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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St Chant II

Many moons ago, in the early days of ESNG, Martin Micklewright built a little layout on a 4′ x 2′ module called St Chant, and later extended it by another 4′ with a largely scenic section.  It appeared at a number of our shows, and I remember operating it at the Merstham Narrow Gauge show. 



After Martin’s death in 2016, the layout was stored in several locations, before ending up in my loft.  The station section, shown above, was showing its age and the effect of storage – the signals were all broken, there was damage to buildings and its electrics were a bit of a mystery.  I reluctantly decided to scrap this section, but put a new surface on the very well built baseboard frame and legs underneath.

The scenic section was in much better condition, and I wanted to salvage this, as an example of Martin’s excellent modelling.  This board had a single track line running along the front of the 4′ x 2′ board, and two nicely detailed farms in the foreground.  The land rose behind – a familiar Somerset landscape, with a church at the back of the board.  My aim was to modify this scenic board to be a single scenic module, with the usual four N-mod running tracks at the front.

To my relief, I was able to prise the old ply surface and scenery off the baseboard frame with minimal damage.  A new 6″ section of plywood was fitted at the front of the frame to carry the running tracks.  I then cut off the single line section off the front of the old surface, leaving the loop into the tunnel as a disused line, and fitted this board back onto the frame, as below.


The scenic section was now too deep and overlapped the rear of the frame by four inches or so.  With heart in mouth I bravely took up my rip-saw and cut off the back of the scenery, losing the church, but keeping all of the rest of the scenery intact.  It now looked as below – note that I have bricked up the tunnel on the disused line.


Track laying followed, plus a new ply back to the scenery and repairs to the damaged scenic bits.  I then built a full cover for the layout from ply and odd bits of hardboard that were lying around.  The damage to the layout had mainly been due to original layout only being covered for part of its width.


Having built this cover, this allowed me to safely flip the layout over and fit the standard N-mod plugs.


And having ballasted the track and added a little more greenery and bushes, that’s about that.  The paint on a few of the farm buildings is peeling a little, as below, but this actually looks quite realistic.  I may spend a day at some point to tidy this up.  The cows are heading for milking…


And after the cows, Martin’s manure heap is very well modelled!


Finally, two views of the finished module.  I think that the disused and overgrown branch line has come out well (though I say so myself.)

This scrapping and renovation of layouts is getting a bit of a habit.  Any other suggestions?

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ESNG meeting – 7 September 2022

A busy club night tonight – nine members and two visitors.  It was especially good to see Ian Carter after a very long time (you should give up golf, Ian) and John B was up from deepest Rye to buy lots of Swiss trains off visitor Derek (another one!)  Also good to see Nick from the West Sussex Group, who dropped in for a bit.

Despite all this commerce and socialising, we did find time to run a few trains.  Allan was running a long Swiss push-pull train….

Michael tested his ‘new’ Austerity and a Pannier tank on a short goods train….


I was running a parcels train….


Ian tested a Fairburn tank…


And Graham (eventually) went American on us….


The usual suspects…


And at the end of the meeting, it was very dark and pouring with rain – autumn is truly here!

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I’m running out of snappy titles #2

The rest of Ron’s pictures come from all over….

First, Langenau, Ron’s base for the holiday.  Langenau Hbf, 10-15 minutes walk from village centre.

On to Lindau….

A little, rather pretty, tourism….

And back to the station….

Last stop, Munich Hbf…

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I’m running out of snappy titles #1

Hardly back from the Isle of Man, Ron set sail (figuratively speaking) for Bavaria.  I’ve mostly posted the railway photos (sorry those who enjoy the tourism….)

Today is at Ulm Hbf…

Buses and trams ourside….

Back in the station….

Nice to see some freight…


Back to the passenger units….

And finally, Ron’s one coach train to Frederickshafen….


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Potpourri #1054

Just for a change, a few things that caught my eye recently.

Jago Hazzard looks at Borough Road – a very closed station close to my old London stamping grounds…

Something for our ESNG members to emulate. (Note it’s a list of the 10 heaviest trains, not the 10 heaviest members!)

Probably the only reason that I might make a French model railway?  Wonderful machines.

Less exotic, but now just a part of UK railway history.  I loved the early electric blue livery.

Ever thought of modelling Iranian railways?  This is rather special!

Not my idea of a holiday…..

To close, just in case you are hungry after watching all the above!

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Across the Irish Sea – 8

Last, but not least, we have the 2′ gauge Groudle Glen Railway.  Less than a mile long, and 2′ gauge, it serves the Sea Lion Rocks Tea Room.


The Glen and the viaduct carrying the road and Manx Electric Railway.

The main station.

The trains.  I like the loco livery, rather like the old Midland & Great Northern Joint ‘gorse’ colour.

And Sea Lion Rocks.

So that’s the Dawes Brothers Manx excursion.  I thought that would be the end of their holidays, but Ron has already headed off to Bavaria.  He’s sent me some railway pictures, so we’ll post them at some point soon.  But perhaps I’ll have some modelling posts to come first?

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ESNG meeting – 28 August 2022

Last Sunday in the month, and time for the ESNG to convene again.  A fine turn out of 10 members today.

Simon was running a series of American locos and a long passenger train.


Action on the main line, British and Dutch, from Brian….

Neil’s track maintenance machines…

Multiple units old and new, from Chris and Neil….


Elsewhere, Martin and Neil were playing DCC, the treasurer was collecting money, and there was already competition for the comfy chairs.


Later in the afternoon, everyone seemed to gravitate to the armchairs, leaving Phil to run lots of trains!

And, as ever thanks to Brian for the video!  Here’s the maestro in action….


And Brian, why are we all walking backwards at the end of your video?  It’s not Christmas yet!

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Across the Irish Sea – 7

Today we visit the Manx Electric Railway sheds and works.


Just a photo dump, really.  Lots of trams in all states of repair, and some spare parts!

And finally, the works mascot.  If this falls off the building, the MER is doomed!


Next post will be the last from the Isle of Man – a visit to Groudle Glen.

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Across the Irish Sea – 6

The Snaefell Mountain Railway joins the village of Laxey with the summit of Snaefell, at 2,036 feet above sea level the highest point on the island.  The line is 5 miles (8 km) long, is built to 3′ 6″ gauge.  It uses a Fell Incline Railway System centre rail for braking on the steep gradients.  The railway occasionally uses the centre rail for braking only; the cars are all now equipped with rheostatic braking, which meets all normal braking needs. 

No. 5 arrives back from the summit.  Note the bow pantograph collectors, and the decided bow in the bodywork –  that is newer than the other carriages, as it was replaced (without a clerestory roof) after a fire.  Also the ‘narrow gauge’ (well, 6″ less) Manx Electric lines in the foreground.

And awaits the return run….


No. 4, showing the Fell braking system attached to the bogies….

No. 1 seems to have added rail brakes on the bogies? 

Ron sets off for the summit….

No. 1 (and Ron) arrive….

The views are worth the ride – on a clear day!

Next post, a visit to the Manx Electric Railway workshops.

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