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 Brooklands



#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 railway.


#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 sticky.


#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 the hassles.


#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.




#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 empty compartment.


#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 the lottery.


#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 barcode!


#240 - Every garden I've ever seen has had enough of a gradient to bother our little dragons.


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


The Bleedin' Obvious


Things so obvious that no-one tells you