Sunday, April 10, 2016

End To End - Part 1: Sueston

I thought it might be a good idea to take you for a trip around the railway during the next few weeks, so that you can see each station, feature and location and, hopefully, get a better idea of the layout.
So, to begin our journey, we start at Sueston, the southern terminus of the line.
This station was constructed during July and August 2008, exactly a year after we started work on the layout. 
The reason for the delay was because access to this half of the shed was not possible at first and it was only when this area became available that we could extend the layout to its current size.
Sueston was constructed using two or three Metcalfe Stone Platform kits (P0235) together with the Mainline Station Building kit (P0230) and two of the Parcels Office and Waiting Room kits (P0231) - both of these latter items, I believe, are now discontinued.
The aerial photographs, above, show the station as it was soon after construction, in August 2008. As you can see there are four platforms, a pattern that is followed at all three of our major stations. I don't know why that is but it seems to suit!
Platform 1, next to the wall, is used by local services and parcels trains while Platforms 2 and 3 are the main departure and arrival platforms, respectively. 
Unfortunately, Platform 2 had to negotiate a pillar and this has made it quite narrow at this point - it has also given us a bit of a headache as to how best to disguise it!
Platform 3 has been extended since the photos above were taken, as per the chalk outline on the baseboard. This allows both of these platforms to accommodate eight coach trains although most of our expresses consist of only six coaches, with an occasional seven coach train thrown in for good measure. 
Taking our cue from Bath Green Park station, on our beloved S&D, the arrivals platform has a runaround for the release of locomotives and it is also used for the storage of locos waiting their next turn of duty.
Finally there is Platform 4, next to the edge of the baseboard, and this is also used by local services as well as being the starting point for the branch line to Saggy Bottom Halt, which disappears into the tunnel at the far end of the platform. More of this, though, in a future posting.
The next three photographs, above, show the station as it is today, almost eight years later, and looking very different and quite busy, too, judging by the amount of trains populating the various platforms and sidings.
The first photo was taken from beside the tunnel entrance, mentioned previously, while the other two were taken from the buffer stop end. 
A parcels train, headed by a Heljan Class 23 is seen standing at Platform 1 while, at Platform 2, is an express for the north comprising Lima Mk1 coaches hauled by a Bachmann Class 47.
The middle road is occupied by a Heljan Class 33 while, at Platform 4 is a Hornby Class 121 waiting to depart for the branch.
Coloured light signals control train movements from Sueston and all of these are by Traintronics with a mix of double aspect and double aspect with feather. The platforms also have lights fitted as well as nameboards, platform numbers and seats.
We have long mulled over how best to hide the blue wall and have eventually decided on Peco stone walling sheets (LK-40). These have recently replaced Metcalfe Red Brick Walling Sheets and do look much better, to be honest. Eventually we plan to put a photographic back scene of London above the wall but we are still scratching our heads as to how best to incorporate that damned pillar!
The walling between Platform 4 and the road is several sections of Hornby Straight Walls, sold in packs of three, (R8744), which we then covered in the aforementioned Metcalfe Red Brick Sheets (M0054) in order to hide the joins!
Below there is one final photograph of the station entrance (the Metcalfe Mainline Station Building) with a few people and adornments added to effect some realism.
Finally, all of the rolling stock seen above was expertly weathered by Alex Housego, whilst he was working at Mikron Model Railways in Taunton and we were extremely sad when this excellent shop was forced to close in August 2014. Since then Alex has been able to do a few more weathering jobs for us but might not be able to continue now due to other issues taking up his time.
Therefore, I just wanted to thank him for all of his advice, guidance and efforts because, without it, this rather large model railway project would not be as interesting nor as realistic as it is today - as I hope to show you, during the next few weeks, while we travel along its tracks.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Devon Belle

On Saturday April 2nd, UK Railtours ran The Devon Belle from London Waterloo to Exeter St Davids, via Basingstoke, Salisbury and Yeovil Junction, returning to London Victoria, later in the day, via Taunton, Frome and Reading.
The train was headed by LNER Class A1 4-6-2 NÂș 60163 'Tornado' hauling a rake of 13 coaches.
She departed Waterloo at 08:00 and was due to arrive at Exeter at 13:34, which, indeed, she did having performed magnificently.
We see her, in the top photograph, just about to pass Templecombe on the outward journey. She was due here at 11:05 and was pretty much to time.
The second photograph was taken at 17:45, as the train was passing Bruton - and at great speed too, on the return trip. 
The difference in the weather conditions between the two photographs is quite evident here. The morning was bright and sunny and clear while the evening was overcast and and rather dull.
The train was due to depart Exeter St Davids at 16:31 and arrive Victoria at 22:12. I am not sure if she was on time at Victoria but, judging by the way she was performing as she raced past us at Bruton, I would say she probably was, no problem!
The headcode/reporting number 'M8Y', by the way, is in tribute to Raymond 'Ray' Towell of the National Railway Museum, who sadly passed away last month. 
Apparently he would always refer to people as 'matey'.