Tuesday 30 November 2010

Not a Train in Sight

I must admit to when photographing model railways, apart from the odd cut-away sort of shot to show a cameo or fine detail when shooting a layout for publication, I tend to always have a train in shot somewhere. This is probably something to do with the fact that inevitably that's what I end up doing when photographing full sized railway scenes where the train is very much the star.

In an attempt to break the habit, here is Catcott Burtle with not a train in sight. Imagine all that can be heard is a distant milking parlour, the twittering of the birds and the westerly wind blowing through the willow.

Sunday 28 November 2010

Steam Power on Cement Quay?

2-8-0 superpower as 48660 pulls a rakes of steel 16 ton mineral wagons away from the loading screen on the wharf at Cement Quay.

Some industrial locations can suit multiple eras with just a few changes. In this shot the scene is wound back to the mid 1960's and the last days of steam on the Western Region. The 8F and the 16 ton mineral wagons look completely at home, to the extent that next time I take Cement Quay out I'm tempted to run it as a steam layout with maybe a few green diesels rather than the more usual present days scenario for a change. Just for this shot I did change the high vis jackets of Bill and Ben on the right from orange to some kind of murky blue, this could be easily addressed for real though.  I'm sure the odd person will get hot under the collar about all of this, but hey, it's my trainset so there! :-)

W-i-d-e-s-c-r-e-e-n wallpaper here!

Saturday 27 November 2010


101127_uru_DSC_0617_web, originally uploaded by nevardmedia.

As a diversion from the usual toy chuff chuff stuff, meet 'Uru' the latest acquisition to the household. 'Uru' is a British Shorthair and she is the great grand daughter of Fleur one our other cats.

Friday 26 November 2010

Friday's Steamy Bit of the Somerset Levels

Southern Railway built 8F No. 48660 collects a smart but ancient LSWR Road Van from the siding at Catcott Burtle.


Wednesday 24 November 2010

Wallpaper for Wednesday

In the late summer of 1964 Ivatt Class 2 tank No. 41248 slows for Catcott Burtle with the 2pm service from Evercreech Junction to Highbridge. Note the gleaming ex-works Hawksworth brake composite passenger coach and the Southern Railway bogie parcels van for cheese, cider and another perishables.

The coach is my most recent item of rolling stock, and it will of course be weathered in due course. I intend to add a yellow band above the first class section. A single Hawksworth coach and a bogie van was a typical formation for Highbridge branch passenger trains in the final few years on the former S&D.

Pic: this was taken on a little Canon G9 in natural north facing window light with the camera resting on a bean bag. Exposure was 1 second at f8 which is the little Canon's smallest aperture. The backscene is not a fake one added after the photo was taken but an actual high photographic one attached to the rear of the layout and created from a panorama taken near the real location.
  • W I D E S C R E E N computer wall paper can be found HERE!

Friday 19 November 2010

Mendip Colliery in Model Rail

 If you buy Model Rail Magazine, you might have read my little piece about Mendip Colliery, my 4 x 2 foot coal mining micro layout project. Due to space restrictions the finished shot of the pit head building is couldn't be shown too large, so to prop the feature up here is a BIGGER VERSION of the photo of the finished building.

They say that conventional communication using pen and paper is dead; not quite the case, for a very helpful and knowledgeable gentleman mailed my via the editorial office some most useful information about coal mining in the Mendip area after reading the feature in the mag. He said all that is missing from the above model is a ladder to allow access to the wheel (shieve) and possibly some ironwork above to allow the wheel to be winched out and replaced. These can be addressed at some stage pending some suitable prototype photographs. Thank you sir!

The next installation of Mendip Colliery in Model Rail Magazine will revolve around building a Cornish Pump house, not using ready to plant bits and pieces as a bases, but a full scratch-build. 

On the left is a sneak preview of the almost finished structure.

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Cream of Tartar

58086 on a cold but sunny snowy morning in 1957 awaits with the 11am service from Combwich to Evercreech Junction.

People who know me know that I'm not one to be taken for a ride by cottage scenic manufacturers passing off household products as bespoke items for model railways, then charging 1500% over the odds for sticking it in a small clear bag and a trashy photocopy. OK rant over, the snow is cream of tartar, something that you will probably have in your larder with a sell by date of March 1993. And oh yes it vacuums off by the way!

W I D S C R E E N wallpaper version here!

Tuesday 9 November 2010

Pic of the Day for Tuesday

Bath shed's 8F 2-8-0 No. 48660 propels a short rake of 16 ton mineral wagons under the loading screen at Cement Quay Old Quarry Wharf. This shot was taken under available artificial room light rather than studio lighting and there is no computeryjiggery apart from the fake smoke effect.

A lot of people new to photography these days think it's all done on the computer, sadly I'll have to disappoint them because good old photographic techniques still rule. Whilst much can be done on a computer to compensate for poor or inexperienced technique, it's still better to get it right in the first place abiding by rules that go back to the era William Fox Talbot. However, digital has allowed colour photography in a wider range of lighting situations than in the days of film, because it would be near on impossible to colour correct under today's low energy domestic lighting. And of course to add a bit of fake smoke one no longer needs to resort to cotton wool which is better left in the wife's make-up bag.

Sunday 7 November 2010

Wycrail 2010

Combwich's first outing in 6 years finally took place at Wycrail in High Wycombe on Saturday 6th November at what is rapidly becoming 'the' quality one day show in the SE.

On Friday night Combwich was crammed into a hired Ford Transit for it's 35 mile journey first thing the following day. After an easy 45 minute ride pretending to be a yob in a van from Guildford to High Wycombe, I managed with a little help from Ian Redgate who'd come all the way down from Mansfield the evening before, to get the layout set up in about 40 mins. This is surprising, because Combwich was never designed to go on the road, with baseboards varying from 5ft 3 to just 18 inches long as the layout has evolved in length and width over its 30 or so years existance.

With everything looking good, the power lever was cranked on like firing up the Frankenstein Monster for the first time. Everything appeared to work as it should until I set the road running parallel to the platform, then everything went dead, deader than Nunhead Cemetery on Boxing Day, and not what one wants with just 45 minutes before the doors open! Fault finding wasn't helped by the fact that I had temporarily lost my reading glasses! After 25 mins of much cussing under the layout I tracked down (more a lucky break as the result of random prodding and shaking) a couple of wires that had crossed and the problem was resolved much to my relief. I then found my glasses hanging safely off the backscene - duh!

At 10am sharp, the eager punters started to wander forth in all shapes and sizes. As you no doubt know, model railway buffs are a mixed bunch from the darn right weird to elequent and intelligent upstanding members of society who are real pleasure to chat too, and as usual I got to meet all of them. There were by all accounts a few smelly ones too, but luckely I didn't have a pleasure of meeting any of these, but Combwich is quite wide with a high backscene, so distance may have masked me from the smellier of the smelly brigade who've converted their bathrooms into somewhere to play Thomas and keep their dead mother's stuffed head.

The highlight of the day and something mooted over a year in advance of the show, was to attempt run trains between Tim Maddocks' superb Bleakhouse Road and Combwich, and this we did via a bespoke cassette that could carry an entire train between fiddle yards and then allow it to continue its journey via the respective layout to its destination and then return. Much fun was had making up the oddest train formations to try to flumox the crew of the opposing layout. I imagine because of this there'll be several letters of complaint in the next issue of the Model Hornblock Journal with the usual miserable set getting hot under the collar about us having the occasional bit of fun.

Operationally the layout considering its hasn't been let out for 6 years worked reasonably well, but was occasionally spoilt by the odd derailment due to a sloppy locking mechanism on the station throat point. Looking to the future, and with this in mind, and with some of the other points starting play up as the day went on I've decided to remove all the old Peco units and replace them with something a little more positive in action before the layout's next outing at RAILEX at the end of May 2011. After chatting to several people about this, it would appear that something called COBALT is the way to go.

Oh yes, before I vanish back to the real world, Wycrail is the only show so far where exhibitors were served delicious homemade cake actually served at the layout - now that has to be a first! Roll on next year!

  • For a section of happy snaps from the show, CLICK HERE! 
  • Blogger Phil Parker also went to Wycrail, read his REPORT!

Friday 5 November 2010

Pic of the Day

After leaving the solitary passenger coach in the platform, 58086 was captured shunting the coal wagons into the coal road of Combwich Goods Yard.

The little loco, a Johnson 1P 0-4-4 is from a Craftsman brass kit is the very first proper loco kit I built was back in 1982. The wagons are a couple of British 'Railwayised' former private owner wagons from Hornby that came free with a British Railway Modelling Magazine subscription. The LSWR roadvan is from a delightful resin and plastic kit by the Isle of Wight based Smallbrook Studios.

Thursday 4 November 2010

Crossing the Divide

With just a couple of days remaining to WYCRAIL, serious thoughts have been going on behind the scenes of just how Bleakhouse Road (above) will be conncted with Combwich to allow through workings.

I'm pleased to say that Tim Maddocks, owner of Bleakhouse Road has been far more pro-active in actually producing some hardware to make the above achievable. So, rather than copy what Tim has been up to, best thing is to look at his BLOG here....

Tuesday 2 November 2010

The Mixed Train

Mixed trains ceased to be part of the UK railway scene at least half a century ago. I imagine passengers hated them, any journeys being very slow due to wagons being picked up and dropped off at various sleepy stations on what was probably a journey from nowhere to even less-where.

Captured here for your enjoyment on 10 asa Kodachrome 1, is one of these sleepy services arriving at Combwich hauled by an ancient Johnson 1P 0-4-4 sometime in 1952.

The loco here is the first proper kit I built (Craftsman), there's a date on the underside saying 1982 - that's quite scary because it doesn't feel too long ago. MRJ snapper and loco-guru Phil Hall gave it a mechanical up and under a couple of years ago, and I must say that it now runs a dream! The coach is a Ratio Midland brake-end, it's in fact part of my engineering train, but it looks the part even though these low roofed Midland coaches probably didn't make it much past the 1930's in revenue earning service.

W I D E S C R E E N wallpaper HERE!
See Combwich for real at WYCRAIL - 6 Nov '10

Temporary Custodian of a Castle

It's not generally known, but route availability was briefly thrown out the window in 1962 when No. 7034 'Ince Castle' powered an RCTS railtour down the Combwich branch. Here is the beauty departing the terminus for the return leg to Paddington via Bridgwater.

This is the Hornby Castle which is currently gracing the cover of MODEL RAIL 150.

I've been lucky to be the temporary custodian of this delightful piece of fettling by George Dent for the last couple of months, but now it is time for me to say good by as I prepare to give this delightful locomotive back to its rightful owner. Before it goes, and seeing Combwich is all set up in preparation for WYCRAIL this weekend, it would have been rude not to put the old girl in front of the camera lens again for one final snap.
  • W I D E S C R E E N wallpaper HERE!

Model Rail 150

The 150th Model Rail has just started to hit subscribers' doormats, with over the counter sales a little later in the week.

Here goes the official contents list courtesy of Chris Leigh:
  • Shooting the Cover: For such a special issue of Model Rail, we needed a special cover. Here’s how we did it...
  • Big Picture: An unusual conversion project was unveiled at Model Rail Live.
  • One Big Weekend: If you didn’t make it to Model Rail Live at Barrow Hill, here’s what you missed. 
  • New FNA wagons from Bachmann, big diesels from Heljan and a first look at all-new 4mm Mk 2 coaches.
  • Reviews: Hornby’s ‘L1’ and Railroad Class 40 and Bachmann’s ‘A2’ and ‘Autoballaster’ come under scrutiny from our experts. 
  • Free car for every reader! Turn to page 31 to find out how to claim your free 1:76 scale car.
  • Madder Valley Railway: Chris Leigh delves into the history of John Ahern, one of the key links between the pre-war trainset and the modelling hobby of today.
  • Pretty in Pinxton: Alex Fisher tells the story of the signalbox that inspired our latest limited edition.
  • Christmas Gift Ideas: Leave these pages open at home, it will give your loved ones some great ideas for December 25!
  • Network News: Network Rail’s Class 950 DMU can be justified on any modern-era layout. George Dent shows you how to build it.
  • Warley 2010 Preview: Here’s your essential guide to the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition.
  • Only here for the beer: Railways and brewing were inextricably linked. Ben Jones looks at the movement of beer and the possibilities it offers modellers.
  • Building Eastwood Town: Want to build your dream layout? Gordon Stolliday offers hints and tips to get your project under way.
  • Build an exhibition layout: How to do you design a layout destined for a life on the road? Ben Ando explains all.
  • Making Mendip Colliery: Chris Nevard describes how he detailed and improved some resin buildings for his latest layout project – a Somerset colliery.
  • Supertest: Trees; Every layout needs them, and tree aficionado Peter Marriott gets to grips with what’s available.
  • Pendon Perfection: Chris Nevard was granted exclusive access to the ‘Vale Scene’. Prepare to be inspired!
  • 1960: Britannia rules? Robert Forsythe looks back to the eve of the ‘Swinging Sixties’ when BR’s ‘Britannia’ was threatened by an electric from Austria.
  • Masterplan: Borchester: ‘Borchester Market’ contains everything we might want from a layout. Here’s how you can build your own version of this classic. 
  • Model Rail DVD offer
  • Model Rail Shop
  • Buy exclusive models online or by telephone from our all-new shop.
  • Britain’s Model Trains: Our unique and comprehensive guide to RTR models is out again on November 11. It’s fully refreshed and updated for 2011!
  • Q&A: Your modelling questions answered by fellow readers, experienced and expert modellers.
  • Show & Tell
  • Exhibition Diary
  • Backscene
  • and in MR151: Three great layouts, top kit-building advice and the ultimate guide to ‘N’ gauge modelling - coming next time.