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  • Location
    N Ireland
  • Interests
    Modelling the UTA in the 50s and 60s, as well as the GSWR line to Stranraer.

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  1. Update October 2019 Work has continued steadily recently, though things like family illness, holidays, and just plain “get round to it” have taken their toll. The pictures show the Stranraer (sic) area, the final major bit of track laying and control to be tackled. Two general views to start -showing progress so far - I had to stretch them horizontally so the signal box looks a bit "fat"! After planning the station design etc., I began work on the motive power depot area first of all; the turntable had to be re-wired and now works well, using a two battery system to give fast and slow rotation – it’s totally eyeball controlled so I will need a local controller in that area as the main panel is some distance away; I may use a handheld or possible a smallish panel mounted controller. The tracks in the engine shed will be laid once I finish work on the main station area. The control panel had to be designed and built before starting; in days gone by I started laying track and trying to wire lash ups to get trains running more quickly - ultimately I found it a bad system. Once again I am using rotary cab control switches and toggles for isolating sections, (e.g. run round loops) with LEDs to give me further info – green ones indicate power and yellow , point position for a couple of the most important routes. The design allows trains can run direct from Stranraer to Ardglass over two bridges crossing the mainline (as well as being routed via the Coleraine station). The station can receive and send two trains simultaneously on the “main line” to Coleraine or the branch to Ardglass (on the far right of the diagram) On the left is a 1970's Codar controller - beautifully smooth running with all my varied locos, from old Hornby Dublo to the latest offerings. The knob at the top was for operating points - I am using Peco switches as I want a"signal box" feel to controlling movements! The cab controls are in the centre. Still work to do, as track is laid. The entry into the station from Ardglass was first to build and wire up, followed by the main line. (on left crossing over the storage sidings.) There is a pier siding at the rear, this is a long head shunt and leads to the small goods shed (eventually). There is a carriage siding beside this which can hold 6 x Mk1 coaches, the length of my “boat trains”. For the last couple of feet of both these sidings there will be inlaid track - hence no ballast on the ends nearest the camera. I’ve just tried running a long goods train of 20 very old Peco wagons from the fifties and sixties up and down the gradient to Stranraer from Coleraine, and am very pleased that the gradient is not too steep for this train, it would be as long a train as I would expect to run. My 8 coach HST set has no problem either though it is really too long for the platform! So, on with the platforms and then station buildings – I shall be using the existing one from the previous layout while I mull over a suitable new building. The narrow gauge will have its own station near the ferry so the new “Stranraer” will be more freelance, with some NCC/N Irish features as well as GSWR ones, and possibly swapping signal boxes to give the station a different look. It's looking good, but there's a long way to go still.
  2. A new building has appeared at Ardglass (temporarily). It is a BNCR/MR/NCC signal cabin, based loosely on Macfin, (for any who remember that passing place between Coleraine and Ballymoney. The windows are modified versions of the Ratio Midland ones. The model is entirely made from plastic card apart from some of the detailing inside. The steps are a Ratio kit and it saves a lot of tedious cutting out of little strips of plastic card. And yellow tape Dymo lettering is a good representation of the UTA nameboards. The cabin is lit with a 12v filament bulb dimmed to about 9v and this works very well. I like to see signal box interiors, I spent many happy hours in Larne Harbour many years ago! The name may puzzle some - and yes, i know there never was a "Portglenone Junction" -at least, not until now. This cabin will be going to an as yet unbuilt smallish exhibition layout of which more when work begins in earnest. Meanwhile, UTA MPDs 57 and 64 approach on a stopping train. Colm
  3. Great to see you modelling an historical scene; now, when is the compound 2/4/2 going to arrive with the corridor coach train for Ballycastle? Colm
  4. Glad you two made it up - social media can so easily become anti social media. Colm (moderator)
  5. 103 was named "Thomas Somerset" (1942) after the chairman of the NCC Board of Directors Colm
  6. A bit of fiddling with 009 track on the two bridges; I have decided to have a turnout motor on a point on the girder bridge on the left, just under the front of the coaches, using a Peco side mounted motor hidden (mostly) behind the girders! I briefly considered an underneath one but it would involve digging a big hole in my rickety sub structures, and it would fail ten minutes after installation anyway, so safety first! I must get a suitable name for my narrow gauge line. Possibly the S N A R (Stranraer, Northbrook (for Coleraine!) and Ardglass Railway. Anyway, this is No 3, a Roco HOe model modified, sporting her NCC style numberplates on a slow speed test run across the newly completed bridges (no ballast on the track yet). The driver has parked the train for the photographer, and is enjoying a brew with the guard. - hence the empty cab.
  7. August 13th There’s been quite a bit of scenic work done recently. At the Stranraer/ferry end the diorama has been completed – it’s a beautiful calm sunny day on my layout, which is how I prefer to remember Stranraer though the reality was often much less balmy! As previously mentioned, the “loch” was done with a mix of blue/green /brown paints and 2 full aerosols of Halfords clear varnish. I didn't try to do lots of waves but certainly the rough edges of the board and a few random whirls of polyfilla give the impression of some ripples in a nearly flat calm. The “3D” backscene has now been detailed, between the village and first cottage is a wooded area to increase the “distance” and from the first cottage to the farm and then the headland the same. It’s mostly Gaugemaster flock and mats, with dark green Woodlands Scenic “bushes”, and also lichen covered with foliage. The cottage is a 2mm kit cut to be low relief. The small farmhouse on the right (about 0.75mm!) is a picture taken in Mallaig in the West Highlands some years ago and the setting with a lawn running down to the water's edge is reminiscent of a farm I saw on the island of JuraThere is a picnic going on outside the cottage and a solitary car on the road. Very prototypical! The harbour piers were constructed of balsa wood. Some serious sanding of the underlying MDF boards was needed to disguise an unintended level difference between both ends of the quayside. The concrete cladding was from a “Scalescenes” kit, printed 80% of full size to allow for the “high tide” causing the ship to sit a bit higher than it did on the previous layout. The quayside is 35mm above waterlevel, the previous layout had 45. The linkspan, and offices came out of their storage box as did the quayside fenders. I’m very pleased with it all, and produced a panorama shot. Then turned my attention to the other major civil engineering works needed, the final two bridges at the other end of the layout. Two were built earlier, but the nearer ones were left until now. You can see int his picture the gradients of the various bridges, needed to allow the maximum loads to run over the top lines -even in a big garage every inch can count. I used a Wills small girder bridge kit for the smaller one, and the Peco girders for the one over the double track, this bridge will have a point on it so had to have edges at an angle to each other to accommodate it. All the stonework was also from Wills. It’s quite pricey and not the easiest to cut, but is strong and rigid once built. Also, the deeper embossing of the stone courses makes dry brushing to get a mortar effect easier than with the finer plasticard I usually use. This occupation bridge needed an extra "panel" to bridge the gap which is on a 2'3" radius curve. Fortunately i had some bits from the previous railway. These bridges needed a lot of fiddling, as they have to carry the narrow gauge over the other lines at various angles and gradients, but in the end I think I got there. Finally for now, work has proceeded towards the site of the next narrow gauge station, formerly to be a junction for a line to Coleraine, a plan which is now abandoned. It will simply be an island platform crossing place. The point on the bridge will be electrically controlled eventually. I’m going to enjoy running some trains now for a while….then on to the Stranraer station area.
  8. and very weel she looks too! Colm
  9. Ballycrochan Line Progress 20 July 2019 One the things which starts to happen at this stage of a new layout, is that parts of it begin to look "finished" yet there are still significant areas where little work had been done. So, what to do next??? Occasionally my answer is to do nothing for a while then go out to the railway, run some trains after cleaning the track yet again to get rid of the construction dust!) and pick up a tool and start on a random place..then as sanity returns, make a plan..well sort of. Anyway. Track being largely complete at the gradient end of the layout, with only the narrow gauge overbridge to do, I turned my attention to the “Coleraine” site, where I planned to re-sue my buildings from the previous layout although the track plan of the station is now quite different from the real Coleraine. The station buildings fit well into the new site, and I have located a level crossing at the north end, though it is a narrower road than hitherto. The crossing gates are the Wills kit “NCC’d” with different pattern supports for the actual gates. (By the way, any trains seen in this update are either test trains or new items I bought, not my LMS/UTA/NIR stock which is still inboxes under the layout.) The station forecourt is now level and the steps needed quite a bit of work as the previous site was on a slope…. The final track to be laid were the carriage siding and the goods yard. The platform edge on the right of the shot will get a fence – it is from the old model and my explanation is that it was previously a bay which fell into disuse when the branch it served closed, and the track was re-aligned away from it. New platforms were made of balsa wood, using Slaters stone plasticard for the walls, 4mm paving stones cut in strips for the edging and good fine Ballywalter silver sand for the covering. . The goods shed was one of the last buildings constructed on the SCDR so it’s being re-used. Some work was needed as the loading platform was on the other end…While track laying and planning this area I decided not to run the narrow gauge into Coleraine, it would have cramped the access to the goods shed and given the whole side of this site a “cluttered” look as run round, platform etc., were squeezed in. This also allowed me to provide a third siding behind the shed. I haven’t a big amount of goods facilities on my layout and mostly prefer to run passenger strains. Still, each station has a yard of some sort. Cranes, detailing of all the areas has still to be done but I am pleased with the way it is shaping up. The signal box has been r e-located as seen below. With the branch to Stranraer leaving two bay platforms at this end, and a crossover from the main lines here as well, this is the obvious choice. I may put a small box at the far end if the mood takes me. Or it may just be a small hut… Turning now to the Stranraer quayside area. The backscene 3mm buildings have been positioned with a suitable backscene, and this then runs round the water of the loch, it isn’t a photographic one but rather an attempt at a “ 3D backscene” using a flock mat as base for the upper areas and various lower down features which are modelled in low relief – a 2mm cottage and a very small one, with cliffs/rocks and beaches. Port Rodie is the name given to the part of Stranraer where the buses went from, just beyond the ferry car park. “Water” is mixed blue/green/brown and lots of acrylic varnish, with the odd ripple, some planned, some not.. I find it hard to do any significant “waves” that convince me, so opted for a rare calm day. They do exist though aren’t very common! But then, it’s my world. Waiting for a ferry to appear...not yet, for a while. I wanted to capture the beauty of the west coast of Scotland, and these pictures give some diea of my progress, although detailing – stone walls, fences, bushes and trees and areas of dark growth towards the top of the hill are all still to add. The colours under the water are a royal blue, green and brown, graduating from the deep blue of the sea inlet, to the brown and green of the shallow water with kelp and mud bottom, near the steamer berth, which features in some of the pictures. Still lots to do there but as with Coleraine, I have the advantage of having built many of the structures for the previous railway. No matter what the weather does outside it will always be a balmy summer day at this end of the layout. Colm
  10. You probably can blame me for the narrow K15. Alan did some GNRI coach etches for me back in 2013? to fit on the mainline/Bachmann LMS coaches. Naturally as a result they don't match his "standard" ones When last I looked the narrow ones are still on his list as quite a lot were built (I did 20 odd...) Colm
  11. Only a four car set at this time of year? A relief train will surely be needed. A suggestion, chop off the big coupling on one front power car (I'd leave one on the other end for brown vans or steam coaches/ BUT trailers etc. for an excursion etc.), but if you're not thinking of doing that , do both!!, Stick on some assorted pipes, really helps the look of them. Colm
  12. June 09 2019 Some more progress over the last month or so; The ruined Celtic monastery site has been pretty well finished With it’s round tower and small church, accessed by a pathway up from the road, it is based loosely on the remains at Nendrum in County Down. The “Tea Shoppe” – a Tri-ang 1960s kit, has been firmly positioned, as has the adjacent cottage –the thatch roof on the latter never looked all that good, so it has been re-roofed in slate! All three buildings (the third being the small cottage beside Nendrum halt) here have featured on most of my layouts since I began doing scenery! Railway gates for the road crossing and some other detail will be filled in as opportunity arises. Work has been done on the narrow gauge Nendrum Halt, with it’s extensive passenger facilities (!) -it's the bus shelter, not the house! The small control panel peeping into the bottom of this picture shows the position of the point which is underneath the monastery. A semi circular section under the round tower and church delineated by the hedge line, allows access in the event of a derailment or other problem in the tunnel. The ruined church is a hacked Dapol kit, the round tower is plastic card on a piece of tube which contained ID backscenes! I was doing a lot of this work in May and we had amazing may blossom this year, as well as gorse, so I incorporated it here. Scenery has been further advanced on the gradient board and track is inching across, with the standard gauge line to Stranraer mostly in place, running over a Ratio vari- girder bridge and a Peco “N” gauge one which I think looks quite well. The gradient leading up to this is stiff but it will be relatively light trains using this line. The Langley climbing club have made a re-appearance after spending 15 years in storage! At “Coleraine” the carriage siding and goods head shunt line have been installed and the shed end is due next, which will complete tracklaying at Coleraine; I have now fixed the platform which has the main station buildings on it. With narrow gauge not running to this area (see below) I have room for three goods sidings in the shed area. This area is still in the "rough" stage and will feature in due course. I had been going to bring the narrow gauge into Coleraine also, but it would make the goods shed area very cramped and involve a line right at the edge of the board, so I have decided to not build that section. The narrow gauge will still have a long run between the Stranraer” station and Ardglass, with a passing place. This will allow two trains to cross at an island platform. A brisk walk will be needed for any hardy passengers wishing to get to Coleraine! . There’s been a lot of thinking and fiddling a the ferry end but I think I’ve now settled on a plan. The sky backscenes are in place, and now I have them round the whole layout, the first time I have ever been able to do this. Some of the “joins” are noticeable but that’s going to be inevitable with a “run” of approximately 60 feet. They move from country/village at Ardglass, through the hills and moors, then to the sea and finally to the sky behind the ferry scene. All are by ID but behind the ferry will be a representation of the shores of loch Ryan. Rather than a using a printed photograph I plan to build a sort of 3D backscene which slopes down to the water’s edge. This won’t be that tall, about 5/6 inches only so I will be able to access the trains running behind it, albeit with a little help from a raised working platform. I made a mock up one with cardboard and think it looks promising.. The row of houses are 3mm versions of some very old cardboard kits made originally by a firm called “Bilteezi”. They are less sturdy or detailed than today’s cardboard kits, but still work well in this kind of situation. Hopefully the forced perspective will make them seem further away than it actually is, at least from the normal viewing angle. I intend to have an “N” c scale cottage some way along the loch side, to give a sense of greater distance and a farther farmhouse (front only!) near the point will probably be even smaller
  13. Hello All, It is quite a while since I last posted pictures on progress on the new railway. I decided to work away from the Ardglass station section (which is virtually complete although there is still some minor scenic works needed, and the narrow gauge track needs it’s own control system in due course. This meant that I had to work out exactly the heights, clearances and gradients that would be involved in the design. “THE GRADE BOARD” 1. On this board a line descends from Ardglass to the lower level, where it runs into the storage loops, connecting into the Up main line only, at the low level. It’s a gradient of about 1 in 45 which allows longish trains to go up. This is on the far left of the picture(s). The Peco bridge has enough clearance to allow the two lines to diverge slightly before leaving the short tunnel 2. A line runs up to the high level (2nd from left) at the site of what will be “Stranraer” (the harbour station); this runs between the Ardglass link and the main lines; it is quite a tight fit between them but has checked out okay for clearances. 3 The up and Down main lines run through this board at low level. Then there’s the first of two rather tricky tracks. One is on the narrow gauge, not even started yet - the other the standard gauge, shown here. 4 On the extreme right of the picture, this standard gauge line links Ardglass with Stranraer directly – both these stations are on high level boards., which are approximately 75mm/3” so there is adequate clearance usually. Work underway (first two pictures) then the "finished" section below: The left hand section of the board - the "corner" filled in. Then looking towards the junction and Ardglass. BUT – there is a line rising up from the low level (2) which must be crossed and required a gradient rising from the mouth of the Ardglass tunnel to allow clearance for this line which is at the crossing point, about an inch/25mm from the low level; this is a short section at about 1 in 24 on a curve which is near the limit of tolerance but is very short, just about 152/450mm. I used some “N” gauge girders for this small straight bridge and a base of balsa; no civil engineer would approve but it isn’t going to fall down. Leaving this level bridge the overhead line begins to drop at 1 in 45 and curves again, and then passes (still on a curve and falling very slightly), over the two main lines on another bridge, also constructed of balsa wood but with Ratio “Varigirder” panels for the bridge sides. The line then falls further on a curve and grade of about 1 in 45 to the approaches of the high level station. The clearances both vertical and horizontal for stock crossing these bridges has proved very challenging but everything can run here except the Rivarossi “Big Boy” 4-8-8-4. Just too big, and the overhang of some equipment under the cab fouls the edges of both bridges. However, as the likely train length on this line will be at most 4 x 57’ coaches it’s not really needed to provide power!. I am now working on the grass “ground cover” but plan in due course to have lots of bushes and so on, to disguise it’s sameness look! But it will be good to get this board effectively finished –it is the heart of operations and needs to be right. And then, to complicate matters still more. On this board the narrow gauge (9mm) runs over the lines as well – another tight clearance and some gradients involved. The main track bed has been laid and I am working on the area to the left of the halt. This is a new alteration, there wasn’t originally to be a station here but it seemed an attractive corner to have one. It’s a stop for the ruined monastery on the hill –yet to be built, as well as the walk down a set of steep steps to the dell beneath the rock faces where a climbing club practice for their next expedition to the Matterhorn…. Lots of scenic work to do here also.’ I will report in due course.
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