Tag Archives: railway

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:

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:

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.

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

Newbury Model Railway Show 2014

Last weekend I visited my local show… well, now I think about it, the Newbury Model Railway Show is no longer my ‘local’, but it matters little.

Here is my video of the show:

I certainly got 100% value out of my £4 entry ticket.

There was some impressive modelling on show. I think I will have difficulty choosing my favourite from the following layouts.

Red Hook Bay

This is an American HO gauge layout set in the 1940s. This model really captures a busy dock-scene. Something that many layouts try to achieve, but don’t always succeed. The attention to little details is brilliant. The ice-blocks on the quay being one of my favourite elements. The extra realism provided by laser-cut buildings was also quite prominent on this layout.

The Wantage Tramway

The Wantage Tramway is a OO9 gauge layout micro layout and is very attractive. I should have really asked what motors were underneath some of the locos as they had some very impressive running qualities. The small steam tram had some amazing slow gearing. The coaches were well made too. The layout of the buildings was also attractive to the eye. The layout performed faultlessly for the video camera.

Dawes Creek

This is an Australian N gauge layout, representing Victoria State in the 1970s and 1980s. I think the stand-out aspect of this layout is the backscene and how well it integrates into the layout. The backscene is hand painted and easily competes with modern photo backscenes. The low horizon really gives a feeling of plain country. The gradual change from model terrain to backscene beneath the timber bridge is really amazing. With sounds and well spaced structures, I think this layout inches to the top of my favourite list.

Other highlights

I was so pleased to finally see a ‘Maker-Bot 2‘ in person. What an amazing machine. It was much smaller and cleaner than I was expecting and I was surprised at the quality and rigidity of the models printed on the device.

I also had a close look at ‘t gauge’ on the Robin’s Run layout. I didn’t realise that t gauge could be so affordable. I will definitely give this some further thought and join the t gauge forum.

I also enjoyed an introduction to making model trees that will come in very useful on Brewery Pit.

Purchase-wise, I managed to avoid shelling out on more locomotives (I have a mortgage to pay these days), but I did manage to buy some tools missing from my arsenal and a set of high quality modelling books on buildings, scenery and loco building. Unfortunately, the rain was so terrible that it soaked the cover of one of my books when we left the show which caused some anxiousness later in the day, but I am happy to report that although a bit wavy in places, the book is okay.

Thanks Newbury MRC for getting me back in a modelling mood.

Swindon Railway Festival (2013)

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I visited the Swindon Railway Festival on Sunday 15th September, and what an enjoyable show it was.

The cost at the door paid for both entry into the STEAM Museum (which tells the story of the Great Western Railway) and the model show. The museum is built into some of the former Swindon Works buildings, which is a simply wonderful venue for a model railway show.

The quality of modelling on display was quite amazing. I really liked Carsmoores Scrapyard, I was impressed by the small size of the layout and the detail and lighting. The owner of the layout even gave me some nifty tips on building landscaping from foam board and DAS clay.

Another favourite model of mine was Tucking Mill, which was a highly detailed 2mm layout. The level of detailing on 2mm layouts has increased so much in the past few years that I start to wonder why I don’t take the leap. Tucking Mill has some lovely subtle landscaping in place and some nice motive power. I particularly liked their point-changing levers, which activate a slow turning servo which changes the point-work.

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Hornby’s stand included early versions of their upcoming P2, which was looking beautiful. I am really pleased to see that it has separate fitted hand rails, after all this ‘design clever’ nonsense. I also spotted a plastic seam near the front of the boiler, which I hope is an indication of future models with stream lined fronts! Hornby’s Sentinel diesel shunter is also looking impressive.

I also had an enjoyable discussion with a chap from the broad gauge society and discovered that there are some models I can build in that gauge. Maybe one day.

All in all, it was a great day out. Below is my video from the show:

The Master and the Slave (pt1)

I have always been a big fan of diesel shunters. I loved watching little shunters moving around Bescot Yard and the various industrial complexes in the Midlands.

BR Class 13 Diesel Shunter

BR Class 13 at Tinsley. Copyright Mark Addison (from wikipedia)

One shunter I never had the privilege of seeing was the BR Class 13. The Class 13 was a special locomotive, designed to operate over the ‘hump’ in the large marshalling yard at Tinsely. Each one looked like two locos stuck together (which is exactly what they were). Two BR Class 08s were used to create each Class 13 loco. One of them had the cab cut away and was linked, via multiple-working gear, to the other. Thus only one driver was needed to operate these two locomotives; the cabless one being the slave and the cabbed version being the master.

The class 13 was also fitted with large buffer plates which helped counter balance these Siamese locos. Only three were ever created, each with various differences in detail. I saw a model of one on the Rail Express stand at Warley show a few years ago and was eager to try my hand at creating one out of the RTR class 08 models currently available.

First considerations

While visiting the Mickleover Model Railway Show in 2010 I was discussing with a fellow visitor my plans to build a class 13, and how wonderful it would be, having two motors and all, but the chap quickly countered: ‘why use two motors?’ he said ‘wouldn’t it be easier to take one of the motors out’? I must admit, the chap had a good point. I decided that life would be easier if one of the motors was removed, but thought it would be nice to keep the model picking up across both wheel sets.

The two best models to undertake this conversion with are the Hornby and Bachmann 08s. It is apparently easier to modify the Hornby 08 (as it is easier to remove the cab area). Plus the Hornby version is regarded as a superior model. Unfortunately, superiority comes at a price out of my budget range, so I stuck with the Bachmann models.

In October 2010 I came across the perfect donor locos in the form of x2 Bachmann models (08623 and 08672), and so armed with a photocopy of an old Rail Express article on creating a class 13 (Feb 04, No.93) I set to work.

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Converting the Bachmann 08 into the slave unit.

I started by removing the motor from the slave unit. I soon discovered that if I wanted the slave unit to continue running smoothly I would need to retain the large cast weight that sits under the motor. The motor really, really didn’t want to be parted from the metal casting and became the most difficult job of this project, particularly removing the motor from the small plastic harness surround (see below).

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I then began attacking the slave unit cab. Now it is important to know that the cab is in fact a separate moulded item and actually slides off the Bachmann body (with difficulty). This does leave a chunky area of plastic and interior detail in the location of the cab that needs removing with a small hack saw.

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Once the cab plastic was removed it was then time to remove a chunky section of metal-chassis casting which sits in the cab area. Once this was removed with a suitable metal hack saw, it was clear that my 08s were starting to resemble a class 13.

I then used modelling putty to fill in the gap in the cab floor and sanded it to a smooth surface, while also smoothing the cut edges of the bonnet. I then removed the buffers and detail from the buffer beams and sanded them down flat (so they could be used to stick the new ‘meaty’ buffer beams to).

Modelling made easy

It was at this stage that 2011 took me off in another direction and although the new buffer beams were designed and made out of plasticard, I never fitted them. The thought of designing the cab bonnet area on the slave unit put me off.

And so by coincidence RT Models decided to create a class 13 conversion kit out of resin, white metal and nickel-silver parts. I quickly purchased the conversion kit and then got back to work on the loco.

The RT Models conversion kit is easy to put together and was quickly glued into the cab area of the slave unit. I decided to use the new buffer beams supplied with the conversion kit because they already have the holes punched out of the casting for buffers and vacuum pipes.

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Stability issues

After refitting the wheels to the now motorless slave unit, I realised that my removal of the cab weights meant that the metal cast no longer fixed to the rest of the chassis (I had cut away the screw holes). I solved this issue by adding a motor harness from an old brass kit to the inside of the bonnet (which provided some rigidity to the body and frames).

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D4503?

It is worth noting that although there were only three Class 13s (now long scrapped), my Bachmann models include conflicting mouldings to any of the three prototypes. The main offender being a tool box (or radiator) on my slave unit that was never included on any of the three real locos. I opted to solve this problem by creating a fictional forth loco (rather than scarring the loco with modelling knives). This also allowed me to be more flexible with livery choice and detail. I have also fitted the larger buffers seen on some of the class 13s, which I think give the model a nice ‘chunky’ appearance. I want to model the engine in approximately 1968 condition, so I plan to keep it in BR Blue, but with the number 4503, which will put the loco in the period just before it was renumbered into the TOPS system as the fictional 13004.

What’s next?

I have linked the master and slave units together with a screw link coupling (managing to make the one on the front of the master fully sprung!), so I need to next test how the loco operates over short radius curves and point-work.

In the mean time, here is a video of the 13’s trial run.