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Jenny Emily

That trainset that every child of 40s/50s/60s wanted

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A little something for the more nostalgic amongst us:


From 1991 through to 2005, I used to help my Father exhibit a large (11'x5') self contained layout that would allow in later years the running of five trains at the same time.


It had originally started out as his childhood toy and became mine when, as the middle girl of three, I was the only one he could convince to be interested in trains to give him the excuse he needed to set up his train set again. Back in the 1980s, no-one really seemed to want Hornby Dublo and it was in plentiful supply dirt cheap secondhand. As a result the collection grew and grew and eventually we had quite a sizeable stash. In 1991 we started taking it to the odd show where it seemed to always gather a crowd and go down rather well.


The trouble with running toy trains that dated from at the latest the early 1960s and the earliest the late 1930s is that they are a pain to keep running. Things wear out, and we found that we spent towards the end many days repairing locomotives before an event, and had to be good at running repairs whilst we were there. The sliding of the metal pickups on the rails also caused some issues with wear. I actually oiled the centre rail, because it did not effect conductivity, and extended the life of the track dramatically. I used to rebuild the pickup shoes with solder after they wore holes clean through, as the lead in the solder stopped them wearing out a second time.


We also were forever chasing derailed and stalled trains. Despite our best efforts at setting up, nothing is totally perfect. We must have walked mile upon mile around that display, righting trains. One thing we learnt early on was to keep the running lines as free of points as we could, so that the four lower level lines had the bare minimum of points in order to connect up a series of loops to hold spare trains. The outermost line had no points at all.


Because of increasing reliability issues, I replaced one of the lowest tracks with Peco code 100 and this allowed some of the larger Hornby Dublo 2 rail locomotives to get an airing. The raised section was always 2 rail, but was too tight for anything bigger than the class 20.


In the late 1990s, I began to take more of an interest in 'proper' railway modelling, though the Hornby Dublo was still taken on the road. In the last couple of years though, it was not uncommon for the relaid 2 rail lines to play host to my collection of Bachmann locomotives on running in duties. Compared to the old Hornby Dublo models, the Bachmann stuff was a quantum leap. I remember setting off my class 37 Loch Rannoch with eight Bachmann Mk1 coaches and never having to touch the controls again for nearly eight hours as it just glided round. Meanwhile, I chased its tinplate and mazak ancesters countless times.


Electrically the thing was a real state-of-the-ark affair. All the controllers for the 3 rail were original Meccano A3 ones, along with a T15 transformer and C3 controller. These were cooled by a 12" desk fan, as they had a tendancy to otherwise overheat over the course of a day. We tried Gaugemaster controllers as modern replacements, and whilst these were fine for the 2 rail loops, they kept shorting out on the 3 rail because the pickup shoes cause a short every time they passed over a point - something that the original Meccano controllers were not fussed about. Also, it was discovered that the average Hornby Dublo locomotive required nearly full power to run on a Gaugemaster controller. Use a Meccano controller on a Bachmann locomotive, however, and it romps off at warp speed even when the control dial barely registeres and power going to the track, leading me to believe that the Meccano controllers could not deliver less than several volts.


The layout was retired after the 2005 season, because it became too much of a time commitment as my Father was rallying his 4" miniature traction engines by then. It still exists in storage, though the steelwork that all the baseboards bolted too has had to be stored outdoors and has suffered somewhat from rust and needs a damm good repaint.


Bristol Castle on the Pullmans:




BR black R1:




Some overall views:





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We do a similar (although a lot more like a trainset on the floor!) at the Mansfield Show. The Vicar of St Peter's Church sets up as many tables as we let him and he lays out his extensive collection of Dublo which is then kept running for a couple of days with a can of spray lubricant mainly laugh.gif



Keeps him happy though ......



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They don't make them like they used to.




No - they make them a whole lot easier to run. I don't know what Hornby Dublo city of Montrose's were like when they first left the factory, but they're a pig to keep on the track when they are nearly fifty years old! The comparison on like for like track of Bachmann locomotives compared to the likes of a City of London, Cardiff castle and a Crepello was quite staggering.

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