I consider myself to be very lucky to live in a town which still has a shop with a worthwhile model department. Ely is lucky to have City Cycle Centre as it holds a very respectable range of paints, raw materials and tools as well as the usual RTR/RTP models. Also relatively locally a day of shopping with the family usually involves going to Bury St Edmunds (no one in their right mind attempts shopping in Cambridge, no parking, too many tourists and no model shop!). Model Junction in Bury is then a required port of call. In the northerly direction we have Trains4U in Peterborough and a little further off the beaten track Glendale Junction in Market Deeping - both worth the drive.
Still a visit to places I've not been sometime brings surprises and on Saturday a visit to Stevenage produced one of these. I'd only been around the 1960's disaster area near the station before but this time traveled over the footbridge next to Tesco to 'The Old Town'. (I'd cruelly referred to Stevenage as 'The land that time forgot' simply because the 'modern' centre was so firmly stuck in the 1960's.)
KS Models, 19 Middle Row, Old Town Stevenage was a surprise which confounded my expectations. I needed some brass shim, brass tube, primer, thinners and a few bits and pieces. I was expecting to have to wait until Scaleforum because local model shops that stock this stuff are rare as hens teeth. The brass shim was available, the brass tube was there, I got some nuts and bolts. Then I found the boxes of loco fittings and transfers, Markits components and a whole wide range of 'interesting bits'. Ended up with a pile on the counter that justified using the credit card (oops).
So, Stevenage, don't be put off by the concrete, 10 minutes walk from the station is definitely worthwhile.
Over the last few months my 'Friday evening project' has been working on a rather old c1997 Crownline kit for an LNER J20. These were a substantial ex-GER 0-6-0 which were one of the most powerful 0-6-0s built. The kit has some serious compromises for OO, the most difficult being that all the wheel splashers were too large so that they could accommodate oversize flanges. Reducing that splasher size then left gaping holes in the footplate which needed filling. Still, progress is now more rapid and I have something like that begins to look like a locomotive.
Friday evening's output was 'drilled 9 holes', doesn't sound much but working out where they should go from photographs and getting them the right size was not a trivial job. The washout plugs had been half etched in the boiler but half of them were missing and they were no way near pronounced enough. The J20 used, I believe, the same boiler as a B12, I said it was big!
Next job is to add some boiler bands with the brass shim I bought, (I always worry that less solid alternatives like insulation tape will not last).
Quick update on the Slater's Simplex. I've managed to refit the replacement chip today and I'm hoping to get around to priming it this week.