Monday 31 December 2012

Happy New Year

Above is an old Agfa CT18 slide of dropping off water churns at Catcott Crossing taken around 1962. It's going to be quite a job to restore this one to clear away the mould and scratches. The lens on the original camera was not that great either, with quite a bit of astigmatism at the edges of the field. Luckily though the photographer had his twin lens Rollei and grabbed a decent B&W shot here.

Well that was 2012, and quite a busy year it's been with another layout making its debut in the form of Polbrock, and then there's been all the magazine photography which has taken me up, down and across the country to play with and photograph other people's cracking and lovely layouts for Model Rail magazine.

2013 promises to be equally busy with the diary already full almost through to the summer on the layout photography front. I also have to extend Polbrock by 100% to incorporate a colliery - the deadline with that being Railex at the end of May so I need to think about cracking ahead! I also have some features to write too covering various railway modelling subjects. Luckily I have wound down my television work to a minimum to incorporate all this extra toy train stuff.

In the mean time, let me wish you a fabulous, exciting and prosperous new year!

Saturday 29 December 2012

Water Delivery

nevard_121229_catcott_IMG_2378 by nevardmedia
nevard_121229_catcott_IMG_2378, a photo by nevardmedia on Flickr.
Click on the above photo for a bigger version with extra notes about the modelling!
The photo above is a reminder of hot summer days for those of us in the northern hemisphere, with this photo depicting the regular fresh water delivery for the crossing keeper and her family.

Many rural outposts on our railways before Mr Beeching killed most of them off were remote from electricity and even mains water. Catcott, a small crossing, half a mile of so east of Edington Burtle in the middle of the Somerset Levels was just one of these spots, the remote keepers cottage not having water on tap, although the swan necked lamp seen just above the car would suggest there was electricity!

To get around the water issue, drinking water would be delivered as required in a milk churn, it frequently being carried on the footplate of a passing loco or train and dropped off. Exchange of a quick cuppa or some vegetables from the obligatory crossing keeper's allotment could also be known to ensure a supply of coal too - though that was strictly unofficial!

The engine here, an ex-GWR Pannier Tank number 4631 was one of the few allocated to the former Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway route as a result of the Western Region takeover. By the early 1960's these small but powerful locos could often be seen sharing Highbridge branch duties with Ivatt Class 2 tanks and ex-GWR Collett 0-6-0 tender locos which had replaced the old ex-Midland 3F 0-6-0 and Midland 0-4-4 1P tanks which had operated the line for many years.

The old Austin which appears to be devoid of a number plate is probably illegal, even when this photo was taken around 1963 it would have been the best part of 30 years old and probably none too roadworthy!

Monday 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

31272 & 31230 power a coal train through Finsbury Park. January 1987. Rolliecord, Ektachrome 100.
Enjoy your day where-ever you are, and if you're a toy train fan I hope that Santa bought you lots of toys. Enjoy!

Chris Nevard

Sunday 23 December 2012

Cement Quay gets packed up for Xmas

nevard_121221_CQ_IMG_2143 by nevardmedia
nevard_121221_CQ_IMG_2143, a photo by nevardmedia on Flickr.
The photographer's 1956 MG Magnette ZB in 'duo-tone' takes pride of place in front of Hymek No. D7013 on Cement Quay.

Due to the Christmas festivities, my 'playroom' is sadly needed to sleep guests so this will be the last shot on Cement Quay for a bit. I set it up in September for a 'day or two', but somehow or other 3 months on and it's still sat there! Still, it's given me a chance to mess about with it and see what it looks like with steam loco and early diesels in preparation for its next outing which is likely to be Model Rail Live as and when that happens.

On the note of early diesels, the Hymek is a 40 year old Triang Hornby one, which around a decade of so I rewheeled with Ultrascales and reworked and repainted the body. I also took the opportunity to lower it by a couple of millimeters too, which I think improves it's look.

Insert a shim to lower the motor bogie. The one on the other end, just file the base away a similar amount.
The newer Heljan offering of this loco is of course better in many ways, but if this re-worked Triang loco from the early 1970's if on its own it still looks the part I think. And curiously the 40 year old 3 pole motor still runs a dream, it working very well indeed with a Gaugemaster Feedback controller, allowing slow crawling speeds you'd tend to expect with modern ready to run with all their flywheels and other clever bits.

The MG Magnette ZB (Oxford Diecast) in 'duotone' was one of those rash purchases down the local Model Zone -  a snip at a mere £2.99 - less than a pint around these parts! It's has a little dusting of Tamiya Matt to kill the shine.

Thursday 20 December 2012

Loco Focus: Modified Hornby 'Evening Star'

nevard_121220_CQ_IMG_2131 by nevardmedia
nevard_121220_CQ_IMG_2131, a photo by nevardmedia on Flickr.
Looking perfectly at home on Cement Quay, a chopped about, repainted, renumbered and weathered Hornby 'Evening Star', now masquerading as 92224.

Around 10 years the modified engine which involved replacing all the moulded hand rails was treated to a Modelyard loco-drive chassis. The more recent 9F releases from Bachmann and Hornby Railroad have made such conversions redundant and whilst Modelyard no longer do this conversion, I'm pleased to see that they have evolved to suit present day model railway fan's requirements -

An area I will look at is the airbrush weathering, things in this area have moved on in recent times with heightened skills and techniques acquired over the last decade or so since I acquired and modified this engine.

Model Rail Feb 2013 (178)

Model Rail Feb 2013 (178)

With 13 issues a year the months start to get a little out of kilter around this year, so the issue after this one will be called 'Spring' I gather. Anyway, that's a minor issue when you get an extra magazine each year because it's every 4 weeks rather than monthly.

All the Hornby 2013 news and the background to what's happening - and a round-up of new items announced or launched at Warley.

Check out our latest limited editions and place a pre-order, plus there's a new batch of four Sentinels coming in 2013 - find out which new liveries we've chosen.

Reviews include the Hornby 'B17' 4-6-0 and 'O1' 2-8-0 - probably the first time we've had two new Hornby locos in a month.

Also the lovely Bachmann 'C' class 0-6-0, the LMS Compound 4-4-0 and the Graham Farish 'N' Blue Pullman and the Dapol 'N' Class 27. In fact 
SEVENTEEN pages of reviews!

Horseley Fields - modern image 'N' gauge (photography by Chris Nevard)
Brinkley 'P4' LMS/BR MR (photography by Chris Nevard)
Brucklay 'EM' green diesel era.

Masterplan: The final installment of Paul Lunn's 6x4 designs, and something VERY different.

Masking models
DRS Class 37/6
LMS 40ton coal hoppers
Baseboards without wood

All the regulars including Q&A, Exhibition Diary and Backscene.

Chris Leigh
To order a sub visit 

Wednesday 19 December 2012

O1 for London

Stratford (East London) shed's Thompson O1 No. 63650 has been spotted on Cement Quay between duties a somewhat long way from 'The Smoke', but as somebody recently commented on one of the toy chuffer forums 'these locos had rubbish brakes' so that could be the reason why it was spotted here right down in Gloucestershire - it over ran a bit!

The joy of an industrial layout like this is that it could be almost anywhere, which is a great excuse to run whatever pleases, which is great because my current interest loco-wise is in big 8 coupled goods locos!

Catalogue dribblers will know that 63650 with 'early crest' is not one of the options for this new release, that's because yesterday afternoon I decided to repaint, renumber and weather up a LNER liveried one I had in my possession. Looking for colour prototype photos, the excellent 'Steam in England' featuring photographs by the great R.C. Riley came up trumps with a nice photo of this hardy Eastender captured on Stratford shed sometime in the elate 1950's.

Converted from an O4 in 1945, this sturdy engine lasted right through to the classes final year in 1965, and I've tried to depict the engine much as it would have been between exams, not a complete wreck, but as a machine that's seen a bit of use.

The favoured way these days to weather up engines and rolling stock is to use an airbrush, but despite owning a couple of these useful tools (in the right hands), these days I like to weather just using brush techniques. One reason is because being lazy by nature I hate cleaning airbrushes, and the other because I'm more confident with a brush in my hand along with a good period colour photo to copy for inspiration.

The brush technique will form a Workbench feature in a future Model Rail, I've taken the step by step photos but now need to put a few words together which will hopefully make some kind of sense. In the meantime, if you want a closer look at the above photo, click on it for other viewing size options. And before some sniffy type comments, yes I know it needs a crew, coal and lamps. 

Friday 14 December 2012

Friday Photo

nevard_121213_Q1_IMG_1984 by nevardmedia
nevard_121213_Q1_IMG_1984, a photo by nevardmedia on Flickr.
With a gale blowing outside confirming that it really is winter, here's a rose tinted view of railways as they were - well, in our memories anyway!

Bulleid 'Coffeepot' Q1 Class No. 33019 with a Redhill to Reading service storms past an ex-GWR pannier tank in the summer of '62 taken on my loco train photothingy. I really must add some fishplates to the track sometime!

Thursday 13 December 2012

Into the Sunset

nevard_121212_Q1_IMG_1961 by nevardmedia
nevard_121212_Q1_IMG_1961, a photo by nevardmedia on Flickr.
In the last rays of sunlight during the autumn of 1963, Guildford Shed's 'Cofferpot' No. 33019 briefly lets off a good clag as it heads west after a water stop at Basingstoke.

Those who follow me on Facebook will have seen this photo, I find it like with this blog a useful tool to show off photos, especially now that the new Facebook layout allows much bigger less compressed photos to be displayed.

This photo seeing I don't have a time machine is one of my frequent lash ups in the studio using the customised Hornby Q1 I discussed in my last blog post earlier in the week. The photo took about 5 minutes to set up and shoot, just using a single light source off to the left with the angle allowing light to reflect off the loco straight into the lens. The sky and smoke; I have to confess to using  Photoshop to laminate an early morning West London summer sky and smoke from a full sized GWR Pannier tank taken on some photo-charter a few years ago.

Purists would of course take their model outside in the correct weather and photograph it against the sky 'live', they'd then hide behind the loco smoking a cigar puffing smoke upwards. But no, it's too cold and I don't smoke, so prefer this method especially for this time of year!

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Bulleid's Austerity

nevard121212_Q1_IMG_1957 by nevardmedia
nevard121212_Q1_IMG_1957, a photo by nevardmedia on Flickr.
This Hornby Bulleid Q1 has been renumbered as Guildford Shed's least glamourous No. 33019 and is midway through my non-airbrush weathering.

I used to airbrush weather all the time, but now favour pigment washes and drybrushing, these giving me giving far more control and a slightly more random effect like the real thing.

In time the upper surfaces will receive a little matt varnish misted on from above to suggest fallen ash (Testors Dullcote from an aerosol), otherwise I favour the slight sheen of a working engine, remembering clambering around mucky working engines in Poland in the very early 1990's. Working steam has more of a warm smeared sticky Christmas Pudding look than pure Barry Island rust often portrayed.

I tend to weather in stages, splitting into different sessions over a few days rather than all in one go, I can them appraise the result in different light including that of the layouts it will be running on. It also allows the paints to set well between sessions.  

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Airfix 15-ton Diesel Hydraulic Crane

Click to enlarge

I was having a tidy up earlier putting wagons and locos away that were littering the spare room and can across this old  Airfix 15-ton Diesel Hydraulic Crane.

Click to enlarge

It formed part of a huge second hand job lot I bought when getting back into the hobby a decade or so ago, and was built by its previous owner from a kit originally dating from 1962.

In more recent times this useful and fully working model (part from moving under its own power) was produced by Dapol, so those who fancy one will stand a good chance of finding one for the price of a couple of pints on Ebay or one of the tat stores that spring up at smaller railway shows.

I must say that I think it looks spot on here, the posed scene here depicting a steel girder load that needs unloading onto the quayside for some heavy construction work no doubt.

Monday 3 December 2012

Black & White

Brewhouse Quay; the strong graphic quality means
that colour would add little if anything. Red and yellow
channels were lightened a little during B&W
conversion to add mid tone contrast to replicate how
B&W film would record such a scene.

If you look on model railway internet forums it's common to see dull flat photos of toy chuffers in black and white. Apparently to many forum-flies, many layouts and modelling 'look more realistic', but hits on my website when I publish both colour and B&W of the same photo would tend to suggest that colour always wins on the 'hit' front by around 2 to 1.

I think much of the time why modellers prefer B&W to colour is because their white balance is so far out, so converting that shot to monochrome gets around that issue. We've all done it I'm sure, especially if trying to shoot something at a show with all the mixed lighting casting different colours on everything, or if you're a bloke, simply not reading those new camera instructions to work out how to set the white balance!

Tip: shoot RAW and write your white balance later at home if your camera allows!

Very occasionally I do get that shot which gets more B&W hits than colour, this is probably something to do with the lighting and composition. Those shots tend to have a strong graphic quality, any colour adding little or no value. Luckily these lazy days we can make that choice in the virtual darkroom at a later stage. But if shooting a B&W shot specifically, it's always good to 'see' in B&W at the taking stage, concentrating on those aspects that make a B&W shot work by ignoring the colour aspect. Google Colin Gifford or Bill Brandt and you'll see what I mean.

Tide out at Le Touquet - originally a colour shot, but the
blue channels darkened and yellow channels lightened during
B&W conversion to replicate the effect of B&W film shot
through a red filter. CLICK TO ENLARGE!
Many think that turning a digital colour photo into B&W is simply a matter of converting the image to 'greyscale'; of course you do get a B&W image, but it will often look muddy, lack contrast and the tone separation between what were originally the coloured areas like duotone carriage liveries (especially 'blood and custard'). This is because B&W film, even though it is monochrome does see colour and records it differently to a simple grey scale conversion. In the days of B&W film, photographers would exploit this aspect further by adding coloured filters to their camera lenses to produce differing effects.

The most popular filter was yellow, the yellow filter brightening yellows and green in a landscape (or the yellow end to a loco) and darkening the blues, great for a summer days when wanting to separate the fluffy white clouds from the blue sky. For more extreme effects orange or even red filters could be used, red in particular darkening the blue sky to almost black and lightening the yellow/red end of the spectrum to make these colours appear white in monochrome. For railway photographers this could give the most most bazaar effect to a BR Blue loco on a sunny summer day!
A Midland 3F on Catcott Burtle, originally in colour, as before
the  yellow and red channels were lightened a tad and the
 blue channel darkened a bit at the B&W conversion
 stage. The effect is similar to what you'd get shooting outside
 on a summer's day with a yellow filter on the camera lens
when using B&W film. A simple grey scale conversion of the
 colour photo would be lacking in contrast in the grass and
 sky, yellows and reds in particular becoming far too dark and 

muddy during a straight greyscale conversion.
In the wacky world of digital, you can do much of the above with your editing software by adjusting the colour intensities when B&W converting. I'm not going to tell you how here, but have a quick Google on the subject and try for yourself, you'll never be satisfied with a simple grey scale conversion ever again and may even get that rare shot that's more popular in B&W than colour.

To celebrate B&W in miniature, I have created a Flickr collection of some of my favourite B&W shots - they can be found here.

Photo for Monday

Monday is often a miserable day for those in the 9-5 rat race, so hopefully this photo of my 30 year old LMS 4F will add a little cheer to the gloom. But listening to the news as I type type would suggest that today will be the busiest day for internet shopping - so hopefully you've put that order in for the rolling stock or book you need for that latest project.

The above photo was taken at around 05.40 (don't ask) this morning, I have the photographic lights set up around Cement Quay currently so it was just a matter of turning them on and popping the Box Brownie onto a small bean bag to grab this view as if one was afloat on the water without a paddle.

Sunday 18 November 2012

Gunpowder Van

This afternoon I finally finished the Parkside Dundas (PC86) GWR 10 Ton Gunpowder Van Z2 kit that's been in the workbench for a few weeks.

The lettering/numbering is homegrown and a chance to try out the Crafty Computer Paper DIY transfer sheets.

Painting and weathering is my usual build up of washes, blobs of paint and dry brushing. I prefer to work this way over airbrushing these days. These steel bodied wagons are always a joy to replicate with the tin worm which took over due to our wet climate.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Technique: Quick Cobbles

Cobbled yards are quite easy to do when you know how. The delighful little loco here was loaned by Tim Maddocks, see his website at
There are lots of ways to do cobbles; many use embossed plastic sheet, which is fine but cutting out sections to the correct shape to bed in neatly around curved track is far from easy and of course you have the problem of hiding joins. Others use plaster or Das modelling clay, let it set and then have the long job of handscribing  - this could take several weeks even for just to do a few square inches.

Or you can use this method which is quick, easy and ensures a degree of sanity can remain in this already loopy hobby of ours.

First add a layer of Das modelling clay; if the surface is smooth, paint on a little white glue first to help the clay adhere. Use a beer bottle (drink the contents first if you like, or save to the end as a reward) to roll the clay into place if it helps.

Fingers and a stiff brush can also be used to pummel the clay into place. Don't do too big an area in one go because the clay will set, time depending on whether you're here in the UK in a cold damp shed at the bottom of the garden or in California in a tin roofed garage. Do a test first to see what suits you and your environment.

Where the clay butts up against the track, keep it a little lower than the rail head (approx 1mm), this will make cleaning the track easier and will minimise the chance of damaging the cobbles with a track rubber.

Next use a ball point pen with the writing bit removed. Just press the tip into Das modelling clay lots of times. The area here which is around 6 by 6 inches (15cm) took around 10-15 minutes.

Then when set (overnight), spray paint black (Halfords auto spray is good) then drybrush on lighter stone coloured tones, beige, grey, cream using your favourite hobby paint.

This whole area (3ft x 18 inches) was about 3 hours work including the painting (not including the overnight Das drying time).

Open another beer.....

Roving Camera 3: Warren Lane

On the eve of the falling of the snows in the middle of December 2010 I was very privileged to be invited into deepest Essex to photograph Warren Lane a super present day depiction of a modern container terminal.

As you’d expect the container gantries all function via remote, so trains as they come and go can be loaded and unloaded which adds interest beyond that of trains simply coming and going.

We often tend the think of ‘modern image’ model railway buffs as box openers rather than modellers, the Warren Lane team buck this, with nearly everything being scratchbuilt, from the overhead electric catenary right through to many of the specialist road vehicles designed for moving the containers about the terminal. The working gantries are Heljan, but they have been cleverly repainted into Freightliner colours to remove them as far as possible from out of the box condition.

Enough from me, take a look at the dedicated website at and pick up a back copy of the June 2010 issue of Model Rail Magazine

Monday 12 November 2012

My Workbench

Many people presume that I have some kind of dedicated workbench area for my various projects, but I'm not really a fan of hiding away in some little boxroom, preferring daylight and being around my nearest and dearest.

Above is the 'workbench' used for much of the construction of Brewhouse Quay, in this case being the dining room table. Being good you might notice the rug used to protect the wooden surface from scratches, but you may also notice that I was probably going to be told off for not putting a mat under the tea cup, especially seeing it appears to have slopped a little.

As always Fleur (pussy cat) like to get involved with what's going especially seiing I'd just plugged the soldering iron in to heat up - bless.

Benchvent, suppliers of hobby extractors are currently running a competition for workbench photos, this spurred the above photo to be extracted from the bowels of my photo-archive....

Thursday 8 November 2012

View from the fiddle yard

nevard_121108_BQ_IMG_1385 by nevardmedia
nevard_121108_BQ_IMG_1385, a photo by nevardmedia on Flickr.
I'm always keen to try out new angles on my layouts, and it's after exhibiting Brewhouse Quay at Wycrail last weekend became aware of this never before tried view from one of the other fiddle yard exit points on BQ when messing about at the show with a camera. In fact unless one has a really small head it's not possible to see this, but today's little high quality cameras can get into all sorts of places- ohhh errrr.....

Note how the canopy has been cut back over the years, the most recent modifications since the local take over of local line by the BR Western Region with their even bigger locos. Well, that's my story, but in reality I should have mounted the building a tad higher! Still, this osrt of thing happened in eal life!

30587 after residing at Eastleigh for a few months in 62/63 after finishing on the Wenfordbridge line, ended shunting Brewhouse Quay sidings until the late 1960's - its short wheelbase and nimble frame being ideal for this little known brewery railway network. Shortly after this photo was taken, the engine was painted green, lined out and named 'Mashtun'.

Monday 5 November 2012

Wycrail - Jolly Good!

IMG_1212 by nevardmedia
IMG_1212, a photo by nevardmedia on Flickr.
Well, that was Wycrail that was! As what a fun day it was too at the brand new and even dare I say slightly stylish location of the Cressex Community School on Aylesbury. The location, well the bits put aside for the show anyway had more in common with that of a modern trade show facility than a a school, which meant lots of light, high ceilings and plenty of space, a contrast to the location of previous years which has simply been outgrown due to the success of the show.

Ian Mellors, that's him by the way in the shot above, very kindly gave up his Saturday and travelled all the way down from Mansfield to help play trains. This is the third year in a row that I've been in dept to Ian for his assistance, so as soon as he gets his new O gauge layout onto the road I hope to return the favour many times over.

Brewhouse Quay, or 'BQ' as I call it behaved as it should, even the wagon turntable shunt worked most of the time, but I really must address the doors that the wagon exit through backscene (seen just to the left of Ian's hand), it's a little too tight for comfort.

Enough for now. I'm in a but of a rush, but here's to Wycrail '13, and if you want to see the wagon tuntable in action, go here

Thursday 1 November 2012

Model Rail - December 2012 (173)

Model Rail Day has come around again!

  • Review: Dapol 57XX 0-6-0PT in N
  • Hornby 'Maple Leaf' Class 67
  • N Gauge Society LMS saloon
  • Dapol O gauge open wagons
  • Bachmann 'Improved Director' 4-4-0
  • Truetexture lasercut window frames
  • Hornby Class 92
  • Graham Farish autoballaster in N
  • Layout: Medstead & Four Marks layout in OO
  • 6 x 4 by Paul Lunn
  • Layout: Dduallt - FR layout in OO9
  • How to:
  • Use filler
  • Detail a tank wagon kit - George Dent
  • Finish a 'Q1' loco - Spencer Pollard
  • Em-bell-ish an 'A4' - Chris Leigh (inspired by 60010)
  • Easy evening projects - Peter Marriott
  • Detail a budget diesel - George Dent
  • Model Rail meets Ian Futers
  • Wheels of Steel - Ben Ando
  • Layout:Liverpool Lime Street EM gauge layout
  • Q&A
  • Show and Tell
  • George's Modelling Diary
  • Backscene

Visit the Model Rail website to order your copy, or pop down to the shops!

Some preview shots of the wonderful layouts within - all based on real locations!

Medstead & Four Marks - photo: Chris Nevard/Model Rail
Dduallt - photo: Chris Nevard/Model Rail
Liverpool Lime Street - photo: Chris Nevard/Model Rail


Tuesday 30 October 2012

Boys' Day Out

Lots of clag as 60069 eases its load into the loop
at Westerleigh. More pics here! 
 Late last week as a break from toy trains I went on a jolly snapping trains with the good company of Tony Callaghan, Mark Bearton, Ian Chancellor, Chris Perkins, Richard Lewis and Tom Curtis.

The weather started off dull, misty and wet at our rendezvous of Pilning, but digital photography doesn't really get handicapped with this sort of weather, and if anything van produce more interesting results than sunshine.

After Pilning we nipped over to Westerleigh fuel terminal between the Bath and Bristol M4 junctions. It was hard to imagine that once upon a time the Pines Express and other long distance expresses thundered through here on this old Midland route on their way to Bristol, Bath, the Somerset & Dorset Line and beyond.

At Westerleigh the incoming train was running late which was delaying the outbound train, this presented us with the sight of two long trains at the terminal - double fun for spotters!

We then rounded up the day a mile of two north at Ram Hill, Coalpit Heath. This area historically was the centre of the south Gloucester coal field, with the last pit, Froglane Colliery closing just after the last war.

And now the photos from those of use that have websites:

See BREWHOUSE QUAY at Wycrail this weekend

Sunday 28 October 2012

Roving Camera #2: Brinkley

A heady mix of 1950's ex-LMS locomotive, GWR and BR blood & custard liveried coaches powers through Brinkley - Click on the photo to enlarge!

At the end of September I was invited down the clubrooms of the Glevum Area of the Scalefour Society to photograph Brinkley their beautiful S4 layout for Model Rail magazine. Whilst I have no idea what  Glevum AG stands for (it could be a foreign football team for all I know), I do know that it involves a fabulous group of highly skilled modellers who very much enjoy themselves creating some masterful and innovative layouts - which is about as good as it gets in my book! Clicking on the link above will show you what they're all about. Even though I don't model Scalefour, if these chaps were in my area I'd sign up and get involved with all the S4 bits that don't require a ruler!

I'll let the 'Glevums' describe the layout, they'll do a much better job than me, so here is an excerpt from their website:

'Brinkley was a small peaceful country town on the Northamptonshire/ Buckinghamshire border until, as a result of not being able to reach agreement on running rights over L.N.W.R. metals, the Midland Railway decided to build a direct link from Wellingborough to the G.W.R. at Oxford. In addition to providing lucrative cross country passenger and freight services, the line attracted business from the Northamptonshire ironstone quarries sending ore to South Wales steelworks and return traffic of Welsh coking coal to the local steelworks.'

I'll endeavour to update this page when I know which issue of Model Rail Brinkley is due to appear in.

Friday 26 October 2012

Canon G12

Photographing model railways is a bit of a niche subject and requires odd techniques to get the best results. For proper commissioned shoots I use professional Nikon DSLR gear and studio lighting, but sometimes a tiny camera is needed for those hard to get and low angles when the more usual DSLR is simply too bulky.

For some time for this purpose I've used a little Canon G9, which has lots of manual control, the all important RAW capture delivering results good enough for a published double page spread. But after 20.000 frame the little G9 has finally expired so a replacement was needed quickly in the form of the highly regarded Canon G12.

The little camera arrived about an hour ago so I thought I'd better quickly put it through its paces, and here are my initial thoughts.

The controls are the same as with the G9 so I was able to set up my custom own custom settings of self timer and other bits that waste time setting up from scratch; Macro, IS off, 80iso, RAW.

Observations are as follows.

The wide angle is good, it equates to a 28mm which gives a good depth of field without focus stacking at f8 and offers a wider angle of view if needed. It delivers a far greater depth of field than the old G9 at the same f-stop at the widest zoom setting (G9 equates to 35mm). This will save time in post prod much of the time and of course disk space storing all those RAW files used for making up just images if focus stacking.

Shooting RAW for maximum quality and processing in Adobe Photoshop CS5, image quality wise has maybe tad lower noise than the G9 at base iso (80), but the lens has greater diffraction at f8 than the G9, so a little more sharpening is needed which in turn ups the noise, thus negating any real difference. But it is very acceptable and should be OK for DPS with good technique.

High contrast objects towards the edge of the frame suffer quite severe chromatic aberration (colour fringing), but this can be totally eliminated at the RAW processing stage buy ticking the C/A tick box in the RAW convertor, one of the reasons for shooting RAW and converting to JPEG later. You'll need full Photoshop, not PS Elements to be able to do this.

Another tickbox in the Adobe RAW convertor gets rid of the barrel distortion seen on straight lines towards the edge of the frame, this is only really an issue with architecture and a feature of all small camera zooms.

Conclusion for those thinking of upgrading:

For G9 owners;The extra wide angle is very good, but that's the only real difference. Image quality wise the difference is not really apparent enough to justify an upgrade (unless the camera is broken!)

G10/11 owners:Save the pennies and wait for the next model, or go for a G1x (but useless macro for model makers), or change to a DSLR.

General conclusionsThe multi-angle screen is a winner and will save bending necks too much.

Better video in the form of proper 16x9 which is compatible with TV set aspect ratios. 720p is not full HD, but will offer better res than SD and more than adequate for good online streaming. If you're buying just for the video, you'll be better with a bespoke video camera or DSLR which will offer far more control when recording.

Thursday 25 October 2012

Wycrail 3 Nov '12

nevard_120708_BQ_DSC_6785 by nevardmedia
nevard_120708_BQ_DSC_6785, a photo by nevardmedia on Flickr.
It's exhibition time again as Brewhouse Quay hits the road for the first time since last May at Railex.

Since the last outing I have added some working DCC Concept lanterns. Whilst you wouldn't normally see them burning in the daylight hours, on model railways we always do have them lit for some reason, but of course if the new hall is dark then all the better because I'll turn the layout lights off to help the effect.

On the subject of a new hall; this year Wycrail is being held at the location below which should hopefully help with any over crowding.

Cressex Community School

Cressex Road
High Wycombe
Bucks HP12 4UD

For more information follow this link.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Roving Camera #1: Abbotswood Junction

It's the era of the Austin Allegro, flairs and to quote celebrity photographer David Bailey, 'the age of the long haired bank clerk', as a 'Rail Blue' liveried Brush type 4 thunders through Abbotswood Junction with a Class 1 passenger express. Click the photo to enlarge!
This post hopefuly marks the beginning of a regular series of tasters of what I've been photographing for Model Rail magazine over recent weeks. Whilst at such an early stage it's not always known which issue the featured layout will appear in, it will hopefully give you an idea of some of the wonderful model railways coming your way Model Rail.

Last week I popped over Gloucester way to photograph Phill Bullock's excellent Abbotswood Junction - a super OO gauge layout based the real location just south of Worcester in that rarely modelled era immediately after the end of steam. Then much of BR was still steam infrastructure with manual signalling, old style track layouts, but with a fascinating blend of BR green and Rail Blue diesel hydraulic and electric traction often hauling a similar eclectic mix of stock

Abbotswood is a proper crowd-pulling decent sized 'watch the trains fly by' kind of layout, it having no station as such, so the joy is pure action and a complete antidote to the plethora of shunting layouts that dominate the exhibition scene.

But that’s enough from me - I don't want to give too much away, in time you’ll have to buy the mag and read the article and see he rest of the photos, but hopefully the above photograph will give an indication as to a great layout Abbotswood Junction is.

I'll update this page when it's known which issue the layout wil appear in.

Monday 22 October 2012

About: Cement Quay

nevard_121018_CQ_IMG_0899 by nevardmedia
nevard_121018_CQ_IMG_0899, a photo by nevardmedia on Flickr.
I haven't done one of these for a bit, but Flickr allows one to highlight specific areas of a photo and add notes.

If you click on the link below it will take you through to a bigger version of the above photo where I have marked it up briefly discussing the various techniques used in the scene.

If for some reason you cannot see the little boxes that the notes lie within, place your cursor over the opened image and hopefully they'll be revealed.


Sunday 14 October 2012

Miniatur Wunderland

I must apologies for being rather elusive blog wise, it's been simply down to holidays and that thing we all suffer from - lack of time. The other truth is that toy chuffers and photography has taken over increasingly as the primary day job since the beginning of October, and because that puts food on the table the projects have to be under wraps until they appear in print. This is of course rubbish from a blog point of view but great in that the daily graft is something that I really enjoy. The problem now is that I'll need to get a hobby!

One thing I can chat about, is that earlier in the week I enjoyed the pleasure of a behind the scenes visit to Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg as illustrated in the above snap. Whilst many will be familiar with what I believe to be the world's largest trainset, for those that don't - take a look at this link

Miniatur Wunderland really is something for all the family, and the huge number of people there enjoying the experience really confirming this. It's so popular that I believe it's now Hamburg's biggest tourist attraction, which is amazing when you think that here in the UK most keep quiet about their love of toy trains. In Germany they openly love their railways, unlike over here where we treat rather them as an illegitimate child that we'd happy brush under the carpet given the first opportunity. A visit to any German newsagent is further proof of their love of railways, with literally dozens of high quality magazines to satisfy that most wonderful of guilty pleasures (which in Germany is not guilty).

Beware though, Miniatur Wunderland is a HUGE experience, and the the 3 hours we had was not nearly enough with so much to see and enjoy. I was also astonished at the level of great modelling in places well out of bounds to normal viewing, and on top of that, the workshop must have the world's BIGGEST static grass tool I've ever seen! 

For UK readers, Easyjet do regular flights to Hamburg for less than the cost a Bachmann 0-6-0 steam loco and hotel accommodation is also great value. And of course there is plenty of great German beer to enjoy whilst reflecting on the experience afterwoods!

Thursday 27 September 2012

Cement Quay - Steam Style!

nevard_120927_CQ_IMG_0257 by nevardmedia
nevard_120927_CQ_IMG_0257, a photo by nevardmedia on Flickr.
Cement Quay dates back to 2006, and after several months not doing a great deal, the September of that year saw nearly everything take place. Scenics can in fact be very quick to do, the basics here only taking a couple of days. Further detailing like weeds and extra static grass being added well after the layout's first outing.

Those who have seen Cement Quay will know that it's usually operated as a present day layout with Class 66, 59 and 37 locos in current liveries, but I've been toying with the idea of portraying it in the last decade of steam with a smattering of diesel power too. Apart from swapping out the LaFarge branding on some of the buildings and the addition of a few period lights like he standard to the right of the loco it's quite easy to backdate industrial locations like this, if only temporarily.

Cement Quay hasn't been on the road since 2009, for no reason other than I have several layouts to rotate through, and that there's always something new on the layout front. I don't do too many shows a year, 3 or 4 maximum being more than enough, but I am thinking about taking Cement Quay as a steam layout to Model Rail Live this time next year and possibly Railex 2014, again as a steam layout to make it different from previous incarnations.

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Model Rail Live

Sorry it's taken a little while to post a review of Model Rail Live, but the last day or 2 have very much been catch up time.

The weekend of the 22 and 23 September heralded the 3rd Model Rail Live at the famous and highly regarded Barrow Hill Roundhouse in Chesterfield. Barrow Hill is of course known to lovers of full sized railways, but for the third year running it was also to host model railways too, something which very much makes it a show with a difference that hopefully can appeal to all the family and not just old men with smelly breath.

This year I took the Polbrock along, my little Model Rail project layout that is currently being serialised in the magazine. My quest being to extract those with a fondness of armchairs out of them, alternatively hopefully it will show those who think that a model railway needs a huge space, that in fact something can be built in a small area not dissimilar to a tropical fish tank. I also wanted to showcase modelling techniques that maybe look tricky but are in fact very simple. Despite the layout's tiny size, I will thrilled with the interest it generated from a wide range of different people, and also enjoyed chatting to readers who may have been following my printed jottings.

Arne Wharf my OO9 gauge layout was also taken along, but sadly unlike Polbrock which performed really well, Arne Wharf didn't like the slightly dusty atmosphere, the tiny loco wheels clogging with gunge every 10 minutes or so. So, after an hour of so of much cussing I decided to leave the layout as a static exhibit which surprisingly had little impact on the number of people looking at the layout.

Luckily the event remained pretty well rain free apart from the last hour or so, just as well really considering much of the event is outside; the end of the show marking the beginning huge amount of rain that has caused all sorts of flooding in northern areas since.

All that's needed now is to thank all the readers of this blog who popped by to say hello and had nice things to say about the layouts - thank you!I must also thank Peter Harvey of PH Designs who gave up his Sunday to help me play trains.

Monday 17 September 2012

Technique: Tree!

A few more finishing touches in the form of an old Oak next to the crossing at Polbrock.

We were gardening today and hacked down a load of dead Ivy - great bases for gnarled tree, with this one rounding off the crossing scene quite nicely after the addition of a little pastiche and flock.

See Polbrock this weekend at Model Rail Live - link top right!

Friday 14 September 2012

Just a week to go....

With just a week to go to Model Rail Live, I'm  still performing the final touches to the scenic section of Polbrock with fiddle yards attached. The drape will be hung a tad lower to avoid the crease around the point control. The protective lacquer over the name plaque is still drying, it has now dried clear and the milky streakiness gone. In the background are various other projects in my den!

The big knob on the front is part of the point operation, it allowing its control from front of rear. I'm pretty well there, just need to build a few more cassettes. You'll be able to find out more about this project at Model Rail Live 22/23 Sept at Barrow Hill (see link top right) and read the final installment of Polbrock in the next issue of Model Rail.

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Counting down to Model Rail Live!

Model Rail Live is only weekend after next on Sat/Sun 22/23 September at Barrow Hill Roundhouse and daftly I'm taking Polbrock and Arne Wharf to the event so both layouts are currently set up to tinker with.

Green drape used on all my layouts
Arne Wharf which dates from 2003 is 'ready to go' and will be displayed at the same height as Polbrock on the left, but Polbrock still needs another fiddle yard to make it operational. I've so far only finished the right hand one (read all about it in Model Rail 175 out in 3 weeks or so), but still need to cobble the left hand one together. I also need to sort out the wiring in a more secure way than twisting bits of wire together to get it to work which is the current set up!

The trestles will be hidden behind a pleated dark green drape in the time honoured fashion, in fact it will use the same drape I use for all my layouts. And on that note I've just reminded myself that I'll need to get some more Velcro to attach it. Much like model shops, haberdashers are now few and far between, so I'll need a 30 mile round trip just to get that.

Enough from me, gotta go - looks like I've a few things to do........

Monday 10 September 2012

Monday's photo

The fiction is that the above photo was taken half a century or so years ago as Midland 3F 0-6-0 No 32316 let off a good display for the photographer as it ran forward over the crossing before reversing its load into the siding at Polbrook Gurney Colliery Halt. This ex-GWR line was connected to the SDJR at Midford during WW2, so from time to time engines from the Bath to Bournemouth line could be seen in action. This photo has that late summer / earlier autumnal look,  the soft hazy sunlight breaks through as the mist rises to reveal a warm coloured and mature landscape of soft greens, yellows and browns.

September is very much my favourite time of year if the weather is good, I enjoy the colours and light, and the days can still rival August for heat even though the evenings start to draw in a little earlier. If you get up early and go for a walk, dew makes ones boots temporarily shine and the air has that wonderful fresh scent. The cool morning soon warms up, but not too much to make that walk in the country hard work. The hoards of holiday makers have gone home, so the countryside is a little calmer, less hectic thus can be enjoyed more comfortably.

I like to depict this month in my modelling, preferring the softer colours to the brighter greens of the middle of the summer. On a connected note, it's interesting how we nearly always tend to model miniature landscapes with trees in full leaf, and only the other day came to the conclusion that summer far easier than building a winter landscape. For starters a winter leafless tree would be very time consuming with all the delicate twigs and branches that are normally covered with leaves. To model that you'd need to use super fine multicore cable split and formed, with hundreds of carefully manipulated strands just for one small tree. I digress, but such would certainly make an interesting project - another one to do before I die I guess, or at least add to the never ending list of future projects!

Saturday 8 September 2012

Voie Libre - In English!

I've been a huge fan of Voie Libre for many years and even had Arne Wharf featured in it with my random scribbles translated so expertly by Geoffrey Nickson into a far more eloquent French.

My knowledge of French like most Brits is pretty appalling, however I can fumble through the magazine with a free dowloadable separate English translation from the Voie Libre website. I quite like this because I'm slowy learning the language of toy chuffers in French/Franglais.

Now for the eye Pad generation this delightful magazine aimed at modellers of all things narrow gauge is available in English, not as a separate download to the magazine, but THE actual magazine - all for a modest £3.31 which is about the price of a pint of bitter in Surrey.

Wednesday 5 September 2012

Real Skies - now't new!

MRC_Oct85 by nevardmedia
MRC_Oct85, a photo by nevardmedia on Flickr.
I have to thank fellow modelling and blogger David Smith for the catalyst for this post, his recent blog post linking to a website that sells old magazines. Believe it of not I've been after a copy of the above magazine since the mid-1980's, so I must apologise to David for his link now pointing to a 'sold' page for the above issue!

In the summer of 1985 a small group of us were to be seen on Sholing station platform with a model railway, several large sheets of card, white paper, a tripod and camera. We must have been on the platform for at least 3 or 4 hours much to the amusement of passengers on trains that were passing through and calling at the station. The sun was the 'studio lighting', its position being 93 million miles away meant that its position was fixed, so physically moving the layout to suit the sunlight on the various photos was the only realistic option. In case you're thinking that we simply turned up at a random station to photograph toy chuffers you'd be wrong. for at the time SMRS rented the station buildings off British Rail. Sadly shortly after these photos were taken the club had to move, and BR demolished the buildings, the club moving just down the road.

Between 1979 and 1986 I was a member of Southampton Model Railway Society, a fabulous club of talented innovative model makers and the sort of club, which if still on my doorstep I'd still be a member of if it wasn't now 60 miles away. Luckily I still see a few of the members from all those years ago and have been lucky enough to photograph some of their more recent layouts for Hornby Magazine and more recently Model Rail.

On that summer's day I was the chosen one to photograph the layout, and at the time I was a student at Salisbury College of Art studying photography and snapping a model railway was certainly a departure from messing about with a Sinar or MPP on 5x4 inch Ektachrome in the college studio knocking up room sets or messing about with 16mm Bolex cameras making short films. 

For the photography of Overcombe which was one of the club's smaller exhibition layouts, 35mm film was used, the small camera offering alot more flexibility than a big bulky sheet film camera. In those days, apart from the odd colour plate, hobby magazines were mostly black and white, so good old Kodak Plux X was used and processed in the home darkroom. I'm pretty sure I used a 35mm focal length wide angle lens, it offering a reasonbly natural view not disimilar to the eye and oddly enough is still my main choice of lens for layout photography.

Model railway fanatics tend to think that replacing flock wall paper, flying ducks, garage walls and ceilings with a little 'sky' is something just from the digital era, and indeed it mostly is. The photo here is a traditional wet print, and halfway through the printing process a negative of a summer sky was swapped for the model negative to get the result here. I'm not sure if I was the first to do this though, but I do recall at the time being keen to do something different as well as blocking out the location the layout was shot in, but with hindsight it would be quite fun to see the full sized railway station in the background!

The colour cover shot was more simple, that was good old Kodachrome 64 and I'm sure I've seen the slide quite recently so might well pop it into the scanner just for old times sake along with some of the other colour layout shots taken than day.

Sunday 2 September 2012

Polbrook Gurney Colliery Sidings 'box

Out of the box Bachmann Scenecraft Highley 'box
In preparation for the Polbrock extension and move to North Somerset after Model Rail Live (22/23 Sept) I've started to look at some of the buildings.

Here we have 'Polbrook Gurney Colliery Sidings', based on a Bachmann Scenecraft 'Highley Signal Box', repainted into BR WR colours and weathered to suggest a box towards the end of its life on a rural backwater. The colliery will finally make use of the buildings from my Mendip Colliery project.

The fiction being that the box is only used as a ground frame when colliery trains are due, hence the little loved appearance of the box. I'm tempted to paint out a couple of the window panes to suggest plywood or hardboard replacement as a result of the local Teds using it as target practice with airborne railway ballast or air rifle. The box will probably be planted where the pilbox is to the left of the colliery.

Polbrook Gurney Colliery Sidings is my working title, I may well change the name but for now this gives a nod to Polbrock, with the Gurney being a popular North Somerset name.

But as always nothing is cast in stone and things will most likely get tweaked once the building starts. But whatever happens I need to be ready for Railex in May '13!
  • Find out more about Polbrock's move and extension here!