Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Where does the time go?

Can't believe that we are nearly half way through 2018 already and I've not kept the blog at all up to date. Time to have a big catch up, brace yourself.

Since the last update I've had long periods of doing nothing and the spurts of activity, I've finished off the 'roundy roundy' layout which has become 'Castell Coed'.

The only thing not properly finished is the backscene
I took three layouts to the Bala Lake Railway Model Railway Show in late May, Castell Coed, Arnold Lane Wharf and The Cheese Factory. The Cheese Factory is about 1ft square and features an oval of track from Jelly Models.
The loco is on a Portram chassis
The whole layout 

The workforce taking it easy by the greenhouses
I bought the oval of track at the Manchester show before Christmas on a whim and then the layout evolved around it. Everything else on it was either made from kits I already had or is a bit rescued from the unused Cheese factory board from Underhill. The Cheese Factory building itself has now been on four layouts, so I reckon it has earned a rest on this one.
The little train happily trundled round and round for three days at Bala with only an occasional clean of the track.
Castell Coed from above
Castell Coed was an experiment in a few ways. Firstly to try out the Minitrains track system, based on the Egger-bahn tight radius track from the 1960s. On the plus side it allows a whole layout to be built on a small baseboard, this is 85cm x 40cm. On the negative side, the track is expensive and to be honest not very well made. It certainly isn't an experiment that I shall be repeating. It is a shame as it is the only Minitrains product I've used which is less than excellent. The second experimental factor was creating scenery from scratch using static grass. This has been a much greater success and as I went on I got more used to the technique and was happy with the result. The third experimental factor was to see how I enjoyed a roundy round layout and the answer is mixed. Very handy for exhibiting as it means something is always moving, but in terms of operating satisfaction... well none really.

I'm not sure what to do with it now, it has served it's purpose and been to a show.

All three layouts in action at Bala
That lovely Baldwin visiting

James Hilton's gorgeous 006.5 loco

Charlie Insley's modified Minitrains Bagnall

Round the back


The big new on the Underhill front is a change of plan for the installation in the garage. I had intended for Underhill to end up with a new entrance from the right end but the more I thought about it, the more I came to the conclusion that there was no way I could make that happen so I have moved on to plan B.

Before work began

The start of demolition work to get access to the electronics

The control panel mid move from the back to the front of the layout

Just needs re mounting now
I'd been putting off the moving the control panel phase as I knew it would mean destroying quite a bit of the road above the station to gain access to the wiring. Having made the layout in a mad dash before a looming show, I didn't make a removeable section of road which I should have. I will this time. In actual fact, once I had removed what I needed to the actual rewiring was relatively simple if tedious. Astonishingly, it all still works too.
The next phase was to work out how to attach the Town Quarry board to the Town board in a straight line rather than round a right angle bend as in the exhibition format.
The original cutting with the Parrot Inn removed

With the scenery cut back and an early idea of the new trackbed
I soon realised that I couldn't get the new alignment to curve round to join up with the quarry board without having a stupid curve and I'm trying to get rid of those from this layout. The answer is to add a section of board between the two old boards...
New board joined on
The new section of board allows for a nicer curve and also for the pub to move over slightly but still to be more or less in the right place. Instead of a square it will be on a narrow road which will continue onto the new board in quite a pleasing way. The only downside is that the water fountain will have to find a new home.
Next move is to take this board into the garage and install it in it's new place and then to rewire the quarry board's control panel in a similar fashion. I'm looking forward to being able to run proper trains again.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Knock it down, build it up

It's always nice to start with something new so here is my slightly modified Minitrains Progress with a Jelly Models O&K coach which I have just finished, having bought it at Manchester before Christmas. I was holding back as I promised myself that I would get on with the reconstruction of Underhill before I built any more rolling stock...

The unpainted coach along with a Bachmann D class wagon
It is a mixed media kit with a 3D printed chassis, resin body parts and etched brass details. It all went together pretty well although the resin parts needed some cleaning up and the roof was/still is a bit, slightly warped. I thought I'd flattened it out but on gluing it on, it is still not quite flush at one end on one side. A nice kit and recommended. I suspect I will need another one at some stage. It might make a nice little motorized tram with some bodging... hmm thinks.

Demolition is complete on the Cheese factory board, with all the buildings and removable scenic bits removed. This was the second part of the layout to be built and it has developed several faults over the years so its time has come. I can't fit all of the layout into the garage so something has to go.

I was pleased to be able to rescue the Herb Nursery intact and hopefully I will be able to find a home for it at some stage. The row of houses will form the missing side of the Parrot Inn Square so they will be used too. Another 'reuse of a building plan' is to fit the lighthouse which was on StRuth somewhere near the beach section, I've always liked the lighthouse and so it would be good to get it out of storage.

Town Quarry electronics
The next thing to do is to relocate the control panel from the rear of Town Quarry module to the front as The back of the layout is going to be against the wall. This will be fiddly but relatively straightforward. I also need to do the same thing on the Underhill Town module and all the wiring and access to the screws holding the panel in place require the raised town area to be removed. Having built it in a big rush I didn't make it removable so will necessitate some fairly brutal demolition work... and the rewiring and reconstruction.
Hopefully the above sort of plan thing should give an idea of what I'm aiming for. It's all a bit mad but because of the internal layout of the garage I have to have Underhill at the left meaning that a new entrance from what was previously the dead end of the layout has had to be invented. Anyway we'll see how it turn out. Next to the new bit will be the beach and then a fiddle yard.
Arnold Lane Wharf will be at a few shows this years, starting with the NG show at Rainford on the 17th Feb, then Narrow Gauge North on the 10th March and Bala over May bank holiday weekend.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Happy Christmas from the Isle of Stoner

Lord and Lady Stoner and the staff and management of the Isle of Stoner Railway wish you all a very merry Christmas and holiday season.

I thought I'd show you the whole of my Christmas diaorama. It's only anout a foot square but with careful framing makes an effective place to pose a little winter train. I  made it a few years ago now and it is also allowed into the house as a Christmas decoration.

I hope Father Christmas brings you all the toys you want and you have a peaceful Christmas and new year.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

A new hope

Well, another show is over and the layout is in a pile of bits back home. Manchester MRC show was Underhill Town's last public outing, it is too unwieldy to keep dragging about the place. I've decided to make some changes to it and to install it in the garage. More on this later.
The operating dept, apart from myself was Dave Firth from work and the esteemed Charlie Insley who did sterling work both operating and supplying additional motive power from his enormous collection. Many thanks to both as the weekend would not have been half so much fun without them. Charlie also took my new Narrow Planet Bagnall, Jim home with him and sorted out the chassis.

Jim, sulking in a siding on Saturday minus whistle

Numerous line ups took place, here are my Nettie and Charlie's version, both Chivers Skylarks

I was very pleased to see lots of people looking at the layout and many people said very nice things too

Arkwright on a goods train

Charlie in action

Favourite guest loco of the weekend was Horsa, a Paul Windle built Bagnall

Horsa really looked the part with the PECO L&B set


I even coaxed Dave onto the controls

My train of various PECO four wheelers, some converted, some as nature intended

Four CWR Fletcher Jenningses. Charlie's in green then my Titania another of Charlie's and my Oberon

All was quiet down at the cheese factory

The new Bachmann 04 bash was at home with the PECO skips

Jim and his cousin

Three Minitrains Boehler conversions, my Sally, Charlie's in the middle and then my brown Krauss. Eigiau has sneaked into the back row too

Mrs Gubbins is waving flowers at nobody again in Parrot Inn square. The fountain was by far and away the most commented upon part of the layout

A view through Post Office alley
I haven't entirely worked out how to fit the layout into the garage yet but a plan is evolving. Because of the way the room is I need to have Underhill Town itself at the left of the layout which means that a tunnel will need to be created under Church Lane and the current entrance through Parrot Cutting will become the headshunt. It isn't a perfect solution as all the sidings are entered from the left but it will give me some shunting practice.
Next to the new tunnel will be a new section of railway to include a junction which will lead to Town Quarry via a steeply graded branch line. The quarry baseboard will sit in front of and below the Town board. The really tricky part of the whole endeavour will be to move the control panels from behind the layout to the front. The quarry board is relatively simple to get at but the Town board will require some fairly major dismantling of the road at the back of the layout.
Once past the junction board will come the beach and then a new more compact fiddle yard. Should keep me off the streets for a while. The only section which won't survive is the Cheese Factory, some of the buildings will move to become an extension of Underhill Town and I will try to find a place for the nursery and possibly the factory itself.
In the meantime, Arnold Lane Wharf has several invites for next year to keep me out and about.