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.

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