Monday, February 28, 2011

Hedge Grows

Well, we finally managed to finish landscaping the side of the tunnel at the weekend and we also laid a hedge along the tops of the embankments. We might still add a few small trees to this hedgerow in order to give it a bit of height and, of course, the road needs to have some markings and traffic signs added but, apart from that, this corner is virtually complete.
You can, just about, see one of our Hornby 100 ton bogie tank wagons parked in the fuel terminal so, quite clearly, this facility is now fully up and running. 
Ideally this should have been a through terminal but the lack of space elsewhere on the layout meant that it had to be sited in this corner. Not that mind too much since it simply provides us with further shunting opportunities and the chance to carry out some more interesting manoeuvres as each tanker is delivered to the terminal at the rear one train and then, later, taken away as part of another.
We intend to feature this in one of our next videos.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fuel Stop!

In the final look at layout locations that are at or near completion this week, I return to the Fuel Terminal which, as you know, has taken us rather longer to progress than we had anticipated.
Still, it is now almost finished with just a few more tweaks to be done before we can stop work on this bit in order to carry on with a different are of the railway - namely the section of the town that was left undone whilst we turned our attention to this troublesome corner.
As you can see, we have added a few figures that are, actually, from the set of Bachmann Traction Maintenance Depot Workers but they seem to fit in well here. We have also added some vehicles but these are only temporary and will be changed for more suitable ones as and when we get them.
At a recent Toy and Train Fair we picked up four of the older Hornby 100 Ton bogie tank wagons and these will be used to service the fuel terminal. Ideally we would have liked some of the new Bachmann wagons but the Hornby ones were cheaper and, when they are suitably weathered, will probably look just as good.

Coal A Halt

This little station is called Coneyvale Halt and it serves a nearby village as well as workers and trains going to and from the coal depot. The occasional walker might also alight here to begin a pleasant ramble down in the valley.
We had always wanted to include a halt on the main line so as to provide another station for stopping trains to call at and here seemed an ideal location.
We tried to erect a footbridge but this just did not look right and seemed to be out of scale with the adjacent viaduct. So, we abandoned that idea and will now install a crossing for passengers to, carefully, traverse from one platform to the other.
The station signs were only put up at the weekend and there is still a little bit of work to be done here before it is considered finished and we can then add a passenger or two.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Gang Land

In order to add a bit of colour to the layout, as well as injecting a bit more life into it as well, we thought we would place this Bachmann Permanent Way Gang at the point where the tipper spur leaves the main line.
Obviously they have been placed in such a way that trains will miss them and, in fact, they may not stay there permanently since, strictly speaking, some of the figures should be placed nearer the track in order to do their work properly.
However, to do that would result in certain death or injury since the poor chaps are unable to move out of the way of any passing train without help from the great hand in the sky!
So, the idea is for them, eventually, to work on a less busy section of track, which we plan to create when we begin reworking the northern end of the layout later in the year.

To my mind, the Bachmann SceneCraft range of OO gauge figures certainly is amongst the most realistic and lifelike of those that are available and we tend to use them wherever and whenever possible. Indeed, we should be able to add a few more in the future since I see that they are introducing some new figures this year, with the following sets soon to be available:

36-080   Horses
36-081   Cows
36-082   Pigs
36-083   Sheep
36-400   1960s/70s Coal Miners
36-401   Trainspotters
36-402   1960s/70s Standing Station Passengers
36-403   Factory Workers and Foreman
36-404   1940s/50s Station Staff
36-405   1960s/70s Station Staff
36-406   Suburban Street Scene
36-407   1950s Train Crew

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Station Announcement

This weekend we continued progressing this part of the layout by adding a few figures and oil drums to the fuel terminal as well as a permanent way gang working on the track near the junction for the tipper spur. 
Anyway, more of those in a later blog, because what I am pleased to announce here is the fact that we also started to populate Sueston with signs, seating and people etc. As you can see this has definitely started to bring the station alive after many months of it simply being two long and empty platforms.
However, this is just a start and much of what can be seen here is only temporary since we need to get some seats that are all of the same style and colour, the pillar (part of which can be seen to the left) also needs to be disguised with a backdrop of shops or buildings and we are still planning to fit lighting to the platforms at some stage.
Still, it is at last starting to look more like a working station now and we are very pleased at how this part of the layout is coming along.
The approach to Sueston, with the line passing beneath bridges and between an embankment and the fuel terminal before it emerges into the openness of the station area, I believe, is quite effective. 
There is quite a complex array of points on this corner so we had to both conceal the line but, at the same time, leave it accessible which, I think, we have achieved.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Warshipful Admiration

Having included a picture of our steam loco 'at speed' the other day I thought it only right that I balance the situation with a similar shot of one of the diesels. In this instance it is D812 'Royal Naval Reserve' at the head of an Inter-City express consisting of Bachmann Mk2 coaches and a Hornby Mk1 Buffet Car.
I will admit that it does lack the impact of a steam loco, with masses of smoke billowing from the chimney, but diesels do have their own charm and, although I am by no means a Western Region fan, I do like the diesel hydraulics and was sorry to see them phased out.
Some people consider these Warships, together with the Westerns and Hymeks, to be quite ugly while others, myself included, find them all rather attractive. At least I am not alone in liking the Westerns since they seem to have quite a following and it is good to see Western Champion in charge of a variety of specials on the main line. In fact we have had a couple of trips behind her ourselves.
Actually we have been trying to acquire a Heljan Class 52 for some time now and particularly wanted D1001 'Western Pathfinder'. Well up until last weekend we have been unable to find one but, at a Toy and Train Fair on Sunday, we finally managed to track one down. She still needs a decoder fitting before she can be brought into service but, hopefully, it won't be too long before we have a couple of diesel hydraulics hauling trains on the layout.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Getting Plastered

With the fuel terminal fencing finally in place and to our satisfaction (hooray!), we at last turned our attention to the side of the tunnel which needed to have its flat, wooden side made to look a little less, well,  flat and wooden! 
This we achieved via our usual method of screwed up pieces of dampened newspaper overlaid with landform or, in this instance, plaster-impregnated bandage, which is the same thing really, only cheaper.
That done, we have left it to dry during the week and will coat it in polyfilla or similar next weekend prior to Pete, our 'artistic director', working his magic with the scenery.
We did not want to work on the tunnel side until we had, more or less, completed the fuel terminal so that we would not be continually brushing up against it - this corner of the layout is a little restricted. 
Next weekend we will fix the buildings and structures in place within the terminal and, hopefully, add some people too - always a sure sign that we consider our work in a given area to be largely complete.
Yes, we'll drink to that!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sooty Sweeps Past

Our BR Standard Class 5 is seen storming through Coneyvale Halt after emerging from the short tunnel beside the coal depot.
Well, okay, perhaps she wasn't producing quite as much smoke as I have portrayed here even though the smoke unit was working!
It is fun, however, to try and imagine just how this lovely loco might look were she able to perform like the real thing - although I guess she might set off a few smoke alarms in the process!
She is at the head of a rake of Mid-day Scot coaches plus a matching maroon liveried Restaurant Car; seven coaches in all and she handled them magnificently. Mind you, the Hornby coaches that are sold in the Train Packs and Extra Coaching Packs are always extremely smooth runners so I am sure that, if required, our Five could quite easily have coped with one or two more.
And so, as the train thunders past on her way to Gunnmere, engulfing us all in lots of smut-filled smoke, it's time for me to emulate Harry Corbett and say bye-bye everybody, bye-bye!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tape A Fence!

You will recall from a previous posting that we had erected the Bachmann Security Fence around the Fuel Terminal using white Blu-Tack. Well upon inspection, this last weekend, it was quite obvious that this method had not proved to be the resounding success we had hoped it would, even though initial results had looked promising. 
The main problem was that, in sticking the panels individually, we ended up with a slightly wonky fence that, I'm afraid, was just simply not good enough.
We therefore decided to revisit this area and, after much thought, came up with what we believed was a better way of doing it.
So, we pulled up all of the fencing, gave each panel a good clean and, then, stuck the required number of panels together first in order to make up the two lengths that can be seen in the photograph above. 
Each panel has two tiny pimples on one side with two minute indentations on the other side into which the aforementioned pimples of the adjoining panel fit. The picture below shows the pimples (which, I can assure you, are shown much large than life size) but not the indentations:
Using a very small globule of Humbrol poly cement we then glued each panel to its neighbour before leaving it to dry for a while.
At this stage we stuck pieces of red plastic electricians tape across each join, just to help hold the fence together while we placed it into position. As you can see, the length of fencing under the bridge is curved and this meant that it virtually supported itself.
The other length also curves in towards the side of the bridge, at the bottom of the photograph, and this also helped to hold the fence upright while we spread a small amount of neat PVA glue along the bottom. We have left this to set for the week so that, next time, we should be able to sprinkle some scatter along the bottom of the fence and, then, add some more diluted PVA glue which, fingers crossed, should hold it all in place!
I have to say that this area really is taking a lot longer to finish than we had anticipated, mainly due to this @*%$@! fencing. Still, I do feel that now the end is in sight and, hopefully, in a week or two we should see the virtual completion of the ground work for the fuel terminal.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Black Beauty

Now, contrary to what you might think, the layout is not slowly becoming a steam operated railway although we do now have three steam locomotives which we fully intend to use on a regular basis.
Thus far the only one that is operational is our BR Standard Class 5. The other two: the S&D 7F and this one, a Bachmann Standard Class 4MT, both need to be kitted out with a decoder and lights etc before they can be used.
Actually, we have had this particular loco since before we went digital and it was briefly used in those far-off analogue days. However, since going digital she has been stored away in her box awaiting conversion.
The prototype loco was designed by R A Riddles with 155 being constructed between 1951 and 1956 and, of these, 15 have passed into preservation.
We originally bought our model because, not only is she a beautiful loco, she is also of the type that my steam-mad sister drove a couple of years ago on the Swanage Railway; it being a birthday present from the rest of the family. 
So, quite clearly, when she IS ready to haul trains on the layout once more, she will most definitely have to have a female driver on the footplate.
Hmm, other trains had better beware!