Thursday, 23 March 2017

Slow Progress

Trying to make progress over a fenland Winter seems a bit of a lost cause. There just aren't enough usable hours of daylight to get everything done. It wouldn't be so bad if the workshop/engine shed had power or even some windows.

However, a couple of nice weekends have meant I've finally been able to build the third and final point planned for this phase of construction. This one is another Y point but with the tightest radius possible using the Miniature Railway Supply Company components. All I need to do is connect the point lever.

I'm going to have to lift this section again so I can ballast it, but for now the garden is far too waterlogged to accept a delivery of limestone. We had been hoping to have a small open day to coincide with the 16mm show in Peterborough. Sadly the state of the drive precludes that since even our 4x4 has struggled to get on and off it.

The net result is that in this direction the line now extends as far as it did last September before I borrowed the track for a temporary extension at the other end of the line so we could access the wagons from the path outside the kitchen door.  More importantly, with the point in place laying the next 20m or so can go ahead which will complete my planned construction campaign for the year. Incidentally it is amazing how much track sidings seem to absorb, so I have to build quite a few track panels in the next couple of weeks.

If I get a chance I might extend in the other direction, but that depends on our longer term plans for the front garden, which currently resembles the field that it once was.I might also build a couple more items of rolling stock, with a brake van and a small coach topping the list.

Meanwhile, what about the OO9 Cadeby layout? Well finally, and I'd almost given up hope, the Minitrains point turned up in the post. So who knows, I might even crack on with that as soon as I can venture far enough into the shed to find my modeling gear.

A quick post script

After sharing these photos on Facebook with a throwaway comment about having missed the deadline for the 2016 Dave Brewer Challenge it struck me that the competition was the only reason why I was restricting the size of the baseboard. If I  use one of Tim's photoplanks I can both improve the scenic setting and extend the "mainline" to a more realistic length. So that is what I'm going to do, but still keeping to the single point layout. The only problem that then leaves me is how to avoid needing to model Teddy's rather hideous "modern" Rectory. Option 1 is to just leave it out, option 2 is to replace it with something more attractive.

Thursday, 19 January 2017


It is many years since the  Fens lost what was once an extensive railway network. So it is surprising that so many traces of the railways can still be found. The old M&GNR station at Gedney closed in 1959 but was kept well maintained until comparatively recently. Sadly it seems to have gone in to rapid decline whilst claiming a certain notoriety among the sub class of photographers who seek out derelict buildings.I had people queuing behind me to take photos.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Kings Lynn Again

The arrival of the new Hornby Peckett W4, and the possibility of the ModelRail J70 has made me start thinking about the Kings Lynn micro layout again.

So today we had a quick trip over there, combined with a meal at the excellent Bank House Hotel.

Every time I visit I'm struck by how dramatic, and problematic, the light is.

In fact I've had to resort to B&W for the remaining shots.

Reminiscent of Iliffe Stokes?

The boats are relatively modern, but the overall scene isn't

I love the door that leads down to the water

Can't you just imagine a harbour railway threading through that gap?

On the way home we stopped off at Gedney station, so some photos of there will follow when I get back from a few days working in London.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

The First Year of the ELR

I find it quite hard to believe that it is only a year since construction of the ELR began . In that time it has become established as an invaluable aid to country living, Coal, wood, and rubbish provide regular traffic, and the first sections of track to be laid now low look like they have always been there. Rather too much so in some cases.

This was supposed to be the line to the second woodstore,
 bird feeding station and coal wharf by now.
Having said which, there is the small matter that the line is still some 30 metres shorter, end to end, than I'd hoped it would be by now. That in turn means two of the key locations the line was built to serve still remain rail-less, so said coal, wood and refuse services still involve some road rail transshipment.

Actually 10 of those 30 metres are laid, but only on a temporary alignment that I'm not yet happy with. And the other 20m of track has been laid, more or less, but as sidings, not mainline. that is because I altered the order of construction. In theory it shouldn't take too much work over Spring and Summer to make a lot of progress to finish this stage of construction.

The saga of the sidings has been covered on previous blogs. It has taken me a while to adjust to the lead times needed to obtain 7 1/4" gauge point work, . As you will have gathered from those posts I'm both very happy with the products from MRSC and surprised by how much easier building points in this gauge is compared to building them in EM gauge. The tyhird and final turnout of Phase 1 is under construction at the moment.

Teddy has continued to do stalwart work, with just a few minor snags needing  to be ironed out. I'm still flummoxed by the disappearing letters from from the pseudo Lister ballast weights but I'll replace those a t some point. Hopefully I'll also treat him to a more sophisticated paint scheme one day. It would be nice to supplement him with a second loco over the next eighteen months, but we'll have to see.

I've also been very pleased with the wagons built on Colin Edmondson's buolt together chassis. I really need a few more though, since they are proving so darn useful.

Sadly cashflow* means I've twice missed out on suitable coaches so passenger traffic is still restricted to the solitary man-rider. We will have to see what 2017 brings on that front. It isn't  a major issue at the moment.

There is no doubt that the ELR has been responsible for an almost total lack of progress on indoor modelling. Again I'm quite relaxed about that, but it really is time I made an effort to complete the OO9 Cadeby micro layout. I suspect all that needs at the moment is for my beloved to go away for a weekend so I can make a certain amount of mess.

*On the other hand we did have a rather wonderful holiday in India.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Spalding Model Railway Show

November is always a busy month for me, and this year is no exception with lots of conference sessions to present and the usual round of sales deals on the go. I was supposed to be working in Helsinki this weekend, but a domestic emergency put paid to that. plan.  I can't say I'm sorry because I spent last weekend travelling back from Vegas and I'm away again next weekend.

Not travelling meant I could get to the Spalding Model Railway Exhibition for the first time since moving out this way.

I have to say it was quite a good show, though I didn't spend that long inside, a feat achieved by deliberately avoiding the trade stands. To be honest when a show has Pempoul and Gresley beat in the list of layouts you know it is going to be quite good.

Gresley Beat isn't my kind of layout, but remains a real crowd pleaser and you can see  why.

The usual cliched Pempoul shots

I think this is Eastwood Vermont. The layout lighting defeated all the white balance settings on my XE-1

Foston Mills

 Tony Hill's 16mm Melin Llechi



Red Hook Bay

Clay Cross

Black Road, 7mm track powered live steam

Ogden Fold

Fen Drove


Sunday, 23 October 2016

Back at my Desk

It is hard to realise a month has gone by since our Indian trip. I've still only managed to edit the first two days of photos. Here though are some more of my Kalka Shimla shots. For those interested the link to the holiday firm is here and it is worth noting that for next year they are planning to use the charter stock rather than a standard service train. Five hours was a long time on vinyl seats.

The ZDM 3 locos are quite charismatic

First view after the long train journey from Delhi

The train doesn't stop at most of the stations....

There is barely a straight or level section of line, and the loco horn is in constant use, not least because of the volume of people walking along the track 

It could almost be north Wale, apart from the monkeys.
There isn't a lot of space inside the carriages. The steps aren't a bad place to sit.

I wasn't sure if this was a service train or not

Have I mentioned I like the locos?

This is the spur at Barog

Rather an attractive little inspection trolley

You could, but probably wise not to

Some incredible stats

Not all the locos are fitted with the protective screens

The turntable at Shimla, still used by the railcars

No shot of Shimla is complete without a monkey

Meanwhile I've been making quiet progress on the ELR, the next point kit is due for delivery soon though construction will be delayed by a business trip to the States. One it is down though it will make a big difference and provide the spur that will allow eventual  access to the second wood shed and simplify delivery of coal to the bunker.

I can't say I've been making any progress on the Cadeby diorama. In an attempt to put a quart in a  pint pot I've decided to wait until the Minitrains track is available and try to fit in an extra point. The downloadable track template convinced me this is just viable.