Chronicling the development of my 5-gauge 4mm scale model railway with a few off-topic insights thrown in for free

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Chimney pots

Much as I like the Metcalfe kits, I dislike the chimneys that are supplied with them. I just don’t think rolled up card looks right. Also they are unbelievably fragile and get knocked off at the first opportunity. 

Fortunately Langley can supply Cast chimneys and even better can supply them ready painted. As they come on a sprue, cutting them off leaves a useful tail so drilling a 1mm hole in the top of each chimney allows each pot to be stuck firmly in place. 

As the pack is a variety, it allows a much more realistic scene with different pots on each chimney.  

Just got to fit the rest now. 


A horticultural disaster

Well maybe more of a civil engineering disaster. I’m now in the midst of construction of the viaduct for the mountain railway to go at the back of the baseboard. I’ve been putting off putting pictures of it up because I don’t want to spoil the surprise of how it will look. 

It is made out of a Metcalfe viaduct kit but heavily modified. Having made a jig and built the front face arches I needed to make the inner arches which hold the card forming the inside of the arch together. However, after I’d constructed them as boxes I realised that wouldn’t work as the deck of the bridge would go straight through the middle of each box. So after a night of putting the boxes together, I’ve now spent tonight taking them apart again. 

I then assembled them in a jig and glued them together only to find they didn’t match the front fascia so they’ve come apart again. 

Finally, having decided to line them up with the front fascia and stick them together with some scotch magic tape, I was able to glue them to the bridge deck which will hold everything together. If you’re wondering why the deck stops short on the final arch, that’s because the arch ends in a cliff face. 

The trials and tribulations are best summed up in this sign seen at a local garden. 

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The builders have moved in

Well with the railway up, I’m straight into modifying it. As delivered, it looked liked this:

However, Penlowry Junction is overlooked by some small stone buildings, not a market square, so modifications were required. In addition,on Penlowry the mountain railways climbs the hill behind the road, so the whole area needed relandacaping. 

Not hanging around, I’ve taken out the high street, shortened the elevated road and ramp, and looked at positioning the new buildings, including knocking up a Metcalfe terraced house set – albeit with a modified smaller rear yard, and rebuilt my low relief set of houses as a full house using a set of low relief terraced houses. I’ve hidden the join by making the chimney stack be proud of the wall. 

The shops btw will be recognisable to those who know Porthmadog and Driffield. 

The low relief house in the corner is on the way to becoming the Ship in Porthmadog once I add a porch – it’s already got the drinkers sitting in the windows. 

The random length of timber propped up by the tape measure is the start of the maointain railway. It rises at 1:5.5, the ruling gradient of the Snowdon railway – now I get a train up there will rely on a cunning idea I have. 

Next step is to make the viaduct for the railway, with the road passing beneath it, as per Llanberis. 

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Red letter day

Finally! After much talking and not a lot of doing, this evening I had a window in the schedule and got on with it. 

With t’missus out, the kids in bed, having watched the cricket highlights while devouring a rather nice ginger chilli Indian with peshwari naan all accompanied by a Proper Job IPA, I then set to work, and as of about half an hour ago, Penlowry lives! 

It is “as received” and so having erected it (well half of it – until the room stops being a spare room, only half of it will fit), it’ll soon be time to get modifying but it is nice to have something to get going on. 

Frankly I couldn’t be happier, and what would be a better loco to be the first to run on Penlowry than the emblem of the Cambrian, the Dukedog. 

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Medicine man

If you don’t like a good gory story I suggest you stop reading now. 

If you do, read on, but there aren’t any pictures…

One of the things about being a railway (and plane) modeller is that there are plenty of ways to injure ourselves. Fortunately we normally stock things to heal ourselves too. 

In this case I’d just put a new scalpel in my knife when I then pared some plastic off a part and like some total newbie did it towards me. This resulted in the scalpel going through the plastic like butter and into the end of my thumb like flora. 

Given the usual trick of daubing with Vaseline to form a congealant didn’t work I resorted to the trick used most of the time in A&E these days – super glue. A modeller always has some of it lying around and when it sets it forms a case over the wound allowing the blood to congeal and the wound to heal. What I’d never had before was a flow so rapid that the superglue didn’t set fast enough and as it did, the blood blew it up like a balloon on the end of my thumb. 

All very interesting but not something I could share with t’missus as she’d faint. Or tell mother as ditto. So there you are I’m telling you dear listeners. Here we are 24 hours later and after 3 rounds of super glue the would is healing like a good ‘un. As  someone with a permanent syndrome (Tyoe 1 diabetes) I avoid the doctor’s like the plague as I go there often enough as it is. Thank goodness for superglue I say. 

As an aside, I discovered last night that as a right handed man, I’ve spent 39 years brushing my teeth with my left hand and never noticed until I had to use my right hand and made a right hash of it. Another of my left handed tendencies (it runs in the family) to add to the list. 

And in case you’d missed it before – super glue does not work in shear hence why you can peel it off your fingers afterwards. It also means you can “peel” your fingers apart it you stick them together rather than trying to pull them apart (tension) which only strengthens the bonds, or go to the doctor which, unless you’ve done something particularly “clever” is a complete waste of time – it was a man from Loctite who first demonstrated that to me and I normally accidentally test it on myself about once every six months! 

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After contemplating how to do the canopy metal parts on the Chipmunk and rejecting several ideas, I now have a solution. 

Idea 1 was to use maskol and paint but that just caused me too much grief. 

Idea 2 was to find a canopy mask or tin foil but that seemed a lot of work. 

Idea 3, which is what I’ve gone for, is the cheap solution. I have two of these metallic marker, one gold and one silver. By drawing in the lines and then quickly wiping off the overspill I can get a good enough canopy frame finish in a couple of minutes for a very low price.