Category Archives: Videos

Visit to: Swindon Railway Festival , September 2016

Today I am going to take you on a retrospective adventure to the Swindon Railway Festival, which I visited on the 11th September at Swindon’s STEAM – Museum of The Great Western Railway.

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I had just returned from a trip to somewhere or other (as I often do) and I was not sure I had the energy to go to the event, but in the end I’m really glad I made the effort.

With Swindon’s ongoing celebrations as part of Swindon 175 there was a strong emphasis on GWR heritage across the full breadth of the GWRs history, including South Wales coal lines, Cornish branch lines and, of course, the surrounds of Swindon itself.

Stand out layouts at the show included Porth St John; a beautiful depiction of Cornwall in the 1930s. I loved the representation of the mudflats beneath the elaborate blue bridge and the fishing nets.

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Photo by Sumita Majumdar

Ynysbwl Fach was also fun to watch and a rarely modelled example of a private coal yard. I think it is maybe the first exhibition layout I have seen that is based on a South Wales colliery. I was even treated to a pronunciation demonstration of the layout’s name (I was close with my first attempt, but didn’t quite get it).

Swindon Model Railway Club’s Fisherbridge was also in attendance with its new collection of 1980s N Gauge rolling stock.

Here is a video from the day:

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Visit to: The National Festival of Railway Modelling, Peterborough

Last weekend I visited a model exhibition I have been wanting to go to for years: The National Festival of Railway Modelling in Peterborough.

Finding myself with a weekend with ‘no plans’ I thought I would take the long drive from Swindon (not actually as long as I thought) and take a look.

The first layout I looked at was the N-Gauge ‘Grange-Over-Sands’, with its well represented saltmarsh habitat spanning the front of the layout. I spend a lot of time in my day job studying saltmarsh habitat, so I paid special attention to the little creeks and different patches of vegetation.

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I think ‘Oulton TMD’ (OO-Gauge) was one of my favourite models at the exhibition. It was such a large model and I liked how it was a busy layout, but didn’t look cluttered. I could have spent much longer looking at that one.

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‘Ludlow’ was probably my favourite layout of the show. An N-gauge layout with plenty of sprawling landscape and an assortment of traffic running through the valley on the main line. I really liked the track plan of this layout and it has given me some ideas for a future N-gauge project.

‘Up The Line’ was a very interesting WWI layout built in 16mm narrow gauge. The sound of the distant thump of bombs added to the ambience of this model. I particularly liked the ambulance train (ambience and an ambulance in so many words).

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Another N-gauge model I really liked was ‘Barton Road’ set around London somewhere in the late 60s and included plenty of west country stock (my favourite). It is built in a fascinating ‘T’ shaped arrangement with the off scene fiddle yard placed in the centre of the ‘T’. This allows trains to run off scene at two ends of the ‘T’ and then stock cassettes are swapped to each off-scene area. I really like the arrangement, but, for me, it might need a bit too much concentration to control at a show.

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I also have to mention the BRM Magazine project layout Ruston Quays, what a lovely little model. It shows how much you can do with limited space.

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I got the chance to see a couple of DJM models that had passed me by in my months away from modelling. I saw the Class 71 and would like to keep telling myself I don’t need one in my life, but it looked and sounded great. I also saw the new J94 Austerity which also looks like a brilliant model. There is a nice yellow NCB one that was previously an RMweb exclusive and is now being sold by Kernow (it would look great with a bit of weathering).

So all in all, an enjoyable show. It seemed that every time I filmed a train it cast a curse on the tracks and things would crash or stall, but with a bit of editing I managed to get a decent film out of my footage. Here it is:

Heljan BR Class 05 Diesel Shunter Review (Pt1: Out of the box)

On friday Heljan’s new BR Class 05 arrived on my door step, so I thought I would let you know a thing or two about the model and the prototype:

The prototype
The Hunslet Engine Co 204hp 0-6-0 diesel mechanical was introduced in 1955 and ran in British Railways service until the late 1960s when most of the class was scrapped. A few examples continued life in Departmental and Industrial service and only four of the original fleet of 120 made it into preservation.

Much of their BR working life was spent in North-East England, Scotland, and North Wales.

Likeness to prototype

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This version of the model is based on the later design of the Hunslet, which featured a larger cab with more windows, longer and thicker buffer beam weights, oval buffers, and larger diameter wheels.

This later version only ran in BR Green while in BR service, so anyone who fancy’s modifying the model to its 1950s design will have a fair amount of work to do.

The model seems to match the prototype very well in terms of proportion and general appearance (based on the reference photography I own).

The model even features the coloured jack-shaft seen on many prototypes and the wheel castings are very accurate.

The wheel rims stand out in photography, but anyone planning to do some weathering on the model won’t be too concerned about this.

Level of detail
Heljan models have always featured a wealth of little details and extras. This model is one of the first Heljan diesels I have purchased that has all the details pre-fitted.

All of the details are very finely produced and rival recent Bachmann releases. In fact, you could be easily convinced that this is a Bachmann loco, rather than a Heljan model.

The most impressive bits of detail are the fine mesh that can just be seen between the radiator grills and the cab detail (which features control levers and buttons). The flush glazing is also very impressive.

Wires linking up the lamps are also included (it looks like these will light up). The blue wires that flop over the front buffer beam are also a nice touch.

Here is a turntable video which gives a good overview of the finer details including the etched makers plaque and the cab detail:

Handling
Care is still needed when picking it up as there are a number of details that will not last if frequently handled (including the plunger on the top of the bonnet and the hand rails near the buffer beam).

A few details were bent on the front of the model when I took it out of the box (a hand rail and the tips of the front lamps). I carefully re-adjusted them and reinforced them with some cyano-based super glue.

Chassis
It is a surprisingly ‘solid’ and weighty model. If the motor is good this should be a strong puller.

It rivals the weight of my white metal steam sentinel!

The chassis block and axles are nice and solid with none of that sloppy side-play seen in the Class 14.

The NEM coupling is masked by a colour matched block. I am yet to discover how the block is removed to take the NEM coupling (I might look at this in the next blog).

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Livery application
The BR livery is a convincing shade that matches well with other model manufacturer releases and has the green hue of BR Blue. All black areas are painted matt black.

Box and instructions
The boxes keeps the loco tightly in place, but at the cost of putting a little too much pressure on smaller details.

The instruction sheet has an error where it introduces the model as a Class 33 (Heljan’s previous release). This makes it a bit difficult to be certain whether some of the information that follows (including the motor spec) relates to the Class 33 or 05, but I presume the latter.

However, there is a lot of detail about the Hunslet’s service history included, including livery alternatives and class member allocations.

Conclusion
It is obvious that a lot of time has gone into getting the appearance of this shunter spot on. The weight of the shunter also bodes well for its running qualities, but that will have to wait until part 2.

Brewery Pit at the Chasewater Brewery Locomotive Day

Last Sunday (12th July) I had a great time exhibiting my OO Gauge layout: Brewery Pit at the Chasewater Railway in Staffordshire. The exhibit was included as part of the railways Burton Brewery Locomotive Day.

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Brewery Pit was set up in the Chasewater engine shed where visitors could stop by to photograph the real brewery engines and stock. There is a steam sentinel in the shed, which is of the same design as the one I am building as part of the Five Shunter Challenge. This particular one once worked at the Walsall Gas Works and was apparently the last of its design to be built.

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It was raining at the start of the day, but when the sun broke out at lunch time the crowds of visitors soon followed and enjoyed cab rides and vintage truck displays and the beer tent.

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2015-07-12 13.39.13PSLRIt was great to see Brewery Pit pulling a good crowed, particularly at lunch time. Me and my wife foolishly tried to scoff a full English breakfast as the largest group of visitors arrived to watch the trains run along the layout. I attempted to multi-task, but I admit that the breakfast did go cold.

It was nice to see so many children captivated by the little trains shunting on Brewery Pit. One child insisted that the tram engines were moving too slowly. I tried to explain that they are speed-regulated to 40mph, but I don’t think the child in question was that interested in my justification. One 3-year-old visited three times and had to be dragged away by his Mom.

2015-07-12 13.39.37PSLRI also met up with Joe Stamper and his Dad who brought along their vintage Bass truck for the day. Joe also brought along his delightful model of the Neilson, Reid & Co 0-4-0ST Steam Locomotive that operated in the Bass Breweries in Burton. He tells me that he still has some work to do to it (including replacing the dome). I took some photos of it with some brewery wagons and it really looks the business. Joe has done a great job on the paint work. I’m looking forward to seeing the completed version.

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I was really pleased how many people told me that I had captured the ‘feel’ of Burton-upon-Trent. I only ever see the layout as something that needs ‘more work’, so it is great to get some positive feedback. Many people also asked whether the layout was N-gauge, which doesn’t surprise me as the large buildings at the rear of the layout dwarf the little OO-gauge locos.

My favourite comments from the event were:

  • Toby doesn’t have a face – said by a child watching the J70.
  • Where is Toby’s face? – said by another child watching the Y6.
  • That tram best not have a face! – said by an adult while watching the J70.

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The best bit of the show was watching the brewery engines fire up in the shed and move out outside while we were test running the layout (we then had to wipe the diesel fumes off the track).

See the video below:

I hope that I get to attend next year.

Beyer Garratt Test Running and Modifications

Garratt trials
I currently have insufficient running space for my recently purchased Beyer Garrett, so my Dad borrowed the loco to see how it would get on around point work and curves. After a few weeks my Dad highlighted some issues regarding derailments over points. I decided to investigate further and took the Garratt for a test run at the Swindon Model Railway Club.

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Double Garratts
I did a little bit of work adjusting the gauge of the pony wheels just before the tests in Swindon, but this didn’t seem to make too much difference, as it still derailed sometimes on points. Despite the occasional derailment, I had a great time at the club and I had the opportunity to do some consist running with x2 Garratts. Here is a video of the two Garratts double heading:

A couple of bits broke off the Garratt while it moved around the rather tight curved platforms on the club layout, but I had already considered removing some of these finer details anyway (knowing that they wouldn’t stay on the loco too long while being run).

Garratt on the work bench.
On returning to my workbench I decided to remove some of the detail more likely to go amiss. I clipped off some of the detail beneath the boiler and removed the ultra fine steps from the buffer beams. I also taped down the wires leading between the two motors so they are completely concealed. Very simple jobs, but these changes looked good and made the Garratt easier to move around in my hands (an awkward task).

Pony Wheel Brakes
The version of the Garratt I have is one that had the brakes on the pony wheels removed. I have heard some people compaining on model railway forums that these brakes shouldn’t have been present, but they are a doddle to remove. I just used some sharp plastic cutters and within a few seconds the brakes were in the bits box.

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Pony wheel compensation

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I started to wonder whether the cause of derailments was due to the pony wheel jumping over point work. I looked at my other locomotives with pony trucks and wheels and found that most are sprung or weighted. I removed the pony wheels and roughed up the top of the pony wheel with some wet and dry paper to act as a key for super glue. I then super glued a spring to the top of the bar attached to the pony wheel. This modification provides a little bit of compensation to the pony wheel, which should help keep them firmly on the tracks.

I haven’t had the time to conduct a further test run, to see whether the sprung pony wheels have done the job, but I will report back when I have to let you know whether this modification was a success.

Making a 4mm Radio Control Truck Pt6

The Easter holiday was very productive as I have managed to get my radio control pick-up truck working. Here is a video of its first test run:

There was a few challenges. The first was trying to get the radio controller to communicate with the pick-up truck. The next challenge was a cog slipping in the servo. I also rebuilt the steering pivot as it kept slipping off at full lock.

All the electronics are hidden underneath the blue tarpaulin (which is made of tissue and PVA glue).

The charge seems to last quite some time. It also charges back up in about 15-20 minutes.

I am very pleased with this little pick-up truck and I am looking forward to building another one. Maybe I will build something for the brewery next time around.

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Two Model Railway Show Reviews + Pictures & Videos

February-May is the peak season for model railway shows and I try my best to visit a few each year. This blog entry covers two recent show visits: the Basingstoke Model Railway Show, Berkshire and last weekend’s Trainwest held in Melkham, Wiltshire.

Basingstoke Model Railway Show
The main thing I noticed at both shows was the increasing number of high quality n-gauge/2mm layouts. It is clear that this scale has come into its own in the past few years. The quality of modelling on layouts like Freshwater and Dentdale were stunning. The Class 33 diesel on Freshwater had a wonderful weathered finish.

Here are some photo highlights:

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

It was also nice to see the Heljan/Hattons Beyer Garratt pulling a giant train of coal trucks around the Newbury Clubs Falkland Vale.

It was also great to finally see Fisherton Sarum in person.

I gave into temptation at the Basingstoke show and purchased a new DCC control system for Brewery Pit, in the form of a Power Cab. I was very surprised at how cheap this system actually was.

Trainwest

This was my first visit to Trainwest in Melkham, Wiltshire. Having recently moved to Swindon, this is now one of my local shows. I was very impressed by the high quality of exhibiting layouts. Each layout was exquisite.

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

Picture by Ruth Haynes

It was good to grab Giles attention from his layout (End of The Line) to talk about mini RC Cars and it was also nice to say hello to Golden Arrow Kits in person (and talk Bulleid Leader).

It is difficult for me to pick a favourite layout from Trainwest, but I must admit that I really enjoyed watching the transition era (late 1960s and early 1970s) diesels whizzing around Highbridge Road, a real treat. This is a period that is rarely modelled and one that I also hope to capture in miniature one day.

Also of note was Galatia, KS, which looked very realistic. Most impressive was the transition from the road crossing to the backscene. The telegraph poles and aspect were very effective at fooling the eye into believing there is a long straight road running off into the distance.

I would also like to give honourable mention to the biennial Narrow Gauge South, which I missed this year. I would have liked to have gone, but I had far too much relaxing at home to do.

Here are the two videos of the show:

Basingstoke Model Railway Show 2014

Trainwest 2014