My Models for The N Gauge Society

18 September 2017

It’s been quite a while since my last post on this blog, mainly because I’ve been so busy.  Since becoming Chairman of the Miniature AFV Association (MAFVA) there has been a steady stream of things to do.  One big thing has been the development of a new MAFVA website by John Paulding where I have been helping out by adding reviews and posts.  Meanwhile, in South Wales MAFVA my friend Paul Hennessy has taken over the role of branch publicity officer.  Within days of starting this, Paul has set up a Facebook page for our club.  Again, having the thing set up, it is important to keep adding new posts to it as otherwise there is the risk of it becoming stale.  We’ve now got 67 members on this Facebook page, which is going well.  Incidentally, South Wales MAFVA are having our Annual Model Show on Sunday 1st October from 2.30 to 5 pm at St. John’s Church Hall, Rachel Close, Danescourt, Cardiff, CF5 2SH.  You are most welcome to come along and see what we make.

In a previous post I mentioned that I was working on making some resin models for The N Gauge Society (NGS), with the idea being that resin is a lot lighter than the pewter that I usually use, and so they will be more suitable as loads for the NGS kits of the Warflat and Warwell wagons, and for the post 1975  version of the Warflat that is currently being built.

Master pattern of the Saxon

Master pattern of the Saxon

Here’s the master pattern of the Saxon, and below is the master pattern of the Scimitar.

Master pattern of the Scimitar

Master pattern of the Scimitar

I did not want to be dong the same things in resin as I was already doing in pewter, so the Scimitar is one from the Life Extension Programme where they had deisel engines fitted with new grilles and air intake duct, plus new side bins to the front and raised headlights.  I did not want to do any casting in resin myself as I did not have the equipment to de-gas the resin to remove the air bubbles, and did not want any problems wit the fumes from the resin.  I ended up using the same resin casters as The N Gauge Society use for their own range of railway wagon kits.

The kits packed up ready for sale

The kits packed up ready for sale

What is surprising is the amount of time and effort that is required in order to put a kit into production.  There’s a lot more to it than just making a master pattern and casting from it.  First off, I needed to chose some suitable blister packs that would look suitably different from my usual P G Models ones.  That done, there was then a need for the artwork for the insert card to go into the pack.  This was kindly done for me by Ben Ando, and I then arranged to send off the artwork to the printers who printed them out and cut them to shape to fit into the blister packs.  Next thing was to sort out the instructions to go inside the pack.  Again, I wanted them to look different from my usual instructions and so had a “half-way-house” going a bit nearer the very detailed instructions that the NGS put in with their kits.  Unlike the other models in my range, these ones also have a colour photo of the vehicle to act as a reference.  And of course, I still needed a silicon rubber mould for the gun barrel and track units for the Scimitar.  I’ve got there eventually, but it has all taken time.

I cleaned up and packed the first batch of castings that I had and sent them off to The N gauge Society shop.  Within weeks of them going on sale, most of the first batch have already been sold.  As a result, I have now sent the master patterns back to the casters for a second batch to be produced.

The two models in black & green

The two models in black & green

Another view of them

Another view of them

I initially made up one of each model as you can see here, with photos of them used by the NGS for publicity, and I took them with me to a number of shows.  However somehow I’ve either lost them or put them somewhere so incredibly safe that I can no longer find them!  As a result, I made up another one of each and left them in their bare resin/pewter to show to people on my P G Models stand at The International N Gauge Show the weekend before last.

The assembled resin models

The assembled resin models

Here are the assembled models left in bare resin and pewter that I had on display at The International N Gauge Show.  They seemed to generate a huge amount of interest, with double the level of sales on the Saturday from what I did last year.  I also put the N Gauge Society journal next to the models as I was particularly pleased with what they had to say about my models.  If you’d like to read it, you can see it on the N Gauge Society website, which has also recently been revised and updated, and looks very good.

Some new ones

Some new ones

I’ve now made up two new models of each, as you can see in this photo.  One of each will go off to the NGS for display in their mobile shop display that goes around the model railway shows, and I’ve got one of each for myself.  These models are being sold only by the N Gauge Society, so if you want any of them you’ll have to get them either from the NGS shop by mail order, or from their display at any of the shows that they attend.

 

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Revised Website and Bristol Show

18 May 2017

If you have been trying to look at my website over the last few months you will have noticed that there have been numerous problems.  It started with anyone doing a search for P G Models using Google.  If you searched there you would have the link to the P G Models site, together with the warning “This site may be hacked.”  This did not come up on other search engines such as Yahoo, which just showed the site as normal, but it was off-putting to say the least to anyone doing a Google search.

I was in contact with the company who administer my website for me and I was told that the version of the software that was used on my site was now out of date and needed to be upgraded.  What started as just an upgrade ended up as a complete re-build of the site with the new software.  Whilst this was being done, I then found that if you clicked on P G Models, you were taken to a completely different site, so everyone was re-directed by some dear little hacker with nothing better to do whilst sitting at his laptop in his bedroom.  I am grateful to my website administrators who closed down the site completely as soon as I told them, and to Martin for telling me about this in the first place.  Luckily the new site was nearly completed, which I finished off by re-entering all of the pictures of my models.  550 pictures downloaded in a day!

When you now click on the site you get

New Header

New Header

Which is largely similar to the old site, but now with most of the pictures a bit larger.  This is particularly noticeable if you look in the Categories

The new Armour page

The new Armour page

Where the images are now a lot bigger and clearer. although they are still the same photos that I took many years ago.  If you hover your mouse over the image you will get “QUICK LINK” pop up, which if you click on it take you to brief details of the model, or of you click on the name of the model it takes you to the full-page as before with all of the details about the model.  I have cut back a bit on the pictures.  As you can see above, I’ve tried to get a good three-quarter front view for the main photo for each model, to be consistent.  I have now just one photo for most models showing them in bare pewter as I think it is made quite clear in the text for each model that they come as bare metal unassembled kits.

This process will have cost quite a bit, but it’s one of those things where I had little alternative but to do it.  Luckily the end result is a better site than it used to be, and if you do a Google search you now longer get told that the site may be hacked, because it is NOT hacked any longer!

 

Bristol Model Railway Exhibition

Bristol Model Railway Exhibition

On to some pleasanter things.  Nearly three weeks ago I went along to the Bristol Model Railway Exhibition which was a three day show in the last weekend of April.  For about two months before the show I worked solidly casting and cleaning models to build up my stock.  This year, for the first time, I had both my P G Models stand and I was also exhibiting my Haverfordwest layout and so the week before the show I went over all of the track and dusted down all of the buildings, trackside and trees .  Whilst getting ready for the show, I cleaned all of the locos and gave them a light oiling.  Much to my horror, I dropped my CJM Class 66 loco.  Sod’s Law at work, this of course was/is by far the most expensive model on my layout.  I managed to pick up the bits that had broken off, then removed the body shell from the chassis, re-located the broken off bits, and put it back together.  I don’t know what I did to the loco, but it, and all of the others ran better at this show that they ever had.  In the photo above you can just about see the blur of the CJM Class 66 hauling 18 wagons (which is about twice as long as I used to be able to do), consisting of 10 Warwells with Warriors, and 8 Warwells with my Armoured Ambulance train.  I put a lot of this down to the help I had from Neal Mansell who helped me out at the Didcot Model Railway Exhibition last October where Neal helped de-bug a number of things that weren’t quite right about the layout.  His expert eye to find them, and undoubted experience at curing them has made the layout run better than ever before.  And I admit that this idea of running all of the Warwells together was my friend Mike Gill’s idea rather than mine, but it worked!

Another photo from the Bristol show

Another photo from the Bristol show

My thanks must go to Mike Gill (who looks as though he is about to be decapitated by the banner in the photo above) who helped me set up the P G Models stand on the Thursday night, and then helped me load up the layout in a hire van on the Friday morning, then set it up, run it for three days, and help me take it apart again and unload back home on the Sunday evening.  Quite a marathon.  Thanks too to Dave Burton who helped man the P G Models stand on the Friday and Sunday, and to Mike Johns and his grandson who helped on the Saturday.   Sales were non-existent for most of the Friday and Saturday, and Mike’s grandson was eager to make a sale.  Another case of Sod’s Law,  I covered the stand whilst they went for a wander around the show, and whilst they were away, I made the one sale of the day!  I’m pleased to say that things were completely different on the Sunday, and I ended up covering all of my costs for the show.

Whilst at the show I took some video of the layout that my friend John Paulding has cleaned up and removed the worst of my shaking.  He has now posted it on You Tube as a MAFVAmovie.

Looking at the Goods Yard

Looking at the Goods Yard

One thing that really pleased me at the show was that I was finally able to show my layout to my friend Ron Weatherall, who is the person who gave me the idea in the first place.  These days, many people regard my Haverfordwest layout as simply a show place for my range of P G Models, but that was not why I made it.  I made the models because no one else made what I wanted, so I made them myself for the layout, and then after making them decided to see if anyone else would be interested in buying them. So P G Models started after I had begun work on the Haverfordwest layout.

I met Ron, who is a superb 1/76th scale civilian truck modeller many years ago (sometime around the year 2000) at  the British Model Soldier Society (BMSS) Bristol show that was held in Bath (now in Nailsea).  At the show I was exhibiting some of my small 1/76th scale dioramas of a tank transporter with tank and a support vehicle.  Ron told me that he had photographed armoured vehicles being loaded and off-loaded from railway wagons at Haverfordwest Goods Yard, behind the station.  Would I be interested in seeing his photos?  Does a fish swim!!!

I saw Ron again a few months later at a South Wales Model Show in Rhondda Fach Leisure Centre where he showed me his album of photos and he very kindly let me borrow it.  My first idea was for a small static layout in 1/76th scale using Genesis Kits white metal kits of Warwell and Warflat wagons, using armoured vehicle kits that I had from Cromwell Models.  This developed into a larger static layout and then I had the idea that if I went down in scale to ‘N’ gauge, I could probably be able to model all of the Goods Yard.  I chatted about this to my friends at our Miniature AFV Association (MAFVA) South Wales branch meeting where the others suggested that if I was going that far with a static layout, why not go a step further and make it into a working model railway layout.  And so the idea started.

I am really pleased that Ron has finally had a chance to see what has been very much the fruit of his idea.  I am very grateful for his much appreciated help and suggestions.  Thanks again Ron.

Barry Island Model Show

25 April 2017
Barry Island Railway Station

Barry Island Railway Station

Last Sunday 23rd April I went with my model club, South Wales MAFVA to a model show inside Barry Island Railway Station.  The station is still very much in use, but the trains now use the platform with an exit just off the picture above to the left, with all of these station buildings now used as a military museum where they have regular weekends with preserved steam and diesel trains running, and several different model shows, to help publicise their efforts.

The former Waiting Room

The former Waiting Room

This is the former Waiting Room, with our displays around all four walls, and in the centre of the room.  The open doorway to the right of our club banner is the way through to the station platform.  The day started off decidedly grey and overcast, typical weather for a South Wales seaside resort.  This particular location has gained fame, or should that be infamy as the set for the “Gavin & Stacey” BBC comedy series.  When I lived in Cardiff in my early teens I used to travel to Barry Island by (steam) train with my brother for a day on the beach, and must have walked through this station countless times.

Peter Denyer with his huge rail gun

Peter Denyer with his huge rail gun

Quite appropriately for this location, Peter Denyer brought along his Dora WWII German rail gun.  Even in 1/76th scale this is still huge, and nicely done by Peter who is on the left here talking to one of our visitors.

Mike Gill's Longmoor dioram

Mike Gill’s Longmoor diorama

Another club member with a railway related theme was Mike Gill with a diorama/working layout of part of the Longmoor Military Railway set in the period of WWII.  The locos are from various model railway manufacturers, with buildings from Skytrex, but most of the vehicles have been heavily converted by Mike from various sources.

Sean Hooper's models

Sean Hooper’s models

New club member Sean Hooper brought along an interesting selection of his models.  He is working on a large collection of Bedford QL variants where he is converting basic kits with new bodies.  Sean has painted these using dark toning and then with water colours.  We hope to have an article about his painting techniques in our South Wales MAFVA newsletter/magazine, The Dragon.

Some of my models

Some of my models

I brought along a selection of my models, and included some 1/76th scale ones that are quite a few years old.  The Leyland DAF DROPS truck and trailer were Continental Model Supply Company models where I converted the flatracks into fuel dispensing tanks, used in Bosnia and Croatia.  I was told that they didn’t comply with UK Road Traffic Construction & Use legislation, and so were only ever used loaded with fuel when abroad.

A beautiful little diorama from Paul Hennessy

A beautiful little diorama from Paul Hennessy

The son of the show organiser wanted to have a competition for the best model on display at the show, and so we all had to pick our favourite one.  This must have been a difficult task for the judges as we have some very varied interests within our club.  The winner was Paul Hennessy for this beautiful little 1/35th scale diorama.  Paul was with me when we attended a previous show at this venue, but that time we were stuck out on the windy, freezing cold platform all day.  Whilst there though, Paul showed me how he builds up layers of transparent washes of paint to weather his vehicles.  This is shown to good effect in this diorama.

The train to Aberdare

The train to Aberdare

Just to prove that this is still a working station, here’s one of a number of regular services bring people down from the South Wales valleys, in this case Aberdare, for a day on the beach and taking them back again.  The show was a lot better this year than when we were there previously, and the day soon went, with a steady flow of people coming to have a look at our display.

By way of a contrast, this coming weekend 28th through to 30th April I am attending the Bristol Model Railway Exhibition in Thornbury Leisure Centre with both my N gauge Haverfordwest layout and also with my P G Models trade stand that will be more or less opposite the layout.  For anyone visiting the show, I will be in Hall 2 which is the bowls court, in the top left hand corner.  I have three friends who will be helping me with both the layout and the trade stand, with me going to wherever the greatest need is. It should be a busy weekend.

 

 

2017 PRICE INCREASE

27 January 2017

So far this year I have been using the metal I’ve had from a delivery towards the end of 2015, and so have continued using the 2016 prices.  I have held back in altering my prices for 2017 until I ordered more metal as I was expecting an increase in price.  I am also aware that transactions in metals are made in US Dollars, and so I also held back until the £ sterling increased slightly in value, however, not enough!

I have today, 27th January phoned my supplier for a price, to find that there’s been a huge increase in the price of the pewter.  I was faced with two alternatives.  Either to not order anymore pewter and close the business, or to pay the higher price, and pass it on to my customers.  I have tried to absorb some of the increase, but as the biggest element of my costs is the price of the metal, I’ve had no alternative but to substantially increase my prices.  The P G Models website has just been amended with these new prices.

A fantastic week

21 December 2016

I’ve just spent the first week of December on one of the best week’s holidays that I’ve ever had, a trip to the USA.  In a previous post I showed pictures from a visit to The Netherlands with friends from Cambridge MAFVA to the museum at Overloon.  Following on from that, I also joined them on a visit to the Scale Model Challenge show in Veldhoven, also in The Netherlands in September.  A few weeks after that show, one of the Cambridge MAFVA members, John Paulding asked me if I would like at accompany him on a visit to the USA where he was attending the Performance Racing Industries Convention at the Indianapolis Convention Centre in Indiana, USA.  This was an opportunity of a lifetime.  It was something that I’ve never ever done, having never travelled any further than Corfu in Greece with my daughters, which was over 20 year ago.  I thought it over for a couple of days and then accepted such a kind offer.

My first view of North America

My first view of North America

We started off with an Air Canada flight from Heathrow to Toronto, and then a smaller plane from Toronto to Cleveland, Ohio.  The photo shows my first view of the North American continent from 37,000 feet flying over a snowy Labrador or Newfoundland.

Inter-State-70

Inter-State-70

For the first couple of days we stayed with Jim Mesko, who is an acknowledged author who has written 45 books on various aspects of the Viet Nam war, and who is a Viet Nam Veteran himself.  Jim then drove us to Indianapolis, via a model shop in Columbus, the state capital of Ohio.  One thing that I found fascinating throughout the whole of my week in the USA is how so many things are similar, but different to the UK.  The photo above shows a truck at a rest area on Inter State 70, on the way from Akron, Ohio to Indianapolis, about a 7 1/2 hour drive.  What is interesting about this photo is that the one truck is carrying two others in a piggy-back style behind it, with the first of the white trucks attached to the fifth wheel coupling of the lead truck, so that the other two can turn around corners.  This would never be allowed in the UK as it would not comply with our Construction and Use Regulations (thinking back to my old days as a Trading Standards Officer)

Jim and John outside the Convention Centre

Jim and John outside the Convention Centre

The photo above shows Jim on the left and John on the right in front of the entrance to the Indianapolis Convention Centre, which is absolutely vast.  It was dry in this photo, but at a bone chilling 20 F (- 6.7 C).  We soon had several snow flurries, but nothing much until the Sunday.  I was expecting the show to be at the Indie 500 race circuit, but the Convention Centre was right in the centre of the city.  We stayed in a motel that was just outside a ring of Inter State routes that surround Indianapolis, which was 16 miles from the centre of the city.

Inside the PRI show

Inside the PRI show

The show was held in two huge halls, all carpeted throughout, with hundreds of exhibitors and what must have been thousands of visitors.  I had my mobile phone with me, and this showed that on the Thursday I walked 7.6 miles just going up and down all of the isles of the show.

In the Lucas Oil Stadium

In the Lucas Oil Stadium

We ended the Thursday with free drinks in the Lucas Oil Stadium that is linked to the Convention Centre.  Dare I say, yet another first for me, to be inside an American Football stadium.  I was told that it has about a 40,000 seat capacity.

Just one of the many cars on display

Just one of the many cars on display

On the Wednesday I spent some time at the show taking photos of just some of the countless cars on display.  The show had everything from fan belts to wheels to milling machines and 3D scanners to drivers clothing and anything else you can think of related to any types of racing car, including  quite a few attractive young ladies helping to sell their company’s products, with almost everyone offering goodies such as stickers and pens or baseball caps and t-shirts.

Mean and ugly

Mean and ugly

For me, the prize for the most brutal car on display must be this one, very cleverly painted to look old and rusty, but quite the opposite.  Just look at the size of the engine and air intakes!  and yes, with massive rear wheels and two parachutes at the back to stop it.

Dayton, Ohio

Dayton, Ohio

On the way back from Indianapolis on the Saturday we called in to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.  The museum is in all four of these huge hangers with everything inside from the first powered flight right up to space travel.

A collection of balistic missiles

A collection of ballistic missiles

If ever the Cold War had turned hot, it would have been these beasts that would have been flying from the USA across to Russia.  It was quite sobering to look at them.  They also had a mock-up of the control room inside a missile silo, with the seats and controls of the two operators far enough away from each other so that no one person could have set off a missile without working with their partner.

The Apolo 15 command module

The Apollo 15 command module

By way of a contrast, here is the actual command module from the Apollo 15 mission to the moon, still heavily tarnished from re-entry to the earth.  Whilst the missiles looked huge, this looked tiny.  It must have been unbelievable cramped for three men to have travelled all the way to the moon and back in something as small as this.  They also had several other capsules on display, with the one-man ones even smaller.  It really makes you appreciate the nerves of steel that these astronauts must have had.

Warthers Museum

Warthers Museum

On the Sunday we visited Warther’s Museum in Dover, Ohio.  I had never heard of this before our visit.  Mr Ernest “Mooney” Warther made a living from making some top quality knives, and also made these wooden models of locomotives.  The one thing that is amazing about these is that all of the parts are press-fitted together, without a single whiff of glue anywhere!  The brown parts are wood, and the white ones are ivory, all hand-carved, including all of the lettering that have pins on them that go into the wood.  What is more, all of the wheels, connecting rods, and pistons worked!  Some incredible model making.

Massilon, Ohio

Massilon, Ohio

There had been some snow in Indianapolis, but there was some more when we got back to Jim’s house, and then even more in Dover and, as you can see in the photo above, in Massilon, Ohio.

Road sign

Road sign

We called into Massilon to visit another model shop, to the left in the photo.  What this also shows is yet another example of things being similar but different.  I have known for years about Americans use of the word “Math” where we in the UK say “Maths,” but here’s another one that I didn’t know about.  In the UK we have “Road Works Ahead” but in the US they are, or rather it is  “Road Work” with no “s.”

We came back on the Monday night/ Tuesday morning, with a combination of cancelled flights and delays.  I left Akron, Ohio at 2pm (7pm UK time), got in to Heathrow about 12 noon, then found our cases were still somewhere on the North American continent, had a four and a bit hour coach journey from Heathrow back to Cardiff where my daughter Rhianwen and her children picked me up and took me back home at 7pm, 24 hours later and feeling both shattered and jet lagged – also a first experience, although less welcome.  Nevertheless, this was truly a week that I shall remember for the rest of my life.

Website updated & news about me

26 November 2016

Just text in this post.  First off, if you’ve looked at my P G Models website recently you will see that I have altered all of the pages for each model.  Every now and again I get people ordering my models, and then realising that they are a smaller scale than they first thought.  I’ve had this several times with both the Scammell Commander and Leyland DAF DROPS models.  One of the problems is that if you do a Google search for say a model of an FV432, it’ll take you straight to the page on my website for the FV432, by-passing the front page where I tell people the scale of my models, and show a model in my hand.  This has now been changed, so for the FV432 you will now see:

 This is an un-assembled 1/152nd scale model kit of an FV432 that measures 35mm long, 19mm wide, and is 14mm high.  It weighs 24g and consists of 5 parts that are made of lead-free pewter alloy.

And the same for most of the models in my range.  You’ll see that it’s:

  • an unassembled kit;
  • that it’s made in 1/152nd scale;
  • what it is;
  • it’s dimensions (to the nearest millimetre);
  • it’s weight (to the nearest 2 grams – useful for railway modellers to see how many they can have in a train that is not too heavy for the loco to haul);
  • how many parts are in it (to give an idea of how complex it is to assemble);
  • and that it’s made of lead-free pewter alloy.

Hopefully that’s covering all angles that I can think of to try to make my models as clearly and as accurately described as I can.

At The International N Gauge Show in Leamington Spa back in September, just two months ago, but it seems a lot longer, I was asked by a few people if I could give an idea of when the vehicles I’ve modelled were or are in service.  This is something that I’ve been asked before, so I’ve gone through my reference books and have now altered all the pages of the website with this information as well.  So, for the FV432 again, you will now read:

 In Service – 1962 (as a Mk.1) then the Mk.2 around mid 1960s and now Mk.3 (upgraded Mk.2s) from the mid 2000s, still in service.

This gets a bit tricky for something that has been in service for such a long time as the FV432.  The actual mark of the vehicle is a Mk.2/2, so that would be more accurately late 1960s through to the mid 2000s, but these dates will give people an idea of when the vehicles were in service.  I have also altered my price lists, so these also now have the dates in service, although a lot more abbreviated than what’s on the website as there’s only a tiny bit of room to include this.

For some of the vehicles such as the RAF ones, I have had to guess on some of the in-service dates.  Whilst I was at the IPMS (International Plastic Modellers Society) Scale Modelworld show in Telford two weeks ago I asked a few of my friends who know a lot more about RAF vehicles than I do if they would check what I’ve written.  I’ll update this information as and when I hear from them.

MAFVA Chairmanship

The other bit of news is about me.  Back in the summer, on Father’s Day in June, I attended the Miniature Armoured Fighting Vehicle Association (MAFVA)’s National Competitions in St. Ives, Cambridgeshire.  This is always my favourite show of the year.  I’ve been a member of the Association since the mid 70s, for over 40 years!  Over those years I have made many friends from up and down the country and a few Worldwide as well.  The MAFVA has always given me much enjoyment and friendship which has seen me through hassles at work, then a broken marriage just as I got promoted, and then even greater hassles, followed by being chucked out through redundancy, and then dealing with cancer and a major operation to get rid of it.  And through all of that I’ve had the one constancy in my life in the form of my hobby, and in particular, the circle of friends in my model making association.  At the MAFVA Nationals I had a number of my friends ask me if I would consider standing for the post of MAFVA Chairman that was due for election at the end of this year, for appointment at our next AGM.  I gave this much thought and came to the conclusion that this would give me the opportunity to give something back to the association that has done so much for me in the past and has given me so many years of enjoyment, and continues to do so.

The latest issue of our MAFVA magazine “Tankette” was published at the start of this month where members were invited to apply for a number of posts in the MAFVA Committee, including the post of Chairman, so I applied for it with a nomination from my friend Des Burgess and seconded by David Payne, who I have both known for over 20 years, nearer 25.  I have now been told that I was the only person to apply for the Chairman’s post, and the current post holder did not re-apply,  so I am now the Chairman Designate (probably not “Elect” as there’s been no election) of the MAFVA, and shall take up the post at our next AGM in March.  This is something that I am very much looking forward to doing.

If I think back 38 years ago to 1978,  I was living in Croydon, my first daughter had just been born and I was a recently qualified Trading Standards Officer, who had been in the MAFVA for just a few years.  If someone had told me that I would eventually become a Chief Trading Standards Officer and later become the Chairman of the MAFVA, I would never have believed them in a million years.  But what is amazing is that both have/ are coming come true!  Quite incredible.

Didcot Model Railway Exhibition

1 November 2016

In having my little P G Models business running side-by-side with my Haverfordwest railway layout, I am finding that a number of people who started as just my customers are now becoming good friends.  One of these is Martin Cussell who is a member of the Abingdon and District Model Railway club.  A few months ago he asked if I would be interested in attending a show that his club were putting on in Didcot, to which I readily agreed that I would.

Looking down at the Goods Yard

Looking down at the Goods Yard

 

Following on from exhibiting my Haverfordwest layout at the Cardiff Model Railway Exhibition two weeks ago, last Saturday I showed it again, at the Didcot Model Railway Exhibition, just south of Abingdon/Oxford.  At the Cardiff show I was particularly pleased to have some much appreciated help from Neal Mansell, who is an extremely experienced N gauge railway modeller.  Neal has bought a considerable number of my models, and saw my Haverfordwest layout at the show in Cardiff for the first time.  After the Cardiff show he  offered to come along to Didcot to give me a hand, to which I readily agreed.

The military train being loaded

The military train being loaded

I got to the venue early in the morning as this was just a one day show, and I needed to make sure that I could set it up quickly enough to de-bug any running problems that I always seem to get at the start of a show.  I am particularly grateful to the help given to me by the show organisers who helped me unload the van that I hired to take the layout to their show.  This was done in a record speed with three of us unloading.  Neal soon joined me and helped me set up the layout in an equally quick time.  Having an experienced railway modeller such as Neal helping me out made a world of a difference.  In a matter of minutes we had trains working on the layout before the show opened at 10 am.  And yes, there were a few issues with wagons uncoupling, but not as many as usual, which was also partially due to exhibiting it just two weeks earlier where we managed to clear up a few long-standing issues that I’ve had with the layout.

Looking down on the Goods Shed

Looking down on the Goods Shed

I was joined at the show by my friend David Payne who is a long-standing member of the Miniature Armoured Fighting Vehicle Association (MAFVA) who I have known for many years, but he’s never seen my Haverfordwest layout before.  David is also an experienced military photographer (in ‘real life’ 1:1 scale) and has had his photos and articles published in a number of magazines.  All of the photos in this blog post are from David who has kindly let me use them here.  Photographing this thing is surprisingly difficult as you are trying to photograph some tiny little models that are on a 12 foot layout, so you need to get as much depth of field as you can.

A train of Warriors passing an Armoured Ambulance train

A train of Warriors passing an Armoured Ambulance train

I found that it is a really huge learning curve to have an experienced railway modeller helping you to operate the layout.  I may have 45 years of experience in making military models, but when it comes to things moving, and having electrical power to make them move, I am a complete and utter novice.  I keep reminding myself that this is my first model railway layout, which I am sure experienced railway modellers can spot a mile away.  Some of the tips and ideas that Neal had during the course of the day were extremely useful.  One simple suggestion was to run both my train of Warriors, and my Armoured Ambulance train at the same time, one clockwise and the other anti-clockwise as you can see here in the photo.  This is something that I’ve never done before, but as Neal said, the layout is a good showcase for my little models, and this way they can be shown to the maximum.

Later on at around lunchtime I was joined by my friend Mike Gill who had also offered to give me a hand with the layout, both during the day and also to load up at the end of the show, and back home to unload the van.  Mike planned to come to the show by train as Cardiff and Didcot are on the same main-line from London to South Wales.  However, at the present they are electrifying the line from Paddington in London through to Cardiff.  Mike managed to get a train from Cardiff through to Swindon, but then had to go on a bus from there to Didcot as the railway line was closed for weekend work on the electrification.  So his trip to join me turned out to be quite a marathon.  His help, especially at the end, was much appreciated.

The two of us behind the layout

The two of us behind the layout

And finally, here’s something you don’t normally see, me in front of the camera lens.  I’m the short fat hairy one!  It’s always hard work lugging this layout to and from shows, especially for one day shows such as this, but every time the layout gets exhibited it always seems to get a large amount of interest in it, which makes it worth the effort.

Thanks again to Martin Cussell for the initial invitation to the show, to Neal Mansell for all of his help, advice and suggestions throughout the day, to Mike Gill to help in operating the layout and the stuff at the end, and thanks too to David Payne for such good quality photos.

My next show will be as a trader with my P G Models stand at the IPMS (International Plastic Modellers Society) Scale Modelworld show at the Telford International Centre on the 12th & 13th November.  I shall be in Hall 2 in a similar spot to last year, but a few stalls further along, in block 2A, stall E6.

 

Revolution Trains TEA Oil Tanker Wagon

20 October 2016
The new wagon straight out of the box

The new wagon straight out of the box

Two weeks ago I had a nice surprise in the post, a parcel with a box of three TEA oil tanker wagons from Revolution Trains.  This is a crowd funding venture from Ben Ando and Mike Hale working with Rapido Trains who are producing a number of out of the ordinary N gauge railway wagons and locos to fill some of the gaps left by the major manufacturers.  This is the first time that I have bought something from a crowd funding source.  It has taken 18 months from placing the order to getting the models, which is a lot longer than buying something on E-Bay, but I’m told that this is a reasonable time for this sort of thing.  The main thing though is that it is a really good way to get something that other manufacturers consider not worth bothering with.

I ordered a pack of three to go on my Haverfordwest layout to add to my Murco train.  Until now the only suitable oil tanker wagons available have been the old Graham Farish ones.  They were slightly re-worked by Bachmann, with lower profile wheel flanges than the old ones from Graham Farish’s Poole factory, but are still basically the same.

The catwalks on the top of the wagon

The catwalks on the top of the wagon

It’s difficult to compare these new wagons with the old ones as it’s like comparing chalk with cheese.  One good example of this is with the catwalks at the top of the wagon.  The Farish ones are just a solid lump with surface detail, which probably was state of the art when they were first produced.  The Revolution ones though are made up from open metal mesh and so mimic the real thing and look immensely better. They also have the fuel discharge pipes that are completely missing from the Farish ones, plus a host of other details below the tank that are non-existent on the Farish ones.

A close-up of one end

A close-up of one end

The ladders at one end are nicely done.  There seems to be a good compromise between having scale thicknesses, and making them sturdy enough to be handled without the risk of falling apart.  The wagons also seem to have a complete set of markings on them.  I am a military modeller rather than a railway one, so I can’t comment on how accurate the markings are, but comparing them with the photos that I have of the real thing, Revolution Trains seem to have included all of them, and with good clear definition as well.

Time to get dirty

Time to get dirty

The only thing that I needed to do was to add a bit of grime to the wagons.  I walked past Cardiff Central station the other day and saw a train of Murco wagons going through.  I know this is now several years since these wagons came into use, but now they are absolutely covered in grime.  I spent about 20 years of my career testing petrol and diesel pumps (to check the quantity dispensed), so I do have some experience of handling petroleum products.  The main problem isn’t anything to do with stains from the fuel itself, which is either clear for petrol or golden/yellow-ish for diesel and between the two for Kerosene or Aviation Fuel, but a thin layer of fuel will run over the tops of the wagons when they are filled up at the refinery, and this thin layer of fuel acts as a magnet for any dust in the air, or anything kicked up from the railway track or brakes, or from the loco’s exhaust.

My favourite weathering material for locos and wagons are the Tamiya weathering sets, as you can see here.  They are a slightly waxy material that adheres well to the satin finish of these wagons.

Gently rubbing on the grime

Gently rubbing on the grime

The main colour that I used was “Mud.”  The Tamiya packs come with an applicator with a foam rubber pad at one end and a brush at the other.  In this pack the foam rubber pad had worn away, and so I used a cotton bud instead, which worked equally as well.  I applied the material in downward strokes, to get the streaking effect of the real thing.  You will also need to make sure that you get some around the base of the catwalks, but you need to be careful doing this.  I accidentally broke off one of the catwalk side extensions over the filler cap with some slightly too vigorous weathering.  This was easily corrected by using some Deluxe Materials Aliphatic glue applied to the pins that were put back into the holes that it came out of.  This particular adhesive sets a lot slower than any of the cyanoacrylate super glues, but you can easily wipe off any excess glue, and it dries completely clear like PVA White Wood Glue, but with a lot stronger bond.

Two filler points weathered

Two filler points weathered

In this photo you can compare the filler cap to the left that is un-weathered with the other two that have been.  For the timescale of my layout these would have been brand new wagons, and so just some light weathering was all that was needed.

And a little muck over the bogies

And a little muck over the bogies

The only other thing to do was to add some “Sand” colour to the bogies, this time using the applicator as supplied by Tamiya.  Again, just a light covering to tone down the paintwork as much as anything to represent some of the grime picked up from the brakes and track.

Weathering completed

Weathering completed

And here it is with a light coat of weathering.  All three wagons in the pack were weathered the same way, and at the same time to ensure some consistency in the finish.  The only thing left to do was to run the wagons on my Murco train on my Haverfordwest layout.

Two of the wagons on my oil train

Two of the wagons on my oil train

The delivery of these wagons was perfect timing as last weekend I exhibited my layout at the Cardiff Model Railway Exhibition as part of the South Wales MAFVA display.  I have attended this show for a number of years as a member of the public, and since starting my Haverfordwest layout I have been there for the last few years either with my layout or giving a model-making demonstration.  I always find this a really good show to attend.  Well organised and very friendly with a good selection of layouts and traders to see.  Anyway, back to my layout.

I tried several different combinations on my oil train.  Initially I had two of the new wagons together as in this photo, and later split them up in between the Graham Farish wagons.  I am pleased to say that these new wagons ran really well.  I have had to add some strips of lead to each of the Graham Farish tanker wagons as they just bounced around going over the points/turn-outs. but these Revolution Trains wagons already felt heavy enough.  By mixing the two types of wagon together on the train I didn’t have any major derailments all weekend.  Any un-couplings that I did get seemed to be between the Farish wagons.

My overall view of these Revolution Trains TEA wagons is that they are well worth the price and they certainly enhance both the appearance and running qualities of my Murco train.

The complete oil train

The complete oil train

Here you can see the complete oil train hauled by a Class 60 loco, and with the three Revolution Trains TEA wagons.  In this photo they are passing a train of Armoured Ambulance vehicles, with a train of Warriors in the sidings waiting to go into the Goods Yard.  If you want to see this layout in operation, I am displaying it at a one day show in Didcot on 29th October, and then hopefully next year at the Bristol Model Railway Exhibition in Thornbury at the end of April/beginning of May.

A New Range of Models

24 July 2016
Saxon Personnel Carrier

Saxon Personnel Carrier

Towards the end of last year I was asked if I could consider working with The N Gauge Society to  produce a range of largely resin models as loads for their existing Warwell and Warflat wagon kits, and for a new kit under development by them of a post-1975 Warflat.  The main problem with my pewter models is that despite them being hollow kits, they still weigh more than resin models and so raise the centre of gravity of the wagon and load.  I have largely overcome the stability problem on my own Haverfordwest layout by removing the floor plates from my vehicles, and adding a 5 gramme weight underneath them, and so lower the centre of gravity, as I have shown in a previous post.  However, there is still the problem of the weight of the vehicles, which limits the number of loaded wagons you can have on a military train on a layout.

I was initially unsure about this as I had taken quite some time in deciding which material to use for my range of models before deciding upon making them in pewter.  The idea this time was to get them cast by someone else who is currently doing all of the resin castings for the other N gauge Society kits.

Upgraded Scimitar (Life Extension Programme)

Upgraded Scimitar (Life Extension Programme)

I had a meeting with the Vice President of The N Gauge Society, and the person who is going to make the updated Warflat wagon, where we went through the various different options and possibilities.  All of the models in this range will be sold ONLY by The N Gauge Society.  You will have to be a member of this Society if you want any of these models.  I shall make the models for the Society, but I shall NOT sell any myself, at all.

My aim is to make all of the models in this range as either completely new subjects, such as the Saxon at the top of this post, or as upgraded versions of existing P G Models, such as the Scimitar LEP (Life Extension Programme) where the vehicle is a post 2004 version with a new diesel power pack/engine with new headlights, new stowage bins, new engine air inlet, new commander’s sight, and Bowman communications box on the side of the turret.

Humber Pig

Humber Pig

All of the models will be mainly made of resin, but some such as the Scimitar will have a pewter gun and track units.  Where appropriate, the plan at present is for the models to include photo etched parts such as stowage baskets and possibly wing/door mirrors.

Bv206 over-snow/amphibious vehicle

Bv206 over-snow/amphibious vehicle

Other vehicles to add to the range are the Humber Pig in its original 1950s version (suitable for the WWII version of the Warflat already in The N Gauge Society range of wagon kits) and also in a later form as used in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 80s, as shown above, before being replaced by the Saxon Patrol, which will also be considered, along with the Saxon Recovery Vehicle.  Above is the Bv206 over-snow/amphibious vehicle that is still in use by the Royal Marines.  I can clearly recall seeing a photo of one of these vehicles on a car transporter railway flat wagon, but I just can not find the photo anywhere.  If anyone can shed any light on this I would be most grateful as The N Gauge Society are also going to produce a model of this car transporter wagon.

The master pattern of the Saxon

The master pattern of the Saxon

Here is the master pattern of the Saxon.  I completed this just before The MAFVA Nationals in St. Ives in June so that I could take it along with me to show it to some of my friends before it went off to be cast in resin.

The master pattern of the Scimitar

The master pattern of the Scimitar

And here’s the upgraded version of the Scimitar.  Both of these models have now been handed over to the company that will do the casting and I am waiting to hear from them.  I have an expected delivery date of the end of September, but the models will not be available until some time later as there will need to be some time to develop the artwork for the packaging, instructions, and any etchings.  The other thing to consider is whether to release just these two models or to wait until more different types are available.  The release date will be down to The N Gauge Society rather than me.  So don’t hold your breath in anticipation just yet.

Two Scimitars at Haverfordwest

Two Scimitars at Haverfordwest

One thing that this will mean for me is there will be another train that I can add to my Haverfordwest layout, using the new Warflats, which probably will not be available until February/March next year.  I saw a train at Haverfordwest with just four Warflat wagons, one empty, and three with two Scimitars each, as above, and an empty Warwell.  A nice compact little train load.

I shall let you know how this develops, but there is one final point that I must stress.  These N Gauge Society kits are a new range that will be produced by me AS WELL AS my existing range of pewter kits.  There has been nothing new for a while as I’ve been working on some dioramas for myself and then making these two kits, but I do have loads of ideas for different pewter models to add to the P G Models range.

MAFVA Nationals & some new dioramas

6 July 2016
Rab's Commander & Challenger

Rab’s Commander & Challenger

I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the MAFVA Nationals a couple of weeks ago.  One of the main things for me about belonging to a national organisation such as the MAFVA is that you can meet up with people from all over the country rather than just locally if I were in an un-attached South Wales club.  One long-time friend of mine is Rab Burns who had come all the way down from Scotland to attend the show in St. Ives in Cambridgeshire.  Rab has made up a large collection of 1/76th scale tank transporters with a wide variety of loads.  He has also made up one of my Scammell Commanders and Challenger as you can see here.  I think he’s made a superb job of them.

DROPS with a Samaritan

DROPS with a Samaritan

Here’s another of Rab’s 1/152nd scale models, a Leyland DAF DROPS and Samaritan.  Mounted on a simple base with minimal groundwork, but enough to put the model into some sort of context.  Another nicely executed piece of work.

Stalwart Limber made up as a REME vehicle

Stalwart Limber made up as a REME vehicle

And finally, here’s another little gem from Rab, one of my Stalwart Artillery Limbers made up as a REME recovery vehicle with its crane stowed forward to maximise the amount of room for the crew under the tarpaulin over the rear body.  Rab won quite a few prizes at the MAFVA nationals for some of the other models that he brought along to the show.  He is an amazingly prolific modeller, and always to a high standard.

My new pylon diorama

My new pylon diorama

Here’s what I took along to the MAFVA Nationals as something new.  Not so much a military diorama as military vehicles in a civilian setting.  At the end of April I attended the Bristol Model Railway Exhibition as a trader and was next to Severn Models who make a variety of etched brass kits in several different scales, quite a bit of which is in N gauge, including this pylon.  I have thought about making a scene like this for some time, but wasn’t able to find a suitable pylon.  There is an N gauge one in the Scale Link range, but theirs has three arms, two on  one side, and one on the other and looks more like a French one than a British one.  There is also a pylon in the Kato range, produced by Heljan who I believe are a Danish company.  So okay for mainland Europe and Japan, but not quite right for the UK.  So Severn Models have finally filled what has been a big void for me.

I have deliberately shown it in my hand as every now and again I seem to get people confused over the scale of my models.  I recently had a series of e-mails from someone who wanted me to make a diorama for him as he had seen my work on this blog site.  I suddenly wondered if he was aware that my models were made to 1/152nd scale rather than 1/72nd and so pointed this out to him, and I’ve heard nothing more since then.  A pity really as I could have made what he wanted in 1/72nd scale, but just to make it clear, all of my dioramas for the last twelve years have been in 1/152nd scale.

A close-up of the vehicles

A close-up of the vehicles

A closer view of two of the vehicles.  Just bog standard vehicles from my range painted white to represent some of the vehicles used by Western Power and Distribution.  They have a large depot just down the road from where I live and seem to have some quite unusual looking vehicles.

Looking at it from the other end

Looking at it from the other end

Here’s another view of it, showing the Unimog at the other side.  I picked up the base at the On Track model show in Folkestone in February.  It was designed for a small vignette of two or three large scale figures, but is just right for what I wanted.  It is far more interesting to use an irregular shaped piece of wood rather than just a rectangle of MDF, which does have its uses, but not for this scene.

Abbot firing position

Abbot firing position

I couldn’t get this finished in time for The MAFVA Nationals, and didn’t want to rush it, so finished it of a couple of days later.  The original idea for this came from an Army Benevolent Fund calendar for 2006 that consisted of military paintings by Terence Cuneo.  The September picture was of E battery 1 Royal Horse Artillery in 1974 showing a Battery of Abbot self-propelled guns on an exercise in Detmold, Germany.  My model is not exactly the same as the painting, but is based loosely around it.

Another view of the whole thing

Another view of the whole thing

This is another diorama using wood as a base.  In this case it is a slice through a tree trunk with the bark still intact, which I think helps set the thing off nicely.  The trees and bushes came from a trader I saw at the IPMS Avon show in Thornbury (by the old Severn Bridge, same venue as the Bristol Model Railway Exhibition).  All of the vehicles on this diorama were originally made up as single vehicles to show my latest releases in my range of models.  They cover quite a few years with the FV432 being the oldest and the Ferret Mk.2/3 next to it the most recent.  They now have one base to show them off, which I think looks a lot more interesting than single vehicles doing nothing.

Unloading the ammunition

Unloading the ammunition

The position of the Abbot and the Stalwart is a straight copy from the painting.  All of the figures started off as a box of unpainted Preiser 1/160th scale German railway figures.  I altered their trousers and jackets by scraping with scalpel blades to make them look more like military trousers and tunic, and then I sliced off the tops of their heads and replaced them with pieces of plastic rod rounded off to form a helmet.  The painting in the calendar shows all of the crews in berrets, but the hard hats looked better to me.

The other Abbot to the front

The other Abbot to the front

Another view of the whole thing.  The Abbot to the front here has camouflage nets around both sides and front, with the one behind it having the net deployed by some of the crew.  Both Abbots have had their hull rear door opened up, to allow for the ammunition to be fed into them and to allow the fumes from firing the gun to disperse.

Looking across at the scne

Looking across at the scene

And finally, here’s another view of the diorama.  One of the big plusses for me about modelling in this tiny scale is that you can tell a complete story in a relatively small area,  This would be quite a large diorama in 1/76th scale, but there’s almost as much detail here in something that is half the size, and a quarter of the area (half as wide and half as deep).  The photos were taken out in my garden with a sheet of blue card behind it.