Saturday 13 July 2024

Goodwood Festival of Speed

Yesterday my son and I went to the Goodwood Festival of Speed. This is only about 30 minutes from home, but it was only my second visit and the first for my son, perhaps surprising as we are both petrolheads. It is quite pricey though, and this is the first year he could attend on a weekday without missing school!

This event has become as legendary as Glastonbury and Wimbledon for motor enthusiasts, and has a lot of corporate entertainment going on, but there is lots to see and do for the ordinary punter. Of course, there is the central theme of the hillclimb past the house and up into the forest on which a variety of cars are showcased, from modern F1...

...classic F1 - this one driven by Bruno Senna, nephew of the great Ayrton...

...legendary cars from motorsport... insanely quick modern supercars, including the current hillclimb record holder the electric McMurty. This thing sounds like a jet engine (thanks to active ground effect fans) and is unbelievably fast up the hill, even in the company of the fastest cars around. 

That wasn't the most bonkers vehicle there though. I think that award goes to this propellor-driven rear-wheel steer vehicle, looking like a biplane without wings.

There's not just the hillclimb though. There's off-road vehicles, and a busy rally stage up in the woods. 

Plus a massive car show, the event having effectively become a British Motor show with many car manufacturers having impressive stands showing their latest vehicles. It's even the place where new cars are launched, or showcased in the UK for the first time, including the new Ford Capri (it's not what you would hope it is), more than one Chinese car brand you've never heard of, and this hypercar from F1 team Red Bull - fancy a £5m car said to be faster than an F1 car that isn't road legal?

There's also a display by the Red Arrows, easy to miss with so much going on at ground level. 

And finally, if you've not seen it before, let me introduce you to the art of "drifting". Spectacular and entertaining for sure, but think of the tyre bill! Remember, don't try this at home...

Saturday 29 June 2024

Beam me up

Hexworthy is a foot longer than Awngate, and while it seemed secure enough on the same support structure (made about 15 years ago), there was a lot of overhang at each end. The support beams were 4' 4" long softwood timbers on their sides, with a vertical 4" deep 4' long 6mm MDF plate screwed to the edge. The MDF plate means no bending yet they aren't heavy, and other than one twisting slightly the idea seems to work. The new beams are 5' 8" long, with 5' long MDF from an offcut we had to clear out the clubroom. The timber protrudes a little further, and the rear beam has the MDF extended to form a lip along the top edge. 

The beams fit the same 15-year-old trestles, a bolt is simply pushed through a hole in the beam timber to locate them on the top of the trestle. The result is very stable and sturdy, and the layout is simply placed on top, making set-up very easy. The right-hand trestle has a piece of wood that slots over the cross-members to form the essential mug shelf. 

The close-up shows how the bolt heads are recessed into the top of the beams so the layout sits flat, and the lip on the rear beam so the layout doesn't slide off the back. The rear beam can be repositioned for different layout widths. I rounded the ends of the beams because you never know...

While clearing out the clubroom recently we found a spare display panel, one of several expertly made by Martin Collins to use with the club Everleight layout but this one was never used. Too good to get binned, I'm sure I can make use of it! I screwed a pair of eyelets into the top, and a pair of mushroom-head screws into the side of the front beam for them to hook onto. 

The display panel, and possibly the beams, could do with a coat of grey paint at some point. Perhaps I ought to paint the legs too but they are hidden by a drape, and I fear they might not fold up properly if I gum them up with paint! They still work after 15 years in the garage, so perhaps I'll leave well alone there. 

Thursday 30 May 2024

Road tanker

The Meridian kit for the round tanker wagon using a Bagnall chassis is based on an example at Snailbeach which had been built using a tank from a road lorry. I recently saw this early road tanker, at an event at Goodwood, which is probably of a similar era. I figured some detail photos might be useful.

The tank is oval rather than round, probably to reduce the centre of gravity, and of course is branded Shell Mex BP (I guess petrol) rather than Royal Sunlight (paraffin). However, it looks to be a similar size to that used at Snailbeach. 

I can't quite work out if the hand-pump on the rear is connected into the tank, or what it was used for.

This tank also has three openings on the top, but equally spaced. The photo isn't very clear but the openings have a metal plate over them with a couple of pipe fittings, presumably for a filling pipe and I guess a vent to be connected during loading. There are also three levers protruding from little shrouds, but these aren't all on the metal plated openings.

However, the levers are aligned to the three outlet pipes at the bottom of the tank. These protrude from the left side and look like they have a tap on the end, although I think it is a pipe connection and valve assembly. My guess is that each lever at the top opens a valve in the bottom of the tank to discharge via the aligned outlet. The tank will be divided into three sections internally, which both prevents surging of the liquid and enables up to three separate deliveries (or three separate products) - modern tanker trucks have this arrangement too. Therefore, there are three separate filling connections and three separate outlets, plus some hoses to connect the outlets to the receiving tank. I'd expect both filling and emptying are by gravity, but perhaps that pump handle on the end is used to dispense?

A close-up of the discharge outlets. The pipes can be seen connecting them to the underside of the tank. The photo of the wagon at Snailbeach suggests that had three outlet connections at the end (rear) of the tank, rather than the side like this. 

Tuesday 21 May 2024

Tank wagons part 2

On with the tank wagon kits. Microtrains couplings were fitted to plasticard packing underneath, with a slot cut out the end framing. The screws were shortened so as not to protrude through the floor. I omitted the centre buffers from the wagons as they'd obstruct the couplings. 

The hole in the floor of the round tank wagon chassis is for a screw to secure the tank, as I thought the relatively heavy resin tank might be vulnerable with a small glue contact patch onto the cradle. I drilled a hole dead centre underneath (hopefully!) and used a Microtrains coupling screw self-tapped in. The white metal cradle has been worked with a scalpel and round file to match the profile of the tank - as supplied it was a larger radius so the tank could rock side to side. 

The resin tank had tiny imperfections, presumably bubbles from the casting process. I rubbed squadron putty in with a finger, rubbed smooth with fine emery, and gave it a coat of primer. I then repeated the process for all the imperfections I'd missed, and this is the second coat of primer - yet still a few gaps have been found and filled. The red primer confirms it will look good in red I think...

That photo also shows the detailing, although the tank, straps, and brake stand are all still loose for painting. The brass has been blackened.

The small filler looks like it might be a vent in the drawing in the instructions, but all 3 castings are the same. In a photo I found the two bigger filler caps seem to have pipe connections, but the smaller one doesn't. However, without clear pictures it's hard to tell. I put the filler caps in a pin vice using the "pip" underneath and turned by hand against a file to clean up the edges, one was turned down to a slightly smaller size for the smaller (left end) opening. 

With no tap(s) in the pack I've had to improvise. The photo I found isn't clear but it looks like 2 or 3 pipes protrude from one end, presumably separate compartments in the tank (typical for road tankers) corresponding to the filler caps. I settled for two pipes from 0.7mm wire, with end "flanges" cut from plastic rod that had been drilled out (fiddly!), and a fine wire handle/lever stuck in a hole in top. Hopefully this will look convincing when painted. 

I thought the "loco tank" wagon would work well as a weedkiller wagon. It seemed unlikely to be an oil or fuel wagon and few railways had a need for a water tank, but many need weedkiller wagons and like many service vehicles an in-house conversion makes sense. I expect it could look at home on Hexworthy as well as Loctern Quay. Therefore, a tap for each tank piped into a "dispensing" pipe across the wagon seemed a likely arrangement. I used the long tap feed as the pipe down to the dispenser, which left the short stubby end (I presume meant to be the outlet) to fit into the tank, this seemed to work so I bent the long end of the castings to shape and soldered them both to a 1mm wire rod as shown. The "staple" shaped wire on the left is the balance pipe for the other end of the tank.

Here's the weedkiller wagon ready for painting, again the tank and (blackened) straps are not yet fixed in place. The tap and pipework arrangement seems to look plausible, it bends back under the wagon end slightly to avoid the coupling although I also had to move the coupling mount outwards too. The tops of the tanks were drilled for the handrail knobs using the dremel in its drill stand (a handy tool), although one was too close to the end and protruded through the tank end. Hence, this tank has had some filler and primer already. Despite the red primer, I think this wagon will end up black. 

Thursday 2 May 2024

Tank and banana wagons

I've acquired a couple of unusual tank wagon kits which will add some interesting variation to Loctern Quay. Both are from the Meridian range and based on the Bagnall wagon chassis, but sadly are not currently available. 

The first is this distinctive round tank. I am a little confused with this one. There are three protrusions on top, two large and one small, three filler caps (all the same size), and three levers in different positions. The line drawing in the instructions shows the smaller protrusion with a smaller cap, I presume a vent. I'm not sure what the levers are supposed to do, I'd guess they latch the filler caps as I can't think what valve they could control? Also, the instructions list an outlet tap, but my kit doesn't seem to have one. 

The second recreates the side pannier tanks of the WD Baldwin locos which were sometimes carried on a wagon as a tender to improve the stability of the locos on rough tracks. The whitemetal tank castings will make this a heavy wagon! This kit includes two taps, handrail knobs and wire, but no brake stand (i.e. it's an unbraked wagon). I'm thinking of modelling this as a weedkiller wagon, it could then serve on Hexworthy as well as Loctern Quay. 

In assembling the chassis I used a new tool - the "axle reamer" by DCC concepts. This is popped in place of the axle, and rotating while gently applying pressure to the axle boxes opens them to a point. The axle then spins nice and freely, this is a tool that seems to work well!. There are two reamers in the pack with different shaped grips. I also used my back-to-back gauge to set the wheels correctly, these older Dundas wheels are usually too tight back-to-back causing them to bump through pointwork. 

That's the two chassis done, one unbraked and one braked (the brake stand will go on the end platform). The next job is to fit couplings, then on with the bodies.

At Narrow Gauge South last Saturday I was tempted by this Peco banana van on the 009 sales stand. Of course it is a joke for a narrow gauge van, but it will make an interesting visual addition to the shunting puzzle on Loctern Quay. It will need a little work first, hopefully I can fit Microtrains couplings in place of the Peco ones. Joke or not, I don't think I can live with the dayglow orange roof (what were Peco thinking of?) so that will get painted, and a little weathering will make it feel more at home, perhaps as though painted for fun by the railway staff. 

Sunday 28 April 2024

Narrow Gauge South 27 April 2024

Yesterday was Narrow Gauge South, which these days is the biggest narrow-gauge show in the South of England. I was helping John Crane with his superb Darjeeling 009 layout, Kurseong. 

Kurseong uses DCC, which the rest of us Sussex Downs group members have no experience of. John provided instruction and the operating schedule included details of which loco address to call up, but we still found quirks of DCC could catch us out!

The sequence made operation interesting. Kurseong station is on a spur off the through line, so down trains must reverse in, while the locos of up trains go to the shed for coal and water before reversing their trains out. 

I was pleased to see Portpyn by Christopher Payne (1:34 on 9mm track) on what Christopher says will be it's last outing. I was inspired by seeing this layout in Railway Modeller 30 years ago, it's subdued simplicity and atmosphere still feels fresh. 

Sandy Shores (009) by Jamie Warne is as delightful as ever. The signboard advertises the show the layout is at!

Crossways wagon works (O and O9) by John Cavell uses an 15" gauge (O9) line to move standard gauge (O) wagons around the works, including over this multi-gauge traverser.

Nic Arthur has a gift for scenery and I like his latest layout, Bowcombe Bridge (009). 

Gweithdy Dyffryn (O14) by Derek Harris depicts a slate quarry, with working stub points. Its setting surrounded by quarry faces looked impressive, but didn't make for easy photography!

Newton Heath Works (O and O-16.2) by Mike Baker is instantly recognisable as the Dorset clay industry, superbly modelled and great to watch.

Bryn-Y-Felin (009) by Matthew Kean is an evocative model inspired by the Welsh Highland Railway.

That's just a selection of the layouts, there's a bigger selection of photos here. An enjoyable day.

Tuesday 19 March 2024

Alexandra Palace - London Festival of Railway Modelling, 2024

 Last weekend I helped my friend Martin Collins exhibit his layout Llandecwyn at Alexandra Palace. 

The layout depicts a Welsh narrow gauge slate railway terminus and port, Martin displays a history with maps and photos of the "route" that is so convincing it fools a surprising number of people! I didn't get any photos from the front as there was a crowd there most of the two days, so you'll have to make do with an over-the-backscene shot...

Needing at least two and ideally three people to keep the sequence of operation moving at a reasonable pace to entertain, I had only a few short breaks to look around the rest of the large show. There was some other narrow gauge interest, including The Yard in O16.5, This features a working crane and radio control trucks to take away and bring loads for the wagons. 

Purgatory Peak on On30 is an impressive American mountainous layout featuring a switchback operated by geared locomotives, and some impressive trestle bridges.

Phil Parker had his cake-box 009 diorama (can I call it a pizza layout in a cake box?) with one of the new Bachmann models of the RNAD Baguley 60hp diesels - so new, they won't be on sale until May. Of course, it looks great and runs smoothly. 

I also spotted a prototype of the VoR 2-6-2 locos for ModelRail on the Revolution Trains stand. 

A few other layouts appealed, including Wantage, a detailed representation of the original including the town square the other side of the station building, and the trains too of course. 

Llawryglyn Cambrian Railways - a layout I've seen before, but its open uncrowded feel and subtle colouring makes for an attractive and realistic scene. 

East Quay also has subtle colouring but in a more compact, urban scene, with nicely made buildings. 

West End Drift is a compact model of a coal mine, with lots going on and even a little 009 for the mine trams, and a nice selection of industrial locos. 

Welby Lane RTC is an unusual model based on the Railway Technical Centre, which used to have an eclectic selection of research and prototype rail vehicles.

Shame there wasn't more narrow gauge in the selection of layouts but there were some good quality layouts. Operating Martin's layout was fun and it was good to hear so many nice comments about it, and the interest in narrow gauge and 009.