ESNG at the Bluebell – 3

Today, we’ll have a look at some of the other models on display.  Opposite us in the locomotive works, and making an interesting contrast with ERIC the International Tramway Museum, was a 3/4″ tramway layout.  All British trams, picking up juice from the overhead, and everything scratch built.  A tempting size and prototype, but this is really model engineering, although the tram bodies are relatively simple to construct at this large scale from wood, card and plastic.

To our right was another large scale layout, in Gauge 1 (1omm to a foot in the UK), and mostly live steam.  Together with the trams, this was a constant distraction from watching our own, rather tiny trains.

A lovely Southern Railway ‘King Arthur’.  Why doesn’t someone make an ‘N’ model of one of these, rather than all those boring GWR 4-6-0’s?

Two LBSCR Marsh Atlantic 4-4-2’s, one in later LBSCR umber and the other in Southern olive green.  Two more beautiful locomotives, but difficult to model in small scales as the driving wheels are very close together.  To model one, you either have to have smaller wheels, with the correct diameter over the over-scale flanges, or ease the coupled wheelbase a tad.  The Southern version is looking a little worse for wear and needs repainting, but I was told that the model is 60 years old!  It is still running well, though there is a lot of slop in the full Stephenson valve gear between the frames.

And parked up waiting to run again are ‘Battle of Britain’ Pacific, ‘Spitfire’, a British Railways Standard 2-6-4T and a Midland Railway compound 4-4-0.

At the other end of the works, we found Darrel Birch, an ex-ESNG member and his layout ‘Berry Town.’  I quickly booked him for next year’s show!

Allan and I took a train up to Horsted Keynes, to see the exhibits there.  Pick of these was ‘Pulborough’, a lovely 4mm fine-scale layout modelling the station in the years before the grouping last century.  Lots of kit and scratch built models, and some well observed scenery.  The umber livery isn’t as exciting as Stroudley’s Improved Engine Green, but it looks very smart, and I’m sure it’s a lot, lot, easier to line out the models.

And finally, it was good to see ‘Atlantic Road’ again.  I didn’t manage to take a picture with trains on at our own show, so here’s a train on each level.  A very satisfying layout, especially as I lived a couple of miles away from here for 10 years.

Next post, the final one from the Bluebell, will be my favourite prototype engines from the weekend.

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ESNG at the Bluebell – 2

Today, a few shots of the trains around Sheffield Park.  There were just so many locomotives to admire – some in steam, some awaiting maintenance, and some, like the Schools Class 4-4-0, in pieces.

Just outside the locomotive works was a line of Southern locomotives of various vintages.

And inside the shed, LBSCR 0-6-0T ‘Terrier’, ‘Stepney’ showed how smart – and complex – the old LBSCR livery was.  It is rumoured that the unusual livery of “Improved Engine Green” came about as designer Stroudley was colour-blind.  I can’t think of any other reason to paint a locomotive that colour!  Built in 1875.  How many preserved diesels will still be running when they are 142 years old??

Also in the shed, but difficult to photograph, was this lovely LSWR Adams 4-4-2T ‘Radial Tank.’  It’s a shame that you can get two versions of this classic locomotive in ‘OO’, but nothing is available in ‘N’.  Not sure where the motor and weight would go, though?

Outside, there was a shuttle service running push-pull from Sheffield Park to Horsted Keynes, with this little industrial locomotive on one end….

An observation  car and some four-wheeled coaches between…..

And an SECR ‘P’ class 0-6-0T on the other end of the train.  These diminutive tanks were built for push-pull services on the SECR, and would have been SECR, then Southern green in livery.  However, this one looks very smart in ‘Bluebell Blue.’  It remains a moot point – should preserved locomotives appear in imaginary liveries, or, as has happened, be renumbered and named as a different member of the class.  I’m not sure of the answer.  I guess if it doesn’t happen too often, why not?  We can’t keep the past completely frozen, and the Bluebell is a living, working, railway as much as the privatised railways next door.

Finally, here’s a contrast – the same spot by the water tank in 1970…

Next post, a look at the other models on display.

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ESNG at the Bluebell – 1

We spent a very pleasant weekend at the end of June exhibiting at the Bluebell Railway Model Railway show.  Two days playing trains, with the real thing just outside the “exhibition hall”.

The models at the Bluebell show are scattered between Horsted Keynes and Sheffield Park stations, in the works buildings and on the platforms.  We ended up in the locomotive works, that was certainly different, and a good place to be.  On our right was a locomotive wheel lathe, and through the open door at the end, full sized engines were being steamed up for the day’s work.  In fact, it got a bit smoky in the works, what with the smell of coal from the large locos, and the smell of methylated spirits from the Gauge 1 live steam next to us.  The only complaint was the slightly grimy and oily surroundings – a number of module boxes came home with finger-prints on.

There was another interesting bit of kit next to the fiddle yard, and the workbench behind contained all sorts of bits of steel, tools and junk – much as my railway room at home, but on a slightly larger scale.

And as for these spanners – you could fix anything (large) with this lot.  But why is the bucket numbered “65”?  Could this be a new hobby – bucket numbers?

We set up an end to end circuit, having modified the design slightly to fit the available space.  One advantage of modular layouts – you can change them on the fly.  It was an early start on Saturday morning to get up and running, but everything was complete and running well by opening time at 10.  ERIC reappeared as an international tramway museum, partly because all my trams were still sitting in a box in the loft, as I hadn’t got around to putting them away after the ESNG show in April.  The combination of ERIC and trams got a lot of favourable comments.

We ran the usual selection of member’s trains, and we actually had trains from all continents (not including Antarctica), as Peter brought along an Australian diesel to run.

On Sunday, Simon ran some impressive Santa Fe trains.  Firstly a 14-coach passenger service – also seen below passing a Deltic with a Pullman express in tow.

Sunday afternoon is definitely time to run some very long and very short trains.  Here, Simon has a Santa Fe oil tanker train with 45 tankers and a caboose behind an A-B-B-A diesel consist.  The train stayed together pretty well, and it’s also interesting that the 4 Kato locomotives didn’t overload our controllers, drawing so little power.

And finally, a shot not for the weak-hearted or vegetarian.  The Cha(I)rman’s breakfast.  The restaurant on the platform at Sheffield Park did a magnificent full English breakfast – the large one having two of everything.  (I only managed the small version!)  As my grandfather once said, “What you eat would kill a weak man!”

Next post, I’ll report on the real trains….

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The empty railways of America

Before reporting on ESNG exhibiting at the Bluebell Railway, here’s a couple of links to an article I came across on the BBC website, “In pictures: The empty railways of America.”

One of photographer John Sanderson’s earliest memories was family road trips to Pennsylvania from his home in Manhattan, New York.
While on one of these trips, 13-year-old Sanderson discovered the delight of taking pictures when shooting the Strasburg Rail Road and its historic steam engine.
Returning to the subject of railways in adulthood, he rebelled against his younger self and this time chose to photograph American railroads devoid of trains.

He appreciated the quietness of the tracks, as opposed to the more frequently documented roads of America.
That is, he said, “until a 100 car-long freight train rumbles into the scene”.

The end results are most attractive, and could give a few ideas for scenery on our layouts – American or otherwise.  Here’s one of them (copyright John Sanderson.)

There are more photos on John Sanderson’s site, under Railroad Landscapes.

Looking on the menu, there is also an item, “Fallen Flags.”  This is a series of head-on photos of preserved F-units, all in the colours of railroads no longer with us.  Worth a look, and I liked the Lehigh Valley example (copyright John Sanderson.)

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ESNG meeting – 22 June 2017

I’d missed too many club meetings with travels and holidays, and was missing the chance to meet with friends and watch the trains go by.

Early June we had a working party, where two workers were supervised by two others.  But we did get some wiring faults repaired on the fiddle yard, and some track laid on the new corners.  And as ever the afternoon finished with a curry to celebrate commiserate on the Cha(I)rman’s birthday.

The next Wednesday meeting was well attended, although it was one of those record hot June days.  It was good to welcome Ian Buck along, and he brought some interesting stock to run.  I’m been tempted by the Napa Valley Wine Train, but it’s not really the same without the wine.  The technicolour Japanese bullet train celebrates one of those strange Japanese cartoon series.  Ian said the train is decorated with vinyls – but surely they would peel off at the extreme speeds these trains reach?

And Neil was testing a couple of modern German rakes.

A reminder to ESNG members – this Thursday is the AGM.  Come along for another riveting evening’s entertainment….

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Here we go again…..

I’m back!  I’ve appreciated a month break from the blog, but have missed putting my railway thoughts and findings down on ‘paper’.  And a chance to offer modelling challenges like this one (picture picked up from a forum – trust the copyright is OK.)  The challenge is not to lay track like this – we can all do that on an off day – but to do it so it (a) works, and (b) looks like it’s realistic, not incompetent.

It’s been a busy month, with too much office work.  Ten days in Singapore gave me a chance to catch up with the friendliest otters in the world, just outside the hotel.

And buy some more relatively cheap trams off the internet….

Over the next few days, I’ll be writing about….

  • ESNG exhibiting at the Bluebell Railway.
  • Our annual visit to Berlin.
  • Recent ESNG meetings.
  • The 2018 ESNG show.
  • An (almost) new layout.
  • Other modelling musings.

I’m looking forward to pontificating again.

But finally, thanks to NGForum, a questionable item from Hatton’s website….

Noch 36959Noch-SD
N Gauge
Ladies of the Night – Pre-owned – 1 has broken arm

I’m not sure about the pre-owned bit, and as for the broken arm?

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Lost – another committee member

Looks like a nasty attack of pots and kettles!

After all my missing Chairman gags, where’s Wally the Secretary?

Positive sighting in the rice fields of Java….

And on the South Devon Railway….

This week look out for him in Singapore….

I really do intend to be at the June Wednesday ESNG meeting.


As you realise, life is a bit hectic at the moment.  So, after nearly four years and an apocalyptic 666 posts, I’m going to take a month or so off from blogging.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing, getting read, and making friends through this blog, but I’m running out of ideas and need a break.

I will keep reporting on ESNG meetings, though, and perhaps on any other highlights from the month.  (And if my mojo starts working again, who knows what will happen!)

I indeed hope to be back sometime in July, with some new ideas and fresh enthusiasm.

Keep modelling, folks!

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