Friday, 31 December 2010

Point operation

In the build up to this layout, point operation was always going to be one of my first major hurdles. How to set the distance between the switch blades accurately was something I was struggling with especially when working to P4 standards. My previous attempts go back a number of years to copperclad points with a sleeper sized tiebars. I now wanted a more realistic solution. I understood that the switch blades would twist slightly when moving, this movement would, in time, break any solder joint on the blade unless there was some built in flexibility between the blades and the device used to move them. Even though I'd read many descriptions of different solutions, I still struggled with how best to go about it and which materials to use. It was not until I'd discussed my problem with two guys from the P4 group that I started see how to put a solution together. Also having access to layouts in the local area group has helped, I've been able to look, listen, and hopefully, learn.

My method is nothing ground breaking, all ideas have been borrowed from other modellers. I decided at an early stage to adopt Tortoise point motors and install all motors under the baseboard using Exactoscale's Tortoise Mounting Plates which gave me the horizontal motion. I just needed to decide on how to transfer this horizontal motion vertically through the baseboard to the switch blades.

Also a couple of guys stated that on their P4 layout they used 16.5mm as the distance between switch blades. This sounded too narrow to me but in checking dimensions it seemed OK for the centre to centre measurement between blades. My rough calculations are - P4 standards state a distance of 17.47mm between outer faces of the check rails - in reality on my points this has become 17.38mm - minus 0.9mm for width of rail gives a nominal 16.5mm. No doubt purists will put me right but at the moment it seems to work for me.

Hopefully the diagram below will help to explain the following verbal description.

I've used 0.5mm brass wire for the wire droppers soldered to the blades. Both wire droppers are bent slightly so that they are vertical to the centre of the blade when they pass though the baseboard. I then drilled the motion arm from the Tortoise mounting plate with two 1.5mm holes at 16.5mm centres. The hole was drilled to pass though the arm. Into each hole I then glued a 13mm length of 1.5mm brass tube. An 18mm length of 1.0mm brass tube, with an internal dimension of 0.5mm, was then soldered into the 1.5mm tube (18mm being the distance from the base of the motion arm to the top of the balsa wood track base). When installed, this will leave just the 0.5mm brass wire passing though the ballast layer. To help with installation when threading the motion arm onto the wire droppers under the baseboard, I cut the wire droppers to different lengths, 24mm and 22mm. When fitted, the wire droppers will protrude through the motion arm which means that the motor cannot be directly under the point but will be offset to one side of the point under the baseboard.

Elements described above ready for installation.

It is all very simple really..........that is, once you know what to do, what to use and how to use it.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Additions to my Reference Library

While viewing St Merryn at Scaleforum with my partner and having discussions with a couple the SLAG guys the book below was purchased. Unfortunately for me I had to wait until Christmas Day to get my hands on it.

We have spent the last few days away visiting family but in quiet moments I've managed to skim read through most of the book, picking out a number of helpful tips in the process. I will need to read the book in more depth but it comes across as one that any budding P4 modeller (or possibly any modeller) should have in their collection. It is especially useful for myself due to the area in which St. Merryn is based covering many aspects that I need to consider: differences in track in the area; LSWR tiebars; Bachmann 45xx conversion to P4; Airfix 'B' Set conversion/detailing; Cornish hedges; layout lighting; and stock boxes being just a few. St. Merryn is a fine example of P4 modelling by an accomplished group of modellers and the book is written in a easy friendly style that should encourage rather than discourage. If it had gone into more detail it may have become a tome of information but unfriendly, certainly to the P4 newcomer. It is one book in my library that will not spend much time on the shelf.

The second book that Santa brought me was Colin Marsden's, 'The Diesel Shunter'.

This was a book that I discovered a couple of months ago while kicking my heels in Lincoln waiting for a new timing belt being fitted to my car. Apparently fitting the timing belt was a specialised job requiring special tools which non of my local garages had, so a trip to the main Peugeot dealer was arranged. I had to wait about 4 hours and while browsing W.H. Smiths I came across the above book. Having very little knowledge of anything relating to BR shunters, knowing I will need an 03 and an 08 for Tredethy Wharf, I immediately thought 'I need that one'. Unfortunately the dust jacket was damaged so, noting down the ISBN number, it was one destined for my Amazon Wish List. Then, when searching on Amazon, I realised that it was out of print...... second hand fetching a price far higher than its RRP. After mentioning this to my partner she came up trumps again by making a visit to W.H.Smiths to purchase the book, apparently getting a good discount in the bargain.

The little lady is a true treasure.

Friday, 24 December 2010

A barren few weeks

I recently had a gentle reminder that I haven't posted an entry for a while but the title of this post says it all really. To progress the layout I needed a few items from Squires and Exactoscale. There was some confusion with the Squires order, all down to me I hasten to add, which delayed me finding the items by a couple of weeks. Then I posted the Exactoscale order which took a respectable fortnight to arrive.

While waiting for the above orders to arrive a WWII war game was arranged. This awoke some interest in looking though my mass of unpainted lead and I was side tracked a little by a couple of gaming projects. First a building that had been languishing in a box for many a year. I slapped a little paint on it and after gaining a feeling of achievement, I then picked up a second building to complete. One thing led to another and before I knew it I'd also started and finished a German artillery unit. Wargaming has definitely taken a back seat during this last year and I was gradually loosing interest in picking anything up to paint or finish off. So it was good to get stuck into some old projects that had been hanging around for far too long. I think it has also helped to clear and refocus my mind on the railway project. As they say 'a change is as good as a rest'.

With a little bit of luck I'm back on track (pun intended). I'm definitely not on schedule as I had hoped to have finished laying the track during Christmas with wiring completed and something running. I have made a start on finishing the switch blades for the second point, and now the extra bits from Exactoscale have arrived, I can start on the final point. A little progress has also been made on the 7 plank wagon but not enough to shout about. I've also been looking at some Bill Bedford W irons to see where I've gone wrong in folding them, more of which later........

May I thank all who have read this blog during the last year and for the encouragement and comments left. I truly hope you all have a happy and memorable Christmas.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Track at Baseboard Joints (part 2)

A further report on method 3 from my previous posting......

Not sure if this has been done before but it is only a twist on the plywood and rivet method. At the baseboard edge, holes have been drilled through the plywood sleepers, and through the balsa underlay into the plywood track base. Then 20mm long panel pins have then been pushed and lightly tapped into place.

Panel pins in place

Pin heads were cleaned with a light rubbing of a file and then tinned with a little solder. The underneath of the rail was also cleaned with a file and tinned before soldering the two together. I still need to apply cosmetic chairs to cover the joints. My soldering technique has been a little dodgy of late but after a little demonstration the other evening from a P4 area group member (Gordon), I'm hopeful that these joints will hold.

The start of the next point with chairs and rail in place.

As can be seen from the above photo, I'm going to trial plastic chairs glued directly to plywood sleepers on the opposite side of the baseboard joint to this point. If these fail I can always revert to another method..............

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Film Show

I was at Grimsby library today to peruse a photographic exhibition put on by North East Lincolnshire Photographic Society. There were some fine photographs on display all by local amateur photographers. While browsing some posters in the entrance to the library I noticed the following event that might be of interest to some locals in the North Lincolnshire area.

At Cleethorpe's Memorial Hall on Thursday 11th November there is a 'Grand Film Show' titled 'Railways Remembered - Along LNER Lines'. Starting time 7:30pm but cannot remember who is presenting the show nor the ticket price. I remember the poster stating that the film show has a special tribute to the GCR and something about Immingham Docks, possibly the opening ceremony in 1912.

I've searched the web to check my memory and found nothing about this event.......typical.... should have taken a photo of the poster.

Sorry about only having half the information.....hope the info is of use to someone.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Track at baseboard joints

On arriving home yesterday evening I had the surprise of finding a nice bulky envelope containing two Ultrascale wheel conversion packs. One for another Bachmann 8750 Pannier (to be 4694) and other for a Bachmann Class 08 Shunter. Better get my next order placed......... AND place my order for some 08 cranks that are being etched by my local P4 area group (Hi guys... could I have three sets please?).

As for progress on the layout............. my evening modelling time has again been difficult to find recently but track laying is progressing on the plank, all be it very slowly. One thing I've been struggling with is how to secure track at baseboard joints. I've been mulling over options and it looks like I'm going to trial at least three different methods.....

Method 1) At the joint at one end of the layout I'm trying C&L's Baseboard End Track Protectors. They look like they will work well but I'm a little concerned about the width of these protectors and the difficulty in disguising them. At the end I've chosen they are the perfect width for soldering the running rail and check rail to. This end they will also vanish under a covering of hard standing. I may be able to disguise them at the opposite end of the layout but at the middle joint I'm not sure how I can without extending the hard standing area across the baseboard joint.

C & L Baseboard end track Protectors (C1012)

Method 2) One suggestion that has been made by a member of my local P4 group is copperclad sleepers and brass chairs. At the moment I'm not that keen as, so far, no matter how hard I've tried I have not yet been able to paint a copperclad sleeper to match the wooden ones. I'm still going to give this method a trial on the layout though.

Brass chairs and copperclad sleeper

Method 3) I'm also thinking about hammering some panel pins into the plywood track sub-base through pre-drill wooden sleepers. Rail can then be soldered to the head of the pin and cosmetic chairs applied.

Pin and rail test solder

I'm now going to set myself up to be shot down in flames by all those who have much more experience than me. So here goes............

Method 4) With all the above said I still have a thought about using plastic chairs glued to wooden sleepers at baseboard joints. My theory the glue joint between chair and sleeper will be a weak point any damage should at least leave the sleeper and ballast intact. The above three methods would possibly stand rougher handling but any damage might be drastic. Not only would there be damage to rail and chairs but there might also be damage to sleepers, ballast and possibly the balsa underlay. With plastic chairs any damage should only require the rail and any damaged chairs removed then new rail and chairs installed. Hmmmm..... not sure if I'm brave enough to give this a try though................ I'll wait for the sound of those guns being fired..........

Hopefully with the longer evenings setting in I'll manage a few more hours each week and a few photos of my meagre progress.

Friday, 15 October 2010

NCR timetable time/distance graph

I've recently wangled a couple of lunch breaks and managed to create a time/distance graph for my North Cornwall line timetable. It's not complete as I still need to confirm workings to/from Mawgan Porth but it has thrown up a couple of anomalies.

The first anomaly was the Up 11:30 goods train passing the ACE between Launceston and Tower Hill. This must have been a problem created by using timetables from different periods. I've altered the timing of the goods slightly by shortening its stay at Launceston so that it reaches Tower Hill just before the ACE. Not sure if this is correct so if anyone has a 1961 goods timetable for the line please let me know.

The second anomaly was with the Down 7:15 Halwill departure which, when compared to other down trains, seemed to take too long to travel between Tower Hill and Launceston. I've double checked the 1961 timetable and the times are correct. My only assumption is that the timetable does not show the arrival time at Launceston it only shows the departure time. So I've altered this to have a 13 minute stop at Launceston, to drop off newspapers and parcels.

Neither of the anomalies have affected what I'm trying to do at Grogley Junction and the surrounding area but I like to try to get things as correct as possible with what information I can find (please note I did say 'try').

The thought of creating a time/distance graph had not occurred to me until Micky suggested it in a recent comment. Creating one has shown how valuable these graphs are to confirm timings for timetables. From now on I'll be trying to use one or more time/distance graphs while creating a timetable for the local workings around Grogley Junction.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

On a different scale

I've just spent a interesting day helping a friend with his layout at a small show in Aylsham, Norwich. His usual partner in crime was otherwise engaged so I was drafted in to help.

His layout is called Winterschlef-Rhb and is based on the Engadine line in Switzerland. The scale is 1:45 (Continental O) with track gauge set at 22.5mm to represent Swiss metre-gauge track. All buildings are scratch built and are based on structures either on the line or in the vicinity.

Interestingly for me is that he has recently converted the layout from DC to DCC. I can see the potential for adding operational interest on layouts larger than my Tredethy Wharf. Also, the ease of use and extra features that DCC can bring ...... hmmmm .... it's not something I can justify the investment on at the moment but will definitely have to consider it in the future.

PS - I do apologise for the spelling and grammatical errors previously in this posting. My only excuse is that it had been a long day with a 5:15 alarm call!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Leatherhead 2010

Home at last after having a few days away which included a visit to Scaleforum at Leatherhead. Only my second visit to Scaleforum and I managed to spend all day Saturday some of Sunday around the show thoroughly enjoying the experience. Excellent layouts, very informative demonstrations and a focused P4 trade support. I probably made one or two too many purchases but they are all needed in the grand scheme of things..........honest! What was also enjoyable was meeting a few gents that I've only conversed with via blogs or email, really good putting faces to names. The more I do with my meagre layout the more I appreciate what is involved to create a layout. Then add to that the P4 discipline and I was in awe of all the layouts on show at Leatherhead.

Best in show for me, and I know I'm very biased in my selection because of the subject matter, has to be St. Merryn. I think the overall feel and consistent standard of modelling across the layout from the South London Group is excellent. They also seem a down to earth friendly bunch and with the publication of their book they are sharing the trials and tribulations during the layout's construction.

St. Merryn

St. Merryn is closely followed by Wheel Elizabeth, Horsley Bank and Portchullin as my favourite exhibits. What can I say that has not been said about Wheel Elizabeth....... not a lot apart from "superb".

Wheel Elizabeth

Horsley Bank is a compact essay set depicting a Yorkshire woollen mill town. Nice detail, plenty to look at and very informative well presented display boards.

Horsley Bank

Initially I wasn't sure about Portchullin but the more I looked the more I liked. It has a openness / remoteness about it which, though I have not been to the area, placed me up there in Scotland.


After purchasing up a copy of MRJ 201 on the Saturday and reading an article during the evening I was disappointed to only get a brief look at the Barrow Road Engine shed exhibit on the Sunday morning. Sunday morning was just a quick blast around the show with my partner, who took all the photos, before we travelled up to the Lakes for a few days.

Finally I have to mention Bank Hall Sidings which was at the show as a 'Guest Gauge of the year' layout. This was the first S gauge layout that I've seen for a while and certainly the first that was this complete. A very high standard of modelling with everything scratch built.......!

Bank Hall Sidings

This is only a selection from the ten layouts at the show and takes nothing away from the other fine layouts but the above were the ones that rocked my boat that little bit more.

My thanks must go to the organisers of the show who organised and ran a fine show. My pass-out is already signed for next year when I might try and spend two full days there.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Buffer stops

Last night I spent a most enjoyable evening with one of the local areas Scalefour guys (Clive) discussing a buffer stop for Tredethy Wharf. Up until a few days a go I was going to use an old Mikes Models LSWR kit for a buffer stop. That was until I discovered, in my collection of photographs, a three quarter side view of the buffer stop at Dunmere Wharf. I remembered Clive offering me some jigs he'd made for building buffer stops on his layout so I'd asked to borrow them. But it's never that easy, on close inspection of the photo, we discovered the Dunmere stop has some seemingly unique features. More research is needed and Clive has asked for a scale drawing as a new jig might be needed..... Hmmmm.....but hopefully, with his help, I'll be able to build a reasonable representation for Tredethy Wharf.

I am quite excited by this little project..... more updates to follow...............

Monday, 20 September 2010

New 1961 NCR timetable!!

I've recently started to make use of some of my lunch breaks to put some thought into the hub of my Grogley Junction project. The whole project evolves around the creation of a junction station at Grogley and how its creation would effect rail operations. My thoughts have wandered towards its track plan and also my interpretation of Boscarne Junction. I'm currently not sure that my first attempts at track plans for these two junctions will fit the bill. I want to check whether my they would be adequate for traffic running though both the junctions and the only way I could see to do this was to create the timetables.

The aim is to dovetail my fictitious timetable into a 1961/2 timetable with as little alteration as possible from the actual workings of the North Cornwall Railway. It will also need to fit into the historical timetables of the Western Region for Bodmin General and the Newquay branch. As the project has altered slightly to my previous attempt, I've spent time creating these new timetables for the North Cornwall Line as shown below:

References used have been a SR British Railways' timetable for 1961; timetables published in "An Illustrated History of the North Cornwall Railway" (Irwell Press); engine diagrams and timetables in "The Bodmin & Wadebridge Railway" (CFD Whetmath, Forge Books).

I am also hoping that the timetables will help to curtail random purchases, and enable me to work towards a stock list that is relevant for the whole project. Since creating the images for posting I've discovered photographs showing a couple of different train make-ups that will alter the entries slightly within the above timetable headings. These are still a work in progress...........

Timetables for all the local workings between Padstow, Bodmin, Wenford plus the fictitious workings to Mawgan Porth and Par are also being worked on. This is being a more difficult task than the above and will take a number of lunch breaks over the next couple of months before it's in a readable state. Once done I'll be able to work on and justify track plans for any proposed station/junction in my alternative universe.

Friday, 10 September 2010

RCH 7 Plank wagon (Part 5)

It's been a while ...... and track laying on Tredethy Wharf is progressing slowly. I'm beginning to realise what I've started by using individual LSWR chairs........... and this is just a small/test plank layout!

As a slight distraction and with the encouragement of a recent article in the MRJ 200, I've picked up the RCH PO wagon again. A few months ago I'd put this wagon to one side after becoming dissatisfied with my attempt at painting the internal planking. It has been a long time since I've used enamels as all my wargaming painting has been with acrylics. The other barrier has been a mental one about painting a weathered wood effect. In my OO/EM days I'd made a few attempts at this and tried to represent replaced planks, and I never really captured the effect I was after.

Mulling things over I'd started to consider using acrylics when MRJ 200 arrived with the excellent article by Craig Welsh. This lead to a quick purchase of paints followed a couple of hours work, and I'm starting to feel I'm getting somewhere.

It's early days yet........ the planking needs toning down a little with grey washes; the metal work needs rust applying; the whole wagon needs weathering; need to apply running numbers...... but over all I am now feeling more confident about painting wooden wagons. Thanks Craig.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Photographs by Ian Dinmore

I have come across a small selection of interesting colour photographs taken by Ian Dinmore. All are on the Railscot site. Three show weathered clay wagons and one is of the water trough at Pencarrow Woods with no train obscuring the view.

Boscarne Junction with a view of a short clay train from the guards van taken in 1982 here which also shows excellent detail/condition of the inside of a empty clay wagon.

Bodmin General with empty clayhoods here

Pencarrow Woods water trough here This is the first photo I've seen without a train in shot. Must have been taken from a Guards van.

Dunmere level crossing here

I like the last two photographs as they do show the intimacy that this line had with its surroundings. I do hope I will be able to portray this intimacy on Tredethy Wharf.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

A funny old few weeks

The last three weeks have been a funny mix.
  • Holidaying in a leaking tent.
  • Doing some more work on the garden project.
  • Painting and basing new elements for my 15mm Napoleonic Austrian army which were used for an inaugural game in my regular opponents new gaming room.
  • Track laying being started on Tredethy Wharf with the first point in position and the Tortoise point control mechanism in place under the baseboard (motor still to be installed).
  • Legs being constructed for the two scenic boards for Tredethy Wharf and nearly completed.
But.....during all the above I sprained my right wrist. At first it was not too bad and me being me, not wanting to make a fuss, I thought it would get better on its own. I tried to work though the discomfort until eventually, after a day's decorating, I could not do anything with my right hand........It has been strapped up in a splint for the last week. With hopefully only another week to go with the splint on, I'm doing what I can but it's being a little restrictive.

So very steady progress is being made on the layout but, at the moment, not enough to really shout about.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

An excellent Saturday

This is a bit of a late posting of an event that happened recently.

Last Saturday a group of us spent a most enjoyable day at a devout Great Central Railway modeller's house in Oughtibridge. After seeing Bridgehouses at Wakefield North show this year I was intrigued to go along and see his model of Brackley. On the other hand I was hesitant as Bridgehouses is far beyond anything I could expect to build myself and felt I would be way out of my depth in such company. Also being the new boy to P4, with little knowledge of things GC and being a BRWR devotee with SR leanings, I did wonder what my reception would be ....... but I needn't have worried as I was made to feel extremely welcome.

A few of the guys had taken locos to run around Brackley to run them in a little. One loco on test was a J63 which received a lot of praise. This is a loco that I was unfamiliar with but I do like the smaller 0-6-0 tanks, especially with outside cylinders. At the other end of the scale someone else also brought along a Robinson 04 which, when pulling a rake of coal wagons, looked the part and well at home running through Brackley. What I got out of the day more than anything is seeing and hearing how others tackle and solve problems. This was all helped by seeing someone else's layout in the flesh, part complete, in the nude if you like. I do find it difficult to engage exhibitors across a layout at an exhibition while they are busy operating, trying to entertain the punters, even at Scalefour Society exhibitions. I came away from the day wanting to crack into track laying on Tredethy. I was also encouraged by all the talk to start on one of my loco kits. Which one to get to grips with first is the question? The High Level 03 chassis is favourite, but I do fancy giving the Nu-Cast 16xx a go. The DJH 1366 will have to wait until I've built up some confidence and it is all to do with confidence........and after that Saturday I have a little bit more confidence to have a go.

Just about to leave for a few days up in the Lakes then back to a little more work on the Garden Project but I'm sure I will find a few hours to get to grips with some modelling, I can't wait.

I know this will not be read by the host or his wife but I'd like to publicly thank them both for the day and their hospitality. Many thanks.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

A Garden Project

At this week's Scalefour Area Group meeting there was a little banter that I've not entered any postings since 16th June. Hmmmm.......well here come the excuses..........not much has happened on the layout as a major Garden Project has been given priority by the "power that needs to be obeyed". Got to blame someone :-)). We also have a visitor staying with us for a couple of weeks. I then have a holiday coming up which means not much else will happen for at least the next fortnight.

On the plus side.......I was able to complete all sleeper laying for the plain track before the layout boards were put into storage while the visitor is with us. I have also been able to test a couple of old AMR handheld controllers at this week's meeting. They worked but not as well as a Gaugemaster W handheld unit. So the two AMR controllers will do for now but I'll have to save a few pennies for a Gaugemaster controller in the future. I've also received a recent order from Squires for brass tubing and rod for point control, wire, switches, solder etc. for the layout. So when the layout does come out of storage I hope I can press on fairly quickly with track laying and wiring.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Germany game

While watching the Germany v Australia game on Sunday I was privileged to be able to put one board on the coffee table and start laying sleepers. Little did I know that I was being photographed........

At this point I was looking at an old Mikes Models LSWR buffer stop while waiting for the glue to go off under weighted down sleepers. I could vaguely remember purchasing a buffer stop many years ago but was starting to think I'd lost it. The previous evening, after one last ditched attempt at searching for it, I eventually found it in one of the many boxes of old railway stuff in the roof. In checking out what buffer stops were used at Wenfordbridge and Wadebridge it should be OK for the siding at Tredethy Wharf.

As for the game, Germany seem to be back to their normal tournament best and look to be a hard side to beat. If England get though the group stage lets hope they don't meet Germany in the quarter finals.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Sleeper staining

500 sleepers are now stained and ready for laying.

The last batch laid out to dry
Had a problem with my staining mixture. Ran out of my first mixture and when mixing some more to the same recipe it came out too strong. After a little thinning down, with some more isopropyl alcohol, I think I got close enough. I'm trying to achieve a faded grey/brown colour to the sleepers with that almost silvery look they get when weathered. Hope to post better photos once I start laying the sleepers on the layout.

I'm using Exactoscale 1.6mm thick sleepers hoping I'll get some good variation of depth to the ballast. May well be extravagant and use wooden sleepers even where they will be completely covered by roadways and hard-standing in the Wharf area. Initially I'd purchased some copper clad sleepers for these areas. Now my thoughts are as the hard-standing looks like it was compacted earth, not completely up to rail height, tops of chairs and sleeper edges may well be seen in places.

(Note to self - Staining recipe used for this batch : 100ml water + 100ml isopropyl alcohol + 4ml black ink + 5ml sepia ink - each sleeper individually dipped quickly and shaken)

Saturday, 29 May 2010

All this for just three inches

Over the last couple of evenings I have noticed that the layout, being placed on a work bench/table, is definitely at the wrong height for me to work on comfortably. This is probably a sign that I'm getting a bit old. Standing up the layout is far too low and being seated it feels too restrictive and awkward. This has got me thinking about what is the best height for the layout and that I ought to get the layout supports built sooner rather than later.

So with the thoughts that: I am 6' 3" and my partner is 5' 2"; that the layout is being built for my own interest and as a test bed; the layout needs to be at a height that is comfortable for me to build and operate; the layout needs to be at a height that my partner can hopefully appreciate it. My thoughts wandered to the recently suggested height of 4' 3". Initially I thought that this would be a about right but during my lunch break yesterday, to try and help make a decision, I started to draw the diagrams below.

If I put a front fascia on, 18" above track level, to frame the layout, I could still operate the layout without stooping. If I put a back-screen on the layout it would have to be at least 2' tall, however, my thoughts are that I will be operating the layout from the front anyway so a 6'+ back-screen would not be a problem. Looking at the above though I thought that 4' 3" might be a tad too high for my partner, also, is it too high for me to work on comfortably? The track bed might be better at my elbow height which would put it at 4'.


This might be a better height? Back-screen if fitted would still be 2' high. The bottom of the front front fascia would be just below my eye height but if I stand a little away from the layout it should not be too intrusive. If I sit on a tall stool while operating the layout, the front fascia should not be an issue. My partner would have a more open view with the track bed 3" lower than the above 4' 3". With the track bed being at elbow height it should be more comfortable working on the layout especially when adding scenic detail.

Time will tell, but a track bed height of 4' looks to be favourite. (We'd both better get dressed after the life drawing class........ :-)..)

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Tredethy Wharf (May update)

This is not much of an update on progress, more a report that the layout has found a home which should help with construction.......

Apart from a fettle with some Bill Bedford W Irons, progress on the layout has been at a standstill from mid April through most of May. Work and social commitments have taken their toll, along with yet more furniture moving and rearrangements. This is all down to my daughter moving out into a flat and the rest of my partner's furniture coming out of storage. With all this going on I had to, yet again, reluctantly loose my 'man space' in the garage. But the upshot of all this is that I've negotiated some space for the layout in the house!

The baseboards for Tredethy Wharf now reside on a bench in what has become my 'man space' in the house. There's not enough space for the eventual complete layout, only the two scenic boards (beggars can't be too choosy) but this has enabled me to dabble a little on the layout for the last couple of evenings.

A while back I mentioned to the local P4 group that I was planning to use cork for the track bed. I was immediately informed that Balsa wood is starting to be recognised as a better material for the track base. Holes have been cut through the ply baseboard under the tie-bar locations for point control and 5mm Balsa has been glued in position. One part completed turnout has also been dropped into place. I was hoping to get the track plan glued in place but I've been side tracked a little this evening staining some sleepers.

The next update should show some good progress........

Monday, 10 May 2010


This last weekend I spent a very enjoyable Sunday helping (well I like to think I was helping) operate a P4 layout at Cleethorpes Model Railway Exhibition. The layout depicts a 'what might have been' at Saltfleet on the East Coast of Lincolnshire and is the work of two members of the local Scalefour Area Group, Martin and David. It is very much a work in progress and they have worked tirelessly over the last few months to get it to its current stage.

Soon after arriving I was, promptly handed the controls! Well I suppose I had offered and had hoped I'd get some hands on the controls but it had been many a year since I'd been in the drivers seat.......... I then spent the next two hours absorbed in the 65 movement sequence. To my surprise the time flew by and I honestly thought that only half an hour and passed when it was announced 'grub up for first sitting'.

A few things came out of the experience the main one being the use of automated couplings. I've been having thoughts about the merits of 3-link verses automated couplings for many a month and after Sunday it has to be automated couplings. The ease of use under exhibition conditions far out weighs the aesthetics of 3 link couplings. Goods traffic was formed into set rakes with 3-links within the rake and 'Sprat and Winkle' coupling at each end. It all worked well once I'd spotted all the magnets. So next discussion is which automated couplings......?

If my little project comes close to this standard I will be well happy.

Thanks guys........

Monday, 26 April 2010


I've gradually been building up a collection of photographs for the Wadebridge - Bodmin - Wenford Bridge lines and thought I'd share a couple of my recent ebay purchases. Neither are photographs but tickets issued for the lines. The first to catch my eye was a ticket for travel between Grogley Halt and Bodmin. When spotted I thought I just had to have it as Grogley is the inspiration and central to this project. The ticket ties in a little bit of reality to my fiction.

The second is a passenger ticket for the goods only Wenford Bridge line. As my 'Plank' Tredethy Wharf is based on this line, again I thought this also had to be added to the collection.

Apparently passengers were allowed to travel in the Guards Van. I've also been informed that a Queen Mary brake van was sometimes added to the daily goods train when passengers were being conveyed. No printed tickets were available so tickets had to be hand written. What a nice piece of railway history.

I don't know the age of, or personal history behind either ticket, if anyone has any ideas please let me know.

Monday, 19 April 2010

The plank!!

Well, there it is, The Plank!


The Plank with track plan.

At this end of the layout I cannot decide on how the cottage / road / land contours will look, so the front profile board will be cut later. I also need to decide on the height of the layout so that I can start to construct the supporting frame/legs, but at least I am at the point where serious thought can be applied to track laying. Just need a little tweak here and there on the track plan and things will start to get interesting.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Wenford DVD

I recently purchased a DVD produced by Branch Line Video titled 'Memories of the Bodmin & Wadebridge Railway'. I had mulled over the purchase for a while but as the front cover had a picture of a Beattie Well Tank at Dumere Crossing I thought it might contain something of interest on the Wenford Bridge line. Being not sure what to expect I was, after viewing, extremely please with the purchase. I would highly recommend this DVD to anyone interested in this area and the workings of the Wenford Bridge line.

It comes with two DVDs, the first covers the history of the line starting with brief footage of the North Cornwall Line then moving onto the main subject highlighted with many stills and brief cine film. Of more interest to me is the second DVD. It has cine film footage of two trips down the Wenford Bridge branch. One starting with footage of workings at Wadebridge and progressing to an empty clay train working hauled by a Beattie 30585. The second of a Brake Van special hauled by 1369. Both have anecdotal commentary from men who worked the line. Footage is not surprisingly showing its age but still fantastic to see.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Easter & Lincolnshire Wolds Railway

I was disappointed about not being able to get up to York this year as I would have dearly liked to have seen Wheel Elizabeth in the flesh. York does sometimes throw up some interesting layouts and James' report mentions Mini MSW which would also have been worth seeing.

Anyway I did manage to steal a couple of hours away from chores and paid a visit to the Lincolnshire Wolds Railway. It's only 15 mins away at Ludborough. I'd not paid them much attention to this project but 'her indoors' kindly suggested a visit for a break. This Easter weekend was the official opening of their second station at North Thoresby. In celebration they had organised a Steam Gala.

A big attraction, especially for me, was a visiting Pannier tank 6430. I dutifully took the opportunity to take photos of this engine for a possible future project. Some excellent photos of the weekend can be found on Dave's Railpics of Lincolnshire web site .

By all accounts the Steam Gala was a great success. It attracted a tremendous number of visitors over the weekend with many full trains. I'll have to pay them another visit soon.

Monday, 22 March 2010

At last , some progress

I was supposed to be going to the Nottingham Model Railway Show this weekend but a couple of events changed my plans. The guy I was going with couldn't make it and my partner deciding at the last minute to visit her son, staying over until Monday morning. I've not been to the Nottingham show before the Scalefour Area Group guys had recommended it as one worth going to. With four P4 layouts there this year, which I have not seen in the flesh, and an impressive trader list I was fully intending to go. So why didn't I?

The previous weekend I'd made an attempted to reorganise the garage. The intention was to create some space so that I could make a start on baseboard construction. Though I was not able to create enough space I did clear a path to the sheets of plywood I'd put on one side for this project. Knowing the timber was at hand put a thought in mind. After the boss had departed and while watching the final game of the Six Nations, I rolled out the full size printout of Tredethy Wharf. A few scribbles were made, a couple of sketches drawn, and I thought, 'if I don't go to Nottingham I could get them built tomorrow.......Hmmmmm..... With no room in the garage to swing a cat I've been waiting for good weather at a weekend or an opportunity like this to make a start. It was a tough decision but this was an excellent opportunity to get stuck into the baseboards for Tredethy Wharf.

Sunday brought mayhem to the kitchen and gradually it spread though the house. Was I glad the boss was not around? ....... At the end of the day I had nearly finished one baseboard.

Baseboard One.
The above picture makes it look like the baseboard has a bottom but it's only resting on a piece of scrap plywood to stop me scratching the table.

This has been a bigger task than I thought. Last time I built any baseboards they were simple rectangular solid topped style boards. The two I'm making for Tredthy Wharf have curved fronts and need height front to back. I have also attempted to integrate the contours into the board end profiles. While weighing up angles and gradients for surrounding land I started to wish I'd made a quarter scale mock up. But out came all photos I have accumulated on this line ........ hopefully I will have the lie of the land about right?

In the above picture the nearest baseboard end profile board has the next boards profile end piece bolted to it. These two end pieces have pattern makers dowels fitted for alignment. I have not used pattern makers dowels before and though easy to fit they did take a little while. To complete the above first baseboard a couple more middle supports need fitting and the front facial profile board needs cutting and fitting. Then it's on with the second baseboard.

There was a bit of stumbling around, a couple of mistakes and plenty of 'thought time' involved but overall I think I've cracked it with the baseboards. Just need the boss to go away next weekend and I'll have both boards completed!!........

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

RCH 7 Plank Wagon (Pt.4)

I have been undecided whether to have Morton Brake Gear on both sides or just one side on this wagon. The old packet of 9ft Brake Gear produced by Kenline contains two identical castings. I was sure that, while this might be OK for independent brake gear fitted to wagons with bottom doors, for this wagon it would not be correct. In my earlier modelling days I would have just added the brake gear as supplied. I wouldn't have batted an eye lid to any possible inaccuracy, hiding behind the thought that you only see one side of the wagon at a time, but today I feel different.

So what would the other side of the wagon look like? Are the brake handles identical? Should there be double V hangers on the side with no brake gear? I remember comments about rackets, reversing clutches, dog clutchs, cams and other technical terms concerning Morton Brake gear. What do they all mean? How and where were they all used? To those that are in the know about these things please remember that I am on a big learning curve with the whole of this project. The problem I've had is finding a wagon with Morton Brake Gear that has been photographed from both sides and/or ideally from underneath. While it might be possible to deduce from a single photograph whether a wagon has brake gear on both sides or not, it's difficult for a novice like myself to understand what the other side should look like.

Eventually, after rummaging through all my wagon books, I found a couple of pictures showing both sides of the same wagon. They're of a badly loaded NE 6 plank open wagon in J.H. Russell's book 'Freight Wagons and Loads in service with the GWR and BRWR' (figure 14 and 15). These photographs clearly show that the arrangment on the V hangers on each side was different. On the none brake gear side, there was a reversing clutch on the V hanger at the end of the brake handle. I've also seen photographs with a reversing clutch on the brake gear side of a wagon fitted with brake gear on only one side. But until I saw these two photographs of the NE wagon, I was a little unsure of the complete arrangement. But I now take it that the reversing clutch could be on either side of a wagon fitted with brake gear to one side. current understanding is that, Morton Brake Gear, on wagons with no bottom doors, has to have a reversing clutch on one side of the wagon to change the direction of rotation of the connecting bar between the V hangers on each side of the wagon, so that the brakes can be applied from either side of the wagon. Makes sense..........if I'm right that is.......?

Now to the model..............To try and show the reversing clutch, I carefully cut a piece plasticard to shape and then slightly modified the Kenline brake handle. While not 100% accurate, hopefully I have been able to capture the essence of a reversing clutch on the wagon. blowing up photographs this size does show up some issues, but overall I'm pleased with my effort so far. Door stops have been fitted since photographs were taken. Just drawbar hooks to be added. I was going to use Smith's 3 Link couplings until I realised that they are larger than the ones I'd used on my old EM gauge wagons. It had already been mentioned to me that Smith's couplings are a little over scale but until I saw the difference, I didn't realise by how much. I'm now waiting until I receive some couplings from Exactoscale before progressing this wagon any further. Once the drawbar hooks are fitted I can start painting.............

Saturday, 20 February 2010

1968 Model Railway News

I have been putting together an order for bits and bobs from ABS Models. To work out what I might need in the foreseeable future I've been trying to track down information on wagons that are in my 'to build' box. In a previous clear out of old magazines I'd saved cuttings with articles of anything I thought might be of interest in the future. Remembering I'd saved a few articles on wagons I dug out the files, then by browsing through them I came across this article...........

I remembered these pages in the July 1968 copy of Model Railway News being another article that started to change my concept of what a model railway could be like. I thought 'I might be able do that!' At about the same time as this article appeared I was allowed to take over a small room at the back of my dad's garage (but only being aged twelve it seemed large). It was a spacious 9'6" by 7'6" and had been his office but had declined into a junk/store room. What I would do for that amount of free space today.........

I had to modify the article's track plan slightly to fit it in the room by curving the track through 180 degrees from opposite the signal box, round to the road overbridge and beyond. Curving the layout created space for a better designed engine shed in the resultant corner. Locos ran off the main line on to a spur then back towards the station to access the loco shed and facilities. The loco facilities were also improved by the addition of a turnable in the same corner. Another addition was a parallel siding to the platform at the back which was to be used as a coach siding. The rest of the track plan was basically the same as the article.

This layout kept me occupied for a few years until I eventually found girls interesting. Sadly when I left home the layout was broken up. I've just sold the final three Peco code 100 points from this layout on ebay. This track plan still holds a fascination for me which must show by the fact that I've kept this article for all these years. I wonder if I could use this as a basis for the Mawgan Porth track plan?

The article goes on for a couple of columns to briefly describe the use of Superquick buildings which is probably as still relevant today as it was then. Below is the key to the above track plan, and interestingly, I'd ticked all the Superquick models that were built for the layout but now long gone.

Of interest is a book that is mentioned in the 'Bookshelf' column....... little did I think that nearly 40 years later I would have bought the book by Mr. Roche on the Withered Arm.......

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

RCH 7 Plank Open Wagon (Pt.3)

Modelling time during the last couple of weeks has been minimal as I've been busy putting a lot of redundant railway and wargaming stuff on ebay. This is to declutter and help to raise a little cash for this project.

This evening, however, I earmarked a little time to progress the RCH wagon and had a go at adding the axle boxes, springs and brakes. I started by looking over a lovely model of a MINK D built for me as a birthday present many years ago by my good friend Nick.

The compensation units that he used are very similar the the current MJT units and the wagon has been easily converted from EM to P4. The springs on this MINK are J-hangers and Nick had cut the spring away from the hangers on the rocking unit allowing a good 1.5mm of movement.

I thought I'd try and follow his example but after adding the springs on the rocking unit the movement has been restricted to 0.5mm which is most disappointing. The buffer beam height looks OK when compared to the 57xx so I'm not sure how I can achieve more movement?

I cut the springs away from the shoes thinking this would be the least obvious place rather than having a gap between the spring and axlebox. Perhaps I should rethink the way I'm doing this as I would have thought a 1.0mm movement would have been preferable? Also I'm not sure of the look of the gap in the springs?

While at the Leatherhead show I purchased one of the 'more modern' sprung subframe compensation units from Masokits. Looks like I'll have to learn how to use a soldering iron again! Perhaps give this unit a try on one of the many minerals wagons I have to build?

Sunday, 24 January 2010

What is a Cornish Hedge

This is all a little advanced to where I am with this project but as you may have noticed my mind does race ahead of me at times. Anyway I do feel I need to plan ahead a little before I embark on any baseboard construction. I've been considering some of my planned scenic items and how they might affect the baseboards, thoughts have wandered to the lane at the right on the Tredethy Wharf layout.

Last time I was at Hellandbridge I remember the approach down Tredethy Road from Helland being a narrow Cornish lane. Each side of the lane being bordered by typical Cornish hedges and, in places, trees hanging over the road giving a secluded valley feel. But three questions come to mind;
What is a Cornish Hedge?
How is it constructed?
Are the lanes slightly below the surrounding landscape or are they just high hedges?
Hopefully know the answers to the above will help me model one.

While driving along these lanes I've never been that observant, I've probably just been concentrating on not hitting them while avoiding any oncoming traffic. A little research found a couple of interesting web sites that I hope will help me. Nothing will replace good photos (dear partner this is a gentle hint, can we get down there this year?) but these do give details on how the hedges are constructed.

Cornish Hedges Library

Practical Conservation Online

After looking at the above sites I think I can say that, in brief, a typical Cornish hedge is a hybrid between a stone wall and an earth bank. The hedge sides are typically built tapered with an inward curve from the base to half-way up. The top of the hedge is normally about half the width of the bottom. The base is created by placing large stone blocks into the earth and packing them in with sub-soil. The sides are then built using smaller rocks that interlock randomly. When the hedge reachs the required height, the random laying of stones turns into neat rows of square stones called "edgers". To finish, grass is sliced from the ground and stuck on top of the structure with sticks. The internal core of the hedge is earth.

There is a good cross sectional diagram of a Cornish hedge here.

What we see, as we travel along Cornwall's lanes, as a green hedge is the result of years of vegetation growing on/over the base structure.

Well you learn something everyday.........This is what I like about this hobby, it's not just about the railway with its track, locos and rolling stock, it gets you looking at and understanding your surroundings.........

Saturday, 16 January 2010

RCH 7 Plank Open Wagon (Pt.2)

Unfortunately, due to problems at work, I was not able to get to this month's Scalefour Area Group meeting (Sorry guys). When I eventually arrived home I thought I'd to try and make the best of a bad day.

The RCH open wagon was still out on my bench so I drilled out the buffers and glued then in place. While the glue was setting on the buffers I fixed the solebars in place (these had been prepared a previous evening). Finally, with a little filing off the ends of the floor and solebars, I glued the sides onto the wagon floor. I felt I made a bit of a meal putting the sides together as I was dry run testing different methods to get the sides true. Eventually I think they look OK.

I then started to prepare the axleboxes and springs for fitting onto the W irons but realised the ones I was using had 5 leaf springs and pressed shoes. The plastic moulding supplied with the kit are only 4 leaf springs with shoes that possibly represent cast shoes. the kit correct? Out came my wagon reference books only to realise I don't have a reference photo of a fixed end RCH wagon!!! D'oh....That should have been my first thought when starting this kit.........have I any references that I can base this kit on?

It was getting late so I stopped at that point. Only a small amount of progress but it was a bit of good therapy at the end of a bad day.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Figures and big wave of nostalgia

After the success of the Bachmann Pannier tank conversion, my thoughts have been turning to detailing and adding that personal touch to the model, adding a loco crew and other bits like fire irons, lamps etc. I'll probably use Springside Models (still available after all these years) for lamps and Fire Irons but I was not sure where to go for the loco crew until I remembered seeing a guy called Aiden (couldn't re-call his surname) at one of the York shows a couple of years ago. He was demonstrating painting techniques and selling white metal figures.

While searching for "Aiden miniature figures" in Google I came across Brian William Knott Fayle's web site. He has painted some very nice figures in O Gauge which compare favourably with a good standard of wargaming figure. I do agree with what he says about figures on layouts and he has also posted a useful page showing his technique. With my other hobby I paint 1:100 scale (TT Gauge) wargaming figures and do try to pick out face detail. Above all else I feel a well painted face on a figure does give it character and bring it to life. Adding shadow detail whether it be just black outlining or shading in darker colours gives a figure depth.

My interpretation of General Major Johann Graf Frimont,
one of my Napoleonic Austrian command figures.

I'm looking forward to upping my painting skills when tackling figures at the slightly larger 1:76 scale.

Though more to the point of this posting ...........While browsing though Brian's site I was firstly impressed by the amount Brian has contributed to the hobby over the years, but when I open the Harlyn Junction page I was hit with a huge wave of nostalgia. I was just thirteen years old when Harlyn Junction appeared in the Railway Modeller. I remember it being one of the first layouts that started to make me think about modelling rather than playing with my train set. The layout oozed atmosphere, being based on Coaley Junction, with attention to detail taken from the actual location, and well worked scenics made the layout really come to life. I think I may still have that well thumbed copy of the Railway Modeller up in the roof..... where's my torch........?

In the end, I did find Aiden's site and eventually his figure catalogue and hope to be placing an order for some of his loco crew figures very soon.........

Monday, 4 January 2010

RCH 7 Plank open wagon (PC73)

To start the year off I've opened a wagon kit, dug out some old D&S compensation units along with Kean Maygib sprung buffers and made a start. This is a Parkside PC73 RCH 7 plank wagon with fixed ends. I'm sure one of these would have turned up at some point on the Wenford branch.

The mouldings are very crisp and the kit is supplied with w-irons and springs separate to the solebars which is a nice touch. I've soldered up the D&S W-iron compensation units, soldered the wheel bearings into the w-irons and popped in some Alan Gibson P4 8 spoke wagon wheels. I've also cut out and filed down some of the webbing from the underneath of the wagon floor. The aim is to have this as an empty wagon so I need to try to keep the internal planking detail. Then using the excellent Brassmasters Axle Spacing gauge, which I picked up at Scalefour North last year, I fixed the w-irons onto the wagon and ......... hey-presto ......... one nicely running wagon, well ...... a nicely running wagon floor.

This is the first wagon I've built for nearly 20 years so I'm taking it steady but I've started to prepare the sides and solebars. Hopefully another evening will see these in place along with the buffers.

I'm just trying to decide whether to use plastic axleboxes and springs or use some MJT castings ....... May well use the MJT castings as they should add a little more weight to the wagon and could be less hassle to fit.......Hmmmm...........?

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Happy New Year

I've been having a few Internet connection issues and been battling through an ISP support line for the last two days but eventually it looks like I'm back on line so may I wish everybody a belated Happy New Year.

My resolution for this year? just to enjoy the hobby. I'm just going to try and pace myself with doing something each week, whether it is one hour or more, with the aim of enjoying what I'm doing and gradually working towards building the Tredethy Wharf layout. No pressure, no time limit, just a bit of escapism.

Onwards and upwards.............