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Maurice Hopper

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    My main interest is the modelling of the London and South Western Railway. As my work in 1/64th Scale this is a long term scratch building project for a layout set in west Dorset called Mellstock Intrinseca.

    I am also interested in the building of micro layouts for taken to exhibitions by public transport. These started with St Juliot, which attended a number of exhibitions in the UK and also took a trip to Utrecht on Eurostar.

    I am presently not exhibiting.

    As I no longer have a car, all my exhibition work is focused on such small layouts, which are now designed to fit a certain plastic box companies wrapping paper box. This allows safe carriage of two boards 700mm x 200mm in plan and 140mm high, the box being small enough to fit the overhead racks on trains.

    This is rather limiting in 1/64th Scale, so some other smaller scales are followed. These plans include work in P4, P87, 2mmFS and 3mm. The P4 project, called Lambeth Walk, is a Southern Region third rail layout set in south London. This will attend its first exhibition in the summer of 2016 at Exeter.

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  1. You might like to talk a look at my post........ "Rolling Roads to on the blocks, a response to being 'grounded'." Keep well.... Regards Maurice
  2. Used it three times now .... 20mins adds a couple of thousand steps to my iPhone Health record. If I look sideways I might be lucky enough to see a train going by.... at least for a day or two!! I remember at the Berlin exhibition, which must be a good ten years ago, the LGB for the kids to play with was powered by exercise bikes. Each bike had a picture one of the trains on it and the more kids pedalled, the faster the train went..... very good learning.
  3. This appears to have little to do with model railways .... until we see the crossover. Sometime ago to save me working with a 16mmNG loco up on blocks, Phil Copleston kind lent me his 32mm gauge rolling road, and very useful it was too. Now just about this time of year my mind moves to thinking about getting out on my trike, especially on a lovely sunny day like it has been in Exeter today. ..... But rumour has it that the over 70s are about to be grounded. (Tough, as I only joined that club five weeks ago.) So I thought what I need is a rolling road for the trike. Don't be silly, put it up on blocks.... The triangles are some spare shelf-brackets.... I suppose we could say they were 'off the shelf' .... and two holes drilled and eight screws later the wheels are off the floor ready to pedal to nowhere. A useful exchange of ideas.....
  4. Thank you for your generous comments. Is the 'Syrup Train' better than the gravy train? The cab front and back were of different material .... many indeed have been an OXO tin. It has been easy to work this material in 16mmNG, but I am not sure if it would be as pleasant a task in something more exacting. It thinness makes filing things to shape rather taxing as it has the habit of just filing over! As for the name .... it might be Pilton as per the L&B's (modern) diesel ... or I had wondered about Lion. Must get some paint on it ..... BR diesel black with a cycling lion crest. Thanks again - Maurice
  5. After an unaccountable delay.... Here is the finished tin-smithing for the loco. I have tried to get it in the same location as the picture of the cardboard mock up but the sun is all wrong and the vegetation has changed. A better picture with the light..... .... and one to show the origin of the materials.
  6. Not quite complete.... the cab back is still missing, although the parts are cut. I will wait until the lamination around the windows to hold the glass in place have been sorted out before fixing this. There is a lot of tidying up to be done when it has finished drying on the Rayburn after I post-soldering wash. One nice feature that works in this large scale is the way the tongues on the bottom edge of the front and back hold the body on the underframe. It is a tight fit between the frames and a slight springiness in the tinplate holds it against the back of the buffer beam. These two pieces were actually soldered onto the footplate using the underframe as a jig.
  7. This follows on from "Recycling" and further back "Exeter Garden Railway Show". After a distraction or two the Loco Works has open for a day to begin the fabrication of the cab. Rather than try to saw the thin tinplate over my normal inverted cutting 'V', I fixed it to some 4mm ply using double sided tape. In addition the cuts were marked out on sticky labels applied to the surface that did not want to take any sort of marking. This allowed a more robust work piece to be handled without getting fingers cut (not that I have cut them yet!) by the sharp edges, and the marking out to be easily seen. It also meant there was always support for the thin sheet for both drilling, cutting and final filing. Despite having to cut more material, I suspect this also lengthens the life of the saw blade. Indeed one blade did the whole job and still has more life in it. The big cut out on the front is to straddle the battery tray and will be covered by the control desk on the inside and the front bonnet of the loco outside the cab. The works are closed tomorrow for private celebrations and will reopen on Friday to get the cab sides cut.... and possibly even a completed cab put together.
  8. Jim, Just a little more done over the weekend.... I find it very helpful to make card mockups of the different sections before cutting and folding the tinplate. Here the front bonnet is nearly complete while the card mockup in place for the back bonnet. The rounded top corners of the bonnet are pieces of 8mm diameter brass tube. This gives the structure some extra strength and solves the problem of making a tight radius curve in the tinplate. Of the tools in front, the bending bars have been the most useful on this project. The plate is marked out and scored with a Stanley blade before being place in the bars and folded using a a piece if ply or a steel ruler to make the fold straight. After a couple backwards and forwards folds the piece you what snaps off. The piercing saw, with its very fine blade has some uses where a 'folding' is not possible, like taking out the centre of the footplate. I also remember tinplate in the past. I seem to have a recollection of going to an Epsom and Ewell exhibition (when it was held in the Epsom baths hall out of season) and seeing some Gauge 0 thin walled, Southern Railway Maunsell coaches that had been built of .... you have guest it - Golden Syrup tins. The maker must have had a sweet tooth or a lot of friends collecting tins as these must have taken at least half a dozen tins for the sides alone.
  9. Mikkel, Strangely enough, I thought exactly that while working on this yesterday. Perhaps it was inspired by just having seen some pictures of new Stagecoach bus liveries that have bits of the 'beach ball' logo randomly applied to a single body colour. However, I have compromised this idea and will leave the inside of the body unpainted to show it pedigree. I surprises me how well the footplate looks in the pictures after a clean up with some scotch bright soft abrasive pads..... almost as good a nickel-silver. Thanks for your wide view and comments. All part of the human drive to make things!! Maurice
  10. The beginnings of a little something in recycled tinplate. Well, at least the body will be recycled. Other stuff has been to hand for sometime including the now rather depleted collection of Golden Syrup tinplate. Trouble is that I stopped taking it with my porridge to help keep the weight down.... It gets complicated this purchase, use, reuse/recycle .... did I need the Golden Syrup in the first place? The Golden Syrup tin does not render a plate quite wide enough for the 100mm required for the footplate so it has been made from two pieces of a biscuit tin lid. Both GS and Fox's use 0.3 mm plate, although the GS possible has more paint on it as it is actually 0.31mm. Cutting out for the motor and the battery tray. Same of the printing has been removed to allow the side valance and strengthening plates to be soldered in place. All the electrical stuff will be mounted on the running gear - batteries in the tray, radio chip on the bracket with the aerial up a plastic exhaust pipe and the on/off switch in a hole drilled in front lefthand corner of the Roundhouse frames.
  11. I have not looked at this for a while, so here is a collective response. Again many thanks for the comments made on what is hardly a mainstream modelling topic. Westernviscount and Regularity Jealousy... Envy? or perhaps more unpleasantly - Greed. Dava I like the Good Office. I have just recently come across a series of tiny layouts made by someone in Japan that display modelling skills but are not really big enough to operate. They really caught my eye ... see below for more of the 'Japanese connection'. .... and Jerry Firstly, thank you for publishing the article in MRJ and to make it quite clear to others, it was edited by me at your request. Perhaps my comments here were ungracious. A case of who writes the history!! Secondly, I am encouraged by your response in relation to the MRJ’s publishing policy. Thirdly, we may have to differ here. Plastics, single use or longterm use, are mostly a ‘by-product’ of the petrochemical industry. This industry is based on raw materials that increasingly would be best left in the ground if the global economy is going to be able to control the rise in temperatures over the next two decades to a level that is sustainable for future generations. That we have, over the last 130 years or so, developed an addictive dependence on fuels and other products, including plastics, of the ‘fractionating column’ is no reason not to start carrying out an analysis of how such materials should be used. There are uses of plastics that are extremely valuable, for example in the medical world, but there are many uses that are much less so. Perhaps a true analysis of prioritising our use of these products over the next few decades needs to be part of the process of ‘fossil fuel energy cold turkey’. Cardboard, is a product of a carbon capturing cycle - tree growth - and therefore seems to have a more sustainable longterm future. (As for Guy Watson and has carbon budgets; I realised some ten years or more ago that he had a very successful and cleverly marketed business that was probably beginning to miss the point. To be overtaken by a Riverford artic on the A30, taking veg-boxes from Devon to ‘the market’, suggested to me that he had lost the ‘local’ element in his environmentally aware business plan. His products may be organic, but his distribution is not necessarily green. But no doubt it would have been too difficult to set up market gardens closer to his markets, as a result of the tyranny of the land price market that puts land for food production beyond the means of food growers as it is inflated by housing developers. The economic distribution of land-use is something this country has never really got to grips with and is a great failing of my own geographic academic discipline, which has always trailed behind history in understanding our culture.) Additional comment…. We are discussing concepts at very different scales. The amount of materials used, even across the whole railway modelling community, is a very small part of total global material consumption. If we are making ‘head of a pin’ analysis, it is only at the level of reducing individual consumption that we, as individuals, can begin to make a difference. (There are a few countries that are moving towards a more collective view. The Dutch P.M., Mark Rutte, has just announced a reduction of the national speed limit from 110 to 100kph to reduce exhaust gases…. And the NS, a 95%+ electrified railway has been running on green, renewable, non-fossil fuel electricity for over 2 years.) I will, as in the way of “Ikigai - The Japanese secret to a long and happy life”, continue to view my modelling and indeed the rest of my life through a changing prism, with a questioning of purpose in both the use of materials and the nature of activities. I need (and this is a very personal comment) to build ‘resilience’ about what I am doing and get rid of the things that make me fragile. If that includes some aspect(s) of modelling then so be it. The aged proponents of Ikigai are able to live an environmentally balanced existence, through gardening - including growing their own food, social activity across all age groups, physical exercise and meditation. Not a bad way to live, especially as many of them contribute to the cluster centenarians living in northern Okinawa. Probably enough said on this.... at least by me!
  12. Dave and David, It was with a degree of trepidation that I opened my blog this morning, wondering how this post would have gone down, especially so after the rejection of the original, robust text by the MRJ. One suspects even the MRJ has to look over it shoulder to see what the advertisers opinion of such a piece would be, let alone the assumed opinions of it readers. (Rather amusing that the reply panel I am typing in has below it an advert for 30% off Hornby locos ... while stocks last. Do they know something we don't?) I very much appreciate your comments and the time and thought used in making them. I especially like the concept that 'hand work' modellers have been usurped by the increased availability of commercial productions and that these have degraded the observational element of the process. This has much wider applications (far outside railway modelling) for the autonomy of the individual, often swept along in the rush to consume. Perhaps there should be another R in the three Rs - Resistance!! Resistance, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Dave remarks about the 'display diesel depot' layouts, to show off high levels of consumption and questions if this is just jealousy. It is interesting how the word jealousy is used as a means abuse about those who think there is another way to enjoyment beyond simple conversion of wealth into material consumption. I have an older relative who spends a great deal of time 'flying the world', but while I would love to see some of the places to which he travels, I do not feel the aged should be 'burning up' the atmosphere! This is not jealousy, even though I could not afford such a hobby, but it is laced around with a certain degree of sadness about the lack of awareness of his actions.... although I belief he is well aware, but is driven to the course of actions by another!! David, if only we could recycle time! It is really good to find there are others out there who are thinking of cutting there cloth to be more suitable to the time available... whatever that is! And you remind me that it is the process and the quality of the outcome that is important. We need to hold on to our creativity while paying due regard to the impact of the process. Again thank you both for these comments. They are quite enough to justify my making the blog post. .... and the MRJ missed out on some interesting correspondence. Kind regards Maurice
  13. I have recently been honoured by having an article entitled “Slow Modelling - an alternative way forward” published in the Model Railway Journal (No. 274, page 276). This described some of the recent changes in my modelling practice and the relationship between modelling and wellbeing, but it did not really get to some of the underlying problems. The original, first draft, of the article included what might be seen as more contentious comments about the natural of railway modelling as we are confronted with a radically changing world. I have posted some of the originally text here. I hope this makes sense without the article as published. The original pieces of text are in italics. I am sorry this is a rather longer post than usual! Firstly, some addition comments on the relationship with models having used the article to outline the importance of scratch-building that gives a strong degree of connectedness with models made. “For many modellers of my age the desire for connectedness is not new. This connectedness often focuses on a nostalgia for the dying days of steam and is supported with a wider range of very high standard ready-to-run models of a then ever before. However, ironically these models have little connection with the audience and are produced by people for whom they are culturally alien. The ‘craftsmanship’ may have been done on a computer or even directly scanned from the original, but the owner of such an item has no real relationship with the model. Technology has produced a model ‘for us’, but it is not a model made ‘by us’ or ‘from us’. Technology has reproduced a piece of the past and presented it to us in the ‘now’, to support our connectedness with the past. “The act of purchasing and possession, of ownership, is more abstract than the act of making something. We surround ourselves with artefacts that are produced remotely, often of materials that are not sustainable and in working conditions that might be considered as less than desirable. Indeed, there might be a similarity between our knowledge of the model railway factories and what was always said (but often untrue) about city children, that they did not know where milk came from. However, for many of us the desire for instant gratification far outweighs less assured and more distant rewards to be found in scratch building. What really counts is the process; the process of working materials into the artefact by way of taking our hands and brain cells for a walk. In so doing one changes the relationship between oneself, the materials and the process to make something that is ‘of you’ and not just ‘of your list’. (Or should that be ‘off your list’?)” The canopy at Axminster. I have always liked these fairly bold canopies found on many of the old LSWR stations west of Salisbury, often in association with a station buildings designed by Tite. Laser cut LSWR station canopy in 1/64th scale. Of course there is no commercial model version of the canopy in any scale let alone 1/64th. So I went for a little laser cutting project for this. It could have included the roof flats and the skylight surrounds, but that would be over the top (sorry about that!), so it was just the valance that was laser cut. This seemed important as the repeats of the up and downs and the curves would be very hard to achieve with the necessary level of consistency when working by hand. Secondly, for a great deal longer than many, part of the function of being a geography teacher, I have been aware of what has been going on in the global environment. This awareness, which developed from the 1970 onwards (Yes, the early evidence was there as long ago as that!) has lead to an examination of how to proceed in what will most likely be the last decade (hopefully two) of my life. This paragraph raises wider issues about the nature railway modelling, nested as it is at one end of the spectrum in the toy industry and at the other in model making. “For some years I have been increasingly concerned about the human fascination for injection moulded petroleum based plastic and the way this fascination, or perhaps I should say addiction, is passed on through contents of the average child’s brightly coloured toy box. (Although I hear that Lego are going over to bioplastic.) It is also a concerning to look at the environmental impact of modelling as with so many other products. This is not just about the materials used, but the whole pyramid that imports of finished models stand on, dodge chemical industries, industrial pollution, international shipping (a very dirty industry), packaging, production energy, etc. It’s no good saying that we do not need reduce our carbon-foot print while China continues to pollute. We exported our (the UK’s and our individual) carbon-foot print industries to China, a shedding of responsibility that seldom seems to be mentioned in the media. But then the media does little to improve the understanding of economics, trade and the environment.” While it is easy to write such words, it is not so easy to act upon them. It is all too easy to hypocritical in comments on this topic… to offer “do as I say” advice rather “do as I do”. Actions speak louder than words. “Indeed the last year has seen some fast action with the introduction of a far reaching rationalisation programme applied to my modelling projects. Dr Beeching would have been proud to see those with a low return (measured in fun, creativity or challenge) being cut back and the rapid disposal of redundant equipment would have gladden his heart. There are siren voices warning against such quick and decisive action... while others greet me with what are you selling today! With just a few final items on eBay and some esoteric bits being offered to more specialist markets the clearance is nearly done. Interesting that one of my eBay customers was someone who helped operate my Cornish opus - St Juliot, at RailWells some years ago. “But as I type these last words, I hear the bang of the carriers van door and by the time I get to the front door there is a parcel with my next set of laser cut plywood baseboard components! These are made to my design, but the cutting out would now be beyond the capabilities of my recently refurbished workshop, which is now more of a studio. Indeed, I would have designed them differently if they were not to be laser cut. I can still take short cuts and perhaps I have to settle for being ‘selectively concerned’ about the impact of my modelling. The reality is that we are drawn into modern production systems and that resistance can only be limited… whatever the scale! at sixty nine I may need to take some short cuts to produce even the smallest of projects. The fact that these boards are circular with a width of 100mm and a centreline radius of 571.5mm, automatically limits the size of one’s project.” There is, of course, a paradox or contradiction here. What to do with the ‘stuff’ one already has and would really like to keep? My collection of German (German by both prototype and manufacture) 1/160 scale (N Gauge) has nowhere to run. It was purchased for sentimental reasons and I would like to make a little layout, using one of these test tracks and some extension materials remaining from previous projects. As mentioned above, this design was originally made for a friend but was developed with a view to marketing these simple and rather useful items. However, this idea has not been followed through, partly as it only encourages further modelling developments. Klein Holtzapffell This layout developed out of the idea of a circular test track base to carry a circle of Peco Number 4 set. With the rolling stock from the original Holzapfel layout to hand, felt the need to have somewhere to see it run. This circular formate has the great constraint of size limitation, so greatly reducing the potential amount of material required to complete a layout. The missing, forth board between the tunnels will carry a simple fiddle yard with four fixed roads in the middle and two 'traverser points' at each end. ‘Arkade Tunnel’ Made on baseboard already laser cut, using extruded polystyrene off-cuts already purchased. The tunnel mouth by Faller has been recycled from the original Holzapfel. The only new purchase seen here has been the Faller foam ‘arkade’, which was a cheat to get the retaining wall built quickly. Now called the Kapelle Arkade, the chapel has been recycled from the previous layout, while the walls are finished off with some copping stones cut from art-board card off-cuts, as are the cable throughs. The white Plastikard is not the most appropriate material for the inner retaining walls of the little under-bridge, but it was to hand from the scrap box. This will be hidden when the stone retaining walls are put in place once the bridge design has been finalised…. Stone arch or girder? But this questioning is only part of a series of actions:- This is the left hand end of St Juliot in 1/64th scale. The track is the most resent offering for bullhead track from the S Scale Society, with the centre line being the through road. The van has a resin cast body; the bicycle is a Southwark Bridge etch and the basket on the platform is a piece of white-metal produced for 7mm. Apart from those items, everything was scratch built or hand made mostly with off-cuts and recycled card. The trees and the grass pose a bit of a problem but care has been taken to keep the waste (overspill) materials from these operation in the waste bin rather than being washed down the sink. These sorts of micro fibres are able to escape the waste water treatment plants and end up in the marine environment…. Along with the fibres from fleeces and other recycled ‘plastic’ clothing!! The whole layout has been passed on several times and is now probably being recycled into some other configuration. Draft plans for Mellstock Intrinseca. The boards and some track are made for my one large project. However, since this picture was taken the thing has been scale back a little more to give a much greater sense of space and to reduce the the amount of materials required for the project to be completed. But it is all scratch building, so should keep me busy for a while….. Conclusion While some will no doubt thick my words here are rather extreme, I am of the view that some modellers (perhaps I should call them ‘glazed box openers’) are rather more extreme. I recently came across a layout which included multi-storey fiddle yards with capacity for 140 sets of coaching stock. Whatever is the point? They probably require more space to store the empty boxes than most people have for layouts. However, such extremes become more balance when one starts to to live by the creed of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. The most important of which is Reduce… Such an alternative approach has also caused me to think carefully about the role of exhibiting. Having switched from exhibiting layouts transported by road, I proved to my satisfaction that it was possible to take layouts to exhibitions by public transport. I have now got to the stage where I feel exhibitions are just a means of encouraging dissatisfaction and of the initiation of new plans and further consumption. While the quality of finish of a scratch built model may not compare with the very best of the those resource consuming mass produced items, the benefits to the modeller of producing something of your own with your own hands far outweigh the short-term adrenalin rush of buying a glazed box or receiving an order from a bespoke model supplier. Increasingly, it is also of benefit in much wider, if very small, way in the future management of our environment and our resources. Is railway modelling very high on the list of human activities that can be sustained in a future society concern with these issues and a world with a more equal sharing of resources? I rest my case!
  14. Just relaying some track. Extensions are not in vogue these days. Reducing is more my style. Unfortunately, a little too much reduction on one of these as they are back on the bench for some adjustment before I screw them down! Remembered the old B Lowke triangular track gauge is perhaps not the best tool to rely on without checking. Also quite difficult to get to all parts of a point compared with modern roller gauges.
  15. Yes, Shaker Chairs in the first instance..... Having completed my last Shaker Chair project.... (It is not a true Shaker as it has square lower back legs for reasons too complicated to explain here!), I moved on to rebuilding some rather disappointingly short lived, plastic based, garden railway (16mm NG) points. These had become rather twisted and out of gauge. The rails were removed and reused with the remaining stock of white metal chairs, brass pins and screws, some fairly old (measured in decades) and some relatively new teak and mahogany sleepers made from workshop off-cuts. Mine you the comment of disappointingly short lived has to be seen against some of the garden railway track I use being well into its sixties if not seventies...... Indeed there are a couple of lengths that are older than I am... So the bench became a dirty bench again... but it is useful working on newspaper as one can use it to mark out the batten positions, sleeper spaces and numbers. That the whole assembly is bigger than one of the baseboards for my scheduled rebuild of Holtzappfel in 1/160 FiNe, will come as a bit of a shock in a week or two when work starts on the smaller opus. ..... And, as it is a nice day the track has been set out ready for testing this afternoon....
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