Monday, January 31, 2011

To Wait ... Oh, No More!

Introducing the latest edition to our locomotive fleet - and what a handsome beast she is too!
This is Bachmann's Fowler S&D 7F which I acquired at the weekend and, I think you will agree, she is a stunning model that captures the original extremely well.
I really had not intended to purchase one so soon and was going to wait a while before actually buying an unweathered 53809. However, I was in Turleigh Models in Bruton (my local model railway shop) on Friday afternoon and saw one of these on the shelf. Well, to say that I was instantly captivated would be putting it mildly because the weathered version looked so life-like, Bachmann truly have done a great job here. 
Anyway, after much debate, I finally decided that I just had to buy her and, now, I cannot wait to see and hear her running on our layout!
Obviously she will need a few modifications before she is ready to haul any trains - a decoder, lights, train crew and, maybe, a smoke unit all have to be added first but, when she is finished, she will look and sound fantastic.
Sound, of course, might be a problem since, I daresay, no sound recordings of a 7F exist at the moment. However, I am sure this will be rectified in the not too distant future now that the model is on the shelves and is, by all accounts, proving very popular. 
So, we will probably wait until such a decoder is available rather than fit a non-7F variety and then have to reblow it later. I suppose, in the interim, we could always fit an ordinary decoder and have her running without sound.
We already have the set of six Hornby Pines Express coaches plus a maroon Restaurant Car just waiting to be coupled up to our loco, when she is ready, and then we will be able to recreate that iconic train on our layout - now won't THAT be 7Fing good!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tack A Fence!

Now for an update to the fuel terminal, and its environs, as of last weekend.
As you can see we have erected the rest of the fence between said terminal and the railway. This fence is more of the Bachmann Security Fencing (No 44-505) - as used around the signal box at Petersfield.
Now, if anyone knows of an easy way to 'erect' this fencing then I would be only too pleased to hear about it because we found it very difficult and tried various ways of getting it to stay in place. 
In the end I stuck each panel onto a thin piece of white blu-tack and, then, sprinkled scatter material over that before dropping diluted glue on top of that. 
It was far from perfect but it did seem to do the trick and I am sure that we can disguise any imperfections! At least in this corner, and under the bridge, the fence is fairly well concealed.
As well as the fencing we also worked on the road above the tunnel and this is almost finished now, we just need to create an embankment on the other side to prevent any hapless motorists from careering over the edge. This will probably be done after we have finished all of the work on the terminal since we also want to make the side of the tunnel a little less flat and smooth. However, it is not a good idea to do this and, then, have to lean over it to work on the fuel terminal.
Because erecting the fence has proved to be a slower job than anticipated and because we had to relay some of the track here, this corner of the layout is taking a little longer than anticipated. However, it is hoped that we will be able to finish it in the next couple of weeks.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Five Star

Introducing what is, at present, the only steam locomotive that we have running on our railway.
This is Hornby's BR Standard Class 5, Nº 44781, Catalogue Nº: R2686A and she is a real beauty. 
She is fitted with sound, head and tail lights, a flickering smoke-box, real coal, footplate crew and a Seuthe smoke unit.
Actually, we have had her for some time now but have been reluctant to run her on the layout while there was still ballasting work being carried out since she is quite a delicate (and expensive) locomotive! 
However, this weekend we gave her a proper run-in and, although at first she was a bit jerky, she soon settled down to become a lovely little mover and is definitely the star of our show at the moment. Yes, I can see that she is going be used on many a steam special in the future.
Hopefully she will be joined, in the not too distant future, by one of Bachmann's new S&D 7F's and it would be interesting to know if this particular Five also worked on the S&D since many of its class were used on that iconic railway.
At first she was fitted with the two sets of buffer beam steps but these interfered with the front wheels on all curves causing the loco to regularly derail so, unfortunately, we have had to remove these steps.
Some people have told me that they would never install a smoke unit into a model steam locomotive since the heat and oil could damage the plastic of the loco body, which of course they could. It is also claimed that the smoke does not look very realistic either which, again, is probably true. However, it is nice to see some smoke coming from the chimney as the loco makes its way around the layout and, to me, it is all about creating an impression. 
As for the possibility of doing any damage to the loco, well, there is always that potential, of course, but she is not going to be used very often and, even when she is, she will not necessarily be allowed to smoke - I mean, at her age she really ought to know better. So, with care, I am sure we should not have any problems.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

You Dirty Cow!

Hornby R6288F Seacow Hopper Wagon Weathered
Hornby R8996 Ballast Load
As soon as we saw these weathered Seacow Hopper Wagons in the Hornby catalogue, we decided that we just had to have a rake of them because they would look great behind one of our weathered freight locomotives.
So we set about collecting a few and now have ten which certainly makes for an impressive train behind the Class 37, 47 or 53.
Of course, if you have the hoppers then, really, you need the load as well so we also bought sufficient ballast loads to fill all of the hoppers. However, when we first inserted the loads into the hoppers we soon realized that the weight of the ballast could mean that any more than five or six loaded wagons might make any of our locos labour somewhat - and so it proved! The Bachmann Class 47 did manage to pull eight loaded hoppers plus one empty one but only on the level and it was definitely a struggle.
It is not surprising, to be honest, when you consider that these loads are made of solid resin and weigh over 40g each. A fully loaded hopper is, therefore, carrying around 85g; multiply that by our ten wagons and you have 850g for the whole train! 
Surely Hornby must know that this is simply too heavy. Why do they not make the loads out of a lighter material or make them hollow in the middle? Maybe they simply do not expect anyone to want to haul more than four or five of these loaded hoppers.
Anyway, our solution was to cut the bottoms off of each load and this reduced the weight by almost a half such that, now, all ten loaded hoppers can be handled with relative ease, even going uphill!
The hoppers themselves are lovely and have some very fine detail, however, this does make them quite delicate so care must be taken when handling them. 
One or two of ours also did not run very smoothly and even had squeaky wheels. The resultant drag would have merely added to the loco's difficulties in hauling such a heavy train but a quick squirt of lubricant to each bogie soon cured that problem and the smoother running, combined with the lighter loads, means that we can now haul the full complement of loaded hoppers with no problems - and they do look great too!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Service Break

As I mentioned last time, we made a tentative start at the weekend on what will be, in time, a diesel servicing depot. It meant that we had to break through a portion of the embankment that we had constructed only a few weeks ago but this was done before we had the idea of extending the layout into the area that is currently used as a work surface. 
Therefore, when this working area is no longer required for that purpose, it will definitely be put to good use and a diesel depot is certainly something that we ought to have, especially since we have an ever-growing fleet of locos now.
All of the track to the right of the points is, of course, only temporary as we were just trying to get some idea of how it might look and I think it will be just perfect for what we want here. 
We are intending to use Bachmann's Modern Servicing Depot, when it is available again, together with their Depot Crane and Fuelling Point - please see below.
So, watch this space for further developments although, I daresay, not much more work will be done until such time as the rest of the town area is completed and we have finally gotten around to finishing Sueston.
Modern Servicing Depot
Depot Crane
Fuelling Point

Monday, January 10, 2011

Back to Work!

After having done very little work on the layout during the past few weeks, thanks to the weather and Christmas, we finally got back into it at the weekend. 
Our first job of 2011 was to relay the curve in the down line as it passes the Oil Terminal and, whilst we were at it, replace the points leading from the main line into the terminal itself.
Originally this curve was formed using flexi track and, whilst it didn't seem to be a problem for the vast majority of our locos, the Class 37 and Warship (both Bachmann) did sometimes slow down and 'stick' when traversing this particular piece of track. 
Quite clearly, despite the fact that we could see no discernible kinks, I had not created a smooth enough curve here for these locomotives to negotiate with ease. This is something that is always difficult to do with flexitrack - well, it's difficult for me!
Anyway, we have now replaced the flexitrack with 3rd radius curved setrack and I am pleased to report that it no longer causes our 37 and 42 any problems.
As I have mentioned, we also decided to swap the Hornby points, that lead into the Oil Terminal, for Peco ones and these are far superior and have a much more positive action. 
I know that I have complained about Hornby track before - and especially their points - but, I will ask again, why can't they produce better points? They have been in this business long enough now, and do produce some great locomotives and rolling stock with fine detail, yet they persist in producing track that is not really suitable for the serious railway modeller!
Okay, mini rant over, now back to what we were doing at the weekend ...
So, after testing and ballasting the relaid track we then set about landscaping the steep embankment on the inside of the curve and which forms the side of the tunnel over the line to Saggy Bottom. That just leaves the top of the tunnel to be turned into a road, which we hope to do this weekend. Once that is done we will have gone some way to completing this awkward corner of the layout.
Another job we did this week was the installation of more points (Peco of course) that will, eventually, lead to our proposed diesel depot.
However, I will go in to more detail about that next time.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Hello Helo!

This particular version of the Tri-ang Operating Helicopter Car Set, Catalogue Nº: R128, was first introduced in 1962 and was available for four years. 
It worked by winding up a spring 'motor' on the car, upon which the helicopter would sit. Then, as the car passed a track-side trip lever that was clip-fitted to the track, the chopper would be automatically 'swish' into the air.
Great fun for any small boy - and bigger boys too no doubt, especially when it was joined by all of the other NATO rolling stock that Tri-ang produced at the time. These included a rocket launcher, bomb transporter, searchlight wagon and an exploding car. Some of the wagons even came with a selection of soldiers, which was ideal for lads like me who liked to play trains AND wage war at one and the same time!
The Helicopter Car was sold both singly and, also, as part of a Snow Rescue Train Set, see lower photograph. In this set it came with a snow plough, ambulance car and diesel shunter. This was clearly aimed at the Canadian market since we do not get enough snow in this country to warrant such a train - or at least we didn't!
From 1966 until 1971 the Helicopter Car became part of the Battle Space fleet of rolling stock and, as such, changed its livery. The car becoming army green in colour while the helicopter changed to yellow.
Then, in 1982, it returned as part of the Task Force Action Set, the helicopter was still yellow but now the car was white.
The Helicopter Car finally went out of production in 1985 and, these days, nice examples in working condition can fetch good prices amongst collectors.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Mail's on Rails

Tri-ang Hornby Royal Mail Operating Mail Coach
Picking Up
Dropping Off
Well, we did no work at all on the railway during the Christmas and New Year period as we opted, instead, to spend a couple of afternoons simply playing trains - and what fun it was too!
As our latest video shows we operated a variety of workings and we even had the first running of one of our sleeper / mail trains since the installation of the second Pick-up Hook and Receiving Bin at the southern end of the layout.
Of course, on the Lakeland Railway, the Royal Mail is carried by train overnight and the plan is to run two of these combined sleeper-come-mail trains every 'night' with one departing Sueston and the other leaving Davemoor each 'evening'. They will, as such, form the first and last trains of our operating day.
They will usually be formed of two or three Mk 1 seated coaches, a buffet car, two sleeping cars and a Royal Mail Operating Mail Coach. However, we might increase the number of sleeping cars to three if we can get a couple more.
The Mail Coach or Travelling Post Office (TPO) will be positioned at the rear of each train and will collect the mail bag from a Pick-up Hook situated at one end of the layout and deposit it in a Receiving Bin at the other end.
The Tri-ang Operating Mail Coach first appeared in the 1950's when, I believe, the mail was collected and deposited on different sides of the coach. During the 1980's it reappeared in the guise we have here wherein the mail is collected and deposited on the same side.
The coach sported various liveries over the years and these included: BR Maroon, LMS Crimson, BR Blue and Grey and, even, GWR Chocolate and Cream.