Wednesday 21 May 2014

Fettling Thakeham

In the run up to the SWING show I had Thakeham set up for a practice. I had forgotten how fiddly it was to load the wagons without derailing them! The magnetic stick works fine, but to get the load into the skip and off the magnet requires a steady hand and a careful twist of the stick. Then I had a cunning plan...

It's a simple sheet of black plasticard set carefully to just clear the back edge of the skip wagons, which stops them being pushed or tipped off the rails. Since the wagons are always propelled under the hopper there's no issue of clearance for other stock. However it does make the process of loading them much easier: the magnetic stick is used to push the load down into the sip, then slid forwards, as the wagon is held by the plastic the load is pulled from the magnet, and the stick can be lifted away.

Also while testing I was not happy with the way the O&K loco ran, it's always had a grinding noise when running in one direction and occasionally seemed to stick, so I stripped it down to apply drops of oil to the gears. The construction of the chassis means that without the body on the layshaft driving the rear axle (under the driver) is free to rise up. I wondered whether the body was not restraining it enough, so I folded a small strip of bass and superglued it into the recess in the top of the chassis so it holds the layshaft in place.

With the chassis now able to be tested without the body it ran smoothly, so I added the body, only to find it wouldn't then move at all! Slackening the bolts off allowed it to move, but the grinding noise was louder than ever, so it was clear the body was catching. There is a recess in the footplate to clear the worm gear seen above, using a burr in a mini-drill I deepened and widened it as shown. With the body refitted and the bolts done up tight the chassis ran without any grinding.

That said, it's still hardly a quiet chassis, none of my O14 locos are, due to the low gearing and metal bodies. The bigger wheels means it can do a reasonable speed without the motor screaming as the Lister (with similar gearing) does. But it does run reliably and slowly now, and spent Saturday alternating with the Hudson Hunslet running on Thakeham.

Sunday 18 May 2014

Thakeham at SWING

The SWING (Small and Wonderful Industrial and Narrow Gauge) show in Bognor, organised by the local 7mm NGA group, has become established both as an exhibition of quality narrow gauge models, and as a friendly show. So it was great to be invited to take Thakeham along. It doesn't take long to set up so there was time for Joshua to have a practice before the show opened.

The layout ran well with no issues, and received positive comments which is nice. Joshua proved quite adept at operating, and indeed it was difficult for anyone else to get a turn! Thanks to Paul Davies for helping out, and to Tim Sanderson and Stephen Fulljames for taking turns too. All that help allowed me plenty of time to look round the show, and chat to many familiar and new faces too. Roving Reporter Mick Thornton had his camera out so I'm sure he'll have a quality set of pictures on his blog in due course, he also had his visiting railcar, and due to a slight gauge and scale discrepancy Thakeham Tiles were pleased to provide a flat wagon!

Peter Kazer's "Owd Ratty" is a model of the original 3' gauge Ravensglass & Eskdale Railway terminus at Boot. It was at EXPO-NG a few years ago but it was hard to see due to the crowds, so it was nice to get a good close up look. The quality of the 1/4" scale models is amazing, and it was no surprise that this was awarded the best layout by the visiting public vote.

Stewart Green's model of Southwold in OOn3 has also been at EXPO and recently in Railway Modeller. My friend Simon Wilson was helping operate, and it was interesting to compare Stewart's faithful model to Simon's 009 interpretation (at the Sompting show last week). Stewart has really shown how the station sprawled across the quiet countryside, the line sliding through the golf course and past the allotments. Again the modelling is excellent, and again won an award - voted by the exhibitors and traders.

Lyndon 1870 by Lyn Owers is a model of London in Victorian days, inspired by the life and work of Charles Dickens, there are references to his books and characters throughout the dozens of buildings and crowded streets. There's also some 009 trains weaving through the scene, but the model would be just as interesting without them!

That's just a few of the layouts, for a full set of photos click here. An excellent show and great fun.

Sunday 11 May 2014

Southwold at Sompting Show

On Saturday I popped into the small show in Sompting. I mean small, as the hall used is quite tiny! Still there were about 10 layouts plus some dioramas, a Thomas layout for the kids to play with, and two traders too. This time I was accompanied by my 5-year-old daughter, which made a change, and she seemed to enjoy it.

A good range of modelling was on show, as well as typical RTR-based layouts in N and OO there was a very nice model of Wantage in 3mm fine-scale (that's 14.2mm gauge).

I also really liked this German (I think?) layout in HO. Simple in track plan but excellent running, and detailing. I've no idea if the buildings are kit or scratch-built but they were well done either way!

Narrow gauge was well represented, with 4 layouts in different scales. One of them was Southwold, by my friend and Sussex Downs 009 group member Simon Wilson. Although the Southwold Railway was built to 3' gauge Simon has used 9mm gauge, which looks fine with the small Southwold stock. Southwold station is easily recognised, and he has modelled the river bridge and a proposed extension branch. This means that despite being a relatively small layout he doesn't just have one station...

Nor just two stations...

...but three! Simon has captured the railway in the landscape look, and a real feeling of the openness of the landscape of that part of Britain. With trains running on both main and branch there was a fairly intensive service running too.

 You can see more pictures from the show here.

Wednesday 7 May 2014

My kind of garden centre...

In Britain a sunny bank-holiday is not to be wasted. We had a family day out in the South Downs, which we live close to. Exploring a ruined castle, a picnic lunch in the woods, and a visit to a garden centre. OK, a garden centre with a steam railway...

The South Downs Light Railway is a 10 1/4 inch gauge line within a garden centre just outside Pulborough, it has a surprisingly long run with a challenging climb, and some nice locos and coaches. Our train was hauled by the Exmoor Locomotive "Pulborough", though passing the sheds (with a nifty traverser) revealed several other locos, including "scale" miniatures.

I don't know what the arrangement is with the garden centre but being in a relatively out-of-the-way location it can't do them any harm. Apparently we needed some plants while we were there...

Monday 5 May 2014

Thakeham gets a spruce-up

I was rather pleased with the tidy plywood fascia of Thakeham, though I confess the neat front corner joint was more good luck than skill. However I'd always intended to smarten up the bare wood, it just wasn't top priority to get the layout finished in time for EXPO, and after that the house move disrupted things.

So as you can see I've taken advantage of the recent fine weather to give the plywood a coat of woodstain. It's come out slightly darker than I intended (you can never judge by the tin) but it looks good. The view below taken of the layout in our lounge shows off the neat finish, though the lighting is rather harsh! Also just visible is that the gap between the top of the sky and the upper edge has been painted in matt black.

Thakeham will be appearing at the SWING show in Bognor on the 17th May - which is the catalyst for this spruce up - so do pop by and say hi!