President David Shepherd  CBE FRSA FGRA
Founded 1953

A useful source of wire for models

Do you need very fine insulated wire for such jobs as lighting in coaches, or for lights on signals?

Enamelled wire for winding transformers is the usual kind used, but this tends to come in 300 to 500 metre reels at high cost and the enamel is very difficult to remove without seriously damaging the wire. (I once needed to strip some enamel to examine the condition of the copper underneath, the manufacturer said that boiling sulphuric acid was the only non-abrasive way to remove the enamel!!) Another problem is that you can have every colour as long as it is brown!

I have recently been using 'Beading Wire', as sold in craft shops. This is 28swg (0.0148inch) soft copper wire coated with a thin, coloured enamel. Six bright colours are available and the enamel usually comes off if the wire is gently rubbed with a hot soldering iron. The wire will not handle large currents, but is rated at 500 milliamps 'safe current' in wire tables in Kaye & Labey.

Tony Hocking

Continuity Check

A method of checking the continuity of multi-core cables and their connectors when installed with the ends a long distance apart, e.g. the length of a garden, when you only have a test meter with shortleads.

When you have mounted a suitable multi way connector at one end of the cable, plug in the mating part and measure between all connector inserts to ensure that there are no cable cores shorting together.

Next you wire all the individual connector inserts of the mating part together. Go to the other end of the cable and test for short circuits between any one core and all of the others ( if there are multi way connectors on both ends, you can plug in a mating part at the second end and measure on the backs of individual inserts).

If all show short circuits, all cores must be continuous and connected to the multi way connector (or connectors if fitted at both ends)


Plastic coathangers often use a variety of mouldings some of which replicate quite realistically steel girder work.

Need an extra pair of hands?

A third or fourth hand is often required when modelling with small or fine pieces of material such as brass, copper or plastic. One method is to use double sided tape upon which the components may be held whilst adhesive or bonding is achieved.

An alternative method, especially where sections of metal are to be soldered and require support, is to make use of a potato where the components may be inserted and held quite firm without detriment to the soldering process.

Floor cleaning pads

To those fortunate in being able to get hold of floor cleaning pads, these may be used for the construction of hedges and trees. It will be advantageous to separate these pads whilst they are immersed in hot water

Metal and Wooden fence posts.

I have previously given details of the use of broom bristles for fence posts, these I have found to be most acceptable until attending the Fleet show when it became evident that something a little more robust was required especially if prone to attack from little fingers.

Steel wire becomes an ideal material but not being known to purchase my modelling materials unless absolutely essential I started to look around for a free supply.

The helical lapping of steel surrounding underground cables as armour protection is ideal, so if you see me digging in the roadside verges you will know what I am after!

Crazy Paving

Have you ever tried to reproduce crazy paving in either four mm or 2 mm, then you will realize how laborious a task it can be.

A quick and easy way is to retain egg shells in as complete condition as possible, paint both the inside and the outside to the required colour and then when dry break off a section applicable to the area to be covered and press firmly into place. This will shatter the shell and in so doing make it appear as ready laid crazy paving, to fix, apply a diluted solution of PVA and there you have it.


This tip comes about after a recommendation by Bill hunt for the use of artificial sisal moss as used for lining hanging baskets. After a little experimentation, I found that by combing out a section of the material, which is already coloured green, when sprayed with a diluted PVA and given a covering of a suitable coloured flock, you are left with what are ideal Stinging Nettles, Rosebay Willowherb, Ragwort and many other roadside or cultivated plants that require leafed stems.

Just cut to the length, add some flower heads and there you have it.

Help is at Hand

In trouble because you erected your layout in the lounge and left dents in the carpet?, the help is at hand.

If a wool carpet has become dented place an ice cube or one tablespoon (20ml) of water in each dent. When dry, vacuum thoroughly and the pile will spring up like new.

If this does not work, supply complainant with any surplus ice cubes to cool them down.

More Help

Place a small button at the end of the cellotape roll, the end will be easier to find and the button easily removed.

Help with Plasticard stonework and paving

When laying plasticard as stonework or paving around a model use plasticine to take an impression of any awkward part around door frames etc. Draw round this pattern on the plasticard for a perfect fit . sprinkle talcum powder on the placticine and it won’t stick to the model.

Chestnut Fencing

Cut one piece of thick cardboard and two pieces of plastic or acetate sheet, to approximately 70 x 200mm and secure the plastic to either side of the card by applying a strip of double sided tape folded over each edge.

Apply a thin film of Vaseline to each of the exposed faces of plastic.

Remove protective film from end tapes and wind round the length of the card thin grey cotton at alternate 8 and 4mm intervals, these will be the wire runs at the top and bottom of the fence on one side, apply further strips of double sided tape to each end to secure the windings in place.

Remove the protective film from the tape along each side as brown Button Thread, is wound around the width of the card , leaving a gap of 1mm between each winding, these windings become the pales of chestnut.

Remove the protective film from the end tapes, and wind round the thin grey cotton the length of the card opposite to the original cotton windings trapping the Button Thread between them.

Paint one side liberally with a 50:50 PVA water mix, leave for 5 minutes to soak, then sponge off surplus PVA, put aside to dry arched over a pen or similar object to keep that sides cotton taunt.

Leave to dry before repeating the gluing process to the reverse side.

The two sheets of fencing are separated by cutting away the area of card covered by the double sided tape, carefully flex the assembly so as to separate the fencing from any adhesion to the plastic sheet.

Cut out the strips of fencing as required with scissors and fix to layout with broom bristles or wire posts.


Writing about the Haytor Granite Tramway for Railway Lines made me wonder how I could model Dartmoor granite, should I need to.

Dartmoor granite is composed of a mixture of crystals, mostly colourless (mica, etc.,) with a relatively small proportion which appear black. This weathers over many years through darkening shades of grey, still with a basic speckled appearance if you look closely.

I have a small piece of granite of which I once crushed part to make loads for 4mm wagons. This proved very unsatisfactory. Crushing real granite gives one a mixture of white rocks and black rocks, very unrealistic in appearance, and even for 7mm scale some alternative is needed.

The old standby of Polyfilla, with or without added glue, is an obvious starting point. the problem is the black specks. Black powder paint simply turns the Polyfilla grey, with no visible granularity.

The answer turned out to be coal!

I have a stock of small lumps of coal found in the garden (a previous owner of our house took out the coal fire and scattered the remaining fuel all over the place!).

The coal was crushed and ground to a very fine powder and mixed with the Polyfilla. Adding a little coal gave essentially white rock with scattered specks (newly cut granite), while more coal gave a generally grey impression with specks(weathered granite).

The results were good enough for me. Tony Hocking

Track Connections

I was watching Ian Murray during one of the Alton work sessions, wondering for what reason he was putting a 90 degree bend onto a piece of power conductor and then making a further 90 degree bend, at about 6mm from the first, cutting off the surplus at a further 6mm measurement.

To my mind this was no more than a z bend mounted on the end of a 50mm piece of wire, needless to say my curiosity got the better of me and I just had to ask for what reason was he getting all of a twist over?

Problems had been encountered with wiring connections to the track, so by inserting this piece of conductor through the baseboard adjacent to the track, the bends brought the end in line and adjacent to the track ready for a soldered connection. Beneath the base board, the conductor was ready to receive the flexible wire providing power to that section of track, no unsightly wires above and a good conductive joint to the track assured every time.