Engine driver Phil #1

Phil of ESNG fame recently had a significant birthday (a large number with a ‘0’ – just the one – on the end) and for a present his family bought him a footplate ride on the Mid Hants Railway, the Watercress Line.  I was delighted, and a little privileged, to be asked to chauffeur him for the day.  Let’s face it though, I’ll do almost anything for a free train ride and a free lunch.

So, Thursday 17 May saw us driving down to Arlesford from Horley, and despite some difficulty in parking – it was market day and there was a big funeral on at the church near the station – we were soon pottering around a rather quiet Arlesford station.  I was impressed by the careful conversion of the goods shed into a shop, meeting room and rest rooms.

The station was very quiet, the first train of the day having departed, and apart from a few coaches and an Southern Region DEMU, the only thing moving was an O8 and Southern Railway CCT.  This had to move out of the run-round before the train returned from Alton.

We wandered along to the signal box, and Phil invited himself in.  So I did likewise.  Although it was off-season and mid-week, I was most impressed by the friendly Mid Hants staff, and how quick they were to spend time with you, explain things, and even invite you to have a closer look.

Probably a typical small signal box, no doubt with a few Southern Railway (or even LSWR) details.  It always interests me how a simple track layout accumulates so many levers for points, signals, and facing point locks (the blue ones).  But the signals do go all the way up to the end of section approaching Ropley, next station up the line.

And just to prove that I was actually there…. Inspecting the block token instrument.

We retreated to the station buffet for an early lunch – on my part the old standby of ham, eggs and chips (and very good it was too) – and failed to see the train come in from Alton.  The locomotive on the front, and our locomotive for the day, was a BR 9F 2-10-0.  This monster was a bit of overkill for the Mid Hants, but a 9F with a passenger train was reminiscent of the final days of the Somerset & Dorset Railway.  This magnificent machine was built in 1959, and worked for less than 10 years before the end of steam on BR.

Uncoupling the coaches – mainly BR Mk 1 carriages.  In some ways these standard carriages are as much as a design classic as the HST125 units currently celebrating 40 years of use.  Mk 1’s have been around for over 60 years, now, and are still a mainstay of the preservation movement.

Running around the train, and that’s where we’ll leave things today.

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ESNG meeting – 16 May 2018

After Sunday’s monster N-mod layout, and lots of members, Wednesday was rather more restrained.  But we still got trains running….

It was Terrier night, with my British Railways version (plus new Dapol Maunsell brake-composite.)

Derek’s ‘Bodiam’….

And Derek’s ‘Earlswood’.

Simon was running a PA-PB-PA set with a train of non-passenger coaching stock and other cars.

And last but not least, Chris’ EMU in ‘Jaffa Cake’ livery.  Surely one of the best liveries to grace modern rolling stock, but all too short-lived?

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Brian in Germany

A couple more videos from Brian, who writes….

Dear All,

Just thought I’d share a couple of the most interesting aspects of my recent trip to the Dampfspektakel in Trier Germany.

As part of a RailTrail group we travelled on one of the positioning trains from Cologne to Trier, passing some massive intermodal yards. I’ve never seen anything on that scale:

Then there was a visit to the Dampflok Museum at Hermeskeil, which if you haven’t seen it can perhaps be compared to Barry scrapyard:

I hope you enjoy watching these.



And here’s the programme (in German)

Dampfspektakel Programme

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ESNG meeting – PlayDay 13 May 2018

Another pleasant afternoon playing trains, with a bakers dozen or so of members and friends attending.

Paul brought along part of his Kato Racetrack, with transition boards to change from Kato Unitrack to N-mod standards.  20′ of layout just about fits in our hall, with the corner boards added each end.  Though one or two members had to breath in a bit to get around the layout….

There’s a lot more to do to the boards, adding scenic detail and a station, but even in this form the boards make a welcome addition to the circuit.  They’re ideal for PlayDay running, but perhaps a bit much for Paul to transport for the evening meetings.  In the picture below, three trains are making good use of the long straight opposite Paul’s boards.

Simon was testing a new purchase – Kato Southern Pacific steam, though he was muttering about getting rid of the gorgeous Daylight livery for boring Santa Fe black….

Neil was running a Scottish 37 with a steel train….

And a white van man delivery train….

And Neil also had a Revolution Pendolino for inspection and test running.  A lovely model that ran smoothly out of the box.

And of course, we were fed through the afternoon by Mile’s cake, and then retired for a curry in the evening.

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On my workbench #9

It’s been a month of modifications.  It started when I tried to show off the railway to son Michael, and found that when I changed the points, there was a dead short.  So the first task has been to rewire the point frogs correctly.  It now works.

Then, as I reported last time

I have thought again about my N-club modules.  I decided that I really did want to be able to operate the layout from both sides, and be able to look from the ‘outside’ when the layout is at home, allowing the buildings to form a backdrop.

Rather than duplicate the point switches on the other side of the layout, I have gone for the expensive option, DCC operation of the points.  A package of Cobalt gubbins arrived last week, and I need to build a control panel and rewire.  Disadvantage – cost.  Advantage – layout with control panel is reversible, just two wires control all the points on the layout, and the control panel is connected to the layout by a single Ethernet cable rather than a 20+ way multipin plug with all the attendant wiring.

Despite the often sketchy Cobalt instructions, the points now all work from a control panel that can be placed either side of the layout.  First job was to remove the point switches from the baseboard facia and fill the holes.  Then to simplify the wiring.  Two wires to each point motor decoder (or as here, one for a crossover) from a common bus does simplify things.

Next to make the control panel.  I decided to still call the layout ‘Roselle Park’ despite the simplified track layout.  A simple bit of graphics printed on my PaintJet, then sprayed with several coats of varnish to make it more durable.  Putting the switches together, rather than on the points they operate made the panel shallower, as the gubbins didn’t overlap.

I then added the ‘sniffer’ that feeds the bus to the baseboard, and the master processer board to the back of the panel.  And just connected two wires to the ‘sniffer’ and standard plug in RJ12 cable between baseboard and control panel.  The master board is a little bit of overkill, as it can take 12 switches and I am only using five of them.  But it is convenient!

The ‘learning’ switches on the point decoders made setting up the panel a simpl-ish job with a little trial and error.  Next time it will take seconds rather than minutes.  And I’m back where I was two months ago, but with the boards reversed, and a nifty control panel – and a running train.

We’ll see how the system works in the longer term, but the pros and cons are much as expected (and already noted above):

  • Pro:
    • Simple wiring to avoid multi-pin plugs all over the place.
    • Easy to set up.
  • Con:
    • Expensive.

It would have probably been cheaper to use servos and to build my own decoder units from components, but hey, life is short enough as it is!  I would use this set up again for a mid-sized layout, ideally with 10-12 points!

Now back to the ballasting and scenery.  And adding magnets for decoupling.

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Bredgar & Wormshill Light Railway #3

Last post from the B&WLR, with some of the other things on show.

There were even more engines around the loco works and model railway show, including some miniature railway locomotives.

Three fine, and venerable, tractors….

Cutting kindling with tractor power.  Not sure about the H&S on the circular saw, and I quickly left when the operator started cutting the wood!

A fine steam powered lorry….

The American fire truck has a 100′ or so ladder.  It was only withdrawn from active service last September (and replaced by a similar vehicle) and shipped to the UK.

These were still just about around when I was a kid, used by tradesmen for deliveries….

And not forgetting the bluebells….

Finally, a nasty reminder of what I should have been doing last Sunday…..

And here’s the programme for the rest of 2018….

Website here.

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Bredgar & Wormshill Light Railway #2

Twaddle-less Thursday today.  Just loads of pictures of the B&WLR trains.  I was surprised at the number and variety of locos in steam (plus one diesel).  Most of the photographs were taken at the far terminus of the line – a pleasant, shady, spot in bluebell filled woods.

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