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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

Route-setting panel for MegaPoints servo controller

Route-setting panel for MegaPoints servo controller

The MegaPoints servo controller has three memories to provide for simple route setting. I have built a small switch panel to let me use this functionality.   Operation of the memories uses push buttons (to be provided by the modeller) with visual confirmation from an LED mounted on the servo controller. To my mind, any kind of reasonably ergonomic operation needs sight of the LED, so I modified the servo controller to drive a new LED beside the push buttons. This probably voids the war

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Understanding social media

Understanding social media

This is too big to put in my signature block so I've posted it here where I can link to it.   Worked example (non-model railway)    

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Electricity substation (Busch)

Electricity substation (Busch)

I built this model substation a few years ago. The kit is interesting to me in that it is made entirely from laser-cut parts - in particular, MDF for the structure, and paper for the wrap. This technology seems an economical way to make a pre-coloured kit just as good as a plastic one, and suitable for small production runs where tooling for injection-moulding is not viable:   Assembly is straightforward, and the kit makes up into a sturdy model. Details like the door handle are

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Neoplan 'Spaceliner' style tour bus

Neoplan 'Spaceliner' style tour bus

I found a toy bus at a swap meet, the Lledo "Marathons" number 3. The bus is representative of an early Neoplan Spaceliner from the late 1970s or early 1980s, but is not a model of an actual prototype.   One appealing feature for the layout is the doors modelled at the front are identical on both sides. So at a glance, the vehicle will pass as a right-hand drive body. Most 1:87 scale models of buses and coaches show the passenger entrance on the right, and the driver's door on th

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Storage tank for loco fuel (reasonably anonymous)

Storage tank for loco fuel (reasonably anonymous)

This is a freelance model of a small fuel tank, to go beside a loco refuelling point.   Plastic kits are easy to modify and to build into completely new models, but there is always a chance of the end result looking much like where it came from. I am thinking in particular of the old Airfix engine shed - it is a super kit, it is easy to build into all kinds of industrial buildings ... but however hard you try, the result always looks like an Airfix engine shed.   I have tried

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Tank farm (Faller kit)

Tank farm (Faller kit)

I have built the Faller kit for a tank farm, their p/n 130486. The model went together very nicely, much as we would expect of a Faller kit. Here are some photos to show the highlights of my build.   Faller claim the kit to have 477 parts. This is probably true, but the model uses barely a third of these. I missed out the delivery pumps and used about 120 of the parts to build my model:   I have hundreds of unused parts left over for future projects.   The kit

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General Arrangement

General Arrangement

"Shelf Island" is my model railway layout, and it represents the railways of the eponymous location.   The layout is in the mould of a typical British narrow gauge project but built as a standard gauge line. And in 1:87 scale. The layout has a fiddle yard (which rather resembles a motive power depot), but the long-term plan is to create a model of a self-contained railway system where trains move imaginary freight and passengers between different locations. So far, I have built the rai

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Reluctant control panel

Reluctant control panel

I have added a small control panel to the main baseboard. I always struggled to use my smart phone to control the Bluetooth relay board, and when I adopted DCC I realised one hand-held device is plenty and this has to be the throttle for the trains, not a phone for the points. I designed the baseboard to give a minimalist appearance, and the control panel rather spoils this, but the panel will let me operate the layout far more easily.   I am committed to DCC operation for my H0 trains

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USATC S160 (Roco)

USATC S160 (Roco)

The Big Four operated about four hundred S160 locomotives during the early 1940s, before all of the engines went to Europe. A few returned to Britain into preservation, so really the application of the model to a British layout is fairly limited – either you model the two years of operations during the Second World War, or a preserved scene, or just re-write history a bit and pretend an engine got forgotten and left behind here. This post describes my 1:87 scale S160 locomotive, made by Roco and

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BYA covered steel wagon, second model

BYA covered steel wagon, second model

I am building a second kit for a BYA covered steel wagon. This post follows on from my first attempt, which came out reasonably well but rides too high on its bogies. The details on this model are far too fragile too.   1. Detail parts fret (29 November 2019) I have started the second model with the fret for the detail parts. This is etched from 0.2 mm (8 thou) brass and some of the parts are half-etched into this, so the details have the strength of kitchen foil. They bend every

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BYA covered steel wagon, first model

BYA covered steel wagon, first model

I am building a kit for a BYA covered steel wagon. This should be ideal for Shelf Island - a compact model, modern and very British. The prototypes were built by Thrall Europa at York, with the first deliveries to EWS in early 1999. The kit was produced some years ago by a company trading as 'British H0 Models Limited', and I was lucky enough for Elaine Harvey (Elaines' Trains) to think of me and ask if I would like to have the two kits she had come in stock.   To begin with I am build

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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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Examples of Kadee coupler installations

Examples of Kadee coupler installations

I have used three different basic designs for my H0 scale models: The whisker coupler The whisker coupler with the 'scale head' The NEM coupler   You can get a narrower version of the draught gear box and this looks neater on some models, but I haven't yet found an application where I had to use the narrow box instead of the standard one.   The whisker coupler with the scale head is my favourite because it looks neatest, but it is only available with a

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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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