December 27, 2009

"Festive Spirit"

It's been another incredible year updating this blog - it has slowed down the last few months, mainly due to university work and family taking priority, but I'd like to assure you that there's a lot of work and fun still to come.

I've had a small haul of modest presents this year, which I think have been much more fun than my usual clamour for model trains, or rolling stock and so on.

I've done a few nice things with the family and girlfriend, seen a few films (wasn't Avatar awesome?) and generally got on with writing my dissertation and general final year university work.

Christmas has been one of the calmest and most pleasant for years. But its been tinged with some sadness. My research partner at Warwick died suddenly a month ago, and its been tough, I will admit (but by no means as tough on me as it has been on his father).

We always toast the "absent friends and family" at Christmas, and normally I only ever thought of immediate family. That was incredibly narrow minded of me. Fact is, everyone around you impacts on your life, and whatever the circumstances of a meeting, you should be grateful for each and every friend and family member, and enjoy their company while it lasts (for nothing lasts forever).

I'd like to end 2009 with this post, because in some ways its been a mixed bag, but there is nothing I regret so much as not trying hard enough - did I try hard enough? Well...I think so. But in the event that I did not try hard enough, I'll put that in the "new years resolutions" box.

I hope you all have had a great Christmas, and a Happy New Year to you all - 2010 awaits, the undiscovered country...

Until next time.

December 12, 2009

"A Few Old Photographs I found in a Drawer"...

I found this amongst a few other tatty photographs in a drawer at my grandmother's house. It shows some photographs of Leeds, Copley Hill as my grandfather knew it in the late 1940s and possibly early 1950s. Is that him standing on 60119's front, cleaning its smokebox door?

Of course, this is just the layout with the smoke machine in use and the camera set to sepia and grayscale modes. But there has been some modelling - more grime, the lintels are done on the shed as well as the supports. There's more lumps of clinker here and there, and then there is the smoky atmosphere...

Sometimes I will squint, look along the layout at eye level and see my grandfather climbing up the cab of [i]Kestrel[/i]...

Next time I hope to have 82026 on the layout as well as adding some yard lamps and more weathering to the buildings and rolling stock.

Until next time!

November 29, 2009

"Normal Service will be resumed shortly..."

Hi all,

Been quite ill recently! A swine flu bout, followed by an infected lung and throat. Happily after four weeks of bed rest, antiobiotics and lots of strepsils and lemsips, I'm feeling much better and raring to do some modelling (if funds allow before Xmas!)

Until next time (with a full and proper update).

November 09, 2009

"Volvo's back!"

Some news I completely forgot to share with everyone!

My car is back on the road after - incredibly - being fixed!

When taken down to the garage after the accident, it turned out that the bulk of the crash damage was aesthetic - the old Volvo Chassis stood up incredibly well to the collision!

So, here's my car, fixed and shining in the sun:

October 29, 2009

"Halloween Special: Fowler's Ghost"

Air Date:

30th October 2009

These are the stories they tell...

It is all Hallows Eve, and Stephen is telling some ghost stories to the other engines.
He tells the tale of a steam engine, scorned by its builder, left to rust, and plotting its revenge...

Happy Halloween Everybody!

Until next time...

October 21, 2009

"Ghostly Goings On..."

The British Railway Series: Episode 17 Trailer

"Fowler's Ghost"

A spectre haunts the yard...what does the mysterious engine want with Stephen?

Coming Soon to a Platform Near You!

The contents of these videos, including all text and photos,
(except where credited otherwise) are ©Simon Martin

2007-2010 Music composed by Kevin Macloed.

October 15, 2009

"Heljan's Latest Bird takes Flight"

I took delivery this afternoon of Heljan's latest limited edition model, Kestrel. A big shout out to Trains4U of Peterborough who took my order on two years ago when the model was announced.

The model is contained in the standard Heljan container - stylish, and protects models perfectly.

Each model comes complete with a certificate (numbered, with an information pack regarding the prototype chosen and its technical specifications in both model and real form), a spare bufferbeam, a plethora of spare bufferbeam pipes and couplings, and a set of tension lock couplings too.

Now for the model itself.

Its livery is perfectly applied. All lettering is crisp and legible. In particular the cabside Hawker Siddeley logo is stunning.

The colours seem to be spot on for prototype photographs, and the general shape and proportions of the locomotive look correct.

Separately fitted handrails and bufferbeam detail add to the exquisite detail of this model:

The motor and chassis is based around the Heljan class 47, which has ensured a smooth running and very powerful model locomotive.

There is only one minor downside for myself. This was not noticeable until it was pointed out on another forum. The moulded horns on the cab roof are disappointing in shape. However I should point out that I have seen worse representations on other (and current) models. There are no other real problems at all. Roof detail is all moulded, but captures the look of the prototype perfectly.

In short, I feel Heljan have produced a worthy succesor to their Falcon model of two years ago and produced a stunning model of a unique locomotive. This is one pleased customer who will be making a rather unique lineup of Kestrel, Deltic and Falcon at Christmas in a short video parodying Top Gear somewhat!

Roll on Lion, please Heljan!

October 11, 2009

"No.1 in the Works"

Time for an update on the GNR no.1!

To begin with, we have the Bachmann Emily Model, minus face, and with a Kitmaster stirling single tender attached. The tender came as part of a strange lot of engine plus trucks (and the Triang 3F which was paired with the tender became my J17). The Bachmann Emily needed some carving, and I am most grateful to the LNER Encyclopedia forum for some tips as to where and how to carve the body up.

The engine's body has had a few changes made. I had drilled out the cab spectacles, cut down the running plate on both sides, removed the moulded handrails and added a suitable smokebox door. The tender at this point was still in its form from when it had been built by its previous owner. There was an obvious problem with the heights between the cab and tender (see above).

Then I had an idea, mainly caused by a suggestion on the old RMweb of carving the Bachmann Emily tender up to make the GNR pattern one I wanted so much...brace yourselves...

I decided to carve up the Kitmaster tender and mix 'n' match the components from the Emily tender to make one tender which was distinctly more GNR like. This also meant I'd have a better ride height, and it also meant that I could attach the tender in the original (more efficient) arrangement.

The now cut up pieces of the kitmaster were assembled to see how they fitted to the emily tender chassis (the frame sides had by then been stuck down and moulded to fit):

A final pic of the day's modelling - I decided to add a little colour to the front end to see if I felt it would look the part:

Until next time!

September 25, 2009

"Great Scott! A New Episode!"

"Great Scott!"

Scott the A3 pacific is unhappy. He's fed up of being "just another engine", and wants to go back to the heyday of his career. Stephen tells the other engines a short story about Scott's true greatness.

You can find more information on "The British Railway Series" here:

The contents of these videos, including all text and photos (except where credited otherwise) are ©Simon Martin 2007-2010

Music composed by Kevin Macloed.

September 22, 2009

"Competition Time!"

Welcome to The British Railway Series
“Create a Character” competition!

The competition will run until
December 20th 2009.

The rules are simple:
you must create your own engine character to appear in a BRWS Short episode.

Your character must appear in a youtube video introducing him or her self – for example, talking about their place of work, their hobbies (i.e listening to cricket on their driver's radio), favourite colour, whatever!

The title for competing videos must be:

"BRWS Character Competition - Name of Entrant & Name of Entry".

As an example, if I were to enter the competition, my title would be:

“BRWS Character Competition – Simierski & Stephen the Holden B12”

The video can be in any film form - modeled, animated, and so on.

All videos must be posted as a “Video Response” to the Competition opening video. There is no time limit to the video length.

There is a special “Mystery Guest Judge” for the competition. All decisions take by our mystery judge will be confidential and and all decisions will be final.

Now for the prizes! They are all items of 00 scale model railway equipment.

Firstly, there will be a special prize for “most original thinking” - the winner will win a model steam engine from the Hornby Railroad Range.

10th, 9th, 8th, and 7th places will win a truck from the Hornby Railroad Range.

6th, 5th and 4th placed prizes will be a model steam engine from the Hornby Railroad Range.

3rd , 2nd and 1st prizes are very special indeed.

Your created characters will be modelled in 00 scale by yours truly, and then filmed
for a BRWS short (with names of creators in beginning and end credits).

After filming, the models will be shipped out to their new owners with a DVD of the short in
question (and a special treat included on the disc too)!

The overall 1st place winner will also receive this specially made model of the character "Gronk".

If you are placed within the competition and are due to receive a prize, you will be required to email a name and postal address in order to receieve your prize. Prizes will not in any way be reallocated.

So – get your camcorders out! Put your thinking caps on! Get out those history books – and come up with the best original character you can think of.


Breakdown of the Competition Rules

1. The competition supervisor reserves the right to disqualify any entries that break copyright law, abuse individuals or groups, take part in "trolling" or otherwise bring the competition into disrepute.

2. There is only ONE entry allowed per Youtube Account.

3. All entries MUST be posted by 20th December, and as a Video Response to the Competition Video. There will be no exceptions.

4. Winners MUST send a legitimate mailing address in order to receive their prizes. No personal contact details will be revealed or otherwise made public at any time.

5. Remember to have fun!

September 21, 2009

"Great Scott! A New Trailer!"

Coming Soon to a Platform Near You!

Until next time - the 27th of September!

September 16, 2009

"Pottering with the Shed"

It's not quite finished yet, but I thought I'd show a "work in progress" photograph of the new shed for 56C MkII.

It's being made in plasticard and utilising whatever I can find, really!

A few more shots of the layout - which has had a little more dressing to it since the last few photographs:

And one final photograph to show how the full layout is coming along with the dressing up of the set:

This set of photographs will be the last on the blog until Episode 16 of The British Railway Series, Great Scott! is released.

Until then, ta ta for now!

September 15, 2009

"The Carriage Works"

And here it is! I've been working from a few books, some photographs I bought copies of, and the ever useful Flikr for this particular bit of scenery. It is much more accurate than the red brick backscene I made for the Day of the Deltic episode!

I made it from a spare length of wood, cut to shape (nineteen roofs precisely), covered in Scalescenes scratchbuilding sheets - corrugated iron, and then with their windows pack (one windo to a roof). Peco roof building kits cut to shape and stuck down with Araldite. It started the day looking like this:

After the sheets were stuck down and windows added (with pritt stick onto the sheets), it looked like this:

Roofs were then added, cut to shape with a stanley knife and stuck down with alradite:

Then after nine hours, it looked like this after adding the leftover sprues from the peco kit as guttering:

And finally, here it is in an aerial view of the set showing the ballasting, weathering and general decay being portrayed here...

We're getting there!

Things still to finish: the shed to do, lights to fit. Until next time!

September 10, 2009

"Concrete and Singles"

A few photographs of some work at 56C then. Seen above, the "concrete" (in reality Polyfilla) has been put down to form the base for the new five road shed layout. I've had fun putting 60006 onto each road this afternoon, checking the formation and praying it works each time...which it has, thankfully! You can find more information on this through clicking the "Copley Hill Layout" link in the "Eastern Region Connections Box" at the left hand side of the main page.

Next, a present from a friend is getting majorly bashed into a better representation of its class - its a Stirling Single from a Bachmann "Emily" model:

Needs the cab to be modified to better represent the shape, windows drilling out, proper handrails added and moulded stuff removed, its original tender has been replaced with the spare kitmaster GNR one (which needs repainting) and lastly, on order, a proper smokebox door...

Other than that, a good start I think!!!

Until next time.

September 09, 2009

"It all started 22 years ago"...

It's my birthday today! Had to write an update. My birthday was the ninth of september in nineteen eighty seven - actually being born at nine minutes past nine on that day. Freaky! Twenty two years later, the date is 09/09/09 (which happens once in a hundred years) and at nine minutes past nine, it is my birthday again. Hooray!

Got some lovely presents for the layout from friend Mark and girlfriend Charlotte (thanks guys - means a lot to me). One Royal Scot and a K3 - perfect pressies. The K3 is going to have a little unorthodox modification to it. A set of nameplates ("Charlotte").

The last present - something fifteen members of my family chipped in to buy! Was a much needed mysterious black and grey box for making some special effects in filming...

...but thats' another story! Until next time, thanks for everything, everyone.

September 07, 2009


I was devastated this morning to discover that the family car of 21 years - only one year younger than me - has been written off in a very sad accident.

Thankfully my father wasn't hurt in the smash - which is the main thing, given what happened. He'd swerved to avoid a car driving on the wrong side of the road, down Rectory Lane in Foots Cray, happily missing the speeding vehicle but hitting a lamppost on the passengers side.

I've been driving this car around the country for the last five months, and it's been such a pleasure to do so. My mum gave me her keys the day after I passed the test (she now drives its younger, bigger sister, an XC90), and I never looked back.

139,577 miles on the clock and it seems, no more.

I know why I'm so cut up about it - this car has taken us on so many holidays across Europe, to sunny places like Spain, to friends in Munster in Germany, to family in Laval, France, across the length and breadth of Great Britain (literally), and to, as far as I can count off the top of my head, 62 preserved railway lines in England alone - the first one being Llangollen in Wales in 1994, where I've found a photo of the big red car sitting behind the fence opposite the big green one - Flying Scotsman. I'll have that blown up and framed I think.

I don't think I'd be as cut up about this car if it hadn't shared in so many adventures, year to year. It's been an incredible car for us, kept us so safe and so secure for so long, and to think that it'll be off to the breaker's yard at the end of the week is literally heart breaking.

How very British in some ways - getting misty eyed and sad about an old, clapped out estate car. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thanks for the memories, Very Big Motor.

Until next time.

September 02, 2009

"The (not so) Permanent Way!"

The above photograph shows my work on the new Copley Hill set - putting down some scenic matting on which to start laying some track. That was finished this afternoon, thus:

Which meant I could start laying some track! Happy days! My tracklaying train was primed and ready to go - "Stuart" is an old Bachmann digital engine that was brought in to pull the train of track pics and my small hammer round the partially built layout:

And after about an hour of moving things about, the track plan I had come up with a few months back finally appeared in track form!

To the left is the "lot". It basically compromises a small siding for works trains and a storage line for trucks/etc which will reside there when not in use. The white strip of wood is the new backscene for the carriage works, and to the right of that is the five road engine shed and sidings, with the main line forming a complete loop of the board. There are two three way points to be installed, none of the track in the shed area has been pinned done as wiring needs to be completed!

I leave you then, with this photograph of main character "Stephen" meeting "Stuart".

Until next time!

August 29, 2009

"Wales Week"

Well! What do you make of that then. Mr Martin stands proudly alongside the Talyllyn Railways number three, Sir Haydn, renamed Sir Handel for the TR's "Duncan Day".

I was invited onto the Sodor Island Forums "Wales Week 2009" and had a terrific time with the hosts of SiF. I had a lot of fun going around the Welsh railways - best pics will be up shortly in another post this week.

The forum moderator, Ryan Hagan, was a very gracious and may I say terrific host, and it may surprise some of you to know that the start of the holiday - 23rd August - was a year to the day that I joined SiF and started hosting my series of videos there.

Ryan and the lads were great fun and it was a wonderful week. I will never forget this great welsh adventure!

Until next time - in which I promise to have some very real updates including (possibly) a small teaser trailer available for viewing...

'Till then, Ta Ta for now!

August 18, 2009

"Sample Artwork"

In between scenic work for the next episode of The British Railway Series, I have been working behind the scenes with a publisher and artist for my book. Here is a sample piece of artwork, created for me by Chris Signore of the Sodor Island Forums. Seen above, it is simply superb work, and I am in no doubt I will be returning to Chris for some more artwork towards the prototype copy of my first book.

July 27, 2009

"Scenic Work"

As I type this, I am constantly looking over my shoulder towards the bare baseboard that will, hopefully, by the end of the day, be covered in an arrangement of scenic mats, gravel chippinps, coal dust, and of course, model locomotives.

It's been around a month since I took apart Copley Hill Mk1, and not much has gone on in that time frame. Most of it has been ordering bits and bobs from websites, again, mostly scenic scatters and brick shaped plasticard.

The set itself is a lot bigger in size than it has been previously. I am not going down the route of the small shed this time - the next one shall be a full five road engine shed, with some very ambitious plans for a "proper" floor under the roof of the shed.

...except I have been checking photographs of the real Copley Hill for the last month, and I cannot for the life of me, work out if 56C had a concrete floor - that is to say, rails flush to concrete, not unlike tramrails in that sense, but incoporating inspection pits and the similar.

My heart tells me that it should be - and I vaguely recall a photograph of the inside of the shed showing it - but I'm damned if I can find that very important piece of the puzzle now!

Of course, its never been entirely accurate throughout The British Railway Series - it gets better with every episode batch. I strive for more accuracy, better looking sets and generally a much more atmospheric look to the series.

So for the moment, I'll leave you with the above photograph of my new A4 pacific - in British Railways brunswick green, it is named and numbered 60006 Sir Ralph Wedgwood.

A poignant reminder, that no matter how much we try to change things, some things are constants and should be treated thus.

Until next time.

July 17, 2009

"Great Scott! A new set!"

In a few weeks time the 16th episode of The British Railway Series is due to air. The set will have been dramatically rebuilt, the inaccurate four road shed being replaced by a brand new five road shed.

The pointwork will also be upgraded, including two sets of three-way points and several express points.

The backscene will also be extensively upgraded - as I write, there is a sheet of mirrored plastic behind me waiting to be cut up towards extending the set.

Until next time!

July 03, 2009

"The Making of..."

This video chronicles early days in the making of The British Railway Series, shows how each episode is tailored to its own design set, and a few special shorts that tie in with the recent Day of the Deltic episode quite nicely...

The second "making of" video will look at the building of the set for episode 16, wtih some special additions in the form of character profiles and a "do it yourself" weathering exercise.

June 30, 2009

"Going East Anglian..."

The J17 is rapidly taking shape. Its had lots of parts out of the spare bits box - a Gresley standard pattern cab, some handrail knobs and wires, a smokebox door and even a whole tender. But now - now, its nearly complete, with only a smokebox numberplate and cabside numerals to go:

One last push to finish for the PW Forum's Staff Comp, which ends 21st July, and I'll be a happy modeller!

I'll leave you with one last pic - until next time!

June 23, 2009

"New Copley Hill"

Yesterday evening I finished dismantling the snow set of "Copley Hill". It had to go - I have now made a promise to myself - "Day of the Deltic" is going to be the last snow episode I ever do, ever!

A new and better designed set, which will be more in keeping with the real thing, is being constructed over the next few weeks and will appear in my "making of" video on youtube.

I'll leave you with this delightful tidbit - the inaugural run on the new layout, a stock move of number 60163 and her support coach.

Until next time!

June 22, 2009

"Deleted Deltic...!"

A teaser video of deleted scenes, some sneaky pics at the next "making of" video for The British Railway Series, and one last sneaky peak, at the first in a series of BRWS shorts featuring a certain Hawksworth Pannier Tank Engine...

June 21, 2009

"Top Gear Tornado!"

Well, what can be said except "wow"!

As some of you will know, I'm a covenator for the A1 Locomotive Trust - and I absolutely love their creation, Tornado. My late grandfather was a fervant supporter of the trust, but sadly died in 2001 long before the boiler was ordered, and she became a whole engine.

With the royal naming, the LNER gala at Barrow Hill, and now this - a wonderful hour of entertainment in a race to the north on BBC's Top Gear, this is all part and parcel of showing the world that Tornado means business.

Some say, that she once raced James May in a Jag, and that she blew bacon out of her chimney near the A1...all we know is...

...she's called Tornado!

Until next time, goodnight!