Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Progress Report 40

For me, Easter has always heralded the start of the running season. This is largely because of the weather but also because until recently I had a fairly time-consuming job and hence any garden railway modelling had to fit into whatever daylight hours were available to me - which of course are fewer during the winter months. Although I am now semi-retired, a combination of family, household and work-related events have conspired to prevent me from spending as much time on the railway as I would have liked over the winter period and through the Easter vacation. However, there have been some developments on which I can report.

Into Print!

Following an editorial plea from, Tag Gorton, the former editor of Garden Rail for articles on 45mm gauge garden railways, I produced s story outlining the development of my railway. This was published in the March edition of the magazine.

The title for the article, Timetabled to Peckforton, was devised by the editor who enjoys wordplay (Timetabled to Perfection?). I provided the editor with far more pictures of the railway than would be needed and am very pleased with the selection which was made.
 This was the second article I have had published in GR, the first appearing in April 2011. This focused on the construction of the swing bridge, based on the original bridge over the River Blyth at Southwold.

I have posted an explanation of the construction techniques on this blog and also created a short Youtube video showing how I used uPVC trim and superglue to create the model.

I have another article on timetabling  and freight handling which is presently being considered by GR for publication and am considering writing further articles.

The Railmotor
It has taken quite a while but I have very nearly completed the construction of the railmotor and trailer. Unlike my other locos, which are track-powered, this is battery powered and controlled with a wireless keyfob controller. (See Youtube video) This was bought over the internet and was designed to fade 12v LED lighting systems. Whilst control using the unit is not high fidelity, for the price (around £15ukp), I am very pleased with the outcome.

Clearly, the models are not quite finished; they require a paint-job and I need to improve the internal lighting system. But the models look quite effective pottering around on the railway and provide me with something I can run at a moment's notice without the hassle of arduous track cleaning.

The Garden
One of the non railway developments which has been occupying my time over the past few months has indirectly affected the railway. We have had a garage built on what was formerly the front garden and as a consequence the back garden has now been extended.  Whereas previously, Beeston Market station was constructed adjacent to the fence dividing the front and back gardens.........

......... this fence has now been removed. Furthermore, clearance of undergrowth bordering the front garden and the erection of a new fence has led to some additional space being created in the back garden beyond the end of Beeston Market station.

I am in the process of considering how this increase in real estate might impinge upon the railway. Do I re-site the terminus, do I re-site the copper mine or do I build an additional branch to the canal basin which runs alongside the mythical location of Beeston Market station?

Guide to UK Narrow Gauge Railways
Something I have been researching over the winter months has been UK narrow gauge railways. I intend to visit as many of these as possible over the coming years and document the results of my travels on a blog - Narrow Gauge Railways UK.

Although I have already visited many narrow gauge railways over the years, I have never properly recorded these expeditions. This new blog will enable me to become more systematic in logging the outcomes of my visits.

So far, all my energies have been expended in researching the locations, opening hours and some of the background to the various railways around the country. Although I have restricted my attention to narrow gauge and miniature railways which have a gauge of one foot or greater, there are still around 180 operating railways which fit these parameters. This does not include the sites of narrow gauge railways which have closed (eg the Southwold and the Leek & Manifold).

Running repairs
Inevitably, as with full scale railways, ongoing maintenance and construction often dominates the winter period. You will see from the previous progress report (see Progress Report 39) that I had identified a list of repairs and construction projects.

Cattle wagons
The four cattle wagons owned by the railway were excessively heavy for my poor little 0-4-0 track-powered locos. Although my plasticard scratchbuilt cattle wagons were originally quite lightweight, the addition of Schleich cattle greatly increased the weight meaning that the locos struggled to pull the wagons up the inclines when they were included in freight trains. Either the cattle would have to be removed or I'd have to slim them down in some way. I decided on the latter, hollowing out the cattle from the underside with a powered drill.

The two IP Engineering wagons were also overweight form my railway. To reduce their weight, the steel roofs have been replaced with preformed plasticard (from GRS).

Fowler diesel
Close scrutiny of the video showing freight movements on the railway shows that the layshaft on the scratchbuilt Fowler diesel had become out of synch (see 6m 52sec into video). This is because the fly-cranks were superglued to the layshaft and after a while worked loose. The was remedied by re-quartering the cranks and then supergluing them back in place. If the problem persists, a more reliable method of fixing the cranks in place will have to be found. (See How I constructed a Fowler diesel)

Hunslet loco
After adding the power buffer to the Hunslet loco, the body was glued back together but was never quite as secure as when it was first constructed. A spectacular derailment on the elevated section of the line led to further unplanned dismantlement. The loco has now been reassembled but does require some remedial painting to tidy it up. This will be done prior to weathering the loco - another job on the list. (See How I constructed a Hunslet loco from a GRS kit)

Rolling stock
Some off-season purchasing has plugged a couple of gaps in the good stock.

Crane wagon
I've been considering constructing a crane wagon for use on the railway - to handle heavy loads on the railway and act as a breakdown and maintenance wagon by the permanent way department. A chance visit to a certain online auction website resulted in the purchase of a ToyTrain crane wagon. Whilst not, to my knowledge, based on a UK prototype I've decided to use it until something more realistic can be constructed. I'm presently undecided as to whether it is resprayed in PLR livery or whether to leave it in pristine condition to enhance its resale potential.

Closed van
Through contacts on the G Scale Central forum, I purchased an LGB closed van which had been sprayed oxide. I'm undecided as to its future but an wondering whether it should become a private owner wagon maybe for the company bottling the local mineral waters.

Gunpowder van
During last year's operating sessions, I identified the need for a gunpowder van to transport explosives to the copper mine. I became aware of a new model of a corrugated van from Swift Sixteen Models. This was purchased from the company's stand at the Association of 16mm NGM's annual show at Peterborough.

Although this is not based on any particular prototype, I feel the model more than fits the bill for a gunpowder van.

2011 Photocall

The following pictures give a flavour of the sorts of trains I run on the railway.

Barclay 2-4-0 , No. 2 - Beeston hauling the first passenger train of the day, about to depart Beeston Market station.

The down mod-morning passenger passing the copper mine sidings on its way from Beeston Market to Beeston Castle.

The same train between Peckforton and Bulkeley while Fowler diesel mechanical No. 7 Tollemache hauls a train of full tippler wagons towards Beeston Market station (they are about to traverse the same stretch of line which is used twice to complete the journey - see animated plan of the line)

At the same location, the afternoon up pickup goods, hauled by Pecket No. 1 Peckforton, travels the line between Bickerton and Bulkeley while the down passenger approaches Beeston Castle.

The down passenger about to depart Bulkeley station.
 The up passenger between Beeston Castle and Beeston Market

 The mid afternoon down passenger pauses at Peckforton station, passing the pickup goods returning to Beeston Market.

 The evening down passenger passes the last ore train of the day at Beeston Market. The workman's coach is transporting the mine workers back to their homes after a day's work.

In the early morning light, No 7 Tollemache diesel mechanical hauls a train of empties towards the copper mine between Peckforton and Bulkeley.

 The mid afternoon up passenger about to depart Bickerton, to be followed by the up pickup goods.