Wee things (with nothing to do with indy)

This is not a blog post about Scottish independence, Scottish politics, or the wit and wisdom of Johann Lamont.  Not that anyone anywhere can write about the wit and wisdom of JoLo, which is probably why LabourHame has died.  Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a full time carer, my partner has vascular dementia.  Being the carer of a dementia sufferer means you can’t get out much, as folk with dementia cannot be left unattended for very long.

So in order to give myself something to do, I have a number of projects on the go – one of them being this blog.   I used to be quite arty, but got out of the habit what with work, life, and campaigning to bring down the British establishment (as you do).   After having to give up work to care for my partner, I’ve now got the time to get back into arty projects again.

Both Alzheimers and vascular dementia (the two most common types), are progressive illnesses which have no cure.  As a carer, that can make you feel helpless and useless – there is nothing you can do to help your loved one recover.   So I decided to do something that can help bring pleasure and stimulation to dementia sufferers.  I can’t cure them, I can’t stop the progress of the disease, but at least I can do something which will help their quality of life and give them a wee bit of joy.

I’ve been making scale model buildings, and I am currently working on a row of traditional Glasgow tenements set above shops.  The buildings are based on real buildings from the East End of Glasgow.  Each building takes months to finish, so it’s a slow job.  The buildings are made from card which I paint with acrylics and are lit with LED lights.  I don’t use kits or commercial products except for a few detailing pieces, everything else is hand made.

The plan is to build a layout of a typical Glasgow street circa 1960 with models of real Glasgow buildings, old model buses and working trams operating on model railway track set into the street – my own wee homage to Glasgow Corporation transport.  The layout will be about 6 foot by 3 and a half foot, and when it’s finished I’d like to display it in local residential homes and dementia support groups.  The idea is that it will act as a memory prompt to help dementia sufferers reminisce about the past, let them play with the trams, and give their carers and families a means to engage and interact with them.

I come to this with zero knowledge of model railways, and am rapidly discovering that building a tramway is a highly specialised subset of model railway building.  It’s a steep learning curve, but I enjoy a challenge.  Building the tram track has proven extremely difficult, but a solution seems to be in sight.  Getting the trams has also been difficult, and I’ve saved up lots of pennies (a frightening amount of pennies) in order to commission a pair of working models.  To save money I’m also trying to repaint a couple of diecast model trams in Glasgow livery, so they can be motorised.  That’s not proving straightforward either.  I’m quite happy with acrylic paints and card model buildings, but spraypainting metal models is far trickier – especially when you don’t have anywhere you can use an airbrush.

However there is another part of the layout which I am not able to do by myself, and so I am making this blog post to ask any interested readers whether they might be able to help or whether they’d like to get involved.  You can’t have an homage to Glasgow Corporation Transport without a Glesga Subway train.  Unfortunately no one sells models of the Subway trains, whether circa 1960 or the modern ones.  No one makes kits to allow you to build one either.  But that’s not going to stop me – if I can get some help.

I have a relative who used to work for Glasgow Underground.  He is able to obtain information on the specifications and plans of the old trains.  He’s also taking me to the old workshop, long since locked up, where there is still a much neglected Subway train from before the modernisation in the 1970s.  I’ll be able to take a lot of pics.  So I am able to get all the information required to make a detailed plan of the trains.  But what is needed now is a way of turning these plans into a working 3D model in OO scale so it can operate on ordinary model train track.  Then I can build a Subway station for my tram layout, and have working shoogly trains running underneath the street.

Apparently there are two way to achieve this – neither is likely to be simple or inexpensive.  One is to find someone who can turn the plans into a metal kit which can be built, painted, and motorised, the other is to use 3D printing to print off the bodies and chassis, which can then be painted and motorised.  So I am appealing to any Scottish railway modellers or Glesga transport hobbyists, or indeed anyone with an interest in Glasgow history, to get involved in this project with me.  Together we can make it happen – by working together we can share skills and information, reduce costs, and we can all have working models of Glesga’s iconic shoogly trains.  I’d also like to make a set to donate to the Museum of Transport in Glasgow.

I’ve never been put off by folk saying something is impossible.  Ordinary punters working together have made this independence referendum a reality.  We can make independence a reality too.  That’s a much bigger deal than making a wee model subway train – this goal is an achievable one.  Let’s make it happen.

If you are interested, please leave a comment and I will email you privately.  Alternatively you can email me directly at weegingerdug[at]gmail.com (replace [at] with the @ symbol when you reply).

20 comments on “Wee things (with nothing to do with indy)

  1. andygm1 says:

    Many years ago (1980s) I used to handle the insurances of a youngish chap who had a model railway business in St Monans in Fife. He used to produce plastic model kits of railway carriages and trucks, making the moulds himself in a shed at the end of his garden. Don’t know if he’s still there but if he is, he’s just the guy to do it.

  2. andygm1 says:

    Sorry, I lost touch with him about 25 years ago!

  3. Reblogged this on Max Stafford's Kennel and commented:
    Paul’s hit on something interesting here and I think his project deserves some support. One interesting side note for the gauge aware; the Glasgow subway is to 4′ gauge which pretty much approximates to the width of ’00’ gauge proprietary track!

  4. I believe that was Ian Kirk. Not sure if he’s active now, Parkside Dundas took over a lot of his tooling. Injection moulding is pretty expensive to tool though. Maybe 3D printing or resin moulding is the way forward. Somewhere down the line though that means building a model from scratch to provide a tool though! I’ve re-blogged this post on my own blog to see if we can hit a wider audience with your request, Paul..

  5. BARBARA REID says:

    Hi Paul I know a guy called Graham Larrington who makes working scale model Steam Engines for a living. He has huge and extensive knowledge of everything to do with railways, making plans etc. His models are amazing and he is a very genuine person. If he cant help you he will know who can. He has a web site Bridge of Brown Crafts which has his contact details. Doug

  6. andygm1 says:


    I’ve tracked Ian Kirk down. I’ve sent you an email.

  7. Jamie Wood says:

    Go for it Paul, refreshing to see someone jump in at the deep end.

    If you can find someone able to convert the archive paper drawings to 3D CAD model of suitable filetype (if going the 3-D print route – which I think is easiest from a construction point of view), then I will help in any way I can to illustrate common practice in the model side of things – stuff like motor units, standard wheelsets, bogie pivots.

    Lots of 3D printing in the model world, railways or otherwise – here’s some train based stuff:

    It’s a great hobby, very creative and slowly absolving itself of the stereotypes. 🙂

    • weegingerdug says:

      Someone should have warned me before I started that this hobby is more addictive than crack cocaine and heroin washed down with alcohol and followed by 20 fags. Only slightly more expensive. (At least model card buildings are cheap to make!)

      I think 3D printing should be the easiest way. Subway trains are basically just tubes with windows, no complex moving parts on display like a model steam engine. But there will be plenty of technical issues to solve – like how to build the chassis so a motor will fit it – so you can be sure I’ll be asking for your advice.

      However practical problems always have practical solutions. A lesson Better Together and Alistair Darling don’t seem to have learned.

  8. colin young says:

    They were cable powered !
    So only one electric motor is needed to provide mobility for multiple trains.


    • weegingerdug says:

      Aye, they were cable driven until the 1930s, then they introduced electric running. At the same time, they lengthened the old trailer carriages. When the system was modernised in the 70s, one of the trailer cars was cut back to its original length and repainted in Victorian livery. Half of it is now on the wall of the entrance to Buchanan St Subway station.

      I’d like to model the electric trains between 1930 and modernisation in the 70s, when they were painted red. Those are the ones I remember from when I was a wean. Only one will need motorised – the other is a trailer carriage.

      I’m not going to try and copy the smell though. Or the damp, or the worrying sound of running water down the tunnels.

  9. […] Wee things (with nothing to do with indy). […]

  10. James D says:

    Hi Paul, this is a kickstarter project from a year ago about laser scanning for 3D printing models of the Ffestiniog railway which are the world’s oldest working narrow gauge engines.
    So it’s a project similar in heart to your own.

    I’m sure they’ll at least be able to offer you some good advice.
    Boa sorte!

  11. castle hills chavie says:


  12. Eilean says:

    Sorry this is just a wee test as my laptop seems to have fallen out with wordpress big-style.

    Also sorry I don’t have much to add to your request but memories. I will post a comment if I get this problem sorted.

  13. Eilean says:

    Hey it worked! This means I can now get a job in IT. 🙂

    Unfortunately my art skills are limited to watercolours on paper but if that’s any use please ask.

    I have many memories of what you describe. Although born and bred “red sandstone tenement” the aforesaid tenement was out in the wilds of Uddingston. My Dad was from “The Toon” though. He was originally from Dalmarnock Road (born 1910)

    I remember the last day that the trams ran. My dad took me to the Toon for a last hurl. I remember the trams were packed. As wee shoogled up the hill past the art galleries the passengers all spontaneously started singing. Cant remember what!

    Or the time that I went with my Dad when he took his lorry back to the “Parazone” factory / depot in Carentyne Something I loved to do. Unfortunately a “pea soup” of a fog had descended on the Toon during the journey to the depot. I remember the walk to Parkhead cross where we waited ages for a bus. When the bus did arrive it took hours to get to Uddingston as the conductor walked in front with a torch!

    Best of luck with your project!

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