Sunday, November 04, 2018

Progress Report 75

A couple of months have passed since my last progress report. Developments are tending to slow down a bit as we head towards autumn, and the weather has not really been conducive to running trains in the garden. However, I have managed to tackle a few jobs and keep up work on ongoing projects.
  • A tree adjacent to the railway has been removed and another one topped
  • Two new sidings have been installed
  • I have been experimenting with making my own point levers
  • The water tower at Peckforton has been improved and properly installed
  • Two new closed vans have been added to the goods stock roster
  • Two open wagons have been converted from cheap G scale gondola wagons
  • Work is progressing on replacing LGB couplings
  • I have installed one of the latest receivers from Deltang


We have lived in this house for nearly forty years and my railway has been in existence for around fourteen years now and some of the plants which were planted during those time periods have matured and, in some places, outgrown their original purpose. A conifer which I planted to mask the sheds twenty six years ago (I counted the rings) is one such example. It was adjacent to the track and its roots had undermined the trackbed, requiring remedial action on a couple of occasions. As the tree was now nearly forty feet tall and the sheds are only around seven feet tall, I decided it had to go.

Similarly, the apple tree adjacent to it had grown to about the same height but, rather than removing it entirely, I reduced its height by half. I then spent a couple of days reducing the pile of logs and branches to six inch lengths to fit into two wheelie bins and my log store.

There was one casualty from this exercise. Despite having covered the two concrete overbridges beneath these two trees with heavy baulks of timber, I managed to break the parapet on one of the bridges. Frustratingly, this happened after the trees had been felled - the end of a pole I was using to dislodge a branch brushed against it. Fortunately, it is a clean break and so should be easy to repair.

I might re-landscape this area as more light will penetrate this previously gloomy section of the garden and so there may now be more diverse opportunities for plant growth.

Permanent Way

 New sidings

After visiting Bursledon Brickworks during the summer (see My Narrow Gauge Railway Blog), I was intrigued by the brick-making process and so decided to carry out some historical research to see if there was any brick-making in the locality surrounding the setting for my railway. Unsurprisingly, there was, but what I found unexpected was that there was also a boneworks adjacent to it - see Tattenhall Road Boneworks.
Tattenhall Road Boneworks - Source:
This set me thinking. The more lineside industries I could provide for my railway, the greater justification there would be for it to have remained open during the Depression of the 1920s and 30s. Having previously laid an additional siding at Beeston Castle (See Progress Report 74) to free up the old siding to serve a brewery, I scouted around the garden for more likely sites for sidings to serve lineside industries. The first site I chose was at Bulkeley Station. It as a relatively easy process to add an additional siding to the passing loop, as I had done at Beeston Castle Station.
and after.

I used my now tried and tested approach to tracklaying and ballasting, as outlined in these posts - How I lay my track and How I ballast my track.

The second site I chose for a siding was on the approach to Bickerton Station at the bottom of Gallantry Bank. This required a little more civil engineering and a small amount of stone masonry.
The site - with stonework removed in preparation (Gallantry Bank to the left and Bickerton to the right)
The trackbed in place.
Foundations for the stonework dug
Stonework in place
Track laid
Track ballasted
Beeston Castle Station to the left. Bickerton Station through the bridge.
 I am trying to work out where this siding would actually have been located on my hypothetical railway. Because it lies on a stretch of the line which is used twice for the journey from one end to the other, it could either be located roughly half way between Peckforton and Bulkeley or it could be located between Bulkeley and Bickerton, just outside Bickerton Station. The former would make for some interesting shunting operations while the latter would entail some additional shunting when the train reached Bickerton Station. I have also got to decide what industries these new sidings will serve. One could serve the Boneworks and the other the Brickworks, but the one above looks as if it is entering a sandstone quarry - yet another lineside industry.

Point Levers

I have never been a complete fan of LGB manual point levers. For one thing, they are not very realistic and secondly, I find they have a tendency to become clogged with earth and debris after a year or so and so cease to operate reliably. I managed to purchase some secondhand point levers made by Bertram Heyn, which are excellent ......

...... but at €20 each, I felt my budget would not run to replacing all the levers on my railway with them, so I set about making an alternative, which I could afford.

My version is not as elegant, but seems to be functional.

I have yet to perfect the design. The geometry of this simple lever is actually quite complex, as I have discovered. Even a 1mm variation in the distance between the fulcrum and the linkage on the arm can make a considerable difference to how it performs. 

However, I am pressing on with my experiments and will report back via the blog when I feel I have perfected my design.


The only progress I have made in this area has been to properly site the water tower at Peckforton Station (see How I constructed a water tower) and add a filler pipe for locos.

Rolling stock

Closed vans

Having bashed an LGB US Style box car into something more appropriate for a UK based narrow gauge railway (see How I bashed a US Style box car), I happened to come across an advert for box cars produced by Newqida. These seemed very reasonably priced (under £20 new) and so I decided to explore their potential.

Although the original is quite large for normal UK narrow gauge purposes  .........

....... I found that the judicious use of a razor-saw and craft-knife resulted in something which was passable for deployment on my railway.

The kind donation of a body-shell from a fellow modeller, when bashed and mounted on an HLW chassis, resulted in another similar van.

For more information see - How I bashed a Newqida van

Open wagons

Buoyed by the success of these tow bashes, I turned my attention to a couple of US style gondolas which has been languishing on my shelves for around ten years. As can be seen, like the Newqida vans, they are somewhat over-sized for my railway.

These two wagons have now been heavily modified and look far more appropriate for duties on the PLR.

For more information see - How I converted two cheap US style gondolas into open wagons

New couplings

I am steadily plodding away with replacing all the LGB style chunky plastic couplings on my rolling stock with finer handmade alternatives. Some of the locos have had to have much larger buffers installed to allow for the overhang of their buffer beams when propelling stock through small radius pointwork .......

..... I have also mounted buffers on swivelling arms on the coaching stock, for similar reasons.

I will write-up the design and installation process for the couplings when I have finished installing them and had an opportunity to give them a thorough testing.

Operation and control

Although I am no longer running RC Trains, I try to keep abreast of new developments with radio control systems and Deltang in particular. The introduction of a new version of the ever popular Deltang Rx65 receiver and the introduction of the new, higher power Rx66 receiver provided me with an opportunity to test-drive each of them.

The new Deltang Rx65c receiver is slightly smaller than the Rx65b and has fewer output pads, but it embodies all the features of the previous version and aims to be even more reliable.

I have installed one into one of my locos and test-run it and, so far, all seems well. I will give it a more through testing and report back.

The new Rx66 is a much chunkier beast but is designed to handle much higher currents than the Rx65c (up to 6A).

I've bench-tested this receiver and it seems fine. I will install this in a loco later and report back.


I have just noticed that the tally of visitors to my blog has now exceeded half a million since I started logging hits in 2010! Many thanks to all those who have shown an interest in my humble mutterances over the years.

Here's to the next half million!