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    The boring boring borough of Bexley

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  1. I've got a standard garden shed that is 12 years old. 12 x 24 wood structure. I've insulated the interior and it has heat, light, & aircon. https://www.passmores.co.uk/ is the company that supplied mine. Repaint the exterior every few years and I've had no issues apart from far too many spiders. The one advantage of a wooden structure is that most councils consider it a temporary building as opposed to a permanent structure. That means unless you exceed height restrictions you don't need any sort of planning or other council involvement. Mine is technically too close to the boundary but I got away with it as it was granted grandfather approval since it was built on the footings of the original garage.
  2. I had 4 of the original version. Each was not fit for purpose so I went back to the tried and tested Tortoise. 50+ running with some now over 20 years old. It is good to know for future reference that the newest ones are far more reliable. I may just have to give them another chance on my next project as the £ keeps sinking and the cost of Tortoise is becoming prohibitive.
  3. From what I gather someone managed to digitise a bunch of footage and put it together as best as he could. Love the Dayliner heading from Calgary to Edmonton in one shot. I used to work in the building under construction at 17:50. 3rd floor from the top, second from right window to be exact. Back then the tower was still the "Husky Tower" and owned partly by Husky Oil & Marathon Real Estate. (CP)
  4. Fell down a rabbit hole on one of my Facebook groups. Found this gem.
  5. One other thing to note with the old P1k locos. If they are getting noisy, look at the gears. They have a habit of cracking. If this has happened you can replace them with Athearn gears. You may want to add some lubricant if the drive has dried out over the years. Most of the P1k stuff is around 20 years old now. Labelle 106 teflon "grease" is what you need. Basically it is the same white goo that nearly every new loco is shipped with these days. I picked up a used GP9 a few years ago. It sounded like a coffee grinder. A bit of TLC and some 106 and now it is quiet and a good runner.
  6. I'm with Dave. That is an 18 year old NCE plug and pray model. Your loco looks as if they've stripped out the original circuit board and hardwired everything to an 8 pin socket that is plugged into the decoder. Those NCE decoders were notoriously bad. Most of the issues were around the output functions but programming them could be problematic. I had to use the higher current of a PR3 to get them to take and save cv settings. I've still got a couple of them but will toss them in the bin when I get around to upgrading the locos to sound. You should be able to just swap it out for any decoder with an 8 pin plug on it and repurpose the existing wired up socket. If you are going to do that, may I also suggest replacing the lights with LEDs.
  7. Exhibitions and Fre-mo running in hockey rinks. Been there, done that, froze or boiled my assets off. For those that don't know, I used to live in Calgary and modelled UK prototype as well as some Canadian. I've had the anti-British crap at exhibitions there as well as the anti-not British at exhibitions here. Does my head in. Did a one day show in Golden BC in the late 80s. The ice was still in and we were on wooden boards. Bloody cold. I've also done the GBTS in Brampton twice with my old layout UK "Kingsmarkham". (Model Railway Enthusiast 07/99) Its first exhibition was in a curling rink and its last in a hockey rink. The most unusual "hall" was exhibiting in the round house at Heritage Park in Calgary. The first few times there was no infill of the tracks and we had to improvise. Some of the layouts were literally running on real rails. Anyhoo, getting back on topic-ish. Looking for more Freemo (UK version) venues is something that has just this week started to happen. Size is the biggest factor. Most church or similar halls all seem to be roughly 50' by 30'. At the moment there are 3 or 4 monthly Freemo meets and a few annual events. Bournemouth and Plymouth groups for example. With the number of modules and owners out there, it is likely we'll see 1 or 2 more monthly group events start up in the near future.
  8. 3 days, you are lucky. If you've got a tracked parcel you can see when it lands at Heathrow, when it gets schlepped to the customs warehouse, and how long it ages before the ransom demand gets sent and the parcel is released to your local depot. I've had instances where it was 12 days from the time it hit the UK until I got the ransom note. Depends on how busy they are. Got this info from a friend who deals with a lot of exporting from the US. The USPS is using their parcel fees to try and subsidise the rest of the service, that loses money hand over fist. USPS also has very poor loss compensation. That means small businesses that have been burned in the past are forced to add insurance to the postage costs. When I used to order a lot from PWRS the insurance part of the postage pretty much doubled the shipping costs as it is a percentage of the value of the item. There seems to be a sweet spot when ordering. Too little and the price of postage and insurance is as much or more than the item. Order too much and the postage + insurance + HMRC increases exponentially. From my experience $250-$350 is the optimum range.
  9. While the loss of Model Junction is a big hit, there are still other shops that can fill the void somewhat. Hattons: some Athearn, BLI, Atlas, and Bachmann US. Peco 83 and 70 line track. Rails of Sheffield: Rapido stockist. Actually cheaper to order from them than PWRS or Credit Valley in Canada. Invicta: The whole upstairs of the shop is North American. However, now that Vernon has passed it is unknown whether Kerry will continue to stock. Gaugemaster: Walthers stockist with some other bits. Kent Garden Railways: Kadee, Walthers, some Garden gauge stock as well. Mech Models: Scale Trains, Athearn, etc. Great selection but their prices can be eyewatering. We are still well served for structures and stock. The biggest downside of MJ retiring is the loss of the smaller detail parts. For these it is going to have to be order from the US or Canada. Which brings me to another reason for the apparent cooling off of North American modelling in the UK. 15 years ago the £ was worth $2.05, postage was reasonable and VAT/customs was collected with much less enthusiasm. Today it is £1 = $1.29, USPS postage costs have more than tripled, and you can bet on getting the 20% of the FULL value including postage added by HMRC as well as the ParcelFarce "processing" charge that averages around £13. My last big purchase was a Rapido Hudson. $699CAD ended up as £620 after all the forex, postage, & customs charges.
  10. If they are original P1k circuit boards they need to have 2 traces on the board cut. marked with an X. I have a feeling the previous owner may have soldered in an 8 pin connector but got it wrong. Been there bought that before. I've got several of these old locos. My solution was to rip out the light board and replace all the lighting with LEDs and install Loksound decoders. Not a cheap solution but they run beautifully.
  11. Hard to say. Is the lack of more North American down to the lack of invites or the lack of good layouts? As you said, chicken and egg. Another thought is North American modelling doesn't tend to favour the type of BLT that is so loved by exhibition managers. I've had a few invites for Millarville in a layout form (ie staging yard added) but apart from one local show, I've said thanks but no thanks. I really do prefer the casual relaxed atmosphere of Freemo meets. The one local exhibition we did 2 years ago was during an icy cold December Saturday. Crowds were well down but we kept something moving the whole time. The module was meant for constant switching, so that was easy. It didn't hurt when we did all the switching and operation from an iPad and phones. It was the only DCC layout there. One thing I have noticed about many UK built North American exhibition layouts is they are more like UK layouts but with different scenery and stock. I'll probably get shot for this but there are very few NA layouts that really capture my attention. I think it is down to the track plans. UK would have a spur going off at an angle to serve an industry. Canada or US would more commonly have a siding parallel to the running line with the industry having been built next to the railway. I've heard it described as in the UK the industries came first so the railways went to them. In North America the railroads were built before many of the industries so they tended to locate along the lines. This is a generalisation of course but if you look at Google Earth and poke around small towns, it is the norm. In Western Canada for example, the vast majority of towns all had the same basic design. Main street ran parallel but on the upwind side of the railway. Residential areas all up wind. (mostly on the west or north side) Grain elevators, parallel to the running line but on the down wind side. All other industries on "the wrong side of the tracks" but again close to the railway with the sidings staying within railway property where ever possible.
  12. Sadly, this is first Epsom meet I'll miss, and the first Freemo South. I'll be at Christow in May though. Really hoping they manage to do another one in Wells this autumn.
  13. We are still mostly here if the membership levels of the NMRA-BR are to be believed. From my standpoint, and I know a few others that feel the same, I just don't bother posting much here anymore. I tend to stick to the non-modelling sections. For anything North American rail related, It is the Facebook Freemo group or Model Railroad Hobbyist site. I think a lot of it comes from the invisible ink syndrome that seems to permeate around here at times. You can answer someone's question on a post, be ignored, and someone else a couple of days later will say the same thing. I'm not 'like' or 'thanks' button collecting but when you spend time looking something up and then get ignored for your effort but someone else says the same thing and gets a response, you have to ask why bother? I'm finding similar when I post something in the North American section. It may get a couple of hundred views but maybe 1 or 2 likes. That says to me people here aren't interested in what I'm sharing. If I'm looking for feedback on my efforts or needing information about X, this really isn't the place anymore. I know that sounds a bit precious but it's just human nature to look for acknowledgement. From an overall modelling perspective and not just RMweb. There does seem to be some attrition in the number of active and or visible NA modellers these days. There are those who did it as a side project or just something different and have gone back to whatever they were doing before. There are those who model quietly at home and aren't visible. Some have passed on. Some can't manage the massive increase in costs and changed. Dare I say it was trendy for a while and now the dedicated modellers have gone back into the shadows of NMRA meets, clubs like Thamesiders and other modular groups, and dedicated North American exhibitions like Seaboard Southern. NA exhibition layouts seemed to have declined as well. One big reason for that is Freemo. Again from my standpoint, I'd rather take a module to a Freemo meet than to a public exhibition.
  14. While the ECoS is a premium product with an equally premium price tag, may I suggest shopping around and trying out some other systems first. Most notably the Z21 and Digikeijs systems. For around £250 (Digikeijs DR5000 + Roco Wlanmaus) you can have most of what the ECoS offers. This is especially true if you prefer a handheld controller rather than being stuck at a desk to run your trains.
  15. Make your own for a few £. There are loads of suggestions on here. Just let the search widget be your friend. Mine is about 14 years old now. Cheap pound shop plastic tub, old 12v muffin fan, dryer hose, et voila.
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