Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Inspiration: A Small Watermill

Last weekend we visited Batemans - which was the home of Rudyard Kipling, and is now a National Trust property. In the grounds was a small watermill, which struck me as being an ideal prototype for a model.

The building is typically Sussex/Kent in style, wooden clap-board with a tiled roof. The left hand end is presumably the miller's cottage, the mill itself is to the right of the red tree, starting with the doorway that is just visible behind the tree.

Up the path to the right of the mill the mill pond can be seen, a surprisingly small one. The leat or head-race ran some way upstream before joining the stream, but the tail race joined the stream about 50 yards in front of the building.

And looking at the mill from the same spot it can be seen how it is built into the bank that dams the pond, and that the end wall is black rather than painted white - I presume tarred against the damp.

The over-shot wheel; this is a little narrower than the original due to the pipes.

From the front of the building the wheel and sluice can be seen. The pipes were added in the early 20th century to feed the turbine - which is clearly visible. A shaft from the centre of the turbine enters the brick hut to the right, where via a wheel and leather belt, drove a generator. A cable ran to half a ton of batteries in an outhouse by the main house,  allowing ten 60w bulbs to run for 4 hours!

Saturday, 22 August 2015

A Start on the Fiddle Yard

It's slow progress, but just to show I have made some, here's photos of the new fiddle yard under construction. The rather complex design has led to some head-scratching, and a lot of time has been spent marking out and cutting the pieces, but it is now starting to come together.

The frame is 9mm ply (left over from my son's train-set board) forming the back and ends, though due to depth limitations the lower level is softwood.

The deck layers use a foamed PVC material (Palight is the brand name) which came as offcuts from the marketing department at work. It's reasonably strong - as good as ply or MDF of similar thickness, and possibly lighter - while being smooth faced and of course shouldn't warp if it gets damp. And it was free! Small section (10x18mm) timber strips reinforce the edges.

The drawer runners that Awngate used to be mounted on have been fitted to timber cross members. Their travel isn't long enough to allow the deck to slide out to clear for rotation, so they have been mounted in pairs to work together for double the travel. I'm not sure if that will mean too much slack.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Goodbye Vulcan!

Sadly it seems this will be the last year that the Vulcan will be flying. I've seen it before at the Shoreham air-show, and when we lived nearby we'd see it over the house too - and my Son would run down the garden and up the climbing frame to see it. So hearing it was to be at the Eastbourne air-show today we decided to head over.

It really is a magnificent beast, even flying slowly at low altitude, with a deep roar from the engines and a haunting howl from the intakes.

Getting to the air-show was rather traumatic, as apparently everyone else had the same idea. Eastbourne is less than an hour away normally, but today it was two hours until we'd got into the town, and another hour before we'd managed to find a car-park that wasn't already full and walked the mile and a half to the display area. (the "ride" part of park and ride had a long queue, and at least we could see the planes while walking). Perhaps the numbers were greater than expected, but I'm sure more temporary car-parks, better signage - with electronic signs to guide traffic to where the spaces are, and keeping traffic away from pedestrians and buses, would make it all run more smoothly.

The long trek, and squeezing onto the packed beach, was worth the effort though, as the displays were superb. The Navy gave a demonstration of the Sea King (also in it's last year) dropping men onto the lifeboat, then picking them up again.

No air-show is complete without a Spitfire of course, and though no Lancaster today we did have a Hurricane, Mustang, Blenheim, and Dakota. We missed the Chinook and only glimpsed the wing-walkers while stuck in traffic, but saw the Typhoon, Hawks, and other jets and stunt planes, even paratroops. It really was one display following another. The best performance though was undoubtedly the Red Arrows.

I'd never seen them before, though of course they are well known for putting on a spectacular display. It's amazing how nine planes and a bit of smoke can keep a crowd of thousands oohing and aahing for 25 minutes! Fantastic choreography and truly superb flying skills.

So a great display, and well worth the very long trip there (and getting back wasn't much shorter). There a a few more pictures here. We'll miss the Vulcan in future - but we have to say a big thanks to all those that work to put on these displays, and keep old planes like the Vulcan, and the Battle of Britain flight, in the air for as long as possible.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Twist and Slide

I've been thinking about a new fiddle yard for Awngate - and for possible use on future layouts too. There's nothing really wrong with the current cassette system - it's compact, flexible, and easy enough to use, at home at least. However the few exhibitions I've done have shown something even easier, faster, and with less handling would be advantageous. It's surprising how quickly people move on while cassettes are changed, so simply sliding the next track over would be quicker, plus the distractions of exhibiting adds risk of damage to the trains while moving cassettes around. Another factor is that my Son likes to help out, but struggles to reach over to move cassettes about.

A turntable would be ideal as it allows the trains to be turned around, avoiding all handling. It may not be prototypical for such a line to reverse the whole train, but who really cares! However the layout sits against a wall at home, meaning not only is there not enough space to turn the table round, there would be limited tracks that can be lined up before the table hits the wall. A traverser is more compact as the lines are all parallel, so should have space for all (or at least most) tracks to be used at home. But locos need to change ends which means handling, or fiddly and time consuming shunting.

So after much thought and some ideas posted on the NGRM forum I'm planning a hybrid - but to check it is feasible I've knocked up a prototype from a cardboard box of a convenient shape, sellotape, and one of those split-pin paper fasteners! As you can see it consists of a traverser with up to 5 tracks, and all can line up with the exit track to Awngate without fouling the wall.

But slide the deck forward far enough and the top deck can be rotated right round to reverse the trains. Note how the deck (2' long) turns inside of the far side of the board - so clear of the wall. Of course at an exhibition it could be slid away from the operator to rotate if preferred. No accurate curved cuts are needed, just a pivot through the middle (which may mean the centre track is two separate "railcar" tracks).

Having turned 180 degrees the deck is slid back to line up the next track. The mock-up proves the concept works, of course making it for real could be more challenging. Practically the baseboard of Awngate is very shallow, so this has to be shallow too (tricky when it has three layers), or Awngate will need to be raised. I also want it to be easy to operate, so I'm wondering about self-aligning and electrically connecting tracks, but the latter is more tricky as the polarity to the tracks will need to reverse when rotated. Even the tried and tested sliding bolt alignment and connection method would need to deal with the polarity reversal - so using a common return won't work!

Saturday, 1 August 2015

First Steps

Manning the 009 society stand at Amberley the idea was to do some modelling as a demonstration. However rather than have him spend hours on his DS I thought I'd take some projects along for my son to have a go at too. First up was this signal box from a Metcalf kit, which had come with a Railway Modeller a while back.

Joshua loved putting it together, though I did end up helping with the cutting out, and glue spreading... still, he did a good job, and was desperate to build something else. So we moved on to a simple plastic kit for a platelayer's hut (Ratio I think). Again I helped - mostly cleaning up the parts where they'd been cut from the sprue, and holding the parts while Joshua glued them. He was impressed with the speed it went together using liquid solvent, and can't wait to have a go at painting it.

Both buildings have now been positioned on his train set, next we'll have to have a go at making brick retaining walls and tunnels I think.

Monday, 27 July 2015

A plan for two gauges

I've always enjoyed doodling track plans, I have a couple of box files of plans from my younger years. So many ideas, so little time to build them, but even so I still occasionally doodle plans for fun. Last week an unplanned and somewhat dull stay in hospital gave me the, er, opportunity to doodle...

Here's one of the ideas that emerged, and it features both standard and narrow gauge. I've long wanted to have both on the same layout but sadly didn't finish the last layout I tried this. This plan keeps the OO gauge to a minimum, just a simple inglenook shunting puzzle provides operational interest without even a need for a fiddle yard. The narrow gauge (009) has a low level continuous run for easy exhibiting, and also a small shunting yard, perhaps with workshop or engine shed, at an intermediate level by the SG siding. Sharp curves (about 8" radius) and gradients (about 1 in 30) allow the NG to emerge from bridges either end, pass along in front of the layout, and climb up to the level of the SG yard - the small numbers are heights in cm.

The overall size is 4'6" by 19" allowing it to be built as one board, though a larger board would help. The rear 6" provides hidden staging for the NG to swap trains, cassettes could provide more capacity but aren't really necessary. Actually the rear section could be made removable or fold-up to allow the scenic board to sit on a narrow shelf at home, the lack of continuous run and staging being less important than the display and shunting.

The big question is the theme and setting. Obviously an industrial scene, a quarry/mine, gas works, water works etc. are all possibilities, though need bulk transfer of coal or minerals which is tricky to model. I'm thinking a large factory with an internal system - such as a chemical works (I grew up near ICI plants with internal rail systems), or a paper works (like Sittingbourne), would work well. The NG would move loads around the plant as well as transferring goods to and from the SG, while SG wagons would have more variety and be loading/unloading direct to the factory buildings too. Another option would be a munitions factory or MoD site, perhaps a good excuse for the Narrow Planet RNAD loco and crew van, and the 009 Society wagons kits with some "interesting" loads...! These themes could work from the 1930's right through to the 1980's with appropriate stock.

Whatever the purpose of the site, scenically there is a lot of track (much of it a little overgrown perhaps), with grassy banks and undergrowth.  The left hand end would be built up to suggest factory buildings and warehouses - I'm thinking more modern brick and concrete Scalescenes type rather than the older and slightly twee Metcalf kits - while the right hand end looks more rural, the SG on an embankment surrounded by trees. A stream passing under the lines could add interest, with a rural backscene contrasting with the industrial foreground.

Well I don't know if I'll ever get to build this layout, but it would be a lot of fun in a small space, with up to three trains running at once.  It would also be a good layout to build with my son, to include standard "OO" trains along with the 009 I prefer. And I do have a Model Rail "OO" Sentinel shunter put aside...

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Amberley Listermania!

This weekend Amberley held it's annual railway gala event. I was there yesterday, taking my turn manning the 009 society stand. This year the theme was "Listermania", with visiting locos taking the total number of Lister's present to 12, along with some road versions and a few miniature replicas too.

Sadly the model railway exhibition has become a little stale, looking very similar every year. However there are some super and less often seen models to be found.

But with the sun shining and the 2' gauge line running trains to maximum capacity, outside was the place to be!

That's my son on the left, busy with his new camera. In fact I think he took more photos than I did, and rather good ones too. While I was manning the stand inside he was watching the "parade" of locos.

We had a few interested folk visit the 009 society stand, the scale still generating a high level of interest, and it's nice to chat to a few folks just getting started in the scale. So an enjoyable day!

Lots more photos here if you'd like to see more!