Saturday 26 July 2014

Sunshine on the Ffestiniog

Last week we visited the Ffestiniog Railway, as we try to every year or two. For me it is one of the most interesting railways in the UK and many years ago, as a teenager, I volunteered on the track gang. Unusually though this visit was in glorious weather - clear skies and bright sun making for excellent views of the scenery, though while sat at Pothmadog the coaches were getting uncomfortably hot!

We usually start our journey at Blaenau and there we met David Lloyd George, trying to blend into the slate walls in a strange unlined grey (had Blaenau been under more typically local weather it may have been hard to spot!). I understand this is due to the winter overhaul over-running though it may be a homage to the early years of preservation, where the first Double Fairlie returned to service in primer.

This being a 3-train timetable day we passed Merddyn Emrys leading Linda at Tanygrisiau - why double-heading was necessary I don't know, but Linda seems to be crewed by children!

And Earl of Merioneth at Tan-y-Bwlch.

The new Porthmadog station layout now allows for two trains to be there simultaneously, so providing a glimpse of Garratt 138 running round it's train before departing for Caernarfon.

Looking back across the cob it can be seen how much it has been widened to provide space for the new island platform (the left-most line is on the original formation). The new signal box and signals are attractive, while the wider platform and changes around the station building area make it a much more spacious and attractive area for visitors. I have no idea what those odd sheds are on the platform though...?

DLG had to add a tenth coach for the return trip, the trains certainly seemed well filled. And with such superb views, such as this one of Snowdon from the cob, it is easy to see why!

There are a few more photos here, and why not plan your visit?

Friday 18 July 2014


I picked up some of the new 009 Society kits for Royal Naval Armament Depot (RNAD) wagons a while back, and last Friday I was putting one together, trying to figure out how the brake gear went together.

Saturday Morning I arrived at Amberley to set up Thakeham Tiles, and what is right opposite? A handy prototype!

I'm glad to say I got the brake levers correct; the instructions are a bit ambiguous in this area but a picture speaks a thousand words they say...

The complication is that there are levers on both sides, which both go to the right when facing the van, and both operate the brakes on both sides. This means that the linkages to the brake blocks are the opposite way round on either side, linked via a shaft across the wagon, and one of the levers needs it's rotation reversing. As you can see in the picture below the lever this side operates the shaft with a cam arrangement, and the left-hand brake linkage is at the top of the shaft.

Not so easy to view because of an adjacent wagon, but on the other side the lever acts directly on the shaft, and the right-hand brake linkage is at the top of the shaft.

While I was at it I got a shot of the end detail, with steps and handrails.

Meanwhile outside, a demonstration train was running with more ex-RNAD stock, including open wagons with ends, and a brake/passenger vehicle.

More on the actual model when I get time to progress it!

Monday 14 July 2014

Thakeham at Amberley

I spent this weekend at Amberley, with Thakeham Tiles at the model railway exhibition held as part of the railway gala weekend.

The exhibition is a nice little show, with a reasonable selection of (mostly small) NG layouts spread around various buildings. It was nice to see some developments at Richard Glover's Sand Point.

However the models play a supporting role to the real narrow gauge trains. There are steam locos, resident and visiting...

A wide range of industrial NG locos and trains...

Which all line up for a parade mid afternoon...

Not forgetting of course, the pleasure of rides behind a steam loco!

The weather defied the pessimistic forecast and the sun shone. It was also good to catch up with old friends, so a good weekend all round. You can see a full set of photos here, and read more about the Amberley narrow gauge museum on their website.