Starting early?

In a month or so Herstmonceux will be at Railex so it’s time for me to start getting it ready. Now some of you might be thinking that it’s a bit early to start preparing for the show but Herstmonceux hasn’t been out since Exeter last July and could do with a bit of a freshen up. A few new trees need making and planting, some of the other vegetation could do with some work and the whole layout could do with a good clean.

I have also been working on some items of stock. The I3 has been on the list of needing fixing for a while. Turns out the motor mount had broken so this was fixed and some tidying up of the weathering. My Std 4mt 2-6-0 had had its motor and gearbox pinched when I built my last K Class so this has been replaced. The Birdcage set and the LBSCR Pull-Push set still needed floors adding and a spot of weathering after being used at Exeter. Something else I wanted to do was go through my wagons and sort out some of the weathering on them. A lot of my wagons had had a quick job done on them so they were usable on Herstmonceux and I thought it was about time I gave them a better going over.

There is still plenty more to be done. The D3 is getting a new motor and High Level gearbox plus a pile of new wagons need finishing off. Should be a busy month or so.

Back to building buildings

Well Herstmonceux is now packed away in the shed again after its trip to Devon. Before the show I managed to get both the LBSCR Pull Push set and Birdcage set finished enough to use in the new timetable.  Barring a couple of odd coaches still in the “to do” pile I’m rather pleased to have all the coach sets done for the layout.
We had a good time at the show and even picked up the “Pete Lindsay Shield” for best layout voted for by the other exhibitors. The new timetable ran ok but needs a few tweaks in places before the layouts next outing in 2018




Although there was a small disaster just before the show when one of my operators favourite biscuits was out of stock in Aldi. Keeping operators happy is a hard task at the best of times so a plan was hatched to put things right…

So with Exeter out the way my focus is back on Tarring Neville and getting it finished for October. The last building I was working on is nearly finished. I just need to add a couple more small details and then it can be bedded into the layout. (and yes that is a Wampa and Stormtrooper in the background) 20170606_125308


The last building I need to make is based on a real building at Tarring Neville. I am only going to make the long large barn and will make a few slight changes to it so it fits the space I have.20170610_151243

And this is where i have got with it so far…


Cream Tea anyone?

In just under 2 weeks Herstmonceux will be heading down to Devon for the Exe Model Railway Society show. Although I have been focused on getting Tarring Neville finished I have also been working on a few new things for Herstmonceux which will hopefully ready for the show.IMG_4064

For a while now my Birdcage set has been 2/3s finished and when run at a couple of shows its pinched the composite coach from the SECR Pull-Push set. I finally got the sets composite built and its currently waiting on some transfers and then the whole set needs weathering.
Something else that has been on the “to do” list is another Pull-Push set. Last year I received a new Cuckoo line book and I mentioned that one picture was very interesting. This picture showed a ex-LBSCR Pull-Push set and a D3 tank at Hailsham. The D3 turned out to be the one that I have modelled..

Being at Hailsham it puts it very close to Herstmonceux and the possibility that it might of turned up on the Ouse valley line… So luckily for me that nice guy Mr Roxey produces a kit of the LBSCR Pull-Push set. This is also just waiting on some transfers and some weathering and I will stick some pictures up when it’s finished.
With these two new sets a new timetable was needed to fit them in so hopefully I’ll get this finished ready for Exeter. Chris has also worked on a rake on mineral wagons to run in the new timetable as a diverted Kent coal train and I have tried to fit in a few more unusual workings that would of been seen in the area.

You can never have enough…

BOOKS!!! I was lucky enough to receive two new books for my birthday. First up is “Southern Rolling Stock in Colour” which follows on from these previous books. I have only had a brief flick through so far but its packed full of great colour pictures and lots of information as you would expect.

The other book is one that I was pointed in the direction of by a friend. If you’re interested in the Cuckoo line then you probably already have the book by A.C. Elliot and this is another must have. A few of the pictures have turned up in other books before but it also has a lot of pictures that I had never seen. One particular picture is very interesting as it is of something I am about to start work on for Herstmonceux – watch this blog!
There are a few accounts by people that used to work on the line, some of which were very amusing. For just under £15 its well worth getting.


I have been working on a few different modelling things as well which I will blog about in the next week or so. A bit more work has been done on Tarring Neville and the Flint building is progressing nicely although modelling will now be focusing more on getting some bits ready for Herstmonceux’s next outing at Tolworth. Chris is hopefully coming over the end of the week to help work on the new timetable which will include fitting in the Birdcage set and one other new coach set.
Talking of Birdcage sets I have a extra one of these. I was originally going to try and convert into the pull push driving coach of set 661. I made a start on it a while back but decided that the work involved in converting it wouldn’t be worth it so put it back in the draw. I have now decided to get on and build it as the driving coach of set 660 and I will probably put it up for sale once finished if anyone is interested.


More Birdcages

I was asked by Steve Carter how I do the roofs on the Birdcage coaches and the honest answer is… as best I can. I follow the instructions as much as possible but no two are the same and a lot of filling, sanding and swearing ensues.
The main problem area I find is trying to cut the excess off to get a good fit and its usually better to leave a little more than is need and trim/sand it down after gluing. I don’t put a floor in the coaches like it says in the instructions but opt for adding a floor on the underside of the underframe. The reason for this is so that you can get inside still to add some extra glue if needed. Also you don’t end up with bits inside when you drill holes for the roof vents. For the birdcage end I cut the roof square with the front of the window and added the two strips down the side after. Hopefully these pictures will explain what I mean better.





The other thing you might notice is the microstrip on the lower edge of the roof. This serves two purposes. One, it fills the slight gap when your roof doesn’t quite fit! Two, its there on the prototype. Sometimes it can go very wrong and I have to use a slightly bigger bit of microstrip to fill the gap which I then trim and sand down before adding the smaller microstrip on top. I will try and post another update on these in the next few days as they are nearing finishing.

Show Time

With just under a week to go till Herstmonceuxs next outing at Worthing show I’m doing the final checks and getting a few new things ready. Since the last show back in January I’ve been busy adding to the stock, made a few changes to the operating sequence and made a new stock box for the coaches.

The other main thing I’ve done is change the operation of the signals from servo controlled back to my simple push rods. The main reason for this is that I was having some big problems with the servos twitching. This was happening when a kit built loco was running and was down to interference. I tried all manner of things to try and sort it but in the end I felt it was best to go back to something much simpler and also easier to fix if needs be.


A Wright Honour

Recently Tom Foster, Chris Matthews and I spent the day with Tony Wright and his layout Little Bytham . I’ve followed Tony’s articles over the years and he has been an inspiration to my modelling, so to be invited to see his work up close and operate his layout was a real privilege! Tony’s Little Bytham is an on going project but already looks like a work of art to me. As Tony explained not everything on the layout is his own work. He likes to do some “horse trading” with friends which is a good way to get things done on such a large project. As you can see from my poor picture it is rather a vast layout!IMG_5037We all arrived with some stock which Tony kindly allowed us to run on his layout. Tom had brought along a few of his Pannier tanks that he has been working on for his Cwm Prysor project. You can read more about it and the Panniers here DSC_2321Lucky for Chris, Tony had a ingenious gizmo for him to re-gauge his wagons. These plus the Class 47 are being worked on for his current project which I look forward to seeing and operating.

It was nice to give some of my locos a good run and it was great to received some lovely comments from Tony about my stock. Dsc_2307 Dsc_2328 Dsc_2336Dsc_2317

Running Little Bytham with its Eastern Region stock and being able to discuss all aspects of it with Tony made it all the more interesting. Finding out one of the BR Mk1 GUV’s was a MTK kit and that some of the other beautiful stock was 40 odd years old was quite a shock. There were a few mishaps from the fiddle yard operator but Chris soon got the hang of it! and I got marked down for not noticing I had not set some signals. This all lead to good banter and contributed to great day with friends, old and new.
I’d like to thank Tom for arranging the visit and of course thank Tony and Mo for their hospitality. I would also like to thank Tony for allowing me to use a few of the pictures he took on my Blog.

Rhubarb and Custard?

A while ago I had decided that I wanted a BR Mk 1 set for Herstmonceux and that it had to be Blood and Custard livery. Why this livery and not the usual BR Green? Well I like the Blood and Custard livery for starters and I think it looks smart on the Mk 1’s.
Also at the time I only had one other rake of coaches in this livery so it would add a bit of colour and variety to the layout.

To begin with I started looking for set numbers of the 3 coach sets. The set numbers ran from 515 to 574 and were mainly formed BSK- CK-BSK. One small problem with this was the 3 coach sets didn’t arrived till 1957 and I try to keep Herstmonceux pre 1956!! Luckily for me the 4 coach sets arrived from 1952 onwards and were formed BSK-SK-CK-BSK. Information on the Set and Coach numbers can be found here

With a local(ish) set number decided on I sourced the coaches needed. These are all early Bachmann Mk 1’s with the horrible thick roof weld lines and after a bit of reading up on the net I decided to tackle this issue. The thick weld lines were carefully trimmed with a Swann Morton No 17 blade.

Original Roof is at the bottom and the trimmed at the top.


Also added to the coach was a dynamo belt. The idea was picked up off Jim Smith-Wright’s site Jim’s used the Masokit etch which also has the brake linkages but I decided to use a bit of scrap etch.


With these bits done all that was left was to add transfers for the new coach numbers, set numbers on the ends and give them a light weathering.

2015-05-01 13.24.47-1SAMSUNG

So that’s one more set of coaches just about finished for Herstmonceux and I think effort to trim the weld lines down is well worth it. The basic weathering is done but I still need to add a bit of variation to the roofs plus a bit more on the underframes. I may go back and add the brake linkages at a later date but for now i’m happy with them.