Thursday, 23 October 2014

Awngate at Uckfield

Last weekend I took Awngate to the Uckfield show. It's the first 2-day show this layout has ever attended, and other than the small show in Patcham, all previous shows have been narrow-gauge specialist affairs, so it was interesting to see how it was received. It was certainly a busy show and there was lots of interest, and a few nice comments, so pretty good really.

I have always enjoyed the Uckfield show as a visitor, it does seem to attract high-quality layouts many of which are rarely seen, at least in this corner of the country, and also some good trade stands. This year layout highlights included Portskerra (EM) by Tim Ticknell, a Highland Railway terminus with harbour modelled on a frosty winter's day.

Arigna Town is a 7mm scale, 36.75mm gauge (!) model of the Irish broad-gauge by Dave Holman. Superbly done, and remember pretty much everything has been scratch-built!

Wenfordbridge Goods Depot is a 2mm scale model of the Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway. A nice model by any standards but the USP was the working crane and road vehicles! this would be some achievement in a larger scale, but this small... wow!

There were lots more top quality layouts too, so do take a look at my full photo collection.

Although I find 2-day shows a bit of a chore, this was a really well organised and good event to be an exhibitor at. The lunches were good too! Thanks to Simon Wilson, Phil Savage, Chris Ford, and my son Joshua who all helped with operating Awngate.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Thakeham in print!

The latest issue of Narrow Gauge and Industrial Railway Modelling Review landed on my door-mat today. It's a special extra-large 100th edition, so it is even more of a privilege to find my article about my Thakeham Tiles layout included!

I'm very pleased with they way it has come out, my photos seem to have come up good, but Bob has done a great job of presenting the article over 10 pages.

What's more the rest of the issue is top-notch, with superb modelling by well-reputed names. Illustrious company indeed!

I'm showing Awngate at the Uckfield show this weekend, today went well but do say hi if you're there tomorrow, and I'll post some pictures later.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Recent Acquisitions

My birthday was last month and I got a couple of new toys...

More motive power for "Thakeham" and "Landswood Park", though first I need to source a chassis for 14mm gauge.

"WDLR Album" from Roy Link was published just in time! It's a superb publication, as the title suggests it is packed with photos that are reproduced to a very high standard. The text is interesting too, much is from contemporary articles, and there are a number of high-quality drawings too. Definitely recommended.

Finally - I've changed my car. Now with an exhibition commitment in a couple of weeks I could be concerned about fitting the layout in ... but looking at the size of the boot, I don't think I've any cause for concern!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Details and Sillyness at Worthing

I spent today helping with the Sussex Downs 009 group layout Everleight at the Worthing show. Looking around the other layouts, many I'd seen before, but I did notice some nice well observed details. For example the kids racing go-karts on this US outline HO layout.

The modern image N-gauge layout "Smithdown Road" has some convincing present day details, including a motorway junction, and these minor roadworks - complete with barriers, skip, and portaloo,

The OO layout "Earls Court" has some of the best modelled shop interiors I've ever seen.

The section of the club layout we brought included Upsands Quay and the quarry. This layout was built over many years and sections are nearly as old as me, which did show with some niggles in the morning despite testing over the last three club-nights. It's not the easiest layout to operate either, however the scenery and detailing are excellent, and it did seem popular with the public.

The show definately seemed busy, until around 4 when the numbers dropped off significantly. By 4:30 things were starting to get silly, when John Reeve decided to test run his 3D printed South African train (the coaches as yet unpainted). Here it is entering the tunnel at Gryndene Halt - however before reaching Upsands the chimney stuck on a low point, and on reversing out, the cab caught on the tunnel mouth. Eventually we had to lift the hillside to extract the loco!

After sending longer than normal trains down the line to see what happened, the last train from Upsands ended up triple-headed with 9 coaches...

Thursday, 18 September 2014

A delight in Sittingbourne

The Sittingbourne and Kemsley is a railway I'd been keen to visit for a long time, so we took the opportunity on the way back from our weekend in Kent. It doesn't start very promising, the car pack is stuck between a fast food restaurant and a retail park, and the station is approached under a dilapidated viaduct and round the back of a car wash. To add to the "atmosphere" there was an overflowing sewer!

The station itself is "basic", with overgrown sidings full of rusting wagons, the platform is made from very old sleepers, and the ticket office is a garden shed. Not quite the "atmosphere" some preserved lines try to create, though it is true to the industrial origins of the line so is perhaps more genuine! At least it looks like the "main" line is receiving maintenance, albeit with ballast sourced from a fish-tank...

Things improve when the train arrives though. The Kerr-Stuart loco "Leader" is beautifully kept, as are the coaches made from converted wagons.

The route sets off over the famous concrete viaduct, and though somewhat industrial surroundings, then moves into a more rural area before ending at Kemsley Down.

There's no public access here as it is still inside the grounds of the paper mill which the line was built to serve, but there are engine sheds and workshops full of interesting things - most of the locos are original to the line, though a few small diesels have been added. It looks like a lot is being achieved, and other than some heavy overhauls everything appeared in good shape.

The atmosphere is nice and relaxed here, with simple rope barriers to separate public from machinery, but otherwise there is a lot of freedom to look around. A small gift shop, cafe and picnic area mean it would be worth hanging around and waiting for the next train, but we didn't have time.

So a short but enjoyable visit to a line full of character, even if it doesn't fit the mould!

You can see the full set of photos from both lines here.

Monday, 15 September 2014

The Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch

We recently had a weekend break in Kent, and managed to fit in a couple of steam railways (of course!). First up was the RH&DR, which is well presented and professionally run, as you'd expect of a line built for the tourist trade on a big scale. The locos are very well cared for, and bearing in mind they are 70 to 90 years old, still working hard!

At Romney locos are exchanged, presumably to give driver and loco a break in what is a very demanding timetable. The line is fully signalled, and about 60% of the length is double-track.

The coaches are somewhat cramped, but otherwise comfortable, just as well on a 3-hour round trip! Trains are very long - up to 14 coaches - so even though the line is relatively flat, those locos have a job to do.

The line cuts through the caravan park we stayed at, with a handy station!

 I think someone misunderstood the term "skip wagon".

Monday, 25 August 2014

Upgrading a train set

A weekend visiting family usually means a break from railway modelling. However this time my wife told me to pack my tools! Our 10-year old nephew wanted some scenery on his train set, so it turned out to be three days of modelling...

A while back his Mum had been looking for somewhere to put the railway, including the loft which wasn't suitable, so I sketched an idea for a baseboard that folded down from his bedroom wall. It turns out my sister in law is an excellent carpenter, so next time we visited things were up and running. My nephew has since built some downloaded card models, and laid some roads. Now he'd also been given some buildings and scenic items, plus some extra track.

My first job was to repair a broken lead from the wall-wart transformer to the controller, so out came the soldering iron. Then came the track; a long siding ended in a point and two short spurs, which was not very practical. I suggested a couple of alternative options, my nephew chose both, so we were off to the local model shop to buy another point. As it involved a kick-back siding we got some wire and a switch, so it could be fed from the adjacent track. Also the station needed a platform on a curve, so a Metcalf kit was purchased too.

With the sidings laid and wired, the controllers were screwed down too, then we added some hills in the front corners with some polystyrene and PVA soaked newspaper. The next day we painted them green and added scatter. He'd been given some nylon "static" grass but didn't know what it was for, fortunately I'd brought my static grass applicator, so we added plenty of that too. The platforms took a surprisingly long time over a couple of evenings, the awkward shape didn't help, but the kit is flexible enough to be built to almost any shape.

There remains of course plenty of things that can be added: fences, trees, bushes, backscenes, more buildings, figures, details, etc. That grey circle is to become a pond. However the trainset has progressed to a model railway, and should provide plenty of fun to it's owner. Now my son is asking when we can start building his new trainset...