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Somewhere off the South Coast of England lies the independent state of Ballybongle.  The island is ruled by a benevolent dictator and its citizens have always been fiercely independent. As a result, the island's railway and the track in the tunnel connecting it to the mainland was built to a gauge of 4 foot 1.5 inches to reduce the likelihood of the British invading.  In recent years, the fear of invasion has subsided, but the track gauge remains the same.  Through trains run from the UK to the island using vehicles with convertible axles, or using mainland stock which has been re-gauged. The special nature of these services meant that when the UK’s railways were privatised, BR services to Ballybongle were kept under state ownership and as a result of an agreement with the island's authorities, these services continue to be run by stock in BR's pre-privatisation liveries.  The sharp curves and steep gradients on the island make more modern stock unsuitable in any case.

 

The island's own railway system is operated by the BNR (Ballybongle National Railway).  The company has a mix of it's own liveried stock and various locomotives which were purchased from the mainland cheaply and re gauged when they were withdrawn.  The railway soon realised the potential for tourism by having these old locos and has kept most of them in their original BR liveries.

 

The island has a booming, seasonal, tourist trade and private motor vehicles are severely restricted on environmental and health grounds.  The line has been rebuilt several times, due to earth tremors and there was a hiatus in operations of around 20 years after a particularly severe quake around 1990.  The BNR's current administration originally commenced operations in around 1979.

 

The peculiar circumstances of the island means that railway remains a key transport provider and it continues to flourish...

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Edited by GeraldH
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A fictional UK offshore island with a railway on it is a good idea for a layout! I'd like to see more of the land of 'Ballybongle' please...

 

Sam

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The BNR's management have been receiving complaints for a number of years about inadequate seating on platforms. Management investigated the seating available from the usual suppliers, but did not consider them sufficiently robust. It turned out that the workshops had quite a large supply of recycled timber from coffee shops and in keeping with the company's environmental goals, it was decided to investigate the construction of benches using this material. Some existing seating and two passengers were brought into the workshops so that the design team could mock up some seats.

 

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The process went very well and the result was six new double sides benches. These have now been painted in the BNR's corporate colour scheme and installed on the railway, just in time for high season.

 

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If any other railways are interested in the design, the benches are 3cm long with a 2.5 cm long reinforcement underneath between the legs. Care should be taken to match up the recycled timber as there are slight variations in width and thickness. Workshop staff used a small razor saw, a sharp knife, a fine flat file and emery board during construction.

 

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The benches have been painted in the BNR's corporate colour of Humbrol 14 French Blue. Passengers were brought in for final bench testing icon_smile.gif .

 

Workshop staff also found two broken wheel barrows in the stores. The over enthusiastic track gang had broken both wheels many years ago and have had to make do with only one wheel barrow between them. Workshop staff managed to create two new wheels by carefully slicing the end off some spare plastic rod - good as new

 

 

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The BNR are always keen to investigate opportunities to acquire short coaching stock, which is better able to negotiate the sharp curves on the line.  Tests have therefore been carried out with some of the earlier Triang coaches.

 

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A comfortable interior has been constructed from recycled card and wood.

 

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The original wheels would not reliably negotiate the line's points and created significant drag, so the original bogies were removed and replaced by some spare ones in the workshop.  The new bogies did, however, raise the coach slightly with their larger 12mm wheels and increase the distance between adjacent carriages.  Staff have now found a source of good quality 10 mm wheels (Peter's Spares) and so it is likely that the original bogies will be reattached and modified with new bearings fabricated with recycled timber (matchsticks).  This approach has been successfully used on numerous items of rolling stock in the past, including one of the DMUs used on BR services to the mainland.

 

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Workshop staff have recently refined their approach and now drill a small hole in the centre of the inward end of the timber: this ensures that the axle sits in the centre of the wooden bearing.

 

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Edited by GeraldH
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The superstructure of Lima Plymouth diesel's are regularly used by the BNRs workshops to fabricate suitable locos for the line.  No. 3 also utilises the cab from a Hornby Class 06 diesel and a more reliable Hornby power unit from a Toby the Tram.  No 3 seems to be undergoing constant rebuilds lately.  The first was due to workshop staff rushing the body work.  No 3. along with one other, was then struck down with mazak rot in the Toby power unit.

 

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Problems with the front coupling means that No 3 has again been in the workshop.  The opportunity is also being taken to move the wheels a bit further forward to give the loco better balance.  Improved handrails are being added to aid the crew and No 3 will then finally receive its decals and number.

 

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The BNR's workshops were recently asked to restore a Saladin armoured car that the military had picked up for a good price.  As is often the case, the gun barrel had been blown off.  The workshops had some spare steel available (a nail) and some suitable brass tube with which to make a muzzle (pen refill)

 

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After a repaint, the Saladin is now ready for action against the Goolies (insects) who regularly invade the railway.

 

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Edited by GeraldH
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The mail bag is in place ready for the Ivygale Postal.  Do not lean out of the window while passing through Globble Island!

 

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The mail pickup stand was fabricated in the BNRs workshops using some recycled plastic tubes (from a pen) and some surplus wire (from an old clockwork toy).  The paintshop seem to have been a bit slapdash when repainting that clerestory.

Edited by GeraldH
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The need for diesels during the winter low season means that the BNR's paint-shop have sped things up to clear the backlog. Two of the BNR's best running diesel have been out of action since last winter awaiting modifications and repainting.

No 3 is a Lima Hornby hybrid running on an 0-6-0 chassis and is one of the BNR's earliest locos. It originally had a Mainline J72 chassis, but that became unreliable and crews were not happy with the limited space in the cab. This was replaced with a Hornby Toby chassis, but this had to be replaced due to corrosion issues. A second Toby chassis was then fitted. The loco in this form always seemed a little unbalanced and so it entered the works again for modification to the chassis mounts and some other improvements.

 

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No 9 is a modified Hornby Class 06 with a replacement, more controllable, power unit (Johnson 111) and changes in weight distribution to improve haulage on the line's steep gradients.

 

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No 11 is a Bachmann Junior diesel with the addition of suspension to the rear wheel set, an improved exhaust and changes to the weight distribution. Visibility through the cab windows has been enhanced and access to the front engine doors improved.

 

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Every now and then rolling stock gets damaged in shunting accidents. It sometimes seems difficult carry out a repair when bits get broken off, but the BNR's workshop staff have developed a fairly successful technique. Milliput was initially tried, but it did not form a strong enough bond with the remaining parts for small repairs. JB Weld and possibly other Epoxy glues do however seem to provide a solution.

 

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In this case part of a Lowmac's buffer head had sheared off. Initially a blob of JB Weld was placed over the missing area, after a few hours it partially sets and can be cut back with a sharp knife. When completely dry, it can be filed down to match the original item. The repair is nearly as strong as the original and once painted is hard to spot.

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After months of delays the BNR's rebuilt No 3 and modified No 9 have been released from the paint shop and entered service. Depot staff got a bit carried away and put No 9 on the mainline passenger service this evening where it nearly got stuck on the bank. No 3 had an easier job on the night mail to Ivygale.

 

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BNR No 11 has now re-entered service after a visit to the paintshop. The rear wheelset has been slightly sprung which has removed its tendency to stall on the points. It is now one of the best runners on the line and operating staff are pleased to have it back.

 

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The BNR are planning an extension to the line and recently purchased some second hand signals.  Unfortunately the stop, which prevents the upper quadrant arm from falling below horizontal, had been snapped off on one of them.  Workshop staff drilled out the post where the stop had been and turned down a piece of plastic rod with a file to create a new stop.  The signal is now ready for installation.

 

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There has been some discussion recently, among other operators, concerning the lack of readily available 4 wheel brake coaches.  The BNR's workshops have now made made two attempts at producing a suitable coach.  The first was a shortened Ratio coach body on a Hornby chassis, but the workmanship was not great and it did not match the line's Hornby 4 wheelers very well.   A second attempt has spliced the sides of a Ratio brake coach into a Hornby body.  This is a better match, but it was a bit of a rush job due to the high demand for parcels on the branch, so the quality of the finish is not great.  Still it looks OK from a distance :) .

4Wheel.jpg

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15 minutes ago, GeraldH said:

There has been some discussion recently, among other operators, concerning the lack of readily available 4 wheel brake coaches.  The BNR's workshops have now made made two attempts at producing a suitable coach.  The first was a shortened Ratio coach body on a Hornby chassis, but the workmanship was not great and it did not match the line's Hornby 4 wheelers very well.   A second attempt has spliced the sides of a Ratio brake coach into a Hornby body.  This is a better match, but it was a bit of a rush job due to the high demand for parcels on the branch, so the quality of the finish is not great.  Still it looks OK from a distance https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/uploads/emoticons/default_smile3.gif .

https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/uploads/monthly_2019_05/4Wheel.jpg.a3eadb009ccf548c9162ddda5cfbef58.jpg

Hmm. Interesting. 

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2 hours ago, GeraldH said:

There has been some discussion recently, among other operators, concerning the lack of readily available 4 wheel brake coaches.  The BNR's workshops have now made made two attempts at producing a suitable coach.  The first was a shortened Ratio coach body on a Hornby chassis, but the workmanship was not great and it did not match the line's Hornby 4 wheelers very well.   A second attempt has spliced the sides of a Ratio brake coach into a Hornby body.  This is a better match, but it was a bit of a rush job due to the high demand for parcels on the branch, so the quality of the finish is not great.  Still it looks OK from a distance https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/uploads/emoticons/default_smile3.gif .

 

 

I like it. Do you have any pictures of it alongside the unmodified Hornby 4 wheeler?

 

I've seen (on this forum and others) rearrangements of the sides of the Hornby coach to get 2 doors side-by-side. But for my taste the duckets are the important distinctive visual element.

 

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19 hours ago, TangoOscarMike said:

 

I like it. Do you have any pictures of it alongside the unmodified Hornby 4 wheeler?

 

I've seen (on this forum and others) rearrangements of the sides of the Hornby coach to get 2 doors side-by-side. But for my taste the duckets are the important distinctive visual element.

 

Thank you.  Here is a picture of the four wheelers passing the line's workshops.

4WheelTrain.JPG

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3 hours ago, GeraldH said:

 

Thank you.  Here is a picture of the four wheelers passing the line's workshops.

 

 

Then I would say the project was successful. Those two coaches look as though they belong together.

 

The engine is a piece of ancient Triang history, right?

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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, TangoOscarMike said:

 

Then I would say the project was successful. Those two coaches look as though they belong together.

 

The engine is a piece of ancient Triang history, right?

 

It's a Triang Top Tank fitted onto one of the modern Hornby 0-4-0 plastic chassis.  It has a few added extras including wire handrails, tank vents and a safety valve cover.  It's going back into the works soon for some glazing and a cab floor to make it a bit more comfortable for the crew :) .

Edited by GeraldH

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