On My Workbench

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James Makin
Wells Green TMD

On My Workbench Archive, January - February 2008


Tuesday 26th February 2008

Murdering's as easy as R.T.R!

I wondered how long it would take..! As seen in the latest copy of Model Rail, German plastic-kit manufacturer Faller have announced a ready-to-run murder scene!

Although Faller have not opted to include a Police forensics tent in the selection of bits offered, it does irritatingly diminish one of Wells Green TMD's 'unique selling points' somewhat!

Here is the labour of love that is the much-publicised scene on Wells Green TMD - featuring Cheshire Police investigating a body found in the undergrowth! The Police tent was constructed out of cocktail sticks covered in white-painted tin foil, with carefully chosen handpainted figures and 'POLICE DO NOT CROSS' tape created from minty-smelling toothfloss!

During the two and half years since the modelling of the scene, it has attracted much attention from visitors at exhibitions and it will be a sad day when a forensics scene becomes a feature on every single layout!

I guess the next challenge is to model something so different/weird/controversial that no ready to run manufacturer will ever dare to copy!

On My Mp3:Girls Aloud - Damn


Friday 22nd February 2008

Hacking and Gluing again!

Every once in a while I get a reasonably aggressive urge to chop up a few more of my locomotives! This time it is 92029 Dante that is succumbing to my desire to inflict rather a lot of damage on the poor model as its internals are gutted, with the existing Hornby 'Ringfield' motor being replaced by a central can motor stolen from a Heljan Class 47.

I think my urge to do this came from examining just how many locos are not being used due to their horrible running qualities - and these include five detailed EWS-liveried Class 90s and three more Triple Grey '92's - real 'display case' quality models I've spent so many hours working on yet they never turn a wheel - such a shame!

Plus, as is well documented on the website, my fleet of Heljan 47s seem to like catching fire! Therefore a cheap, short term idea has been established, which involves robbing the (now unused) Heljan 47s of their mechanisms, to use for Class 92 remotoring projects, and in future the Class 47s will receive modified Bachmann '47/57' chassis to get them back into reliable service. That's the plan - hence the photos!

The subject of remotoring locomotives seems popular, I have received many emails enquiring about where to start and the techniques involved. There's more on the archived OMWB pages with some annotated photographs to help, in addition to my old Modern Railway Modelling article in the Spring 2007 edition.

How To Do It (all in one paragraph!)

When remotoring a loco using the James Makin 'complete bodge' method, the existing motors and trailing bogie parts are removed, leaving empty sideframes. The metal weight from the centre of the loco is also removed, with the void filled with liquid lead. This is then topped with plastic. Using glue and plasticard and lots of filing/sanding, the new gear towers are inserted into the bogie sideframes. Drive shafts are extended to fit and the motor wired up. That's it. That's all there is to it! If I can do it, then..!

As you can see at the moment, the loco is temporarily wired for DC, just to check it all works again. After so much handling, chopping and gluing, the loco is always very rough when its first run, but after about five minutes in operation, the parts bed in and you're rewarded with another smooth runner!

On My Mp3:Dragonette - Black Limousine


Monday 18th February 2008

The Grey Grid Arrives (Finally!)

At long last my Fastline 56302 arrived! For the £95.00 price it seems reasonably good value, as with any Hornby product the printing is top quality, and the model has a superbly detailed underframe too! As you can tell, this is my first Hornby '56' - though my good friend Pete Hollman has two of the early ones and tells me he has already had to disconnect the roof fan to improve running qualities! I have yet to test mine to see if that modification will be required.

One good improvement over the last high-spec Hornby loco - the Class 60 - is the good solid bogie frames that are found on the 56, unlike the flimsy plastic mouldings on the 'Tugs'. For a while now I have been following the changing packaging methods on Hornby's next-generation diesels, the design and complexity changes with each new release! This latest development now requires you to unscrew the locomotive from it's packaging!

The loco will not be a member of the Wells Green TMD fleet, but was bought for usage on Worthing MRC's Loftus Road layout, where in the fullness of time it should be seen hauling a train of the Rail Express Dapol container flats, in matching Fastline livery!

On My Mp3:Sugababes - Red Dress (Dennis Christopher Vocal Remix)



Tuesday 12th February 2008


As some of you may know, Wells Green TMD's next exhibition is at the 'London Festival of Railway Modelling' held at the Alexandra Palace, 29th & 30th March 2008. Every now and then a show organiser may send exhibitors the odd leaflet to keep as a token gesture, or perhaps the occasional sign to put up in a window but I wasn't expecting this!

Show-sponsors Warners had sent out two envelopes containing 100 leaflets and 4 A4 signs the other day - these images of the leaflets laid out on the dining room table are not 'Photoshop jobs'!

What am I supposed to do with them? Obviously Warners advise distributing these at other shows you're going to (which in my case is none!) so that leaves me with tons of spare leaflets! It would seem a shame to just recycle them, so my thoughts are turning to finding alternative uses for these...the situation reminds me of the excellent episode of BBC TV comedy I'm Alan Partridge where he has thousands of copies of his book which he can't sell and has to find a home for!

Distributing the leaflets amongst modelling friends at the club might get rid of a few but what shall I do with the others? Perhaps I ought to consider using them for modelling materials, or do what paperboys do and dump the whole lot in a nearby canal! It would be interesting to see people's reactions if I hand them out to visitors at the 'Ally Pally' show to advertise why they should come to the show!

Obviously the main reason for sending out so many leaflets is to increase publicity surrounding the show and it's worked - top of my OMWB page - money can't buy that advertising slot!

On My Mp3:Avril Lavigne - I Don't Have To Try


Monday 4th February 2008

What A Mess!

The fitting of the new gantry has begun! A smooth flat baseboard surface is required to ensure a the legs fit successfully onto the layout, though naturally it was just my luck that the location for one of the legs was a carefully-modelled profiled pile of ballast, bushes and oil drums! Moving the gantry left or right to avoid this wasn't an option so it meant the destruction of a little cameo scene, which was rather sad!

Out came the chisel and hammer to remove the large pile of ballast, to dig down to the wood underneath. During the enthusiastic chiselling stage (it is quite fun) the OHLE return wire (see above image) got between the hammer and chisel and promptly split in two!

It was really strange having got down to the papier mache base of the front scenic extension - so I could then read bits of a newspaper that hadn't been visible since July 2005! The whole process was rather nerve racking - being just millimetres away from wrecking models but having already caused quite a bit of mess, there was no going back now!

After much smashing and banging, eventually it was time to add layers of thick card to level out the hole and raise it to the same level as the other leg base at the back of the layout.

Finally it was time for the moment of truth - fitting the gantry in position! It fits in very snugly now - and just needs the holes drilled for the bolts to go in. In the meantime it will be painted and have the isolating equipment fitted too. The layout's wiring itself will go in last once all the varying OHLE structures have been constructed - there are still a few more to go!

On My Mp3:Avril Lavigne - Take Me Away [Live]



Thursday 31st January 2008

That gantry again!

Following on from a previous gantry-related update a few weeks back, here is an image of the whole thing held together with solder as opposed to using Blu-Tack! Strips of PCB have been attached to the gantry legs, pre-drilled ready for being bolted to Wells Green TMD's baseboard. When the precise location of the gantry is plotted, I can then start adding all the necessary isolating equipment and complicated-looking wirey-dangly bits!

At some point it will also need to be painted grey, and since spraying is definitely the best (and easiest!) option I'm currently looking into whether my giant aerosol can of Halfords primer grey is suitable or whether I'll need to go and mix my own shade!

On My Mp3:Sophie Ellis-Bextor - If You Go (Acoustic Version)



Tuesday 22nd January 2008

An exclusive tour of Worthing MRC!

Here's a special update featuring a 'backstage' tour of Loftus Road and the Worthing MRC clubrooms!

Yes, this is the much publicised layout Loftus Road! It's been 'plugged' in my series of magazine articles for the last four years now and we still haven't done the scenery!

Pete Hollman has devised a network diagram showing the critical path analysis for the scenery stage, showing us what tasks need to be done first - and predicts initial scenery and ballasting work to last just 16 weeks!

Progress has already been made, and as you can see below we've gone for a post-modern contemporary "minimalist" look, combining the luxury brown hues of MDF with subtle white tones of textured polystyrene.

Loftus Road is a modular layout with a generic rear fiddle yard which can be used on other layouts. The fiddle yard concept is roughly based on the club's N Gauge 'Nine Mills' layout. The lighting gantries above Nine Mills are also to be used on Loftus Road, albeit without the Silverlink-style lime green and purple fascia which will cover the varnished wood when Loftus Road is in operation!

A few bare baseboards were given to Worthing MRC a long while back and John Holmes & Terry Hunt have been transforming them into this masterpiece of a layout! The rusting of the rail sides was done by myself and others on a club night when John was away, so he came back to find everything looking a bit different!

Following the 2007 club AGM, Chris Sweeney and Pete Hollman took over as Secretary and Assistant Treasurer respectively, and have gradually been making a series of much-needed improvements to not just the organisational issues but also to the club facilities as well!

Below you can see Chris's superb 'Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen' impression as he brings new life to a tired old noticeboard!

Of course one of the dangers of having a whiteboard is that anybody walking by can have a little scribble on it!

Everyday is like Christmas at the Worthing MRC!

Megabus-driver John has recently joined the club and last week came up proudly clutching his new purchase - a £4 lamp from Wilkinson's, I think. He made sure he gave us a comprehensive demonstration of all the features of the light! It struck us perhaps John was better off changing his job to one of those QVC shopping channel presenters!

After banging on for hours about my own workbench, here is an image of the Loftus Road one! It's not just any old workbench, it is in fact handcrafted by Chris Sweeney and myself from an old layout baseboard with a new piece of plywood on the top! I feel very proud to have been connected to this project by hammering in no less than 4 nails! And only two of them got bent during the hammering, so that's a 50% success rate of doing nails!

Feeling suitably impressed, I decided to write my name on the desk as a seal of quality!

On My Mp3:Kate Nash - Pumpkin Soup


Friday 11th January 2008

More gantry-related modelling!

Yes, here are some more boring pictures of that gantry taking shape! Taking some time out to do modelling the other day meant I could finally get round to filing down the excess solder on both the legs - what a difference it has made!

It seems like months since I started the gantry (well, it was August '07!) with very little progress to date, so I used a few dollops of Blu-Tack for the exciting mock up above! I am almost afraid to solder everything together just in case it will be bent, wrong etc. Perhaps I should stop worrying about being perfect and just get on with it!

On My Mp3:Avril Lavigne - He Wasn't


Tuesday 1st January 2008

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a really good Christmas and New Year! As you've probably guessed by the lack of web updates, I've been taking things pretty easy, relaxing, opening presents, drinking and eating Christmas food. Afterall, at what other time of year would you voluntarily decide to eat a Chocolate Orange?!

The above image contains one of my pressies - the new Bachmann 37035 in 'Dutch' livery, along with a few Bachmann TEA tank wagons, running on my other layout.

I also received the Bachmann reduced emissions 66952 - something to pose next to 66951! I can only imagine the face on the next poor person at a show who points at my 66951 and asks "is that the Bachmann one?" followed by an angry response from the layout owner!

Highlight of Christmas day was unwrapping my "To me, From me"(!) present of the yellow 1/18 scale Mk2 Ford Focus shown on the left. I have a number of different 1/18 car models in my collection but none of them feature the detail of this one - it has 5 opening doors, a sunroof with sliding screen, moveable front seats and rear seats which actually fold down just like the real thing!

Even the removable parcel shelf is covered in felt and is fitted on the same runners as the prototype, whilst all the buttons on the CD player are in the correct place! Truly amazing.

The "Focus" (or should I say supercar that just happens to vaguely resemble the road Focus!) on the right is a radio control model of the 2006 Focus WRC, found by my Mother in a mail order catalogue from The Post Office, of all places! It has working headlights, brakelights and indicators which was something I wasn't expecting when I was crashing it around the lounge floor on Christmas morning!

Our turkey was found to be a bit horrible upon defrosting in the run up to Christmas, so we ended up buying a roast chicken from the local BP Garage on Christmas Eve! It still tasted the same though!

Fast forward to Sunday December 30th 2007, and the last show of the year for Wells Green TMD. A small affair, situated below the Worthing MRC clubrooms, this one day show enabled everyone's Christmas pressies to be tested out on the layout, whilst a big clear-out was simultaneously held at the clubrooms upstairs with many car loads of rubbish taken to the tip that day!

This is my sound-fitted Fragonset 31452 Minotaur finally operating on Wells Green TMD having been sitting around in its box for ages!

During the day, several 'visiting' locomotives were recorded operating on the layout, including this Heljan Class 58, Trainload Coal-liveried 58014 Didcot Power Station, owned by Chris Sweeney.

Hornby's class 56 is now available in shops, and this EWS example belongs to a very happy Pete Hollman! There have been suggestions on various model railway forums that the cab roof profile is not quite accurate but when you consider the quality of the rest of the model, especially the cantrail grilles, it's much better than I could hope to achieve by detailing the old Mainline model! I can't wait until I receive the REX Fastline limited edition 56302 now due in late January!

A few more images of last Sunday's visiting locomotives can be found on the Visitors Stock page.

So, all in all a fantastic few weeks to end 2007 with and let's hope 2008 will be just as good!

On My Mp3:Duffy - Rockferry


November - December 2008 Archived OMWB

September - October 2008 Archived OMWB

July - August 2008 Archived OMWB

May - June 2008 Archived OMWB

March - April 2008 Archived OMWB

January - February 2008 Archived OMWB

November - December 2007 Archived OMWB

September - October 2007 Archived OMWB

July - August 2007 Archived OMWB

May - June 2007 Archived OMWB

March - April 2007 Archived OMWB

January - February 2007 Archived OMWB

November - December 2006 Archived OMWB

September - October 2006 Archived OMWB

July - August 2006 Archived OMWB

May - June 2006 Archived OMWB

March - April 2006 Archived OMWB

January - February 2006 Archived OMWB

October - December 2005 Archived OMWB

August - September 2005 Archived OMWB

June - July 2005 Archived OMWB