Wednesday, 4 January 2017

The next project - Polbrock Engine Shed?

During more nights away for work before Christmas and last evening while in rainy Stalybridge, I've been continuing to consider what comes after Tredethy Wharf. Though I was now fairly certain it had to be Grogley Junction there was still doubt it might be one huge step too far. Ullypug made some good observations on one of my recent RMWeb posts and, though I've been wondering if I could split Grogley up into manageable projects, his comment spurred me on to think a little deeper.

So... after yet more pondering, along with drawing a few more track plans and I've come up with a "cunning plan mi Lord".

How about building Polbrock Engine Shed as stage one?

Either with a single track main line,

or double track main line?

I'm errring on going back to the double track version of Grogley v.14, but even so which ever one I decide on;
  • Polbrock Engine Shed would allow me to build locos for Tredethy Wharf with the knowledge that they will also be used on the Engine Shed layout, then eventually Grogley Junction.
  • The layout would fit nicely above my work bench and could easily be extended when I gain the time and or courage to progress to Grogley Junction.
  • The track plan will give me more experience in building track, especially as it looks like there will be a 3 way turnout and a diamond crossing.
  • It will test my skills further in constructing buildings, whether that be kit bashing or from scratch.
  • Building a working turntable will be an interesting project in its own right.
  • Polbrock will introduce me to the skills of building a selection of signals, along with the task to get them working.
  • As Polbrock could be operated as an end-to-end it will allow/encourage me to gradually build coaching stock and further locos that could run between the fiddle yards and in the future be used for Grogley Junction.
  • Once built Polbrock may, depending on where I can position the baseboard joints, be a possible exhibition layout.
  • On an organisational level, to fit Polbrock into the "Man Cave" I'll have some major reorganising to do. This will entail lightening the load of items that I've collected over the years for projects that will not now be built. Once committed to Polbrook there will be no Taff Vale Colliery layout for starters and much less chance of that GWR branch line terminus.
  • The final bonus is that as the engine shed layout will fit into one corner I'll still be able to keep Tredethy Wharf up and running along the back wall of the "Man Cave" until I extend it onto the Grogley Junction.

I'm starting to really like this idea. It feels like a "no brainer", though there are a few thoughts to be pondered during the next 6 - 12 months before the first timbers are cut for the baseboards.
  • Will the main line be single track or double track?
  • Position of the baseboard joints (Grogley Junction was being design as a permanent layout so until now I've not had to think about point work missing baseboard joints.)
  • The design of the engine shed building. Will it be a timber shed as Wadebridge's, or a small version of Salisbury's brick built, or a shed built of stone?
  • Would the LSWR have positioned the water tower over the engine shed?
  • What signals will be required? To check this I'll need to create a signalling diagram and seek advice fron knowledgeable people. The diagram will include all signal boxes on my proposed route from Wadebridge Junction through Grogley Junction and onto Ruthernbridge
  • Is the track plan for the engine shed OK? I feel I've covered all activities and the shed would work quite well but I may need to confirm this by doing little more research into the workings of a loco shed.
  • Should I continue with DC or take the plunge and go DCC? (DCC would come into its own with an the engine shed, no need for any isolation sections so all locos, irrespective of size, would be able to be stored buffer to buffer).
BUT...and it is a big but... before I even think about another project in P4 I still have to convince myself I am capable of constructing a working loco chassis. There would be no point in building Polbrock Engine Shed in P4 if I can't build a Beattie Well Tank or two in P4...

When home I must put these thoughts to one side and get on with Tredethy Wharf...

Saturday, 31 December 2016

December 2016 update

Another month has passed and only a small amount of progress has been made on Tredethy Wharf. My wife and I hosted this month’s (December) Area Group meeting during which one member (Gordon) ran some locos on the layout that are being offered as motive power for the February show. This small running session did bring to light a few small problems that I have since worked on and hopefully solved. A further running session (dress rehearsal) will have to be planned for late January/early February...

What else have I been up to? Well... not much, certainly not as much as I'd hoped with building rolling stock. A couple of open wagons are nearing completion while the second rake of clay wagons have, for some reason, been problematic. On most of the clay wagons the sides had started to bow inwards, this is a first for me. So I spent some time dismantling the bodies then, after a little corrective work, reassembling them, they're now starting to look better but still much to do...

For me, the Christmas break never seems to be a good time for modelling. I find time is taken up with family and friends combined with relaxing in front of the log fire (glass in hand) reading a book or two received on the 25th. Over Christmas my son and I dismantled the layout and managed to squeeze it into the car, a bit of a two man job, but it looks like it will be possible to transport it in one vehicle...phew! Unfortunately, there will be no room for a passenger. My planning regarding transporting the layout to shows has not been up to scratch, mainly because I was never confident that Tredethy would develop into an exhibitable layout.

(End of Year School Report)  Yan must have more confidence in his modelling and better planning is required for transportation if he constructs something that might be taken to shows. Also spare time organisation needs to improve to allow him more visits to the 'Man Cave' during 2017.

May I take this opportunity to thank all who find time to read this ponderous blog and hope you have had an enjoyable, relaxing Christmas. May I wish you a stress free New Year with plenty of modelling time to boot.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

November update

With only 89 days left before the Lincoln Show I feel the scenery is now at a stage where I should move onto other things. I would like to do more with the scenery, especially as I've not planted any nettles yet and feel a couple of trees are required... but... I need to build, more clay wagons; more cassettes for the storage sidings; a few more open wagons as well as box vans. There is also some tidying up to do on the presentation information. So I've still plenty to do...

The above photos show the current state of play with the "test plank". The white streaks are the result of recent running sessions. They show where I've misjudged the height of the ground around the rails that caused the loco to stall or derail.

Onwards and upwards...

Monday, 14 November 2016


I took a day out to visit the Spalding show on Sunday. This was for two reasons: firstly to try and encourage a close friend, who is trying to make a start in the hobby, in making a decision about what to build; secondly to see Gordon and Maggie Gravett's Pempoul.

On the first, I think there was a modicum of success. My friend is looking to build an N gauge layout. This meant much of the visit was spent discussing the different merits of what was on show in that scale. We met up with two of the old Mablethorpe and District MRC gang who offered their advice which was duly taken on board. I think the light bulb moment for my friend was after good chat with Ray Slack operating Bodmin, coupled with his kind invitation to to get behind the layout to see how the layout was constructed and operated. My friend may need a little help in layout design and operation along with a gentle push but I could see the cogs starting to whir.

On the second I'll let the following photos speak for themselves

Not the best photos that have been taken of this superb piece of 3D artwork. Pempoul was not the only layout on show worth admiring but for me it was best in show.

On arriving home I was able to spend some time in the "Man Cave" to make a little more progress on Tredethy Wharf. So overall an excellent day...

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Stuttering progress and the next project

Well, the last two weeks have not gone to plan... How often do we all say that? With two weekends away visiting friends and family along with a number of week nights spent away with work, progress almost ground to a stand still on Tredethy Wharf. What I have been able to achieve is not really much to shout about so will have to wait for the next blog...

But.., while spending evenings in hotels, not drink in the bar but playing "Billy no mates" in the hotel bedrooms, I've been giving some thought about what comes after Tredethy. Over the years, before I joined Scalefour Society, I'd collected almost all of Ratio's GWR buildings with the intention of building a GWR branch line terminus. I've also been slightly sidetracked by thoughts of a Taff Vale colliery and collected a few buildings and stock to suit.

Since starting this blog I've realised that there is a big difference in timescale to what can be achieved in OO compared to P4. This realisation has come from the time it has taken me to get Tredethy Wharf built. So I'd started to think, is there some merit in a small project being a viable option to follow on from Tredethy? A small layout would enable me to exhibit if it was considered good enough. It would also be an achievable project especially if I go really small and extended Tredethy to include a Clay Dries or Stone sidings....

So while being 'Billy no mates" I revisited some of the track plans I've collected over the years, then with pen and paper in hand I sketched out some ideas. While doodling a troublesome thought kept creeping into these ideas. Once Tredethy is scenically built, to complete the project, I will still need to build a few locos (a Beattie Well Tank, a WR 1366, BR Class 03 being three locos) as well as a few more wagons. These are not going to be built overnight and at the pace I'm progressing may take two or three more years before I can exhibit Tredethy with a correct loco fleet spanning a few years. If I change tack to a GWR BLT or Taff Vale Colliery these layouts would required a different loco stud and other rolling stock to be built. Hmmm.... so a change of tack might not necessarily be a quick project.

So what of the first and last big project, Grogley Junction?

Well, thinking that after building the above three locos for Tredethy they would also be available for Grogley brings me back to thoughts about this big project. It is the one that I still have a passion for. It is the one that I can picture in my mind. It is the one that I have been researching and building an alternative universe for. On the down side if I make a start on Grogley in P4 I now realise it will probably never be finished. But does that matter...? If it brings me enjoyment while building it,  probably not. If I cannot exhibit it, does that matter? Probably not.

So during my second week away I dug out the current track plan for Grogley and started to have a think and a bit of a tweak... The below is what I've ended up with.

The major changes I've made, since the last track plan I've posted, are adding a three platform station reducing the line towards Wadebridge junction to single track and adding Polbrock Engine shed. The more minor additions are a small loading dock siding and a siding that will be used for coaching stock storage. This is version 15 of ideas for this project and does look like it has grown "arms and legs". My thoughts have been, if this is going to be the (first &) last big project then it had better include all that I would like to see on a layout and give good operational opportunities. So a layout with a station, exchange goods sidings, a junction, and an engine shed, what more could I want...? Hmmm, don't answer that 'cos I could think of a few if I tried :-)

Below is just the track plan showing the kick back for the Bodmin cassette storage so it can be accessed from both directions. This would allow Bodmin to Wadebridge trains to be stored on these cassettes.

One advantage of this latest track plan is, by replacing the previous hidden sidings with Polbrock Engine Shed, it has allowed me to increase the scenic area of the layout. This extra space has given the opportunity to represent a length of single track running along side the river leading into Polbrock. This will give me a better chance to replicate the picture below.

Another possible advantage is as there are two signal boxes (Grogley Junction & Polbrock) I could split the layout to allow for two or more operators. Wow, it is getting out of hand...

While away I've also been able to get the basic elements of the above into Templot. Some slight alterations have had to be made but overall it is the same as the above. To complete the track plan in Templot, I have to finish the turntable; a double slip; a three way turnout; and those tricky diamonds at the junction to draw. Apart from that the drawing is complete.

Well, will this project get off the ground or is it just a dream? We'll have to wait and see...

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Just testing how things are looking

This evening, after adding a few bushes, weeds, and scenic bits at the cottage end of the layout, I thought I'd take a few pic's to see how it is starting to look when some rolling stock is added to the mix.

I'm not sure about the yellow flowers in the field, also I feel the grass texture in the field is looking a little flat but over it's begining to feel OK.

Monday, 17 October 2016

There's been heavy rain overnight

There was some heavy rain during the night but after a warm start to the day the early morning mist has cleared. Then with a blue sky and the sun beating down there are only a few puddles left...

Not sure if these capture the effect totally but, after reading an  article in one of the modelling magazines showing how to create puddles, I was dying to have a go at representing pools of water within the hard standing area. After all, Cornwall does get its fair share of rain and can get very misty and dank at times. I've spent a few Cornish holidays in a tent or caravan wearing rain coats or on the beach huddled under an umbrella. Sometimes being in the sea has been the driest place to be...

Still much to do on the scenery but hope to have the major items completed by the end of the month.