Sunday, 2 February 2020

Brake Vans - A Gricer train (1)

Another task I need to address is a Brake Van Special to run on Tredethy Wharf. Roger Cox has been more than generous in allowing me to borrow his Gricer train for a number of exhibitions. Even though I'm extremely grateful to him, I think it's about time I created one myself. So, I've purchased a number of figures which need painting to populate the brake vans. As far as brake vans are concerned, only a Southern Railway Queen Mary has been finished and populated with figures. I have seen a photo of a Queen Mary brake van at Wadebridge - but cannot recall exactly where? I have also come across the photo below of a Queen Mary at Dunmere.

Don't know if it would have been a candidate for a Gricer train, though surely it could have been used at some point.

On the Bachmann model above I've used MJT components for the bogies and side frames, this combination has produced a very free running and stable van.

The two Brake Vans above have been in a part converted/upgraded state for over 12 months, just need to get some mojo back to get them completed.

Only require 3 or 4 more Brake Vans and 30 or so painted figures... 

Friday, 24 January 2020

A Beattie Well Tank (Part 1)

Two years ago a member of the local Scalefour group took on the challenge of building a chassis for a Perseverance kit of a Beattie Well Tank for me. I collected it around March last year but unfortunately it was pointed out that the boiler was not a good fit between the splashers. Even though I am now retired, this problem, along with last year's distractions of house extension building work; holidays to Vietnam and Sweden; short caravan breaks in the UK; being seduced into playing more golf (resulting in winning a few competitions); and taking Tredethy Wharf to three shows - I've not progressed the kit any further. Oh the excuses, excuses and more excuses - or was it just plain procrastination? This year I think it has to be a priority that I make progress on this Perseverance kit to get it running on Tredethy Wharf.

Current state of play
The above photo shows the boiler is not fixed in place as there is still a gap between the boiler and splashers. Not knowing which part of the kit needs correcting has possibly been the main reason why I've not continued the build.

Then Eureka! While going through back copies of magazines, I found a drawing of a Beattie Well Tank in a 1985 Railway Modeller drawn by Ian Beattie. The wheel base measurements were accurate which made me believe that the drawing had been reproduced correctly and in proportion. Assuming the boiler had been drawn correctly, it indicated that the kits boiler is 0.1mm under size. I don't think I can complain too much about that, therefore, I can fit the boiler and work on the splashers to fill the gap. At last I'll be able to 'persevere' (pun intended) with this kit and move the build on...

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Well... New Year...New start...

2019 was not a very productive year for my modelling projects, either model railways or wargaming. Back to my school report: "If Ian puts as much effort into his studies as he does on the rugby field he would achieve good results". For Rugby read Golf. Golf did take over much of my time last year which enabled me to win three competitions plus some good finishes in others. Think I should change the strapline on the blog header from  "an attempt to get out of the armchair" to "an attempt to to spend less time on the golf course". I feel that I can make better use of my time so plan to become more focused on modelling projects while at home.

So outline plans for 2020:
  1. Complete the Beattie Well Tank
  2. Create my own Grizer train
  3. Build better support structure for Tredethy Wharf
  4. Complete minor modifications to Tredethy Wharf
  5. Make a start on the next project (more about that later)
  6. Investigate DCC mainly for the next project but may also be for Tredethy Wharf
At the moment I've been honoured with invites for Tredethy Wharf to two shows during 2020:
  1. Scalefour North, Wakefield (28th & 29th March)
  2. Helston, Cornwall (25th & 26th April)
This does mean that for the next couple of months I must get my head down to some serious modelling before the better weather kicks in and I'll be tempted to spend more time out in the fresh air on the Golf Course!

Monday, 12 August 2019

Rethink on layout transportation

Well... less than 12 weeks before the layout’s next outing and I've decided to dismantle the two end boards. This task has been on the "to do" list since returning from Scaleforum 2018 when it came back with a few trees damaged due to problems fitting the layout in my car. For the short trip to the subsequent Immingham show I was able to borrow a neighbour’s trailer. Not wishing to push my luck with the neighbour, I've decided it's about time I adapted the layout to be able to transport all of Tredethy Wharf safely in the car.
My plan is to complete two layout transportation objectives before the Caistor Show in October.
  1. I need to reduce the space needed to transport the end boards which will then create the space required for all of the layout to fit in my car much easier.
  2. Build a transport box for each scenic section. One box should be strong enough to stand on (more about why later).
Stage one of the reconstruction is to take off the scenic break ends of the end/fiddle boards. These will be reused and adapted so they can be bolted on to the boards and still act as supports for the lighting pellet.

Friday, 9 August 2019

An itch that might need scratching (2)

Due to the reduced size of the "Man Cave" my intention for the rest of 2019 is to continue to sell off "stuff" that I've accumulated over the years. This is a double edged sword in that it will make space for the next project and will also help to raise some cash for future expenditure.

Since my decision to bin Grogley Junction I've been thinking about what's next. During 2017 I found the Ratio building kits along with rolling stock that I've collected over the years for a possible GWR Branch Line Terminus. All I need is a suitable location.

Two articles mentioned in a previous post "an itch that might need scratching", have been at the back of my mind for several years. If I used the research from one and the trackplan from the other they would make a very good starting point for a fictitious BLT. At the end of this post I've quoted in full, from the January 1975 Railway Modeller to show the diligence that Mr Pocock went to with his research and ideas. The depth of the article captured my imagination but with no offence meant to Mr Pocock, his track plan did not. For illustration I've placed a scan below of his track plan to show his thoughts on how it would fit into a garage setting.

When the April 1979 Railway Modeller landed on the door mat, the Plan of the Month article struck a chord. This plan is based loosely on Swanage so has some prototypical resemblance. Back in 1979 I was not in a position to create a layout of this size, but I always thought it would be a good starting point as a track plan for a BLT.

I'll offer no excuse in admitting that the 3D illustration of the track plan is probably why it has had such a lasting impression on me.  It also ticks all the boxes for including all features for a West Country Rural Branch Line Terminus. As for Bigbury Bay, the road over the bridge could be the B3392 from Bigbury-on-Sea to the A379. Then with a few minor amendments to Great Westernise the plan I think it would suit the location well. Whether these minor amendments could include features from Iain Rice's "Witheridge" track plan (from his "An approach to Model Railway Layout Design") we'll have to wait and see.

Well that's it really, the track plan will have to be finalised before this project progresses any further. So, for now, the Ratio kits along with all the rolling stock will be kept. Don't think there is any harm in dreaming of future projects, just wish I had more time available... don't hold your breath, this project has a very good chance of not getting beyond the dreaming stage, especially as I would also like to build a GWR Engine Shed layout.

Anyway, less of this frivolity, nearly a year has past since Scaleforum with little progress on Tredethy Wharf and I really need to focus on getting the layout ready for the Caistor show in October

"Plan of the month
Bigbury Bay 
A beginner's line by N. J. Pocock

A BRANCH IS BUILT: The GWR built the Kingsbridge branch late in the 19th century. It is assumed that the GWR also decided to construct a line from a junction just to the east of Ivybridge viaduct to run south over the undulating terrain to terminate on the coast, passing by the villages of Modbury and Aveton Gifford, and thence via the Avon estuary to Bigbury Bay. Fig. 1 gives the route chosen for the branch line. Originally, the route was drawn out on a 1 inch Ordnance Survey map but this was found to give insufficient contour detail so a 2 1/2 inch map was used in the end.

Despite the difficult contours of the terrain, only four major engineering works are necessary, viz. Sheepham Viaduct (300 yards long by 120 feet high), Modbury Summit Tunnel (500 yards long), Aunemouth Bridge (350 yards long by 25 feet above mean sea level), and Aunemouth Tunnel (1,000 yards long). The last two items, strictly speaking, are only there to provide. a natural scenic break for the model of the terminus since it is quite feasible for the tracks to continue around the estuary, dispensing with the tunnel and crossing the estuary at its mouth in the bay. It is assumed that the GWR built the line economically (to the “yellow” colour axle-load restriction) and hence only the lighter tank engines would be allowed over the metals- effectively, the ubiquitous 45xx and 55xx 2-6-2T’s. The line is situated in the heart of the Devon farmland so there would be no heavy freight trains; but a modest freight service would entail general goods transported into the area and milk and farm produce transported out of the area. By the 1930s, when West Country holiday traffic was at its peak, facilities would exist (like the Kingsbridge branch), not only for a local passenger service, but also a daily through-coaches service to and from Paddington. These would be supplemented with extra coaches and workings on summer Saturdays. Ivybridge Station was rebuilt to function as a junction station for the branch.


Fig. 5 gives the final compilation of a timetable for the branch, but there are a few preliminaries before arriving at the final product! First, there is the drawing out of a Gradient Profile (see Fig. 3) to get an idea of the gradients the trains have to negotiate over the branch. This was done by drawing the proposed route on a 2 1/2 inch Ordnance Survey map and calculating the rise (or fall) in feet of a stretch of line and dividing this into the length of the track, also in feet of course. The neighbouring Kingsbridge branch had the convenient use of the comparatively flat Avon valley for most of its route, but the Bigbury Bay branch has no such convenience until it reaches Aveton Gifford and the Avon estuary. Nevertheless, after several attempts at route planning, it was found best if the branch turned south after leaving the main line just east of Ivybridge Viaduct and descend steeply (1 :42) at the steepest part to Ludbrook Halt where after a short level stretch, the line rises again towards Modbury before entering a level section to reach the station. This was found to be the most difficult part of the line to route-plan because of the undulating nature of the terrain and deep valleys of the river Erme’s tributaries which the line has to cross, yet in the final route chosen only one large viaduct (at Sheepham) was found necessary. At Modbury station the line turns east up a valley of one of the river Erme’s tributaries and ascends to Modbury Summit Tunnel; and after the line has emerged out of the gloom it finds itself in another valley, this time of a stream that flows into the Avon estuary. The tracks descend down this and into Aveton Gifford station, thence to use the Avon estuary as far as Aunemouth Halt, and then cross the estuary and enter Bigbury Bay by use of a tunnel through the earth cliifs. This last section is level. From the Gradient Profile the running times “up” (towards London) and “down” (from London) can be calculated. The first two columns of Fig. 5 shows these; allowing for a maximum train speed of 35m.p.h. and stopping times of passenger trains at stations and halts en route. These are realistic running times for the average branch line speed for this kind of branch on the GWR was 21-22m.p.h. (as per the Kingsbridge branch among others) and the Bigbury Bay running times correspond to this very well.

Fig 4
Finally, Fig. 4 shows a table of all trains stopping at Ivybridge, Monday to Friday, 4th July to 25th September, 1938. This was compiled from the official GWR working timetable at the Transport Historical Records Office in London. The table is not entirely accurate for the simple reason the branch from Ivybridge to Bigbury Bay is fiction, not fact. Thus, one of the North West expresses (Manchester and Liverpool via Bristol, South Wales, Shrewsbury and Crewe) has had its‚ schedule altered to stop at Ivybridge in both ‚”up”  and ‚”down” directions; likewise, one of the Paddington- Penzance expresses to stop and attach the through coaches from Bigbury Bay on the ‚”up‚” working, and detach the through coaches on the ‚”down” train; the parcels train, Paddington to Penzance via Bristol, has also had a stop inserted into its timetable at Ivybridge since it stopped at Brent for the Kingsbridge branch; the ‚”up” Tavistock Jnc. - Ivybridge goods originally carried on to the sidings at Brent so that the loco could help out with workings on the Kingsbridge branch but this now terminates at Ivybridge, and the return evening trip starts from Ivybridge, so that the loco can serve the Bigbury Bay branch‚ - Kingsbridge being served by a goods trip to and from Newton Abbot instead! I will end this section with a brief comment on the GWR mainline workings in the West Country - there was nothing that was symmetrical about them in the “up” and ‚”down” directions, as Fig. 4 bears out, and the official working timetable shows.


Fig. 5 is a working timetable for the branch, Monday to Friday, compiled from the running times and Fig. 4, taking care of course not to put a branch train on a collision time with a mainline train over Ivybridge viaduct! The table is more or less self-explanatory, but a few words need to be said here. Two locos only are required to work the branch, two “B” sets and a three coach rake of corridors, a couple of milk tanks, either a syphon “J” or 40ft. Dean luggage Van for the parcels, and an assortment of 30 or so wagons. All these are available in kits. A spare all-3rd coach‚ - how about a 58ft. Clerestory made up from two Triang brake/3rd Clerestories ?‚- can be kept in the coach siding for Saturday local passenger trains, to supplement the “B” set. Any parcels from Bigbury Bay branch would be taken in the van as far as Ivybridge and then put on a local passenger to connect with the appropriate parcels train at either Plymouth or Newton Abbot. The perishable traffic from the branch for the Crewe and Paddington freight expresses is attached to the rear of a local passenger train to Totnes and Plympton (for Tavistock Inc. sidings) respectively. The milk tanks are taken on to a dairy between Ivybridge and Cornwood by the 45XX that worked them up from Bigbury Bay, and at the dairy sidings marshalled into the appropriate train-set for their destination. A Saturday timetable has not been worked out since this would mean more coaches for through services, a longer traverser in consequence, and into the bargain the afternoon goods would not run, thereby detracting from variety in operation."

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

New "Man Cave"

In a previous post I alluded to a building project that will have an affect on my modelling hobbies. This was the building of an extension between the house and garage (Man Cave) creating a small study and a passageway through to the garage. This project also included stealing a good seven foot off the length of my "Man Cave" for a downstairs shower room and toilet. Even though I've lost space I now have direct access to the "Cave" from the house.
  • No more venturing outside in the dark and cold winter evenings.
  • No more worrying about security while opening the door that gave access from the street. This door is now firmly bolted.
  • No more having to boost the temperature with an electric fan heater during the cooler evenings as it now has a radiator running off the house central heating.
All in all, losing seven foot off the length of the room along with having access direct from the house has enabled me to create a more cosy welcoming space in which to while away the evenings. The only down side is that, due to the reduced space, it would seem my proposed Grogley Junction project is now "dead in the water".

I'm still getting use to the new room and sorting through all the stuff I've collected over the years but it's coming together nicely.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

I'm still alive

It's been a funny old year since my last post. The Missenden experience was brilliant and, as previously mentioned, it did sow a seed. Prior to Scaleforum, the 'seed' had stunted growth and still needed a little nurturing. Scaleforum was an excellent experience. I'll certainly count it as a great achievement to be invited but in some respects it was not the main event of last year....

At the end of July 2018 I was signed off work with 'Anxiety and Depression'. Strange as it seems this came as a complete surprise to me. In hindsight I'd been suffering for months, and possibly had bouts years prior. It was a work-related incident that brought things to a head. One could say it was the proverbial 'straw that broke the camel's back'. Initially the diagnosis was 2 weeks off work, which morphed into 5 months.

Wow - you must be thinking - 5 months off work! But, at times all was not pretty (especially in the first few months). The darkness of depression is a strange thing. Eventually with some considerable effort I could see light and do some minor tasks, or face certain situations relatively easily. With other tasks or situations the dark mood was more difficult to lift. The result being that publicly all seemed to be OK (but privately ... I was struggling).

This all had a huge affect on preparation for Scaleforum. I could not get my head into gear on simple tasks around the house, let alone modelling tasks. I seriously contemplated pulling out of the show. It was only with the support and encouragement from my wife, along with knowing I had the support of three good friends at the show, that gave me enough confidence to get me to Aylesbury. I'd not done nearly as much as I'd wanted with Tredethy Wharf, especially with the rolling stock and the back-screen. I went along with a heavy heart knowing I should have done more.  Then with all the extremely positive and heart warming comments received during the show, I left on the Sunday evening elated but very tired.

All set up on the Friday evening

After the show I starting to take stock of my situation and after many discussions with my wife the decision was for me to take early retirement from work. After a little negotiation with my employer I officially retired on the 3rd January 2019.

'Excellent' you might say! So why have I not posted more of my modelling achievements before now? Bouts of 'darkness' ... or should I say 'greyness' still affected me, and then strangely enough much of my time has been filled with other things. One being getting my head around the consequences of a little building project. This project is currently ongoing and will have a big impact on my modelling...