Useless Tools – Avoiding them

Useless Tools – Avoiding them

Actually this is a brief tale of spending wisely, hopefully, just the once.

This is a good tool

This is a good tool

I am fortunate to have two workshops plus an office/design space. Simplistically the garage (ish) is the heavier engineering workshop with mills, lathes drills and the heavier tools, upstairs I have my model room (which the boss tells me would be the master bedroom if we were selling) which was supposed to have my layout in it but ends up as the model works and we have an office/study and my desk ends up covered in bits of models when I am doing CAD design.

What these three locations have in common are crap digital callipers.

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Roy C Link – A Tribute

Roy C Link – A Tribute

I was saddened to hear last week of the passing on an exceptional modeller that I am delighted to have been able to call a friend.  At the time I wrote this on various fora:

This is sad news, and I can say it been a real privilege to have known Roy and consider him a friend. Lots of other people have commented whilst I thought about what to say beyond offering my condolences.

It was whilst distilling this I realise that I have been very fortunate to have undergone a sort of mini apprenticeship under Roy’s tutelage. With Roy living close to Porthmadog and me visiting regularly to drive on the FR, nearly every trip included an evening with Roy. Its only now that I look back I realise that many visits also included some passing on of experience, methods of doing things, new skills and so on. I’ve spent evenings learning how to make parts on a pantograph, how to make injection moulding tools, lathe and mill work, micro silver soldering and ordinary soldering but with a hot plate.

Often this would happen when I turned up with something I had made which he encouraged, rarely criticised but then offered ideas on alternative methods of achieving the same or better result. As I developed my own modelling and the products of EDM Model if I got stuck a chat about it with Roy if not proposing a solution was always entertaining and led to a clarity of thought. Often a funny story or anecdote would illustrate the different way of thinking about or doing something. Who am I going to ask now?

I didn’t really want to leave it at that with nothing on my own blog so here I have added a few more comments.

Trips to visit his man cave were always informative and amusing. The library of information in this man cave is extensive and a conversation about this or that loco would bring forth a torrent of info. Not only did he know much of the info himself he knew which book it was in and where on the many shelves it was and you would quickly find you had a knee full of books.  I am sure the physical library will survive but we have lost the most amazing index.

I will add a just a couple of anecdotes (I could add many):

  • During an evening visit with Roy we were discussing Silver Soldering of small items. In particular how and why I was making a right mess of trying it. In no time at all the current job was moved aside on his workbench and I was given a demo of how to do it. This was immediately followed by him moving aside for me to have a go. I did three of four joints to the same standard (I will write it up as a demo in a future blog). We only silver soldered odd bits of brass rod into some sort of modern art tangle but its sits in a mug on show and now may have to be treated to a plinth.
  • More recently his publication Narrow Gauge and Industrial Revue featured some home made track spikes that were very fine. I was just starting on some trackwork on my 0n3 layout and had an e-mail discussion with Roy about their manufacture. This left me with a better understanding as to how to adapt their manufacture to the kit I had available. As often is the case I just had to find the time. Two days later a jiffy bag dropped through the door with a significant number of “samples” to get me going.

Our chats have involved Roy teaching me bits of machining, injection moulding, pattern making and me showing him developments in the 3D printing I was doing. Even then with his almost sneaky questioning he pushed me to do cleverer things with the printer.

I looked for photos of Roy to go with this blog and only really found the one that everyone else was using for his obituary so I have also included an image of his Sand & Gravel layout and the quite fitting last book from RCL Publications “The Crowsnest Chronicles” the story of his life long fascination with the railways of Snailbeach and his attempts to represent them in model form.


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Its been an age since I reported any progress with The Brymston Railroad mainly because I have been distracted onto other things both for customers and playing with the real things in these strange Covid times.

The last few weeks have been very trying because an old circulation related injury has relegated me to an arm chair, a good book and pain killers. I really haven’t felt like modelling and when I have tried its been a painful experience. The result has been pushing myself to do the minimum business stuff I can get away with and then recuperating in the air chair. On the plus side I’ve been catching up on my reading.

Eventually though the pain subsides and the urge (need?) to do some modelling starts to reassert itself. Not quite up to the next stage in the Murder of a Garratt saga this episode covers a small job for the Brymston RR that prepares for some actual progress on the layout.

Here is another definition that I have just made up

For the Brymston RR module and for the later larger layout I have a lot of track to make. To aid this I have some of the excellent jigs and tools by Fast Tracks and, as they go, they are excellent and perfectly useable. They are made with a consideration to their mass production as one of the design criteria.

Once they’re with their new owner that criteria is no longer an issue and the opportunity is there to adapt them to the users preference. What follows is the tail of some alterations to two of these tools. Continue reading

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Murder of a Garratt Pt 2 – The Resurrection

Murder of a Garratt Pt 2 – The Resurrection begins

Well, that caused a stir with comments like “you’re mad” and “you’d have been better off with a kit”. I would refer you to my comment “I wouldn’t have started from here”. It took me three years to pluck up the courage but once the first cut was made there was no going back.

At the end of episode one I said I had plans for Sunday to get more done before the T20 cricket on the TV. It didn’t quite work out like that. Some progress was made with the CAD and the M1.6 screws turned up but domestic chores and an urgent mod to a customer printed patterns were all that got fitted in around the cricket. The cricket was T20 England vs Pakistan at Old Trafford. England won and it was a cracking game. Continue reading

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Murder of a Garratt – pt1

Murder of a GarrattIn this introduction to `Murder of a Garratt’ the first joke has to be “well, I wouldn’t have started from here”

Episode 1 is a bit long so you may want to get a brew!

The target of this build is a Garratt that is 138(ish) in lined red and the starting point is a Backwoods Miniatures 0-16.5 Chinese assembled ready to run Garratt in Black. Its been a project a long time in the making consisting of about three years plucking up the courage followed, so far, by three or for days of wanton destruction as I set about £2K’s worth of loco with a cutting discs, files and sanders.

The Backwoods Miniatures kit and the ready to run loco were the best NGG16 kit on the market – by way of being the only NGG16 kit on the market!  In truth its a bit, well, wrong.  The kit part of it (not talking accuracy here) is poor. Its origins are a kit designed for 009 from artwork drawn to 8mm/ft scale, twice full size. To work as a kit in 009 their have to be compromises on the level of detail that can be reproduced. This is all fine but it is still a challenging kit to build and get running well. Have a search for the Bron Hebog blog to see examples where a cracking result has been achieved.

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Socially Distanced Playing Trains

Normally, in late July and early August I usually do two weeks driving on the Festiniog Railway as my second or third stint of the year. This year has been a bit different with: –

  • The Covid19 Pandemonium
  • My own health resulting in the removal of my gall bladder.

The first of them meant there have been no trains and the second meant I couldn’t have driven them had they run. I was going to say Plan B, but its more like Plan X, Y or Z has finally seen trains run and me drive a few.

The railway started to run trains in late July with a very different service to what has gone before. Priority has been safety and social distancing for both the people working the trains and for the travelling public.

At the railways works the site has been split to keep the works staff and the train crews separated as much as possible with two entrances, two messes and washing facilities and no works access for visits. Social distancing even works in the sheds with the engines. This year has seen shorter trains and the little engines coming to the fore.

The Double Fairlies have been put away and the service has been operated by Linda, Blanche, Prince and Welsh Pony with Palmerston just returning to traffic as I write this after an overhaul. Each day three are used with one spare and they rotate so that there is a different spare each day and they are all kept warm.  The three for the service sit by the doors on 5,6 & 7 roads with the spare one loco in on 7. The three go out at hourly intervals and sometime during the day the spare is moved from the back of 7 to either 5 or 6 ready for the next day.

The trains in use are all compartment stock for separation and trains are only running to Tan-y-Bwlch. They depart from the open end of the platform at Porthmadog, so they don’t create public congestion under the canopy. Passengers when they book are allocated a compartment which is then theirs for the full journey. Trains run non-stop to TyB where there is an hours break for the passengers before they return to Porthmadog.

It all runs a bit slower than usual, but timings are still important. Firstly, as a driver, you mustn’t arrive at TyB early so you don’t unload your passengers before the down train has its loaded up.

On arrival the up train goes right up to the water tower so its in the right place to fill up and the rear is beyond the crossing to the car park. Once you’ve taken water and the passengers are off the train is moved to the other platform via the top end placing the train down towards the footbridge below the car park crossing. The loco then returns to the up line to run round but has to wait for the departed down train to get to either Rhiw Goch or Minffordd for the token to be available.

Having run round you are ready to load up which you have to do before the next up arrives which explains whilst the up mustn’t arrive early.

We even managed a social bubble with our loco as for the four days the roster was Blanche, me driving and Claire firing all made easier as Claire and I were sharing accommodation.

How did I get on? Well, four days was enough although I was getting back into it. There were some issues caused by my reconfigured innards but manageable so I will be back to do a bit more soon.

On our first day we got caught by the paparazzi. The pictures in the article were all taken by Chris Parry and are used with his permission and my thanks. We also got caught by the Moving Pictures Video team so you can follow a trip with us to  Tan-y-Bwlch in the second half of that video.

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A matter of Liberty

A Matter of Liberty

Luckily for you this isn’t going the be a post about Liberty or any of that political nonsense. No, this one is about my Liberty Belle loco for the Eternity Diamond Mines RR.

The loco is a Liberty Belle 2 which was a special edition available through Brandbright but made for them by Roundhouse Engineering. A bit sobering is the realisation that as it was bought for my 40th Birthday its now 20 years old. Due to the lack of a garden railway it is genuinely a low mileage engine.

As delivered, it was fitted with RCS radio control which was horrible to use. It may have been fine on a flat line, but it just didn’t react quick enough for a line with frequent changes in gradient.  As a result, its first re-equipping was to fit it with standard (then) 40MHz radio. This was done for me and at the same time it was fitted with a whistle.  It was then only steamed a couple of times before the old line was dismantled.

It probably sat just on a display shelf then for about 15 years. Last year we upgraded it to 2.4 GHz digital radio by swapping the receiver. It then steamed twice, once at home and on my incomplete line and a second time on a visit to the Slap & Tickle Railway where it failed in traffic. Investigation revealed that it had melted the servo horn on the whistle servo with it in the open position.

Plan A was to replace the servo arm on the whistle. Getting the cab off this one isn’t straightforward due to a lot of the cosmetic additions. Once it was off it was obvious why it had failed. It was far too close to both the burner and the superheater pipe from the lubricator.

Plan B was to re-site the servo for the whistle but the loco fought this all the way. Some of that was the loco and some of it was down to the fact that none of the tools in the model room for the electric trains were big enough and everything in my main workshop was too big. In the end, partly because I was getting nowhere and partly because I was not convinced by the whistle anyway, I hit on Plan C which was ditch the whistle.

Plan C came with a twist. During all this messing about the old and massive throttle servo gave up the ghost. Plan C became: –

  1. Remove the whistle
  2. Blank of its steam take off
  3. Replace the direction servo. There was nothing wrong with this on but at 20 years old it seemed sensible whilst the loco was apart.
  4. Replace the throttle servo which involved a new servo bracket as the new servo is a different format.
  5. Set up and test
  6. Reassemble

I have got as far as (5) and am writing this whilst waiting for it to cool down. Here is video to prove it works on the bench. Hopefully, tomorrow there will be video of it pulling trains.



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It’s a stick up

Have you ever wanted to stick something temporarily and had a bad time with double sided tape?

Double sided tape tends to be a faff to use when it comes to pealing the backing off and it’s a real pain in the nether regions when you want it to come apart. You usually end up scraping away at the surface trying to get the adhesive off.

Here is a tip I learnt recently watching You Tube videos. Not ones of railway stuff, building guitars actually, but I enjoy watching craftsmanship happening and, as this proves, you can learn something useful.

Things you will need are: –

  • Masking Tape. Ordinary white, painters blue or, as in this case, Tamiya model tape does well.
  • Superglue: Nothing fancy, the ordinary cooking varieties work fine.
  • Superglue accelerator/activator spray. Mine is RS brand but its not important other than it being a spray.

Now, I happened to have all of those, so I know what they do but for the uninitiated some explanation is probably worthwhile. The experience modeller can have a snooze for a few moments. The tape is any low tack tape that is meant to be removed, typically referred to as masking tape. Superglue, officially cyanoacrylate glue, comes in many varieties with different claims to the different things it sticks and its sticking time. The bog standard cheap stuff works for this trick. I used a posh one as it was what was on the desk and its properties are such that the sprays effect is reduced. Accelerator/Activator is a spray that speeds the setting of the superglue when it comes into contact with the glue.

So, the trick…

Wanting to put the buffer beam on this chassis temporarily but be able to remove it later this is the plan.

  • Apply tape to both parts and make sure you press it down well. Also make sure there are no wrinkles in it.
  • Apply superglue sparingly to one part. I did the black chassis.
  • Apply activator to the other part

  • Press the two together. This one has a hole to line up so I stuck a screw in it to align them.
  • Hold together just for a moment

That’s it. The two parts are aligned and stuck together and as its over a reasonably large surface area they’ll stay put. When you need them apart you pull and the tape peels off one part or the other and you can then peal it off the other part just like easy peel tape.


In this example I did the same to add the cosmetic 3D printed buffer beam to my large scale diesel chassis.

More on the diesel later

Thanks to Ben at Crimson Guitars for this tip



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New Sales Arrangements

Having undergone surgery (I wasn’t expecting) and from which I am still slowly recovering EDM Models has been closed. Covid-19 hasn’t been the cause of this but it has made recovery and treatment more complex.

It’s been made clear to me that I am not returning to work or reopening EDM Models until I am well enough and that when I do it will be a soft reopening. At that stage Covid-19 will have an impact on how we work. I need to maintain separation as the surgery puts me in the at risk group.

Here’s the plan….

UK Shipments

  • Sales will be web only. That is orders placed via the website only. Phone orders, e-mailed orders will not be taken. Phone calls will still get the “we’re closed” message.
  • Sales will be stock items only. With many suppliers closed restocking is not possible at present.
  • Shipping will by courier only and once or twice per week. I have a no contact collection/drop off arrangement that maintains separation. Queuing in a grocery store pretending to be a post office doesn’t comply with the separation.

International Shipments

  • Europe & International shipments will be sent by a courier that will collect
  • The website will estimate [guess] the shipping erring significantly in my favour
  • I will refund the difference once I know the actual shipping cost

Out of the UK shipments are more awkward to do with any sort of fixed rate or even a consistent guess. Every shipper needs to know not only the weight of the shipment but its size (volume) and without a massive effort on measuring every item that we sell plus coming up with some fiddle factor for how it fits in a box there is no other way. I have a lot of sympathy for the Amazon packer who just chucks your tiny order in a huge box and stuffs it with paper fill. Then again Amazon is big enough to tell the shippers how much they will pay for shipping unlike us small fry.


There is currently one exception that will be dealt with differently. The 2020 0n30 Annual isn’t expected to arrive until mid to late May but when they do they’ll be shipped out in bulk thanks to some help. They are later than expected but the publisher is having the same lock down and staffing issues as we have in the UK then international shipping at the moment is slow.  I have arranged that these can ship in bulk with the Post Office thanks to the help of a friend who isn’t restricted.

Need to get one ordered?   When the website opens on the 18th and through to when the bulk supply arrives orders for the annual with only the annual in the order will get the £3.50 shipping rate. Once that bulk post has gone they’ll be in the standard courier shipping

Initially at least I won’t be accepting telephone or e-mailed orders – these methods will still get the closed message

It is impossible to predict my recovery and how the country will proceed with Covid19 so I will be keeping the situation under constant review.  I have already had a number of e-mails telling me how to run my business so I’ll deal with a couple of these here: –

  • No, I won’t switch to Herpes because they’re cheaper. I won’t use a company that can lose two orders to the same address equating to about £800 and take no responsibility for it. Their service round here is crap anyway with some bloke in a barely legal knackered minibus turning up to collect stuff and who thinks leaving stuff on the garden wall is safely delivered.
  • Thanks for all the advice how I could dress up like a spaceman so I could go to the post office. Not going to happen. We used to have an independent post office in which social distancing would have been possible. The post office forced the owners out in their well publicised accounting scandal. They replaced the post office, after a foregone conclusion survey, with a counter in an understaffed 7-11 grocery store. Often the queues for the Post Office and Groceries are intertwined and half the length of the shop as the one member of staff tries to run both counters.

Please bear in mind that my health issue doesn’t change how likely I am to catch it unless I restrict where I go to avoid catching it but it does seriously affect my chances of recovery from it. Much as I love some of my customers you’re not worth killing myself for.

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