Due to overwhelming indifference, I present the collected Bleedin' Obvious, or the
thoughts of Chairman Rogers
#0: When it's too wet to run trains, and you're waiting for the Far Twittering Lt
Rly floggle-toggle box spigot flange to arrive from that mail-order company whose
workshop is six feet under water, sit down and read the Beginners Guide. Yes, I know
you've been modelling trains since 1961 and you can carve eccentric straps out of
brass bar with your bare teeth, but I guarantee you'll learn something.
#11: I solve the problem of bottom-light stock and disposal of used AA cells by strappinggroups
of four dead cells between the frames of my rolling stock using black sticky tape.
Obviously, a similar approach can be used with live cells to provide coach lighting.
#23: For painting those important little parts, it would be hard to beat the Dupli-colour
range of car touch-up paints. They cover well, dry quickly and come with their own
brush. They even include God's Wonderful Radiance, under the pseudonym of Austin/Morris
#43: When working indoors in the winter, set up a plastic test track with 2 foot
reverse curves. If you build your stock to take this, it'll be delighted when it
gets a run outdoors on the real thing!
#73: I'm just marking up some brass for converting Fowler 4wDM PHLR #2 from outside
to inside frames, and I've discovered that Paper Mate Permanent Marker makes a perfect
substitute for engineer's blue.
#74: I have wondered for some time, and at tedious length, what the difference is
between newbie garden railwaymen now and those of fifteen plus years ago, like myself.
Why are they going for train sets, whereas we bodged something together from bits
and pieces to get
started in 16mm? The answer is blindingly obvious.
We had run railways before; we had train sets in N, OO, O, and whatever before we
became garden railway bodgellers. Many, if not most, of those starting out now in
garden railways are running their first ever trains - of course they go for train
sets, and of course this pushes them in to the arms of the G-scale (WETI*) manufacturers.
* What Ever That Is
#76: If you want to grow plants on rocks - use stonecrop! Never was a plant given
a more accurate common name. Sedums, as they are properly called by those of us with
a classical education, positively shun soil in favour of rocky bits. I've seen them
growing in frost-shattered quartz on Lundy Island, with no soil in a ten-yard radius.
Sedum acre and Sedum album are the two most resilient, in my experience.
#79: If your train keeps derailing, before getting out the track and back-to-back
gauges, check that one of your 3-link couplings isn't twisted through 180 degrees.
#80: There's been a lot of discussion on more or less sophisticated ways of temporarily
disabling the auto-centring on R/C transmitters, particularly in connection with
photographing (or videoing) the trains. I unscrewed one of the self-tappers on the
front panel by about 6 turns, and wrapped a rubber band around this and the control
lever. It is easy to adjust the tension so the control will stay in neutral or full-forward
gear - but will snap back to neutral after reversing.
#81: Two corollaries to Peter Jones' Two-Yard Rule:
#81A: If it's dirt cheap, buy it. It may look crude in the box and superb on the
#81B: An expensive and well-detailed, but ill-proportioned, model will have exactly
the opposite effect.
#93: From my knuckle to the tip of the index finger is 3.75", or 5' 11" in 16mm scale.
Very useful for checking figures for scale, and difficult to leave at home!
#101: If your wagons derail going through a sprung trailing point, it may not be
necessary to add extra weight - try spraying the point mechanism with WD40. (It works
in 45mm, anyway).
#103: When marking out and cutting shim brass, stick it to a solid surface with double-sided
#105: If you want a tunnel effect, much better to run the train through a mini-forest,
with the "trees" pruned to a tunnel shape. You get all the steam effects without
#111: If you're getting too short a running time on a tankfull of gas, refill the
gas tank after the safety valve has "lifted".
NB: Make sure this won't empty your boiler.
NNB: TURN OFF THE GAS BURNER WHILE YOU DO IT.
#117: I managed to break the level glass on my Coffee-pot, which was a mixed curse
because it never read accurately once the burner was lit. I blanked off the boiler
fittings, and the only problem was filling the beast to a consistent level.
I use a Fairy Liquid bottle fitted with a length of plastic tube to water my Coffee-pot.
In a blinding flash of inspiration, I wrapped a rubber band round the tube so that,
when it is flush against the boiler fitting, the tube just reaches the desired water
level. I fill the boiler nearly full, then invert the bottle and squeeze and release
it to suck back the excess water until no more comes out - simple or what?
#134: To get 4.5v, use a 4-cell battery holder with a piece of spare brass in the
#201: When you're setting up a spur and worm reduction drive, grease the gears before
you adjust the fit - it makes life a lot easier!
#207: Start out with a cheap loco and a little track. If it doesn't cost an armand
a leg, you won't be afraid to mend it and bodge it. You'll also learn enough not
to be afraid of your Roundhouse Darjeeling B-class, when your number comes up on
#212: Don't move your pressure gauge to an unprototypical position where you can
just see it if you do an impression of an ostrich - get a small mirror, preferably
on a stand, so you can watch it as you raise steam.
#217 - When scribing to represent a three plank waggon side, use a transparent ruler
and mark a line on the ruler showing the position of the FAR edge of the waggon side
when scribing the groove. No need to mark out - perfect planks every time.
#221 - To cut lolly-sticks without undue stress on fingers and wrist, use a new,
but cheapo, pair of by-pass secateurs. Both pieces will have nice clean edges.
#225 - We all leave our locos' R/C on after a run, and curse fluently in Anglo-Saxon
when we find the batteries are dead next time around. Stick a note on your transmitter
"Switch the loco off!"
#231 - If your loco runs fine on the straight and stalls on curves, check the back-to-back.
If the wheels are too far apart, they'll bind.
#235 - To cut shim brass or tinplate from baked bean cans, use a cheap paper guillotine.
BEWARE - those edges are SHARP.
#239 - I needed a white panel with sharp diagonal black lines to sit behind the water
gauge on my loco and make the level more visible. I worked out that I could cut an
area with horizontal lines on the diagonal. I thought of printing on the computer
and sticking to cardboard; I thought of printing directly on to cardboard...
Then it clicked. Every box I buy has a white area with sharp black lines - it's the
#240 - Every garden I've ever seen has had enough of a gradient to bother our little
When laying out the line, the best way to deal with losing height is to lay a straight
length of track on a falling gradient with a slight upgrade at the end. That way
your train can run as fast as it likes without derailing.
Yes, it's an risng gradient in the other direction, but don't most of us usually
run our trains the same way round the circuit?
From Andrew Fanner:
#300 - If its stupid and works it isn't stupid
#301- The higher the level of detail the more likely it is that something will be
wiped off/bent/lost in a tumble from the track. Getting this right is an important
aide to railway enjoyment. Superdetail requires better tracklaying/fencing etc than
stand off scale.
(both ideas that port from aeromodelling rather well)
#302 - Buildings and railway structures totally proof against the ravages of weather/garden
flora and fauna/children's footballs etc will be made of concrete and steel. They
will also look like parts of the Atlantic Wall/Maginot Line etc. Be prepared to do
basic repairs and maintainance.
#303 - Freelance scratchbuilding is not enormously more difficult than building to
plans, even less so with a two yard effect built in. If you can assemble a Brandbright
basic wagon kit you can make one from scratch.
From Alan Roberts:
#400 RTFL - Read The Friendly Label
"I looked at the bottle of steam oil that I had filled the can from and HORROR! The
bottle was labelled CUTTING OIL. I blame Bruce engineering of course. I had recently
bought a 1 litre bottle of steam oil from them, and failed to notice that it came
in an identical bottle to the cutting oil I use on the lathe."
From Elliot Smith
The simplest way to reduce any bolt length and ensure the cutting doesn't b.....er
the thread, is to turn a nut onto the bolt above the cut, make the cut and then
just clean the damaged thread with the nut, back and forward at the end of the now
shorter bolt before removing the nut - ensures a good thread pick up every time.
The Pigsty Hill Light Railway - a Very Small Garden Railway