Friday, 18 July 2014


I picked up some of the new 009 Society kits for Royal Naval Armament Depot (RNAD) wagons a while back, and last Friday I was putting one together, trying to figure out how the brake gear went together.

Saturday Morning I arrived at Amberley to set up Thakeham Tiles, and what is right opposite? A handy prototype!

I'm glad to say I got the brake levers correct; the instructions are a bit ambiguous in this area but a picture speaks a thousand words they say...

The complication is that there are levers on both sides, which both go to the right when facing the van, and both operate the brakes on both sides. This means that the linkages to the brake blocks are the opposite way round on either side, linked via a shaft across the wagon, and one of the levers needs it's rotation reversing. As you can see in the picture below the lever this side operates the shaft with a cam arrangement, and the left-hand brake linkage is at the top of the shaft.

Not so easy to view because of an adjacent wagon, but on the other side the lever acts directly on the shaft, and the right-hand brake linkage is at the top of the shaft.

While I was at it I got a shot of the end detail, with steps and handrails.

Meanwhile outside, a demonstration train was running with more ex-RNAD stock, including open wagons with ends, and a brake/passenger vehicle.

More on the actual model when I get time to progress it!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Thakeham at Amberley

I spent this weekend at Amberley, with Thakeham Tiles at the model railway exhibition held as part of the railway gala weekend.

The exhibition is a nice little show, with a reasonable selection of (mostly small) NG layouts spread around various buildings. It was nice to see some developments at Richard Glover's Sand Point.

However the models play a supporting role to the real narrow gauge trains. There are steam locos, resident and visiting...

A wide range of industrial NG locos and trains...

Which all line up for a parade mid afternoon...

Not forgetting of course, the pleasure of rides behind a steam loco!

The weather defied the pessimistic forecast and the sun shone. It was also good to catch up with old friends, so a good weekend all round. You can see a full set of photos here, and read more about the Amberley narrow gauge museum on their website.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Lofty Business

You may have noticed that my modelling output has been rather limited the last few months. Partly this is because sometimes I do a lot, sometimes I don't. It is a hobby after all, and after the EXPO challenge last year it is nice to not have deadlines. However another factor is that we moved house at the end of last year, and while the new house doesn't need a lot of work, there have been more DIY jobs than usual to content with.

One such task has been to make usable space in the loft. Like many houses built in the last 50-years it has a low-profile roof with pre-fabricated roof trusses, which combined with extra insulation makes the space difficult to access and no use at all for storage.

The first task was to make a floor for safe access. Some pieces of chipboard from an old chest of drawers were fixed to the few planks at the top of the ladder, but I didn't want to remove any insulation. So I got some 4"x2" timber from a local timber merchant, who cut it to 4' lengths too, these are then screwed on top of the joists between the insulation and could then support 18mm chipboard flooring. This provides crawling space (no room to stand!) but allows air to move above the insulation.

Next up was to provide storage space. I had a load of old bed slats which were cut and screwed across the outer "vee" of the trusses as seen above. More chipboard recycled from old furniture could then sit on top of these to provide a shelf. The shelf is about 18" deep and the trusses are around 18" apart (though it does seem to vary!). Having just dismantled a built-in wardrobe I have now fitted out about half the loft in this way (the water tank makes the rest of the space more difficult to access).

Now I suppose this space could be used for a model railway, but it isn't really ideal. Apart from the temperature variations, poor light, limited space for humans, and the difficulty of getting any layout in or out, it isn't a sociable place to be! Nonetheless it will help by allowing stuff to move out the garage (you know, Christmas decorations, spare bedding, all those railway mags and anything else that probably isn't needed but isn't ready to be thrown away), meaning perhaps one day I'll have enough space there to build a layout!

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Methodist Exhibition

The South Downs 009 group were invited to show a layout at an exhibition at a Methodist Church in Patcham, we thought a small straightforward layout would be easiest so I volunteered Awngate. The organisers had a small but good variety of layouts through a couple of rooms, and provided a very welcoming atmosphere making for an enjoyable day. It did seem very quiet though, it would have been nice to see a few more visitors through.

Here's Awngate in exhibition mode, with Martin looking relaxed at the controls. Or perhaps he is pondering which switch to press...

A sneaky view behind the scenes showing the trestles, vital mug-shelf, and the power box hanging beneath. Martin must be concentrating on a shunting manoeuvre, having moved in close for a good look! We ran a couple of mixed trains which needed the wagons shunting, so providing more interest for us though at a higher risk of coupling-stress. Generally things went pretty well though.

Behind us was this super HO German layout "Bahnhof Laufenmuhle" by Alan Peacock, which I've admired before.

Little Teisleigh in OO by the Brighton Model Railway Group is a GWR branch, with added minerals.

This model of the Brighton Volks Electric Railway in G1 is often seen at local shows, the models are very fine and there interesting displays about the prototype, though I think it would be nice if a little more scenery were present as the 36' length is mostly table-top with a track on it.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Chemin de Fer de la Baie de Somme

I heard about the Chemin de Fer de la Baie de Somme through an NGRM forum posting, and once we'd decided our holiday this year would be in Northern France I was determined to pay a visit. The meter gauge railways around the Somme estury towns opened in the late 19th centruy and a fair milage has now been preserved. We took the train from St Valery sur Somme to Le Crotoy via Noyelles sur Mer, there is also a branch to from St Valery sur Somme (though not at the same station!) to Cayeux sur Mer.

Waiting for us at the quayside station in St Valery is this elegant locomotive with a train of bogie carriages. It's a 230 (or 4-6-0) tank engine built by Cie de Fives-Lille in 1909, quite a big powerful beast.  It seems we picked a bank-holiday weekend to visit and the trains were crowded, parking was a nightmare, and they really need more than one toilet at the station!

A couple of hundred yards down the line we passed the "town" station which serves the branch to Cayeux sur Mer. It is timetabled to be run by railcar or diesel but, perhaps due to the bank holiday crowds, this delightful 2-6-0T (130 in French!) Corpet built in 1906 was on duty.

Noyelles is the junction with the SCNF main line, and also the mid-point passing station of the line from St Valery to Le Crotoy. It is also a terminus, and trains from both ends of the line reverse here. Looking back as we left the train to St Valery can be seen departing over the scissors crossover, the tracks run parallel for a few hundred yards. The far right track is dual gauge, standard gauge rails straddle the meter gauge, this runs all the way from Noyelles to St Valery.

At Le Crotoy the loco takes on water by the shed at the end of the line. The main depot and workshops are just outside St Valery, but the trains start from both ends.

Leaving Noyelles on the return journey the two trains, having reversed in the station, depart in turn then the second overtakes the first. This appears to be "stage managed" to allow passengers to see the other train, and just for the fun of it! The locos have swapped trains during the proceedings, perhaps to get back to the correct shed for the night?

Back at St Valery the loco is turned on the inset turntable on the quayside, in front of the station building, which also acts as the release to the loop. The turntable is electrically operated from a control panel (near the parking meter on the left). I don't really know why they bother though as this is the only turntable on the line! This loco is a Buffard 031 (0-6-2) of 1910, and was designed to run cab-first for visibility on and by the road.

Despite the crowds we had a great trip, the locos and coaches are beautifully restored and kept, and it's a nice ride. For more pictures check out the album. If you are in the area (it's only an hour from Calais so even possible on a "day trip") this line is well worth a visit.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Fettling Thakeham

In the run up to the SWING show I had Thakeham set up for a practice. I had forgotten how fiddly it was to load the wagons without derailing them! The magnetic stick works fine, but to get the load into the skip and off the magnet requires a steady hand and a careful twist of the stick. Then I had a cunning plan...

It's a simple sheet of black plasticard set carefully to just clear the back edge of the skip wagons, which stops them being pushed or tipped off the rails. Since the wagons are always propelled under the hopper there's no issue of clearance for other stock. However it does make the process of loading them much easier: the magnetic stick is used to push the load down into the sip, then slid forwards, as the wagon is held by the plastic the load is pulled from the magnet, and the stick can be lifted away.

Also while testing I was not happy with the way the O&K loco ran, it's always had a grinding noise when running in one direction and occasionally seemed to stick, so I stripped it down to apply drops of oil to the gears. The construction of the chassis means that without the body on the layshaft driving the rear axle (under the driver) is free to rise up. I wondered whether the body was not restraining it enough, so I folded a small strip of bass and superglued it into the recess in the top of the chassis so it holds the layshaft in place.

With the chassis now able to be tested without the body it ran smoothly, so I added the body, only to find it wouldn't then move at all! Slackening the bolts off allowed it to move, but the grinding noise was louder than ever, so it was clear the body was catching. There is a recess in the footplate to clear the worm gear seen above, using a burr in a mini-drill I deepened and widened it as shown. With the body refitted and the bolts done up tight the chassis ran without any grinding.

That said, it's still hardly a quiet chassis, none of my O14 locos are, due to the low gearing and metal bodies. The bigger wheels means it can do a reasonable speed without the motor screaming as the Lister (with similar gearing) does. But it does run reliably and slowly now, and spent Saturday alternating with the Hudson Hunslet running on Thakeham.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Thakeham at SWING

The SWING (Small and Wonderful Industrial and Narrow Gauge) show in Bognor, organised by the local 7mm NGA group, has become established both as an exhibition of quality narrow gauge models, and as a friendly show. So it was great to be invited to take Thakeham along. It doesn't take long to set up so there was time for Joshua to have a practice before the show opened.

The layout ran well with no issues, and received positive comments which is nice. Joshua proved quite adept at operating, and indeed it was difficult for anyone else to get a turn! Thanks to Paul Davies for helping out, and to Tim Sanderson and Stephen Fulljames for taking turns too. All that help allowed me plenty of time to look round the show, and chat to many familiar and new faces too. Roving Reporter Mick Thornton had his camera out so I'm sure he'll have a quality set of pictures on his blog in due course, he also had his visiting railcar, and due to a slight gauge and scale discrepancy Thakeham Tiles were pleased to provide a flat wagon!

Peter Kazer's "Owd Ratty" is a model of the original 3' gauge Ravensglass & Eskdale Railway terminus at Boot. It was at EXPO-NG a few years ago but it was hard to see due to the crowds, so it was nice to get a good close up look. The quality of the 1/4" scale models is amazing, and it was no surprise that this was awarded the best layout by the visiting public vote.

Stewart Green's model of Southwold in OOn3 has also been at EXPO and recently in Railway Modeller. My friend Simon Wilson was helping operate, and it was interesting to compare Stewart's faithful model to Simon's 009 interpretation (at the Sompting show last week). Stewart has really shown how the station sprawled across the quiet countryside, the line sliding through the golf course and past the allotments. Again the modelling is excellent, and again won an award - voted by the exhibitors and traders.

Lyndon 1870 by Lyn Owers is a model of London in Victorian days, inspired by the life and work of Charles Dickens, there are references to his books and characters throughout the dozens of buildings and crowded streets. There's also some 009 trains weaving through the scene, but the model would be just as interesting without them!

That's just a few of the layouts, for a full set of photos click here. An excellent show and great fun.