ESNG meeting – 21 March 2018

A good social evening with 10 members present – and welcome to Paul, who dropped in and for some reason made Mr Apps’ evening by immediately joining.  There seemed to be plenty of trains running, so many that I didn’t get to give my own stock a run.

Derek’s coal train was hauled by a venerable Farish Pannier, that managed to cope with this rake with ease….

Sean’s PW train had a variety of motive power to haul it….

And of course, the rest of the world was represented by Ian’s commuter trains, as well as Paul’s Japanese, Graham’s American and Peter’s French, Spanish and German trains….

I’ve spent a lot of today doing the final show planning and writing the show guide.  It’s under 4 weeks now, and it was good to hear tonight that we will be able to use the school kitchen, so our catering will be up to its usual standards – and the coffee will be on the go all day again.  It also means that I won’t have to redesign the hall plan.

And a book review to close.  Delighted today to receive a copy of “The East End in Colour 1960-1980” by David Granick.  Published by Hoxton Mini Press, that describes itself as:

We are an indie publisher from East London making
collectable photography books. Our goal is to bring
photobooks to a wider audience… and make them so
beautiful you’ll keep them for your grandchildren….

Most of our books are about East London –
we live and breathe this area. But gradually we
are broadening out to other areas and topics, but
always with an eye on the urban and niche.

This lovely little book contains enough photos of grimy London post-war buildings to inspire any East (or indeed South) London project that I may build.  The examples below give some idea.  Strongly recommended….


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A little more toilet humour

I was amused by this article from the BBC:

Paris metro: Pregnant Frenchwoman fined for walking wrong way

Of course, I immediately considered the cultural possibilities.  Young Frankenstein with the marvellous Marty Feldman….

Or better still, Monty Python…..

But the truth was far more jobsworth than that….

Social media has reacted with outrage after a pregnant Frenchwoman was fined €60 (£54; $74) for walking the wrong way at a Paris metro station.  The ticket was issued when she tried to shorten her journey by walking counter to a one-way system at Concorde. Paris metro operator RATP said the system was needed to control flow and prevent “incidents”…..

One Twitter user pointed out that the fine was more than for not having a ticket, adding “words fail me”.  Another suggested that instead of fining people for walking the wrong way, they should be fined for standing on the left of escalators.

However, if the unfortunately woman  comes to London before full term, this could be useful.  Even if it shows that you may have to travel for miles to find a suitable public convenience – probably at your inconvenience.

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New facets to the hobby?

All self-respecting forums have a thread called ‘Ebay madness’.  Well, here’s my contribution.

Perhaps it’s a new, slightly cheaper, approach to model railways?  Collect the empty boxes, and put them on the shelf end on as if you owned the model.  Rather like people with sets of Readers Digest classics or the Encyclopaedia Britannica in their ‘library’ that never move.

Edit – Wowsers, another one for your collection!!!!!

And how about collecting real toy train sets.  Here are a few USA examples culled from the Model Railroad Hobbyist Forum.  No rivet counter can get you on these (but TV series fans might)!

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East Anglian Model Railway Exhibition 2018 #2

Some layouts capture their location perfectly.  I’ve just taken the single shot of ‘Sidmouth’ in P4, as I’ve captured it in detail elsewhere, but this is one of the best layouts around, modelling the Southern West Country station to scale.

You can also capture location with an ‘imaginary’ layout.  Fenchurch St Peter in ‘OO’ couldn’t be anywhere but the East Anglian wilds, on the edge of the Fens.  Big skies, ploughed fields, agricultural goods and a burnt out brake van.  Where else?  It’s ‘Normal for Norfolk’!  (For those with a literary bent, Fenchurch St Peter appeared in Dorothy Sayer’s Lord Peter Wimsey detective novel, ‘The Nine Tailors’.)

Spirit of Swindon models Swindon Junction Station on 23 June 1959.  An extensive ‘N’ gauge layout is a close, but slightly compressed, model of the real track plan, and includes automatic operation of the trains and fiddle yard.

Two diesel depot layouts are good examples of this popular type of layout.  One in ‘O’ and one in ‘OO’, the track plans are essentially similar, but there is less of the ‘O’ gauge plan as they are of similar size.  Lochaber is in ‘O’ and set near Fort William in Scotland.

Franwood TMD in ‘OO’ is set in the West Midlands.

Caradon, a modern image Cornish Branch line, and china clay dries, in ‘OO’.

‘The Sidings’, in ‘OO’, is another angle on the minimum space layout.  A scenic area of just 4′ allows just two sidings, inspired by York parcels sidings, and a procession of diesels stabled till their next turn.  The overall effect is very simple and very satisfying.

And finally, ‘Standen Watchett’, LNER/BR in ‘Z’ gauge.  It all ran smoothly, and the younger enthusiasts were fascinated by the tiny trains passing by.  My only criticism was the speed of running – every train a bullet!

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East Anglian Model Railway Exhibition 2018 #1

Last Saturday, on the road again with Mr Atfield.  We started off at Brentwood toy fair, that was a disappointment – last visit had lots of ‘N’ gauge, this time next to nothing.  We then continued north to Huntingdon for the East Anglian show.  It’s a bit of a haul to get there, but this is one of the larger shows nationwide and proved to be worth the visit.

Perhaps the only catch was that the organisers had problems with the free bus between overflow car park and exhibition hall, so we had a bit if a wait to get in.  Once inside, we first spotted this excellent allotment on the OO9 Launceston Steam Railway.

My favourite layouts were both in ‘O’ gauge.  Eu (Le Treport) Depot has the unusual combination of a French steam shed and ‘O’ gauge.  Some impressive steam power was on show.

The exit to the fiddle yard is under this well detailed street scene.  If I recall correctly from the blog articles I read a while back, they built this scene first, then had to build a mirror image of their track plan, as they had built the street scene the wrong way round!

The other ‘O’ gauge layout, ‘The Summit (Draper’s Sidings)’ is based on the summit of the Settle and Carlisle line at Ais Gill.  The moorland scenery is unusually high and deep, giving a fine backdrop for a procession of trains through the scene.  There is a grade to the track, and some locomotives were working hard to reach the summit.

On the other end of the size scale, but just as interesting to me, was Friday Bridge, a Wisbech and Upwell tramway branch that was never built.  Simple shunting that captures the bleak fens of the area.

A more complex switching layout was Phoenix Junction in ‘HO’.

Main line modern image, with ‘Westbrook’ in ‘N’.

An attractive line of buildings formed the backscene to Butley Quay in ‘OO9’.

Germany (Allgau region) in ‘N’ with Oberau Nord.

And finally for today, an Isle of Wight Terrier on the Gauge 3 layout, Chalfont.  The lack of a crew is very conspicuous in this scale – but I rather like the locomotive!

Second half of my photos follow next time.

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ESNG meeting – PlayDay 11 March 2018

Another successful PlayDay, despite missing one or two regulars due to Mother’s Day.  Apologies to those who couldn’t make it, but it there wasn’t another Sunday this month when the hall was free.  Still, 10 members wasn’t a bad turnout.  And with Allan present we used his boards to set up a large 2 x 2 modular circuit.

Derek was testing Farish and Minitrix A3’s and A4’s.  One of which had never been out of its box before.  The Minitrix models were by far the better performers, due to having traction tyres on one set of drivers.

Derek was also running a PW train with a mixture of Dogfish and Mermaid hoppers.

Brian’s goods train was hauled by a handsome Fairburn tank.  Reminded me how fine a model Farish produced – perhaps one of their best?

Paul had a Japanese goods day, without a bullet train in sight….

Though this double-ended multiple unit style container train is as exotic as any bullet….

Dave was testing a range of large American locomotives on his canal module.  He claims to have some swans and kayaks (not swans in kayaks) to add to the scene…..

I brought alone a ‘Warship’ and some of my parcels stock.  The Farish loco trundles around for much of the afternoon, and as with most parcels trains, the variety of coaching stock made a very satisfying mix.

Thanks, Brian, for a video of the afternoon….

And the afternoon was followed by and equally satisfying curry…

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The next project(s) #1

One benefit of blogging is being able to write about one’s thinking and planning of the next project.  It helps me at least to have to set down some ideas in a logical manner.  Of course, these ideas may change, and projects not get built…..  But it all helps the journey!

I am beginning to thing about my next layout project.  My American N-club boards are coming along, albeit slowly.  I should have been doing a lot of modelling last week, when it was too cold to do much else – but I basically went into hibernation.  But I aim to get these boards substantially complete, good enough to exhibit, for Stuttgart this year.  Then what?

I do have Kuritu, my bought-in Japanese interurban, to get up and running, and to add a few more details.  This may well happen in the next few months, now the loft floor is clear of the N-club boards.  Then I do want to build a UK-based layout to run some of my more recently collected UK models.

The question is, as ever, whether to build more modular boards, or to build a standalone layout.  I would like to contribute to more N-mod or N-club boards, that will support ESNG.  But I also have the problem of making a layout that fits in my loft room.  I did, however, note Peter Johnson’s comments about his wonderful ‘Canada Street’ layout.  In this month’s Railway Modeller, he says…

“In fact, almost the only time the layout is set up is when it attends a show; at home it is mostly to be found crated-up in a dark cupboard.”

He says that Canada Street appears at around four exhibitions a year.  This is not so very different from the number of exhibitions ESNG go to.  It would also be good to take modules along to ESNG club nights – something that we are not very good at as a club.  So perhaps the size of my loft is not critical.  But for this to happen regularly, the modules need to be easy to get down from the loft and to carry to the car – on my own and in my advancing years.  Some thoughts on this below.

A second line of thought came from chatting to Sean, exhibiting Forrestone at the Reigate show.  Forrestone is one board about 5′ long, and makes exhibitions easy – you are packed up and into the car 15 minutes after the end of the show.  I found the same thing the few times that I exhibited ‘Earl’s Wood’.  I do like small layouts…..

So my first project for the future will be East Anglian diesel in form.  This could be Wisbech & Upwell based, or somewhere round the back of Great Yarmouth.  It will use a couple of O4 shunters.  I have the Farish models and the Etched Pixels tramway skirts for locomotive power.  And a couple of boxes of UK wagons to complete the rolling stock.  The layout will be small and portable, and allow a little shunting. and make an ideal small exhibition layout.  It would be tempting to venture into 2mm finescale for this, but ‘N’ with FineTrax trackwork is probably more realistic.

I then want to build an urban layout, somewhere in South London with 3rd rail electrification.  One option for this is a ‘Minories’ layout of some kind.  This would be an attractive approach, but it doesn’t contribute anything to the ESNG modules.  Although I have seen how many 4-track lines there are in South London, N-mod modules have some intrinsic problems.  These are:

  1. The boards are too big to regularly transport to club nights.  4′ x 2′ is a big chunk of railway to move.
  2. The rails in our N-mod standard are too close to the front of the board.
  3. Code 80 (or even Code 55) Peco track looks very heavy compared with Code 40.  The sleeper spacing is half way between OO and HO, and the point blades look poor as sheet metal stampings rather than rail.
  4. It is difficult to fit a continuous run into my loft room.  We are back to the Canada Street and its occasional outings.
  5. Minories is a terminus, but will fit in my loft.

There are, however, possible solutions to the above:

  1. N-mod boards don’t have to be 2′ wide.  The N-club 400mm, or even a 1′, width is much more manageable.  Although N-mod boards need to be 4′ long, looking at my N-club modules suggests that you could build an 8′ N-mod layout using 3 x 2′ 8″ (like 3 x 800mm rather than 2 x 1200mm in N-club.)  This will be far more transportable.
  2. Solvable with transition boards, or just by swinging the track in from the edge.
  3. An off the wall idea….  Peco Code 55 rail shows 55 thou above the sleepers and will run stock of almost any vintage.  Using 2mm Association copper-clad sleepers and soldering Micro-Engineering Code 55 FB rail will solve many of these issues.  The track will still be a little heavy, but better than Peco.  Short lengths of Code 80 at the end of modules will allow joining to other modules.
  4. One potential idea is to run though lines across two or three modules, for continuous club running, then have an end to end layout above, below, or next to these lines.  Much as I am doing with my American modules, but with a fiddle yard.  Interestingly, for N-mod it’s probably best to have the through lines at low level, as the baseboards are relatively shallow sections, but N-club would have the through lines at high level, making use of the 150mm deep standard baseboards.
  5. See 4!

So there are some potential ways forward.  But that’s enough rambling for today, and I hope that makes a little sense!!  I’ll try and follow this up in some later posts.

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