Getting back on track – May 2021

Its been a funny old year as the saying goes but the time is now approaching for us to get back down to Risley for our weekly sessions. We have been told that from w/c 17th May we can start using the premises again. Over the various lock down periods we have been keeping in touch via a weekly Zoom session which has included quizzes, show and tell and illustrated research discussions. Its been a great way of keeping in touch and a lot of fun too.

The weekly activity is also sometimes interspersed with a visit to the Crewe station webcam if something interesting is passing through.

We have also agreed that having had to postpone our modellers day back in January 2021, we should start making plans for DEFine Modellers Day 2022. We will publish more information on that as it develops but its looking great so far.

So that’s it just a quick update to let you know we are still around and looking forward to a fruitful second half of 2021 and a successful modellers day in 2022.

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DEFine update November 2020

Having got back into the routine of our weekly meetings, things were looking good and then Lockdown V2 came along at the beginning of November. Once again we were facing the meeting hall being closed and reverting back to our weekly Zoom meetings. These meetings have been great for keeping in touch and usually consist of a quiz set by Pete and a general chat. The quiz sessions have been interesting with Rob using his knowledge of all things steam era to grasp valuable points.

So whats been happening on the modelling front then? The group have been very busy with personal projects and some great progress made. Here is a brief summary;


Wagon construction and painting has progressed with Highfit and HTV painted, transfers and weathered. Class 25s and 37 painted ready for transfers. Grampus, some done some nearly done.


Bill has been busy working on his coaching stock and locos for Glasgow Queen Street. This has involved reworking a 2nd hand Heljan 26 that had seen better days, prepping 8 Oxford MK3 coaches with Exteme Etchings window frames ready for paint and converting 16 Oxford MK3 bogies to P4 using the Stenson Models inner brass frames . He has also been updating Airfix MK2 coaches under frames using Dave Roome’s castings


Pete has been working on his Bachmann Class 37 and 66 bogies that don’t like P4 running. Using the “PaperBits” bogie technique this has leveled-off the axles and they run great now through P4 track. He has also been putting the finishing touches to “Brunswick Yard” by building, adding and fixing a lot of the scenic details. Next thing is to get back on to stock P4 conversions, weathering and detailing


Paul has been working through some RTC stuff. These pictures show the Tribology train, Mentor and Prometheus on the go. He has started the structure gauging vehicle too. He just needs to finish the chassis now then a splat of black, throw on some transfers and done! Just the 2 coaches to do after that- the easy bit hopefully.


Something different from Dave, a custom bass guitar build. Its a kit but the absence of instructions made it a challenge. The image of Phil Lynott on the back was applied by Dave, employing his painting skills.

No reports this time from Brian or Rob.

Rob is probably too busy swatting up on his steam knowledge for the weekly quizzes and Brian assures us that although he has nothing to present he has been very busy keeping the wheels of the hobby turning!

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DEFine Workshop Day Oct 2020 and Catch Up

As previously posted on this blog, COVID-19 lock down didn’t deter the group from meeting up albeit virtually, but when restrictions were relaxed a bit at the end of August we resumed our Wednesday night meetings. Strict rules were in place though and social distancing and clean-up procedures were in place. It was great to meet up again face to face and spend some time modelling.

During the lock down period some of the group challenged each other to produce a small diorama in time for the AGM in September. The only rule was it had to be no more than the surface area of A3 paper. Only Bertie, Rob and Paul took up the challenge.

Bertie went for a small loading dock design and only got so far

Rob got a bit further along with his embankment design which bravely included one turn-out (point). Another good effort.

It was unanimously agreed that Paul had exceeded expectations with his excellent diorama of Lincoln, complete with Battenberg box and cakes. A great display.

We managed to hold our AGM in September and that month, 23rd September to be exact, marked our tenth anniversary as DEFine. Although any of us had known each other a lot longer than that it was a significant milestone for our small group of friends.

With the model railway exhibition season wiped out for 2020 due to the pandemic, and for the foreseeable future, its been a very strange year. These events are great social occasions for our model rail community and we hope things get back to normal soon. Given the opportunity to hire the large hall at our meeting venue on weekends, we decided to have another DEFine Workshop Day on 10th October.

Working within the COVID-19 restrictions of distancing, cleanliness and 6 persons maximum, we met up early on the morning of the 10th October and had a very enjoyable day. The whole group were there except for Dave who was off on his birthday weekend jaunt to Whitby. It was great to see Bill again now he has moved a bit further away.

On the modelling front, Bertie was mainly busy modifying hundreds of plastic sleepers by removing the “Costain” branding. His patience knows no bounds.

Paul was constructing a version of “Mentor” out of an NSE donor coach and some brass sides. There was a lot of surgery going on!

Rob, was modifying a stock of wagons he had brought along as well as supervising the tea area.

Bill had brought along the main boards from “Queen Street” and following some repair work he had to catch up on, spent time running stock through the P4 track work to test it out. It is looking and running great.

Pete had brought along “Brunswick Yard” complete with fiddle yards. Most of the time was spent moving stock around but he also found time to fit Dingham couplers to “Caroline”. The layout is really bedded in now, even the Class 66s are flawlessly running.

Brian joined us around lunch time and brought himself up to speed on all our projects as well as sharing some of his recent non-railway related modelling projects too.

It was a great day modelling, chatting, drinking tea/coffee and not forgetting the chips at lunchtime

So that’s us up to date. We will continue to meet up so long as we are permitted and hopefully we all remain healthy. Its a pity we have had to cancel our DEFine Modellers Day in January 2021 but it will be back when the time is right.

I will close this post with some photos from our workshop day on Saturday 10th Oct 2020.


Robb working on wagon modifications
Paul’s workbench
“Brunswick Yard” having a rest whilst Pete takes the photos
97304 and “Caroline” sit in the stabling point on “Brunswick Yard”
Brian takes the controls on “Glasgow Queen St”, which seems to be amusing Bill.
“Glasgow Queen St” running session.
Pete back playing on “Brunswick Yard”

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Virtual DEFine 15th April 2020

With the current situation regarding COVID-19 and the lock-down being in place, DEFine have had to postpone our weekly meetings and upcoming workshop day until further notice. Although disappointing it pales into insignificance when we consider the hardship some people are having with the virus, not forgetting the many souls that have been lost to the disease.

This week we decided it was time to get talking again and utilise the technology we have at our fingertips, so to that end we used the Zoom application to hold a virtual meeting. It was great for us all to catch up again and swap stories on current lock-down projects and job situations again. As it was deemed to be a good laugh and a successful exercise we have agreed to keep it going as a substitute for our face to face meetings until such time as things get back to normal.

We had Pete, Paul, Bill, Bertie and Rob all calling in from home and Dave from the back of his patient ambulance en route to keeping the NHS wheels turning.

Rogues Gallery

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DEFine Modellers Day 11th Jan 2020 – Event Report

This January saw us host the fourth DEFine Modellers Day at the Risley Village Hall.

A lot of planning goes into these events so it is a blessing if everything goes to plan and there are no last minute emergencies. This year we had our fair share! With just over a week to go to the event, and everything planned out, we got our first call-off. Unfortunately the layout owner had been unwell and could no longer attend which was a shame, but health comes first. Thankfully we managed to get Bevis Heap to step in and bring along “Manston Brewery”. Fast forward to a few days to go and another person who had planned to do a demo had to pull out due to illness which was unfortunate but again, health comes first. As Phil Eames had told me he was having a year off from doing any demos he was the first contact I made as I know he would be free. So there it was that 11 days into his “year off” he was back behind a table doing a track demo for the event. Thanks Phil.

The day started eventful. As I was struggling into my trousers at about 6.30am my phone pinged. It was a text from Guy from the “Oldshaw” crew to say that they were on their way north but had broken down on the M40. Thankfully they managed to get the car repaired and back on the road but were not going to make opening time.

When we arrived at the hall to set it up we faced the challenge of moving a piano that had been left out from a previous event and also relocating a large Christmas tree and assorted props that adorned the main hall. The hall still had all its Christmas decorations up which was a bit surreal too.

Our first visitors arrived just before 10am so we opened the doors to let them in. Everything was set up by this time except for the 12ft “Oldshaw” shaped gap at the end of the hall. As usual Sylvia and the team in the refreshments area had been frantically making up filled rolls and boiling the urns in anticipation of a busy day. A steady crowd so0n filled the hall, chatting on demos, drinking tea and coffee or watching the excellent layouts we had lined up. Popular once again was our central community area where visitors could relax, and help themselves to a large number of magazine back numbers.

This year we trialed having a members sales area which proved popular and a good number of books, stock and accessories found new homes.

At around 11am we were happy to see the “Oldshaw” crew in the shape of Tom and Guy arrive safely with the layout, Mike had made it up by train so he missed out on the drama. I have never seen an exhibition layout get set up so fast as it was all hands to the pumps and in no time stock was moving.

As the day went one it was obvious from the feedback that our visitors were pleased with the way the event had gone. Some were there from around 10am until closing time at 4pm, which says something for the small more intimate modellers events.

As with previous years when the 4pm closing time came we still had a number of visitors in the hall, and we had to tidy up and sweep around them as they continued their conversations. With all the layouts and demos packed back into their owners vehicles it was time to close the doors on DEFine Modellers Day 2020.

We may not be the biggest event on the model railway calendar, or get huge numbers through the doors, but feel we get the right people attending. Watching people share ideas whether it be sitting chatting, working on demos, or talking to layout owners is very rewarding for us. At one point a few laptops appeared and discussions on projects and designs were holding people’s attention. We have already agreed to hold our fifth event next year (2021) so look out for details being posted here and on the popular forums.

What follows are a number of un-captioned pictures from the day. If you weren’t there hopefully it will give you a flavour of what the event looks like, if you were there you may even see yourself  (I must try and get a picture of me at the event next year).

Thank you for your support.

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DEFine Modellers Day 11th Jan 2020

DEFine are pleased to announce that we will be holding our fourth DEFine Modellers Day on Saturday the 11th of January 2020.
The venue is as previous years, Risley Village Hall, Risley, Derbyshire, DE72 3SU (beside the church).

Planning is well underway for the event and the line up of attendees so far is as follows.


Manston Brewery      P4      Bevis Heap
Underhill Road          P4      Dave Roome
Longcarse West          P4     Terry / Simon Bendall
Oldshaw                     EM     Guy Molyneux, Mike Hale, Tom Harwin
Weedram Distillery   OO   Alex Hall
Tudwick Road             O      Dave Tailby


Shirebrook progress               Robert Austin
On My Workbench                Rob Griffiths
Weathering 4mm Stock       Roger Manton
On My Workbench               Bill & Nick Wilson

We will also be having a DEFine members “Pre-Loved Items” table with some stock and books etc for sale on the day

As with our previous events, there will be no traders present. There is lots of parking and refreshments will be available on the day. Doors open at 10am and close at 4pm.

The venue can be reached within 5 mins off J25 of the M1. Take exit (Bostocks Lane) heading for Risley and then left at the lights on to A5010. The Village Hall will be signposted about half a mile along on the right hand side.

Admission is only £4 as this is a not for profit event.

We will keep the blog updated with any more news and reminders nearer the date. This looks like it could be another interesting show so we hope you can come along and enjoy the day. Pictures and coverage of previous events can be found in the blog archive


The DEFine Team

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DEFine Lads Day Out Sept 2019

It had been mentioned at one of our regular meetings that we hadn’t gone out for a drink and a curry for a while so action was agreed to rectify this by way of a Saturday afternoon out in Derby.

It was agreed that we should meet up in the Brunswick to kick off the day and by 3pm we had Paul, Dave, Bertie and Pete taking on their first pints of the day. Bill texted to say he was on his way up from Leicester on the train and sent us a photo of the heritage stock stabled at Leicester depot.

Grabbed from the train at Leicester station.

By the time Bill arrived we had finished our beer and decided to move on to the next pub. It looked like Brian had got a better offer and headed for a cultural weekend away in London with his missus, whilst Rob was tied up with family business.

As the weather was fine we took a stroll along the Derwent side footpath, dodging some idiots on trail bikes on the way. Within 5 minutes we were at stop number 2, The Smithfield. This pub had just won a major award for its beer so we had high hopes for what would be available and we were not disappointed. Pete decided to go for a Stroop Waffle stout that had strong caramel tones. I cant remember if anyone went for the other guest stout on offer but it looked interesting.

This was surprisingly pleasant

A beer and a desert in one at 7%, whats not to like?

Having sampled what the Smithfield had to offer it was time to move on to stop number 3, The Exeter, home to the Dancing Duck brewery. It was obvious from the shout outs on who was having what that Dancing Drake was the favourite, it being a lovely stout. We managed to get a seat together in the back room and had a good old natter before it was time to move on again.

Somebody didn’t get the memo, no names though.

On leaving the Exeter Arms it was a short walk to our next pub, The Tap. They had an excellent range of beers on offer at The Tap as usual but it was standing room only.

The small but perfectly formed ensemble for the day

As time was getting on we decided to get one last pub in before heading for something to eat and the Silk Mill was soon pulling 5 pints for us. It was quite busy in this pub so it was down the hatch and off to the Indian for a nice curry. Our restaurant of choice was Okra in Friargate as we had been there before and the food was excellent. No stout on offer in here so it was Kingfishers and Tigers all round.

One issue we had was that Bill and Bertie were time limited as they had to catch the last trains from Derby to Leicester and Mansfield respectively. The food was soon served and once again it didn’t disappoint. With minutes to spare Bill and Bertie boarded a taxi and were heading the Derby Midland Station. They made it on time thankfully.

So there we have it, a great day out was had by all. Pete headed round to Bold Lane to wait on his lift home arriving, and met Paul and Dave wandering aimlessly in the direction of the Flowerpot for a nightcap……..

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DEMU Showcase June 2019

DEMU Showcase is one of those exhibitions that seems to come around very quickly each year. This year due to the closure of the original planned venue in Burton, a quick re-plan involved a visit to a new venue in Swadlincote. “Where”, I hear you ask? Well its only a few miles from Burton so not too big an upheaval but to listen to some folk you would think it had been moved to outer Mongolia. Others may argue that Swad and Outer Mongolia are a decent match but it turned out very well in the end.

The venue was a leisure centre which meant that the exhibition was in one large hall which was good, but it was also bloody hot! Fortunately the Extreme Etchings stand we were working on was located adjacent to “Hornsey Broadway” which gave us something really decent to watch during less busy times.

The show was very good and it was great to see a number of smaller manufacturers launching new products at the show. Having the likes of Accurascale, RevolutioN and Cavalex there adds a new dimension to the show and gives them a great platform to showcase their current and planned products.

As usual, Showcase weekend would not be complete without the customary visit to The Coopers Arms followed by a nice curry. All the usual suspects were there and a great time was had by all. Given that it had been a knackering day in the heat it was no surprise that a few headed home after the curry to leave the non-driving contingent to return to the Coopers.

Firstly some pictures of the masterpiece that is “Hornsey Broadway”

Keir, looking sternly at the guy next to me using the edge of the layout to steady his elbows. Some idiots taking pictures don’t know how to behave and are worse than kids

A rather decent line up at The Coopers Arms but sadly no Sarah Hughes Ruby Mild

Uncle Albert sitting below a caption that reads “During the war……”

Discussion time in the Coopers

Rob, Bertie and Bill post curry, with Dave talking springy bogies with Ian no doubt

Mike and Mark checking their phones, they must have got bored

The other lot at the Eames table

I just cant keep up any more…..


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DEFine Workshop Day April 2019

Although we meet once a week to get together and try and advance our personal projects, it was suggested a while back that we should hold a workshop day one Saturday to give us a full day of working. As so it was that a few weeks ago we got together at the meeting hall, bringing along what we were working on, with a bit more space to set up layouts etc.

Bill brought along two scenic boards from his “Glasgow Queen St” in P4 project and was busy all day working on the finishing touches to track work and wiring. Being able to see the tack plan now with track laid gives a feel for the scale of the project.

Bertie also brought along a couple of the many boards that go to make his “Shirebrook” in P4 project. He too was working on his last few pieces of track to be built.

Pete had his “Brunswick Yard” in P4 scenic section with him and he was working on trying to eliminate some niggles in the track work/stock that had been causing intermittent derailments.

Our latest member to join the DEFine fold, Rob Griffiths, was with us in body only as a night out the previous evening was still taking its toll on him. Rob was working on his stock projects over the day.

At the tables were Dave, Paul and guest for the day Alex Hall. They were all working on stock projects. Dave was working on some wagon stock for “Underhill Road” whilst Paul and Alex were working on some stock items for “Splot” ahead of its appearance at the Derby exhibition in May. Last but not least Brian arrived later in the afternoon but didn’t get much done for looking around what everyone else was doing and chatting about our projects.

The day was punctuated by lunch which consisted of a take away from a local chippy. After about 7 hours of modelling we called it a day. All in all it was a great day both productively and socially so we plan to do it again in the second half of the year.

Bill working on GQS

Our latest member Rob Griffiths

Dave getting serious on his wagon stock

Alex and Paul working on the stock for “Splot”

Track work for “Shirebrook” keeping Bertie busy

More wagon building by Paul

Pete working on “Brunswick Yard”

Just a view of the hall on the day

Same but from a different angle

Some of Bertie’s “Shirebrook” boards coming along nicely

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Model Rail Scotland 2019

One thing that never ceases to amaze us is how quickly this event comes around every year. We have been attending this show for over 11 years now from our base in the midlands,  11 with the Shawplan stand. Although its a 3 day show, it becomes a 5 day event due to the traveling required to get to and from the venue.

Our trip started out on the Thursday morning with Pete dropping his car off and Brian’s before we started on the road up the M1 and across the A66. Its a great run and the weather made it very pleasant. We were in contact with Bill who was traveling up from work in Coventry via the M6 and he was trying to catch us up. Our first pit stop was Southwaite services for a coffee and a burger. Pete was bemused that what he had ordered looked like half the size of Brian’s, which necessitated a top up with a Gregg’s sausage roll. A bag of doughnuts for the trip also found their way to the van somehow. Onwards then up the road and by the time we got to Hamilton Services Bill was with us. Our arrival at the SECC was later than usual but we got the van into the hall quickly and set up, shoehorning into the gap left for us by our neighbouring trader, who never noticed we had had to shove him back a bit.

Once we were all set up it was a short walk over the Bells Bridge to the Premier Inn, our digs for the next few days. Soon it was time to get something to eat and as custom has it it was out to the Lord of The Isles at Braehead for Curry Night. The hotel offered to get us a taxi and when a Hackney rolled up I feared the worst regarding what the fare would be out to Renfrew. It turned out to be almost double the return fare using Braehead Taxis on the way back!  This year we were joined by James Hudson of Bill Hudson books. James is not one for curry so he played it safe, with the rest of us tucking in and taking on a few beers.

Friday morning was an early start as the early entrants (or window lickers as they are affectionately known), were already starting to queue up to get in.

Friday is traditionally the modellers day when it comes to the type of visitor and the busiest on the stand. The venue quickly filled up and it was show-on!

Calcutta Sidings 2 dominates the top corner of the hall.

The standard of layout at the show is getting better with many now invited from across the country, including this year the mammoth that is “Calcutta Sidings 2”. There was one other celebrity layout in attendance at the other end of the scale but more of that later.

As Friday drew to a close Bill had to head back home as he had other business to attend to so after a quick freshen up Brian James and Pete headed out to the Panda Chinese buffet and a call in at the Old Toll Bar on the way back. None of the group were tempted by the cocktails this year which included a “Peaky Blinders” selection.

After breakfast on Saturday it was back to work at the show. It was another busy day and lots of chatter and eating of Tunnocks products took place. We had to reign back on the eating though as Brian and Pete had lined up a meat-fest for that evening. With James deciding to stay at the hotel, Brian and Pete headed for Viva Brazil in the city centre. All you can eat meat and a very comprehensive salad bar awaited. No sooner were we seated we were presented with the first of many meats to try. In the end Brian tried about 16 meat offerings and I had about 13. Absolutely stuffed we headed out into the mild evening weather for a cultural tour of the city centre with Pete as the guide. One thing that really disappointed us was the mess they are making of the new look Queen Street station. Having exposed the full splendor of the southern glazed arch they are now proceeding to hide it again with some monstrosity of a building, sacrilege.

Sunday as expected was a quiet day which gave us a chance to see a bit of the show and for Brian to spend a bit more time liaising with other traders and manufacturers. By the end of the day we were ready to pack up and once the van was in the hall it was time to load up and get back to the hotel.

Due to being a bit knackered we decided to eat in the hotel on the Sunday night, and had a nice meal. Before that we joined the RevolutioN and Accurascale guys for a bit of banter in the hotel bar. We had a few laughs and it was a nice way to finish off the weekend.

And so in line with tradition we award the DEFine $hite Modelling award (just a bit of fun). This year it goes to none other than the celebrity layout by Aberdeen Model Railway Group that won the “Great Model Railway Challenge” on TV, “City of Tiers” (Or is it City of Tears?). Unfortunately the Shawplan stand was opposite this and we had to look at it for 3 days. OK, it was built in 3 days and it was TV entertainment but it doesnt represent railway modelling in its true form. It does for railway modelling what Charles Ratner did for the jewellery business.

And so that was another Glasgow Show weekend over. Pete stayed behind to fit in a visit to family on the Monday whilst Brian and James headed their respective ways home. Roll on next year. Its one of the friendliest and sociable shows on the calendar, but then I might be biased 😉

Pete and Brian on the stand ready for another busy day

The CS2 crew leaping into action to get trains running

Tim and Bertie manning the control panel on CS2

A shot of Phil operating his layout, collectors item

Terry and Phil having a chat over CS2

Nobby poses with the big layout, he had threatened to short it out with a 2p to give the picture interest

Nobby again, drinking tea whilst George does all the work

One for the ladies, Rodders and Dave pose at Dave’s layout

Who has been feeding Clive the blue smarties again?

James, the proprietor of Bill Hudson books adds up the weekends takings

Mike ponders what to spend his second million on whilst Ben checks out “This just in…” on his phone

Brian and Terry ponder the merits of Peco Setrack, is there a change coming?

Scottish Modellers stand hard at it

That’s better chaps, guest southern softie on the stand MikeC

Another gaggle of the Scottish Modellers contingent

And so to “City of Tiers” this years winner


You can never have too many Lava Lamps on your layout

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