ESNG meeting – 7 September 2017

After the last non-meeting, the 7th September was a complete contrast – 14 members and a full fiddle yard of trains.  Perhaps it was the start of a new school year, or perhaps that we were discussing how to get to TINGS, plus ideas for the 2019 show.

It looks like I won’t be getting to TINGS this year, as most members are going by car on the Sunday, when I am busy.  Still, I suspect that this will save me a lot of money….  I shall try and spend the Saturday doing a little real modelling.

It was a good evening, with a chance to talk to people as well as run trains or just watch them go by.  And the trains were a mix of UK and Japanese (though I recall that Graham’s Canadian Via set got a quick turn around the layout.

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Old Oak Common 111 #2

There were more steam locomotives on display than I expected, and that were in the original published list.  BR ‘Britannia’ Pacific’s are a personal favourite.  When I was returning to primary school after lunch, I often used to see the ‘Golden Arrow’ with a Britannia on the front.  ‘Oliver Cromwell’ was one locomotive on the final railtour before the end of steam in the UK.

I love the cork on the oil-box.  Another high-tech solution for steam….

Also present was ‘Tornado’, the replica A1 class Pacific.

In contrast, a modest ex-GWR pannier tank, that could be found anywhere from London to Birmingham to Wales to Penzance.

The 1500 class were built in 1949 in British Railway days, and were a most atypical Pannier, with outside cylinders, Walschaerts valve gear, a very short wheelbase, and virtually no footplate.  They spent much of their short, 10-year, life on empty stock workings out of Paddington station.

Class 50, Western, Warship, Manor and King classes….

King class 4-6-0, 6023, King Edward II.  I love the early BR blue livery, originally specified for the highest powered express locomotives.  Unfortunately it faded fast, so by 1953 most, if not all, blue locomotives were repainted in the better known green.  I must also confess that I don’t really like the King class, with its strange leading bogie design.  Give me a Southern ‘King Arthur’ any day.  Sorry, but I won’t be buying DJM’s King, just because it’s there!

Class 47 and Class 37….

Two Class 47’s.  When we first moved to Redhill, I used to take my son to Redhill station, and we occasionally saw an ‘Intercity’ livery 47 heading up the Brighton to Newcastle train.

Two Class 57’s, with the iconic ‘Castle’ names.

Finally, the prototype for everything department.  This O8 shunter is called ‘Neil’ on one side and ‘Scousey’ on the other.  It has been known for people to do that with models of wagons and coaches to increase variety….

All in all, an excellent visit.  Plenty of interesting trains to look at, and there were plenty of stalls selling railway and model railway items and books.  It was also very easy to get to Old Oak Common, with a train to Clapham Junction, then Overground up the West London Line to Willesden Junction plus a short walk.  The most confusing bit was was Willesden Junction station, that resembled an M.C. Escher picture – you had to walk round five sides of a square to get to the exit!

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Old Oak Common 111 #1

Last Saturday, I visited ‘Old Oak Common 111’ that celebrated 111 years of the west London depot – once home to GWR steam locomotives – ahead of the demolition of part of the existing facility. It marked the introduction of electric trains from London Paddington and Intercity Express Programme trains in place of High Speed Trains.  The event website said that:

During the depot’s 111-year history, the depot and its dedicated, highly skilled staff have maintained everything from steam era Kings and Castles, to the diesel-powered Westerns and Warships. In 1976 the depot was the maintenance hub in the Western region for the newly introduced High Speed Trains, the iconic trains which changed the face of Intercity travel in the UK.

While the HST fleet still operates today it is soon to be replaced after over 40 years of service by the Hitachi Intercity Express Train, which will provide another step change in passenger experience.

I had visited Old Oak Common, frighteningly, 50 years ago, when it was full of Warships, Westerns, Class 47’s and the odd Hymek.  It was good to go back.  The line up below sums up travel on the Great Western lines.  From left to right, we have GWR steam railmotor No. 93, a King Class 4-6-0, a Manor Class 4-6-0, a Warship diesel hydraulic B0-Bo, a Western diesel hydraulic Co-Co, a Class 50 Co-Co, a HST power car (in original livery), a more modern Class 180 ‘Adelante’ DMU, and the new Hitachi EMU for GWR service.

Entering the depot, the first thing we saw was ‘Evening Star’, the Class 66 in a livery imitating the last steam locomotive built for British Railways.  It looked very smart, and I almost regretted not buying the N-gauge version – but it really isn’t my period.

I have always liked single unit railcars, like this Class 121, that would have worked in the Thames Valley.  The Class 121 is Britain’s longest serving DMU, operating in passenger service for 57 years until 2017.

A beautifully restored Hymek mixed-traffic diesel-hydraulic locomotive, in its very attractive original livery.

The Class 14 was designed for shunting and short trip workings, but was short-lived as the goods traffic it was designed for disappeared off Britain’s railways.

A definite highlight was the seven Class 50 locomotives on display.  Built at the end of steam in Britain, they were designed for the non-electrified sections of the West Coast main line, but ended their lives running on western rails.  Here are six of them, carrying most of the liveries seen over the 50 years of their existence.

A contrast of rail blue with a ‘high visibility’ Colas Class 56.

This HST power car carried the later ‘Swallow’ Intercity livery.

The HST power car (in original livery), and Class 180 ‘Adelante’ DMU.

The Class 180 ‘Adelante’ DMU and the new Hitachi EMU.

Inside the heavy repair shop was this HST prototype power car.

And various bits of locomotives….

Outside was another HST power car, celebrating Old Oak Common as a centre for HST maintenance.

Next post, the steam locomotives on display, plus the other exhibits.

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Jon’s modules – Clubhouse additions

Before continuing with my new module, I took time to complete the ‘Clubhouse’ module.  I’d bought some Oxford vehicles in the NGS sale, and some figures elsewhere.  Some of these have been added to the module to bring it to life.

I just need to add a lamppost or two, and some guard rails to the road bridge approaches to stop the mods on scooters from falling off.  But this will do for now!  And I won’t get into the loft for the next few days, as my daughter is on 4am shift at Gatwick.  She’ll no doubt be sleeping during the day and won’t welcome elephantine footsteps and sawing and filing just above her head….

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Links – Modules down under +The Flying Scotsman

A couple of links to start the month…..


N Scale Modellers, Australia, have an on-line magazine that is free to read and download.  Fun to have a browse, not only to see the Australian models, but also to see a down-under interpretation of railways elsewhere in the world, including the UK.  There’s some good modelling and good ideas to investigate here.

And the latest issue celebrates 20 years of the ‘AusTrak’ modular system.  Another variation on all the modular variations worldwide.  There’s a good review of alternative modular systems, although a bit dated.  Here’s a graphic showing some possible systems:

The magazine says that:

To date there have been 536 AusTrak manuals sold Australia wide, and over 2800 people have accessed the downloadable version. There are at least four model railway clubs with AusTrak modules either completed or under construction, and the interest in Austrak continues to grow.

It seems that in Australia, as the UK, the room (and time) for model railways continues to decrease, and interest in modular systems thus increases.  There are some good photographs of Austrak modules included.


Although I get a little frustrated at the continual articles on the Flying Scotsman, this one from the Daily Telegraph is a good read, with a focus on driving and firing it…..

Photo: Charlotte Graham-Guzelian

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Jon’s modules – Gapmasters

A few months ago (well actually 15 months), I posted about the ‘Gapmaster’ range of etched PCB sleeper sections, pre-tinned to solder the track to.  The original post is here.  I got hold of some of these neat fittings from the USA.

Tidying up the track on my new module gave a chance to use a few of these sections.

So here’s the end of my new N-club scenic module.  I lifted the track and relayed it, replacing the solid PCB board with Gapmasters.  I found that the Peco code 55 rail had to be reduced in height a little – perhaps half the ‘foot’ of the rail that makes code 80 look like code 55.  No doubt the Gapmasters are designed for Atlas or MicroEngineering track.  This took a few minutes with a largish file, and a touch of flux and solder made a solid end joint.  The rather nasty looking wiring is still to be resoldered (or replaced).  I’m very pleased with the end result, that gives a good looking but robust joint between baseboards.  The sleeper spacing is too close for the UK, but this is hardly noticeable at the end of a board – and the adjoining Peco track is wrong as well….

And with ballasting beckoning, how about one of these (HT RMWeb)…..

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How do we describe our hobby?

Some good thoughts from “The Erratic and Wandering Journey.”

I think the starting point [to explaining model railways] would be to embrace the sheer range of interests and abilities encompassed by this most democratic of hobbies, from the 2 year old pushing a wooden train around the floor, to the determined retiree recreating yesteryear from scratch in his annex, from members of royalty right through to the poorest using the simplest of raw materials and tools to craft buildings from scrap paper and card, so that when he has a bit more money and can afford to buy some trains or more tools, he has a setting for his railway.

And then some honesty. Yes, there are those who just play trains with a train set, and if that helps them relax, to get away from the stresses and strains of everyday life, then so what? But there are also those, like Gordon Gravett and Trevor Nunn as two personal examples, who build it all with the minimum of ready-made components and then – and here’s the best bit – they share the results of their endeavours at public shows, and their techniques via the model press and to anybody who asks. The rest of us fall somewhere between these extremes – both of these gentlemen have created artwork for photo-etching, and patterns for casting, so even when they use such components, they at least are building from scratch. When it comes to building models of locomotives, Trevor buys in the motor and the gears, and that’s it.

Everything in this picture other than the wagon wheel is made by Trevor. Even repeat items were cast from his own patterns, or etched from his own artwork. And the engine has working inside valve gear (Joy’s, just to complicate matters!)

When asked why, I simply say that ultimately I don’t know, but I like trains and building models provides an outlet for my creative side which is completely different from, and free from the demands of, using my brain and computers when working for a living.

Related to this, my brother brought to my attention a LinkedIn* posting by Guy Kawasaki, “How never to fail“. The crux of this was that there are two outcomes to ventures, which most classify as “success” and “failure”. Guy suggests that there is success, and an opportunity to learn, “the opposite of success is not failure, it’s learning”.

Well, excuse me but this is hardly news! Any good railway modeller got to be good by having a go at new techniques and learning from mistakes, by treating success and failure as the imposters Kipling so described. Who would not want to employ someone like that?

And that really is worth presenting to the world.

*If you are unaware of LinkedIn, it has been described to me as “like FaceBook for grownups”.

I especially like the call, “To embrace the sheer range of interests and abilities encompassed by this most democratic of hobbies.”  We all need to remind ourselves occasionally that we are all different, and take something different from this wonderful hobby.  There is no “right” or “wrong” way to do things – after all, Rule 1 applies.  Most of our critique of other’s layouts reflects our own perspective on the hobby – however strange that might be!

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