Your Printer has Poor Resolution….


I have been told this a few times when sent STL files to print but I know from printing I do for my own kits and for others `in the know”.  I now have an example to hand with the advantage of also having the original drawing to work with so this would be an opportune time to explain.

First up, what’s an STL file. Over to Wikipedia for this bit…………

Granted its a bit tricky to read but if you click on it it’ll take you to the Wiki page. The gist of  it is that it a format for 3D printers and it takes the outer skin of you model and describes it as a series of triangles.  So in your CAD program you save your model with the file extension .stl and you get a faceted version ready to load into your printer.

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First Steam of the Year – Beamish 10/06/21

What with all this Covid19 stuff and not being very well I’ve not played with any steam larger than my garden railway stuff since October last  year.  That got fixed on Friday 10th June 2021 with two engines in steam on the narrow gauge and a standard gauge contraption nearby.

The time the museum has been closed has turned our industrial narrow gauge line a even more of a scene of post industrial decay


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Brymston RR – #15 – A surprise

Well, that was a nice surprise ………

My Surprise Goose

In my model room I have a plan chest. Some of the drawers have drawings in, some have models in and, clearly, some have hidden treasure in them.

Having decided that my flirtation with 0n30 wasn’t going any further as I concentrate on the 0n3 layout I have been selling off some of the 0n30 stuff lurking in that drawer. This Rio Grande Southern Galloping Goose was lurking in the 0n30 drawer.

The Goose was produced by an outfit called Precision Craft Models in the USA and I was the UK importer for them. They were actually the same company as Broadway Limited in all but name(the original one, not the current incarnation). Originally, BLI were set up by the company that introduced QSI sound decoders to bring their decoders to the market by hiding them in models. For narrow gauge modellers their first loco was a C16 2-8-0 with a QSI decoder in them. Even for the time the models were a little crude with moulded on pipework like an Airfix loco kit but the sound was excellent. This version of BLI was located in the north of the USA.  The ploy worked, fantastic for its time, everyone now wanted QSI decoders in their models.

Having done what they set out to with BLI they no longer needed a model business and QSI sold the company. They were canny though, they managed to sell it to an outfit based in Florida and sold it with a tie to using QSI decoders but with no priority in the supply chain. Most of the original BLI staff left not wanting to move.

The new BLI found itself with models in production, a tie to use QSI decoders and no decoders. The answer was Precision Craft Models. It was basically a parallel company, all the details and staff exactly the same but no tie. Several HO locos were produced under this banner but the only 0n30/0n3 item was the galloping goose. The PCM models all had Loksound decoders in them.

BLI/PCM went through some weird times. In the following years they continued to have decoder troubles trying to bring their own out which were rubbish. They also lost most of their dealer network. They were so hand to mouth that they had to sell all their stock to finance the next project so having sold to dealers at a standard dealer discount and having only just done so they’d dump all the remaining stock on the market at a retail below dealer cost.  Initially they did this to a couple of large US hobby shops but then to a company called Factory Direct Trains which by some amazing coincidence had the same address and the same directors (just in a different order). On those terms most dealers would have nothing to do with them.  They have changed now but have stuck to HO & N models.

Sample Passenger Goose

Sample Passenger Goose

The Goose was produced in 0n30 & 0n3, in a passenger and freight version and in several prototypical liveries and some fanciful fictional ones.

Its not been produced since 2005 and is now a quite sought after model.

The Surprise? Well, the model that was in the 0n30 drawer didn’t fit on the 0n30 test track. Turns out its 0n3 and would therefore fit on my layout.

The Dilemma.  When it was thought to be 0n30 I was selling it. Now I am undecided.

It doesn’t really fit with my layout but it would sit in my larger 0n3 collection but I could really do with the money its sale would make for a current project.

I thought writing about it would help me make my mind up. It hasn’t!

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Brymston RR – #14 – Realisations

There hasn’t been much work done at all on the Brymston RR in recent weeks. Once New Year was out of the way work imposed itself once more followed by the great vinyl floor disaster that banished me from the model room. Sorting the vinyl floor disaster took a lot longer to sort than it should have with my bad leg restricting the time I could tolerate crawling around on the floor.

Whilst banished though there have been a couple of “realisation” moments.

First was about the next bit of the layout, more on that in a moment.

The second thing came from watching ancient TV and several episodes of Bob Ross painting lessons.

Watching this made me think

  1. Some of those mountains would look good as the backdrop
  2. Bugger, I’m going to have paint them and I’m no artist
  3. Doing it after the layout is built is going to be a pain
  4. I’d better at least prep for it.

The layout board, as it was until about an hour ago, was a mish mash of surfaces of the bare wood. I had thought that I would put some coating on it as a seal as the scenery is going to involve slopping quite a bit of water about.

Watching Bob made me realise that a primer would be needed as a basis for painting anything arty.

All the wood finish has now had one coat of wood primer on it and it will get a second coat when it has dried.

A Dilemma Moment:  Anyone want to volunteer to paint the backdrop? I have so much to do with the business that I get little time for the layout as it is so do I really have the time to learn to paint backdrops? I know from past experience I am wired up for engineering and technical stuff and have had an “arty” bypass.


If it does come to pass that I fail to find an acceptable fudge and I try painting I do have two layout length pieces of ply that the Perspex front came in as a practice `canvas’


OOH, a cheat: I’m always up for a cheat. This one might be worth a punt. A quick Google reveals ID backscenes with a view of the Rockies!  


Says its for OO but using it in 7mm just means “far away”  doesn’t it (cue – Father Ted clip)



Second Realisation – One Board is Not Enough

Extension Space

When I set out to do the layout as modules I started with module one knowing that it would need at least one more board to provide a fiddle yard but reasoned that could wait. Now the first board has a home a couple of things became apparent: –

  • The fiddle yard was going to be very short or it would have to turn a corner first and,
  • Planning the track on board one I was going to need some idea of what goes on board 2
  • With what I was thinking for board 2 no commercial standard baseboard was going to do.
  • A tidy up was needed!

Where Module 1 sits in the model room its end points at a wall with about 800mm between it and the wall. Option 1 was for a traverser or cassette based fiddle yard which would have worked as, at most it’ll be a loco and a couple of wagons, but the location would cause storage problems. It’s be pretty much in the doorway with no where to put modules down. Option 2 was to use the module to turn the line through 90 degrees which opens up all sorts of other opportunities beyond (and defers a fiddle yard decision)

Some doodling with CAD came up with this

It follows the idea of the Tim Horn baseboard that forms module one and continues the presentation format. It has a dropped front section and a more open deck as I envisage the line being on an embankment and crossing a small bridge before entering a cutting that deepens to a tunnel to exit the scene.

The high level section at the rear allows the high level track to cross from board one. This may yet get cut back to increase the openness of the lower track.

This has all been designed in 3D CAD.

It’s very nearly as I want it. When its finally done I have a macro that spits out a 2D version of each part recognising the material thickness as the 3rd D and discarding it. These flat 2D files will then go to the laser cutter to be zapped.

The laser firm I use are OK on price once you get above their minimum order level so I may progress board 3 and some stuff I need for the garden railway before I place the order. Cash flow just now has been too much ebb and not enough flow so far this month so it may have to wait a bit.

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Sad News and Grim times all round.

Well, it has been a weird old start to the year.

Sad News

First comes the sad news that the model railway fraternity have lost a stalwart with Covid19 claiming Graham Jones. That name probably won’t mean a lot to most, but his business might. Northampton Model Railway supplies, or NMRS for short, supplied a lot of detail parts and kits in a variety of scales but mostly in 0.  Lots of other kits out there by other manufacturers included NMRS parts or had parts cast for them because Graham was a master of the whitemetal casting art.

I last spoke to Graham in November when he was his usual buoyant self just getting back to producing stuff after a cataract operation. Apparently, he got Covid19 and ended up in hospital and passed away on 16th January.  He leaves a partner Eve.

He was another one man band but there are some friends sorting out his business affairs. It will affect some of my kits as Graham cast the whitemetal parts for my Agenoria range of loco kits.

Brexit – The gift that keeps giving.

There seems to be no end to the delights this is bringing. For a small business like mine its having affects that neither our Government nor the EU will give a damn about but it’s a big thing for me.

  • First delight is a supplier of parts that get used in my kits based in Germany has declined to supply my parts with “we no longer ship to the UK because of the new VAT rules”.
  • Second is 29 days into this debacle I’ve not had a single order from an EU customer instead of the usual, approx. 15% of my business.
  • A customer trying to return something with the couriers trying to charge VAT in both directions, plus their ransom (fee) when he used to pay nothing.

Hopefully someone will come up with a plan but how many of will still have a business when they do may not be many

Well, that was all a bit glum so I’ll leave this post there and do another more cheerful one soon.

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Happy New Year

Happy New Year. Yes, you’ve guessed it, I couldn’t come up with a more imaginative title for the first post of 2021. Here we are 17 days in and 19 days since the last post so from the blog it looks like nothing has been happening. This isn’t true, the only thing that hasn’t been happening is me writing this blog.

Quite a few things have been progressing whilst a few others have been stymied by a bit of maintenance that is taking way too long.

Item one has been the production of some silver soldered vee’s for a friend & customer. They were produced using the jigs and resistance soldering techniques as described in this blog post

When I did some for my own layout in that blog post I was just keen to sort out something I could use and too see if the resistance soldering method worked with silver solder.

This time round I have put a bit of effort in to sorting the repeatability of cutting, filing and soldering to get consistency with the end product.

Next up was a long awaited package from Iain at San Pareil Investment Casting that Christmas & New Year delayed .

These are cast nickel silver rods and fly cranks to upgrade the Bachmann 0n30 Gas Mechanical. These along with some final drive gears made in brass eliminate all the Bachmann plastic parts that are prone to splitting. I also plan a re-motor and sound install.

This is a little project that has been simmering because I have three of these locos all with issues. I am not sure this will become a commercial option as, whilst it will make a super running loco that’s a bit different to the bog standard product I doubt the final price will be a commercially acceptable one.

The last product and the other shiny thing out of the back were these castings in Nickel Silver & Brass.

The rods are in Nickel Silver whilst the cranks are in brass.

The NS has a more unpredictable shrinkage than the brass on a component where accuracy is required for the rod centres. These will be jig drilled on a fixture for my milling machine that I have got part built.

These parts are for my project to fit new cranks and rods to the Bachmann Whitcomb Bo-Bo diesel described here

Now, the thorn in my side. (or pain in the knee). Twenty odd years ago when we extended the house and I won the large would be bedroom as my model room it was floored with a big roll of vinyl flooring which, to be fair, has lasted well. In the same room where I now have three work areas (each for different tasks) I also have an office chair of the sort on castors. What has been obvious for awhile is that the people putting the floor down only taped it to the chipboard in a few places and along the join down the centre of the room.  The chair has rolled ridges into the floor and then it pulled the join down the centre up and turned it into a trip hazard.

I am currently gluing the floor down with a vinyl adhesive, rolling out the ridges and, in places heating it with a heat gun to make it pliable.  There are two problems with this. The first is that, were this a bedroom, you’d shift all the furniture and do it in one. Its not. My layout and works stuff is built in on top of the vinyl. The result is musical junk for the bits that can move whilst working up to the fixed items.  The second problem is that my wonky leg really limits the time I can spend on my knees so it has been a very slow process.

It is now nearly done and for the duration its made it virtually impossible to get any modelling done. In the best tradition of these things its nearly done but with the last thing I have to move it will get significantly worse before it gets better!

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BRYMSTON RR – Episode13 – Don’t see the point..

…. so we’ll just have to see how things turnout.

Following on from the previous instalment in which I made and silver soldered the Vee’s together. The vee was assembled in with the other rails in the Fast Tracks 0n3 #4 left hand jig.

The PCB ties would only be here temporarily to fold the rails in the correct orientation so no great effort was made to get fantastic solder joints. Also, this being a stub turnout the switch rails don’t extend all the way to the blades.

Once soldered the skeleton turnout was lifted from the aluminium jig. It was turned upside down and had bits of waste etch from kits soldered across the rails in the gaps between the ties so as to hold the rails in place without relying on the ties. Most of these were intended to be temporary but those holding the check rails to the stock rails and a pair binding each switch rail to its stock rail were permanent.

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BRYMSTON RR – EPISODE 12 – VEE have ways..

BRYMSTON RR – EPISODE 12 – VEE have ways..

Back in episode 11 I detailed some mods I have made to jigs for producing the rail for the common crossing (the vee, frog etc) and blades for point work on The Brymston RR. The mods to the soldering jig were done because I mentioned that I intended to silver solder the Vees.

A number of comments here and on other fora were concerned that silver solder requires a higher temperature than the melting point of aluminium that the jigs are made of.

Many other things have got in the way of a practical test until today but whilst I couldn’t put my finger on the right techno babble to allay their concerns I thought they were worrying unnecessarily.

Today I silver soldered some vees without a problem and the reason it isn’t a problem and why my jigs aren’t a dribbly mess is down to mass. The jig is a bloody great big lump of aluminium which is a great heat sink. It holds the part of the rail to be soldered in clear air away from the aluminium. Added to that the heat source whilst intense is tiny.

I have now silver soldered a number of vees together and used two methods of heating. The early attempts clamped up the vee and I then added silver solder paste in to the vee. This left some surface contamination. Whilst they cleaned up nicely I wondered if it could be avoided. In this first video I have the rails clamped in place  but first I applied silver solder paint to the inside faces.

Now for those worrying about the aluminium note that some liquid that is in the recess behind the joint doesn’t even get hot enough to boil away. Straight after soldering it looks a little charred but that all cleans off. From the jig the vee goes in a jar of pickle solution to clean it up, then rinsed in clean water and it cleans up to shiny metal.


Then I had an idea and wondered if resistance really was futile. Ok, so I only used that line so I could post a picture of 7 of 9. [I wonder if it occurred to The Borg that if they had all looked like 7 of 9 they’d have had a lot less bother assimilating half of the population].


What I was really wondering was if my resistance soldering unit would get the vee hot enough. Its a pretty small cross section and for soft soldering I never use it on full power anyway. Only one way to find out. Give it a go.

Well, that worked better than expected. Afterwards I noted that the very sharp end of the vee had opened slightly but I reckon either a clip or less pressure on the probes will sort that. That said there isn’t a lot to choose between fire or resistance methods for doing the vees. On other modelling projects the resistance method may be better because it only heats where your joint is as the flame is a bit wider.

Why silver solder. As you have seen it needs the bits to be red hot to solder. It will need that temperature to come undone so any amount of soft soldering I do to add other details isn’t going to cause this joint to come undone.

Onwards now to the rest of the turnout.


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The named layout

It’s done. It’s named.

After the last post discussing applying a name and how to do it things moved very quickly.

Posting the blog to the NGRM forum came up with a few suggestions as to how to do it and the one I went with was a recommendation to use Vinyl Lettering Online UK.

A quick visit late that same night with the intention of ‘just having a look’ turned into an order and two days later the lettering turned up with postie.

Two of the inmates

A quick burst of painting the surround black prepared for adding the lettering. It is one of those jobs you start with considerable trepidation and then wonder what all the fuss was about.

The lettering comes as a sheet, mine was rolled in a tube. On the layout you lay it out and get it all lined up securing it in place with masking tape in several places. You then remove the tape at one end and peel the backing away. Then you press the remaining tape down firmly on to your surface. You do need to press firmly with a hard tool to make sure that the lettering sticks to your surface. You can see a subtle change in colour as it is pressed firmly. You then peel the front tape away making sure it leaves the lettering behind. If it starts to lift a letter changing the angle you pull at sorts that. With the front tape off you’re left with your lettering properly aligned and spaced. Probably as a hang over from using press down transfers I put a sheet of plain paper over the letters and gave them another firm press.

Job Done


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A very brief update this one and a request for suggestions on how to do something.

Following on from yesterday’s Perspex screen post it got me thinking about the presentation of the module and the need for its name to be displayed.  When it is all assembled the pelmet gives a front facing depth of 65mm, so, what I envisage is white lettering on painted black background. Letters about 50mm high.

I have been playing with fonts and as it was a mandated font for Railroads to use I was thinking it should be in Railroad Roman.

That said there is some leeway as there were umpteen versions of it with some railroads customising their own version.

A silly bit of me thinks it should be in the D&RGW Flying Grande style

That would be silly as  my D&RGW engines won’t be allowed on this bit of the layout as I doubt they’ll get past the first switch.


I suppose another alternative would be to use a Stencil as things were often lettered with them



My question for you all is how to do the lettering in a professional looking way. That rules out me hand painting it or using stick on house letters as I’ll never get them on straight.


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