Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Whistling While It Works!

Bachmann's Class 20 'D8158' in BR Green (32-033DS) is another recent addition to our loco fleet and it means that we now have two of these excellent Type 1 locomotives to call upon.
It comes with Bachmann's own sounds fitted but, as always, this is not good. The actual sound is much better than what was installed earlier, on the other Class 20 that we have, before we had it reblown at Howes. 
However, the number of functions provided is very limited. 
We are not sure if we will go with Howes again or try someone else when comes the time for a reblow. 
I have not heard what Olivias Trains Class 20 sounds are like but if they are as good as their Class 37 then maybe we should give them a try.
In the photo above, the whistler is trundling past Manxton with a rake of the ubiquitous BR 16T steel mineral wagons, all nicely weathered and carrying loads of real coal as well.
It is travelling 'wrong line' due to the Up line being closed for track maintenance - and also because it made for a better photograph! 
On the left of the picture can be seen the Shillingstone Signal Box by Bachmann (44-165) and above that is the branch line to Anchwood, seen in yesterday's posting.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Touch wood, Anchwood Is Good!

Finally, we have filled in the gap beneath the new station at Anchwood where BR meets the steam railway. 
We could not cover this gap until the lights had been wired and, although there will be one more light to fit at a later date, the wires for this can be accessed from the back, fairly easily!
This curved platform has caused us no end of problems but is now, finally, in place and ready to accept its first trains, once the track has been cleaned.
The canopy and small station building are by Ratio and have been suitably weathered by Alex at Mikron Models. 
The canopy also has lights fitted beneath the roof and these, together with the two lamps at either end of the platform, should provide ample lighting for passengers using this station.
The area between the double track main line and the single track loop, in the foreground, will be divided in to small fields or paddocks with one of them ear-marked to become an orchard.
The large hill behind the station is removable and conceals a double socket. This still has to be blended in a little more with trees and bushes added in due course.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Striking Viking

Bachmann's Class 37 37057 'Viking' (32-781DS) is another recent addition to our growing fleet of locomotives and is our second Class 37, to boot.
It came with Bachmann's own sound decoder installed but the Bachmann sounds were, quite frankly, awful so we sent it away to Olivias Trains of Sheffield to be reblown. 
In our opinion, Olivias have the best Class 37 sounds out there and, yes, are even better than Howes!
The loco was returned to us last week and is brilliant, it definitely sounds like a Tractor now! We will be uploading a video of it on YouTube in the very near future.
In the photograph above, it can be seen at the head of a rake of ventilated vans while, on the embankment above it, are some assorted wagons. These are being stored in the siding of the steam railway.
All of these wagons have been suitably weathered and, soon, it will be the turn of 'Viking' to be similarly treated.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

D400 and a Footbridge

Time for me to highlight some of the locomotives, rolling stock and other features that we have added to the layout during the past few months and I will begin with another Class 50 (and the fourth member of the class to be added to our fleet) as well as a beautiful station footbridge - both seen above.
We acquired the Class 50 in the guise of 50037 'Illustrious' which came with faulty, non-working Hornby sound decoder.
This we duly removed and sent back to Hornby with a covering letter and, amazingly, within a few days it was back with us, fully working. 
You do have to hand it to Hornby, their Customer Service department is second to none - absolutely brilliant.
Well, this now meant that we had three large logo Class 50s when we really wanted a blue-liveried member of the fleet. 
So, with the help of Alex at Mikron Models, who found a blue body for us and swapped it and then weathered it, we now have D400 in original blue livery - nice. 
The sound is still that of Hornby's and it is okay but not as good as the Howes and SWD sounds that we have in our other Class 50s.
She is seen, here, passing through Manxton at the head of an express heading for Davemoor.
The second photograph shows the footbridge that spans the four tracks at the aforementioned station. This was needed to allow passengers to cross from one platform to the other, there being no subway at the station. It is another masterpiece by Alex who produced it from drawings and measurements that we gave him. 
The bridge is, basicaly, a Dapol kit, with extensions, and it has been painted and weathered to look, well, stunning!
This station is coming along nicely now and just needs the addition of lights and station nameboards and a barrel crossing to be complete.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Update Part 2

Here, then, is the second part of my update, featuring areas of the layout that have been worked on during recent weeks.
The photograph above was taken to the right of Manxton station, shown in the last photograph of yesterday's posting. It is at this point that the four tracks become two before curving around and into the tunnel, over which passes the newly extended branch line.
The curved platform that is situated above the main line is Anchwood and it is where BR ends and a preserved railway continues to the end of the line at Lake End. This is still being worked on as we have to fit a canopy and lights on the platform but only after all of the scenery work behind it is completed. The small hill in the corner is there purely to conceal an electric socket. It still allows access to the socket switches and will be removable to allow full access to the sockets.
Further along, the preserved line crosses a minor road and then, immediately, crosses the main line for the second time.  The single track in the foreground will, eventually, lead to a central loop, which will include, amongst other things, another intermediate station and a ballast depot. This, then, will be the final development of the northern section of the railway and see the completion of layout construction.
The next photograph shows Lake End and the end of the preserved railway. This, too, is still being worked on but is starting to look quite good. It will be, predominantly, a steam railway and will be home to our Bachmann S&D 2-8-0 as well as, I hope, a Class 4MT tank engine. There will, of course, also be the occasional special visiting the station from the main line.
And finally, in this quick tour of the northern section of the layout, we have an aerial photograph of Davemoor, the new northern terminus, with Lake End situated above it in the distance.
The station has four platforms for use by the general public plus, to the left, a couple of privately owned sidings for use by the local factory. 
There is still a lot of finishing touches to be done here but at least all of the track is in situ meaning that trains can run once construction work at the other locations is complete.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Update Part 1

After many weeks of failing to post any updates, I felt that it was high time to rectify the situation with a two-part tour of those areas of the layout that have been worked on during the past few weeks.
I will begin with the southern end of Gunnmere and, from the photograph above, you can see that we have turned the pillar just beyond the platform into a grass and greenery covered rock face. This is to try and make it look a part of the cutting beyond and it is certainly better than the blue wall that was there before!
Moving around the layout, in a clockwise direction from Gunnmere, we come to the embankment of the branch line, which has also changed quite considerably. It now looks much more realistic when compared to the bright green colour that it used to be. In time this will have trees and bushes added to partially conceal the branch line rising behind it. We have also taken out the short siding that ran alongside the farmhouse and turned it into a dirt track for vehicular access.
In the next photograph we catch a glimpse of Manxton, a new intermediate station situated on the section of four track main line. Standing beside the platform is Bachmann's Scenecraft Shillingstone Signal Box (44-165) which we have had slightly weathered by Alex of Mikron Models.
Finally, in this first part of my update, we see Manxton Station in its entirety with Bachmann's Scenecraft Shillingstone Platform Shelter (44-171) on the far platform and this has, again, been weathered by Alex. 
On the near platform is a kit building that, I believe, is by Ratio. We picked this up at a recent Toy and Train Fair and, again, it has been weathered so that it looks in-keeping with the Bachmann buildings. The bridge that joins the two platforms is also Ratio kit that was built, extended and weathered by Alex to span the four tracks and it looks fantastic. 
Indeed, so good is it that I will feature a close-up of this work of art in a future posting.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Gunnmere Gets More Lights

Having installed lights on the platforms at Gunnmere we thought that we should also install some in the sidings and goods yard.
So, this weekend we added three between the two tracks leading to the engine shed and one in the small goods yard.
This has certainly made Gunnmere look quite spectacular when all of the lights are lit, as indicated in the busy scene above.
Here we see Class 50 'D400' at Platform 3 with a northbound express. It had travelled 'wrong line' from Coneyvale Halt due to Sunday engineering works on the down line.
Standing in the sidings is Class 23 'D5909' with a short rake of oil tankers and Class 20 'D8158' with a rake of coal wagons both ready to depart once the express has cleared.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Light The Good Light

Having made some major improvements to Gunnmere during the past few weeks, we thought that it was high time that the station was fitted with some platform lights.
So, this weekend saw us fit five double lamps to each platform such that, now, two of our three major stations have been enlightened!
We still have to instal some coloured light signals at each end of the platforms, as well as lights inside some of the station buildings. We also plan to put some yard lights between the tracks leading to the engine shed as well as one in the small goods siding. 
So, when all of those are fitted Gunnmere will be, well and truly, lit-up!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Once More To Davemoor

Following a bit of a summer break, during which time we had a lovely holiday down in sunny (in fact, very sunny) Cornwall, I guess it is about time for an update on our latest progress.
From the photos above you will see that Davemoor is now, more or less, up and running with trains able to arrive and depart.
The aerial view in the first photo shows the station layout with a two-car, Class 108 standing at Platform 1, having just arrived with a train from Anchwood, via Gunnmere. 
At Platform 3 is a Class 24 with a local train, waiting to depart for Gunnmere while, at Platform 4 is a Clayton at the head of a rake of coal wagons.
To the extreme left of this photo can be seen a Class 03 shunter fussing about with some wagons in the factory sidings - the factory and its sidings can be better seen in the fourth photo. The wagons seen here are actually cattle wagons but only because the ones that are going to be used here are away being weathered.
You will see that the Mk 1 coaches behind the Class 24 have all been weathered as, indeed, have most of our coaches now. The coal trucks have also been heavily weathered and filled with real coal which has then been secured by diluted PVA glue. These now look very realistic and are a superb complement to the grey (and similarly weathered) Class 17.
Clearly there is still much landscaping work to be done here but at least trains can start running again.
Finally, in the bottom photo, you can see that we have done some more landscaping at Gunnmere, between the road bridge and the station. This will eventually give the appearance of an extension to the embankment on the other side of the bridge and will certainly look better than a flat, blue wall.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Coming To The End

In my previous posting, I mentioned that the construction of Davemoor (the northern terminus of the line) was almost complete.
Well, as if to prove the point, here it is!
All of the platforms are pretty much finished - they just need the buildings to be stuck in place and the addition of people, signs, lights etc. No mean task in itself, of course!
However, all of the track is now in place - and all of it is wired to the bus. It has all been ballasted as well so it just needs a good clean and a test before trains can arrive and depart from the station's various platforms.
You will see that we have managed to acquire all of the Bachmann Art Deco platform buildings and have complemented these with the Hornby Signal Box of similar design - just seen in the distance of the bottom photograph. More of this in a future posting.
The little factory unit now has two sidings, with one of them having the rails set into tarmac so that this platform face can be shared between rail and road vehicles.
There is still much work to be done here but at least, as I say, we are almost in a position to be able to run trains again.
And it's been a very long time since we were able to do that!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Gunnmere Almost Gonemere!

Having been working for the past few weeks on (and almost finishing) the construction of the newer and much enlarged Davemoor, we decided that Gunnmere, our main intermediate station, also needed some improvement work.
To begin with we decided to use some of the Ratio Retaining Walls along the back wall, having first had them suitably weathered by Alex at Mikron Models. These have now been stuck to the back wall and we are in the process of fixing the abutments across each join.
We then decided to resurface the platforms with thin cork - as used so successfully at Davemoor. So we ripped off all of the Metcalfe sheets that were originally stuck onto the Hornby platform sections and replaced them with the cork. This was glued in place using UHU Wood Glue, which has proved to be an excellent adhesive for sticking cork.
Once all of the cork was down, we sealed it with a coating of PVA glue and, once this was dry, we then gave it two coats of Humbrol RC412 paint.
This dries very quickly and allowed me to add two strips of platform edging before we had to call it a day.
We have also added ground cover and detailing to the little good yards, seen more clearly in the bottom photograph, and although this does still need some work doing on it, is looking much better than it was a couple of weeks ago!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Davemoor Is Once More!

After a hiatus of about two months, during which time we had the Easter holiday, I thought I had better post an update on our progress to date.
As you can see Davemoor is coming along nicely now, after a few false starts which, at times, made us think that the darned station would never be completed!
Well, as of last weekend, the platforms are pretty much finished now and we have started ballasting the track between the platforms.
The station was constructed using wooden supports with hardboard surfaces which then had thin cork laid on top. 
This was then 'painted' in PVA glue, to seal and strengthen it. It was then painted with Phoenix Precision grey paint (P979) before we edged all platforms with our own version of the Metcalfe Platform edging. These were printed on an inkjet printer before gluing them in place with PVA. When this was all done, we painted all platforms, again, with PVA. 
This gave the station surfaces a slightly shinier appearance than was achieved by the paint alone and also helped to seal it and toughen it.
We are still going to have the small industrial unit, seen in the bottom left hand corner of the top photo. This will be fenced off from the rest of the station and has its own loading bay. 
We also decided to use the Bachmann Art Deco station buildings and have already added the main station building as well as the Centre Building on the middle platform. Now we just hope that we can acquire the rest of the buildings to complete it!
Because of space constraints, we decided not to use Bachmann's Art Deco Signal Box and chose use Hornby's version instead. This will, eventually, have interiors fitted since, at the moment, it looks rather empty!
The new Lake End station is also coming along - see Photo 3. The platform was made from pieces of used Skaledale platform sections which we covered in thin cork and painted in the Phoenix Precision paints P979, followed by a coating of the PVA glue.
The small engine shed used here is by Scenix. This has been weathered and has had doors added at both ends, courtesy of Alex at Mikron Models who did an amazing job!
We are not sure if the buildings and canopies, currently seen on this station, will remain here but they give an impression at least.
Finally, in the bottom picture, I took a photograph of our Class 17 hauling a rake of coal wagons beneath the girder bridge, just as the Class 121 'Bubble Car' passes overhead. Clearly there is still a lot more scenery work to be done here - and elsewhere! 
However, once the trackwork at Davemoor is ballasted and cleaned ready for use, we will get back to doing this work!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Platform for Success

This weekend we concentrated on platform construction - firstly with the station at Anchwood (see top picture) and, then, the various platforms at Davemoor.
All platform surfaces have been constructed out of hardboard, sitting on wooden supports to achieve the correct height.
The surface of Anchwood was then covered in the Metcalfe tarmacadam sheets but we were not happy with this so have painted it over in grey acryllic paint. 
With Davemoor, since there will be quite a few joins in the various sections of hardboard, we plan to cover all of the surfaces in Smooth It before painting them.
As there are quite a few curved platforms here, we first had to create templates for all platforms using pieces of card taped together. 
We then attached a pencil to an old coach to get the spacing right.
The pencil needs to be attached to the centre of the coach for inner curves and at the front corner of the coach for outer curves. I will try and demonstrate this, with pictures, in a future posting to make it a little clearer.
You will note that there is to be a small industrial unit incorporated into Davemoor, with its own siding and bay platform. At the moment the thinking is that this will be a paper factory but, of course, this is subject to change.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Heljan's Awesome Foursome

We took a trip to Howes Models of Kiddlington near Oxford the other day and came away with one of Heljan's DP2 prototype diesels.
We have been wanting to acquire one of these lovely models for some time now because it means that we have all four for Heljan's prototype main line diesels in our fleet - and all can be seen lined up in the photograph above.
Currently only two of these locomotives are fully operational, namely Lion and Falcon. These have both had Howes sound decoders fitted and have been lightly weathered by Alex of Mikron Models in Taunton.
Kestrel and DP2 have yet to be fitted with decoders and, once they are, they too will be lightly weathered and ready to start hauling trains on the remodelled Lakeland Railway.
Seeing them all together here makes me wonder if any of the full size prototypes ever met during their all too brief lives.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Outlines of Power - Nº 2: The Metrovick Co-Bo's

Here we have the second of the 'Outlines of Power' articles by Mike Turner that the magazine 'Rail Enthusiast' ran during the early 1980s. 
This one featured the Metrovick Co-Bo's or Class 28s as they were classified under the TOPS system. The accompanying annotation reads as follows:
Mike Turner has painted Metropolitan-Vickers Co-Bo diesel-electrics D5709/10 with the "Condor" fast fitted freight headboard that was often carried by the type in their early days.
The Metrovicks were introduced in 1958 and their Crossley V8 two-stroke engines produced 1,200 bhp at 625 rpm continuous rating. The Co-Bo axle design allowed the use of five Metropolitan-Vickers 180 hp axle-hung, nose-suspended, traction motors to be used and this, together with 3 ft 3½ inch driving wheels and an all-up weight of 97 tons, resulted in an impressive tractive effort of 50,000 lbs - exactly the same as a "Deltic".

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Plaster 'n' Ballast

Last weekend we continued to form the embankments and landscaping that is proving to be quite a feature of this part of the layout.
We began by creating the embankment along a part of the branch between the brick bridge and the new stationat Anchwood. We went as far as we could but, at the point where we stopped (in the top picture), we will need to continue with flat, vertical sides due to the proximity of the main line.
Other landscaping was done at the Davemoor end of the main line (see bottom picture) and, next weekend, all of this newly plastered landscaping will be ready to receive a coat of earth wash.
The rest of the time was spent ballasting .. and there is a lot of ballasting to be done .. as well as adding some stone walling along the branch and greenery around the tunnel mouth and alongside the mainline between the tunnel and girder bridge.
This is about as much landscaping as we are able to do, for the moment, since we do not want to block access to the stations on the branch line until we have installed all of the necessary wires for lighting.
Next job will be to start building the platforms for Davemoor and Anchwood - wish us luck!!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Outlines of Power - Nº 1: The Deltics

This 'Outlines of Power' article was the first in a series of centre-spread features by Mike Turner that the magazine 'Rail Enthusiast' ran during the early 1980s. 
It depicted some of BRs more interesting diesel and electric locomotives and began, naturally enough, with the Deltics.
The annotations in the picture may be too small to read here so I have reproduced them below:
"Deltic" Prototype built 1955 by English Electric. Powered by two Napier "Deltic" 18-cylinder, 1,650 bhp engines, total 3,300 bhp. Weight: 106 tons. Maximum tractive effort: 60,000lb. Notes: Now at the Science Museum, Kensington.
First Production "Deltic" in service, D9001 St Paddy. Power details as above, but weight 103 tons and maximum tractive effort  50,000ib. Built at Vulcan Foundry, Newton-le-Willows. Notes: One of the first two "Deltics" to be withdrawn, and now broken up.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Hills Are a'White

With the embankment for the branch line pretty much complete now, we turned our attention last weekend to other parts of the landscape in this area. 
We had previously made up a backdrop for the main line, to fit between the tunnel and the landform in the corner of the pillar. This backdrop was made up of polystyrene tiles which had dampened, screwed-up, kitchen towels stuck to them whilst they lay flat on a work surface. On top of this we laid strips of land form and, finally, we painted this with a layer of polyfilla.
This was then left to dry for a week before landscaping material was applied and, finally, the whole ensemble was stuck to the wall with some tile adhesive.
This just left us with a small gap to fill, to complete the connection with the hill in the corner, which we did with more screwed up tissue paper and land form.
This can then be painted and landscaped next time.
Next we continued to landscape the area to the right of the girder bridge, leading into Lake End, and left this to dry so that it, too, can be painted and landscaped next time.
The white strip running alongside the main line is going to be a minor road and this has been formed using a mix of polystyrene tiles, stiff card and Smooth It. 
This should also be ready to paint next time so we should see quite a transformation after our next session in the Shed.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Snow Go!

Due to the adverse weather conditions this weekend no work was done of the layout. However, before the snow came, we had made some progresss on creating the embankment for the branch line as well as laying the platform surface of the newly located Lake End station.
You will see that this station has also acquired a small, single road, engine shed for storing the tank engine that will work the line. This shed was by Scenix (Catalogue EM6102) rather than by Hornby or Bachmann, and is ideal for what we wanted.
Hopefully the weather will have improved by next weekend and this will allow us to continue with the embankment. 
The next job will be to give it a coat of earth wash because, at the moment, it looks as if it has been affected by the recent snowfall!
Once the structure of the embankment is in place we will turn our attention to construction the platforms at both Davemoor and Anchwood. 
Anchwood marks the interchange between BR and the steam railway and will just be a single, curved platform while Davemoor is going to be quite extensive with lengthy and complex platform faces.
Hmm, should be fun!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Smart Grids

This is another photograph taken from an old copy of Rail Enthusiast dating from 1983.
The caption that accompanied this great picture was as follows:
Using their combined might of 6,500 bhp, the newly-named 56031 Merehead  and 56032 move a 3,300-tonne payload of stone out of Merehead Quarry during a one-off publicity run on Friday, September 16. The train is nearly half a mile long and, at 4,500 tonnes gross, will be the heaviest in Britain when it starts running regularly in the new year.
Photo: British Rail.
The first 30 examples of this class were built by Electroputere of Romania but, sadly, they proved to be unsuccessful due to poor construction standards and were soon withdrawn. 
The remaining 105 locomotives, of which 56031 and 56032 were the first two, were all built bebuilt by BREL at Doncaster (56031 to 56115) and Crewe (56116 to 56135).
They were nicknamed "Gridirons" or "Grids" due to the grid-like horn cover fitted to 56056 onwards.
These are Type 5 locomotives with a Ruston-Paxman 16RK3CT power unit developing 3,250 bhp.
The engine was a direct descendent of the English Electric CSVT with its closest relative being the 16CSVT as used in the Class 50
Technical advances incorporated into the engine included significantly uprated turbochargers, gear driven camshafts (in place of the timing chain as used on the Class 50s), and uprated cylinder heads, fuel pumps and injectors.
In service the Class 56 proved to be strong and capable, however, the class could not compete with the more modern Class 66s in terms of availability and maintenance costs. 
As imports of the Class 66 increased the EWS-operated Class 56s became obsolete and looked increasingly like locomotives from another era.
To me, though, these mighty machines will always look and sound like true freight locomotives.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The End Of The Lines

So into 2013 we go and, during the Christmas break, we managed to extend the track of the branch line over the two bridges and into the new Lake End.
We have also finished laying the trackwork on the site of the new Davemoor station, at the end of the main line from Sueston. All of this track has also been wired to the 'bus although we still have to test this, hopefully next weekend.
The top photograph gives a good view, beyond Davemoor, towards the northern end of the layout while the other two pictures show the layout of the track at Lake End and Davemoor, respectively.
The latter station will actually cover quite a large area and will include a small factory unit, seen in the bottom left-hand corner of the lower photo. This will, probably, be a paper factory which, as you can see, already has it's own platform from where it can send its wares by rail.
We have also made a start on the scenery around the two bridges but wanted to finish laying the track before we did any more landscaping.
If you look closely you will also see one of the two locations where the track will, eventually, cross the gap to a central section that will include another station and, possibly a ballast depot for our fleet of hopper wagons. 
However, work on this part will not commence until we have completed the rest of the layout since we need to use the table for working and storage.