The Collection - The Disease

Dear Marjorie - My husband is 46 years old and spends most of his time playing with toy trains. He doesn't pay any attention to me these days.

Dear M - You have my deepest sympathy! Unfortunately, this condition is well known and is usually terminal. Very few people ever fully recover. However, you can turn this situation to your advantage! Trainaholics are so oblivious to their surroundings that you can bring as many men back to the house as you want - your man will never know!

Whatever you do though, don't get rid of your train fanatic - they are notoriously good at paying the bills! Blessings

When I first read this letter in a women's magazine I was shocked, devastated, mortified........

It took me a while to comprehend the truth in these words, but I am determined to 'clean up' my act.

No more trains!

The disease started .......... continue reading my incredibly boring history


Friday, March 2, 2012

Farewell My Duchess

What a lot has happened in the past year! I have neglected to write for this blog since committing to write a mountain of insensibly serious stuff for several other journals, with not an ounce of silliness to be found between the lines. However, a recent event has spurred me to return here once more and pour out the nonsense that I have tucked in my cheeks for later mastication. This event was both incredibly sad and yet delightful at the same time. My train set has gone.

Yes sirs, if you have been saving up your coins or robbing all the post offices within a three mile radius of your home, in order to buy this historic collection, you are come too late, it has been sold. Return those postage stamps and hang your heads, the deed is done.
It is worth noting that the event was fast and relatively painless, just that tugging ache in the chest when I look at the empty space where once sat the Duchess of Atholl. What power emptiness wields over us, filled only by our imaginings of times past and times that might have been. It’s an interesting demonstration of the fact that the only thing that can really hurt us is the fruit of our imagination. Gosh, that’s profound for a Friday afternoon! I close the door on that era of my life, but as they say, as one door closes, another one opens.

I say, ….It’s awfully dark in here!

So, congratulations anonymous buyer from Mystery Island. Thank you Lord, that my partner in grime, my fourteen children and I, may eat of pease pudding and turnip for another year.

Do not despair though you gloomy people, I will rally and you may seek me out on a couple of other interesting places. The Goad is my book in the making. Excerpts are published from time to time on the blog, whilst the doughy interior rises separately on my computer. The Goad, subtitled: Confessions of a Real Estate Con Artist, is a little on the unusual side, portraying a merciless, maniacal German who believes he is a God and who has a penchant for clever and ruthless acts of theft. It’s pretty serious stuff, especially if you have been right and royally stuffed by such a con merchant … we have. Oh! Did I just let the secret to poverty out of the bag? Fear not though, the blaggard will meet his doom once the story has been told to it’s bitter end.

Other than squirting water up llamas noses and knitting mobile phone holders for dragons, don’t laugh! I’m serious. You can see my efforts here, you will find me toiling at another new project called Natural Fibre EcoVillage, expounding the virtues of living in close proximity to other human beings. Pop along and have a gander at the plans, you never know, you might want to join!

Until I think of something else to say. Toodlepip.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Seriously Guys

Ok, so I placed my head on the chopping block and instead of chopping it off, you choose to urinate on me and stick a dahlia in my ear.  I know model railway enthusiasts are weird at their very best and are the epitomy of the square-eyed  'anorak', but the messages I have received from people concerning this blog are not good posting material.

in reply to a few of them:

'Dave from Sunderland' - shooting all the trainspotters ISN'T going to make a blind bit of difference to the population crisis in the world.  Run along to your local train station and do the maths yourself.  I am not a trainspotter in any case, but although you might see 3 or 4 of them every time you catch your local to the big city, has it occurred to you they might be the same people each day?

'Rammy' - Choo-choo's is ancient baby talk.  It really isn't a good idea to teach your baby to speak total rubbish and then have to correct yourself later.  Children have far more intelligence than most people give them credit for.  It's the stupid adults they have to be warned about!

'Ken from Boston' - thank you for your kind offer ..........but no thanks.  In any case I choose not to eat dead animals, so your salami would be weasted on me. It's just not my cup of tea - OK?

Anyone out there want to buy my trainset?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Inglourious Disasters

My email inbox is frequently clogged with deranged collections of weird photographs, jokes, powerpoints with soppy music and other viral pieces, mostly compiled by bored employees.  As I have regular contact with the executive end of the corporate ladder, I amuse myself by forwarding the emails which sport relevant company disclaimers at the bottom.  "This is what you are paying your employees to create! - can't you give them something better to do?"

I agree, some of them are amusing or even downright funny.  Occasionally, I receive the more interesting variety, one of which I share with you today.

The compiler was clever enough to remove the company disclaimer from the footnote, so unfortunately, I am unable to dole out the credit where it's due.  If you are the author of this missive or the photographer, let me know so that I can pat you heartily on the back.  Nice work!

Here it is - just as it came to me:

Good news: It was a normal day in  Sharon   Springs , KS when a Union Pacific crew boarded a loaded coal train for the long trek to  Salina  .

The Bad news: Just a few miles into the trip a wheel bearing became overheated and melted, letting a metal support drop down and grind on the rail, creating white hot molten metal droppings spewing down to the rail. 


The Good news: A very alert crew noticed smoke about halfway back in the train and immediately stopped the train in compliance with the rules.

The Bad news: The train stopped with the hot wheel over a wooden bridge with creosote ties and trusses.

The crew tried to explain to higher-ups but were instructed not to move the train!

They were instructed Rules prohibit moving the train when a part is defective!

The final comment sums it up nicely:

"Don't let common sense get in the way of a good disaster"

Monday, January 25, 2010

This Stuff Really IS For Sale!

I know this Blog has been a long time in the making and recently I have been rather slack in posting (house-building and studying tend to fill in the gaps between eating and sleeping these days).  However, the time has arrived methinks to face the prospect that this train set really IS for sale.

I do understand that I am located on the other side of nowhere (2 1/2 hours from the nearest town and road that actually goes somewhere other than a dead-end).  I appreciate that this isn't a place to casually 'pop by' for a gander on a Sunday afternoon.

I can promise you that you won't be disappointed.  I have created a pretty extensive picture gallery of the set, even though there aren't any photos of the layout in operation (something to do with not having a house for ten years ....too busy hugging trees!).  So I have to do something to entice you.

Setting The Price

Let's say I start the bidding at $2450. 

You say "What? Are you kidding?" 

I say "Well perhaps I can move a little bit, as I can see you are a dedicated Dublo'er and I really do want this outfit to go to a GOOD home.  I comes embedded with all my fond memories you know!.  What about $2200?"

......after a little more haggling we arrive at the mutually agreeable price of $1980 and I run off and carefully wrap the whole shebang for FREE shipping to you as long as you are in Canada or the lower 48 States, whilst you lean out of your window and pop a cheque in the post.  I have no idea how much it weighs or how much it will cost to send, but that's my problem.

Sound fair?

The one proviso is that you toddle off and have a look at this new environmental website Click on the link 'Unchop a Tree'  (this video is also viewable at Treehuggers ) - The last bit is REALLY moving .............if you're a softy like me.

If this proviso is a bit too 'ECO-bunny' for you - that's fine.  I'm forgiving.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Duchess of Montrose - No. 46232

Flu !! I mean … FLU !! I make the trip into the big city once a year and what do I get for my trouble? The flu bug. You wonder why I’m a sociophobe and choose to live in the backwaters of the backwaters of British Columbia? All those germ-ridden automatons doped on Tylenol and Nightnurse making daily excursions to air-conditioned offices to spread their dis-ease.

One advantage of being sociophobic is that I can say what I like and blame it on my ‘condition’.

……hurrummmmph…..back to the blog.

Did you miss me? Did you wonder if I had fallen off the edge of the Universe? No posts for so many months. I’ve been a touch busy and the summer months are mostly spent outside. However, as the clock strikes minus twenty Celcius, my blood congeals and brain activity slows sufficiently to be able to write more nonsense for this blog. So to welcome you back, I would receive no greater pleasure than to introduce you to none other than the Duchess of Montrose herslef (I rather like the word ‘herslef’, so it remains uncorrected).

Queen of the railroad, this Princess Coronation Class locomotive was designed by William Stanier and built by London Midland and Scottish Railway between 1937 and 1948. A total of thirty eight were built, but only 3 remain intact: The Duchess of Sutherland, Duchess of Hamilton and City of Birmingham.

If you so desire, you can read more details about this beautiful machine under the Duchess of Atholl post.

As for this Dublo model of the Duchess of Montrose, she is a real slinky baby. To study her lithe body snaking around the room with a long train of LMS coaches is a treat, matching even Kate Winlset at her callipygian best. Damage to her paintwork is minimal – just a few minor chips and she is in good running order. The Duchess was one of the most popular locomotives on the Dublo mainline in the late 1940’s and 50’s. It’s beautifully crafted and represents one of the favourite classes of locomotive running at the time.

If you head over to Wikipedia there is a story about one of the early record breaking attempts almost ending in disaster when insufficient braking time was allowed before hitting the Crewe changeovers. The Duchess remained on the rails, but the bumps caused more than a little consternation and broke a lot of crockery (that’s back in the days when tea was served in china cups!! Hahaha… now the tea is served cold so you don’t scald your hands through the thin plastic cup.

Anyway, here she is again, so please put your hands together and give her a welcome that will ignite the coals in her scuttle:

The Duchess of Montrose --------------------------------------

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dinky Abuse and Other Sad Tales

Dinky Toys

Did you play with your Dinky when you were a kid? I played with mine to the point of abuse as the following pictures attest. Indoors or outdoors. Secretly in the bedroom or openly in the garden, I smacked my Dinkies all the way to adulthood. Eventually, I married and had to curtail my Dinky-bashing habits. As is the fate of so many die-cast lovers, wives dowse the childhood enthusiasms like so many buckets of cold water on a horny dog. The urge has subsided somewhat since those seedy times, thus my Dinky collection joins the sale alongside Dublo. The memories, like the toys, are faded from too much sunlight.

Hang on... You're not a Dinky!

You probably already know that both Dinky and Hornby Dublo are from the same Frank Hornby stable!

What? No boxes!

Don’t give me a hard time about it. I probably sucked the colourful cardboard to death, the same as I probably licked the toxic paint and ate the small sharp components, that nowadays, are called ‘Choking Hazards’. When I was young, the main choking hazard was from smoking. However, babies love to extend their environmental mapping through oral sensory awareness. In other words, they put things in their mouths. Occasionally they swallow things. I am given to understand that parents used to search for the missing truck wheels amongst the nappy contents and fix the toys. Parents weren’t so squeamish in the ‘olden days’, eh?.

Dinky History

The history of Dinky is somewhat on a parallel to Dublo
, but starting a year earlier in 1933. I believe some of the toys were made in the same Liverpool factory, where coffee was spilled in the mazac mixer (you’ll have to read the Alternative Dublo History for more of that story). They were also made extensively in France, but featured the more bizarre chunky styling of Citroen and Peugeot, designed for circumnavigating the Arc de Triumph without sustaining serious injury, instead of the twee Ford and Austin Morris, designed for drivers who would need a stiff G & T should anyone even dare to honk a horn at them! What blighters! What cads!

Dinky Toys became Dinky Toys (if that makes sense) in 1934, after a year of sporting that gorgeously stiff English title - ‘Modelled Miniatures’. Actually, Modelled Miniatures were mostly accessories for the railway stuff, but the idea caught on and the range was extended to include motor cars.

A flatulent, Austrian midget named Adolf Hitler detested all things Dinky and Dublo and allegedly, started a war to prevent their continuing production. Uh Oh! I can feel this article slithering into the snake pit of non-Political Correctness. I caution against reading further, if you lean towards a more delicate political constitution!. …….He especially hated Triumph cars, believing they were designed either to encourage children to mimic the immodest sound of his own involuntary flatus or to represent British ‘triumph’ in World War One (I would like to add a personal note here, that nobody ever triumphs or wins in a war. EVER!). Hitler therefore, determined to prevent anyone from practicing noises with model cars, by ensuring raw materials were diverted to other, more practical, uses like bombs and tanks and heroic medals as well as silly helmets. Instead, he caused the post-war launch of model versions of the military vehicles that had so upset his digestion in the first place. That’s karma for you!. I shall draw a line under this topic whilst I’m still ahead.


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1947 saw the launch of real rubber tyres, which were kinder on babies’ teeth andless likely to grate on Granny’s nerves. They also put an end to the epidemic of tiny indented tracks in polished wooden surfaces. Unfortunately, the tyres came off rather easily and lead to a new wave of three-wheeled toy cars.

1963 brings up a familiar name – Tri-ang. They jumped in and bought the tooling for Dinky. A few years later in 1967, the new plastic dinky Speedwheels were launched and this ensured the decline of the toy car industry as well as bringing an end to the choking hazard of miniature rubber tyres.

Lesney (trademarked as ‘Matchbox’) released their own version called ‘Superfast’ and Corgi brought out ‘Hotwheels’ and every little boy (and the occasional girl) had their favourite. Just as with the train set manufacturing, all the car manufacturers eventually bought each other out until nobody knew who made what. It didn’t matter, because the era of sturdy toys had passed. You can stick your modern plastic cars in the orifice from which you get the most satisfaction these days. Plastic, Bubble packs, Blister packs and polythene bags are no match for cardboard and metal and toxic paint.

For a full history of Dinky you’ll have to go elsewhere. I’m bored now.

If you’re interested, I have already mentioned the regular meeting of ex-toy making executives in a potting shed in Purley. Send a resume and a bottle of Glenfiddich if you wish to join the club.

I forgot to include details about the Dinky toys included here! What a turkey!
I'm sure they all have names and if you are a Dinky enthusiast, then you'll already know what they are. Nopoint me wasting my time telling you.

You may also notice that I was not joking when I said they had been abused. Let's call them a FREE gift to whoever buys the train set.

I am overwhelmed by my own generosity sometimes......

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rail Track Signals - A Thrilling Discovery!

Train Track Signals

I thought that braking systems were exciting, but when I began researching signal arms, I realized I had entered a whole new world and darn near wet my pants with excitement! There is an entire community devoted to railway signals. Numerous websites dedicated to revealing the darkest secrets of the lower quadrant, swapping milepost pictures and even a forum where you can talk about your experiences and feelings concerning signals.

In a way, this makes me really sad that I am selling my train set. I could have been a part of this society many years ago. A life wasted! I have been a little concerned about my heart over the last couple of years and perhaps this new surge of excitement would be enough to blow a gasket!

I was going to use this article to explain the different types of signals and how they are used………… but somewhere on the page I lost the will to live.

I am being unkind here. Very unkind. I am sure the people sharing their experiences on the signals forum are really nice people, far kinder and more harmonious than I could ever be.

…..but I DO have a life.

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So here they are, the signals in this jumbo Dublo train set. They are all manual signals, so you had better be swift on your feet if you are to run a clean outfit and not allow your imaginary train drivers to break any rules.

Box One (of course they are boxed!)

Double Arm - Upper Quadrant Signals

Box Two

Single Arm - Upper Quadrant Signals

Box Three

Single Arm - Upper Quadrant Signals

Unfortunately, the lever is missing from the signal on the right, but otherwise, the items are all in really good order ......and so are the boxes, ok? Also note that the box says 'D1'. Now that is a rarity! Means its early stuff.

....and an oddity to finish with. Made by 'Crescent'? ....maybe? One arm is disconnected and it's a bit chunkier than the average signal post, but it should work if your drivers are paying attention.

….and if you are dead from the waist up, I include here some very basic rules for signal operation:

Home and Distant are two…………phhhhhtttttt!

If you really are interested in learning about signals, try these websites:

Otherwise stick around for some jokes instead

Search for The Matrix on ZML

A Brit, an American, a gorgeous blonde and a terrifying fat lady are sharing a compartment on a train.

As the train passes through a dark tunnel there is a loud SLAP!.

Once out of the tunnel, the blonde, the Brit and the fat lady all look at the American, who is sporting a big red slap mark on his cheek.

** The blonde thinks - "that American son of a bitch wanted to touch me and by mistake, he must have put his hand on the fat lady, who in turn must have slapped his face"

** The fat lady thinks - "that dirty old American must have tried to grope the blond and she whacked him"

** The American thinks - "That damned Brit put his hand on the blonde and she slapped me by mistake"

** The Brit thinks - "I can’t wait for the next tunnel so I can smack that stupid American again!"

There, that was more entertaining wasn’t it?

As for the signals

A stop signal has a red arm with a with band near to one end. When the arm is horizontal (consider when the beer is level in the glass), it means you have to stop (if YOU are driving the train).

If the arm is dangling (that’s the lower quadrant) then you don’t have to stop.

If there is a little notch cut out of one end then it’s a ‘Distant’ signal.

Beep Beep Beep….

Oh shucks! I’ve run out of time today. You’ll have to wait for the next thrilling article to learn more or alternatively nip down to your local newsagents and place an order for ‘Signalman’s Weekly’ or ‘Rail Signal Enthusiast’.

Until next time. zzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZ