Potpourri #1055 – ESNG edition!

A few random pictures culled from the ESNG members….

Here we have Allan, hob-nobbing with the famous – I think Mr Kato qualifies as that.  Also in the photo are the Stuttgart N Club crowd who came across to TINGS.  From left to right, Allan Dawes. Richard Oliver. Wolfgang Kurz. Frank Mikenas. Stefan Wörner, Mr. Kato. Peter Csavajda. Mrs Wörner & Jörg Warning.  Would you buy a used N gauge loco from this lot?


Some pictures from Ian Carter.  First, that most dodgy looking repainted West Country 34027 Taw Valley at the Severn valley railway.  I still think that Her Majesty deserved better than that.


And two at the Old Kiln Light Railway just south of Farnham.

Brian has been ‘doing a Ron’ and rampaging around Germany.

My, those trams don’t half move fast!

And Maxine and I went to Wales for a long weekend.  No trains involved, but here is our exclusive accommodation.


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TINGS 2022 – a few thoughts

I’ve been interested to see the reactions to this year’s TINGS on Facebook and forums.  Such a wide range of opinions, from very good down to very disappointing.  As an occasional exhibition manager, albeit of smaller shows, it is educational to look at these comments and try and improve our own ESNG show in some way.

But before making any comments, three caveats!

  1. I think that the show organisers had a number of layouts drop out at the last minute.  Not surprising, as there is still a lot of covid about, and organising any exhibition is still difficult at the moment.  This may partly explain that there were fewer layouts than pre-pandemic, and the quality of some.
  2. You can’t please everybody.  Obvious really, but model railways is such a diverse hobby that even for a show that is just N gauge, there will be a whole load of interests there.
  3. Of course, I didn’t go, so any comments I make are based on the gutter press and Allan’s photos.

Layouts – A number of people commented that there were some layouts that were not of an exhibition standard.  Now this may reflect the need of the exhibition manager to fill a few stands at short notice.  But it also raises an interesting point.  Should we show layouts of all standards, to encourage the beginner?  There are, of course, a range of views on this, but for me, I want to be inspired to do better, and it’s not off-putting to see a wonderful model of a quality that I could never attain.  Better to see this than glance at a layout and just think, ‘anyone could do better than that.’  So there’s nothing wrong with showing small, ’roundy-roundy’ layouts – but they need to be of good quality.

Trade – Although some people came away with the usual bargains, there were a lot of comments that all the traders were selling the same things.  Perhaps this is inevitable for an N gauge only show.  It’s been pointed out at length that the profit on a loco is rather larger than the profit on a tin of paint, so you take the former to a show.  But perhaps a problem, too, is that N gauge is not a scratch builders scale, so the opportunities for Squires or Eileens Emporium to make money is reduced.  I like these stands when they are at a show, as I always come home with some materials or something useful.

Perhaps this show is evidence of the way that exhibitions are heading post-covid.  I had a long chat with a trader at the Seaboard Southern show, and his club has decided to give up exhibiting.  The reasons – a high financial risk, as hall and catering costs and mileage expenses have gone sky-high, and also the lack of returns in new members – perhaps one every two or three years.  Although exhibiting is fun, it was taking away from the actual modelling.  So will we see less medium sized club exhibitions, and more commercial ones, like TINGS, and small friendly, low-risk, shows like Seaboard Southern and our own at ESNG.  Time will tell, 

In the end, Maxine and I had a busy weekend, and it would have been difficult to get to the show.  But I didn’t feel bad about this, as it was a long way to travel when I only wanted to see a handful (of very good) layouts, and I really didn’t want to buy anything.  But this leads on to the final thought.  For me, the main problem with TINGS is that it’s just N gauge.  I really do enjoy picking up ideas from all the scales, and because the trade support is wider, there are more and varied layouts from all times and places to see and be inspired by.  And this is the same blogger who loved the 2mm Association show a few months back.  The difference?  Perhaps the high quality of the 2mm exhibits, and the amount of scratch-building that was on show.

So, once again, you can only fool some of the people some of the time!  I have my interests and preferences and for me, some shows do that better than TINGS.  But I shall try to go next year. 

Having been too critical of exhibitions, here are three photos of aircraft that got a little too close to the tracks for comfort….

And one that resembles an ESNG running night….


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TINGS 2022 – Some other layouts

Allan walked around the show as it opened, and caught some of the other layouts on display.  I’ve selected some of the layouts that I’d have spent time watching!!  They appear in alphabetical order…

Always good to see Ambleton Vale, with so many cameos around the railway, and meet those friendly operators, Ray Taylor & Anna Bass.


Ashcombe is a 6’ x 2’ G.W.R layout based in Devon in the 1940’s.


First of the layouts that I would have liked to see.  Barton Road is located in the run-down suburbs of Bristol in the early 70s. I like the triangular junction.

‘Modern image’ in the West Country with Gravelly Oak.


Ishinaka represented Japan at the show – and featured a spectacular 15 road traverser!

Mickelover models a through station on the GNR’s Derbyshire Extension, 1878 – 1964, and is close to scale length.  Another layout that I’d like to have seen.

New Millfields is ideal for trainspotting, with its 24ft, four track, mainline.  Almost an N-mod layout?


North Road models a number of maintenance facilities.


Squaw Falls is located somewhere in the North Central or North Western US, and is another, rather smaller, place to watch the trains go by.


Tamcester is a large town somewhere between London and Birmingham.


Tuemyll Junction isn’t regional or period specific, but is usually operated with BR Green or Blue.


The Vale of Oxbury is always worth a look.  Lovely modelling of the Western region in the 1960’s.  It looks as if the layout is for sale, and I hope it goes to a good home.

And finally Woodhead, a fine model of the electrified trans-Pennine route, that again I’d have like to have seen.  Allan missed the EM1 and EM2 electrics, but spotted this interesting vehicle….

I’m going to close this year’s TINGS posts with a few thoughts on exhibitions – next time.

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TINGS 2022 – The N-Club layout

Well, I’ve finally gotten around to posting Allan’s TINGS photos, after one or two diversions onto other topics.  He spent a pleasant weekend helping our N-Club International friends from Stuttgart operate their modular layout. 

The set-up and layout….

Some of the modules….

Ollie’s modules…..

And Bodiam Castle again!


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An interesting railway factoid…..

After the hectic Sunday, just the four ESNG members turned out for last night meeting.  So no trains ran.  We had a good chat and went home.  However……

Having watched Queen Elizabeth fine Christian funeral, and enjoyed the impressive pomp and ceremony, I came across this Facebook post from Didcot Railway Centre (thanks, Paul.)  I am most impressed that the ropes pulling the gun carriage were originally GWR carriage communication cords!

“We are pleased to read in the newspapers that the gun carriage carrying the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II at the state funeral procession on Monday 19 September will be hauled by Royal Navy sailors.

Most news reports correctly state that the tradition dates back to Queen Victoria’s funeral on 2 February 1901. However, they fail to mention the Great Western Railway’s role in supplying the ropes for the sailors to rig to the gun carriage on the occasion. This drawing of the bluejackets hauling the Queen’s coffin that day was published in the Penny Illustrated Paper on 9 February 1901, with the ropes clearly visible.

On 2 February 1901 the weather was extremely cold and the hawsers for the gun carriage to be used for the procession from Windsor railway station to the Castle had frozen. The horses intended to pull the gun carriage were also affected by the intense cold and had become restive and possibly dangerous during the wait for the delayed funeral train to arrive. It was at this point that the GWR played its essential part in what has become a tradition for subsequent state funerals.

The Duke of Portland, who was Master of the Horse at Queen Victoria’s funeral, recalled what happened in a letter published in The Times on 28 January 1936 at the time of King George V’s funeral:
“Owing to the lateness of the train which conveyed Her Majesty’s coffin from Paddington to Windsor the horses attached to the gun-carriage had become cold. When the word of command ‘Walk …March’ was given, the leaders twice reared up, and then fell back on the other horses, which caused all six to fall down.

“My recollection is that Admiral Sir Michael Culme-Seymour was in command of the large Naval Guard of Honour drawn up on the spot. As soon as Sir Michael saw what had occurred he called out to me in his usual resonant voice, ‘All right, my boys will soon straighten out this mess.’ He at once ordered them to go into the station and the station master procured ropes (from the communication cords of carriages). Sir Michael then ordered them to fall in and draw the gun-carriage from the station to the entrance to the Castle grounds at the end of the Long Walk and up the slope. It was a most touching and effective procession and, in my opinion, much more impressive than would have been the official procedure.”

Thus with inspired improvisation and the help of the GWR, began the tradition which the Royal Navy has claimed ever since of hauling the coffin at funerals of the monarch.
The ropes on the carriages were the external communication cords to alert the guard in an emergency. Our brake 3rd carriage No 416, built in 1891, still carries this system, so remember to take a look at it next time you visit Didcot Railway Centre.”


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ESNG meeting – 18 September 2022

An busy club night this afternoon – eleven members and a visitor.  I made the correct call in thinking that there would be plenty of trains to run and test after TINGS, so I didn’t take anything to run.

The main line was soon busy…

There must be a Sunday closure somewhere – a visitation from Railtrack is under way!


Long trains – Allan’s coal train and Sean’s new Revolution wagons…..


A continental intruder!


Trains at rest in the fiddleyard.


Farish tank engines, old and new.  The improvement in quality is clear, though the old Poole model is still an attractive loco, and is probably more robust than the new version.


Sean brought along his new, second-hand, layout, a 5′ long German branch terminus.  Good modelling and no doubt it will appear at a future ESNG show.

Brian contributed the usual moving pictures of the afternoon….

And the Ruchita was shocked by 13 diners arriving at opening time for the traditional curry.

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Seaboard Southern NMRA show, 17 September 2022

Saturday was the local NMRA group’s annual meet at the Charis Centre in Crawley.  Although I am modelling less American railroads than in the past, it’s a local show and well worth a visit.  Even better, Simon picked me up so I didn’t have to drive down there.

We spent a pleasant couple of hours at this friendly little show, and watch Simon spend his money.  I had the usual long chat with Jon the Blue Plastic Box Man – and had to apologize as I didn’t buy any, as Allan had bought my needs up at TINGS last weekend.  We also ran into Allan, Sean and Lucas (even more a local show for Sean) and enjoyed a quality cup of coffee and bacon bap.

There were four very good layouts in the main hall, all HO and switching pikes.

First off was the wonderful Central Alonzo Mill.  Sugar cane railroading in Cuba under hand-built catenary – what is there not to like!  Interesting to know that Hershey ran trains as well as made chocolate bars.  This is such an inspiring little layout, as it is just very different.

Next up, and continuing the tropical, vegetarian, theme, was the interestingly named Plant City.  Switching in Florida, very much by the Lance Mindheim book.  A largish line with realistically spaced out sidings, and lots of little cameo scenes – including the compulsory alligator in the creek.


Roundhouse is a long-standing regular on the exhibition circuit, and always has some fine American motive power in view – and a little switching to keep things moving.

And finally (of the layouts I took photos of) Underpass.  The smallest layout of the four, but an interesting concept, modelling a little section of the Santa Fe yards that lies under a highway underpass – hence the name.

And I really will post Allan’s TINGS photos – after the next two ESNG meetings.

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A tribute and a little modelling

After a momentous week in the UK, I wondered how to respond to the passing of Queen Elizabeth.  I came across this little cameo by John Whitehouse on a Tramway Modelling Facebook group.  No doubt Philip is saying, “I’m not going on that b****y tram!”


Meanwhile in deepest Earlswood, the new ESNG fiddle yard is actually approaching completion.  We finished wiring up the point motors, and all are working.  The cables between boards and control box are complete, and need to be wired into the boards themselves.  Then just a control box to complete.  This is for DC operation.  Once this is all working, we’ll get the option for DCC in place.

On my own workbench, the transition board is progressing well.


The track is all in place, with some careful packing of the track to achieve the 0.8mm or so difference in thickness between Peco code 55 and code 80 track.


Underneath, I’ve used a couple of ‘Blue’ manual turnout actuators to change the points.  These were in ‘stock’ and are excellent, if expensive, as they are easy to fit and have built in switches for the frogs.  The second picture shows the simple dowel operating links.  I think this wood once operated the points on the original Kuritu.  Waste not, want not?  I’ve still to complete the wiring for the plugs at each end.


I have some ideas for the scenery to fill the board.  More on this another time.


I came across this picture of the track on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway.  Yes it’s a preserved railway, and also newly ballasted, but I thought that the colouring and the encroaching vegetation were useful references for modelling.


And finally, a poster from the days of romantic train travel…


Next post will probably get around to TINGS!

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Beamish Museum

Dave recently sent me some pictures from his Beamish Museum trip earlier in the year.  Beamish is a well-known site in County Durham, that describes itself as the Living Museum of the North:

Beamish is a world famous open air museum which brings the history of North East England to life at its 1820s Pockerley, 1900s Town, 1900s Pit Village, 1940s Farm, 1950s Town and 1950s Spain’s Field Farm exhibit areas.

Visitors to the museum meet costumed folk and discover fascinating stories of everyday life in the region through time.

Very much a photo dump….


Trams and buses….


And a short video of the ancient train.  I think Dave dropped the camera at the end!

Next time, some of Allan’s pictures from TINGS.

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Odds and ****

Moving onto my next project, I decided to spend a little time maintaining and building a new N-club module.  I wanted to make a conversion board from 2-track N-club to 4-track N-mod.  I had a module in stock, that was once 1200mm long, and I’d cut it back to 900mm (for a project that never happened.)

I then had the bright idea to cut the end of the module at 10 degrees, as shown below.  This is about the angle of the Peco large-radius fine scale points, and by cutting the end at an angle, one avoids any reverse curves and all tracks flow through the points.  It also adds a small change of direction to the boards, that adds interest when exhibited.


Progress is looking good, and I’m about to start track laying and wiring, although most of the required N-club track is already in place and can be reused.  One tweak needed is the transition from Code 55 to Code 80 track.  A little work with my micrometer shows a 0.8mm difference in depth between the two types of Peco track.  A little careful packing will be needed to avoid any bumps in the wrong place.  Note too, the problem with working with a small N-club board 800 x 400mm, as opposed to a 4′ x 2′ N-mod board – it fills up too quickly with tools!


I also wanted to rewire my N-club modules, after some problems with getting the plugs right the last time we took the boards to Stuttgart.  You shouldn’t need to use a multimeter to plug your modules together.  So the obvious answer was to rewire them according to the N-club standard.  But can you spot the difference between the English and the German manuals?

There seems to be a bit of the problem with the compass!  A couple of emails to Stefan (who was touring the UK on the way to TINGS) gave me the definitive answer.


Allan was helping the N-club crew at TINGS, and I gather that I was the first person to notice this deliberate mistake.  It pre-dates Brexit, so we can’t blame the politicians for this one…..

On show with the N-club layout at TINGS is this fantastic model of Bodiam (Kent) Castle as the centre piece of a return loop.  I’m sure I’ll have some other TINGS photos in due course, but these three came from Allan’s Facebook post.

I didn’t get to the show this weekend.  A busy weekend elsewhere, including this garden party with Maxine on Saturday – a thank you for involvement (very minor for us) with development work in Burundi.  The weather was kind to us after the past week’s rain, and the spread was even better than a TINGS full English breakfast.

Finally, another lurch to the dark side.  How could I resist this 1/48 scale 3′ 6″ gauge plastic kit of an early Japanese loco and coaches.  Non-working, of course – but S gauge track is about right….


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