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Alexandra Wharf V2 (maybe) - OO in a Really Useful Box


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Nice plan for the space. I'm no wiring expert but if you're going DC wouldn't feeds on both pairs of track on the left negate the need for switches (assuming you're only running one loco at a time)? The SL97's are a major space saver.

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How exciting! Very keen to see how this progresses. As I plough through my box file build, I definitely think that you are on to a winner with a proper rigid board and live frog points. If I knew then what I know now I would definitely have gone down that route. 

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5 hours ago, ManofKent said:

Nice plan for the space. I'm no wiring expert but if you're going DC wouldn't feeds on both pairs of track on the left negate the need for switches (assuming you're only running one loco at a time)? The SL97's are a major space saver.

 

Extra switches seem to be heavily recommended when using live-frog points, so as not to rely on the pointblades to change the polarity of the frog and reduce the chance of a stray wheel shorting across the stock rail and the blades. I'm pretty confident I can knock something up for that, but I'll see how well they work without first.

 

3 hours ago, Ian Holmes said:

I’m liking the look of this. 
I think view 2 is really outstanding. It oozes atmosphere and that’s only a mock up. Excellent!

 

Thank you! The already-complete buildings definitely help give an impression of the final article. I think they're growing on me too, although I'll have to cut them horizontally and conceal the joint somehow if I want it to be able to close the lid on the RUB.

And as for atmospheric photos, I have another one - this afternoon I dirtied up the Midland van a bit with a thinned-black acrylic wash. Finally I have some more rolling stock that isn't bauxite!

178458135_1.FourthMockup(11).jpg.35f46e8310fd140cf18697bb41799ef1.jpg

 

38 minutes ago, Andrew D said:

How exciting! Very keen to see how this progresses. As I plough through my box file build, I definitely think that you are on to a winner with a proper rigid board and live frog points. If I knew then what I know now I would definitely have gone down that route. 

 

Thanks! Yes, we all learn as we go along - I was always attracted by the ability to "pack up" a layout into a small space, but several shoebox layouts down the line I've learnt that the compromise between a good "open" scene and good structural integrity is virtually unreachable. I'm looking forward to being able to arrange this layout without having to worry about baseboard joints or lid supports.

One of the watchwords I've set for this layout is reliability. A single rigid base, an RUB for a ready-made carrying box, and live-frog points for stall-free running. Whether any of this actually comes to fruition remains to be seen! And even if it does, further progress won't be quick - my final-year Research Project is due on Tuesday, followed up next month by a handful of exams. But then the summer stretches out before me...

 

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Even at mock up stage, this is already looking good! I think what made your Alexandra Wharf diorama work was that it had so much height compared to it's actual area - and it reminds me of eg the docks near New Brighton, with warehouses towering above. In fact, I would go all out to retain that feature - as you've already intimated, some planning is going to be needed to join the "in-box" elements with anything "outside gauge" (box) whilst operating. John Wiffen does it very cleverly with both his box file layout buildings so I would unashamedly steal borrow his ideas!

 

You can purchase a lasercut baseboard to fit the storage box from ScaleModelScenery but a cheaper and possibly lighter solution would be to build it from 5mm foam board - I've used it for the latest version of DRS Engineering and I have to say so far, so good! Lightweight (very!), feels solid enough (bracing beneath), easy to cut/glue and cheap (equivalent of £5 of materials so far, 2 x A2 sheets from The Range, which is selling them at four sheets for £10).

 

Will watch with interest, but no pressure from here -  you sound pretty busy for the next month or two!

 

All the best

 

Steve S

Edited by SteveyDee68
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Might I throw a cat amongst the pigeons?

 

I don't know what the internal height of the RUB box is, but how about creating a folding baseboard a la Minories? With the hinges raised upon blocks to hold the boards apart - depending upon the depth of the box and that of each baseboard, those blocks could either be to full bridge abutment height or be locators for a plug in bridge? Obviously, the bigger the gap between the boards, the more "ground level" detail can be left in situ for when folded/stored. Perhaps all the buildings might be "plug in" when opened?

 

That would double your layout length from 750mm to 1500mm - crikey, that's a metre and a half, or just over four feet in old money! Enough room for a 'proper' loop, storage and siding lengths for play value!

 

Steve S

 

Food for Thought...

I've previously mentioned a foam board baseboard - I don't think that would in itself be strong enough to mount hinges upon, but what about a wooden U shape at the end of each board, where the foam boards are attached to the base of the U and the hinges mounted on the top of each arm? DRS Engineering is self contained, but I am now pondering mocking up a folding board to test the concept... (Thinking about it, it definitely is the drugs!!!)

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@SteveyDee68 I would absolutely love to cram in as much baseboard length as possible into the box. If I was really going that route I might try to make two baseboards that fit snugly together, one upside-down on top of the other - with an open enough layout and some very careful planning, it's certainly doable.

 

Unfortunately the size of the RUB isn't the limiting factor for length here - it's the place the layout will live.

By skimming the Ikea catalogue I've estimated most chests of drawers to be around 80cm wide, so layout 75cm long should be able to find a place I can set it up permanently in whichever student house I find myself in next year. And then it might as well be made to fit into an RUB, since it offers such a secure way of transporting the layout; maybe, if it's robust and good enough, to exhibitions...

 

Whilst I could have a bigger layout that lives in storage and is got out and set up when I want to use it, I much prefer a smaller layout that I can leave the rolling stock on and just flick a switch and run without any hassle. That's the goal, at least - I've enjoyed being able to sit down and trundle the 04 about on Arrow Paints anytime I like, or at least when I've got the curtains open.

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Hi @TechnicArrow
As others have said - those buildings really help give the mock-up a sense of place, and immediately demonstrate the atmosphere of an industrial or wharfside location. It's always good to re-use your materials wherever possible too. If you need to reduce them down a tad, or add "extensions" - then so be it. They are certainly ready to be planted on another project.

I really like the plan and overall design too. Very nice indeed. I'll be watching with interest. Best of luck with the move, and with your new course.
Congratulations on graduating too :) 

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20 hours ago, TechnicArrow said:

Unfortunately the size of the RUB isn't the limiting factor for length here - it's the place the layout will live.

By skimming the Ikea catalogue I've estimated most chests of drawers to be around 80cm wide, so layout 75cm long should be able to find a place I can set it up permanently in whichever student house I find myself in next year.


Ah, I get you!

 

When I was messing about with @ManofKent’s dimensions for his shunting layout, I noticed that it was exactly the right length as my set of drawers but way narrower (front to back)

 

I haven’t investigated this, but how about a baseboard 750mm long double depth?! You might run some curves lines from front to back or have put the whole thing at an angle - yes it would make track joins more complicated but possibly gives you more modelling space?

 

Just a thought...

 

Blame it on the after effects of having a tooth extracted half an hour ago!!

 

Steve S

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1 hour ago, SteveyDee68 said:

I haven’t investigated this, but how about a baseboard 750mm long double depth?! 

 

...snip...

 

Blame it on the after effects of having a tooth extracted half an hour ago!!

 

Again I'd love to, but I quite like being able to put other things on the drawers as well - as is currently mocked-up there's my mirror poking over the top from behind the layout, and enough of a "shelf" along the front to put my phone, watches, and eventually a controller. I think I'll settle for more height, space for which isn't usually in short supply (badum-tish)!

And your dental antics sound painful, but I'm enjoying the idea-generator side-effect ^_^

 

5 hours ago, marc smith said:

As others have said - those buildings really help give the mock-up a sense of place, and immediately demonstrate the atmosphere of an industrial or wharfside location. It's always good to re-use your materials wherever possible too.

 

...snip...

I really like the plan and overall design too. Very nice indeed. I'll be watching with interest. Best of luck with the move, and with your new course.
Congratulations on graduating too :) 

 

Thanks for your words, Marc! Although I haven't graduated just yet; I submitted my Research Project earlier, but I've still got my Viva and a couple of exams to go.

 

I do quite enjoy the buildings I've got set up at the moment. Height-wise the crane mechanism enforces a railtop height 40mm above the base, which leaves about 95mm for the fixed portion of the buildings. Currently the loading shed's pitched roof is too tall, but if I bring that down a bit and add a canopy along the rest of the building I can use it to conceal the joint. I'll just need to come up with a system to keep the upper portions stable; I don't have a hinging shoebox lid to rely on this time!

 

Finally, I think this is one of the wordiest threads I've ever had - I prefer showing pictures of actual progress. Well, I'm planning to treat myself and buy fresh track at the end of the week, so hopefully there'll be things to show soon!

 

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Do not fret about words only - my threads are definitely 115% words and 5% progress!

 

Do you think the gas and air has worn off yet?! :lol:

 

No more board-expanding ideas from me, drugged or not!!

 

Steve S

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Minor update time!

 

First - this morning I finally opened my wallet and bought all the track I'll need for this layout. So with any luck it'll be here on Wednesday, and I can start playing with it as soon as I've done my final presentation for my research project!

 

Secondly - ballast experiments. If I'm going to be building this layout here I'd like a cheap ground cover to use, but I'm not a fan of the light colour of the beach sand I used on Arrow Paints. I've often heard modellers using ash, so I thought I should probably try it.

My housemates occasionally have a fire in the back garden, which they have in an old mesh metal bin. So all I had to do was scrape the ash around inside the bin, and catch everything that sieved itself out through the mesh.

Then I used the corner of Alexandra Terrace normally covered by the grain loading shed as a test area to see what it looks like around some track.

 

1098141488_2.AshExperiements(1).jpg.4818a5db9d23c09c7aef91b422d77abc.jpg

 

Conclusion: it looks pretty good! The "open" side was smoothed with the back of a spoon whilst it was still wet, which I think looks a bit better than the "rough" side nearest the concrete. Although both look effective, so it depends what effect I'd prefer on the final scene.

 

1962373907_2.AshExperiements(2).jpg.eae24fc0482abda8c8338fb8bab7ec37.jpg

 

1118705166_2.AshExperiements(3).jpg.14b7482cffcde614ae2994da373c32fa.jpg

 

1865314879_2.AshExperiements(4).jpg.303bfcd0ee0074b71df0dd2f87efcdb6.jpg

 

Clearly it could be tidied up further, especially around the sleepers. But the mixture of grain sizes,  the general subtle variety colour, and the overall smoothness all look pretty good to me. Just as well I collected a big tub of it then!

 

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On 02/05/2021 at 06:04, ManofKent said:

Looks realistic. I think the smoother side has the edge. 

It should take paint well if you want to add any oil stains well too.

 

I agree the smoother stuff is better, I'll have to remember that when I ballast the main layout! Interesting point about paint for oil stains, I'll have to investigate that.

 

This afternoon I've been playing with more mockups. I wasn't really happy with the road overbridge cliché, especially since it didn't really make sense if this is a dock of some form. But whilst prowling the internet for inspiration, I came across this photo of Canada Street that features a conveyor crossing the tracks to a building right on the water's edge: http://emgauge70s.co.uk/layout_canada.html. A little more digging revealed it's a near direct model of the Ipswich docks conveyor, as featured in @SteveyDee68's Blackford Wharf thread... it's funny how things go in circles sometimes! So here's the setup with a conveyor instead:

 

1736703638_1.FifthMockup(1).jpg.837d7a03c18684cbb403b2560c8894d3.jpg

 

The angles on this one were evil but great fun to figure out! I'm currently assuming that the water's edge is somewhere just a little forward of the scene, but that might change when I have a proper board and can experiment with things below the track level.  The old footbridge is also still present, since the conveyor isn't that wide and a little extra view-blocking doesn't hurt.

 

342985289_1.FifthMockup(5).jpg.38f9fa921c7d9204d5bf6a043d980aa4.jpg

 

The pillar really helps break up the view into the sector plate area. That said I think I will make the hidden area somewhat scenic, so it isn't immediately jarring when you look at it.

The view from the other side of the conveyor doesn't look too bad either, although this flat warehouse will probably be swapped for an older-looking structure.

 

1408043667_1.FifthMockup(6).jpg.02732132a09fbd6cd009106374d2b231.jpg

 

Finally I've added a short wall and gate to the left-hand end of the layout. This helps imply the track carries on further, explains the road-access to the yard, and if I use an open railing-type gate (such as this Scale Model Scenery one) it will provide interesting views into the layout.

 

1809067524_1.FifthMockup(3).jpg.bed1fbcd6cf589f0ceaa0045921eb521.jpg

 

That said, when I actually build it I might keep it removable so I can replace it with the flat warehouse as per the original Alexandra Wharf, if I want a tall viewblocker for a more enclosed layout. It's all about options!

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There's an excellent article on Canada Street in MRJ 245 - the close-up photos of the modelling are superb. I bought it for Gordon Gravett's Arun Quay - one of those issues that makes you very humble about your own abilities, whilst filling you with inspiration.

 

Regarding the ballasting, another technique I've seen is 3/4- 4/5th  fill gap between sleepers with DAS or filler before just topping up with ash. 

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I think a conveyor works well in a dockside setting.

 

One 'mistake' I made when mocking up the "Ipswich conveyor" was that the ship loading tower wasn't tall enough - by about a storey! Amazing how your mind can misremember details so quickly! When replaced with something more like the correct height, it totally changed the look of the feature.

 

My "formula" for that conveyor - it runs horizontal from the first floor of the main building, with quite minimal clearance to rolling stock (perhaps include a soot deflector such as seen on foot bridges?), to the loading tower which is at least three storeys high to house the loading mechanism.

 

One Scalescenes kit element which I think bears thinking about for "kitbashing" as a dockside loading tower is the drill tower from John Wiffen's firestation kit. The conveyor is, of course, part of the industrial boxfile kit!

 

Steve S 

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Useful stuff, @SteveyDee68! I'm definitely sold on the conveyor idea now, but clearly I'll have to increase the height of the tower. Notably it's half off the front of the scene, so I'm either going to have a big blank face at the front, or some form of interior detail... we'll see.

 

Tonight in mock-up land: I've been playing with the right-hand warehouse structure. I wanted something a little older-looking than the square concrete grain silo and corrugated asbestos conveyor, so a brick-built warehouse was in order. The real challenge is building something that conceals the sector plate, but still looks realistic - a building which is obviously only a few mm thick just looks wrong. So this is what I came up with:

 

589weo.gif.21ba1d75d56c9effda264a9583bc136a.gif

 

589wma.gif.fc7de5be33c6d1bbc25a55e4711f75ce.gif

 

Fancy animated GIFs! I felt this was the best way to illustrate both attempts side-by-side. The first version had both warehouses the same size; the idea is the left-hand bit is an extension built over the tracks. But viewed end-on, the tall wall over the tracks looked wrong, hence the second version with the smaller "bridge" section and a larger but shallow main warehouse.

 

589wuc.gif.2908482fbb3d0fa250948b0b978bfe6b.gif

 

I much prefer the varied-height option, since it creates the illusion that the tracks pass under the bridges and curve away to the rear. And if you're thinking that no warehouses were ever that thin, check out this one in Trowbridge:

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.3209374,-2.2118359,3a,90y,325.54h,92.91t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s6PTKjGoIf7bdvabYLcSZIw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

 

Now I can start playing with the facade architecture, using the PowerPoint technique @SteveyDee68 suggested. My plan is to take my inspiration from as many real-life buildings as possible - I don't want to fall into the trap of modelling a model, as I so often do! If you want it realistic, base it on something real...

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Posted (edited)

I do like your animated GIFS - it is like being at the opticians...

 

Okay, which one is better? This is A... and this... is B...

A...

B...

A... ... ...

And B... ...

Take your time...

 

Hmmm... I think B is just slightly better...

 

Okay, good, so... B... or C?!

 

I think you get the idea!

 

Anyway, looking at your options, despite your preference for a difference in height between the buildings, I prefer the second version where both buildings are more or less the same height, especially when viewed along towards the sector plate - I think the larger building helps block sightlines better.

 

Now, without trying to make you imitate Ipswich docks, do consider the look of "building extensions on pillars over tracks" (least clumsy description I could come up with!) Although I think one of those would look lovely over the end of your front right siding (plus an ideal opportunity to sneak a mirror umder for some instant fake doubling of length!!), perhaps utilising such a structure next to the conveyor as the view blocker to the sector plate might work well... that could then be your "extension" to the original building. The various pillars, stairs up into the building etc could all help disguise the exit off stage...

 

Probably much easier to draw or mock up than describe!

 

Anyway, looking good! If I were to play Devil's Advocate, I would say try putting a ludicrously tall building at the rear end of the conveyor, with "flat elements" running off it behind/above the sector plate... I think you might be surprised at the positive impact such an overly tall building might have on your micro - I put a plain box-like structure almost 30cm tall at the back of Blackford Wharf, and am still undecided whether to keep it or not! When I first put it there, it looked just too big, but now when I remove it I feel like the layout loses something of its architectural "oomph"! Remember, mock ups are to help in the design process and can therefore stand some experimentation - and you can make any mistakes in composition at this point rather than later!

 

Steve S

 

Inspiration from Canada Street

 

IMG_0778.JPG

 

Original view on Ipswich wet dock

 

IMG_1523.JPG

 

My mock up with the extensions over the siding - perhaps your extensions could run front to back to disguise the entrance to the sector plate?

 

IMG_1807.JPG

Edited by SteveyDee68
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Ok, fair warning, this turned out to be a long 'un...

 

PART 1 - THE TRACK ARRIVES

A few days ago, my morning revision session was interrupted by the postman, with a parcel that turned out to contain the following goodies...

 

151827706_3.Newtrackjpg(1).jpg.ab1b20a44b1e3051bf5f5c2475b2de17.jpg

 

Needless to say, not much more revision happened that day! ^_^ Instead, the track got set up on the "layout":

2117581606_3.Newtrackjpg(2).jpg.c4c0c8192167e89e48f7ba02e2296522.jpg

 

The sections of track already featuring concrete between the rails are the pieces lifted from the original Alexandra Wharf diorama; being a temporary layout, they were fairly easy to liberate.

A short session of wheeling wagons about was undertaken to check all the sidings and headshunts have their expected capacities; all seemed to be ok, so I went ahead and set up the mockups again, where it sat for a bit.

2040567134_3.Newtrackjpg(6).jpg.7f9a3802088ffb696cff29595aed76f6.jpg

 

PART 2 - BUILDING EXPERIMENTS

Having the actual track revealed some errors as expected, especially around the sector plate bit where things were less than satisfactory in my book. Taking @SteveyDee68's comments from above into account, I first tried replacing the tall wall with columns:

15680892_Yetmoremockups(1).jpg.3f194526d292cb57b61084d2e72db9cf.jpg

 

That helped, especially when I realised the column doesn't need to be right under the corner of the bridge building meaning it can overhang more of the sector plate. However it is by necessity still exposing the edge of the track, breaking the illusion. So I decided to carry on with the columns and put an extension over the front siding, imitiating the style used on Blackford Wharf:

2083256377_MoreMockupGIFs(1).gif.3cd27d1228878992980835c4914aadba.gif

 

This closer view illustrates how the extra layer helps to further break up the sightline to the sector plate:

1125737388_MoreMockupGIFs(3).gif.0969b26bf4c30ffee4fdf515bf95f5be.gif

 

Finally an end-on shot, just to get a feeling for the visual impact. It can also be seen that I've set up the unused matching-building mockup from the first set of GIFs as flat-relief buildings, at the back of the layout:

2077369398_MoreMockupGIFs(2).gif.c0220e8de05e9f4705ae738701712e9c.gif

 

There's quite a cluster there now! I still prefer this option with the lower "bridge" building though, since it seems more plausible the railway would curve it's way between the sets of warehouses rather than go underneath all of them.

Finally I wasn't quite happy with the view from this end straight down the hidden siding, so I put a final office-type building in the foreground:

2141421410_Yetmoremockups(3).jpg.a7be016e15f0c90da82576df651ef889.jpg

 

Et voila! I can safely say I have completely hidden the sector plate, and with "soft" things rather than one massive wall. 

 

PART 3 - ALL CHANGE

This bit happened as I was writing this post!

I couldn't help but feel there were now too many buildings. After all, this is mostly about the trains, and as much as I like the extension-on-pillars bit it really hides them away. Furthermore the conveyor is kind of lost amongst the other buildings, and isn't coming from the grain silo anymore; the footbridge is instead, which whilst I like it, it doesn't really make sense. So rather than just writing about the problems and leaving it, I decided to make the changes...

 

We now have a shorter over-the-rails extension, the conveyor has more space to itself, and the footbridge and office hut are gone (I think it only lasted an hour?)

2147341509_YetmoremockupsPt2(1).jpg.71ab4108350e0dbff9355e9f730875cd.jpg

 

817923603_YetmoremockupsPt2(2).jpg.b5216f56c2dee137a69e9afacd9be053.jpg

 

The loading tower needs to be made a little thicker (not to mention taller), as represented by the brick pillar from the footbridge for now. It's also no longer at the front of the layout, which means I can potentially model the very edge of the water or at least part of it.

The lorry is actually doing the job of hiding the end of the track; clearly it only works from lower angles, but a vehicle keeps a more open feel than a building.

 

Finally, the shorter extension makes it easier to get a good view down the tracks underneath, which looks pretty good to me.

1184421898_YetmoremockupsPt2(4).jpg.f404eb765a777e71b5219d808f0458c9.jpg

 

CONCLUSION

That's certainly enough for tonight. I'm pretty happy with the way everything is going now, although I can't really start making proper buildings until I've got something to fix them to. Therefore I've finally ordered the RUB this layout's meant to fit into; once that's here I'll start on the baseboard, then I can wire up and fix down the track down, and eventually start making these buildings a reality. Oh, and I should probably carry on revising for my final exams too. Exciting times!

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Technic arrow, it may be a long one, but it helps to explain the thought process and deliberation. I like the congested feel that you have but I'm pleased you've removed the small office and replaced it with the lorry; it didn't look right before. 

I love the gallery view of the supporting pillars and i agree that only covering it half way looks best, otherwise a large portion of you usable track will be covered; it probably makes cleaning easier too.

You animated GIFs are brilliant by the way! 

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Posted (edited)

That burst of creativity will do your revision the world of good @TechnicArrow so don't be fretting about spending the time on it!

 

Showing your thought process with animation is so much better than my own rambling descriptions! It's taken me a long time to work out how to reference another member in a post, so I reckon that is one technical skill beyond my grasp!!

 

Personally, I don't like sector plates etc mainly because of the difficulty in hiding them, especially on a micro, but I think you have cracked it with this layout as not only is it hidden but at the same time the structures hiding it actually suggest something entirely different - that is a neat trick!

 

I have to admit that I do like structures over tracks on columns as per Ipswich - to me, it screams 'quayside' - so am pleased to see that using that idea has helped your layout work. And I shall freely admit to jealousy, as by cutting back the overhead structures slightly you have provided yourself with a viewpoint to perfectly capture that dockside atmosphere. I can hardly wait to see how you proceed with this - once exams are out of the way, of course!

 

Reality:

 

IMG_1523.JPG

 

Model:

 

 

IMG_1931.JPG

Edited by SteveyDee68
Photos added correctly!
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