the order of the day. Beneath the track plan I've pencilled in some possible train movements as a rough guide to requirements for the fiddle yard.

It might be time to start drawing this track plan in Templot...

Monday, 21 April 2014

"Better late than never" - Scalefour North 2014

Where has the year gone? It only seems a short while since the last Scalefour North. A new venue which was easy to find with good parking. It has lost the cosy feeling of the previous venue but with all traders and exhibits in one room, wide aisles made it easier to navigate than the previous venue which gave it the feeling that it has 'come of age'. There is now certainly more room for one or two large layouts to be on show in future years.

I spent an enjoyable day and a half at the show. Most of Saturday in the company of a good fiend who I'd not seen for a while. He was, 20 years ago, a member of the Society and his first reaction from a very quick initial tour of the floor was "not much has changed in the last 20 years". At the end of Saturday I hope he came away with a different opinion.

It was disappointing that a few of the layouts were having running problems on Saturday. This is no doubt an inherent problem when moving layouts to an exhibition and operators that may be unfamiliar with the layout learning movement sequences. Though I was a little more forgiving than my friend due some problems I'm experiencing in building Tredethy Wharf, he was disappointed. He pointed out that, though scenery and the stock on the layouts were very good, the constant running problems let them down. A comment was made that they where not a good advert for a modeller to convert from either EM or OO to P4. I'll have to take that comment on-board if I am to exhibit Tredethy Wharf again and attempt to have rolling stock that performs well.

However, there were three layouts that during the two days performed perfectly each time I stood to admire them: Croft Bank, Alt-Y-Graban Road and Flintflield. Flintfield was voted best at show and in my opinion truly deserved, a well presented layout, beautifully modelled, with stock that performed faultlessly and friendly operators that shared their experience and techniques in building the layout…



There were some excellent demonstrations especially Tim Shackleton's 'Hands on Weathering' and 'Modelling with Machine Tools'. I managed to get a good half hour with the Machine Tools demo. Unfortunately I was not able to take advantage of the 'hands on' bit with the weathering demo but did learn some useful techniques during an open discussion.

My purchases were kept to a minimum during the two days due to my inactivity in the 'Man Cave'. A nice looking BR 8 shoe Clasp Brake Chassis kit from Rumney Models, a BR Brake Van Underframe kit from Dave Bradwell along with a few Hollar Models transfers from Parkside Dundas where my only acquisitions. That was until Sunday lunchtime when I fell very lucky on an item on the bring and buy. More of this in a later posting...

Overall a very enjoyable day and a half, a friendly show with excellent trade support for all 4mm modellers. You don't need to be a P4 modeller to enjoy Scalefour North.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

April 14 - Scalefour group meeeting

Last Thursday saw my wife and I hosting the monthly Scalefour Area Group meeting. We had six members in attendance. Gordon brought his latest interesting project along. He is investigating how to convert a Hornby Class 08 to P4 by building a continuous springy beam compensated chassis. Graeme brought along his latest casting project, a Gresley V2 body which is a big improvement on the Bachmann model.

I'm thinking, only thinking mind, of building a chassis for a Beattie Well Tank. Clive brought along an outside cylinder 0-4-0T loco to demonstrate how the cylinders could be tackled and point out some pit falls. Since the meeting I've had it confirmed  that Beattie Well Tank 30585 will be performing at Lincolnshire Wolds Railway over Easter... a photo opportunity that I cannot miss.

Finally all were introduced to the 'Man Cave'

Clive test ran the 0-4-0T on Tredethy Wharf which again proved to be a smooth running loco.

Overall an informative meeting hopefully enjoyed by all.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Painting, painting, painting and a website

I apologise for yet another non model related blog but after finishing the 'Man Cave' and moving all my paraphernalia into it, I've been decorating the vacated modelling room as a bedroom for a foster child and I'm now starting work on next door...

A few months ago we purchased the property next door. This was instead of having to go though the hassle of selling our current property and moving into a larger house. The idea is to rent next door as a holiday cottage but retain some use of it as accommodation for friends and family. It needs some TLC and as always when starting a little house restoration project, issues start to come out of the woodwork. Along with general tidying up with a paint brush problems have been discovered with the electrics, central heating and a damp floor to name a few. It now seems like our initial intention to have the property, which we have named Spireview Cottage,  ready for letting by Easter is looking doubtful.

View from cottage

I'm also intending to build a website for Spireview Cottage, and with this end in mind I've been refreshing the little HTML skills I have by brushing up on HTML5 and CSS. As a way to help the learning process and get a little practice before embarking on the cottage website I've had a play around with a template to build a basic site for Tredethy Wharf. I'm reasonably happy with the site layout and design, more info will be added as and when but for the moment it has served its purpose. The site has been tested using Firefox, Safari, Chrome and IE on PC, Mac, Android and iPad platforms and it seems to work OK though any comments, ideas or issues people find will will be gratefully received. Spireview Cottage website will be more challenging…

With all that I have taken on recently it is slightly frustrating that I'm not finding the time to enjoy the 'Man Cave' with space for Tredethy Wharf and modelling, nor will I be able to for a few months. That said, I have a little operation coming up that will put me out of action for a couple of weeks. I hope that during the convalescence period I'll be able to squeeze in a little light modelling, a few wagons built/weathered would be good progress. I think any serious work on Tredethy Wharf will have to wait until some time after May…