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Hemel Hempsted Midland - An O Gauge Railway in a garage - or how to ignore all the advice and just crack on


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Hi,

 

Apologies for the rather lengthy introduction but about 6 months ago I found RMWeb and, after reading a number of blogs, have re-discovered the urge to get something going again (so what follows is all down to you guys).. 

 

I haven't built a model railway in over 20 years, and then most were in OO Gauge.  Disillusion always seemed to set in once track was down and trains were running and there were so many "correct" ways to do things, which I could never emulate, that eventually I gave up.

 

I have been following a wide number of different threads (and the associated banter, which proves how much fun railway modelling can be) but it has been the small to medium sized O gauge layouts that have attracted my attention the most so, already having a rather motley collection of O gauge stock and equipment, I decided to investigate the potential of building a prototype based small(ish) layout, even if it meant doing things the "wrong" way.  At least it should be fun.

 

6 weeks ago I set to. I repaired and cleared the garage to provide an area approximately 20 ft by 10 ft as the site for the railway (and for general storage - some domestic requirements had to be accommodated). Using four old wooden internal doors, I have an "L" shaped baseboard 20ft x 2ft 6in wide with the short side being just under 10 feet long.  The baseboards are 4 feet high, supported by cheap trestles bought on-line.  Space beneath the boards is for general storage and surprisingly, despite not disposing of much during the clearance, everything has gone back in, through the simple expedient of tidying it up.  And my wife is happy too (for the moment.....).

 

I have chosen as my prototype a local branch of the Midland Railway, known as the Nickey Line. For those who are interested, the history can be found here: 

 

http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/h/hemel_hempsted/index.shtml

 

The station at Hemel Hempsted had a limited passenger service but also a compact goods yard, containing 4 sidings. It handled general and special traffic and sorted traffic for a nearby private siding. It was nominally the passenger terminus but there was a passenger halt, goods yard and gasworks further down the line, all of which offer some operating interest .  It was also operated one-engine in steam, so the wiring is straight forward, even for someone who struggles to wire a plug.

 

The basic layout has now been set out, with the loss of one siding and it's associated loop.

 

Card mock ups of the various buildings and structures have been made up using photos as guides.

 

The PECO track has been fixed down using carpet tape, and wired using bell wire.  Power comes from an ancient H&M Duette.  Test running using an old Lima 4F was rather erratic to begin with but after some tlc of both loco mechanism and track, pleasingly slow running has been achieved.  Thus much playing testing has ensued over the past week or so to make sure the wagons will negotiate the points and all seems to be well.

 

There is no fiddle yard yet and I need to  tidy up the wiring and make solder joints where necessary.  Once that is all complete the work will start on the scenery proper.

 

Operation will be to a sequence based on the prototype timetables from two periods - 1922 and 1955, This will utilise nearly all the rolling stock I currently own (following some repainting).  The station itself hardly changed at all in this time so should serve for both time periods.

 

That is the theory.  I may provide progress updates but promise not to ramble on quite so much.

 

In the meantime, I have attached a couple of photos showing progress to date.  I have even tried a bit of movie making and am quite pleased with the result, so will post a link to this in due course.

 

So, a hearty thank you to all the RMWebbers for the inspiration to get off my **** and back into the best hobby going.

 

Regards

 

Rob

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Edited by RobJC
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Hi will follow this with interest having like yourself returned to the hobby after 30 years and also stepped up from00 to 0 gauge with a h&m duets for power. Plus as a born and bred hemelite I know the area and line very well , alas not Hemel station which was demolished before my time but used to jump on the hemelite wagons. On Hemel remembered Facebook site there's some really good videos

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Hi Rob,

 

Good to see another O Gauge thread, hope you enjoy the experience, the quantum leap in kits and rolling stock since the 80's & 90's has been good for the hobby, giving us much more choice and quality.

 

Keep posting, and don't worry about the rambling, it's part of the enjoyment, good luck with the project and looking forward to more updates .

 

Peter

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Hi Rob,

 

I too will follow this with interest. I served my apprenticeship at Thomas Mercer Ltd in Redbourn, where the line ran around the back of the factory and from my ringside seat in the drawing office I used to watch the Hemelite trains coming and going.

 

 If you haven't already got it 'The Harpenden to Hemel Hempstead Railway' by The Oakwood Press is must have reference for anyone modelling this line.

 

Alan

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I wish you good luck with your project. I made the move to 7mm some twenty years ago and have not regretted it and I'm sure you won't either.

 

I note you plan to run both 1922 and 1955 - presumably you will have two sets of rolling stock. 1922 will see most (all?) the stock in pre-grouping liveries - predominantly but certainly not exclusively MR. By 1955 most if not all the stock would be in BR colours, with possible a few goods vehicles still in big-four liveries. Also the freight stock will reflect the big changes made in those 33 years - far more modern 10' WB wagons, many VB fitted with steel underframes etc etc.

 

Chaz

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Hello Rob.

 

I too will follow this thread and wish you all the very best with your project. I started Ramchester (see RMweb/The Ramchester Chronicles) about 6 years ago and with a great deal of help from my friend Howard it has progresses far beyond my wildest dreams. 7mm scale is a great scale to work in and I do not regret moving up to it.

 

I too have sort and been given help from RMwebbers and this has been invaluable.

 

Rod

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Thanks everyone for your interest and encouragement. Also, it's great to hear from folks who actually know the line.

 

simons9, thanks for the tip.  I have seen the old cine clips before but I didn't know there was a DVD. Sadly the link provided in the Hemel FB page is broken, otherwise I'd go for a copy.

 

I have several books, including the Middleton and Oakwood Press books,  and many photos of the line which have provided the reference info I've based the mock up structures on. Some guesstimation has been involved.  For instance, I've no clear photos of the platform side of Hemel station building but Redbourn seems to be identical and there are some clearer shots of that one so..... but as the layout is probably about 50% the length it should be anyway I'm not that concerned.  

 

The track plan is shown below. Harpenden (Up) is to the left.  This line goes to the fiddle yard. I've not yet decided what form it should take as there are space constraints. Heath Park Halt, Cotterells Sidings and the gasworks (Down) are to the right. No room at all for another fiddle this end so the line ends at the wall (OK for the period 1959 - 64 though). As said, rather contracted from the original but I can run a 3F/4F plus 6 wagons and a brake.

 

Here's a short video of some testing. It's a bit grainy but I think it emulates the old cine films rather well.

 

 

Rob

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Hi Rob,

 

Layout coming along fine and I liked the video. The Lima 4F seems to run well and the sound of the wheels over the rail joints is very evocative.  This is where 0 gauge has a definite edge over the smaller scales as the stock has mass and a presence which the smaller models lack. Keep up the good work.

 

Rod

Edited by railwayrod
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Welcome to 0 gauge Rob. A word of advice on double sided tape it does not set, if you have sharp curves the rail will try to straighten out and produce dog legs at the joins. Carpet tape may be strong enough to stop this but I would keep and eye on it and consider a couple of track pins at the joins. Once ballasted if you have used P|VA that will set and may be sufficient to hold it. You can avoid the problem by pre-curving the rail but it is a pain sliding back into the track base.

Don

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Another week of evening progress and the wiring is all done (albeit temporary joints - still need to solder them up) and all possible movements have been tested.  

 

Simon, I've added a photo of the platform side of the mock-up station building. Closer inspection of a photo of Redbourn suggests there should be another door at the far (down) end which is probably the gents.  Trouble is the shortening of the "model" to fit means there's not enough room so the gents may have to wait until they reach Harpenden.

 

Don, thanks for the tip. I'd already found out about dog legs. I've soldered up the track joints and pinned the adjacent sleeper ends and those at each end of the curve and so far things are holding.  I have also pinned elsewhere where things seem a bit tense, just in case.

 

Today I resisted the temptation to do (too much) more testing and did some mock-ups: the station building canopy, a couple of the houses in Crescent Road (no room for more) and the bridge under Hillside Road (much closer than it should be). There is a non-prototypical over-bridge before the entrance to the fiddle area.  I think this is the limit for buildings as I also tried out the old engine shed but it overpowers the goods yard area.  

 

The fiddle yard will have to be cassettes. There isn't enough room for a sector plate or traverser.  That will be the next task.

 

Regards

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Evening all,

 

Thanks for the encouragement everyone. It's nice to know that folks that I have followed for some time are taking an interest in my efforts.

 

Not much has been done on the layout in the last few weeks.  I was away for a week driving trams at Seaton and then had to catch up with work!

 

Now I know the layout actually works I will need to make the garage more habitable. I didn't want to spend money on that first and then find out the modelling bit didn't ring my bell but now I think it is a necessity.  I just need to get the budgetary aspects through the domestic chancellor of the exchequer.  

 

In the meantime however, I have been "desktop bodging" a "new" loco, an MR 2F using a Lima 4F donor, cereal packet, coffee stirrers, expired credit card, an old biro and some JPL cast boiler fittings.  I hope to be applying the first colour coat this weekend (Halfords) before finishing the detailing (such as it will be).

 

Have a good week everyone.

 

Rob

 

 

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Welcome to 0 Gauge. How about adding a private siding with it's own loco? I know of some suitable industrial locos. ;-)

Nice try Chris but HH Midland didn't have a private siding and when the line itself became privately run Hemelite used Drewry 04s and a Clayton Class 17 on their "mainline" and a simplex to shunt the works. But by then the line finished a mile or so short of the station so that wouldn't work either. 

Besides, I'd have enough trouble getting approval for the locos I did need.... :unsure: .

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Nice one Rob. The loco looks fine and I am looking forward to seeing it finished in all its glory.

 

On the subject of making the layout room more inhabitable take my tip and do it to the best of your ability and as your purse allows. There is nothing more off putting than a cold, damp modelling room especially in the winter.

 

Rod

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Nearly there with the 2F.

 

I've gone for the pre-1910 livery as the 1955 locos will be black and I wanted something different for the MR period. Will have to rewind from 1920 to pre WW1 though.

 

Final touches to the paint are still required plus the fiddly bits: lining, salter safety valves, handrails and lamp irons, rolled tarp on the cab roof. Oh, and I also need to cover the motor as it protrudes into the cab somewhat so a rather extended backhead and crew will be needed.

 

I also need to pick a suitable number. The St Albans 2F at the time (3150) was a 4'10" wheeled version but any of the Cricklewood or Kentish Town 5'3" 2Fs should be OK.

 

Does anyone know when the various 2Fs in the 1798 class were rebuilt into 3Fs?  One on-line source suggests that process didn't start until 1911 but I would like to double check.

 

Why so finicky about the number when the model is at best "stand off" scale and the layout itself a pastiche? Beats me.... 

 

Comments welcome.

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Edited by RobJC
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Never mind if it's not to perfect scale, the hobby is about enjoying yourself, and it looks like you're doing that.

 

I don't know if this page will help, a good site for information: http://www.railuk.info/steam/steam_search.php

If you put LMS into the region box and 3F into the class box, it will give you the results for the 3F's.

 

I would insulate as best you can, and I agree with Rod, spend as much as you can, as it isn't the place to be in the winter cold weather. I'm just getting mine insulated ready for the winter, as I couldn't really do anything in there last winter as it was too cold.

 

looking forward to more

 

Jinty ;)

Edited by Jintyman
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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Rob.

 

Just found your thread and I'm adding it to my "follow" list. Enjoy the modelling - that's the main message that's coming through.

 

I find a convector heater is effective in the winter, but I'm in a shed (uninsulated, by the way) and there's less volume to heat than you have, judging by the photos. Can you box off the railway area to make it smaller for heating?

 

Then you also need to plan for summer and what to do if (BIG IF!!) it gets hot in there. I've got a door at each end of the shed (and an opening window) which is quite effective in the warmer weather.

 

Rod

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Hi Rob,  just found your thread and have enjoyed reading it.  My sister in law grew up in a house that overlooked the line and I actually gave her a copy of the oakwood Press book  one year for  present. (at her request).

 

The piece of rolling stock you need is a converted push pull Pullman car.  We run one on Lancaster Green Ayre.  It's scratchbuit by a retired surgeon and if I can find a photo I'll post it.

 

As to the question about the rebuild of the loco all the info is in the Summerson books.  If you haven't got tem send me a PM with the details and I'll look it up for you and let you know.

 

Jamie

 

PS

I've found the photo.

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Edited by jamie92208
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Hi Folks, thanks for all the helpful suggestions and comments, on here and by PM, they are all much appreciated. If I haven't already been in touch I will be in due course. Nothing much has been done on the layout in recent weeks as I've been away and had to catch up with real life stuff when I've got home. I am away again now for a week or so and will catch up with things when I get back.  

Regards to all.

Rob

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Rob

 

I have popped in and out of your thread and my sisters old house in Hunters Oak had the embankment at the bottom of the garden.

 

Last year I converted my garage into a work room, I took advice (sometimes reluctantly) from the members here, I have a raised wooden floor, plenty of insulation in the walls and ceiling, and done the draft proofing on the doors. Only needed to use a heater for a couple of months. Also install more light than you think you require and paint the walls a light reflective colour. Worth taking your time to do it properly even if it takes much longer whilst waiting for funds

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