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  1. Coaches are looking good - are you hand painting? Maroon looks a lot easier than blue and grey, but maybe I’m underestimating the lining! I was surprised to see you chose the Mainline RBR for conversion. I picked up a blue and grey one recently and I think it holds its own against the current Bachmann offerings. It would be interesting to compare before and after photos.
  2. This is how I think of my approach, except in reality I really want the railway to work. I’m happy to take my time over the scenery, but I do like to run trains. I admire your ability to keep taking your time when you could be cutting a few corners and getting something moving. Period wise I thought I was flexible in saying September ‘86, without tying myself down to an actual day! But double headed Hymeks and LL56s...this is far too serious a hobby to enjoy yourself!
  3. I’ve been meaning to comment on here for a while to say how much I admire the work so far, and having spent a happy couple of hours rewatching Bradfield on youtube I was delighted to find some Leeds Midland videos. When I dropped in to comment, I wasn’t expecting to be reminded of my days dancing on the podium in Planet Earth on 70’s nights, or indeed to ever mention it on this forum! Still, it opens up an interesting debate as to exactly which part of my youth was misspent. All that aside, I’m really impressed by progress. I find this such an inspirational layout, although unlike Bradfield it seems to have slipped out of my mental category of ‘I could achieve something like that’. The signalling is particularly impressive, and speaking as a career signal engineer, I can’t help wondering if it might actually work better than the real thing! Mechanical locking fitters are always hard to find, so if ever you need a job... I can only dream about eating an agreeable (alcoholic) lunch behind a peak pulling 10 or more coaches, but fortunately, I can look forward to the video. Luckily for you on the other hand, the Planet Earth videos are very well hidden...
  4. A staggering effort on the baseboards! I really admire the workmanship and the patience. Far too many layouts like this don’t make the final journey to become a model railway, so really nice to see so much progress. I’m looking forward to seeing some blue and grey trains in the not too distant future!
  5. A fiddle yard update. With the lockdown easing, the possibility of multiple operators means that the fiddle yards need to be upgraded from stop-gap to temporary status! First job on the list is to bridge the gap. There’s a 1200mm hole to get across to allow continuous running: A quick bit of woodwork, best admired from a distance. A simple hinged structure. I’ve used a slightly thicker 12mm ply for the top and a chunky bit of 68 x 44 mm timber underneath to give it strength. Experience has shown that this part will take some hammer. An 85 becomes the first revenue earning service across the bridge. The door can just open, allowing small children, yoga experts and those truely desperate for the loo to squeeze through with the bridge lowered. The fixed upright to the left prevents the board folding on to the Chester fiddle yard (again). A look at the fiddle yards as they stand then. First is the Chester yard, currently 4 roads which will be expanded to 6. This is a single lead entrance which will become a double track scissors. To the right are the Warrington lines; there is a temporary crossover which will be moved to the lifting section when I get some straight points. These lines will be scenic for the whole length seen here, with just the Chester yard hidden. Here’s a long view over the lifting section. The Warrington terminal sidings (2) are to the right, with 4 terminal sidings for the Crewe yard to the left. There are currently two through lines in the middle, which will become 4. This means I have 12 storage roads to call on, with future potential to increase that to 16 or 17. I can barely fill what I have as things stand, so there’s no rush! A closer view of the Crewe and Warrington yards A final shot that I can’t get to display the right way up, so focus your inner question of sport! The set track points have allowed a compact double junction and a single lead into the Crewe yard. But - 440mm is far too tight in reality, although most things will get round it’s not pretty. I’m going to try doing the double junction with the 600mm radius streamline points, which should sort the through lines. The curved point into the Crewe yard is probably going to need a handbuilt solution, there doesn’t seem to be anyone that makes a 600mm radius curved point. Even with the not-even-temporary fiddle yard entrance to be resolved, running the layout is definitely getting more enjoyable and the niggles are rapidly decreasing.
  6. That’s a definite possibility for the ‘couplings trial’ - coming up as soon as I’ve sorted the track geometry in the fiddle yards.
  7. Interesting question. I doubt any of the diesels will lift as they are all quite heavy, but the 03's match truck may do. That will be the one to try next I think. I have come up with another possible solution, which is to remove the footplate from the gangway, so that the coupling hook is accessible in the right position. I think it may spoil the look of the back of the train though, so an old Airfix mk2d coach may find itself as the trial vehicle. Spare corridor connections don't seem to be readily available. I have also found that GUVs were only ever fitted with screw couplings, so they should be straightforward once I work out how to couple them to a BG.
  8. Reversing with 3 links is definitely part of the appeal, fortunately I don't have the space to run 30 truck trains, but even propelling 10 back needs the weights to be right. I note uneven loading of freight trucks is in the top 12 issues of this year's RSSB report, so we're dealing with the same reality in modern form, albeit differences in weight makes a more significant difference. I have noticed that some longer 4-wheel trucks (VGA type) don't reverse so well with 3 link couplings, because the tension lock provides some of the steering around unprototypically tight curves. I can't see a solution to that at the moment. The pin in the corridor connection looks like it is worth investigating further at the moment. Of course this is only a problem with modern buckeye fitted stock (or as in Coronach's case in choosing the only pre-nationalisation company to have auto couplers instead of screwcouplings!). I like the Bachmann vac-pipes, but a shorter length version would be useful to tighten the gap on some coaches.
  9. With the layout running and being able to see trains moving for the first time in 2 years, most of the time I find to spend with the railway is spent operating it. At heart I'm much more of an operator than a modeller I think! In between trains I am tinkering around with various bits whilst I work out a plan for which jobs I'm going to put off next; platforms and ballasting really ought to be up there. Meanwhile I have several other little things going on at the moment. Firstly the yard area is progressing, mainly everything is loosely placed whilst I figure out what I want it to look like. I have got a 'box of bits' donated to me by my father and I've placed a couple of lamps and accessories in the brewery yard. It's amazing how a couple of little touches changes the whole feel of the place. A couple of pictures of the brewery: handily I found some lamps in North Eastern blue, which exactly match the Metcalfe brewery paintwork (I doubt that this is a coincidence), but it does point to a nice little colour scheme that I can use to hark back to my routes I really need to paint the handful of shiny soldered joints that seem to glare so much stronger in a photo! The wooden upright has been disguised with some white hardboard and looks a lot neater. Next job in this area is to weather the walls before gluing them in place. I am trying to find some scale floodlights to help illuminate the dark corners, ideally they need to be 300mm high or so (I did wonder about the old subbuteo ones, but they are far from scale and now fetch a king's ransom on the auction site). The ongoing debate about DMU stabling continues, with the photo below showing an alternative option, which will hold 4 cars, so about the same as down at White Land Sidings. I have also realised where I left my track rubber! A better weight is required for the match truck... My next little project is back to the old subject of couplings. Having run the layout for a while I still like the use of 3 link couplings; they work really well for the freight and the locos look a world better with a proper screw coupling hanging down. I've been playing with fitting coaching stock for a while and I have one Mk1 set with a hook at each end. They look good, particularly at the back of a train with a dummy buckeye hanging down, but they come with two drawbacks, coupling and the gap. To enable the hooks to be useful they have to stick out so far beyond the corridor connection that the resulting gap is bigger than with tension locks, which results in a lot of slack between loco and stock. I could put a screw coupling on the coach and always use the coach's coupling onto the loco, but that's not a great solution as it spoils the look of them. If I could find a way of compressing the spring behind the buffer beam, such that the hook protrudes forward for coupling up, that might work, although I can't come up with a working mechanism for this. The latest effort is a simple pin protruding through the coach's corridor connection, the close up photo shows how it looks. Painted the same colour as the door it will be almost invisible at any kind of distance. There are then two photos to show a close up of the different appearances. The corridor pin is definitely closer, but looks a little odd close up. I need to get my regular operators to have a go and see what they think. It is fairly easy to couple up and importantly a doddle to unhook, which is always tricky at the ends of platforms 3 and 4. It seems to work better with the class 25 and class 37 which have Smith's screw couplings on them; the 33 was bought second hand and whatever make of coupling it has on has a smaller loop on the shackle making it more awkward to hook up. This was followed by something I haven't yet tried, coupling a 3 link over the top of a tension lock. The 37 took a turn on the liners and it works without issue. This could help as an interim solution whilst all the loco fleet are fitted with screw couplings. Fitting all the coach ends with a pin should be cheap and easy. I hope it means in the future that stock such as BGs can be dual fitted with both pin and kadee. GUVs can have a kadee and proper hook, as they don't have a corridor connection in the way (I am now wondering if GUVs were buckeye fitted...). Finally, a couple of pictures from last night's running session. A stabled 85 sits on the electric siding whilst a 25 runs around a speedlink service. The bridge mock up is probably too high, although I do like high buildings on a railway, I think they make the trains look smaller and therefore less dominant. The bridge will have quite a sweep on it to avoid the road ending in a cliff edge and may not even feature a bus. Looking back from the 25 to the platform ends, where a 47/4 has just brought in a transpennine service. I really like the large logo livery, it's such a shame the 45's didn't last long enough to wear it (someone must have done a model version?). The 03 has brought a parcels set into platform 4, having been shunting down at White Lane, it will wait here for a while until shunt released later. The driver has shut the loco down and popped off to the Quicksnax for a Maxpak coffee; apparently poor spelling made instant coffee taste better in the 80s, before someone thought of putting it in a corrugated cup and charging you a fiver for it. Looking at this picture shows that the brewery chimney needs to sit against the backscene to reduce the shadow.
  10. That's where the raised Chester lines meet the Warrington lines viaduct. Should be easy to model (!).
  11. A slightly better view of the yard. Amazing the difference natural light makes. And a photo of the 03s new pick ups on its match truck. Quite a simple job and a world of difference to its performance. The wires are quite simple to route from the wagon, through the buffer beams and on to the existing copper strip.
  12. A little more progress around the brewery and depot over the weekend, with some retaining walls made and placed in their prospective positions. Luckily they are not glued in position as I've realised the one next to the factory needs to be higher to stop people falling out of the raised yard in the factory! There are a few more pieces to make to help it look more convincing, as well as straightening the lean out of some of the buildings. I also need to paint that wooden upright (or somehow disguise it). A view down the yard as a 37 shunts the speedlink service at the brewery. A class 108 DMU is about to leave for LLandudno whilst the 03 is on station pilot duties sorting out some empty vans dropped off by a Holyhead to Scotland mail service. It's all about peaks really! A pair of no heat peaks - on the right (soon to be ETH fitted) 45/0 awaits the green flag on a Holyhead to Newcastle trans-pennine service, whist a fellow class mate backs down on to a relief service for the coast. The Newcastle service gets away, a brief blast of power before coasting through the station throat. The driver will open up again shortly around the Chester curve.
  13. Meanwhile, at the far end of town (where the grickle grass grows), the track for White Lane sidings has been laid. It is with much relief that each siding holds 4 coaches! This adds a new dimension to the layout that the previous version didn’t have. It means that Christleton can cater for terminating (rather than reversing) trains, as well as strengthening sets etc. There’s a current discussion with the union about the stabling of DMUs at White Lane, and the outcome will probably be dependent on what facilities can be provided for train crews.
  14. There has been lots of progress over the last couple of weeks, but not much tangible to report until now. I've sorted out a good number of running issues with both track and rolling stock. I have even managed to get my Hornby 08 running somewhat closer to acceptably. I think its problems were caused by two main issues: poor pick-ups and a dubious fit between the bearings and the frames. The latter issue caused the coupling rods to get slightly out of sync resulting in a limp, which made the pick up issue even worse. It is slightly hampered by the DCC chip insisting on restarting the sound sequence each time the power cuts momentarily, so without a lot of momentum the loco stops and restarts again. Having sorted the bearing and the pick-ups, a drop of electro-lube should have it working well. I haven't bought any electro-lube yet as I'm trying to go a whole month without ordering anything online, so for now it is running ok with the promise of improvement to come! I have spent a few nights building a back log of Metcalfe factory type kits, something I find incredibly relaxing. The most recent kit was a brewery bought second hand without all the parts and no instructions, however the kits are so well thought out it went together very well. This has allowed me to play around with what is effectively a 3D backscene. My latest arrangement is shown in the pictures. It makes a good justification for the speedlink services to come and shunt some vans, as well as dropping off diesel for the refuelling point. As the brewery siding and fuelling sidings are opposite ways there's some good shunting to be done. The first picture shows a general overview of the factory. The left hand side is raised above the baseboard framing, there will be a retaining wall along the front that will carry on around the back of the diesel depot. Next is a three quarter view of the brewery. The 25 is on a Westbound speedlink service from Warrington to North Wales. It has dropped the two vans in the brewery's private siding before shunting a tanker out to leave for the depot. The tanker will be shunted down to the fuelling point by one of the shunters later. The buildings are quite a tight fit against the longer siding, so I'll paint the wall white (and then weather it) to remind track workers of the tight clearance. I'll probably board up some of the lower windows as they would get far too dirty to allow any light in. I may have the factory manager's young sons leaning out of his office window trying to cop everything stabled on Blueback depot. Perhaps most pleasing of all is reversing a long loose coupled freight train through several ends of points including 2 double slips (although it didn't go faultlessly the first time!).
  15. Progress feels incredibly fast at the moment, at least relative to my previous efforts! I’ve now got the board for the Crewe end storage yard made and some temporary sidings laid. The curve looks incredibly tight but is actually around 750mm radius, thanks in part to the scenic section lines starting to bend ahead of the corner itself. The temporary yards definitely need some thinking about, but they will suffice to get some trains running. I also think that I have (briefly) more storage than stock. Next up is to do a lot of running and iron out all the niggles. I have quite a list of stock that needs the back to backs checking and adjusting. Does anyone have a recommended method? A loco plus 6 is just possible in the temporary yard. A loco plus 7 will be feasible with some clever pointwork. First in the yard is celebratory green class 40 on the 2K38 Stoke to Llandudno, whilst the short set is awaiting transfer from Crewe to Christleton to form the Holyhead shuttle service. As the 31 is not DCC fitted yet, this will probably be a 25 or 37 (or 47 555 if you turn up hoping for anything but a Duff).
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