The 2 Year Gap

With all that has been happening in the world over the last 2 years, I had forgotten to update the blog. The last two shows before lockdown seem like a distant memory and were in fact like chalk and cheese. February 2020 saw us attend a 3 day show in Houten, Netherlands where we were, not surprisingly, the only British D&E layout on display. It was great to see some quality continental modelling and pick up some bits and pieces from trade stands that sell different stuff to the normal UK suppliers. Our other show, the week before lockdown in march 2020, was at the Nottingham Clubs show and this proved to be a little quieter, although still enjoyable. It gave us a chance to shakedown some more stock and fiddle with pesky couplings heights!

In September 2021, Splott was invited to our local club show. Again, we were able to use this event as a further shakedown for the stock and to make some improvements to the fiddle yard track alignment.

Finally , to bring us up to date with news, we have just attended Model Rail Scotland 2022 at the SECC. This 3 day show was the first time we have attended as exhibitors since Farkham attended in 2007. The exhibition seemed to be well attended and it was great to meet up and talk to modelling colleagues from all over the UK. It was also great to get such a positive response to the layout from the visitors, many of whom were able to relate to the steelworks environment.

Whilst the list of ‘Jobs to Do’ for the stock and the layout once again was a good page in length, it really gave us incentive to crack on with some modelling and get things ready for the big D&E event of the year – Showcase 2022 at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall on the 23rd and 24th July 2022.


Better late than never

I hadn’t realised that it was back in march when I last updated the blog. At that time I was busy getting the layout ready for its debut at the Derby Show at the Roundhouse. Those 8 weeks were a bit of a manic blur as everything needed to be finished off as best as possible.

The show came and went and the layout was very well received. Thank you to all the people who made nice comments about it, these were greatly appreciated. Obviously there were some issues to content with, back to backs, coupling issues and learning how to operate the layout. We ended up with quite along list of things to do, but I guess that this is expected on the first outing!.

IMG_7785.JPG The layout also received several enquiries about attending future shows across the country and hopefully we will be able to present it at some of these in the near future.

We have also taken Splott to its second show. At the end of September, we took the layout to Scaleforum @ Aylesbury having been kindly invited by Terry Bendall. many of the niggles at derby had been ironed out and the layout worked well. Again we received some nice comments from many people – although one person happened to glance into it and was heard to mutter ‘modern shit’ and then stomp off to the next layout. Clearly, you cant please everyone.

With these two shows out of the way, I can turn my attention now to peripheral elements on the layout, which I previously didn’t have time to do, namely lighting and sound elements – things that I don’t really know a great deal about so this will be a valuable learning experience. Hopefully it will add a further dimension to the layout.

Here are a few more pictures of the layout. These were taken with the main lights off.

All being well, the next couple of shows will be Rail 2020 in Netherlands (Feb 2020) and Nottingham (March 2020)

Thanks for reading


8 Weeks and counting

The clock keeps ticking and the Derby Show on the 11th and 12th May is drawing ever closer. The grass in the garden is starting to grow and I can almost hear the call to get out there and cut it taking me away from valuable modelling time.

The pressure is certainly on now!

Whilst the layout is substantially complete, I have been finishing off the last few bits of preparation on the layout itself and finalising how the cassettes work, sorting out the fascia panels and drapes and making the layout sign.


So whats left to do?

I now have the locos partially detailed with some final bits to do before they are ready for the paint shop – I think I will do these in some form of batch painting to make life a bit easier – hopefully the weather will warm up a bit.

I also have about 10 wagons to weather which again, I can do in a couple of sessions so hopefully that wont take too long.

Then I have the small matter of fitting couplings to about 100 wagons, making sure that they all work and are at the right height.

Finally, I need to test the stock on the layout and make sure that the back to backs are all ok and they run through the trackwork – otherwise there will be a 10 foot static display at the show in may.

Hopefully I will have time to post again before the show to let people know that it is all working!



Where has the last 34 weeks gone?…. 15 to go

It is incredible how time flies. Way back in May when I last posted on the blog, the 2019 Derby Exhibition seemed like a long time away now there is only 15 weeks to go and there is still plenty to do.

During this time I have been concentrating on getting some stock completed. With almost 100 wagons to build, paint and weather along with 6 or 7 locos, this has been no small task.

I think that as of today, there are about 20 wagons and 6 locos to complete. Check out the section on Stock for an update of what I have completed to date.

In terms of the layout generally, this is now substantially complete, albeit there is a bit of painting to the front fascia panels, the end fiddle yard board needs painting, the fascia cloth needs sewing up and fitting and the layout sign needs completing. That sounds like a few quick jobs, although I will be sub-contracting out the sewing bit as my skills with such machines are severely limited and I will need my fingers for operating the layout in a few weeks time.

Here are a couple of pictures of the layout with a few bits of stock on.



49 Weeks to D-Day 2019

No pressure then! – with the 2018 Derby Exhibition out of the way and consigned to the history books, I have now turned my attention to the Derby Show on the 11th and 12th May 2019 which is only 49 weeks away.

SPLOTT has ‘kindly’ been invited by the Derby exhibition manager to make its debut at the Derby show in 2019 which is now only 49  weeks – so as well as trying to do stuff at the show, there will also be a layout to set up and operate. All part of the fun! – If I keep telling myself that, I might start to believe it by May 11th next year.

Anyway, away from the show, I have been making steady progress with a few more elements on the layout.

The recent work has included the completion of the lighting to vehicles and some of the buildings, where I have used the small pre-wired LEDs that Layouts4U supply. I tried buying separate individual nano LEDs but I found soldering them pretty difficult so I bit the bullet and purchased some instead. Did someone say ‘chequebook modeller’?

Also on the layout, I have now added a few pigeons and seagulls to the roof lines of the buildings just to add a bit of variety. Please note that I am NOT planning on adding seagull sound effects to the layout!.  I have once exhibited next to a layout that had these effects on (not a scale sound) and it drove myself and my fellow operators batty.

 The most recent piece of work on the layout is in painting the backscene. I have looked at a multitude of backscenes on layouts over the years and I consider it to be an essential part of any layout. To me, without a backscene, layouts just don’t look finished. I have been deliberating about what to do with mine on the layout, whether to paint it a single colour or to try and be a little more artistic. People who know me well can advise on my artistic talents, mostly this involves drinking though and doesn’t really help with painting. Based upon some advice from David Wright (Railway Artist and professional model maker – Dovedale Models), I decided to have a go at trying to paint a backscene that was more than just a single block colour. After priming and painting the boards for the backscene with white paint, I created a graded scale of paint from very light grey to a medium dark grey using emulsion paints brought from B&Q. Applying the dark at the top of the board and the light at the bottom of the board and then using a soft roller spreading and merging the two colours upwards towards the centre of the board to give a colour gradient.

Sounds great in theory – not so easy in reality. How can artists make it look so easy????

With a marginal degree of success with this, I allowed the paint to dry and then started to work on this painted base with oil paints. I have used oil paints before for weathering and found them to be really workable as it is really easy to mix colours and gradients, particularly when the paint doesn’t dry very fast.

I think I have sort of found the effect I was hoping for, albeit that my skills with the brush don’t quite live up to my hopes and expectations! Still  – the best I can manage for a first attempt.

Here is a few more pictures of the layout as it stands at the moment.

Thanks for reading





Farkham is Dead – Long Live SPLOTT

With Farkham now firmly out of the way, this is the first post for my new Layout called SPLOTT. The layout depicts an imaginary scene in the late 1980s based around Cardiff.

The “Story so far” page will give you more info on how I have built the layout thus far and hopefully over the coming months the blog entries will let you see the progress being made.

Check out the SPLOTT shows page to find out where you can see SPLOTT next and where you missed us.

Here is a taster of progress so far