Friday, 5 August 2022

A social gathering with trains

Last Sunday I joined a gathering of modellers to socialise, discuss models, and occasionally run some trains. I took along Loctern Quay but didn't spend a lot of time operating it, though a few others had a play. The shunting puzzle does draw people in. In fact, mine wasn't the only 009 Society competition inspired layout there. 

Richard Doe had brought his model which used the same baseboard modules as Loctern Quay, although it wasn't completed in time to enter the competition. In front of the fiddle yard a train of skips is loaded with sugar beet, with its unusual lightweight "home-made" loco. 

Over at the station end the skips are tipped into waiting wagons. Nice to see another layout built in the same constraints, and yet with such a different theme. 

Greg Dodsworth built this long narrow layout to fit a windowsill during lockdown. It's simple but nicely done, and what a great use of a windowsill? The push buttons on top of the backscene operate the points. 

Greg also showed some larger scale buildings including this cinema, modelled on the Ultimate Picture Palace in Oxford it brought back memories from my student days. The little cinema showed unusual and cult movies, and when the attendant had finished selling tickets from the window they climbed the ladder to the projection room. 

Giles Barnabe brought this little On30 terminus layout set on his fictional Latin American island of Isla Blanca, which he'd only started building about 3 weeks previously. It may be unfinished (a backscene would help photography!) but it is clear it will have character. 

Ian Roberts had his 1:32 scale 16.5mm gauge layout based on the Dalmunzie railway. I had seen it before but I do like it, the rolling stock is modelled on that of the prototype.

Julian Evison set up his O-16.5 layout St Marys.

Simon Hargreaves brought this under-construction inglenook on his motorbike! That half-sunken barge looks familiar...

Chris O'Donoghue had his whimsical layout Much Meddling and Farr Dyke Railway. 

That's a selection of the little layouts that had been brought along, but the event was more about socialising than the layouts! It was nice to meet old friends and new faces. 

Tuesday, 26 July 2022

Amberley 2022

Last weekend the Amberley museum held its annual rail gala exhibition, I was there on the Saturday. The format was much the same as usual, with two passenger trains running. The weekend marked the official return to service of Peter the Bagnall saddle tank after its major overhaul. 

It also marked the last weekend of service for Polar Bear, whose boiler ticket was about to expire and so would be shortly withdrawn for overhaul. Both steam locos were looking superb. 

In between the passenger trains ran industrial diesels with trains of wagons. Here's one of the largest, Peldon. 

This Hudson Hunslet appeared in a James Bond film, as did the "mine" tunnel in the background. 

Here's a Motor Rail Simplex. At 3pm the usual parade of locos was held, with all the serviceable locos on display, although there were no visiting locos this year.

This "tank" is actually a wooden cut-out used as a target, it sits on a motorised target trolley which would run behind an embankment to provide a moving target. I visited a target railway of a similar type to the one this trolley would have run on last year. 

As well as the trains, steam road vehicles were in use. This steam roller was one of two, and I believe a traction engine was in steam too. 

The open top of this fabulous bus proved popular. The road vehicles, like the trains, appeared to be full every trip. 

Indoors was a model railway exhibition, although this year it was pretty small. Just a handful of layouts, mostly N-gauge for some reason, and a mix of traders who can't have been doing well judging by the low numbers inside (the sun was shining, the shed was hot, so why stay inside!). I was helping the Sussex Down 009 group who as usual had a display stand and demonstration, except this year we had taken an under-construction layout to work on. I spent much of the day sticking and carving foam, which as well as progressing the layout, seemed to be of interest to visitors to see how the layout was constructed.

Monday, 20 June 2022

Completing Upnor Castle

The next few weeks will be quiet on the modelling front as apparently it is time to redecorate the lounge-diner. Both Loctern Quay and Hexworthy have gone into storage, and most of my modelling materials are packed away, not that I'd have time to use them anyway. However, before the modelling embargo came into force I managed to complete the model of Upnor Castle. I started this back in January when I fitted the chassis and couplings, and cleaned up the 3D printed body, mainly from the printing supports as the print didn't seem to need much cleaning up. 

As you can see from the painted model, the 3D print is indeed very clean and smooth, with sharp details and no obvious layering. Painting started with a coat of automotive grey primer, followed by Halfords green enamel, both aerosols. Brush painted enamels were then used for the black and red (over a white base), a brown weathering wash (sponged off the panels), and dry brushing rust brown and gunmetal for steps, axle-boxes, exhaust, etc. 

The livery is very simple so painting didn't take long. I didn't try to replicate the 2-tone livery Upnor Castle carried since I'm not aiming for an exact copy. I may give it a name eventually, not Upnor Castle, but perhaps something relevant to Hexworthy - Kingswear Castle guards the river Dart? That said the body sides are rather busy to find space for nameplates. 

The kit came with a separate print for the cab detail, which was painted simply but using brighter colours since it might as well stand out in the cab! The front and rear windows were glazed with clear plasticard; I used 40-thou since the edges weren't to be seen and it stays flatter, making sure it could sit tight into the corners, and with the edges coloured black with a marker. Of course it isn't flush, but painting the surrounding black makes this less obvious. 

Underneath the couplings were refitted, and a couple of layers of lead fitted under the bonnet close to the centre of the loco. This helps pick-up and traction, there's space for more but this should be ample for the smooth running Kato chassis, and I don't need to overload it's motor. Initial tests show it is a good runner. The body just pushes onto the chassis, this seems to work well enough. 

The driver is a plastic Dapol figure, I think he may have lost his hat at some stage. I decided a yellow coat would suggest modern hi-vis and stand out nicely in the cab. He's attached by supergluing his coat tail onto the "seat", having had his feet amputated to clear the chassis. 

Finally the roof is fixed with some PVA so that it can be removed if needed. The coupler screw could use a dab of matt black paint at some point. Otherwise the loco is ready for service. An easy build,, a good runner, and although "just a 3D print and Kato chassis" the quality of the model is much better than expected. I like it's chunky, functional looks - purposeful rather than pretty - and on Hexworthy I can see it running the occasional passenger train as well as PW duties. 

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

SWING 2022

Last Saturday was the "SWING" narrow gauge and industrial model railway show, this year conveniently held just down the road. The Sussex Downs 009 group brought three small layouts - my Loctern Quay, my son's Slugworth & Co., and The Old Quarry by Tim Sanderson. 

Here's our three layouts in a quiet moment towards the end of the day. Simon Wilson is operating The Old Quarry, Tim is sat behind it, Joshua is on the right behind his layout. The chair is my operating position for Loctern Quay. 

My favourite layout was Tony's Forest in O14, by Robin Edwards. I've followed this on the NGRM forum and it was at Narrow Gauge South last month, but at that busy show I didn't have time for more than a quick look. It was nice to have a closer look, and talk to Robin. I love the forest setting which is superbly modelled, and reveals hidden details such as this waterfall. 

Getting the camera to focus on the trains is tricky, and this end-shot shows why. The railway sits naturally amongst the trees. I wasn't the only one who liked it though, as it was voted best layout by the other exhibitors - well done Robin!

Robin invited me to bring some of my O14 stock to run. This hasn't been out for some time, but this Hunslet and my O&K ran sweetly with some of the wagons from Landswood Park - my couplings weren't compatible with Robin's. Tony's Forest provides a very long run compared to Landswood Park or Thakeham, my locos were probably breathless by the end!

I also liked Goathorn in 7mm scale by Peter Hollins. The railway was beautifully modelled according to the 3' 9" gauge prototype, but the scenic details like this beach scene brought it to life. 

For something a bit different, Lesobeng in 009 by Paul Spray, was set in Africa. 

Holmeshurst by Ian Burford is an O gauge light railway set in East Sussex. Although small by 7mm standards it is full of character, with a detailed village street at the rear making use of Petite Properties kits cleverly adapted to the local building style. 

As well as a good selection of mainly narrow gauge layouts the 009 Society and 7mm NG Association had stands, the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly and it was good to meet a few friends too. The venue works well (the local railway club use it too) but being one long narrow hall it is difficult to tell how busy it was, it didn't get crowded. I've uploaded photos of some of the other layouts here.

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Preparing for SWING

Both Loctern Quay, and my son's Slugworth & Co., will be at the "SWING" narrow gauge show in Worthing this Saturday.

Since both layouts were out last month at Narrow Gauge South, and generally performed well, there is little preparation to worry about. However, one of the new trucks I'd made insisted on derailing through facing points. Strangely, it hadn't done this in testing, but after derailing repeatably at the show it was quickly banished back to the stock box. 

This kit uses the new type of wheels which have much finer flanges than older wheels, and a wider back-to-back measurement. For some reason the flange was hitting the vee of the point and riding up - clearly not checked by the check-rail. That reason was most likely to be skew axles. 

Can you see them? It is barely perceptible until looked at closely, and took a couple of attempts to get a photo that shows the skew. Of course correcting this means moving one of the sole-bars lengthways to align the axle boxes. I scored along the join between the sole-bar and floor and cut down the ends of the sole-bar, then flooded the joins with solvent. Some firm but gentle persuasion with smooth-jaw pliers got the sole-bar free in one piece, and with a reasonably clean break apart from some material left in the corners. 

The sole-bar and floor were cleaned up, then with one end trimmed slightly the sole-bar was reaffixed, taking care to ensure the axles are completely perpendicular to them this time! Surprisingly the botched fix is not visible, except perhaps right in the corners of buffer beam, sole-bar and floor - which you can't see in practice. I didn't even need to touch up the paint.

So the fix was easier than feared, and just shows how important it is to check the axles are square to the chassis. Testing on the layout seems to confirm the tendency to derail is fixed, though of course the only real test is to run it at an exhibition. 

Do say hello if you are at SWING. 

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

Narrow Gauge South (Part 2)

 Onward with more photos from NGS...

Clyre Valley Railway (009) by Tim Couling

This is a large U-shaped layout set in North Cornwall, but I seemed most attracted to this viaduct! The locos and stock are attractively modelled too. 

Bridport Town (O-16.5) by David Taylor - an old favourite of mine.

So no apologies for lots of photos, although they are not the sharpest!

Turtle Bay (009) by Rob Rossington - big trains in an exotic location

Pyn Valley Railway (O9) by Christopher Payne. What an evocative scene in a really compact space. 

Tony's Forest (O14) by Robin Edwards. It really is set in a forest which is impressive (from a modelling perspective) and atmospheric. Peering through the trees reveals delightful details.

However, catching a good photo of a train is challenging - at least with a standard camera by hand given limited time! This is one of many layouts I'd have liked more time to study, so I hope to see it again. Maybe next time that logging crew will have cleared a few more trees...

Gideon Postlethwaite (O9) by Steve Green. 

I did like this detail scene. Maybe these chaps will be wiring in that transformer?

Fintonagh (O21) by David Holman is a beautifully modelled portrayal of the Clogher Valley Railway in Ireland, albeit an imaginary branch. I've admired this layout before, so didn't spend long looking at it. 

Slindon Vale (O16.5) by James Edwards.

I'll admit these aren't the best photos I've ever taken, and there were many more layouts I either didn't get time for a good look at, or my photos were too rubbish to use. I didn't even look at the trade stands at all, except for a brief scout of the 009 sales shortly before the show opened. The day was a bit of a blur to be honest, and while I spoke to lots of people I'm sure there are people I missed, or couldn't stop to talk to. It was, of course, a great day...

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Narrow Gauge South 2022 (Part 1)

Last Saturday both Loctern Quay and Slugworth & Co. were at Narrow Gauge South, having been delayed a couple of years! It was good to be back at a large narrow gauge show for the first time since 2019, and see lots of familiar and meet new faces. NGS is always an excellent show, and large with around 25 layouts, although when showing a layout (or two) it is hard to spare time for a good look round. I did take some photos, though being rather rushed many of them didn't come out too well. 

Just before the show opened my son tests his layout, with the sweets ready for the kids (young and older) who can spot all the details. We had many comments on how much bigger/older Joshua looked compared to his photo when building the layout almost 4 years ago! On the left Phil Savage practices operating Loctern Quay - he did get the hang of the shunting puzzle eventually. A big thanks to Phil. Tim Sanderson, and Simon Wilson who helped us out at different times of the day. 

It was nice to see my old layout Awngate being shown by its new owner James Edwards. He has spruced up the scenery in places but otherwise it is unchanged. 

Fellow Sussex Downs group member Martin Collins was showing his fabulous 009 layout Llandecwyn, and using most of the club members to help out. 

I was pleased to see Nic Arthur's new layout, Hazelcombe (009). Nic has a real talent for scenery. I took these photos during set-up and had meant to take some more later...

Nic also has a sense of humour it seems!

The Dovey Valley railway (009) by Dick Wyatt is a true classic from 30 years ago, even featuring in a Two Ronnies sketch. It incorporates a long run of track and two stations in a moderate space, while allowing long trains. 

This was said to be Dovey Valley's last showing and despite its age, it deservedly won best in show. 

The Dovey Valley was an inspiration to me as a young 009 modeller, thanks to featuring in an old Model Railway Constructor annual. 

It was good to see Jamie Warne with his atmospheric Sandy Shores layout (009).

It's such an original imaginative layout, and nicely modelled. 

I liked Woody Green Basin (009) by Phil Russel, which shows what can be done in a compact space with both operational and scenic interest. 

Charles Insley's Ulvaryd (Stand) (009) is based on Swedish narrow gauge, and makes another attractive and unusual layout. 

This attractive scene is Tan-Y-Llyn (009) by Steve Flay. 

Next to Loctern Quay was Garreg Wen (009) by Matthew Kean. It's become a well-known and popular layout thanks to its superbly modelled locos and stock based on Welsh railway prototypes, as well as the Welsh-inspired scenery. 

I'll follow this up with a part 2 covering more layouts...