Posts Tagged ‘Haverfordwest Layout’

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who administer my website for me and I was told that the version of the software that was used on my site was now out of date and needed to be upgraded.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.

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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.

Cardiff ‘Small’ Model Railway Exhibition

26 January 2016
An unusual view of the layout

An unusual view of the layout

Last Saturday 23rd January I exhibited my Haverfordwest N gauge model railway layout at the Cardiff ‘Small’ Model Railway Exhibition that was held in the Scout HQ in Pontcanna Fields, Cardiff, with much thanks to my friend Mike Gill who helped me with lugging the thing there and back, setting it up, running it and bringing it back home, all in the one very exhausting day.  It was a relatively small show, as in its title, but with a dozen layouts, all of which were to a very good standard.

Looking down on the hall from the balcony

Looking down on the hall from the balcony

The show was surprisingly busy with a steady flow of people coming through the door right up until the end of the day.  My layout is just off the photo at the bottom, with a number of people looking at it.

Looking down onto my layout

Looking down onto my layout

From my own point of view, my layout ran better than ever before, but what a saga leading up to the show………..

Starting the rebuild

Starting the rebuild

It all started just days after I got back from the IPMS Scale Modelworld show in Telford in early November.  It was the last show of the year for me and I planned to spend the time re-working my layout in plenty of time before this show in January.  The last time I ran the Haverfordwest layout was at the Midland Railex show in Ripley 18 months ago.  Whilst things worked reasonably okay on the front of the layout, there were constant derailments in the fiddle yards around the back of it, and various problems with locos stalling on the numerous points/turnouts around the back.  The only answer was to make new larger/better fiddle yards.

The two new fiddle yard bases

The two new fiddle yard bases

Here are the two new bases that I made in the usual way with 2″ x 1″ frames and plywood tops, with cork sheets on top of the plywood to absorb some of the vibrations from the moving trains.  Not so much works of art as functional, as not many people see the back of the layout.

The new fiddle yards nearly completed

The new fiddle yards nearly completed

Construction of the new fiddle yards went well, with a more traditional arrangement than the overly complicated one I had before.  This time I have installed the point solenoid motors directly underneath the points by cutting holes for them in the baseboard.  The key thing to remember is that this is still my first and only model railway layout.  I may have over 40 years experience as a military modeller, but I still regard myself as a novice when it comes to working model railways.  Here’s the layout in early December, when I was expecting to take just a couple more weeks to finish it off.

Adding weights to the Warwell models

Adding weights to the Warwell models

I was working on the new fiddle yards in the day time, and making up some of the revised Warwell kits from the N Gauge Society in the evening, to re-work my train of Warriors, and to have a new one of FV432 Ambulances that I have photos of at Haverfordwest.  One big problem that I found was that when I put the Warriors on their risers and on to the new Warwell kits, the kits now have new parts to attach the bogies to, and these were causing the wagons to flop all over the place.  What I did for the Warrior train was to re-work some of my old Parkwood Warwell kits that I had from years ago, with just two pieces of plastic tube to locate the Gloucester GPS bogies on to.  I also added some 5 gramme weights under each wagon that I bought from a shop that specialises in model aircraft (they are used to add weight to the nose of model aircraft so that they will sit squarely on their model runway, rather than nose up).  The weights come with self-adhesive strips underneath them, but these make the weights protrude below the sides of the wagon, so I took off the strips and fixed the weights in place with some Araldite.  The newer Warwell kits from the N gauge Society were used for the FV432 ambulances, which are smaller vehicles than the Warriors, and without the need for a riser, but with weights put underneath them as well to improve their stability.  All of the weight were painted in the same colour green as the wagons and were not at all visible.

The Layout set up in my lounge

The Layout set up in my lounge

The only thing left to do was to sort out the electrics.  I worked out exactly what had to be done, and whilst I am no electrician, it seemed to go okay.  Still with plenty of time before the show in January, I set up the whole thing in my lounge as you can see above, to test it out, and nothing!  No power, nothing moving!  I then spent ages opening up the various connectors to find several loose wires that must have come loose on the journey back from Derbyshire, and found that some of my new connections that I had made for the new fiddle yards also needed re-soldering.  Even worse, I found that I had connected some wires into the wrong connectors in some of the ‘D’ connectors between the base boards.  Then partial success, but still with some bits not working.

I ended up, just days before the show, calling for help from one of my friends, David Burton, who is a retired electrician with years of experience, who offered to come around to fix it for me.  When he arrived at 10 am he said that he expected to take about an hour or hour and a half.  Eventually he finished three and a half hours later at 1.30 pm, still unable to sort out some of the points at the back, but at least I could run trains around the layout.  A huge big massive thank you to David for getting the thing running.  I was seriously thinking of having to put on a display of static railway dioramas, but David managed to save the day after much head scratching and puzzling.

The Warrior train speeding through

The Warrior train speeding through

What was pleasing was that all of the work in fixing the electrics seemed to have paid off.  After David had left me, I spent the rest of the day going over all of the joins between bases as there must have been some movement of the frames and plywood tops, creating some differences in the level of the rails between bases. These were corrected by gently filing the raised rail to get it down to the level of the lower one.   After all of the huge amount of effort to get the thing going again, it was quite a relief to have it working.

The two military trains

The two military trains

Another thing that was pleasing was that I had both military trains working well.  The new fiddle yards have less bends and now have large radius points to reduce the amount of swinging around for the trains, which has helped a lot, with nothing like the number of problems that I had in the past at shows.  The use of weights underneath the wagons made a huge improvement on their performance.  The train of Warriors worked all day without a single one falling off on to the floor, which used to happen frequently.  And similarly, the train of FV432 Ambulances worked without a single incident all day.  Previously I had used a selection of different types of bogies, but now having all wagons fitted with the Gloucester GPS bogies made by ATM made a huge improvement on the smooth running of the wagons.  In fact I would now like to add some more wagons with vehicles to each of the trains as I feel that they can both probably run okay with up to 15 wagons per train, which was my original target, but never achieved.

Meanwhile, whilst proverbially pulling my hair out with the layout in the day time, I’ve retained my sanity by working on the latest model for Marchwood in the evenings and hope to show more next time.

Two contrasting weekends

12 May 2014
My stand at the Bristol Model Railway Exhibition

My stand at the Bristol Model Railway Exhibition

I’ve just had two very different weekends.  The weekend of Friday 2nd May through to Sunday 4th May I had a P G Models trade stand at the Bristol Model Railway Exhibition in Thornbury Leisure Centre, South Gloucestershire.  You can see my stand in the photo above.  This year I was put in a completely different spot from previous years.  This time I was in a far more prominent position, although it was a bit dark.  Next year I’ll request/pay for electrical power to lighten things up a bit.  Nevertheless, I’m very grateful to the organisers as it was a lot better position than the previous year.

Showing the completed Mexeflote for the first time

Showing the completed Mexeflote for the first time

I took along a completed Mexeflote, and much to my surprise, and despite saying that there would be a delay in supplying it, I sold one of them at the show.  You can see one of the castings with everything still attached to the sprues just above the model.  The other dioramas were the same as many other shows.  The scene based loosely on Ashchurch is quite a few years old now, but it still receives quite a bit of interest.

The other side of the stand

The other side of the stand

The other thing that was new was a new illuminated display stand.  When I was at the IPMS Scale Modelworld show in Telford last November I was a couple of stands away from Sphere Products who make a range of laser cut MDF stands for paints and modelling tools.  On their stand they had an illuminated display stand that looked interesting.  I asked about it and they agreed to make one for me.  It runs off batteries with three LEDs at the base of the transparent tube that light the thing up.  With my models so small this is a good way to raise them up to nearer eye level and is another way of showing off individual models.  In this display they were all ones where I had added transfers to them.  It made the display table look very full, but that’s not a bad thing.  Sales on the Friday and Saturday were both fairly low, but I must accept that having a model of a Mexeflote as my latest release it’s not really something that model railway enthusiasts would want, although it did raise quite a bit of interest.  What was pleasing was the Sunday where I sold more that the other two days.  The good thing about this show is that it is relatively local for me, so no hotel accommodation, nor hotel meals, and with a reasonable cost for the stand.  In the end I managed to cover my costs, so it made it worthwhile attending.  The other factor of course is that I was able to be seen by potential customers and a number of price lists were taken, with the potential for more mail order sales.

My Haverfordwest layout at the Pontypridd Model Railway Show

My Haverfordwest layout at the Pontypridd Model Railway Show

The weekend just gone was a complete contrast.  I was invited to display my Haverfordwest layout at the Pontypridd Model Railway Show.  This was held at the Crown Hill Community Hall, which is just over 1 mile from my home, and it was just a one day show on the Saturday 10th May, with setting up on the Friday afternoon/evening.

The train of Warriors entering the scene

The train of Warriors entering the scene

I like N gauge as it is a good way to display a large area in a relatively small space.  There is some compression in length by about 1 ft and in width by about 6 inches, but I’ve tried to keep things as close to reality as I can.  The downside is that being such a small scale makes it very fiddly to operate.  I set up my layout in my garage a couple of days before the show and managed to clear the ballast around some of the points that had caused problems at previous shows.  Despite that, there were numerous problems with derailments on the back of the layout.  I was helped by my friends Mike Gill, and later on Tom Watkins.  We ended up with the train of Warwells with Warriors running on the outer track going clockwise, and the oil train alternating with the Sprinter on the inner track , which should really have been the other way around, but this way things seemed to work.

Looking along the entrance roadway to the left of the layout

Looking along the entrance roadway to the left of the layout

After checking in my garage that the locos would run,  I managed to add a couple of bits.  To the extreme right of the photo you can see a wire mesh fence by the car park, which was a bit of a glaring omission.  Just in front of the two blue containers you can just about make out two gas bottle cages with 3D printed gas bottles from County Rolling Stock and fences/cages from M G Sharp.

Looking down on the Goods Yard

Looking down on the Goods Yard

I was pleased with the layout in that there were very few problems with the way the trains worked on the public side of it, which was a lot better than previous shows, but there were quite a few problems around the back of it.  I’m doing this post on the blog as a breather from putting the layout away again.  One thing I shall most definitely need to do is to re-work the rear of the layout and have another re-think about the fiddle yards (storage sidings around the back of the layout).  When I started work on this layout I didn’t know anything about fiddle yards, nor their necessity for a working layout at exhibitions.  I’ve come a long way since then, and this is still my very first model railway layout.  I’ll leave this for the next few months while I sort out the ever-growing list of orders, which I’m very pleased to have, and then I’ll see about a re-vamp of the back of the layout.

Finishing off the Station

30 May 2013

Before showing any new masters under construction I thought it would be worthwhile showing the final stages of the Haverfordwest station.  My Haverfordwest N gauge railway layout seems to be getting quite a bit of interest now that it is nearly finished.  I exhibited the layout at the Pontypridd Model Railway Club’s Exhibition a few weeks ago and following on from that show, I have now been invited to three other shows.   I shall be exhibiting it at the Newport NEON Model Railway Show this coming weekend, 1st & 2nd June, at the Lord & Butler Model Railway Exhibition in Cardiff in two weeks time over Father’s Day weekend 15th & 16th June (although nothing on their website about it yet), and also at the Penarth & Barry Model Railway Clubs Exhibition in Penarth on Sunday 21st July.

Adding a wash

Adding a wash

The station was painted with Humbrol Brick Red, and I also used a darker colour for the rows of bricks on both front and back, although this made the station look a bit stark.  In reality these are different bricks that have been laid perpendicularly, on the same level as the window sills.  In this scale though, just showing them in a different colour shows them off.  In the photo above I am adding a wash to represent the mortar between the bricks.  This is also having the desired effect of toning everything down to far more natural colours.

The wash on the front of the station

The wash on the front of the station

Here’s the front of the station after the wash.  This was done before painting the windows and doors in case of any splashes.

Now with doors and windows painted

Now with doors and windows painted

Here’s both the main station building and the platform island building with all doors and windows painted.  The buildings are starting to get a bit of character.

Adding some signs

Adding some signs

It took me quite a while to source all of the signs that I needed for the station.  The “Haverfordwest/Hwlfordd” signs were made on my computer and all of the others came from a variety of different sources.  In the photo above I am adding some signs from the “Pre-Cut” range.  Their signs show such things as “Entrance” and “Ladies” and “Gents” in English, with a pictogram next to the name.  This could not be done in Wales because of the delights of the Welsh Language Act which make it a legal requirement for all public bodies to display signage in both English and Welsh.  At this station they have very cleverly resolved this issue, by having just the pictograms and no wording at all, which is quite explanatory.  However, they seem to be bigger, so I used the pictograms with the words cut off from their OO gauge signs.

The station front with signs in place

The station front with signs in place

There are a variety of signs in this photo.  The timetables are a nice touch from “Pre-Cut.”  Nobody made a suitable sign for the Taxi office inside the station, so I made it on my computer, together with the  “Mynedfa Gorsaf/Station Entrance” and railway logo above the front doors and the tiny sign “Haverfordwest” on the extreme right.  These signs have changed since Arriva Trains Wales took over from Regional Railways.  The station entrance now has “Hwlfordd/Haverfordwest” above the doors, and all the doors are now painted in a dark turquoise.

The completed platform side of the station

The completed platform side of the station

Here’s the completed platform side of the station with all of the signs and adverts in place.  This side of the station will not be seen by any visitors at shows, but it’s what I will be looking at all of the time at the show, and it was an interesting challenge to see if I could get it to look something like the real thing.

Fixed on to the layout

Fixed on to the layout

The station main building, footbridge, and island building were glued on to the Ratio plastic platforms using MEK solvent which is a stronger bond than the solvent that I normally use.  The buildings were put in place and then the solvent was applied around them using the small brush in the photo above.  The left hand end of the station canopy lines up with a join between two of the bases and so helps disguise the join, although this also creates other problems as during transport the canopy is on an outer edge.

Putting in some finishing touches

Putting in some finishing touches

Again I’m using”Gator Grip” that I find gives a lot stronger bond than PVA white glue.  It is being used to fix more platform lamps and station names on them as well as fixing down some cars to the right of the station, and a couple of people by the phone box next to the cars.  I also added about eight more people on the platform waiting for the train, which when I visited the station, seems to be about the right number.

Looking along the tracks

Looking along the tracks

Not quite an engine driver’s view, but not far off.  It’s only when I looked at this photo close up that I noticed that the gentleman beneath the footbridge seems to be standing at quite an angle.  Maybe a few too many the night before – or perhaps what the modeller had done!

A view across the tracks

A view across the tracks

Here’s another view of the completed station showing more of the passengers.  It’s taken a huge amount of time and effort to make this station, but I’m pleased with the end result as this is one of the main features of the layout.  Importantly from my point of view, it was this layout that made me start making models of military vehicles in N gauge to go on it, which gave rise to P G Models, so this is very much the proverbial chicken that made the egg.

The Footbridge

28 April 2013
The real thing back in 2001

The real thing back in 2001

One very distinctive feature of Haverfordwest railway station is its footbridge.  The photo above shows it in 2001, which is the date that I’ve set for my layout, when it was painted in Regional Railways colours.

Starting the detail

Starting the detail

I know I’ve done loads of scratchbuilding on this layout, but out of preference I’d rather use a suitable kit if there’s one available.  Kestrel Designs have a steel footbridge that with a bit of work would be something like what is at Haverfordwest.  They probably based their design on GWR footbridges as they are (or rather “were” as the range is now produced by Gaugemaster) based in Narberth which isn’t far from Haverfordwest.  This isn’t exactly right, but I’ve got a shape something like the real thing by using two of the Kestrel kits.  The tricky bit was altering the steps with right angle bends half way up them.  In the photo above I am adding pieces of plastic strip to add extra ribbing to make the bridge more like what I saw in the photo at the top.

Altering the legs

Altering the legs

With all kits (and mine are no exception) there is always the need to make things sturdy enough to withstand the expected use of the kit.  In the case of this footbridge, Kestrel have made the supporting legs really chunky as you can see at the top right in the photo above.  I wanted something a bit closer to scale proportions.  To have some sort of rigidity I needed some ready made “L ” section plastic strip for the legs.  I couldn’t find any, so used some “C” section strip from Evergreen and cut away half of it to make an “L.”

Fitting the legs in place

Fitting the legs in place

The “L” section strip was put in each corner of the square. with 10 thou x 30 thou cross braces.  This was incredibly fiddly, but just as in the real thing, the cross braces increasingly strengthened each leg as more were added.

Comparing the legs

Comparing the legs

In this photo you can compare my scratchbuilt leg with the one made by Kestrel.  It took quite a bit of work, but I feel that the end justified the means in this case as it makes the footbridge look considerably more prototypical (again, compare this with the photo at the top).

Starting the painting

Starting the painting

Painting the footbridge needed some thought as there are what look like the skeletal remains of a canopy on either side that are used to support strip lights on the footbridge, which would get in the way of any painting.  I started painting before adding the framework with a coat overall in light blue.  This was followed by some very fiddly painting with a size OOO brush over all of the outer ribbing and the ribbing on the inside of the footbridge as you can see above.

Adding the handrails and the framework

Adding the handrails and the framework

For the handrails either side of the steps I first painted some plastic rod a suitable red colour and then cut it to length, glued it in place and then touched up the cut ends with some more red paint.  On the horizontal part of the footbridge over the railway tracks there are some strip lights set into the sides of the footbridge.  These were made from some half-round plastic strip glued to a piece of 20 thou x 60 thou.  They were painted off the bridge and then glued in place.  With those done I then added the framework on either side of the bridge using 20 thou square plastic strip.

A closer view of one side

A closer view of one side

Here’s a closer view of one side.  I used an ABS plastic weld type solvent for a strong bond on these parts as the bridge will be on the outer edge of one of the bases once in situ.  With hindsight, it might have been better to have scratchbuilt the footbridge in brass and soldered it together, but I’ll see how this one stands up to any shows.

The completed footbridge

The completed footbridge

And here’s the finished article, waiting to go on to the layout.  I am running well behind “real time” with this blog at present.  The week before last I fixed the station and the footbridge to the layout as I exhibited the whole layout at the Pontypridd Model Railway Club’s Exhibition a week last Saturday, which went extremely well.  Since then I’ve been solidly casting, cleaning and packaging as I have a trade stand at the Bristol Model Railway Exhibition this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  And yes, I will have something new on the stand, although not the AEC Aircraft Refueller.  You’ll have to come along to see me there if you want to know what, or wait until my next post when I hope to have some photos of what’s new.

More work on the Station

5 April 2013

The Haverfordwest layout was put away after the Cardiff Model Railway Exhibition in October as I was well and truly into my busiest time of the year for P G Models sales.  I was casting models to make up orders whilst casting, cleaning and packaging to build up stock for the IPMS Scale Modelworld show in Telford in early November, followed by the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition in the NEC in Birmingham just two weeks later.  With these two shows so close together I need to build up a good stock level to go to Telford as there’s very little time to re-stock before the Warley show.  Sales at both shows were a lot lower than previous years but one thing that came across very clearly this time was that people seemed to be looking at my models at my stand, going home and thinking about them, and then ordering either by mail order or via e-mail, which I must admit is something that I’ve done several times myself.  These orders kept me busy right through in to the New Year, and it’s only really been in the last month or so that I’ve had the chance to get back to finishing off the station building.

The roof in place

The roof in place

The next thing to do was to check the squareness of the building.  I had put it together quickly to have something in place for the Cardiff show, but a closer inspection revealed a little bit of bending.  This was sorted by carefully running a curved No.10 scalpel blade along some of the joints to open them up again, adding some rectangles of 60 thou plastic card (checked for squareness with my little set square) to the inner corners, with some rectangles across the whole width of the building, and then re-joining the walls together again, which has now not only made the building squarer, but has also made it a lot stronger, which is not a bad thing with it being right on the front of the layout.

With everything square, I could add the rest of the roof using the Muswell Models roof tiles sheets.  One slightly tricky bit was over the station entrance where the roof has a sideways projection up to the ornate entrance.  This was done by chamfering the plastic card and checking and re-checking until it butted up to the main roof sheets.  In this photo you can also see the 20 thou square strip used to form the outer edge of the window frames.  A really tedious job for so many windows, but you get the hang of it after the first dozen!

Making the Chimneys

Making the Chimneys

There’s a plaque on the station entrance with the numbers 1989, which I presume is the date that the station was re-built, in which case, I would have thought that it would have had some form of central heating.  However, there are four chimneys on the roof, each with two chimney pots, which are more like what you associate with a Victorian building with coal fires in each room.  The chimney breasts were made using more of the same brick card with the outer edges of each piece at 45 degree angles, which was quite a fiddly job.

Cutting out and fitting the capping stones

Cutting out and fitting the capping stones

Another equally tedious thing was to cut out tiny little squares of 20 thou x 80 thou plastic strip to make the capping stones to go right along the top of the  brickwork along the outer side and both ends of the building.  On the platform side there’s the station canopy and so there are no capping stones along that wall as it is protected from the elements by the canopy.  There was no easy way to do this other than just start at one end and keep going.  I checked my photos of the station as there are some curved capping stones around the walls above the station entrance, but otherwise they are all the same.  One important thing is to try to cut out all of these blocks to the same size.  In the photo above you can see the tip of the scalpel blade up against one block.  This is used as a master pattern and I put the length of plastic strip up against this one piece to cut out each piece to try to get them as equal in size as I can.

Cutting out the glazing

Cutting out the glazing

All of the windows were “glazed” with some 10 thou plastic sheet, which I think is clear styrene.  Either that or acetate.  I used to fix it in place using liquid solvent, but this often frosts the material unless you are very careful.  Some time ago one of my friends recommended  “Gator Grip” which is a product from the USA which is an aliphatic glue.  It looks like PVA, but it sets a lot stronger.  My friend uses it to fix photo-etched parts to 1/76 th scale vehicles.  This is applied using a OO size brush and has the advantage in that any excess glue can easily be removed using another fine brush dipped in water.  One perhaps obvious, but important thing to do is to do a dry run for each window pane.  Whilst I tried to cut out each of the windows to the same size, inevitably there is some slight variation in size, so a little bit of trimming was needed in a few places.

Photo-etched window sills

Photo-etched window sills

When I got the brick and tile sheets from Muswell Models, I also got a sheet of photo-etched window sill bricks.  These are perpendicular bricks in a variety of different lengths to go underneath the widow (the etching has numbers for the numbers of bricks on each piece) .  I used some on the window sills of some of the office buildings by the side of the Goods Shed and was very pleased with the end result, and so used them again here on the station building.  Again, these were fixed in place using the Gator Grip glue.  If you look at the Muswell Models website you’ll see that Andrew has now added a lot more etched brass sets to his range, with a variety of different styles of bricklaying.

One thing that I didn’t photograph was adding all of the horizontal bars on each window.  These were made from 10 thou square polystyrene strip which is available in white plastic from Plastruct, and again using the same glue to fix them in place.  Most of the Plastruct range is a dark grey ABS plastic, which needs a different solvent to fix it, but they also have a number of packs of polystyrene that is unique to them such as 10 thou strip and 10 thou rod that I find very handy for engine decks.

Starting the canopy roof

Starting the canopy roof

One thing that took me ages to work out was how to make the station canopy.  I looked at all of the commercially available options, and none of them came close to what was at Haverfordwest, so it was back to scratchbuilding.  I always look to see if I can find a kit or ready-made model for what I want, and if not I’ll see if I can convert something similar, or if there’s nothing quite like what I want I’ll sit back and scratchbuild it.  Despite the fact that most of the buildings on this layout have ended up being scratchbuilt, scratchbuilding is really a last resort for me.

For the canopy I used yet more Gator Grip to glue strips of 10 thou plastic card over a long strip of clear plastic card to represent the glazing panels in the roof.  In the photo above you can see a batch of pieces on the cutting mat, with smaller pieces of plastic strip to go above and below each piece of glazing.  The scalpel blade is a No.10A which I use to very lightly touch the plastic part to pick it up, put it over the glue, and the bond from the glue is stronger than the attachment to the blade, so releasing the part.  The secret is not to press too hard with the blade, press just hard enough to pick it up, and just with the very tip of the blade.

Making the roof trusses

Making the roof trusses

The detail underneath the canopy roof is more of a representation that anything else, but it’s something like what’s there.  I started by cutting out the two ends of the canopy with the same roof profile.  I then used that profile with one truss as a master pattern for all of the others, to make them as near identical as I could make.  Having made the solid shape, I then hollowed out each one to look more like steelwork.

Adding the wood boards to the ends

Adding the wood boards to the ends

Both  ends of the canopy in reality are made up of perpendicular wooden slats.  To do this I used some 10 thou x 60 thou plastic strip and marked some perpendicular lines in pencil on the piece of 40 thou plastic card that they were to go on.  This time, pick up a piece of strip on the tip of the scalpel blade, hold that between two fingers whilst picking up a brush dipped lightly in solvent, wipe the base piece of card with the solvent and quickly put the piece of strip onto the wetted base piece.  Keep going along the length, using the back of the blade to square the pieces up against the pencil marks to keep everything square.

Joining the canopy pieces together

Joining the canopy pieces together

I suppose the way that I scratchbuild is to make up all of the parts so that what I’m doing is virtually making my own kit, and then assembling the parts together just as I would with an Airfix kit.  Here you can see the front and rear parts of the roof joined together and the roof trusses being added.  Making sure that all of these trusses have been made to the same profile will save any warping or distortion.

Adding ribbing to the outer roof parts

Adding ribbing to the outer roof parts

There is some quite prominent ribbing on the outer part of the roof.  This was made from 10 thou x 20 thou plastic strip.  As before, what I do is to cut out pieces that are slightly too long (better that than too short).  Leave the solvent to evaporate off for an hour or so, then slice off the exposed ends with a scalpel blade.  Again, I’m using my trusty set square to make sure that all of this ribbing is square.

Adding a support stri for the canopy to the station

Adding a support strip for the canopy to the station

Before adding the canopy to the side of the station, I fixed a strip of 40 thou square plastic to the side of the station so that the canopy would rest on top of it.  In this photo you can see all of the 10 thou square strip bars added to the windows, and now with chimney pots (made from plastic rod) added to the chimney breasts.

Done!

Done!

Don’t ask how many hours it took to get this far.  If I had sat back and worked out how many hours it would take me to make the buildings on this layout I would probably never have started it.  But on the other hand, yes, I probably still would have made it as, as far as I know, what I have here is something unique to me, well, at least in this scale as I know that Haverfordwest model railway club have also made a layout of the station in OO, although I’ve never seen it.  The challenge has been to see if I could make it.  I’ll let you the reader/viewer judge for yourself whether I have or not.

The other end, next to the footbridge

The other end, next to the footbridge

I previously mentioned my surprise to see all of the chimney pots.  At this end of the station is a small extension (in reality in a slightly lighter brick colour) with a chimney coming out of it that I presume is something like a gas (or maybe oil) central heating boiler.  And no, I hadn’t fitted the chimney when I took this photo.

The whole thing from the platform side

The whole thing from the platform side

And finally, here’s a view from the platform side.  There are still a few bits to be added, such as a cabin or something similar in front of the left hand extension and canopy lights, but it’s nearly there.

Haverfordwest Station – the start

28 March 2013
Haverfordwest Station back in 2001

Haverfordwest Station back in 2001

For several months I’ve been working slowly on making Haverfordwest Station.  I had the basic shape made and temporarily put on the layout when I attended Cardiff Model Railway Exhibition last October.  Since then, I’ve been picking it up, doing a little bit, and then putting it down, mainly to make up models for orders.  A few weeks ago I decided that this had to be finished off as after all it is the main building on the layout, and right at the front.

In the photo above, taken in 2001 by my friend Mike Gill,  you can see the front of the station, which is what any viewers of my layout will be able to see.   One thing that this photo shows is the importance of making the layout for a particular timescale, and sticking to it.

The station in 2011

The station in 2011

Here’s a photo of the station that I took about 18 months ago in 2011.  One big difference is that back in 2001 the station and trains were run by Regional Railways, but now they are run by Arriva Trains Wales.  One obvious difference is that the corporate colour of dark blue for Regional Railways has been replaced by the turquoise of Arriva Trains Wales.  Another perhaps less obvious difference is in the name board above the station entrance.  It’s not clear in the older photo, but above the station entrance the sign reads “Mynedfa Gorsaf Station Entrance” (same wording in Welsh, then English).  This has now been changed to “Hwylffordd Haverfordwest.”  It really is important to try to be factually accurate with everything made to represent one particular date, in this case, around the turn of the century, around 2000.  Other notable differences are that the station car park has been completely changed and what was a parking bay for taxis is now a bus stop with bus shelter to the right of the station building.

So, with date set, it’s time to start the build.

Cutting out the sides against my own plan

Cutting out the sides against my own plan

As with all of the other buildings on this layout, the first thing to do was to draw up my own plan of the station using the Ordnance Survey 1:500 scale map of the station as a start with the length and depth of the building which was used to estimate the height of the building and of the fittings such as the size of the windows and doors.

Being such a long thin building, one problem was what make of embossed brick card to use.  The N gauge brick sheets by Ratio look good, but are quite small and would have left some unsightly join lines between the sheets of card.  Many years ago not long after the start of P G Models I attended the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition in the NEC in Birmingham and was next to Muswell Models who make some lovely buildings as both complete buildings and low relief in both N gauge and OO gauge.  Over the course of the weekend I had a good chat with Andrew Gardener who runs the business and he told me that he made his own sheets of brick embossed card that were about half as long again as the Ratio ones.  I bought a number of these, and of the roof tiles too.  They come in dark brown plastic, but that doesn’t matter as they will be painted later on.

In the photo above you can see that I’ve cut out the windows in one sheet.  This plastic sheet is fairly thick, which is good for the aspect of rigidity, but you can not just cut through it with a scalpel blade.  To cut out the windows I first drew the position of each window and door on the sheet with a pencil and then made a series of holes with a drill bit in a pin vice, which was turned by hand (if you use an electric mini drill the plastic might melt and clog up the bit).  I then cut between the holes to join them up to make one bigger hole, and then cut to the shape of the window or door.

Both sides cut out

Both sides cut out

Here you can see both sides cut to shape, with the joins positioned behind drain pipes to try to hide them, and with all of the doors and windows cut out.  All of the windows and doors were scratchbuilt from 10 and 20 thou plastic strip, mainly because no one made any windows of the right shape.  The station entrance doors were very similar to ones made by Peco that are included in their N gauge station building, (the green ones at the bottom of the photo) but unfortunately not much else of this kit was of use.

One interesting point that this photograph raises is the question of what to do with any hidden details.  From the point of view of anyone looking at the layout at a model railway exhibition, the only side of the station that they can see is the station front.  So is there any point in making the track-side of the building as the only people who can see this are those operating the layout from the back.  But that really answers the question as I wouldn’t be at all happy in operating the layout with just a blank wall by the platform.  I wanted the station to be as near to a complete scale replica of the real thing as I could make it.

Cutting out the arch over the station entrance

Cutting out the arch over the station entrance

If you look at the photos of the real thing above, you’ll see that there is an arch in the brickwork above the station entrance that has the railway logo inside it.  To make this I marked out the shape in pencil and then drilled a series of holes around the arch.  You can also see the Peco door now added to the building, and all three sheets joined together.   You can see solvent marks either side of these joins, but that will easily get covered when it’s painted.

Making the arch of "bricks"

Making the arch of “bricks”

As with the windows and doors, the arch was cut away and smoothed to shape using curved files.  The arch of bricks was made by first cutting out two semi-circles, one larger than the other to make an arch in 10 thou plastic sheet.  This was placed on a steel rule, and then tiny 10 thou x 30 thou pieces of plastic strip were glued on to the arch shape to represent the bricks.  This was done with liquid solvent which temporarily stuck the 10 thou plastic arch to the steel ruler.  Once the arch was completed it was left for several hours for all of the solvent to evaporate away and was then gently prized of the steel rule.

On the layout at Cardiff Model Railway Exhibition

On the layout at Cardiff Model Railway Exhibition

This is a bit of a ropy picture, but it’s the only one I’ve got of the station temporarily fixed to the layout at the Cardiff Model Railway Exhibition last October.  You can see that I’ve added window frames made of 20 thou square plastic strip, and have added one half of the station roof, to give people a bit of an idea what is to come.  You can see here that it is right at the front of the layout in a very prominent position, so for me it was essential to make as good a job of it as I could.

Cardiff Model Railway Exhibition 2012

25 October 2012
The military train and oil train passing each other

The military train and oil train passing each other

Last weekend I attended the Cardiff Model Railway Exhibition in Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Welsh comprehensive school in Llandaff North in Cardiff.  I must start by thanking the organisers of the show, Cardiff Model Railway Club, for their good organisation of the show, and for such a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.  I have previously attended the Lord & Butler Model Railway Exhibition in Penarth Road, Cardiff, but that was a relatively small scale show, although a very good start for me to display my Haverfordwest layout.  This Cardiff show was a far bigger affair with quite a number of traders there and about 14 layouts.

Th oil train about to pass the station

Th oil train about to pass the station

My friend Mike Gill very kindly offered to help me at the show and was a great help indeed, both in setting up on the Friday afternoon, throughout the show itself on Saturday and Sunday, and in breaking down at the end of the show on Sunday afternoon.  I can see now why layouts of this size often have a club running them as even with the two of us, we were both kept busy the whole weekend dealing with derailments and stoppages.  Mike brought along a scratchbuilt model he is working on to add some more rivets to the body sides, but he only did a handful over the whole weekend as I was keeping him busy with the layout.  This was a step in the right direction though, as the number of faults this time were considerably fewer than when I attended the Lord & Butler show.

Looking across at the goods yard behind the station platforms

Looking across at the goods yard behind the station platforms

Learning from experience, this time I went over all of the rails with the track cleaning rubber, which certainly helped, but at the start of the show there were numerous problems, although most of these were soon sorted out.   One particularly pleasing thing was that this time the fiddle yards all worked correctly, although a couple of points/turnouts were temperamental.

The points below the Narberth Road Bridge

The points below the Narberth Road Bridge

This was one of the offending sets of points.  They were okay for trains going around the oval, but whenever we tried to send trains into the sidings we had problems with derailments and loss of power.  One answer was to regularly clean the blades of the points at the toe end.  The main problems were with these points and another set at the back of the layout next to the control panel.  Otherwise though, the other points worked well.

Some of the signage in front of the layout

Some of the signage in front of the layout

At the suggestion of the organisers, I put a couple of signs in the front to show “Work in Progress” to make it clear to people that the layout was still under construction.  To the left of these signs I had a number of pictures showing a loading operation at the station.  What I might do next time is to make a board to go above the blue backboards so that people can see the pictures at head height, rather than having to bend down to see them.  But this is all part of the learning process.  I have been exhibiting at military modelling shows for over 30 years, but as a railway modeller I am very much a novice.  This though is one of the greatly appealing aspects of this layout as it is very much something new, and you’re never too old to try something new.

Looking down the length of the layout

Looking down the length of the layout

One thing that has greatly improved the appearance of the layout has been the completion of the ballasting.  This has made the whole thing look a lot more complete.  I still need to finish off the station and add one more warehouse to the goods yard, and then I need to spend some time on improving the wagons and weathering them and the locos.

Sunday morning at the show

Sunday morning at the show

I must admit that I was expecting to be put into one of the ante-rooms at the show, but they gave me pride of pace in a very prominent position in the main hall.  The show was quite busy on the Saturday, often with people two rows deep looking at the layout.  This was the scene on the Sunday morning, when I had the chance to take some photos of the thing.  There were a number of very favourable comments about the layout, especially so from a number of people who had been to the station, and some who knew it well.

A view across the goods yard

A view across the goods yard

Overall, this was a fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable weekend, albeit somewhat knackering.  I’ve learnt a lot about how to operate a model railway layout at an exhibition and feel confident enough now to do so again if the situation arises.

I am now back to reality with a bump!  I’ve got a P G Models trade stand at the IPMS Scale Modelworld at the Telford International Centre in two and a bit weeks time.  I had a very successful N Gauge Show last month and so my stock levels are in desperate need of replenishment, but what’s life without a few challenges!