Throwback Thursday (Space Connections Part 1)

Geoff Taylor’s Penmaenpool Layout

This hobby covers a good spectrum of social aspects, most modellers I know aren’t club members but either work alone or in small groups. ‘Space’ in the UK is often at a premium and frequently costly, so it’s no surprise that there aren’t many large layouts and there’s an emphasis on relatively compact designs. This year I’ve had the opportunity to view and operate on two very different systems which make clever use of space, my first exposure to a Fremo configured layout, and a return visit to see and operate Geoff Taylor’s Cambrian Penmaenpool layout. Two years ago I had the opportunity to visit Geoff’s layout to see how a ‘system’ operates, as well as visiting Buckingham (now in Tony Gee’s care), and that generated or awakened an interest in operating as ‘a railway’.

Albion Yard

Shelfie2 (Guyzance Drift Colliery)

Shelfie1 (Wharfedale Road)

My layouts above have been pretty typical self contained asteroids the trains coming and going as actors with no rationale as such. In this case the train enters the scene and leaves it, it isn’t seen at another location or en route. Buckingham and Penmaenpool have a function that is missing on my and similar single location layouts, and that is the trains act with more of a purpose, they do something rather than pass through one single scene or location.

Armitage Fremo US HO

This spring I was invited by Chris Gilbert to see a Fremo meet using US HO equipment. The group meet regularly and use a village hall which they book and pay for, giving them a significant amount of space to ‘play trains’. Control is DCC using a mobile phone wifi network (wiithrottle) dedicated to the task. I’ve not really embraced DCC, but this system and Penmaenpool are both DCC. Unsurprisingly with Buckingham’s history it’s DC and will remain so, proving DCC is not an essential requirement for a multi location layout. The Fremo concept then worked well, but with a few ‘that’s odd’ moments for me. The layout was configured in an X with the main sorting and marshalling yard on the end of one arm where the trains either departed from, or arrived at.

Across the X were a number of locations requiring a train service, or with trains purely passing through. Some modules were work in progress, and there was a variety in style too, not enough to jar, but on first look, noticeable. Chris had generated switch lists and train consists from records of the stock the group uses, and the previous meet, i.e where specific freight cars ended up across the network of depots and industries.

Track on the layout/modules is HO off the shelf flexible track and commercial pointwork, alignment across boards being covered by the Fremo standards. The trackplan on the boards being up to the builder, but required to comply at baseboard ends. It was interesting to see some industries not having a run round loop, for us making our own standalone layouts, a loop is often a real operating benefit. Out on the open road however, this is a far lesser requirement, due to the locations being operated by trains travelling in the appropriate direction, a real world scenario.

The turnouts are operated using your fingers to throw the blades. Having spent time and effort on my layouts hiding point motors and wiring and maintaining them this getting your hands in there was a real culture shock. Uncoupling of stock was performed using manual picks, rather than electromagnets. Again these felt retrograde steps on first view. Then, we started operating. Myself and Hugh Edgely were allocated train 401, an out and back freight from Trent Yard to Blind River Valley. Very quickly the ‘downside’of the manual point switching was lost. The consist was assembled by shunting the Yard rather than a manual ‘crane shunt’ this form the train. Then we set off to Blind River.

On the way we passed two locations, one where we would switch cars on the return, the other where we would wait and cross an outbound train from Trent. The operation certainly became immersive when you looked up you were aware of the fact you’re done distance across the hall from wherever you started, rather than the 6ft to fiddleyard many of us are used to. Think of a small exhibition hall and driving your train from one layout one end of the hall, to another layout at the opposite end. This, this is different, your locomotive and train has gone somewhere. Because you have a switch list you then have specific moves to make, as well as being conscious of not blocking the main lines for through traffic. Thus the manual point switching and different build styles blend into not being an issue, because you get immersed into operating the railway they cease to jar or be anywhere near as notable.

Coming away from the event I was struck by the teamwork aspects. Not only in the operating the railway, but in the administrative elements too. To make this happen the hall has to be hired, the layouts put up and tested, as well as taken down at end of play. There’s obviously the social side of it too, meeting a group of like minded friends with a collaborative goal in some ways a club without a club.

Shelfie2 seen here is very much a module, part of that being due to spending time with the Trent Valley Fremo group. Even if it only gets joined to another project by myself sometime, the potential is fascinating.

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Happy Christmas 2018

It’s that time of year again! This one seems to have flown past!

So just a quick line to wish you readers a very happy Christmas, and to take a moment or two to think about those whom are by themselves or away from friends and family.

Have a good one!

Posted in 2018, accurascale, Bachmann, blog, blogger, blogging, Cameo, Cameo layout, canada, christmas, christmas show, dapol, Exhibition, finescale, Friends, HO, hobbies, Hornby, Inspiration, Kalmbach, Layout, life, man cave, mancave, media, model, Model Railroad, Model Railway, modeling, Modelling, Modelu, monday motivation, motivation monday, n gauge, O Gauge, o scale, OO, OO Gauge, Oxford rail, peco, Rapido Trains, scale, scale modelling, shelfie, shelfie1, shelfie2, social media, toy train, Toy trains, toytrainset, train set, trainset | Leave a comment

The Christmas Show Manchester 2018

If you’ve got time tomorrow, this years Manchester Show is really worth making the effort. If you like Minories, and BR Blue, Alan Whitehouse’s Hallam Town in 2FS will float your boat,

Geoff Kent’s sublime Black Lion Crossing features EM Gauge and BR steam.

For OO Andy Jones’s Tarring Neville showcases an unusual and highly effective peninsula design, with superb detail touches and buildings, real ‘presentation’ food for thought.

For O gauge Gordon and Maggie Gravett’s Aran Quay oozes atmosphere

And for me one of the best P4 layouts I’ve seen, Pwllheli from Jonathan Buckie. This sort of attention to detail in a contemporary era layout isn’t common, combined with a recognisable location and brilliant colour balance, Pwllheli is worth searching out!

Manchester 2018 very much in the exhibition Premier League, if you can go, just do it!

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Throwback Thursday, (Illuminating Shelfie2)

These images are about two years old, I find that surprising because sometimes time seems to stand still with a layout, despite progress being made. Shelfie2 has had a bit of a Byzantine journey, ranging from a North Wales DMU based through station, to Southern electric, Great Central DMU, and land at its final destination, a drift mine loading point off the Whittle colliery branch in Northumberland. Even then that’s not likely to be the end of the tale, part of its design is that it can be used as a module, and there’s still that Forest of Dean system I have on the bucket list. Severn & Dean

For me it’s interesting to look back and see how once I’d settled the final design, how close I got and am getting to my ‘minds eye’ picture of how it should look.

If this looks all a bit ‘Friday afternoon’ it is! Why is there a ski glove sticking out of the layout? Not only is it part of my super new winter range, but it also covers a G clamp, and forms eye and scratch protection. Handling bright lights means stuff sometimes goes unexpectedly into shadow and is easy to miss!, be safe out there kids…

This is the backscene mocked up from wallpaper lining paper, but set in the core framework for the lighting. I can now get a really good feeling about how it’ll look and what it’s like to operate for real. Before it goes out anywhere I’ll know the pro’s and cons of what I’ve built, and if fitting it as a module into the Severn and Dean project is viable. So far, so good!

Full Lighting

Without Rear Downwash Lighting

This is the effect Albion Yard used, the blue in Albion’s backdrop bounced cool tones back into the layout. This time I’m using 4000k LED battens, rather than Albion’s traditional fluorescent tubes. The idea here will be to try an overcast sky, heralding an imminent rain shower. So the skies tonal value will be emphasised towards cool greys. I need to play around a bit more with the colours as I want a diffused distant tree covered hill line, which will require opposing warm brown tones for this time of year.

Backlit Downwash Lighting

I’ve also changed a few trees and one foreground building has gone. Just these simple light tests can tell me if something is ‘wrong’ on the scenic side. The additional tree diffusers (from Albion Yard), indicates the rear downwash lighting will minimise shadows falling onto the backscene which is really pleasing. Neither LED lighting batten has a dimmer fitted, this is something I’ll look at to play around with intensity. I already think the rear batten needs to be higher, reducing intensity and increasing the spread. Next step is the pure white background, this lining paper is an off white, in effect giving a cream/yellow cast on the reflected light, (see image four) . Then it’s take a few more forward steps from there, hopefully that’s next week!

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More thoughts from Warley 2018

Well, back from Warley, and back from this mornings equine lawnmower entrapment scheme, here’s a few more images from the 2018 Warley show.

Oxfords OO N7 decorated samples, the announcement was covered earlier here Toy Fair . The appearance looks very well captured and the test models have worked hard hauling large trains without problems including incline work.

BR Mk3 coaches were also shown, these being early livery samples of the ScotRail and Stobart schemes. Not being my thing the blue waist band stands out as too lurid, but as noted, they are samples.

Over on Heljan’s stand the first 3D print of the GWR railcar nose was displayed as well as the review examples for the 43xx GWR moguls.

Returning to Peco’s stand two very interesting items for me for future projects, firstly the GWR ARP signal box to be released by Ratio, and the first new 4mm release by Peco Parkside the steel 13t BR hopper wagon.

The EM Gauge society stand also had the EP of the Peco produced B6 left and right hand ready to use points.

I understand these will be supplied as electro frog only, rather than the Unifrog design that is becoming the default standard for Peco’s new, and revised point and crossing work. It’ll be interesting to see if these attract new converts into the gauge, sensibly they are exclusive to the society, and will give a clear head start to track building. A good friend noted today that this is only a part of the battle, arguably the more challenging bit is the chassis building and conversion of some RTR chassis.

Kernow’s OO PRA China clay wagons looked good in decorated samples. I expect these attractive and useful short wagons will be popular within the D&E fraternity.

Next door to Kernow on the DJ Models stand the 3D EP print of the crowd funded GWR King was in evidence.

Tottering back across the hall to Dapol EP of one of the O Gauge BR Mk1’s was on show looking to me very promising.

The whole appearance of the coach captures how a Mk1 should look, the sit on the bogies and end/side body profile being more effective than Heljan’s previous releases, and Daersted’s far more basic appearance.

The Dapol 4mm GWR bracket signal was shown, the actuation for the outer arm being a lever action fixed to the outside of the bracket structure.

There’s sound logic to using that method, for simplicity and ease of production assembly, however for me it puts an X in the no thanks box. I feel they’ll do well in the general market, currently they have no real competition and if they prove reliable we’ll see them on everything from GWR BLT’s to Kings Cross!

As with Heljan covering the GWR Railcar (further post to come) Dapol’s 4mm early EP test for their parcels variant was in the showcase. Hopefully the motor which is visible in their passenger model will be more effectively hidden with this one. Certainly an encouraging start though.

I didn’t get much opportunity to see around the show being busy assisting the Modelu team, However there were some good deals to be had which included Dapol O gauge Panniers and their class 121 BR railcars.

The pannier is a potential first step into O gauge. Leaving it a bit late on the Sunday meant I got the last one, seen above, rather than a BR livery example so there’s a repaint ‘opportunity’ for me at the very least.

The 121 will sit in the stock of Shelfie3, a DMU based layout in the planning. Seen here on test on Shelfie2, it runs very well straight outa da box. Don’t fret, there’s no box opening vid coming at you.. Internal lighting does rather highlight the seats, which look like they’re floating in custard, that’ll be one of the first changes I make!

Overall an interesting show, neither Hornby, Oxford Rail or Bachmann had new product announcements, but will be making them in the new year. Accurascale made headlines as they uncovered their Deltic in 4mm scale, and RevolutioN dropped a cheeky little N gauge 56xx and their 4mm scale MMA/JNA contemporary box wagons into the market. Across the trade there seemed to be a pretty optimistic feeling to this show, it seemed busier than the previous two years have been.

I get the distinct feeling the hobby has a future!

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Warley 2018 Rapido images

Firstly apologies for lack of narrative with this post, getting a few minutes around the show to grab images is challenging at times! Still here’s the Canuck stuff, and it looks to Rapido’s high standard

The Tempo, I have no need whatsoever for one of these, but in the flesh, difficult not to flash the cash for one!

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Warley images number 1 Peco

Peco’s new OO crossings as 3D EP prints. Latest news is in tooling, anticipated first quarter 2019.

Posted in 3d, 3d printing, accurascale, Bachmann, blog, Branch Line, British Rail, Cameo, Cameo layout, dapol, DCC, dcc sound, Eastern Region, Exhibition, finescale, Forest of Dean, Great Western, gwr, HO, hobbies, Hornby, Inspiration, iphoneography, Layout, LMS, LNER, man cave, mancave, media, Midland Region, model, model photography, Model Railroad, Model Railway, modeling, Modelling, n gauge, Narrow Gauge, new release, O Gauge, o scale, OO, OO Gauge, Oxford rail, peco, product news, Rapido Trains, scale, scale modelling, Scottish Region, shelfie, shelfie1, shelfie2, Southern, Southern Region, toy train, Toy trains, toytrainset, train set, trainset, Western Region | 1 Comment