DEFine Modellers Day 2018

Following on from the success and great comments we received after last years event, we have decided to do it all again in 2018. The date for the event is the 20th January and will once again be held in Risley Village Hall. The event will run from 10am until 4pm. The venue is easy to find, its just off J25 of the M1 (DE72 3SY).

So what have we in store for next January’s event? Those who attended last year will know that this is not sold as a typical Model Railway Show, we call it a Modellers Day. The intention is to bring together railway modellers of all competencies to talk, learn and share experiences with others. There will still be a few layouts to look at though but we wont have any trader stands. There will be some small traders there doing demos and they may bring along some of the products they are demonstrating for sale. It is also a good opportunity to pick up any orders you have placed with them.

Layouts so far:

“Enigma Engineering” by Paul Gittins. Paul is keen to have people engage with his layout and have a go at shunting if they wish.

“Daves Layout”. As you can guess Dave hasn’t given it a name yet but from what we have seen of it being built it is well up to Dave’s usual standard

“Field Lane” by Ashley Toone. Ashley attended last years event as a visitor and is happy to return this year with his layout.

NAG Test Track. The Nottinghamshire Area Group of the Scalefour Society will be in attendance with their test track. The track work incorporates the major 4mm gauges of OO, EM and P4. The NAG group will also be happy to discuss S4 Society membership and what NAG get up to.

Other layouts TBA, including possibly some more of DEFine WIP status layouts


Track Building – Howard Bolton. One of the best track builders in the hobby, Howard will be available to discuss and instruct you on building track.

Wagons in P4 – Tom Silsbury. Tom will have a selection of wagons to display and explain his conversion to P4 methods.

Penbits Bogie Assembly – Ian Penberth. Ian will be demonstrating the construction of the sprung bogies he has designed for many D&E locos, and will have a selection available for sale.

Buildings and Landscapes – David Wright. A well known and acclaimed modeller of buildings and landscape work, David will be available to demonstrate his techniques and help with any questions you have to help your projects get moving.

Wagon Kit Building – Robert “Bertie” Austin. Robert has built up a lot of experience in building Rumney Models chassis kits and will be sharing his work and methods on the day.

Extreme Etchings Clinic – Brian Hanson. Anyone with any questions on putting together Shawplan/EE etchings, glazing etc have the opportunity to have a chat with Brian and get some pointers on etching construction.

This is what we have so far, it may be changed slightly if problems arise etc, but we will endeavour to keep people updated via our blog. Entry fee is being held at a modest £3 per person and refreshments will be available all day. The hall has its own parking but on-street parking is no problem if it overflows. If you want to see how last years event went look for it further down the blog. We hope you can join us.


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GCR Diesel Gala 2017

Having missed the 2016 Diesel Gala at the Great Central Railway due to forgetting all about it, we were back on track this year. First on the platform at Loughborough were Bertie and Pete. Bertie had kindly offered to give Pete a lift to the event this year, so we left in plenty time to enable us to get the 9.45 Griddle car service. No sooner had Bertie hit the platform he was up to his “Cabinit” antics with D5343.

Bertie “Cabinit” Ausitn doing his thing

Pete and Bertie quickly proceeded to the Griddle car and did a land grab on a few seats for the guys arriving to catch this train. We were quickly joined by “Bachmann Steve” and Brian and his mate. Once assembled we duly proceeded to order up the infamous GCR Diesel Gala all day breakfast.

Heaven on a plate

This is a superb feast and highly recommended. With food delivered the train was off for the first run off the day to Leicester North. On the way back down the line to Loughborough we alighted at Quorn to let Bertie get under some wagons and meet up with 37714 “Cardiff Canton” resplendent in its new triple grey livery.

After a few runs up and down the line behind various traction, by which time we had lost “Bachmann Steve” it was time to visit the sheds and the bridge. It was noticeable this year they had done a bit of a tidy up in the yards hopefully in preparation for exciting new developments at the site involving the “Bridging the Gap” project. We stood at the gates and viewed progress in the distance of the twin girders installed last week preparing the way for the GCR line to pass over the Midland Main Line.

Once back up at the station Bill had now arrived to join us ( and scoffed and all day breakfast) and we partook of some fine ale namely the Nottingham Sooty Porter which was very nice.

After a few more train runs it was time for Brian and his mate to depart for another engagement. Apparently they were giving up a day on diesels to go on a photo shoot with some big kettle things up at Butterley. As Bill had not seen the bridge installation Pete, Bertie and Bill made a return visit to the bridge.

Bill gives Bertie the low-down on the “Bridging the Gap” project, with the new bridge in the distance

Time was now getting on and soon it was time for an evening meal. The options for the late run Griddle Car meals didn’t look too appetising so Pete and Bertie decided it just had to be another all day breakfast.

Round 2, let eating commence

We had agreed to stay for the next run as it was 37714 but just before it was due to meet up with its coaches it turned in a sick note. Luckily there was an able deputy in Class 20 D8098. We may have been denied the class 37 but at least our last run would be on English Electric traction. We secured a seat just behind the engine and opened the widows full,  and so with full thrash the 20 pulled us away to Leicester North and then a non-stop run back down to Loughborough.

A great day was had by all. The weather was kind to us and we were well fed and watered.

Bertie listening to EE thrash after ADB No 2

D8098 carried this “Depot Plaque” headboard on its last run. I want one

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Midland Railex 2017

Once again, as in previous years,  DEFine agreed to provide a modelling demonstration at the Midland Railex held at the Midland Railway Centre. We were based in the diesel shed as usual which is probably the busiest (and dustiest) part of the Midland Railway complex. The show lasted two days and allowed people to engage with us on our projects and for us to try and help them with any issues they are having with their own projects.

This year we had Pete, Bill, Brian and Bertie doing the honours over the weekend. As Brian had opted not to bring his trade stand this year, this gave him the opportunity to get back to demoing along with the rest of us. This year we had Bill building the final pieces of P4 track work for Glasgow Queen St., Bertie was fully engaged on his wizardry with wagons and doing some great stuff as usual. Pete and Brian were both busy building Penbits suspension units for a Class 37 and Class 40 respectively.

On the Saturday evening we were treated to a nice run on the train being hauled by class 33 and 47 traction. On one of the stops at Butterley we alighted and took possession of the fish and chips ordered. Its lovely sitting at the table in a Mk1 coach eating our suppers on a nice sunny evening. After a few more runs up and down the line it was time for home.

We did it all over again on the Sunday which was a bit more relaxed and allowed us time to see around the exhibition. Bill sloped off at one point for a run on the narra gauge train (I am sure he is narra gauge at heart deep down 😉

We hope we did our bit over the weekend, we enjoyed it, but hopefully the benefiting charities did well out of it too.

Pete’s view along the line up

The full line up

Bertie in full “Cabinit” mode waiting in anticipation.


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Goodnight Chris

Today we said farewell to our dear friend Chris Messer. As many of you know Chris has been battling cancer for a few years now and all through this time he has faced his challenge with dignity, selflessness and humour. His strength has been an inspiration to us all and we are thankful for the time we had with Chris albeit too short.

Chris was a true railway man and worked in the industry for many years. This spilled over into his private life and he was keen on railway research mainly in support of our mutual hobby, building model railways. As well as having a deep knowledge of Britain’s railways over the years Chris was a keen modeller of the American scene and had built up many friends on the internet and social media. Chris was always keen to share his knowledge on the subject and engage with anyone who wanted to talk trains.

Chris was in his time a member of the Mickleover Model Railway Club (where is where I first met him in 1997), and has over time been an active member of Diesel and Electric Modellers United (DEMU) and RMWeb. As a member of the local area group of DEMU we would go out with friends and do demos and visit exhibitions. In September 2010 Chris was one of the founder members of DEFine Modellers but unfortunately around that time his illness was beginning to demand more of his time for treatment and regular visits to hospital in London.

We continued to keep in touch with Chris and it was great to see him attend the DEFine Modellers Day back in January. I think he enjoyed it too.

At his send off today, the congregation included a good number of his ex-work colleges and friends from the model railway community. Although sad, it was far from sombre with music from the likes of Queen, The Cure, The Housemartins and ELO being played. I am sure the person in charge of the music made sure “Mr Blue Sky” was turned up a few notches, it was great and very fitting on such a beautiful day.

His family did an incredible job in supporting Chris through this long illness and knowing Chris he would be feeling more sorry for their inconvenience than his own situation. They did an outstanding job and his wife Ellie, children Daniel and Hannah and son in law Steven should be very proud.

We will miss Chris.

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DEMU Showcase – June 2017

Well that’s another DEMU Showcase out of the way for another year, but it was a great event. The great thing about DEMU Showcase is that it brings together many of us who see each other fleetingly at shows throughout the year and shoves us into a hall, pubs and curry houses for two days! The social side is as important as watching and debating great layouts and demos in pleasant surroundings.

So on Saturday Bill and Pete met up with Brian and the van at around 7.15am at McD’s in Burton for breakfast before heading out to the venue. We were at the hall sharpish for opening time and swiftly started to erect the Shawplan stand. Following a session of hanging all the stocked up items on hooks we took the chance to have a wander around the halls and see some of the show before the doors opened at 10am. It was obvious from what we saw that the punters in the queue, (which was by now snaking way around the hall and adjoining street), were not going to be disappointed.

Saturday was very busy and it was great to see so many familiar faces and chat with so many people on the stand. Some of them even bought stuff too! Soon the day had flown by and 5pm was drawing near. On the announcement that the show was now closed for the day, the DEFine group and friends started to assemble for our trip to the Coopers Tavern. Having got there and got the beers in , 1872 Porter from Elland Brewery at 6.5% was your editors tipple of choice, we took over the snug and generally had a good laugh. Drivers were mainly on soft drinks and the “women” in the group had cider. The usual suspects were there with the notable omission this year of Jim Smith-Wright and Colin Craig who had other business to attend to. Some other regulars were with us though in the shape of Paul “real men wear shorts” Wade, Tim Horn and others you will see in the photos. Having downed our first beers it soon became time to stock up with beer again and head next door for the curry.

Thankfully we had no chilli incidents this year and Wavey Davy survived. The meal was excellent as usual and as always great value. The fourteen attendees agreed it was superb and we passed on our thanks to the staff promising to see them again next year.

Having filled up on curry, it was time to make the 25ft journey back next door into the Coopers. Before heading in we stopped outside for a group picture, which was a challenge in itself. We took over the snug again and picked up on the banter where we left off. By the time some of the other DEMU’ers started to arrive it was time to head home for a few people but I am informed the remaining assembly were kicked out at closing.

On the Sunday at the show as you can imagine it was a much slower start, and there were many odours around the halls testifying to a great evening the night before. Stories started to emerge of people climbing walls after the pub, people falling asleep in pubs and one of our friends actually woke up in the wrong hotel!

As mentioned Sunday thankfully was more leisurely but still great to have the time to chat and take a wander around. By 4pm it was time to pack up and we had the stand broken down and ready to go in half an hour. A big shout out to John “Nobby” Norton and his support team for putting on such a great event. Looking forward to next year already!

In the Coopers Tavern snug, and its a big hello from Mike Cubberley

Paul and Bertie engaging in some chat, whilst its CHEERS! from Tim Horn

Brian gives the beer a big thumbs up

Seems Phil likes the beer too, sitting between Messrs Wilson and Furmage

Pete manages a quick group shot in between the popadoms and starters

And so it was back to the Coopers to finish the night off. Check the legs on show from the real hard men.


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Time for a catch up – 5th March 2017

We may have been a bit quiet on the blog recently but we have been maintaining our usual responsibilities around drinking beer, eating curry, getting out and about and oh yes, a bit of modelling too.

img_3300As is customary we attended the Winter Beer Festival in the Roundhouse at Derby railway station. This year we had a small but perfectly formed group in attendance with Alex joining the crew to sample the beers on offer. On arrival at the venue we were greeted by Alex who had managed to purloin some complimentary entry tickets which was a bonus so once the glasses were purchased it was on to the main hall. Alex and Paul got tied up with “Enthusiastic Laura” on their way to the pilsners so the men headed for the stouts and porters. Strangely enough, Mr Spencer emerged with a very dark looking beer which was unusual for him, but got the thumbs up from the guys. Once we had a few down us it was time to head for some food. There was a limited choice left but everyone seemed to find something however I was completely underwhelmed by my “Speciality Hot-Dog” which was basically two small pork sausages in a dry not dog roll.

Before we headed off it was time for the cheese bar. Brian made sure he managed to get what he wanted and others too made a few purchases. I went to the beer festival and came away with a jar of pickled onions in balsamic vinegar. Mmmm. Roll on next year.

The usual crew

The usual crew

Alex with his Lady Lager and a pint of the dark stuff for added credibility

Alex with his Lady Lager and a pint of the dark stuff for added credibility

The beer festival report would not be complete without a balloon bender shot

The beer festival report would not be complete without a balloon bender shot


No sooner had the Beer Festival passed then it was off to Scotland for the Model Rail Scotland event. This year it was Brian, Bill and Pete travelling up in the van and no sooner had we set off, it was in to McDonalds at Uttoxeter for breakfast. As we drove towards the M6 we could feel the winds picking up and the van was getting a good rocking about. No sooner had we started heading north past Stoke and on to the M6 itself things got a bit more serious. We could feel debris hitting the van and the windscreen took a few hits. Debris was all over the road from falling branches and we just missed a tree that fell down as we passed it. Our journey then slowed down as the Thelwall viaduct over the Manchester ship canal was closed so we enjoyed a nice diversion through Warrington. By the time we hit Lancaster storm Doris had done her worst and thankfully we didn’t experience any snow. Our later than usual arrival in Glasgow meant we had to get the stand erected and out for something to eat in short order. As it was Thursday, that meant Curry Night at Weatherspoons in Braehead.

Next morning after a full Scottish breakfast it was off to the show. As usual it was very enjoyable and the three days flew by. We got to meet up with lots of friends and have a good laugh. On Friday night we settled for The Harvester, which turned out to be a bad move as it was disappointing this year.

We fared a lot better on Saturday night as we had pre-arranged a table at The Wee Curry Shop in Ashton Lane as opposed to the usual buffet trough at the Koh-i-noor. This is a great wee curry house, very small but the food is excellent. For starters it was haggis pakora all round following some complimentary popadoms and pickles from the manager. Brian told him it was a reunion as we had been there together 3 years ago, which was true, but we didn’t tell him we see each other every Wednesday night! After the curry we had a few beers in Ashton lane and then up Byres Road to Oran Mor. There is something strange about sitting bevying in a church!

Sunday was the usual Chinese Buffet and a few beers in Wetherspoons and next morning it was an uneventful trip home, albeit we bumped into some of the award winning layout operators from “Tonbridge West Yard” at Tebay services. The lads had done really well over the weekend by bagging an award for second best visiting layout. They then had to experience some typical Scottish weather on the Sunday though when the SECC failed to hold back the elements and water started to drip down on to their layout. At this point rain stopped play apart from shunting the yard

All in all another great visit to Model Rail Scotland which left us exhausted after 3 days on our feet.

The winning layout at the exhibition, The Forth Bridge in T Gauge which is VERY small

The winning layout at the exhibition, The Forth Bridge in T Gauge which is VERY small


The award winning crew, well some of them

As TWY succumbs to the elements on the Sunday, Mike points out where the rain is coming from

As TWY succumbs to the elements on the Sunday, Mike points out where the rain is coming from

Did I mention we had haggis pakora on Saturday night?

Did I mention we had haggis pakora on Saturday night?

Ashton Lane, Glasgow West End

Ashton Lane, Glasgow West End

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DEFine Modellers Day – Saturday 20th January 2018

Due to the success of the Modellers Day we had on 14th Jan this year, and the very positive feedback we have had regarding the event, the DEFine team have decided we will do it all over again next year.

The date for next years event will be Saturday 20th January 2018, at the same venue, Risley Village Memorial Hall.

The format for next years event will be similar to what we had this year, with maybe a few changes based on what we learned from this years event. The focus will remain on providing an event that modellers can attend, socialise and engage with each other on their particular projects and also to hopefully learn and teach others. We will also be on the look out for some small layouts that we think can add to the experience of the event.

We will keep this blog up to date with developments as the year progresses.

The DEFine Team

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