Thursday, May 27, 2010

N Gauge

As promised, and at long last, I will now take a look at, what is, the second most popular model railway size in the UK - N Gauge. Because of its small size N Gauge is ideal for those modellers with limited space and, here it has a distinct advantage over the larger sizes in  that it has the potential to allow the running of scale length trains. This is something that only modellers with plenty of room can do in OO Gauge.
N Gauge is applied to models that are nominally built to a scale of 2mm = 1ft and which run on track that is 9mm gauge.
British N Gauge models differ from those in the rest of the world in that they are built to 2.06mm = 1ft (1:148) compared to 1.91mm = 1ft (1:160) elsewhere.
However, all proprietary models will run on the 9mm gauge track which, at 2mm = 1ft, is a true representation of the prototype gauge of 4' 8½". This is more or less correct for non-UK models but which, for the UK market, should strictly speaking be 9.7mm.
N Gauge was developed by the Arnold company of Nuremberg in 1962 and it was later, during the mid 1960s, that British N Scale standards were defined by the newly formed N Gauge Society. As with OO Gauge some 30 years earlier, the slightly larger scale was adopted to allow readily available German motors to be incorporated into the smaller outline of the British models.
For those who choose N Gauge there is quite a selection of ready to run models and equipment available. Manufacturers such as Graham Farish and Peco offer a variety of locomotives, rolling stock and accessories and, whilst there is a limited amount of set track available for the beginner, flexible track and points can be readily obtained to suit most applications.
Although it is true to say that the choice or ready to run models is not as great as that for OO Gauge it is, nevertheless, sufficient to build and run the most extensive of layouts!
Surprisingly there are a number of firms producing N Gauge kits, from locos to rolling stock to both plastic and card kits for buildings and other structures. I say surprisingly because one would assume, given the small size of N Gauge, that kits would be rather fiddly to build. However, in many ways N Gauge kits are easier to construct than those for OO Gauge since they quite often have fewer parts.

A layout in N Gauge, being very much an off-the-shelf model railway system, can be operational quite quickly and the equipment is equally suitable for beginners as it is for the more experienced railway modeller. Greater care must obviously be exercised due to its small size - track laying, ballasting and, even, simply placing rolling stock onto the track must all be done with more precision. Keeping the track dirt and dust free is also critical since the smallest speck of dust can cause problems from merely derailing a train to getting into the mechanisms of the locomotive.

N Gauge is half the size of OO Gauge yet occupies only a quarter of the area of its larger cousin. Hence it is ideal for those with limited space and, not only that, N Gauge can provide much more scope for constructing layouts that include lots more railway. From the limited confines of a garden shed or a shelf above the bed to the relative vastness of a loft, where a huge terminus with scale length trains could be constructed, N Gauge is just about ideal! To be honest, the only place that an N Gauge layout is not best suited, due to its small size, is in the garden. Although, I am sure, even this has doubtless been achieved by someone.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Brush With Keytes

We present the latest addition to our locomotive fleet: a weathered Hornby Class 31, Brush Type 2, NÂș 31268. 
We acquired this particular locomotive from Keytes Model Railway Supplies in Essex and she came with a Loksound V3.5 16 bit DCC Sound decoder already fitted. This had Keytes own sound functions installed and, from what I had heard of her on YouTube, she sounded very good. However, when she arrived we were very disappointed both in the quality of the sound and in the amount of functions available. 
This is the first loco that we have had with Keytes sounds installed and, if this is representative of what they can do, I am not very impressed. Compared to Howes, SWD and Olivias it was very disappointing. 
Therefore it was sent, almost immediately, to Howes of Oxfordshire (who produce probably our favourite  sounds) to have it reblown and the difference is amazing. I love the sound and hope to include a video of her in action on YouTube before too long. 
Yes, I can see that this loco will most definitely be put to good use in the future hauling many a freight and local passenger train.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fence Post!

Having been busy both at work and at home during this past week or two it has been a while since I posted an entry on my blog and, for that, I do apologize. To be honest, though, there has not been too much to report as far as progress on the layout is concerned. However, this last weekend saw us get down to some serious work as we erected the fencing around the brewery and, also, 'tarmacked' the roads up to the bridge and fire station.

In tandem with this work we grassed over the hills between the roads and worked on the concrete area of the brewery, which is a little patchy in places. In coming weeks we expect to be planting a variety of trees and shrubs on the grassy bits and getting the brewery ready to start exporting its beer to every part of the layout!

None of the buildings has been fixed in place and, before they are, we want to make them all ready to accept lighting at some point in the future. No part of the layout has been lit as yet but it is definitely something we want to do, daunting task though it is.

Now, I do realize that I had promised to look at another of the more common model railway gauges and I will definitely do this in one of my next postings.

We also recently added another loco to our ever-growing fleet and I will talk about that in a later blog too - as well as feature it in forthcoming videos so that you can hear how she sounds.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Green, Green Grass of Home.

This is just a brief update on the progress we have made to the town and, as you can see from the photograph, we have now grassed over the hill and this is starting to look very good. 
We have also, after several attempts, created the base for the road leading down from the road over-bridge and into the town and plan to surface this next time.
You will also see that there is another road leading up to the fire station but, fortunately, what you cannot see is the fact that said road has more dips, bumps and craters than the planet Mars so this will definitely have to be reworked as a matter of urgency. We really need to finish this before we can continue fencing and gating the brewery.
To the right can be seen the (very) rough groundwork for the bus station, petrol station and, possible, supermarket. This will doubtless be the next area that receives our attention once we have finished landscaping the fire station and brewery.

Wheel Keep It Clean!

I did promise a while ago that I would explain the process we employ for cleaning the wheels of our locomotives and I guess it's about time that I made good on my pledge.
Actually, it is quite a simple process and involves nothing more than some small pieces of J Cloth, or similar, plus a few drops of that magic ingredient, Wahl's Clipper Oil.
Firstly cut a strip of cloth and place it on the track just in front of the loco. You must ensure that, whilst one set of wheels is on the cloth the other set remains in contact with the rails in order to pick up power.
Now place a few drops of the clipper oil onto the cloth, along the rails and allow a few seconds for the oil to soak in to the cloth - see Photo 1.
When the oil has sufficiently soaked in, slowly run the loco over the cloth - first in one direction and then in the other. You need to make sure that the entire surface of each of the wheels has been cleaned by the oily cloth. 
Once you have traversed the cloth at least once, although you can do it more than once if you want, replace the oily cloth with a dry piece of similar size. Now repeat the exercise, running the loco over the dry cloth once or twice. You will notice two lines of black crud appear on the cloth and the dirtier the wheels beforehand then the darker will be these lines - see Photo 2.
Once this is done the wheels should be clean and shiny, see Photo 3, and, what's more, a fine layer of the oil will remain on the wheels and this will help to keep them clean for some time to come.
We have now cleaned all of our loco wheels using this technique and, together with the freshly cleaned track, has resulted in a much smoother operation all round.