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Shelf Island

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About this blog

A small railway in the mould of a freelance British narrow gauge project, but standard gauge and modelled to 1:87 scale.

Entries in this blog

An exit strategy

Progress of my entire ‘Shelf Island’ system and indeed my British 1:87 scale effort has faltered this Autumn as I completed ‘Shelf Marshes’ as far as a basic railway with all of its tracks and electrics in place but no landscape. For some reason, I don’t want to do the scenery, even though this is always one the most enjoyable parts of building a layout. I like the ‘bare but engineered’ look, above as well as below the baseboard. I suspect, my stumbling block is working up the track to look real

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47137 in Editorial

Ikea Malm and connecting the Train-Safe tubes

The hobby room has a chest of drawers standing on the floor, this has always been a part of the design of 'Shelf Island' as it holds the fiddle yard tight against the main baseboard, as well as holding my socks and so on.   The fiddle yard is to the left and 'Wellwood' is to the right:   I keep most of my stock in Train-Safe tubes hung on the walls. I began with one tube for my Rapido APT-E (4mm scale of course) and then added eight more. Eventually I ran out of wall. A

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47137 in Editorial

Wagons for Operations

This post is an index to the wagons seen in operations on the Shelf Island railway as I am modelling it in June 2012. I get completely muddled by the Continental designations for wagons hence the photos here.   The railway has a connection to Network Rail, and the wagons for revenue-creating operations listed here run onto Network Rail metals. The railway also has  wagons of its own for strictly internal use. Some of these take advantage of the railway's larger loading gauge, but hopef

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47137 in Editorial

Modern mess hut (Faller)

This model is my second attempt at a mess hut for 'Shelf Marshes'. The first ended up as a pleasant enough structure, but looking more like a village scout hut or sports pavilion. So I have tried a more neutral subject, a straight build of the Faller kit no. 130130 for a snack bar, they call this an 'Imbiss' or 'Imbissbude'. This model represents a prefabricated building, made in two halves and joined together on site:   The 'joining on site' part went slightly askew for me, only

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47137 in Structures

AAEC container flat (Roco)

The railway has to be able to handle intermodal traffic from time to time. The choice of suitable RTR container flats is extremely limited - I know of only a Megafret twin-set by Brawa. This is quite an unwieldy item on a small layout, and I find it difficult to keep the model on my track where there is a succession of gradients and curves.   I think a 2-axle PFA would suit the layout, but for the time being my solution is the Roco model of a Swiss wagon, supplied with two swap bodies

Chemical Plant (mostly Faller)

A shortened version of this account appeared in an article on 'Lockdown Modelling' in the August 2020 edition of 'British Railway Modelling'; this blog entry is longer and has some more photos.   I started the lockdown period in England full of good intentions, one of which was to build some of my personal stockpile of kits – I am a “stock acquired beyond life expectancy” (SABLE) sort of person. This activity began well enough with a Faller tank farm deemed ideal for my next

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47137 in Structures

'Polybulk' bulk hopper wagon

My 'Polybulk' is a freelance grain wagon someone has created by refinishing a Rivarossi bogie hopper wagon in the livery of Traffic Services Limited (London).   The source model is the Hornby-Rivarossi bulk freight wagon originally released under the Jouef brand in 1977. This particular example had Rivarossi reference HR6030, and was issued in the bright yellow livery of CITA. The result is a 1:87 scale model of a European wagon which was too wide and too high to run in Britain, presen

Wellwood (provisional version)

"Wellwood" will be the final section of my "Shelf Island" project, and maybe I will make a start on it in late 2021. In the meantime I have made a temporary arrangement on part of a flush door:   This layout is important to me, because it connects Shelf Marshes (on the right here) to the rest of the scheme, and it lets me connect my TrainSafe tubes to the layout, but it may not be of much interest to anyone else. I suppose, the main thing is the use of Unitrack because this lets

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47137 in Layout modules

Power distribution for control circuits

Hoping to avoid soldering under the baseboard of "Shelf Marshes" I have made a circuit board to distribute the 12V DC supply to the ancillary circuits:     Power enters at the connector bottom right. Above this are outlets for the circuits the layout needs all the time: 1. Lighting rig, expected to be around 1.5A constant 2. Servo controller and relay driver, 1.5A surge at start-up, 60mA quiescent, more when servos move 3. Analogue controller (if fitted), outp

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Route-setting panel for MegaPoints servo controller

The MegaPoints servo controller has three memories to provide for simple route setting. I have built a small switch panel to let me use this functionality.   Operation of the memories uses push buttons (to be provided by the modeller) with visual confirmation from an LED mounted on the servo controller. To my mind, any kind of reasonably ergonomic operation needs sight of the LED, so I modified the servo controller to drive a new LED beside the push buttons. This probably voids the war

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Understanding social media

This is too big to put in my signature block so I've posted it here where I can link to it.   Worked example (non-model railway)    

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Electricity substation (Busch)

I built this model substation a few years ago. The kit is interesting to me in that it is made entirely from laser-cut parts - in particular, MDF for the structure, and paper for the wrap. This technology seems an economical way to make a pre-coloured kit just as good as a plastic one, and suitable for small production runs where tooling for injection-moulding is not viable:   Assembly is straightforward, and the kit makes up into a sturdy model. Details like the door handle are

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Neoplan 'Spaceliner' style tour bus

I found a toy bus at a swap meet, the Lledo "Marathons" number 3. The bus is representative of an early Neoplan Spaceliner from the late 1970s or early 1980s, but is not a model of an actual prototype.   One appealing feature for the layout is the doors modelled at the front are identical on both sides. So at a glance, the vehicle will pass as a right-hand drive body. Most 1:87 scale models of buses and coaches show the passenger entrance on the right, and the driver's door on th

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Storage tank for loco fuel (Airfix origins)

This is a freelance model of a small fuel tank, to go beside a loco refuelling point.   Plastic kits are easy to modify and to build into completely new models, but there is always a chance of the end result looking much like where it came from. I am thinking in particular of the old Airfix engine shed - it is a super kit, it is easy to build into all kinds of industrial buildings ... but however hard you try, the result always looks like an Airfix engine shed.   I have tried

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47137 in Structures

Tank farm (Faller kit)

I have built the Faller kit for a tank farm, their p/n 130486. The model went together very nicely, much as we would expect of a Faller kit. Here are some photos to show the highlights of my build.   Faller claim the kit to have 477 parts. This is probably true, but the model uses barely a third of these. I missed out the delivery pumps and used about 120 of the parts to build my model:   I have hundreds of unused parts left over for future projects.   The kit

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Reluctant control panel

I have added a small control panel to the main baseboard. I always struggled to use my smart phone to control the Bluetooth relay board, and when I adopted DCC I realised one hand-held device is plenty and this has to be the throttle for the trains, not a phone for the points. I designed the baseboard to give a minimalist appearance, and the control panel rather spoils this, but the panel will let me operate the layout far more easily.   I am committed to DCC operation for my H0 trains

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BYA covered steel wagon, second model

I am building a second kit for a BYA covered steel wagon. This post follows on from my first attempt, which came out reasonably well but rides too high on its bogies. The details on this model are far too fragile too.   1. Detail parts fret (29 November 2019) I have started the second model with the fret for the detail parts. This is etched from 0.2 mm (8 thou) brass and some of the parts are half-etched into this, so the details have the strength of kitchen foil. They bend every

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47137 in Rolling stock

USATC S160 (Roco)

The Big Four operated about four hundred S160 locomotives during the early 1940s, before all of the engines went to Europe. A few returned to Britain into preservation, so really the application of the model to a British layout is fairly limited – either you model the two years of operations during the Second World War, or a preserved scene, or just re-write history a bit and pretend an engine got forgotten and left behind here. This post describes my 1:87 scale S160 locomotive, made by Roco and

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47137 in Reviews

BYA covered steel wagon, first model

I am building a kit for a BYA covered steel wagon. This should be ideal for Shelf Island - a compact model, modern and very British. The prototypes were built by Thrall Europa at York, with the first deliveries to EWS in early 1999. The kit was produced some years ago by a company trading as 'British H0 Models Limited', and I was lucky enough for Elaine Harvey (Elaines' Trains) to think of me and ask if I would like to have the two kits she had come in stock.   To begin with I am build

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A sense of place

I have pretty much paused blogging and indeed modelling for the Summer.   In the meantime, I want to define a sense of place for my main baseboard - something clearly identifiably British, but not overtly regional either. I envisage two palettes for the buildings and civil engineering features:   1) Present-day (modern) infrastructure: concrete and steel, occasional brickwork, and cuttings with retaining walls of concrete 2) Remnants of the past: dressed stone and timber

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Goods platform with crane

A simple platform for goods seems like a good idea for the high-level part of my layout. The platform will provide a little foreground interest for the scene here, and it will be a 'period' piece built of stone and cobbles to contrast with the modern building and metals processor beyond.   This is my platform. I used Wills sheets of cobbles for the top and their random stone for the sides. The Wills sheets don't need very much support to make a robust model.   I wanted

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Baseboard rebuild for Vehicle Dismantlers

It is four years since I laid the track on my main baseboard and the model is still almost completely bereft of scenery.  This is partly because so much of my operating has been test runs on new models, and also because I changed part of the story behind the railway. In particular, the high-level section was going to be an industrial processing plant and an interchange between narrow and stand gauges; but the processing plant looked much better at Fairport (another baseboard) and the narrow gaug

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Industrial shredder (metals processor)

I have built a Faller kit for an industrial shredder. According to the Faller website (my translation from the German), this is   "a plant using using rotary mills to chop and shred waste containing metals, and featuring exhaust air treatment. Conveyor belts take the waste material through the different stages of treatment, including pre-sorting, screening, separation, compression and crushing".   So more of a scrap metals processor than a mere shredder, and for me quite inte

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Rebuild, April - May 2019

April 2019 Last year, I pretty much ignored the layout from January through to the summer time. I've been on a bit of a roll of model making since then and I've had plenty to write about for the blog. Then I sat down a few days ago and wrote out a list of things to do. There are 27 self-contained projects for trains and 13 tasks and mini-projects for the layout. The train projects can keep me going for years. But the main part of the layout really does need some attention. It is still an op

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BR Mk1 BSK (Lima modified)

This post describes my modifications to a Lima coach to lower the chassis onto the bogies and provide for closer coupling. These coaches have various deviations from the prototypes (and really, they are not ‘scale models’), but the changes do improve the general appearance and only take a few hours to do. Nearly all of the work is on the chassis. I also chopped into the body and the interior to let them fit onto the modified chassis, but it will be easy to discard these and fit another body in t

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