Monday, December 3, 2012

Little and Large

Whilst sorting through some of my old slides at the weekend, I found a photo that I took on 17 October 1987 of Class 33, 33 112, formerly D6529.
This was taken during its naming ceremony at, appropriately enough, Templecombe and the reason that this particular loco was chosen to carry the name is because Templecombe is 112 miles from London.
The naming took place five years after the station reopened, following its closure in 1966 along with the Somerset and Dorset Railway. 
Sadly, the loco survived for just another year, being withdrawn in October 1988 after an accident at Salisbury.
The Heljan model, meanwhile, was introduced in 2007, twenty years after the naming ceremony and, having acquired one recently, I thought that it would be nice to show her together with her larger sister.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bridging The Gap

As you can see from the photographs, we have started building up the landscape both around and beneath the two bridges that carry the branch line over a minor road and the main line.
You will notice that we have had to build the land up beneath both bridges in order to lift them up to the same level as the branch line. It was necessary to do this since we wanted to keep the branch at the same level thoughout so that the new terminus will be at the same height as it was previously.
Actually, the main line, and its off shoot to the central section, look very good curving between the embankments as they run beneath the new trellis bridge.
You might recognize that the road bridge is the old Tri-ang Brick Bridge, which we have had painted and weathered by Alex at Mikron Models in Taunton. He also kindly put the Dapol Trellis Bridge together for us and weathered it and then made two supports that perfectly match the colour and look of the brick bridge.
In the second photo you will see the track entering what will be the new Davemoor station and, whereas the former station consisted on a single platform, this will have two main line platforms, a couple of bay platforms and, possibly, a goods platform. 
As can be seen from the photo, this station is going to be different to both Sueston and Gunnmere in that it will be entirely curved - much like the new intermediate station on the branch line. However, whereas this latter station is being made from plasterboard, Davemoor will probably be constructed from MDF, although we have not made a final decision on this.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gone But Not Forgotten

I found these two contrasting photographs of Wincanton Station recently and thought that I would share them with you.
The station was situated on the much-lamented Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway and was, roughly, half-way between Bath Green Park and Bournemouth West. Indeed, as a child, it was my local station and I have fond memories of commencing many a happy journey from here. 
The top picture was taken in July 1961 and is a great shot that shows the down line under engineers occupation. This work had to be restricted to Sundays when much of the S&D was closed for the day. The engineer's train can just be seen through the Goods Shed and consists mostly of ballast wagons with a coach at the front of the formation acting as mess. The loco in charge was one of the S&D 7F 2-8-0's.
The lower picture, meanwhile, shows the station exactly six years later, in July 1967 - 16 months after the closure of the line. The station still looks quite respectable here and largely undamaged but the growth of weeds along the trackbed indicate that time has all but run out for this location and, in fact, the site is now occupied by a large housing estate!  
These two photographs show, quite clearly, the staggered nature of the platforms - they overlapped by only 120 feet. They were also of very different lengths with Platform 1 (the up platform) being 450 yards long while Platform 2 was much shorter at only 240 yards.
The elevated, 14 lever signal box, which can been seen on Platform 1, controlled access to the fairly extensive goods yard and sidings wherein both cattle, for the nearby market, and horses for the local racecourse were loaded and unloaded. 
The adjacent Cow and Gate milk factory (now also closed) also had its own two-road siding from where it would send its milk and dairy products by rail to London and the north.
The station opened in November 1861 and was part of the Dorset Central Railway, even though it was actually in Somerset.
The station closed, along with much of the rest of the S&DJR, on March 7th 1966.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Extending the Extension

This last weekend saw us finally lay some track on the branch line extension and we also made the decision to keep this line level, as opposed to what I said in my previous posting. 
So, there will now be no gradient which will mean that we will have to lift the brick bridge up a bit by raising the level of the ground beneath it.
The bridge is currently at Mikron Models so that Alex can weather it and, until this is done in a couple of weeks, the branch line has to come to an abrupt stop at the gap where both the brick bridge and the railway bridge, which carry the branch over a minor road and main line respectively, have yet to be put into place.
Now that we have the track in position where the new interchange station will be, between the BR bit of the branch and the preserved extension, you can see that we have marked out the position of the platform between the two tracks. 
This new station will be quite a bit longer than the original one that was at this location and, as can be seen, it will be almost completely on a curve.
Indeed the trackwork here is full of reverse curves, unlike previously where it was boringly straight. This will also be the first time that we will have trains running on a double-sided embankment as well as running over and under each other.
In the final picture you can see that we have made progress at Manxton and have added a couple of buildings from the Bachmann Scenecraft Shillingstone Station set to the down platform. These are the Signal Box (44-165) and the Platform Shelter (44-171) and quite beautiful models they are too!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Bridge So Far ...

Time for a quick update on the progress made, so far, on the embankment that will twice carry the extended branch line over the main line, before entering the new Lake End station. 
The location of this new station is going to be just beyond the pillar, seen in the foreground of the second photo, and will probably be a single platform with lines either side.
Because of the slight difference in height between where the branch terminus was previously situated and its new location, we have had to introduce a bit of a gradient between the tunnel and the brick bridge, which is as far as we reached last weekend. 
This gradient is not too severe but does bring to mind the 1 in 50 on much of the Somerset and Dorset as it traversed the Mendip Hills!
The old Tri-ang brick bridge, which is going to be weathered before it is permanently fixed to the base board, will carry the railway over a minor road. It will also sit beside a larger bridge that will carry the branch line over the main line.
The boards of this embankment have yet to be fixed in place, as has the track of course, and we plan to make further progress with this at the weekend.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Testing, testing ...

Last weekend saw us testing the newly laid track even though this section has not yet been connected to the bus. For the time being, Hornby Point Clips are being used on their own as the sole means of carrying the current and, thankfully, they seem to be working well. Of course wiring will be performed just as soon as all of the track is laid.
So, the first train to traverse the new line was the Class 42, which was chosen because of its notoriety for not liking tight curves. We hooked up a couple of Bachmann Mk2 coaches and sent her from Gunnmere to the current railhead, which can be seen in the last photograph. 
The top two photos show the train on its return journey, first of all pausing briefly at the new station of Manxton and, then, travelling on the up fast line of the four track section, on its approach to Gunnmere.
In the third photo we see the latest addition to our loco fleet, in the shape of D400, resplendent in its original blue livery. This particular loco is a conversion from Hornby's 50037 'Illustrious' expertly done for us by Alex of Mikron Models in Taunton. He has also lightly weathered the loco and we think she looks ab fab. The loco is fitted with Hornby's own DCC sound files which are not too bad apart from the distinctive 'tick-tock' clock sound when she is idling. We do intend to fit a bass reflex speaker to this loco in the near future and this should, hopefully, improve the sound a little bit.
I will also include a close-up of D400 in a future posting.
In the photo above, the train can be seen passing through, what will be, the new tunnel which will carry the extended branch line over the main line. As mentioned in my previous posting, this tunnel has a single portal at one end and a double portal at the other end and it would be nice to think of a suitable name for this unusual tunnel ... any ideas?
The fourth photo gives an overall view of the track layout beneath the window. This shows the two single lines leading off to the central section. The edge of the baseboard for this new area of the layout can just be seen behind Manxton in the first photograph.
This coming weekend will, hopefully, see us start work on the baseboard for the branch line extension as well as continue running the main line towards Davemoor. We might even get around to capturing a short video of trains running on this new section.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Next Stop Davemoor

Last weekend we cleaned up the baseboards in front of the window, prior to planning the track layout for both the main line and the branch line extension.
The blue lines in the photos above depict the approximate route of the main line while the black line shows the course of the branch line, travelling above it on an embankment. The green lines, meanwhile, indicate this embankment which is, in effect, a continuation of the original embankment that carries the branch line along the back wall.
As you can see we have removed Lake End, the former branch line terminus, and taken up some of the track at this location. This station will now be moved slightly to the right and positioned, on an angle, in front of the electric sockets. It will then be renamed Anchwood and become an interchange between BR trains, running up from Gunnmere, and steam trains running on the 'preserved' extension to a new Lake End. This station is just visible, in the distance, in the second photograph.
In the third and fourth photos you can just make out the corner of a large baseboard which will contain a central loop connected to the main line via two single line sections - one of which is visible in the last photograph.
These lines will cross the gap via a couple of removeable bridges before returning to double track once they are on the other side. 
We decided to make these two crossings single line because, firstly, it was easier given the space limitations here and, secondly, we thought it would actually be fun to have a couple of single line sections, much like there is on Brunel's Royal Albert Bridge at Saltash in Cornwall.
As you can see from the bottom photograph, it has made for an interesting tunnel with a single portal at one end and a double portal at the other, as the main line goes under the branch for the first time.
Does anything like this actually exist on the railways I wonder?
Once all of the cleaning, planning and marking had been done we then began to lay the first section of track. This will be continued next weekend as we make progress towards the new Davemoor.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Track Record

As you can see from the photographs above, work on the new main line is progressing well.
We have now ballasted to the end of the four track section and are about ready to plan the track layout for the next part of the layout, in front of the new window.
This will be a double track main line, over and around which will run the extended branch line on a curving embankment.
You might also notice that we have removed the siding alongside the farm house because the points and curve here often caused us a few problems and, anyway, this siding was seldom used.
We also noticed that the house is suffering from a bit of subsidence so this will need to be addressed. Clearly the base board here is not as level as we thought it was.
The new station on the main line, to be called Manxton, is made from Hornby Skaledale platform sections which we will cover with Metcalfe platform card, which will hide the gaps etc and, also, mean that it is in-keeping with the other stations on the layout.
We removed the background photograph before starting work hence the white strip on the wall.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lyme Regis

A GWR Class 1400 0-4-2T, Nº 1462, standing at the station.
The same loco. with a brake van. performing shunting duties.
The remains of the engine shed.
Partially dismantled trackwork.
Here are some more black and white photographs taken by John Day back in the 1950s and 1960s.
This time we see four scenes of Lyme Regis station with the top two photos being taken in 1958 whilst the bottom two were taken during 1965.
Lyme Regis was at the end of a 7 mile branch line from Axminster and was opened in 1803. It was famously operated, for most of its existence, by three of the Adams 'Radial' Tank 4-4-2T locomotives, which were considered to be the best locos for negotiating the difficult route. After their demise, various locomotives were used during the last few years of the line's existence including Standard Class 3MT tanks, Class 14 diesel hydraulics and dmus.
There was just the one intermediate station, at Combpyne, with probably the most famous structure on the line being Cannington viaduct which, being a Grade II listed structure, still stands today.
Sadly the end of this lovely little branch line came in November 1965, however, the station was dismantled and reconstructed at Alresford on the Watercress Line in Hampshire.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Wanderer Returns

It is high time for an update on the progress we have made in remodelling the northern section of the layout.
Actually, not too much was done during the first two weeks of August as it was time for the annual summer holiday, some of which saw us in North Wales.
As might be expected during this time, we found ourselves on trains as we travelled on both the Ffestiniog and Snowdon Railways. Of course we did walk up Snowdon as well, a few days prior to the train ride, and it was good to ascend this spectacular mountain using two modes of travel as well as via two different routes.
Anyway, more of all that in a later posting; for now, here is a quick progress report on the work done on the layout during the second half of August and, as can be seen from the photos, ballasting has started in earnest on the newly laid track.
Prior to the ballasting we soldered wire to the track wherever we had installed a set of points and then dropped these wires down through the baseboard so that they could be connected to the Bus. 
We also added Hornby Clips to all of the points, as a belt and braces exercise, so this, hopefully, should mean that there is a good supply of current to all parts of the track despite the fact that there are, indeed, numerous points at this location.
We have also begun to rebuild the stone walling along the edge of the board, since this does provide a neat edge as well as helping to prevent anything from, accidentally, falling off the edge!
You will also see that we have added a new siding leading off from one of the Shed Roads. This will provide a similar facility to what we had in the old goods yard and will provide a destination to which we can bring trains and, then, indulge in a spot of shunting.
We intend to shoot a short video of a loco or two running on this new track next weekend so ... watch this space.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Going Round The Bend

At the weekend we finally finished the point work at Gunnmere, correcting the omission that we had made the previous week in not allowing for trains off the branch to access Platform 3 and, thereby, onward travel to Sueston.
This was not so easy to do, given the confines in which we were working, but we finally achieved what we wanted.
We also extended the four track main line around the corner and through the new, intermediate, station of Manxton. Here only the two outer tracks (up and down slow lines) are platform facing leaving the two middle tracks for non-stopping trains to pass through.
The four tracks will then continue to just before the next bend, to the right of the lower photograph, where they will revert to two tracks prior passing below the soon to be extended branch line.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Spaghetti Junction

Last weekend we made a start at laying the complex track and point work beyond Gunnmere, so that the two track mainline can become four tracks. This track-laying has continued during the evenings this week so that we have now reached the point (no pun intended) that you see above.
Our aim was to provide as much flexibility as possible such that trains could enter all necessary platforms and sidings upon arriving at Gunnmere, as well as access most tracks when leaving.
This proved a bit of a headache but, as the photos above show, we managed to achieve most of what we wanted to achieve, such that:
  • Trains arriving off the Up slow line can access all platforms and sidings.
  • Trains arriving off the Up fast line can access Platform 3 only.
  • Trains departing Platforms 1, 2 and 4 can access both Down lines as well as the Branch.
We still need to add one more point to allow trains coming off the Branch to access Platform 3 so that these trains can continue to Sueston - this was a definite oversight in our original planning but should be easy to overcome although it will mean that the track here will resemble, even more, the Gravelly Hill interchange!
Hopefully, by next weekend we should have all of this track work completed and tested so that we can commence the large amount of wiring necessary to ensure the continuity of supply to all sections of track.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tommys Rot

Photo by Graham Wignall
Here is another, more poignant, picture scanned from the pages of an old Rail Enthusiast magazine. 
This photo was taken in April 1982, showing three dead Class 76 EM1 electric locomotives, awaiting their fate after the closure of the Woodhead Line in July of the previous year.
The photograph was taken by Graham Wignall and the caption that accompannied it was as follows:
"The final hours of 76003, 76037 and 76040 in Frank Berry's Leicester scrapyard - alomgside the former Great Central main line - on Wednesday, April 20."
These locos were originally numberd: E26003, E26037 and E26040, respectively, and were three of a fleet that numbered 58 in total. These were all withdrawn in July 1981.
The prototype of the class, E26000 (formerly LNER Nº 6701), was designed by Sir Nigel Gresley and built at Doncaster Works in 1941. However, because of the Second World War, electrification of the Woodhead Route was delayed. So, in 1947, the loco was loaned to Dutch Railways to assist in the post-war shortage of motive power 
She remained with Dutch Railways until 1952 when the Woodhead Line was complete. 
It was during this time that it acquired the name 'Tommy' after the nickname that had been given to British soldiers.
It kept this name for rest of its working life and also carried a nameplate that included an explanation of the name's origin, as follows
"So named by drivers of the Netherlands State Railway to whom this locomotive was loaned 1947-1952."
It has, in fact, the distinction of being the first non-steam locomotive to be named.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Davemoor - No More!

As we are going to scratch build the new station at Davemoor we plan to use the Skaledale platform sections, that formed the old station, at other locations on the layout to create two new stations.
These will be another, small, intermediate station on the main line plus a new terminus station at the end of the extended branch line.
So it was, then, that the old Davemnoor was removed from the layout at the weekend and the platform sections cleaned up in readiness for use elsewhere.
The old Carswater station, which will also be rebuilt at a different location, together with its tunnel and level crossing, were also taken out of service at the weekend. The tunnel is not going to be rebuilt but the level crossing will definitely be used elsewhere.
Following the removal of these features, plus the lifting of the track, all that was left was a forlorn Whistle sign, standing deserted and alone amidst the destruction!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Window Plain

As you can see from the photos above, we had the new window installed at the weekend, despite the appalling weather, and this was done much more quickly than we thought it would be.
We decided on a plain window since there is no need for any openings. This meant that it was both less expensive and, also,  it gives the impression that the window is a little larger than the old one, despite the fact that it is actually smaller.
As you can also see, work is now well underway on remodelling the northern section of the layout, with much of the old trackwork carefully being taken up and cleaned so that it can be used again. 
However, many of the points will probably be discarded and new ones purchased where necessary. This because, not knowing any better, we used mostly Hornby points in those far off days whereas we only used Peco now and we also want to use, where possible, medium or express points rather than the standard set track type.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Wood Work

The Hornby Timber Depot and Timber Yard were recently discontinued from the Hornby catalogue and, in a seemingly similar move on our part, they have also just been removed from our layout.
This is as a result of the modifications that are now taking place in the northern section, in which both the Depot and the Yard were situated.
They do feature in a couple of our videos, so we will always have a record of them, however, we felt that they were more appropriate for an American or Canadia based layout rather than an English one so, unfortunately, they had to go!
I am not sure about the Timber Depot (top picture) but the Timber Yard (second picture) has certainly been around for some time - in the guise of Tri-ang's Side Tipping Car Set (bottom three pictures).
The more recent Timber Yard was hand-operated by pulling a lever on one side of the track which would raise a hook in the hut on the opposite side that would, in turn, tip the carrying frame on the wagon. This would then deposit its load of logs into the collection bin. 
However, the older Side Tipping Car was tipped automatically as it passed the operating ramp. This tilted the carrying frame so that it deposited its load in the bin, as before.
The Catalogue Nº for the Side Tipping Car Set is R345.