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About this blog

trial and error....

Entries in this blog

 

Crash, bang, sparrowhawk!

So there was a loud crash on the roof over the bay window, much flapping and scrabbling, and this...     My best identification is a female sparrowhawk, apparently they specialise in hunting pigeons and are well known to hunt in gardens...

rockershovel

rockershovel

 

Avon Bridge... wonderful...

I really must get a dashcam.   Off to S Wales this weekend for my annual dose of Sportster racing. Actually not the only time I ride this bike but the only place it gets a “proper” outing on its natural habitat, a half-mile trotting track. Where’s Bruce Brown when you need him?   So I drove over the Avon Bridge heading West, with the evening sun glittering in the cables; absolutely glorious.

rockershovel

rockershovel

 

God’s Wonderful Railway..

Just been to Cardiff for a client visit.    XC Plymouth to Bristol PW was its usual scruffy, short-formed disappointment (also grossly overcrowded past Taunton, XC being apparently oblivious or uncaring about Cheltenham Week). GWR produced a pleasing change of scene with a rather swish 800 class for the 45 minutes or so to Cardiff; the first time I recall travelling on one if these, and I was rather impressed.    Return journey started with a new-looking DMU from GWR, quite c

rockershovel

rockershovel

 

Colorado 2-8-2s, now with sound!

I’ve just heard that my two MMI locos are ready for despatch, complete with DCC and sound. I’m really quite excited about this, partly because the job has been subject to a fair amount of “mission creep” due to developments in available hardware and software along the way   Here they are https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nW6r7ydm6k8&feature=youtu.be   My venture into 12”-1’ Scale seems to be over for the foreseeable future, various family matters are in abeyance, the clubroom refurbishment

rockershovel

rockershovel

 

Technobabble....

Just been clearing my desk and closing out my report.   My role essentially consists of acting as a supervisor and observer for a survey team, carrying out a task which has moved on at least one generation since I was actively involved, apart from the parts I never DID know anyway.   Mostly I am there to offer an experienced eye ... my back-to-back is much closer to th technical side, and between us we provide an overall perspective. As it happens I am the last rotation, so I have the job

rockershovel

rockershovel

 

Declining standards...

Had a rather disappointing lunch today, in several ways. Ventured down to Cambridge to see someone, and stopped at a pub near Duxford for lunch. I’ve been here occasionally over the years, but shan’t be going again...   The once-rural setting of this former coaching inn has been progressively eroded by piecemeal light industrial development, and it now has no garden left at all. The parking is now charged (you enter your registration on a screen inside to get exemption, but there is no sign ou

rockershovel

rockershovel

 

Bachman 2-8-0 conversion

I mentioned the Bachmann 2-8-0 a little while ago. This is a very fine model and it runs as well as it looks.   However there seem to be three basic variants of US narrow gauge - 2ft gauge common carrier lines in the New England area, 3ft gauge logging lines using geared locos in the Pacific NW, and large mineral and common carrier lines using 8-coupled locos and bogie stock in the SW ( East Broad Top would fit this category, too). 20" gauge lines in the Nervada area using small four-coupled

rockershovel

rockershovel

 

Electric trains..

Just been following the "early electrification" thread digression on the main forums.   I tend to be regarded in some quarters as something of a Luddite, having been generally deeply unimpressed with BR era diesel locomotives and the service they provided, and I'm certainly no great lover of MUs of various descriptions for similar reasons.   I was a great fan of the original 125 HST, which seemed a Great Leap Forward. However I find that I'm unable to take pleasure in the subsequent electri

rockershovel

rockershovel

 

We're all doooooomed..

Very disappointed indeed by the BBC this morning, picking up a story and promoting it verbatim to peak coverage (how convenient that the erstwhile travellers had an MP who writes a column for the Guardian!), but on to happier things.   Looking forward to watching "We're Doomed! The Dads Army Story" on iplayer, when time allows. Strong reviews and a top class ensemble cast, should be good. I'm not an unqualified fan of Perry and Croft - I thought "It Ain't Half Hot Mum" was well below par, an

rockershovel

rockershovel

 

Lancaster!

Heard an unusual aircraft noise, went out into the garden and saw a Lancaster bomber approach from the North, bank and turn, and head off North again.   From BBMF at Coningsby, I suppose... quite something to see!

rockershovel

rockershovel

 

Oh dear, it's Christmas...

Some quite versatile multi-tasking on display tonight. My good wife is snoring like a tractor on the sofa, having turned the tv to a Michael Buble "Christmas Special" which gives me an overpowering impression of being trapped inside a lift, or hotel reception.   Whenever the snoring reaches a crescendo I turn it over, or just turn the sound down... at which point, she stirs, and turns it back on...

rockershovel

rockershovel

 

Stan and Ollie

Whiling away a miserable wet weekend in Plymouth (I don’t go home every weekend because of the time and cost), went to the pictures for the first time in a long time.   Much impressed with the new layout at the cinema, big semi-reclining airline style seats with ample legroom. Being 4:30 in the afternoon, only 7 or 8 in the auditorium... the film was Stan and Ollie, and I loved it.   I was never a huge fan of Laurel and Hardy, being (I suppose) the generation that “didn’t want to see a Lau

rockershovel

rockershovel

 

Back where I hadn’t expected to be...

I’m out on site again, on a rather spectacular location overlooking the Solent. This is my first “site” job in the U.K. for almost ten years, back on a drilling site after a long time away from that field, so I’ll see how it goes.   The specialist contractor, my employer, are the British arm of a Dutch contractor and rather unexpectedly, I find I’m more comfortable there than I was last year, working in an office in Birmingham. I found the general flow of office conversation in Brum, trivial

rockershovel

rockershovel

 

Christmas tree train

Put last year’s plastic toy train around the tree, to the amusement of various small nephews and nieces. No 1 Son dismantled the loco, placed a scrap of draught excluder over the speaker... lost one side of the “motion” .. now we have another similar train among the presents....

rockershovel

rockershovel

 

MMI 2-8-2s - on the test track

Took both 2-8-2s to the Club test track this afternoon. Tried them on a NCE Powercab controller, the Gaugemaster was packed away as part of a general reorganisation that’s been in hand for some time.   Very impressed with the slow running, in particular. Very steady and controllable. The brakes need thinking about, as does the regulator - I’ll have to practice these. They definitely need driving, and have different characters.   The K27 is the more sure-footed of the two, over the occasion

rockershovel

rockershovel

 

stoney creek kits

just had a longer-than-usual leave during which very little got done on the modelling front   However, feeling rather flush I splashed out on a Stoney Creek Designs kit from EDM Models. I have always intended that my layout include a drilling rig and some nodding donkeys and couldn't resist this http://www.stoneycreekdesigns.com/2014oilwell.html   I'd date this rig at around the 1910s or 1920s, although rigs of that type continued in occasional use until around the Second World War.     O

rockershovel

rockershovel

 

On the buses....

My good wife appears to be plumbing new depths in her doze-in-front-of-ancient-sitcoms marathons, three consecutive episodes of On The Buses ... astonishing to think of Reg Varney’s sometime popularity...

rockershovel

rockershovel

 

Northward Ho! In which divers misadventures befall our correspondent..

Well, that was fun. For family reasons, a long and difficult journey at a difficult time, in which some showed to better advantage than others.   First leg, Cross Country, Plymouth to BNS. Cross Country consistently fail to impress, and this was no exception; a crowded, short-formation train (4 car Voyager instead of 7-car HST; reservations in disorder, charging sockets not working despite the new overhead reservation displays). The diversion for the incident on the line was just one of those

rockershovel

rockershovel

 

DC, DCC, scales and gauges, and all things in between

So, first things first; control system....   This is a big change from my last venture in the hobby, too long ago to be worth discussing at this point. At that time, DC ruled the roost and most "serious" layouts were divided into blocks and sections, with a maze of under-board wiring. Now, it seems, not so.   So, I set out to buy some stock. Like many engineers, I do like technical gadgets.... So, what have I learnt?   Firstly, On30 isn't OO9. There is one main supplier, half a dozen sec

rockershovel

rockershovel

 

Family tree

Spent a frustrating hour doodling about on a couple of those "find your family" websites, at my daughters' insistence. My late mothers' family tree was quite well known, at least the Cambridge end of it, given that they were quite a close family anyway. But my fathers' family.... after about an hour, I didn't have anything new except that my grandmothers' maiden name was Saunders. My fathers' military service was a blank, and I still have his medals, and know the outline of it. I didn't find oth

rockershovel

rockershovel

 

Yay Spoons!

At Stansted, another place much changed since I last saw it, in no wise for the better.   However it DOES have a Witherspoon’s, who served a quite acceptable g&t WITHOUT the shovel full of ice in a half-pint balloon that so many places dispense, and even had some Angostura bitters.   I quite like ‘Spoons...

rockershovel

rockershovel

 

where to begin?.

so, I registered in here as "oilman" and discovered that I was formerly signed in as "rockershovel", and it was still live, so I'll stick to that and let "oilman" lapse, or whatever the mods do to dud screen names.   where to start?   well, model railways are a problematical hobby in the offshore oil business, for one thing. I started to become interested about six years ago after a very long lapse, because I saw the MMI D&RGW locos and HAD to have one.. I'd intended to be at least, se

rockershovel

rockershovel

 

Peterborough show

Got a gate pass from helping No 1 Son sort out his house and walked round to the Showground.   Very enjoyable, good show and worth the money. Interesting to see the trade stands.   Some very good layouts, some impressing by sheer size. Loved the Fn3 Colorado one, and Lough MPD. Bought a couple of copies of SL&NG Gazette. Spent some time at the Hornby OO Live Steam Group stand, fascinating things but I can see why they missed the mark commercially.   Had a most instructive chat at th

rockershovel

rockershovel

 

Gaugemaster vs NEC

Clubroom afternoon, spent some time experimenting with the Gaugemaster controller setup. This seems to be becoming something of a club project now, next step is to reconfigure the wiring so the Gaugemaster and NEC spreads can be swapped over by changing plugs on the track power wires.   Interesting comparison. Personally I prefer the Gaugemaster on first acquaintance, the larger, backlit display is easier to read. Flicking straight from loco to loco with no fussing about with "recall" is hand

rockershovel

rockershovel

 

Interesting night at the Club...

Went to MDMRC on Monday evening. Low turnout, attributed to the time of year. Should have taken some rolling stock - usually I don't do this on Mondays because of the test track being in demand   Very interesting visit from three Australians who were staying with a member for a couple of days, part of a highly ambitious trip involving visiting no end of steam railways; it CAN be done, apparently! One produced various photos of his exhibition layout based on LMS practice in the 1930s.

rockershovel

rockershovel

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