Three words

Three words that instil horror for railway passengers…

Replacement Bus Service.

The track maintenance crew have been working around Bodjio again, which means there’ll be no trains running for the rest of the day.

The rail replacement bus was seen ready to depart on its epic journey from Grande this morning.

A short while later it turned up at Bodjio where it waited, in vain, for more passengers.

Two of the eight passengers who had braved the journey so far alighted at Resurreccion and went looking for a taxi.

It was just after opening time when a brief halt was made at the Posada Estrella (Rio Paleta station’s road access is unsuitable for buses), so another four passengers gave up and headed for the bar.

The bus finally arrived at Cuarto de Pulgada, rudely awakening the two remaining passengers as it bounced over the track, and pulled up outside the Hotel Ferrocarril just in time for a very late tea.

It’s a good job that February is mid-summer in the southern hemisphere, if it were winter the roads would have been impassable due to mud and/or snow.


Posted in FCPyF 2016 rebuild, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

Head for the hills

I visited the New Mills and District Railway Modellers’ exhibition in Chapel en le Frith yesterday. As always my prime interest was the layouts but I did also look at some of the second hand stalls. I have to say that I was appalled by the prices being charged by one trader for used buildings. Even those with obvious damage were seriously above what I would consider paying for them. I usually aim for damaged goods because I’ll be further damaging them myself when I convert them for use on the FCPyF.

On the other hand, the host club’s own stall offered some very reasonably priced models so I gave in to temptation and bought three structures. The first of these, an HO scale freight house, was converted as soon as I got home and is now a small baggage and express shed for use at Cuarto de Pulgada. This was a simple job of removing the platforms and extending the doors down to ground level.

New roof tiles and a touch of paint complete the job. Price – £2.00.

The second building is a larger structure and will be used as the centre piece of an industry to fill the open space between Bodjio and Grande.

The HO scale factory will have a taller base section fitted (inset shows it on the original base) so that it represents an O scale workshop. Price – £3.00.

This old Tri-ang waiting room was the third purchase, yet another “collectors’ item” about to be wrecked at the hands of a mad On30 modeller. On the bright side, my destructive modelling makes those hoarders just a little bit better off as it increases the rarity of their collections… Get real, these are toys, they’re meant to be played with, not kept in display cases.

This will be also be fitted with a new base section to make it taller and used to create a toilet block between the signalbox and the level crossing at Bodjio. Price – £0.50!

Compare those prices with £7.50 for a small Hornby station building at the aforementioned trader’s stall.

Anyways, enough commercial chit chat. As I said the main reason for visiting the show was to see the layouts. There were an admirable number of narrow gauge exhibits and quite a high overall standard of modelling from all the exhibitors. The layout which stood out as by far the best in my opinion was without a doubt Charles Insley’s “Fort Whiting”.

This narrow gauge terminus represents a freelance location but has a very distinctly colonial style to it. Well worth looking out for at shows if you like that kind of thing… And you’re reading my blog, which is primarily about a colonial narrow gauge line, so you probably do.

Posted in Bodging and Kitbashing, Narrow gauge, Other people's trains, Toy train chit chat

Fine tuning

The top layer of fine sand has been added to the track this morning.

I’ve been using this method to bury On30 track in the dirt for some years now but, as ever, there’s still some nagging doubt involved as to whether or not it’ll still work when the PVA dries.

The areas around the point blades have been left clear at this stage because a slightly different method is used around the moving parts. When the rest of the ballast is dry sand will be added here using a small teaspoon and the glue applied carefully using an eyedropper instead of flooding the track as done elsewhere.

A few sink holes have needed filling where the sand was draining through the baseboard, this was done using beaded polystyrene forced into the gaps.

Last week, in Bodjio to Grande I referred to the corner of the Grande baseboard as the last remaining area of the layout yet to be developed, this is not actually true. There’s another corner of the layout that still has no scenery, in fact there are two but the San Fernandez sector plate is meant to be off stage.

The hidden section of line between Cumbre and the bridge entering Cuarto de Pulgada could also be opened up and given scenic treatment. A spectacular trestle or viaduct would be good but I wouldn’t want to drop the scenery too far below track level where the line crosses the door to the garden, which is usually left in place as a duck-under.  A low embankment across a lake or salt flat would be more realistic possibility.

The causeway in the photo above is actually standard gauge but looks very much like the FCPyF track with its sleepers buried in the dirt. (Click here to visit the Lake Superior & Mississippi RR)

The short shelf between the two lift out bridges would need to be kept as an off stage area for operational reasons. The track here is just sitting loose on the baseboard to facilitate the removal and replacement of the bridges when required. The shelf is also used for storing laundry liquid because it’s over the washing machine.

Posted in FCPyF 2016 rebuild, My trains, Narrow gauge, Standard gauge, Toy train chit chat

£6.28 or 40p?

I took Star for a walk after lunch and called in at the pet shop on the way home to get some sand for ballasting the track. Two grades of sand were bought, bird sand is coarser and has been used to build up the bulk of the ballast.

(1) Sand, applied with a spoon and rubbed into the gaps between the sleepers by hand. (2) Dry brush used to shape the profile of the ballast. (3) “Wet water” sprayed over the ballast so that the glue will permeate better. (4) Diluted PVA drizzled into the ballast to hold it firmly in place. 

Fine chinchilla sand will be added for the cosmetic topping to hide the HO scale sleepers after a few days when this base has dried.

I use two sorts of sand because the fine stuff tends to crack up as it dries if applied too deeply, also because the bird sand is cheaper at 40p per kilo as opposed to 98p for the chinchilla sand but just take a moment compare those prices with the that of ballast from a model shop.

£6.28 a kilo, or 40p, which would you rather pay?

Posted in FCPyF 2016 rebuild, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

Paved with good intentions

The saying goes “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

I had every intention of going to the pet shop to get some sand and grit after work, but I fell asleep on the settee instead! Not wanting to have wasted a whole day’s modelling I have tried a new way of making roads. Dry filler was tipped onto the area where the road and level crossing will be then carefully brushed into shape. Once I was happy with the profile it was sprayed with water and allowed to set. The crossing is located between the two sets of points, the only viable place for it to be because the lines to Rio Paleta and Resurreccion are at increasingly different heights as they get further away from the station.

Black poster paint, diluted with a mixture of water and PVA was then applied. The result is far to dark at the moment but weathering by dry-brushing with white acrylic paint will cure that.

The road will probably break up over time, due to it being a hard crust over dry filler on a foundation varying from solid plywood to soft hanging basket liner. Drizzling water into the cracks should stabilise the damaged areas by activating the dry filler below the fractured surface and make them look as if they’re the result of shoddy third world civil engineering in an area prone to earthquakes.

Posted in Bodging and Kitbashing, FCPyF 2016 rebuild, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

Super slow

Having made fairly good progress so far with the scenery at Bodjio I’ve now ground to a halt. I was sure I had a bag of bird grit somewhere in the garage but I can’t find it so ballasting the track and creating the roads will have to wait until I’ve been to the pet shop tomorrow to restock.

In the meantime I have given the station at Cuarto (above) a new roof to match Bodjio though the Hotel Ferrocarril still retains its original wooden shingles. I got as far as cutting the paper to fit the gunpowder shed at Rio Paleta before deciding that repainting it a lighter shade of grey would be a better idea.

The gunpowder shed is very close to the front of the layout, located between the track and the baseboard edge, with the turnout for the mine immediately behind it. This means the roof may occasionally get knocked and paint would be both less susceptible to damage and easier to repair than paper.

Returning briefly to the station building at Cuarto.

While photographing it this morning I was reminded of another Tri-ang station conversion, also using paper overlays, that I made not long after I started working for British Rail. It was back in the 1970s and the railway did not use Tipp-Ex, instead preferring adhesive paper strips (which tasted awful when you licked them to dampen the glue). I used a roll of this correction tape to add overlapping “planks” to one of my old Tri-ang buildings. The result was quite effective and made the station look as if it were made from wood instead of brick.

Unfortunately it seems that various brands of liquid paper have completely replaced the paper strips in stationery supplies nowadays. I suspect that not many companies still use hand written double entry ledgers for their accounts either, another lost skill.

Ho hum, I digress, and not all that briefly, sorry.

Posted in Bodging and Kitbashing, FCPyF 2016 rebuild, My trains, Narrow gauge, Retro modelling, Toy train chit chat


A very long time ago a young lad would avidly read second hand Railway Modeller magazines from cover to cover. All those years ago there were regular adverts for Superquick building papers, a name well known to older modellers.

That young lad was me, and I was quite surprised to find that Superquick papers are still available today. Sometimes embossed styrene sheet is over-scale with the details. Prime examples of this are bricks and roofing slates which, when scaled down, are virtually smooth and devoid of relief.

The buildings at Bodjio, which are converted from OO/HO models made by three different manufacturers with three different styles of roofing, have been vastly improved by the addition of uniform tiles on all the component parts.

The complicated roof line of the station proved surprisingly easy to do, paper is so much easier to work with than styrene sheet. Of course, the Superquick papers are designed for OO scale but tiles comes in various sizes so they work perfectly well in O scale.

Posted in FCPyF 2016 rebuild, My trains, Narrow gauge, Retro modelling, Toy train chit chat