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Shelf Island

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About this blog

A small railway in the mould of a freelance British narrow gauge project, but standard gauge and modelled to 1:87 scale.

Entries in this blog

A sense of place

A sense of place

I have pretty much paused blogging and indeed modelling for the Summer.   In the meantime, I want to define a sense of place for my main baseboard - something clearly identifiably British, but not overtly regional either. I envisage two palettes for the buildings and civil engineering features:   1) Present-day (modern) infrastructure: concrete and steel, occasional brickwork, and cuttings with retaining walls of concrete 2) Remnants of the past: dressed stone and timber

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Goods platform with crane

Goods platform with crane

A simple platform for goods seems like a good idea for the high-level part of my layout. The platform will provide a little foreground interest for the scene here, and it will be a 'period' piece built of stone and cobbles to contrast with the modern building and metals processor beyond.   This is my platform. I used Wills sheets of cobbles for the top and their random stone for the sides. The Wills sheets don't need very much support to make a robust model.   I wanted

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Baseboard rebuild for Vehicle Dismantlers

Baseboard rebuild for Vehicle Dismantlers

It is four years since I laid the track on my main baseboard and the model is still almost completely bereft of scenery.  This is partly because so much of my operating has been test runs on new models, and also because I changed part of the story behind the railway. In particular, the high-level section was going to be an industrial processing plant and an interchange between narrow and stand gauges; but the processing plant looked much better at Fairport (another baseboard) and the narrow gaug

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Industrial shredder (metals processor)

Industrial shredder (metals processor)

I have built a Faller kit for an industrial shredder. According to the Faller website (my translation from the German), this is   "a plant using using rotary mills to chop and shred waste containing metals, and featuring exhaust air treatment. Conveyor belts take the waste material through the different stages of treatment, including pre-sorting, screening, separation, compression and crushing".   So more of a scrap metals processor than a mere shredder, and for me quite inte

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Rebuild, April - May 2019

Rebuild, April - May 2019

April 2019 Last year, I pretty much ignored the layout from January through to the summer time. I've been on a bit of a roll of model making since then and I've had plenty to write about for the blog. Then I sat down a few days ago and wrote out a list of things to do. There are 27 self-contained projects for trains and 13 tasks and mini-projects for the layout. The train projects can keep me going for years. But the main part of the layout really does need some attention. It is still an op

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BR Mk1 BSK (Lima modified)

BR Mk1 BSK (Lima modified)

This post describes my modifications to a Lima coach to lower the chassis onto the bogies and provide for closer coupling. These coaches have various deviations from the prototypes (and really, they are not ‘scale models’), but the changes do improve the general appearance and only take a few hours to do. Nearly all of the work is on the chassis. I also chopped into the body and the interior to let them fit onto the modified chassis, but it will be easy to discard these and fit another body in t

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Alco S1 (Life-Like)

Alco S1 (Life-Like)

The Steel Company of South Wales operated a fleet of Alco S1 engines from 1950 to the mid 1980s. The engines were based at the Port Talbot steel works and numbered 801 to 805. All five had been retired from service by 1985.   Engine number 802 was retired early to provide spare parts to keep the others running, but three of the engines made it into preservation: 801 (renumbered as 805 for a while), 803 and 804. The fate of 805 seems uncertain; most likely it was cut at Port Talbot in t

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TTA tank wagon

TTA tank wagon

I see TTA tank wagons when I visit Ipswich station and look down on the refuelling point from the footbridge. The wagons always look like a tank with an underframe welded on underneath rather than a chassis with a tank sitting on top.  I have wedded a Lima tank to a Lilliput chassis to try to recreate this appearance in model form. The overall dimensions are close to those of a  scale model (within a millimetre) but some of the details on the solebars are wrong or missing altogether.  

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Moyse 32 TDE Locotracteur (REE)

Moyse 32 TDE Locotracteur (REE)

This model by REE represents a Gaston Moyse 32-tonne 'locotracteur' from around 1960. REE have released the model in a variety of liveries, and with and without lamps. There are also analogue (DCC-ready) and factory-fitted DCC sound models to choose from.   Moyse locomotives seem to be quite rare in Britain, but there are at least two possible precedents: a locotracteur of 1929 at the Atlas Stone Company near Meldreth (Cambridgeshire), and a much later diesel-electric shunter named 'Au

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Lock, block and brake

Lock, block and brake

I have three sets of trains for Shelf Island: trains for normal operations; workings by the local preservation society; and visitors. All of these include passenger services. From the Regulation of Railways Act, 1889: "1.-(1.) The Board of Trade may from time to time order a railway company to do, within a time limited by the order, and subject to any exceptions or modifications allowed by the order, any of the following things: (a.) To adopt the block system on all or any of their railways

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The local passenger dilemma

The local passenger dilemma

Although the railway is predominantly a freight operation, I want to run a local passenger service between Fairport and Creg (map). This will be a diesel service, "runs when required", separate to the tram operations between Fairport and Shelf. I am hoping, the two passenger operations together will interfere with the freight in an engaging sort of way.   My trouble is this. In a way, I'd like a single-unit diesel railcar; if the layout was 00 I'd buy a bubble car and be happy. But the

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Kadee coupler installations

Kadee coupler installations

When I began to model in H0 scale I had already converted many of my 4mm scale models to Kadee couplers, and it seemed natural to me to stay with the Kadee for British H0. These couplers are more discrete than the Continental D-loop design and the British tension lock type, and there are plenty of varieties available to help installation onto models from different sources. You can also lift a model off the track without having to fiddle with its couplers.   The downside for me is, the

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Introduction to Shelf

Introduction to Shelf

Foreword   Shelf Island is the third autonomous island in Irish Sea, located roughly half way between the Isle of Man and Sodor. The island is a British crown dependency - a self-governing possession of the British Crown. It therefore has the same political status as the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey, and the Isle of Man. The island is usually perceived as the poor relation to its two neighbours, with an economy founded on the dismantling of old railway vehicles and the unregulated

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English Electric Class 11 (Roco)

English Electric Class 11 (Roco)

English Electric built about a hundred 350 hp shunting engines for British Railways, and also some batches of very similar engines for Nederlandse Spoorwegen. The British engines became class 11, and the Dutch ones became classes NS 500 and NS 600. Roco make a 1:87 scale model of the Dutch engines, and it is straightforward to convert this into a class 11.   There are a few batches of the Roco models. The later versions have a flywheel and an NEM 652 socket, and this version is the sub

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BR Mk1 BG, newspaper conversion

BR Mk1 BG, newspaper conversion

This is a model of a BR Mk1 gangwayed full brake, type code BG, done as a cut and shut of two Lima brake second coaches.   The BG had two compartments for luggage, one at each end, and with a compartment for the guard in the middle. In later years, some of these coaches were converted into newspaper sorting vans by removal of the guard's compartment and closing-up of some of the doors. I decided to model a coach in this modified condition for a few reasons - it is more useful on my own

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AEI Class 81

AEI Class 81

This post is a record of how I motorised my AEI class 81 by Atlas Editions.   I bought my model from a seller in Hong Kong ... the cost was under £20, including postage to the UK. The model is intended for display, and comes on a plinth:   The prototype has a bogie wheelbase of 10' 6", which is quite long by British standards:   My project started with a topic on the RMWeb, where I asked about possible chassis. From a reply here I bought a Hornby class 67 as t

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Stephenson Patentee (Trix)

Stephenson Patentee (Trix)

The model of a Stephenson Patentee by Trix represents a design for a railway steam engine pioneered by Robert Stephenson and Company in the early 1830s.   By 1830, the company's 2-2-0 Planet defined an engine with inside cylinders located at the front, and a steam dome to prevent water from reaching the cylinders. The 2-2-2 arrangement of 1834 was an evolutionary development of the Planet, with the third axle adding stability and space for a larger firebox. The buffers and couplings we

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Resources for British H0

Resources for British H0

Posted 2 February 2018, rewritten November 2018, last update 25 May 2019   This post is a compilation of resources especially or exclusively useful for modelling British railways in 1:87 scale. The contents here are limited to resources I have found to be useful or inspiring ... other sources exist and I do hope this list will grow. I have omitted those suppliers who I have found to advertise more than they can deliver.   Drawings As 4mm RTR gets better and better, many

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GWR Mink-style wagon (Ratio kit)

GWR Mink-style wagon (Ratio kit)

For British H0, the Ratio kit for a GWR Iron Mink is like inverted Playcraft: the ends are about the right width, but the sides are much too high, and the end profile looks wrong. This is my first take on this kit to try to make a passable 'period' wagon.   I began by filling the holes for the buffers and drilling new ones at 20 mm centres.Then I cut the buffer beams off the ends, and started assembly by fixing both sides to the floor. Then I added the buffer beams, followed by the two

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DCC Conversions for British H0: On-track Plant

DCC Conversions for British H0: On-track Plant

Contents   Bachmann OWB8 self-powered Crane .. 5 August 2018 Lilliput Plasser and Theurer ballast tamper .. 23 October 2018     - -   Bachmann OWB8 Self-powered Crane   The OWB8 has only four wheels and I chose a decoder with a stay-alive unit. The decoder is the Zen Z8ND, this comes with the decoder built onto the 8-pin header plug and a separate stay-alive module.   To get access to the DCC socket, lift off the cast "ballast load".

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DCC for British H0

DCC for British H0

Foreword   If you are modelling British H0 it is almost certain that your models will come with a variety of motor technologies, and hardly any will be DCC-ready let alone have DCC factory-fitted. It is also likely your model railway layout will be a pretty modest affair, maybe 10 or 20 feet long, and you will be operating one or two engines at a time. You will expect to shoehorn decoders into your engines and to tweak these decoders to control motors designed before DCC was invented.

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Close coupling for Night Ferry coaches (LS Models)

Close coupling for Night Ferry coaches (LS Models)

I can hardly believe this works, but it does and the results look great.   The Type F sleeper coaches by LS Models have close-coupling cams, much like all modern Continental stock. You can fit Kadees but they tend to collide with the buffer heads on sharp curves, especially going through a reverse curve. One option for Kadees is to cut off the trip pin and mount them upside down. This works well enough within sets but the coaches still sit too far apart.   Anyway, looking clo

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An Eastern Extension

With nearly all of the fleet converted to DCC, I have built an extension onto the running line. The extension is a long siding and it takes the railway through a small display box, along a link span and then around a 90 degree curve onto a broad shelf made from a flush door. So the layout is now on three sides of the room instead of two. The door is on long shelf brackets (Spur shelving), the rest is hung on furniture and adjoining baseboards. The new track is all Kato Unitrack.   Here is the

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DCC Conversions for British H0: Steam

DCC Conversions for British H0: Steam

Contents   Roco S160 .. 21 August 2018 LB&SCR E1 (Dapol 00 Terrier conversion) .. 25 August 2018 REE S100 .. 25 August 2018 Rivarossi S100 .. 30 August 2018   - -   Roco S160   The Roco model of the S160 is a pretty fabulous thing. I have never owned a model built to such a high standard, nor one with such exemplary running qualities. Everything is pretty much 'faultless', but looking back at how much I paid for it, I suppose the model should be

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DCC Conversions for British H0: Diesel and Electric

DCC Conversions for British H0: Diesel and Electric

Contents Roco NS 600 (DCC-ready version) .. 1 August 2018, reworked 7 September 2018 Halling Flexity tram .. 10 August 2018 Mehano Class 66 .. 12 August, 24 August and 11 October 2018 Fleischmann Warship .. 16 August 2018 AL-07 8 Pin DCC Socket .. 23 August 2018 Lesney Matchbox MB-24 .. 24 August 2018 Lima Class 33 .. 11 September 2018 REE Moyse Locotracteur .. 29 September 2018 NMJ MaK Di8 .. 2 and 11 October 2018 Life-Like Proto 2000 FA chassis (for Lima class 33 conv

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