ESNG meeting – 05 April 2018

The Treasurer was beside himself – 16 whole people to take money off!!  I’m not sure where they all came from, but it was good to see a club night buzzing, and the tracks full of trains.

Peter has been busy building a new N-mod module.  There is a certain amount of building of buildings to do, although the town planning has been clearly set out…..

Hopefully, the town will be as good as the very smart station building….

We also set the Raysden modules up for a test run, as they will be in the N-mod circuit at next weekend’s exhibition…..

It all ran faultlessly after two years storage, including the two GWR railcars on the branch line shuttles.  A tribute to Ray’s solid build, and Derek’s solid garage.  Martin was testing his new Dapol class 68’s, all of which ran well.

Neil had a very smart Class 37 on goods trains….

A Cross-Country unit in the fiddle yard….

And Paul had a European night.

We also had time for a little last minute show planning, especially as Ian showed up, back from being a proud grandfather in Hong Kong.  Hopefully next Saturday is all organised, and all we have to do is go and do the business…..

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The next project(s) #2

Somehow, the mojo has been sorely missing over the past month.  I’ve had a rethink about my N-club modules – nothing major – and have been thinking this through.  And life has been a bit busy – too many days reading a good book when I should have been modelling.  I suppose that I have done some more preparation work for the show on the 14th, and also begun to think ahead for the 2019 ‘N Gauge SouthEast’ exhibition.

But I have thought about fiddle yard loops for N-club.  The two sketches below show the ideas.  Using Peco curved points, it’s easy to get four loops on a board 1200mm x 750mm or so.  We’ve avoided minimum radius curves, but have used Peco 2, 3 and 4th radii, and a line outside that curve.  It does mean that you would have to be careful what ran on the inner track, but the outer three should take any locomotive, steam or diesel.

Two of these loops, a left and right hand pair, would form a reasonable fiddle yard for a small N-club set up, allowing an empty running track and six (or more if the trains were short) trains held in the loops at each end.

And if there isn’t room for the full layout at home, one loop could be added to, for example, a Minories style terminus for a compact layout.

Taking this a bit further, making the boards symmetrical rather than the full N-club 400mm width at the end would save weight and make them more flexible in use.  It could be possible to fold the two sides of the loop into the centre, as shown below, making the fiddle yards very transportable.

Food for thought, indeed.  All I need is to actually do something….

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How do you choose?

Mojo not in good shape this week, so another interesting quote from Mike Cougill’s OST Blog….

How do you choose between two or more equally compelling options? That’s the situation a number of us will face at some point in this work. Two of my friends are dealing with this now and a third will soon.

I understand the frustration because I’ve experienced it myself many times. I like a lot of different subjects and find it hard to choose when I’m strongly drawn to more than one at a time….

The way we frame our choices exerts a lot of influence on the answers we ultimately get. I’ve noticed the tendency among many hobbyists to make things into an all or nothing scenario. It’s operations or model building, a big layout or small one, steam or diesel, this or that.

The first question that pops into my mind is why. Why do we do this? I understand limited resources of time, space and money. I understand the work involved and the commitment required. I also understand that nothing lasts forever and making a different choice is always an option. Are we so afraid of missing out that we’re paralyzed by indecisiveness? Is this the culture the you-can-have-it-all generic hobby has produced?

We love process. I’ve lost track of the number of list-making processes people have come up with that promise to end all your woes about track design, what to model, or some other choice we have to deal with. The dirty little secret is that if any one of them actually lived up to the hype, there wouldn’t be much need for any others. Of course, life isn’t that simple and neither are people…..

The choice that Craig and my other friends are wrestling with is very personal to each of them and the generic advice typically offered is beyond useless because it doesn’t touch the heart of the matter. Unless we know the person very well, how can we ever hope to offer real help? Furthermore, should we even offer to help? As I suggested in the last post, we all have a hard time seeing past our own filters and bias. My “advice” is little more than my opinion, and one opinion is as good or useless as the next.

I’ve hammered at this point before but offer it up again because I think it’s important to consider. We expect satisfaction in this craft to come from something outside. We expect to find the perfect layout plan, or that the latest toy will make us happy forever. We all know this is empty but we’re human. I’m no different than anyone else in this regard. What I’ve learned however is that genuine satisfaction with this craft comes from within. It comes from understanding what meaning the work has for me and pursuing that meaning to the fullest.

After forty years I prefer to dive more deeply into a few subjects rather than chase after a shallow involvement with many. Letting go of certain hobby related pipedreams was more liberating than I ever imagined it would be.

We each have to make a fundamental decision about what we want from this craft. No one can make this choice for us and god forbid you let somebody else make it for you. It’s your layout, your time, your money and your choice. I don’t know why anyone would want it any other way.

Your mileage will assuredly vary.

As ever, wise words.

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Dates for your diary….

If you fancy a day out in the Kent countryside, the Bredgar & Wormshill Railway open day is recommended.  A little railway in a big garden, and some model railways too.  Kerry & Vernon of Invicta are involved, and Cha(I)rman Allan recommends it.  What more can you say?  And the snow should have gone by then….  please…..


Before than, of course, we have our 2018 exhibition….


And a new date for the diary.  We’ll be holding an ESNG open day, at the clubroom in Earlswood on October 20.  More details to follow.

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London Festival of Railway Modelling – 2018 #3

We’ll start today with some thoughts on layout design.  It is noticeable how the classic branch line layout has been supplemented at shows by the ’roundy-roundy’ with few points.  It was interesting to compare a few of those layouts on display.  (An apologies to the builders for any critical comments – as ever, it’s your layout, but my thoughts!!!)

Lacey Dale, in ‘N’ is another of the Model Railway Club’s ongoing projects.  I do like the way they bring along their projects to show layouts under development.  And Lacey Dale also shows the potential for a N-mod or N-club modular layout with an operating section below the through lines.  The only issues here are perhaps the depth of the baseboard, and also that the through lines are at the back, not the front, of the layout.

Bluebell cutting is another ‘N’ gauge layout, much smaller, and a simple double track loop.  It was a sensible first layout for the owner.  However, I liked the curves on the main line avoiding straight track in the visible section, and the many interesting scenic details.

I seemed to miss the passing trains on Clifton and Lowther (also ‘N’). Based on a real location of the West Coast main line, I really liked the sweeping curves and the delicate track work (Finetrax Code 40).  Another example of how to do a main line ‘train spotting’ layout.

In ‘OO’, ‘The World’s End’ is based on Knaresborough in Yorkshire.  No points, but the layout is full of interesting (and real) scenery and buildings, that give you plenty to look at between trains.  Just the right number of people and vehicles around to bring the scene to life without it becoming hyperactive.  I’ve never seen a battle reconstruction modelled before!  Another good example of an exhibition layout with an attractive location to watch trains.

Finally, in this look at roundy layouts, was Calcutta Siding in P4.  This, I’m afraid, was the layout that didn’t appeal.  Well executed, but to me there seemed something missing.  Was it the long, straight tracks, that looked like an N-mod layout?  This was probably prototypical, but a few gentle curves would have made things less angular and more interesting.  Or perhaps it was that all the detail was in a narrow strip at the back of the layout?  I thought the area around the running lines looked very bleak.  Again, this is prototypical, but I though it cried out for a PW gang, or a little debris and clutter, to bring it to life.  Probably just my prejudices again, and I’ve seen some positive reviews.  Sorry!

And now for something completely different.  Karolina Falls in On30 featured real water on the falls.  You’re a braver man than me Mr Bailey!  You can get away with real water in the larger scales.  In the small ones, water doesn’t ‘scale’ properly, due to surface tension and viscosity not scaling in the same way as x-y-z dimensions. (Hydraulics engineer coming out here, and the problems in scaling physical models of rivers.)  And I liked the dinosaur at the back of the scene.

More viscous water, with the Miami waterway in Fort Myers (HO).  Note the egret, front right.

Elsewhere on Fort Myers, there was plenty of switching going on.

Also HO American was 59th and Rust.  We swap rural Miami for a very urban, and very grimy, and very run down New York.  Once again, lots of switching going on.

And finally, the Graham Farish SECR birdcages on display.  From the reports elsewhere, I understand that there were painted examples within the inner sanctum of the Bachmann Collectors Club room.  I’m still waiting (can’t remember how may sets I have on order.)  It does suggest the first mention of Graham Farish in the Bible: Psalm 6:3 – “My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?”

I didn’t mention the shopping. Not much in the way of bargains, and the rents for stalls have got so large that it’s mostly the box-shifters that can afford to go.  Though it was good to stop by for a chat with Ray and Bob on BH Enterprises.  But I came home with a Dapol Britannia for £60.  Hope the wheels don’t drop off!

So that’s Ally Pally for 2018.  Despite the occasional winge, I’ve no doubt I’ll be back next year for some excellent railway modelling.

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London Festival of Railway Modelling – 2018 #2

Durham Road TMD followed the standard loco shed conventions that are quite common now we all have too many locomotives.  But this is an excellent example of the genre, especially due to the size, being in ‘O’ gauge, and with good diesel sound.  And also by the sheer number of locomotives.  The fiddle yard is a small traverser, but the table next to it held a long line of locomotives, the estimated total value of which made me slightly weak at the knees.  Although set it north Kent, here we have a ScotRail visitor.

Although set around 1990, the occasional preserved locomotive appeared…

And a steam special…..

Brighton East (EM) is another good example of a Southern Region urban terminus, based on a slightly simplified version of the old Kemp Town station in Brighton.  The compact, low-level, station layout and the tunnel mouth at the end of the station are just like Kemp Town.  The only thing I wasn’t convinced about was the nuclear flask wagon parked by the platforms!  Must have got lost on the way to Dungeness…..

Good to see Friday Bridge again (last seen at the Huntingdon show and also in EM), with its minimum space depiction of the Wisbech and Upwell tramway.

And always good to see the elegant Llangerisech, in 2mm fine scale, set in north-west Wales.  I was interested to see that the LMS 4-4-0 shown below started life as a Union Mills model.

I hadn’t seen Mostyn (in P4) for a number of years, and was delighted to see it still operating, and also extended.  It’s also set in north Wales, but in 1977 and the blue diesel era.  Of note on this layout are the scale speeds based on the BR rule book – an unfitted freight might only travel at 25mph – and the excellent sound.  I recall this being one of the first layouts to use sound effectively, aided by bass speakers under the layout.  Since bass sound is not directional, this made for some really realistic tones as locomotives notched up on the main line.

Saltdean (also near Brighton) goes back to the late 19th century, and the LBSCR in ‘O’.  Some charming models were on display.  I did think that the LBSCR Stroudley ‘Improved Engine Green’ looked a bit orange rather than brown, but that may have been due to the hall lighting.

Harlyn Pier (‘O’) seems to be a regular at shows at the moment, but is always worth a look for some good modelling.  I am also fascinated by that Beattie 2-4-0 well tank….

The enormous SwissPass (HO and HOm) has its baseboards built at 45 degrees, to provide several layers of trains.  It was very impressive, and gave the opportunity to show numerous SBB and Rhb trains.  But I wasn’t really convinced.  I know that the Swiss do some funny things with their railways, but this seemed a step too far.  And there again, it’s all down to personal taste, I guess?

Looking through the show guide, I seem to have missed quite a few layouts.  Perhaps they didn’t catch my eye, perhaps they were standard GWR branch line termini, or perhaps the crowds were too big to get a photograph.  So here are the honourable mentions.

‘Grantham – the Streamliner Years’ models the LNER East Coast mainline at Grantham in 1938, was a fine layout, but I couldn’t be bothered to fight my way through the crowd for a close up look!  TT was represented by Portsea, capturing Portsmouth Harbour in 3rd rail days.  I’ve posted about this layout before, and it is unusual in both gauge and a good fleet of southern electric stock.  And one to watch for the future is Ingatestone, a modern image model in ‘OO’ of this station on the Great Eastern main line.  Under construction by the Model Railway Club, notable is the detailed and scratch built overhead wiring.

Final post of the show next time….

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London Festival of Railway Modelling – 2018 #1

Late March and it’s time for a visit to Alexandra Palace, and the London Festival of Railway Modelling.  Once again I visited with my old work colleagues, Peter and Malcolm (otherwise known as the Old G*ts Day Out).  We all seem to be getting older, and we put Peter on the bus up from Alexandra Palace station to save his legs.

My overall impression of the show (probably incorrect) that there were less layouts and more trade and open spaces.  But it was still an excellent day out, and I think that the quality of the layouts was better than some recent years.  This is, of course, a purely subjective view coloured by my own interests and what I had for last nights supper (Chinese takeaway) and today’s breakfast (MacDonald’s in Redhill).

So the next three posts will be a selection of my favourite layouts.  As ever, apologies for those I missed, but I snapped those that took my eye.

I have to start with this little HO Pacific Electric layout.  Simple track plan, and just a procession of PE and SP trains, but it caught the character of the region very well.

Probably my favourite layout was Hebble Vale Goods.  A small shunting layout, set in Yorkshire with blue diesels.  Large mill buildings, some massive coal drops, and an interesting three level presentation.  Perhaps there is some inspiration here for a future London urban layout?

For my generation (and the one before), the late Peter Denny’s ‘Buckingham’ remains an inspiration.  Leighton Buzzard (Linslade) was the final part of this Great Central EM masterclass, and it was good to see it exhibited again.  My only concern was that I remember the Railway Modeller articles describing it being built!  Linslade has some complex, and hand-made, pointwork, too complex for  a branch line terminal, but all flowing naturally and not looking out of place.

The gasworks is very compressed, but again convincing.  This was another Railway Modeller article, I recall.

Plenty of traffic on the roads, even in the early years of the 20th century!

I’ve described Kensington Addison Road in detail before, but more detail had been added to this large, and impressive, ‘O’ gauge layout.  The LBSCR built some beautiful large tank engines….

I mentioned Abbey Street a few posts back, it was good to see it in the flesh, and this was another favourite.  A layout that shouted ‘East Anglia’ even before you spotted the Buckjumper tank shunting the yard.  Seeing the layout I could appreciate how Jas Millham has modelled the basement stores under the station.

Lastly for today, Koln Westnahnhof in ‘N’.  A very simple layout, transposing one of Ian Futer’s classic designs to German.  In one sense nothing special, but I thought it a very satisfying little layout.

And here’s the N Gauge Forum photo from the Saturday (hijacked from NGF).  Your author is fifth from left – and also fifth from right.  I can assure you that no cameras were harmed in taking this photograph…..

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