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...

Monday, 2 April 2018

Missenden has sown a seed

Since Missenden I've not had much time available for visits to the Man Cave. What time there has been has been put to installing Sprat & Winkle couplings on a few more wagons. With the Easter Weekend looming and the thought of having at least two full days of the four free for modelling I'd not been too worried. But how situations can change in a moment. During the week prior to Easter, we had a request from the Fostering team to take on an emergency placement. The little lost sole is with us for at least a week, possibly more...

On evenings away from home I've been putting some thought to tasks I would like to complete on Tredethy Wharf prior to Scaleforum. Thankfully it's not a long list. Apart from adding/improving rolling stock I feel I need to add a couple of trees, along with a couple more fiddle yard cassettes with some minor modifications to the existing cassettes. This would have been it if I'd not popped my head into Paul Bambrick's workshop on Back Screens at Missenden. I was very impressed by the work being created in the workshop and it sowed a small seed of discontent with my own work.

Standing back and taking a second look at the back screen on Tredethy Wharf made me realise it might now not be up to standard. It was created very quickly early in the layout's construction to enable me to present it at an exhibition in a reasonable "state of progress".

No work has been done on the back screen since.


After a little Googling on back screens I discovered that Paul Bambrick has written a book as well as a few magazine articles. Having duly purchased his book I found it to be a well written in a friendly encouraging style. This has made me seriously think about creating a new back screen for Tredethy Wharf and that I might be able to improve on the current one. The objective would be to add some depth to the scene.

So a new back screen for the layout has been added to the list as a possible "to do" before Scaleforum. It will be interesting to see what if I can make an improve on the current back screen. Just a shame I've not progressed the layout much over Easter.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Missenden Abbey

What a brilliant weekend this was from arriving to leaving.

I'd been very apprehensive about attending a Missenden Railway Modellers Weekend. Still regarding myself as a newbie to the hobby with much to learn, then thinking I'd be putting myself in a place with talented and renowned modellers was a little daunting but I need not have worried. On arrival I was given a very warm welcome by David Brandreth and immediately guided to the 4mm kit builders work room. There were offers of help to unload my car along with introductions to the two tutors.

Other attendees were already seated and working so once I'd set up work started straight away. The bar opened at 6pm for a cheeky pint (or two) before we sat down for the evening meal which was certainly adequate. This was following by a short introduction to the weekend. There were 12 newbies attending and we had to give a two line introduction to ourselves. It was surprising to find I was not the only one attending with problems building their first loco chassis.

My intention is to eventually build at least three 57xx Pannier chassis along with a 94xx, as all have the same wheel base. Friday evening was spent building a jig for these locos. I'd previously used my lathe to make three stainless steel axles with spigots. The remaining task was to ream out the previously drilled 3mm holes in a Tufnol block to accept these axles. This turned out to be a very time consuming job and it was soon 10pm which I thought was kicking out time. Much to my surprise we were allowed to work on as long as we liked until the early hours if we had the stamina. I called it a day at 10.30pm with a few brass bearings reamed out to fit the jig.

Friday at 10.30pm
After a hearty breakfast at Chartridge Lodge on Saturday morning (unfortunately I didn't book early enough to get accommodation at Missenden) I arrived at 9.15am to find most attendees already hard at work. My first task was to laminate the articulated coupling rods that came with the Comet Chassis kit. Using the jig this was an easy task.

First attempt at constructing the coupling rods
On examination by Tim Watson (one of the tutors) he pointed out that I'd been far too gentle with my soldering. His positive criticism was followed by advice and a demonstration on how to improve the look of the rods making them look more like solid chunks of steel. It was back to the jig and the coupling rods were reworked. The improvement was excellent! After this it was very slow progress with fitting the bearings into the hornblocks. Followed by soldering the hornblocks to the chassis sides. At the end of the day, though I was pleased with the result, I was a little disappointed with my progress as I'd hoped to have had the chassis sides soldered together by the end of Saturday.

Saturday at 10:45pm
My slow progress during Saturday might have been due to attending a couple of demonstrations. One on Resistance Soldering given by David Brandreth and one on Weathering by Mick Bonwick. When booking I'd  been torn about which workshops to attended so took the opportunity to pop my head into other workshops to see what they were about. Track by Norman Solomon, Back Scenes and Scenery by Paul Bambrick along with Weathering by Mick Bonwick were all ones which I'd seriously considered attending. During Sunday morning I attended a demonstration by Norman Soloman on track droppers during which he parted with other snippets of advice on installing wiring to the track. 

Sunday started with taking another look at the gearbox. Even though the final gear drive was absent it was temporarily constructed so that the position of the frame spaces could be finalised. I then proceeded to construct the chassis twice! The first attempt was a touch out of square... why this should have been the case I don't know. It was put together on the jig so in theory all should have gone together nice and square. With advice from the tutors (Tim & Tony Gee) I then used a jig lent to me by another modeller and this time the chassis was soldered up square. The compensation beam was then quickly put together before I started on installing crankpins in the wheels and quartering the wheels on the axles. At the end of the day (3pm) all my hesitations, mistakes, missing drive gear and spending time absorbing the Missenden experience had accumulated in slowing down my progress in producing a running chassis.

Sunday at 3pm
Even though I did not achieve my planned objective I feel the weekend at Missenden was a total success. I came away with renewed confidence about by chassis building abilities. I've learnt much about techniques and tools not only from the two tutors but also other modellers especially Paul Willis. In the 4mm Kit Building Group there were people building not only locos in 4mm and 3mm in brass or whitemetal but also wagons in brass and plastic. Seeing projects that other modellers were working on in different scales and sharing experiences rounded the weekend off into a most enjoyable experience.

If the opportunity arose would I go again?... Absolutely. 
Would I recommend the weekend to others?... Most definitely.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

A job for the weekend

My aim this weekend was to install all the electromagnets that will be used to uncouple wagons fitted with Sprat and Winkle couplings. It all started well marking the position of each electromagnet by drilling through the boards from above with a 1.5 mm drill. The hope is that the small holes, one of which that can just be seen in the picture below, will be easily filled so they're not too obvious and might be used as a position marker.

The thickness of the baseboard was then calculated and 5.5mm holes drilled from underneath to a depth just short of breaking through above ground. The only worry I had was, when the electromagnet was installed the ends of the poles would be approximately 5mm short from the bottom of the sleepers and might not be close enough to the rail hight to uncouple the wagons. As a test one electromagnet was installed on baseboard one and wiring attached through to the control panel.

Luckily when the circuit was activated I was able to uncouple the two test wagons on which I'd previously installed Sprat and Winkle couplings. Following this successful test four more electromagnets where duly installed in baseboard two.

Unfortunately at this point in the proceedings I ran out of wire... such progress only to be halted by the schoolboy error of lack of supplies. An order has been placed for more wire which will hopefully arrive in the next couple of days.