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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Propelled into productiveness 

I’m not quite sure what has come over me. Whether it was staying up until 5.30am Friday morning to watch the drama. Whether it was getting 12 hours sleep last night to recover. Whether it was conducting a 5 year old birthday party. Well whatever it was I’ve had a burst of activity. 

I’ve had my eye on a knackered old plastic tub that t’missus has had since before we were married. It was cracked and assigned to the rubbish but I couldn’t part with something with so much potential could I?! 

Instead I cut it as shown to remove the cracked bit and got myself a spray booth. 

It even still has one handle as a handy carrier. 

Add in the milk tankers and off I went. 

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Yes, I know it’s Friday but not that kind. Chippy in this case is the Chipmunk.

The De Havilland Chipmunk makes me go all misty eyed because I was in the RAF Section of the Combined Cadet Force so I did some flying with No.9 Air Experience Flight at RAF Finningley with Chipmunks. Not only has the Chipmink been retired from RAF service with the exception of being used as the conversion trainer for the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, but RAF Finningley is now Doncaster Airport.

Now if I had one in No.9 AEF livery it would look like this:

Chippy 9.jpg

© Robert Nichols


But that’s not suitable for 1948. But… the Chippy first flew in Canada in 1947 and the prototype was sent to Britain for evaluation so that is suitable. It looked like this:

Chippy 1

Airfix do a kit of the T.10 version but it’ll still take some painting to get this livery. Here is the 11th ever Chippy as flying today (one of about 500 still flying of the thousand odd built in Canada, Britain, and Portugal).

Chippy 11



It’ll look very pretty though if I can pull it off.

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Mother’s Pride

As part of my research for Penlowry, I’ve been looking at other forms of transport. Having already done some previous research I’ve now done a smidgen more, and the following vehicles are (just about) acceptable for the period, and I can also tell you that the Mother’s Pride brand of bread was first recorded in an advert in 1936. Aren’t you pleased I looked that up for you?!

Ford Thames ET6 – actually introduced 1949 but close enough for me

Ford ET6


In the late 1940s, production of another commercial vehicle, the ‘Jen-Tug’ began. It was a 3 ton articulated vehicle, available with a wide range of trailers, including a flat trailer, a wire-sided trailer, a box trailer, a tipping trailer, a shallow tipping trailer, a high-sided trailer, a swan-neck trailer with winch, and a container.

The cab had an Austin A.50 four-cylinder, overhead valve petrol engine, with a capacity of 1.5 litres, and an output of 50 b.h.p. at 4,400 r.p.m. It had a built-in four-speed synchromesh gearbox, a Borg & Beck, single dry-plate 8 inch hydraulically operated clutch, and was mounted on an easily removeable sub-frame. It also had powerful Girling hydraulic brakes with 11 inch diameter drums on both the tractor and trailer, a Jensen patent tractor coupling, operated from the cab, and a turning circle of 22 feet. (More info:

Jen tug

Ford E83W Van – introduced 1938

Vauxhall 10hp ten-four of 1947


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Awning chasm

Continuing my occasional look at reality being stranger than fiction… While on the train the other day, I noticed the awning at Newark Northgate. I presume  it was originally the same height all the way round and was modified as part of the electrification of the East Coast Mainline to ensure adequate clearance for the spaghetti. 

Another one for the files of “if you did that in a model people would think you’d made a mistake.”
And since this post only has one picture, here’s a free one of an IEP Virgin Azuma on test at York. 

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A matter of circumference

Having got the unpainted milk wagons I’ve set about making the transfers for them. 

I’ve dismantled the tankers and got them ready for painting. In sizing the transfers I could, and perhaps should, have measured the diameter and then a quick pi x d and got the circumference and then reduced it by the amount not needed for the underneath. 

But being lazy, I wrapped a piece of paper round the tank, marked the size, measured it, and reprinted the transfers on a piece of paper to test the size, cut them out, and lo and behold they fitted. 

Back in my youth I’d have made a right maths exercise out of it with angles and whatnot, but honestly, I haven’t the time, and the only person I know who’d still do that now would be the Patriarch. He’d probably be really disappointed I didn’t do the maths. And probably just as disappointed about starting the sentence above with “but”. Not to mention “and” in the last sentence. 

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Siphon T

“What’s a siphon T?” I hear you ask. It doesn’t exist I say. It stands for Siphon (Track).

In my idle doddling I get to do sitting in front of my computer I thought I’d look at colouring my Dapol track cleaner. Mine is the usual garish blue.

When I was planning the original Penlowry, it would have formed part of the tech centre fleet so I had procured the vinyls from Electra Graphics for the RTC red / blue mock livery.

However, neither that nor the blue are quite right for late 1940s Cambrian… The vehicle is never going to be a scale model or look exactly like a particular vehicle but I thought if at least I could get rid of the garish blue it wouldn’t be quite such an eye sore.

I have therefore sketched up some Siphon sides using pictures off the interweb of siphon models. The “G” and “W” are further apart than they should be but if they were where they should be they’ll be in the vacuum grille area so I used artistic licence and moved them. I’ll add a grey roof and some ends and at least then it won’t be such a blue beacon. Printed out onto vinyl inkjet paper and fixed with vinyl fixative it should do the job.

Siphon picture2


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Bluebell Dairies

Those of you that know me on Facebook will know that tragically our family lost our cat last week.

Before Bluebell, I wasn’t a cat person, I was a dog person. I said that I’d only have a cat if it would sit on my shoulders, cos that’s cool.


As t’missus put it, “she was a pain in the arse, but she was our pain in the arse”.

And it’s true, she was. She frequently walked all over my keyboard if she thought I wasn’t doing my work properly, or sat on the desk in front of me so I couldn’t get at the computer, and generally got right in the way.

But we loved her, and we miss her.

I have a “thing” about making sure there are family connections in my model railways. I know many people are. There are plenty of locomotives with fictitious names made to appease the powers that be. Mine tend to go further than the immediate family though and I have a Hudson Bros wagon as my brother and sister in law in Australia are Hudson.


In this case, I intend Penlowry Junction to be adorned with a black and white station cat, but I have also decided that since my draft timetable has milk trains, Penlowry shall have a dairy and it will be named in her honour. I therefore have a couple of unpainted milk tankers on their way from Liverpool which will be painted appropriately. I have started the artwork design and will print suitable transfers.

Bluebell dairies transfers.png

And it will then look something like this:

Bluebell dairies tanker