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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. Saturday 18 January 2020. 2.15 pm. A big day on the Ballycrochan Line. The "Caledonian Princess" berthed at her new home at Stranraer (Mk2). She had been roosting on the top of a wardrobe in our spare bedroom for over a year until I deemed the Stranraer end sufficiently finished - no major works would be needed which might cause damage to the delicate rigging and masts. The new berth is at right angles to the railway station (more like Larne!) but it now has a diorama behind it, with which I am very pleased. The Western bus awaits passengers, but like the current Stena rail & sail bus, is often nearly empty.... There's still lots of detail to be added to the station interior and it needs some sort of canopy(s). But I decided to re-use the existing buildings and they work well in this location, after a bit of hacking, glueing cutting and fettling. Keen eyed older modellers will realize that the buffers are cut down old Hornby Dublo ones; the lamps are 3mm LEDs though. The puffer "Moonlight" has been laid up at the village "old pier" for now but will resume her sailings to and from the rear facing station pier in due course. Another Dublo buffer stop is here... The twin tracks of the main circuit run behind the darker blue strip. A close up of the fully detailed bridge area. Carl Fisher who lived in Scotland ,built the ship using original plans, over a period of nearly 4 years from 2010 to 2013. It is actually to 3.5mm scale, as both model sites required this so that I could model the vehicle linkspan area. The ship has LED lighting throughout. I collected it in Stranraer! The signal box (1960 version) has been placed in position; I had to tweak the track away about 5mm extra on the quayside sidings behind it give sufficient clearance - its a pretty narrow board. From this angle you can't see the trains in the 6 storage loops behind the station. And finally, the whole ship setup was inspired by this wonderful 1961 British Railways poster which used to be displayed at the old terminal building at Stranraer. (it was over four feet wide!). I coveted it for years but finally got a very good quality copy for the wall of the railway room. Stranraer didn't really look as lovely as this except on rare summer days! the painter took some liberties with reality, though the actual DMU and steam trains and ship were very accurate. I have taken some liberties (and a wee bit of photoshop) also, so am in good company! So, onward now with the narrow gauge and lots of scenery to do.
  2. My reference of £100+ for the "best known" kit was to the waterline Langley model: I did say the Scalescenes one was "less than a tenner"!
  3. A bit more progress at the engine shed area of "Stranraer" station; Trackwork has now been laid in, the engine shed (shortened by a couple of inches) from my previous Coleraine layout, can still hold 4 jeeps or Moguls; the very short stub siding behind the Dublo loco is for my little "UTA" Wickham trolley, and siding behind with MPOD 64 peeping out, is for diesel facilities. The coaler is also ex Coleraine, as is the water tower, but the latter will be replaced by a new one; the signal box won't be there though it looks well. The "coal" siding is actually over four feet long and will be used for diesel or steam trains to lay over. Having two roads to and from the turntable has meant some careful electrical planning. You can just see an H&M "Commander" controller, and toggle switches peeping out from the baseboard; this is part of an unfinished auxiliary panel - the engine shed is about 7-8 feet from the main panel at Stranraer and you need to be able to see it closely for alignment, as it does not stop automatically at the exit roads. So a loco heading into this area will stop on a section leading to or from the turntable and will be switched to the auxiliary panel. So far I've been really pleased by how things are panning out on this layout and working it will be fun, I think. Mind you, photos show odd things up that you've got used to and my background transition behind this area really needs a bit of work to try and disguise the edge between the backscene sheets!! A tricky enough business as it's easy to make a real bodge of it....in which case I'll be forced to photoshop it out on future pictures...tut tut.
  4. That's a good tip, I am conscious that the rigging is rather slack when viewed close up. It wouldn't do for Para Handy, skipper of the "Vital Spark", a famous lliterary puffer and "the smertest boat in the trade"!
  5. Sorry error above - puffer kit costs not £3100 but £100+!
  6. The last month or so has seen some activity, part of which which might be described as "railway related modelling"! While the car ferry "Caledonian Princess" is expected to arrive at my new version Stranraer station, I decided to do some detailing at the back of the station buildings, with a quayside at right angles to the main ferry one. This area has seen me swithering quite a bit as to what to do with it. It's partially hidden so was it worth having a quayside at all? Thing is, I;d had a notion of having a Clyde "puffer" to provide a support act for the "Caley P". I wanted to see if it would work -but the best known puffer kit costs well over 3100.00 and what if it simply was too big or just not worth the effort. Then I discovered the Scalescenes " printed kit at less than a tenner. I got one, printed the pages to mount on card and the 12 page instruction, thinking "well, I'll just do the hull -hat'll give me the idea." Building from card was a new thing for me. I got hooked and the photos below are the result. "Moonlight" may be berthed at either of two quayside locations depending on my mood -the one behind the station or the "old pier" as seen in these pictures. This is the quayside behind the Stranraer buildings- you can't usually get this view from the front of the layout front, but looking from the left hand side the strip of water looks wider than it actually is, and "Moonlight" fits it very well. The pic shows the "double backscene" which i have also used on the lochside and village section above, there are two double tracks running (unseen except from a high position!) behind hills and the sky. And I have progressed track into the station buildings, now definitely planning to re-use them. Narrow gauge terminus between the bay platform and baseboard edge. More anon. Colm
  7. 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.
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. Glad you two made it up - social media can so easily become anti social media. Colm (moderator)
  11. 103 was named "Thomas Somerset" (1942) after the chairman of the NCC Board of Directors Colm
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. and very weel she looks too! Colm
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