The BBC news website reports….

Turner Prize exhibition opens with giant buttocks, train rides and scrap metal

…..Visitors can ride on Josephine Pryde’s Lapses in Thinking, a train that goes around the gallery…..


Photo: Tate

When I read the headline, I thought it was either a review of TINGS or preview of Warley.  That man with the giant rucksack, month old BO and giant buttocks gets everywhere.

(For those not in the loop, browse N Gauge Forum or RMweb for more information on this far-from-mythical character, who is not only a danger to both exhibitors and punters, but can also put you off your lunch.)

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ESNG PlayDay – 25 September 2016

What an excellent afternoon playing trains.  13 paying members, and the treasurer missed the excitement of collecting so much money.  Plus three guests, and with three separate railways set up the hall was getting rather full.


We put a large N-mod circuit together, but had a slight accident when all three corner boards toppled over domino style.  The post office, that had recently been rebuilt, looks like was totally and finally demolished.


Trains were soon running, including this SECR grey ‘N’ class mogul.


And Paul’s new Japanese cement hoppers.  Most attractive wagons, though I doubt they stayed this shade of blue for long.


Paul also tried for the long train record.  140 bogie wagons and a caboose hauled by two Kato locos.  Yes, it has nearly caught itself up.  There were a number of derailments, with the wagons pulling across the corners, but Paul managed a number of successful circuits.


Derek brought along his completed N-club corner board.  You wouldn’t believe that the low level track is a job lot of old Lone Star rails.


The Koenighafen lads brought along a couple of boards to check how they joined up with Derek, ready for Stuttgart.  No problem – the advantage of standard, jig built, ends to the modules.


Sean’s new layout ‘Forrestone’ continues to develop.  He brought it along to add some more buildings, but spent more time talking than modelling.  Just shows it was a good, sociable, afternoon.


A bit big to run on our tracks, but Martin’s ‘G’ gauge Piko loco could tempt one into the larger scales.  It’s as long as a respectable N gauge train.  A nice touch is the bearded driver.


And of course, Miles contributed a most excellent cake!


And the afternoon concluded with the usual curry.

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Heritage Modelling

Jerry Clifford writes in Model Railway Journal #249…..

There have, of course, been some superb finescale models of railways in the heritage era.  Tom Everett’s contemporary model of Ropley is just one example, but there is no denying they are thin on the ground.  Why this should be is a mystery, all the more puzzling when a few facts are taken into account.

Heritage railways provide the only experience of steam for anyone much under retirement age [ouch, that hurts. Ed], and a number of them have been around a very long time…..

The staple motive power of many preserved lines, the BR standard classes, have spent far longer in private hands than they ever did on BR, in some cases three- or four-fold….

Whilst the contemporary heritage scene has much to offer, there remains plenty of scope for a more traditional, historical approach.  How about modelling those heady days in the 1970’s when your train might consist of a couple of patched-up Mk 1’s headed by a brightly coloured saddle tank recently retired from industry?

Of course one can model ‘real’ heritage railways, and real preserved stock.  Then there must also be potential for ‘imaginary’ heritage lines.  This could be ideal for application of ‘Rule 1.’  Imagine a preserved portion of the Somerset & Dorset Railway, with preserved S&D 2-8-0’s running with Class 33’s, and whatever coaching stock one fancied.  And there there could be the new build of an unrebuilt Merchant Navy pacific…..

It certainly has potential, although one would miss out on the goods workings.  But then we move one of those Somerset quarries slightly and have modern aggregate hoppers running behind the preserved diesels…

Read more of Ropley on RMweb.  The photo below from RMweb shows what can be done in N gauge.  It is difficult to work out the scale of this Black 5…..


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ESNG meeting – 21 September 2016

A busy club night on Wednesday, with a dozen or so members present.  Good to see Paula and family again, as well as the usual suspects.  No Cha(I)rman though, as he had a milk round at 3am or so the following morning.

The fiddle yard quickly filled up.



Interesting trains included Derek’s modification to a German ‘Party Coach’.  It now has working disco lights.  And Neil had raided TINGS in style, and had a series of boxed Dapol sets, mainly HSTs, in different liveries to test.  Paul was running long Japanese container trains, but the circuit was too small to get near the 147 wagon record.

I spent a lot of the evening talking to John B about Alpenbahn and trying to see how we could put together a large modular circuit for next year’s ESNG show.  The show is basically organised – we just have to see how to put the N-mod, N-club and Alpenbahn modules together to form one large circuit.

Members – remember Sunday afternoon 2pm onwards is a ‘PlayDay’ and that Derek will be bringing Martin’s trains around for the last time for a little retail therapy.

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Links and things

A couple of links for Wednesday….

An example to all train drivers from the Daily Telegraph…..

Driver of 175mph Japanese bullet train caught with feet up on dashboard

The driver of a Japanese bullet train that can reach top speeds of 175mph has been suspended after being caught in the cab with his feet up.

The 29 year old admitted stretching his legs out on the dashboard for about 10 seconds, adding that he had done it a number of times before, according to operator Central Japan Railways Company.

The driver who has not been named was photographed by a rail enthusiast as his 16-car Kodama train passed between Kakegawa and Hamamatsu stations in the Shizuoka Prefecture. The photo has since been shared thousands of times on Twitter.

And also below…..


Perhaps this is the ultimate detail for your Kato bullet train?  But no tricks like this on ESNG layouts, please, even if you are controlling your train with your phone.

I might hasten to add that this is a common pose on UK railways, though the trains are never moving when it happens.  I’ll stop before someone throws something at me….🙂

And Michael Portillo is back travelling the rails.

Great Continental Railways: What would George Bradshaw make of British rail today?

Portillo sagely comments…..

In general, though, I feel optimistic about the future. Many of the problems the [railway] industry’s currently wrestling with are, ultimately, problems of demand. When I was Minister of Transport, we had about 700 million passenger journeys a year – and we thought we were managing an industry in decline. Today there are about 1.5 billion. So there has been a huge transformation.

As for Bradshaw….

Incidentally, we really do carry that guide around with us on every journey. Or rather the researcher does. While filming our pilot episode, I dropped a Bradshaw on the floor; it split in half and I had to hold it together for the rest of the episode, and since then I’ve never been allowed to carry it. Our researcher keeps it in a children’s lunchbox. So for about 13 years of my life, I was followed around by a civil servant carrying a red box. Now I’m followed by a researcher carrying a Thomas the Tank Engine tin. It’s funny how life takes such unexpected turns.

The fifth series of ‘Great Continental Railway Journeys’ starts on BBC Two on Tuesday 20 September at 9pm.  I wish I had his dress sense!


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Is what you see what you get?

After a couple of weeks of exhibition photographs, it’s back to the crazed ramblings of the budgie…..  (I’ll try and visit another show soon.)

Reading a non-railway magazine I came across this little story.

Some years ago, a confectionary company caused a stir when children began to unwrap what they thought were Easter Bunnies.  The company had clearly over-manufactured chocolate Father Christmases a few months before, and an enterprising employee had worked out that, once wrapped in the Easter Bunny foil, it was very hard to notice the difference.  Consumers of course complained, but the manufacturer pointed out that they had been marketed as ‘chocolate novelties’ – and novelties they indeed were!

It occurred to me that there might be a few railway-linked morals from the story.

Firstly, transparency in our show advertising.  Although layouts change and people have to drop out, I have been to a number of exhibitions that haven’t delivered what the flyers seemed to promise.  Bad for my blood pressure and bad for the hobby.

Secondly, honesty from manufacturers.  Models are getting better, but there are too many errors and compromises that still appear.  I hope that an ‘N gauge scale model’ is just that, and doesn’t have small under-scale wheels or ride too high on the bogies to get it around a 9″ curve, or significant errors in detail.  Please can models, and their reviewers in magazines, be honest with us?

Finally, of course, caveat emptor! (especially on Ebay.)

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TINGS 2016 #3

The Black Diamonds group had a large modular US layout on display.  There was some criticism of this layout on N Gauge Forum, saying that the scenery was disappointing, there were too few trains that were too long, and that the trains went too slow.

The first criticism was probably fair enough, as some modules were works in progress.  But the others were not fair.  American goods trains are often long and often slow as well.  It was refreshing to see a goods train move at scale speed.  There seemed to be plenty of movement on the layout when I was watching, but they were operating under dispatcher control, so trains would be at realistic intervals, and not tail chasing.


The coal mine was impressive on size alone….


And the end loops gave some ideas for fiddle yards for ESNG in the future.  I liked the second one shown, where a double track main line widens out to a six track loop, but the throat of the loop forms part of the station.



Now for the interesting scenery section….

Langston Bridge was a full length scale model of the bridge connecting Hayling Island with the mainland.  The Terrier and one coach was totally prototypical.



Webber Heights featured this USAF airfield.  One of my companions was severely critical of the air traffic control (or lack of it) portrayed, but I thought it an excellent chance to show off some model aircraft.


And St. Niklaus had some excellent German alpine scenery during the ski season…


For continental modellers, there were three layouts from France, including one with a working dragon in a cave half way up the helix.  I failed to get a photo of this….


Best name of the day was the German layout Bad Teiming.  Plenty to look at with a busy timetable (or should it be teimtable) in operation.



Arley modelled the Severn Valley Station of that name.  There’s an interesting editorial in this months Model Railway Journal asking why we don’t model preserved railways.  So here’s one that models a station on such a railway, but winds back the clock to the 1950’s when there was a BR service on the line.


And the last layout is Molinnis, based around operations on the Newquay branch in Cornwall after privatisation.  Yes, there is an elephant in the field in the second photograph.  And no, I don’t know why – they aren’t native to Cornwall.



So that’s TINGS for another year.  Apologies to those layouts that I haven’t included, mainly due to the incompetence of the photographer.

The journey home was not a good one.  We stopped for a late lunch on the way home, and held an ESNG committee meeting over lunch.  Then the M25 decided to come to a halt, so we had to drop off it and get back to Redhill through the back streets of South London.  We got home about 7pm, a bit later than expected.

To add insult to injury, the motorway fish and chips did something to my insides, and I spent a certain amount of Monday in the smallest room.  Still, it was an excellent day, and I hope to return next year.

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