Tuesday 15 September 2009

Worthing Model Railway Exhibition

On Saturday I got chance to drop in on the Worthing MRC show with my little boy. It was at a new location this year, and oddly most of the exhibits and stands were in the corridor! (Albeit a wide, long corridor). The layouts were of a reasonable standard, and overall not a bad show.

One superb layout I had previously seen at EXPO-NG a couple of years back, and was pleased to see again, was Pelporro (45mm Gauge) by Brian Taylor. That backscene is amazing, and it is incredible what can be fitted into such a small space in what is normally considered a garden scale!

Another layout I liked was Cwmorgoth Copper Mining Company (O-16.5) by Jean-Luc Pineau. It was a Welsh copper mine featuring a working counterbalanced incline, and some nice internal-combustion locos, again in a very small space.

You can see more of my photos of some of the layouts here. As ever taking photos of layouts with a 2-year old in tow is tricky, especially getting good ones! However he did enjoy watching the trains, in particular a large modern-image OO layout with working colour light signals and lots of trains passing, and a G-gauge setup with Postman-Pat riding on a carriage. Well, that one was aimed at the kids I guess!

Friday 11 September 2009

The ultimate train set?

A couple of weeks back on a fine summer's evening the Sussex Downs 009 Society area group had a special gathering, in the garden of a cottage in a pretty village deep in Sussex. We'd been invited to see the garden railway of a friend of Nick, one of our members. However this was not your usual garden railway - no, not SM32, O or G gauge, this was proper 7 1/4 and 5 inch gauge ride-on live-steam!

You might be thinking this was some huge garden of a mansion, but no it was a normal size house with a modest (well, probably slightly bigger than average but we're not talking football pitches, more tennis court sized) garden. But into it had been squeezed an oval of dual-gauge track, a station with passing loop, a turntable leading into the garage (sorry, engine shed!?) and a full-size signal box! Yes this line was fully signalled, albeit the real signals were slightly out-of-scale! The photos give some idea of the character of this amazing little line.

Here is the "MPD", with a steam loco being prepared, and a battery powered Hymek. As well as the dual-gauge track, the loco's were a mixture of standard and narrow-gauge outline.

Further down the garden, just past the station platform, was the signal box. The owner of the line had built this himself, but the lever frame was a ground-frame from Lancing carriage works. It all works too, the real signals are connected to the levers although the furthest signals and the points are operated electrically.

Nick on duty as the signal man inside the fully-equipped box, as a single line the trains have to carry the token of course! Later on Nick took control of one of the locos.

By the time Quito was ready to steam it was dark, all trains carried a tail lamp of course but those driving had to rely on those strap-on head torch thingies! So apologies for the quality of the photos.

Finally, how do you fill up a miniture steam loco with water? With a miniture water crane of course! Here it is in use, just to prove it works, note the torch to see the water level in the tank (it was pretty black by then!). Not in the picture, there was even a miniture, working, fire-devil (a kind of stove with a tall chimney, put under the water crane to prevent it freezing in the winter). Despite this a large watering can was usually used to fill the tanks, it didn't rely on stopping the train in the right place!

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Tuesday 1 September 2009

A Seaside Railway

Bank Holiday Monday, with kids and Grandparents, means of course a trip to the seaside. In our case it was Littlehampton, and perhaps unusually for a British Bank Holiday, the sun shone! Just behind the seafront in a park is the Littlehampton Miniture Railway, which was a great way of keeping my boy happy!

A quick Google search reveals that this is a 12 1/4 inch gauge line, 800 yards long, which originally opened in 1948 with two 4-6-4 steam locos. These days a rather unconvincing steam-outline diesel bogie loco is used (although the "whistle" was more convincing, I suspect a digital recording?). The train consisted of 2 open and 2 "closed" (well, open-sided) bogie coaches.

The line starts between a crazy-golf course and a cafe:

The station has a turntable at the end of the platform, used as the loco release. The station plan can be seen on Google Maps!

The line runs along the seafront road past a putting green, then through some trees and along the back of some houses as it runs past the leisure centre, finishing next to a boating lake. Again the station uses a turntable as the loco release.

Also at this end of the line is the engine and carriage shed, note the third turntable - without connecton! The shed has been extended to the right to make a "tunnel" (the train is just passing into it). There are doors to both ends so I guess this is used to store the train when not in use.

A line such as this is an interesting and different modelling proposition, as demonstrated by Colin Peake with his superb Shifting Sands model in "O9" (7mm scale, 9mm gauge). Steam power, and perhaps a more intensive service with two trains running would probably be necessary for operational interest! I would suggest a "U" shape layout with a station on each side, running from the seaside terminus through some trees to the boating lake. For a smaller layout, the "inland" terminus with the depot modelled in low-relief would work well, the "tunnel" making an ideal way to hide the exit. Hmm, maybe one day!

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