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Richard Hall

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    Newmarket, Suffolk

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  1. Jezebel! I picked up this little beauty on a second hand stall at a show for not much money. I suspect it to be a modified Langley Standard 4MT body on a Farish Crab chassis. Tender body is a resin casting though, which makes me wonder whether it was a kit by an obscure manufacturer now long forgotten. After much fiddling it now runs tolerably well, and there was only one possible identity I could choose.
  2. Slow train to Hawick? It certainly would have been with a J37 up front. Hawick had a solitary J37 on its books for many years - 64539 - presumably it was there for some good reason. It waddled off to St Margarets at the end of 1959 for the last two years of its life. That is the one I will probably model.
  3. Not much progress on Stobs itself but I have another locomotive for it, and an unusual one at that: 64499 was one of three ex North British J35s allocated to Carlisle Canal in BR days. It was the last survivor of the trio, soldiering on until the end of October 1962. The model started out as a Poole Farish 4F which has acquired a new brass firebox and cab, flared tender tops and a few other bits and pieces. I wouldn't describe it as a scale model, but I'm happy enough with it, should be ideal for the Carlisle-Hawick goods. I have another 4F which may become a St Margarets J37, which were known to appear on the Waverley Route from time to time.
  4. While I was rummaging around my photo files I found some shots of my previous attempt at a Borders branch terminus. "Belstone" was a bit bigger than "Longframlington" and never got quite finished due to a house move: I sold it, and hopefully it is still out there giving pleasure to someone. It was a nice little layout although the kickback coal siding didn't really work, much too fiddly to shunt. Buildings were mostly Scotsgap based, but Plastikard rather than cardboard, and a bit wobbly due to inadequate internal bracing. The goods shed was freelance, 1/8" balsa and not at all wobbly.
  5. This layout started out as a testbed for Finetrax Code 40 track: I wanted to build a small, simple layout to see how I got on with it. So I drew up a simple track plan for a branch terminus, four turnouts in the scenic area and one in the fiddle yard. I built the first turnout from the kit as supplied but I wasn't happy with the one-piece cast frog: it reminded me of the old Farish Super Liveway turnouts. So I decided to build the remaining four turnouts with "proper" soldered frogs, with a couple of soldered PCB sleepers to keep everything straight and level. I also decided to build the three turnouts at the station throat as a single assembly to reduce the number of rail joints. So far so good, but I made a bad mistake. I built the turnouts onto a 3mm balsawood base which seemed a good idea at the time. It was only after ballasting and painting that I started to run into problems: the water in the PVA glue and emulsion paint had a bad effect on the stability of the trackbed and I ended up having to insert half a dozen brass pins through the trackbed into the MDF baseboard and solder the rails to them to restore some kind of stability. Not a mistake I will make again. Second mistake was the turnout operating mechanisms. I like the simplicity of solenoid point motors, and the built in frog polarity switch on the Seep motors is handy, but they don't work too well with delicate little code 40 blades and tiebars. So I came up with a system using a piano wire crank operating through a vertical brass tube through the board, decoupling the solenoid from the blades and leaving them lightly spring-loaded. It worked until I ballasted the track, at which point the water rusted the piano wire cranks and they seized solid in the tubes. Even with the wires replaced, reliability was still a bit marginal but they worked well enough to be able to run some trains. Ballasting was the usual slow, tedious job, using fine terrarium sand ("lizard sand"), dilute PVA glue, and then a couple of coats of matt emulsion (mixed up from B&Q tester pots) to seal it. With the platform structures in place, things were looking good at this point. Next up, scenery and structures start to take shape.
  6. A few recent photographs showing not very much happening at Longframlington as usual. Station building is a mirror image of Scotsgap, built from drawings using Metcalfe printed card walls and Redutex textured material for the roof. I really need to deal with that gap along the bottom of the walls, and my inherent laziness shows in the lack of gutters, downpipes and interior fittings. Signal box is also from Scotsgap and has an interior of sorts even though you can't see it. Still some work to be done in this area, it looks a bit bare at the moment. Mostly Metcalfe buildings here. The Percy Arms started out as the "Manor Farm" kit: Northumbrian pubs tend to be plain, square, solid-looking buildings without a lot of frills. The crossing gates are scratchbuilt from Plastikard, based on those at Thorneyburn on the Border Counties Railway, with Peco wicket gates. All quiet at Longframlington. The Palvan is an old Parkwood kit, as are many of my wagon fleet. Track construction next...
  7. Where to start? Probably with the baseboards which are, erm, unconventional. I have never much liked wood as a constructional material. It is cheap and easy to work with hand tools, but I find it a fickle and treacherous material. I wanted to try using aluminium extrusions for the baseboard frames, but I couldn't find anyone to weld them up for me. My patience got the better of me and I decided to make them from steel Dexion racking uprights of which I have lots, MIG welded together. Baseboard tops are 9mm MDF, bonded to the frames with Tigerseal and weighted down with whatever I could find in the workshop. No prizes for guessing what I do for a living. The ends have aluminium angle bonded to them to prevent them being damaged. The resulting baseboards are immensely strong but far too heavy and I would not build them this way again. They are actually quite awkward to handle despite being only 3' x 1'6". But at least I could now get on with tracklaying...
  8. Longframlington summarised: N gauge 6' x 1'6" or thereabouts Ex North British Railway in north Northumberland. Longframlington is a village about halfway between Morpeth and Alnwick. It never had a railway but might have done. Period - late 1950s to early 1960s. Track: plain track is Finetrax Code 40. Turnouts are a mixture of modified Finetrax kits and handbuilt. Fiddle yard is Peco. Control: 12V DC using an AMR handheld controller with feedback, Turnouts are servo-operated using MERG control boards, frog switching via relays. Buildings: railway structures are scratchbuilt from card, based on Scotsgap Junction on the Wansbeck Valley line. The houses, shops and pub are Metcalfe kits bodged about a bit. A couple of photos to start with before I go into the layout in a bit more detail. I'm still working on the layout, adding little details but trying not to overdo the clutter. Borders branch line stations weren't exactly busy places post-war.
  9. Reading this sad news sent me to Railscot where I have spent an hour gorging myself on Waverley Route photographs. I can only echo 'Chard's sentiments. I think I have just found my perfect all-time favourite WR photo: sadly not one of Mr Gray's, and it may have been featured here already, but just imagine the sound. https://www.railscot.co.uk/img/22/970/ Richard
  10. Track plans are all very well but trying to model a railway carving through the landscape I was having trouble picturing whether the sightlines and scenic breaks would work. So... A model of a model, one inch to one foot, knocked together out of card, foamboard, balsa, some Polyfilla that was starting to go off, and a bit of Woodland Scenics material for trees. Comparing this to aerial photos on Canmore I need the trees at the front to extend down to the road (there is a photo on there showing them as young trees in 1945), but otherwise it's not a million miles out. Hidden sidings are fractionally underscale but give an idea of the general layout. I have put in a fictitious bridge at the right hand end as a scenic break, the other end is well hidden by trees. Richard
  11. The lack of scenic breaks make almost every WR station unmodellable even in N gauge unless you have a ridiculous amount of space. Stobs is unusual being hemmed in by woodland: I still have to cheat, but not too much. Imagine trying to model Steele Road and its approaches. I'm feeling a bit Waverley this evening: one of the local supermarkets is stocking that iconic Scottish delicacy, tablet. Time to put the "Railway to Riccarton" LP on the turntable... Richard
  12. That was my second thought. It's a bit far to drive up for a look, and there will be a lot more forestry by now to confuse things.
  13. Any suggestions for where the second photo was taken? My first thought was the southern approach to Shankendshiel but looking at a couple of other photos I'm not so sure now. That wood on the hilltop is very distinctive but I can't place it. It's probably very obvious where it is, could someone please put me out of my misery. Richard
  14. A tiny bit more progress. Working from photos I used a 2D CAD program to create a simple line drawing of Stobs signal box, printed it onto self adhesive paper and then stuck it over a crude foamboard shell, just to see if I had got the size and proportions about right. I think it looks about OK, maybe 1mm narrow and 1mm tall but that is easy to sort out. I haven't tried using this technique for building drawings before, and I wish I had done it for the ticket office as the dimensions are slightly out and a 3D mockup would have picked up the error. Richard
  15. Footbridge just about done, etch primed and almost ready for paint. The railings are a little overscale but I'm not too unhappy with them. Unfortunately I have now realised that although the smoke deflectors are off-centre as per prototype I have skewed them the wrong way - the Up deflector should be closer to the staircase than the Down. Oops. Luckily they are only glued, not soldered. Stairs were made by glueing together lots of 0.8mm balsa strips. There are still a few rough bits but from normal N gauge viewing distances I think it will do. I have printed out some of the large "Cross the line by the bridge only" notices and still have to sort out a couple of lamps. Signalbox next...
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