Royal Scotsman Class 37s

April 29, 2014

A new year, a new season of Royal Scotsman trains and Class 37s make a reappearance after a break of a good few years. It seems that Class 47s and 57s are now banned from the Kyle Line once again. It was a foggy morning in Nairn when 37 665 lead 37 516 in West Coast Railways maroon on the 1H80 Keith to Kyle leg of the tour…I am looking forward to chasing a pair over the Kyle line this Spring.

Royal Scotsman 37-1
Royal Scotsman 37-2

Royal Scotsman 37-3

Royal Scotsman 37-4


Cover shot…

April 28, 2014

Something I have never achieved before – a magazine cover shot!

BRM Cover June 2014
My photography of Fence Houses, the superb 2mm fine scale layout by Bob Jones, appears in the June 2014 issue of BRM and, to my amazement, one picture featuring the Victoria Viaduct makes it onto the cover – the first time I have ever achieved a ‘cover shot’. Of course, the spoof cover of the January 2012 issue of BRM I posted on here a few years ago does not count! That picture was taken with a timer so Richard Wilson and I could look seriously like we knew what we were doing with some wiring and stuff…

Dick n Nige Cover.indd
But in fact, we did not have the foggiest at the time…

Wheal Annah takes shape – and introducing Hamish

April 22, 2014

Wheal Annah -5
Ground works and basic structures are beginning to make an appearance on my diminutive N gauge layout ‘Wheal Annah’. As many visitors to my blog will know, I like constructing bridges. The one at the right hand side of the layout is based on one on the Newquay line and has taken about six hours to complete to its current state – there’s more I can add to it! Card mock-ups of the china clay works are now being replaced by styrene card building shells or cores. The card buildings were used to check composition of the layout structures.

Wheal Annah-7
The back drop boards are clamped in pace so they can be removed for convenient painting at the work bench when I am ready to flex my considerably weak artistic skills. I suspect several attempts will be made at back drop painting before I am happy with it. I am toying with the idea of making the attachment temporary so they can be slid out to reveal access holes in the frame work through which a camera lens can be poked for taking pictures from the back of the layout.

Hamish copy
In the mean time, the garden has been further livened up by the recent arrival of Hamish, our Pekin Batam cockerel. He’s only 15 inches tall, a nice guy and very noisy. The hens thinks he’s great and follow him around everywhere. Not easy to photograph, though – he won’t stay still for more than a second.

More Scottish flavour…

April 17, 2014


As appealing as it is, I have resisted the temptation to tackle the West Highland line or the Mallaig extension, in either OO or N gauge, despite the easy availability of excellent models of locomotives suitable for such a layout. Fortunately, others have taken up the challenge of capturing the essence of the West Highland line and its unique architecture, including Mark Darragh with his model of Rannoch in 4mm scale. It is modelled in a post privatisation condition with a variety of modern traction and rolling stock appropriate to the line including the ScotRail sleeper; engineers trains; alumina traffic; aluminum traffic; charters; petroleum and timber.

You can hear the rumble of that Class 37 as it crosses the viaduct at the west end of the station. Mark’s layout is a lovely creation with a great deal of attention to detail including red deer, gorse in flower, a rotary washing line in a garden and cottage scenes too. The layout is portable and available for exhibitions, Mark’s work commitments permitting. I photographed it for a layout feature in BRM and is likely to appear in the magazine in the not too distant future, so keep a watch on the news stands.

For those who ask…

April 13, 2014

Nairnshire sign
When out and about with Nairnshire Modelling Supplies, I am asked about the name ‘Nairnshire’ and its origins. Is it made up? Does Nairnshire really exist? Where is it? And most disappointingly of all is the comment, ‘Nairnshire IS made up, it cannot possibly exist…etc.’ we hear from the experts.

With that in mind, I have done something I have intended to do for a while – photograph one of the signs that greets us when entering Nairnshire. This one is on a minor road which crosses Dava Moor to the south of Nairn, just about in sight of the Cairngorm mountains. For the record, Nairnshire is part of the Highland Region of Scotland and is located on the south side of the inner Moray Firth. Our post code is IV12 and the nearest city of any size is the fast-growing and vibrant Inverness. So now you know!

Quietly getting on with some modelling…

April 8, 2014

Wheal Annah-1
‘Wheal Annah’ is a quickie N gauge layout project constructed as relief to working on my large layout projects. The layout theme is based on Cornish china clay operations on a down-at-heel branch line, inspired by the Carbis branch. Built as a shunting layout, it is compact with the senic part only 40 inches in length. Costs are kept to a minimum by utilising one base board frame, wire and other materials recovered from old layouts. The track is Peco Code 55 and and the turnouts were bought second hand. For good shunting operations, Electrofrog turnouts are used with a simple modification to improve their reliability with DCC power.

Wheal Annah-4
Here’s the frame – recovered from my abandoned EM gauge Dudley Heath Yard project and repaired, strengthened and ready for its new role. Given the rising cost of even poor quality timber and plywood, saving solid and stable baseboard frames is a good idea! Avoid using glue when fitting a new top to the frames. Use only screws which should help with removing tops without damaging the frames when a layout finally meets its end.

Wheal Annah-5
A small shelf to one end provides a safe place for the control equipment. The other end used the fiddle stick borrowed from my more successful N gauge Dudley Heath layout.

Wheal Annah-3
To date, the track is in, hard standing and ballast in place and initial testing complete. The building mock-ups are taped together from old shoe boxes. Point control is ‘wire in tube and the operation will be ‘one engine in steam’. The old platform is likely to be modelled in abandoned condition with the occasional staff or inspection train consisting of the Class 122 making a run up the branch.

Wheal Annah-2
Looking towards the end of the branch and more cardboard building mock-ups. The clay works buildings are angled in relation to the back drop for greater visual interest. The branch line also angles across the baseboard to provide a little more room for the passing loop. The layout will have two operating eras: BR Sectorisation and Pre-1980s. It seems the the Kernow Model Rail Centre special edition clay hoods have come along at just the right time!


Rockvilla Goods – OO gauge.

April 4, 2014

A little gem of a layout hit the exhibition circuit last November at the Falkirk show. Rockvilla Goods (OO gauge) is the creation of Joe Loftus who is a member of the 12AD Model Railway Group. The layout is out and about on the Scottish circuit and is of Scottish flavour too – the Class 26 is a dead giveaway. It was photographed for BRM in the last week and the quality of the layout, which artfully fits a great deal of railway and structures into a small space, speaks for itself. It is distinctly urban and industrial without being too grimy!

Rockvilla Goods
Much of the rolling stock is kit-built with a good variety of heavily modified parcels vans too – very appealing indeed! Tall industrial buildings add drama to the scene. Particularly attractive is the modelling of the BR green to Rail blue transition. Joe has some part completed Rail blue parcels vans tucked away – unfortunately not complete enough to photograph, but not far off finished.

Rockvilla 2

Rockvilla 3
It’s a layout I thoroughly enjoyed photographing and my thanks to Joe, Bill and Spencer for their company at the weekend. Oh, as an aside, I left the slug out!