Monday, 18 February 2019

Lancing Members' Day

Saturday was a busy day. In the hall at 8, mark out and arrange tables, welcome people in and show them where to set up, arrange power leads, chairs, etc. Then help my Son set up his layout Slugworth & Co., now with rear fiddle yard and an introductory display board:

Other than one exhibitor being delayed and finishing off the set-up as the doors opened, there were no hitches and everything seemed to go well. Chris, Karen and Nigel did a great job in the kitchen and seemed busy all day. Other club members helped man the front desk, general stewarding, or helped Martin run Llandecwyn. There was also a lot of chatting going on!

The Alan Fall award for best layout as voted for by the visitors went Martin Collins' Llandecwyn. Martin is very talented with the scenic work, and his trains look superb and run well too, so this was well deserved.

Chris O'Donoghue brought his Compass Point layout back, now with extension to Shinglesea. Lighting issues meant the extension was a little darker than the original board, but this added to the moody, bleak feel of the landscape!

Another popular layout was Coleford, by John Wilkes. It is notable for many unusual features, such as the winter setting, unique track-work, and some quirky items of stock - such as this comfortable looking if rather exposed inspection vehicle!

I'm running out of space to list all the layouts, but I did enjoy Tansey Bank by Bob Vaughan. Compact yet interesting both operationally and scenically. And just look at this train, attractive yet delightfully shabby at the same time.

Surprise special guest was Ted Polet, who "popped over" from the Netherlands with his little Nixnie layout. Not only is it an attractive example of a layout in a small space, it's a good showcase for some of Ted's collection of locos and stock. Inverary in canary yellow has been one of my favourites ever since I saw it in the Peco book of Narrow Gauge as a teenager.

If this link works you can see more photos. Those shown here were all 009, though we had a couple of O-16.5 layouts present too, along with the 009 sales stand, 7mm NGA, and a couple of traders.

A number of people said how much they enjoyed the show, including those taking part, which makes it all worthwhile, and numbers through the door seemed OK too, so a successful event. I guess we'll repeat it all in 2-years time.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Sussex Downs 009 Group Members' Day - This Saturday

This Saturday (16th) the Sussex Downs 009 Group are hosting a Members' Day exhibition, at Lancing Parish Hall. The show will be open from 10am to 4:30pm, entry is just £5 - and accompanied kids (under 16) are free. The hall is easily accessed from the A27, and close to the station and local bus routes.

There will be at least 11 narrow-gauge layouts, including Llandecwyn by our own Martin Collins.

And the 2017 winner of the Alan Fall trophy, Chris O'Donohue's popular Compass Point, with a new extension to Shinglesea.

Oh, and my Son will be showing his award-winning Slugworth & Co!


There will also be trade support including Narrow Planet, plus the popular 009 Sales Stand. It promises to be an excellent show, see you there!

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Extending Slugworth

It was always the plan (Joshua's plan) to extend Slugworth to complete a circuit of track. With a couple of exhibitions coming up it was time to put the plan into action.

The board is made like the main board, with a deck and bracing of foam-core, and an outer skin of 3mm MDF, stuck together with PVA and hot glue. Small blocks of wood are used only in the corners.

A couple of blocks of wood were added to the end of the layout, which has had the temporary end-stops removed from the tracks.

The extension was given a coat of the same grey paint as the outside of the layout, then screwed to the blocks of wood. Note that the extension is cantilevered from the main board, and has a tapered underside, it also has a slight curve to the end to maximise space for the track.

Next the track was added. For the curve, the rail was removed from the sleepers and bent carefully in the fingers to approximately the required curve before being refitted. The sleeper web was cut under the outer rail so the sleepers don't limit the radius or twist causing gauge narrowing, the track is then glued down. A couple of copper-clad sleepers are soldered to the rail where an isolating break is required, to hold the rails, and then the rails cut in-place.

Wires were fed through from the main board, and the new track tested. Slugworth is now a continuous run!

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Hogwarts Express

My daughter, who is mad about Harry Potter right now, gave me a Metal Earth kit for the Hogwarts Express for Christmas. I've built a couple of these sort of kits before but this is probably the most complex, with three frets of etched steel parts, and 8 A4 pages of instructions. 

The instructions suggest cutting the parts out with wire cutters, and bending the tabs with tweezers. Well I don't see how wire cutters can get in to cut the parts out without damaging them, the gaps are too small, so I used a craft knife. The steel is quite hard to cut and a little distortion can occur, but it is easily flattened with smooth jaw pliers. It's also too tough for any tweezers I have to be able to bend the tabs, but a couple of different types of small pliers did the job easily. The parts are very accurately cut and there were no problems fitting them together, except that some were quite fiddly, and although some of the curves were tricky to get right, the instructions are clear.

The result is quite impressive; surprisingly detailed, well proportioned, and very shiny! It's a little odd what details are included. such as tender brakes, and springs behind the driving wheels, which will never be seen. But there is no doubt that the etching is very fine

As you can see it actually fits onto 9mm gauge track - here sat on Awngate's rails. Of course the wheels don't turn (and in any case they are not round, but polygons...). I don't know if that means it is "N" gauge, I suspect it might be slightly over-scale for that, and I don't know how accurately it is scaled either - but it does look "right". The tender gap is huge, which is unnecessary as it is not as though it has to go round corners!

An enjoyable project, and a nice shiny thing to go in the display cabinet.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Another green loco!

Well I must have been a good boy, because Santa brought me another new toy.

Yes, it's one of the lovely Hornby Pecketts. A small loco, but highly detailed and superbly liveried.

It runs well too, although I've only tried if on a few laps of my Son's train-set. One thing I have noticed though, when viewed front on, is that the chimney is not straight. 

Still, it looks good shunting wagons.

Hmm, I seem to be gathering a collection of industrial locos!

Just in case you think I am in danger of simply collecting RTR models, I also got a new static grass applicator. It's rather more professional than my tea-strainer ebay special, and I would hope less likely to give me a shock...

Saturday, 22 December 2018

More on Heljan Manning Wardle Issues

While the inability of my new  Heljan L&B Manning Wardle to run through the PECO 12" radius pointwork of Awngate is a big disappointment, I did say I'd check it out on the newer 18" radius points. So I took it to the club last night and ran it on the new under-construction layout. It did manage to run smoothly through most of the points, but at a couple of them it derailed in the same way seen before - with the pony wheels lifting at the tip of the blades of a facing point.

I realised it seemed to occur taking the left-hand route (whether that was the curved or the straight route), so I looked again at the centring springs. Having tweaked them to reduce pressure in an attempt to help the loco negotiate 12" radius points (as advised by the instructions) the truck was not staying central. I've no tweaked them back to maintain just enough pressure to centralise the truck, ensuring pressure was equal each side. This helped a great deal.

I've also tested the loco on my also under-construction layout Hexworthy, which also has PECO 18" radius points. However despite the adjustments to the pony truck, it would still derail on three of the four points, depending which way they were switched. Eventually I could see no option but to take a file to the points...

The modifications used a small file, and only took a few seconds:

  • At "A" the inside of the blade was stroked with the file to sharpen the tip, taking care not to affect the top edge
  • The recess of the fixed stock rail was also stroked with a file at "B"

The idea is to reduce the amount the blade protrudes from the fixed rail so the flange of the pony wheels cannot ride up on the tip. This, frankly, should not be necessary for any RTR loco, but it does work, and now I can run the loco through all the points. This trick may well work on the 12" points used on Awgate too, but I don't really plan to use the loco on that layout.

That's not quite all the issues though. The couplings point upward, and are far too high to couple to stock, including the PECO coaches.

The club layout has 12" curves and gradients. The loco did manage the curves, which is a relief, but at some points it stopped with it's wheels spinning. These appeared to be at transitions in gradient, or to the super-elevated curves. Some of these track sections probably need adjusting, but it is clear that the loco needs more vertical movement in the pony trucks, which is currently restricted by the coupling extensions meeting the buffer beams or cowcatcher.

So we are getting there, but we're not quite there yet.

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Christmas come early, or very late?

Finally, my Heljan L&B Manning Wardle has arrived. To say this is long-awaited is an understatement, it's nearly two years since I ordered it, and it was already later than originally scheduled then.

I know they are not everyone's cup of tea, but I've liked these locos since reading P. D. Hancock's Narrow Gauge Adventure. The model certainly captures the lines of these distinctive machines, the detailing is impressive, and the livery is finely applied.

I fear it may be rather delicate though. The brass pipe under the right tank is hanging free at the rear, and the motion covers drop off rather easily, though I expect a drop of superglue could sort those. The rear cow-catcher appears to be bent upward and outward too. There are some plastic mouldings in the box, I think for brake rigging though the instructions don't mention them, I doubt I shall bother fitting them.

The cab interior is detailed too, though at this angle the distorted rear cowcatcher is clear. The instructions say couplings can be fitted with the loop removed, or the cowcatchers should be removed to allow the loop to be retained.

Running is smooth enough, though I've not been able to run it in properly on Awngate. The problem seems to be with corners, or at least point-work, where the pony wheels derail. The instructions claim the loco can manage 305mm (12 inch) radius curves, but if it derails, adjust the springs on the pony trucks to loosen the tension with tweezers.

Here's the front pony truck, and as you can see I've opened up the springs until they don't make contact at all until the truck is near the end of it's travel. However, so far, this hasn't helped. I've also tried adjusting the spring of the pick-ups (one of which can be seen above the wheel) which apply downward force to the wheels, but neither increasing or decreasing the force has helped.

Hexworthy is being built with 18" radius points so I will have to see how it fares on those, and on the club layout which has 18" points but 12" curves, I'm hopeful it will do better. But so far the performance seems disappointing.