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Photographer, scribbler, model maker, beer fancier, self confessed train nutter & general nerd.

Thursday, 9 July 2015


Until yesterday, I'd not had the space to set up Combwich since 2011, so a well over due photosession has been taking place on and off over the last 24 or so hours...

Combwich is my oldest layout, starting it layout around 1979, it then went in to storage between 1985 and 2000. Work on it has continued on and off since then. It's been to a few shows in recent years and is popular. It looks pretty and runs well, but the 35 year old wiring really needs to go at some stage.

Scale OO (1/76)
Size: 14'00" x 2'8"

Useless trivia: everyday working steam finished on the Southern Region of British Rail 48 years ago today - 9 July 1967.

Click to enlarge...

Monday, 4 May 2015

Taking a Tablet

The other day I was lucky enough to be given a brand new iPad Air 2 tablet.  I'm not a techy type, rather preferring things to be made of wood, however it has an 8 million pixel camera which is high enough res to actually be useful in the real world and not just Facebook.  It also has very good low light and macro ability, so tried it out on one of my layouts. So here was have a Beattie Well tank well away from its more usual native Cornwall, and now seen on my tiny representation of a small imaginary corner of the Rutland ironstone field. 

I don't think it will replace a proper camera for anything too serious, but it's ideal for stuff like this, and may see the occasional use for the odd magazine shot that a more conventional camera cannot access. 

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Hiding those Flying Ducks and Lawnmowers...

I've not found the time to photograph my own layouts recently, but a little earlier on found a few spare minutes to pop the camera on a tripod and grab a few of Buckminster Ironstone my little quarry layout.

The shots have not been messed about with in post production; a high backscene as here being vital for good photography - unless you want to start messing about with *CGI to hide those flying ducks or lawnmower hanging off the garage wall. We're still a bit behind Europe and the USA when it comes to backscenes, most still being happy with a bit of 6 inch high tatty blue painted MDF with fingerprints and damaged edges. It's changing slowly though, as people start to record their layout build progress with small digicam or mobile phone camera and realise the limitations of such a low backscene for decent CGI free photography.

Click the photos below for a full screen view...

The summer of 1969, a Class 25 still in two tone green is seen shunting at Buckminster Ironstone. The class one head code is interesting, and one that no doubt flummoxed the number crunchers. The crew probably did it on purpose just for gags (cue serious comments...)

Radstock captured positioning wagons under the loading hopper at Buckminster Ironstone. Note the ancient internal user contractor's wagons in the foreground.

Radstock simmers at Buckminster Ironstone Quarry

Radstock simmers at Buckminster Ironstone Quarry

*computer generated imagery

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Rochdale Model Railway Exhibition 11 & 12 April 2015

A few snaps from last weekend's excellent exhibition, grabbed of Polbrook Gurney Colliery during one of two of the quieter moments. This is the furthest north I have taken this layout so far. Click on the photos to make them larger should you like...

Friday, 10 April 2015

Ready for the road...

Yesterday afternoon was spent sorting out Polbrook Gurney Colliery for its trip up to Rochdale, for what will be its most northerly trip so far. 

I tend to only do shows that are fairly close, not being a huge fan of Britain's weekend roads with all the overcrowding problems they bring, as support stocking beige Rover driver meets white Audi Coupe and Lithuanian artic driver together in a three way punch up bringing the inevitable motorway closure. I guess I'll have to leave lots of time. And when I am stuck for 8 hours, I'll have packed a small guitar or ukulele and songbook to practice some songs for next week's open mic down the local. 

I've set the layout up to check it all over, having not run it in earnest for well over a year, the play aspect of toy trains doesn't really interest me. A weekend operating a layout usually satisfies that lesser need for another year! Others are different I know, but for me it's the creation rather than operation. So if any reader here pass by and want to operate the layout for a spell, you are very welcome, be warned though, I might vanish for a pint and leave you for several hours. 

Rochdale Model Railway Exhibition
The Coach House, Lodge Street, Littleborough, Lancashire OL15 9AE

Monday, 6 April 2015

Polbrook Gurney Colliery Roadshow

Rochdale Model Railway Group MODEL RAILWAY EXHIBITION
Saturday 11th & Sunday 12th April 2015

Playing Trains

I don't do many shows far from home, however because the social element promises to be particularly good, Polbrook Gurney Colliery is going to head north of Watford Gap for possibly the only time this coming weekend.

'Rochdale Model Railway Group
In the style of our early exhibitions, showcasing the finescale modelling of our members and friends:

Littleborough Coach House
Lodge Street, 
OL15 9AE (close to the Railway Station) 

Saturday 11th & Sunday 12th April 2015 Saturday & Sunday 10am to 4.30pm Admission - £3.00 Under 16s accompanied by an adult - Free Layouts, Refreshments, Free Car Parking.'

I must apologise for the irregular posts here, however we all increasingly spend more and more time with this interweb thing, so this sadly has been one of the first things to be neglected in an attempt to address a healthy balance.

I do however very regularly post model railway  to my Facebook 'Like' page, and hopefully you'll be delighted to know that you don't need to have a Facebook account to see this page.


Broken blog photos I've noticed this blog has rather a lot of damaged imagery for some reason. Being realistic I simply don't have the time to address it all, but as time permits I'll remove lesser stuff and repair the more popular posts - this might take some time though!

Monday, 26 May 2014

Railex 2014

Photo: Buckminster Ironstone, seen from the staging/fiddle yard end taken at the little layout's outing to Railex over the weekend. The loco, which was a visitor courtesy of Paul Marshall Potter, is a tweeked Hornby Sentinel. These inexpensive and very useful small engines are great runners. You can 'Like' Paul's Facebook Toy Chuffer page here. . Click photo to enlarge.
This weekend was Buckminster Ironstone's first outing. The show of choice being Railex in Aylesbury - a superb and fabulous showcase of some of the best modelling.
The tiny layout only has one point, so visual interest was enhanced with actual loading of wagons. Real crushed ironstone was considered, however it tends to produce are large amount of dust as well and clogging up the hopper. A workable alternative was chosen in the form of fine sand, which had been sprayed with a little red primer to give it a reddish hue. This flowed well through the hopper, and with the inevitable spillage, there was the risk that it would get in to locomotive mechanisms, but I was prepared to take the risk, which in the event was not a problem. The sand was washed prior, this might have removed any elements such as salt or mud which could make sand grains stick to loco wheels and maybe work up in to mechanisms.

Finally, I must thank Graham Muspratt for giving up his Saturday to play trains, and for Paul Marshall Potter for giving me several well needed breaks on the Sunday
Disclaimer for precious or nervous types; If you want to mix sand and toy trains; don't take my word for it - run a test if you want to try this out for yourself.
Photo: fine sand caught in action dropping into a hopper wagon. Click photo to enlarge.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

A New Year, a New Scale...

I finally managed to extract myself from the holiday spirit of putting things off to erect the next project.

Taken with a bit of light through the window and a bit of Photoshop to hide the houses on the other side of the road seen through the window; here we have Scotswood Road which was originally built by Ian Futers the well known serial layout builder. My job is to tidy up this elderly O gauge layout which I believe dates from the 1980's by using current scenic techniques, textures and colouring etc. When complete the layout will be heading for Scotland to be used at home by its owner as well as appearing at various exhibitions.

Scotswood Road, which will have a new name in due course will be serialised in Model Rail magazine as my next major project.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Uke by Rail Through 'Catgut' Burtle

In the days before motorways, oversize loads were taken by rail. This often involved temporarily moving lineside equipment and anything else that would have got in the way. This sort of traffic generally happened on Sundays to reduce the impact in the every day running of the railways.

Disclaimer: the over sized load here is of course just a model - squeaky-voiced-finger-pointing-middle-aged-still-living-with-mother-matter-of-fact-types, please note this is not a serious photo! As far as I know there has never been a concert sized Ukulele this big in real life (if this was the real full sized world of course), and if there had been, the wagon consist might not be quite like this blah blah...

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Wednesday Photo

4631 puts on the brakes for Catcott Burtle; note the WR chocolate and cream liveried Mk1 inserted into this short train. The narrow gauge engine on the low loader in the siding on the right has recently arrived for the preservationists to use on the nearby peat tramway at weekends.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

LBSCR 8 ton Goods Van

A cheeky little Pug shunting and LBSCR 8 ton Goods Van S.R. Dia. 1434 out of the trap siding designed to catch runaways on the gradient up the Polbrook Gurney Colliery. Wagons like this, apart from maybe on the Isle of Wight where all sorts of railway oddities survived, were usually tuned into firewood well before WW2, but in industrial private ownership they could survive far longer. This is one of the reasons why I like freelance industrial scenarios, almost anything goes.

The tatty box van was made up from a Smallbrook Studios resin kit and sits on a Dapol wagon underframe; you can see it along with some other unusual and interesting kits here: http://www.smallbrookstudio.co.uk/#/products-new/4569521214/LBSCR-8-ton-Goods-Van-S.R.-Dia.-1434/3738787  

Pug Power

L&Y 'Pug Power', as the little beastie stands by the entrance to the colliery sidings whist performing a shunting move. Hold on, is that the Evercreech goods in the background? I hope it all doesn't end in tears!

The Hornby (ex Dapol) model still looks good with a little work despite its age. They run OK too, as long as the wheels and track are kept clean. For OO users widening out the wheel back to backs help a little too, setting this one up for 14.8mm to suit my track keeps the waddle to the minimum.

This is the view from the fiddle yard on Polbrook Gurney Colliery, and if you want to see this layout for real, it will be at the excellent Wycrail in High Wycombe on Saturday 2 November http://www.hwdmrs.org.uk/wycrail/

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

The View from Mother's Bedroom

That's Ivo Peters' Bentley in the foreground, taken from the upstairs window of the Pendant & Armchair pub. 'Mother' lives in his room, she rocks to and fro in her armchair for up to 18 hours a day. Rumour has it she has not left the room since 1952.

From that position she can 'keep and eye on her boys' coming and going with their jam sarnies and lemonade, whilst making sure they bring no 'gurls' back... "ohhh no no no no, nothing will come between me and my boys"...

See Polbrook Gurney Colliery at Wycrail on Saturday 2 November - but without 'mother' though....
More info here: http://www.hwdmrs.org.uk/wycrail/

Thanks to James Finister for sending in this link; should you not have seen his post below:

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Polbrook Gurney Colliery at Model Rail Live - this weekend!

A scene from the mid-1970's at Polbrook Gurney Colliery; a class 31 by Model Rail's George Dent arrives with empties as Austerity 0-6-0 tank 'Polbrook No.2' by David Warwick prepares a full rake.

This photo is not manipulated, other than the use of tools to extend the depth of field, content wise including the sky and lighting, it is all real and not meddled with - what you see, is what you get for real.

This layout will be at Model Rail Live this weekend  - www.modelraillive.co.uk  - see you there?

Saturday, 7 September 2013


Here is a trio of RT Models Contractor's side tipping wagon previously seen a week of two ago here before painting. The wagons, apart from a little weathering on the wheels are to all intents and purposes complete, and I think looking quite at home on this little Ironstone project I currently have on the go.

The yellow load is real Colsterworth iron ore from the South Lincolnshire; and with my toy-train-land-fiction destined for calcination - which is not something suffered by chronic armchair modellers and moaning pontificators, but an industrial process to drive out moisture from iron ore and other such minerals. The main reason for the process is that calcinated ore is much lighter - a significant thing when transporting by rail which charges by weight.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Workbench: RT Models Contractor's tipper wagon

On the workbench; an RT Models Contractor's tipper wagon kit. The white metal wagon is seen here before finishing and painting. For this photo the wheels will are borrowed from another wagon, the still to be bought split spoke wheels will have the pin points ground off flat. Note the 16 tonner it's parked next to for size comparison.

Full build review in Model Rail magazine shortly. www.model-rail.co.uk

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Great British Model Railways!

I've been waiting for the announcement of this for some time, having in the early part of the summer escaped the heat to trawl through well over a 3000 images of mostly unpublished photographs of wonderful layouts, photographed for Model Rail for this well overdue celebration of Great British Model Railways... 

The official press release....

Introducing Model Rail's exciting new publication: Great British Model Railways, Volume 1. 

Published on August 15th, it's a pictorial compilation celebrating some of the country's finest layouts and master modellers. 132 pages of top quality model railways and stunning photography for just £4.99. Available from WHSmith and Model Rail stockists from August 15th.

Yours for peanuts, OK, maybe that plus the price of a pint of foaming, all just for £4.99!

PS. It's on really nice paper too!


Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The Joy the Great Outside & Analogue days

Click to enlarge
This time of year I spend as much time outside as possible, and whilst for many the hobby pauses during the summer months, the advantage of a small layout is that it can be taken outside and popped onto the garden table allowing to continue. You also have to advantage of no electronic toys sitting on the desk in front you to distract from the job in hand.

Another advantage of working outside is that you don't have to be quite as tidy as you would indoors, especially when messing about with scenic materials like static grass and coloured ground foam flocks, because a little dropped onto the lawn of not going to upset most people. Of course you don't want to drop anything that you might want to retrieve, because it will have almost certainly been swiftly thieved  by a league of marching ants. Yet another advantage of working outside is great light, which can make those fiddly jobs just a little less tiring on the ageing eyes!

The recent warm weather also has the bonus in that the chore of ballasting sets quickly, with it only taking around an hour or so for the diluted glue and ballast to go off. With this ironstone quarry project, the high summer sunlight caused the rails to get really hot, in fact too hot to touch! A good test though, and hopefully one that has given me confidence in the track will not buckle in a hot smelly exhibition hall - should I take this mini-layout out on the road that is.

The above photo shows that the ironstone quarry project is looking pretty complete, and to the sceptics that think all model railway layout photos are just 'Photoshop', in this shot there is none - the backscene being a wrap around print which runs right around the rear of the layout in a large arc.

There is still some detail and a little scenic work to do, and I also need to mess about with some suitable wagons and maybe locos. As part of the operation, the plan is to load the empty wagons via the loading hopper with real loose iron ore to add to audience interest - or more likely amusement. The lighting rig also needs to be built, for this photo I used my studio lighting, but the plan is to have the same quality and colour of light as in the photo.

Linking back to the opening paragraph, regulars will notice that I don't blog here quite as much as in the past, the reason being that I'm often too busy doing real life things rather than sitting in front of a computer which can be very unproductive. I call these computer free-periods 'Analogue Days', I enjoy these because a lot of model making can be carried out, which very much proves what slaves we all are to these useful but dreaded machines, which can be like blotting paper to spilt ink.

For this same reason these days, I keep away from model railway forums like RMweb and others apart from the occasional flying visit to one of two of the smaller ones, being careful not to dwell too long. I now just treat them like a visit to the pub when you have to drive (which as a beeroholic no fun), a quick coke sufficing rather than an oh so fun boozy all afternoon session with nothing to show for it. I mention this forum bit, because people/forum flies increasingly ask me at shows why I'm not seen on forums much these days. The same people also ask me how I get so much model making done....

Unlike hanging around on forums , I do still like to go to the pub to enjoy a few ales, without the car of course, but I certainly won't be using the 'Free Wifi'.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Ironstone wagons

A couple of free wagons from Model Rail's Peter Marriott. These will be ideal for the ironstone project after a little work. Not all will know that the current Bachmann offering dates back to Mainline of the 1980's. The current version (brown) has much better chassis tooling. The old one will need some fettling to match. I think I have some white metal brake rigging castings that can be spliced in. Of course I could buy a new one. But that rather defeats The object.

Photos of the Ironstone Quarry Project http://www.flickr.com/photos/nevardmedia/sets/72157634128967801/ 

Previous BLOG post on this project http://nevardmedia.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/vobster-high-dykeironstone-quarry.html

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Vobster - High Dyke/Ironstone Quarry

Narrow to standard gauge transhipment. Click to enlarge
A few weeks ago I posted Vobster, a little mini-layout to make use of Polbrock's old diorama case, baseboard and backscene. I possible idea was a quarry off the Highbury Railway near Frome, but after a visit to the High Dyke area of South Lincolnshire known for its now defunct rail served ironstone quarries, I have settled on a little known part of the Buckminster system off High Dyke. 

A couple of weeks ago having a good poke about in the area and  I even found some iron stone in what was Colsterworth Quarry - much of which has been smashed up and sprinkled everywhere on this little scene here. The hilly landscape south of Grantham is not too dissimilar to the backscene inherited from Polbrock (the little GWR halt that used to be here having moved into Polbrook Gurney - "confused? You will be"), though I will need to add some shrubbery to hide Cornish Engine on it!

The loading/hopper is a Wills Coal Loader that's been kicking about on my bookshelf and was in need of a home.

Usually the narrow gauge tipplers would have been tipped straight into the standard gauge wagons, but my excuse is that the occasional use of taller ex-LNER 20T hoppers required this installation. The plan at shows will be to actually load wagons with loose mineral - probably simply spoon fed from above the hopper/loader.

External link: One of the various ironstone quarries off the High Dyke systemhttp://www.nvr.org.uk/sites/default/files/d10201-001.jpg

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Larkrail: 'A Light Railway and Branchline Modelling Miscellany'

Polbrook Gurney will made a rare visit to the Bath area on Saturday 20 July at Larkrail.

Larkrail will take place on Saturday the 20th July 2013 at the New Oriel Hall in Larkhall on the east side of Bath.
Opening times 10.00am to 4.30pm.
Admission fees £4.00 to everybody, accompanied under 16s free

Be sure to visit the dedicated web page http://www.titfield.co.uk/Camrail/Camindex.htm

Saturday, 8 June 2013


Messing about with ideas, taken on a cell/mobile dog and bone.
Messing about with Polbrock's old diorama case, backscene and baseboard. Possibilities could be an a couple of dead end sidings with working narrow gauge serving standard gauge.  

I want to have actual wagon loading as its feature filling up wagons with loose aggregate or minerals as its 'feature'.

Should be a very quick project. Just need to build the track and scenics. I've enough stock and buildings kicking about and of course the carpentry is done.

Might call it 'Vobster' which was a well known and fascinating area for quarries and mining located a few miles west of Frome. http://www.bgs.ac.uk/Mendips/assets/pix/Vobster_minemap_large.jpg

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Model Rail: July 2013 (184)

Click to enlarge
Model Rail: July 2013 (184) published 13 June '13

Issue marking the Mallard 75 anniversary

News: Growing layout list for Model Rail Live. Computer design images of exclusive 'USA' 0-6-0T model.
Wishlist results

new releases from Graham Farish and Dapol

Meacham 'N'
Malham 'OO'
Halfway 'On16.5
Masterplan: Milton Keynes 'N'

The need for speed: Railway record breakers and how to model them
A passion for 'Pacifics' - Mark Allatt reveals his remarkable collection
Formation Flying: Authentic East Coast route trains (Gilbert Barnatt)
Quick on the draw(bar). Dynamometer cars, real and model
Modelling the Underground: History of Underground and LT models

How to paint people
Use Noch's miracle ballast
Create a better 'bone'
Present your layout
Motorise a plastic diesel shunter kit
Take your first scenic steps
Build a real timber shed.

Plus all the regulars, exhibition diary, Q&A, Show & Tell, Backscene

The cover photo; I shot a detailed up Hornby A4 Class pacific supplied by George Dent. You can enjoy more of George's wonderful creations monthly in the magazine as well as his blog http://georgedentmodelmaker.blogspot.co.uk/