Sunday, 13 August 2017

A Trip up the Line

Whilst my last post included a lengthy description of recent progress I forgot to include any photographic evidence. So to make up for that this is the latest video of the line

And for comparison here is a trip from May last year.

Sadly further progress this year might be very limited since I'm now working in Milan.

Friday, 21 July 2017

The Long Slog

We've been living out here in the middle of nowhere for just over two years now. It remains a strange, wonderful, challenging and very different part of the country for us but overall we still love it, apart from the wind.

Ah yes, the wind.

I hear you saying "Yes, the fens, they get the full blast of the winds blowing from Siberia. It must be one of the windiest parts of the country, you know"

Actually, it is very rare we get winds from the East, which is a pity because most of our trees would protect us if we did. And the Westerly winds we do get aren't, notionally, that dreadful.  What they are is relentless and, frankly, depressing. Especially cycling home against them.

What has all this got to do with the railway?

I always knew building a 7 1/4" line single handed would be a challenge but I think I underestimated the impact the weather would have on construction. The truth is it just isn't any fun to be crouching down in the wind trying to fasten ridiculously small fish-plate bolts.

I'd been relying on having some balmy Summer evenings to get things done, with the Easter long weekend providing an early season boost.

Easter ended up being devoted to clearing out the sheds of all the things that become surplus to requirements when you move from a six bedroom house to a 2 1/2 bedroom cottage.

We have had some balmy Summer evenings, but then there is cycling to be done, and BBQs to be cooked.

Never mind, I thought. Issy is off for a week's leave in June when her step-mum is coming to stay. I'll take that week off and do a mix of day trips with them and days working on the railway.

Which was a great plan until the day beforehand when poor Barb got rushed to hospital with life threatening sepsis. Issy and I got to spend three days together, one of which was a total washout, and on the other two we had days out. to Skeggie and the rather wonderful Peckover House. Incidentally, I'm sure I read somewhere that Teddy Boston lodged at Peckover House during his curacy in Wisbech, but I'm not sure where.

Barb, incidentally appears to have made a full recovery, I'm glad to say.

The rest of the week was dismal wet and windy, apart from the final Saturday. Fortunately, by then I'd had time to plan a detailed set of actions so we made massive progress with the whole of the "yard" laid to give Teddy proper access to the engine shed and a stock siding enabling the wagons to be stored out of sight.

Another weekend's work saw the tramway extension get underway, with the eye watering 8' radius curves that Teddy seems quite happy with.

So now, after 20 months, the ELR has extended from an end to end run of 30m to a current 55m.

Not exactly massive progress is it?

Well no, but we've actually laid a lot more track than that when you take the sidings into account. And given the nature of the ELR  some of the sidings are probably best thought of as short branchlines.

And it completes my plans for phase 1a and 1b of construction. 6 months late, but hey, you can;t have everything.

Better still phase 2 just involves laying 30m of plain track so 2018 should see rapid progress.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

North Ings

It is claimed that North Ings Farm Railway is one of the least visited tourist attractions in the UK.

To be honest my first impressions seemed to confirm why. It wasn't easy to find and my first few minutes there made me wonder if an open day was more of a social event for the supporters rather than for the benefit of visitors.

During the course of a relatively short visit though I found it quite a friendly places, and Issy was well looked after in the cafĂ© whilst an enthusiast  friend and I roamed around at will.

It is perhaps the closest thing I've come across to replicating the Cadeby experience.

The original stock, now preserved, first came to my attention because of the rubber scaled IP Engineering 16mm kits. This has now been supplanted by the ex Abbey Light Railway stock.

A visit is highly recommended, it is just a pity it didn't coincide with a Lincolnshire Light Railway operating day.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Spalding Bulb Museum

After the trip to the Model Engineering Show we still had time to pop up the road to a local garden centre that has as an added attraction Spalding Bulb Museum.  The history of large scale flower cultivation in this area has its own fascinating history. It is always a shock to our visitors who associate Spalding with tulips that very few are grown here now.

What is of particular interest is that the museum includes some narrow gauge items. The potato railways of Lincolnshire are well known, and there is archive footage of narrow gauge lines being used to repair riverbanks in the fens, but it is much harder to find out about their use in the flower nurseries.

And since no one was around to answer questions, I'm still not much the wiser.

Anyway, here are some photos.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

A Tale of Two Exhibitions: Part 2

This was supposed to be a fairly quick follow on from Part 1. Then, as so often, life got busy. In fact I'm supposed to be in India as I write this but there simply wasn't time to renew my visa.

So in a brief respite whilst various people are out of contact here is the follow up on the Spalding Model Engineering Show. To be honest in some ways you could just read my article from last year, because lots of things were just the same. Not that is always a bad thing.

The highlight for me was the 5" gauge standard gauge stock from the  Saracens Junction Head Group

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

A Tale of Two Exhibtions. Part 1

Living in the fens you become very aware of changes through the year. In Herefordshire and Warwickshire it tended to be either green and wet, or green and dry. Here the crops change rapidly and so do the colours of the fields. The sky closes in then opens up, the trees, and yes we do have trees here, come into leaf over an extended period of weeks. And , of course, you can't live here without becoming very aware of the infinite variety of winds.

The other things that mark the is the succession of  shows and exhibitions. Village shows, county shows, Xmas fairs and the big events at the county showgrounds and the Springfield conference centre.

April brings the 16mm show at Peterborough and the Spalding Model Engineering show.

Driver for a fiver

The original Brick

How much is that doggy in the window?

Matt Nunn's new product. It just needs a 16mm version of Samson to haul it

3D printing, as here by PDF, is enabling new scale products to be made at a reasonable price

a 7/8ths version of a loco that in 16mm graced the cover of Dan Boreham's seminal book on Narrow Gauge Modelling

Another example of the products available from the trade. A Leek & Manifold station 

There will always be a place in my heart for Big Big Train/Novo conversions

How I coveted this as a teenager!

Tony Hills layout has appeared here before. It continues to make quite a stir in the 16mm world.

Pocklington Nurseries. Based on a real line

I still have a weakness for 016.5 models of the GVT. If I had room for a permanent layout  Roy Link's GVT in 8x10 would be my choice. I do have a 16mm GVT loco somewhere....
I didn't have long at the 16mm event. Compared to last year I thought it was slightly easier to see things, with most of the gangways big enough for two mobility scooters to pass. Trust me, that was happening a lot.  I was really disappointed with the paucity, though not the quality, of entries for the Model of the Year competition.  What was very encouraging though was the variety of products now available from small traders, especially for those favouring the small and delightful kind of prototype.

I'm very much in favour of the trend towards increased accuracy of scale that has become evident in recent years. It is hard to know what to say when someone comments that other model railway societies look down on 16mm whilst at the same time justifying a complete mish mash of scales.

Having said that there is still something about some of the early meths fired heritage locos that I love. I had forgotten that when trying to photograph them running you need to keep an eye out not only for trains running on the other track, but also for the owner hurtling round the outside to keep the beasts in check.

All in all a good event. As usual it would have been nice to see less layouts featuring double track and/or "comic cameos".

In part 2 I'll look at the Model Engineering show.