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Bala Lake : 0 Gauge : A might have been GWR/WR BLT


Blobrick
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I ve finally gotten round to starting to build the GWR BLT in 0 gauge l ve been promising myself for many a year.

 

I think the final nudge came was when l realised that all the locos that worked in my area of interest were readily available as RtR products, so l had finally run out of excuses.

 

My area of interest for this project is the Bala to Ffestiniog branch which left the GWR's Ruabon to Barmouth line at Bala Junction and wound its way north over roughly 24 miles of bleak wild mountainous welsh terrain. The branch opened on 1 November 1882. and in 1883 the line was further extended by converting the narrow gauge Ffestiniog and Blaenau railway to standard gauge between Llan Ffestiniog and Blaenau.

 

For my model, l have assumed that the GWR had seen the potential in building an extension off the already existing Bala to Ffestiniog branch line from just north of Bala Town station to a point on the north western edge of Bala Lake. The idea it was hoped, was to encourage Victorian excursion traffic from Wrexham and surrounding areas 

 

The Branch would have left the Ffestiniog line at a point just north of Bala Town and turning west, would have run along the Northern edge of the lake to a point around 3 ½ miles to the west of Bala Town.

 

I have envisaged that the original plans expected a reasonable amount of traffic to be generated and as such allowance would have been made in the land purchase for a generous amount of carriage storage at the proposed new terminus . It was expected that stock would be held over night, allowing services to start from the lake side.. (The GWR could even have had designs on building a possible lake side hotel and other amenities if the expected patronage developed)

 

However as was so often the case with plans during this period, the expected holiday/ Day trip/Fishing patronage never materialised, and the terminus never needed to be developed past a basic BLT.

 

My Bala Lake station would have been  built in 1896, consisted of a single brick built platform, on which stood a standard GWR design station building of the period, being similar in design being built at Chalford in Gloucestershire, at the same time. Being of brick construction with a slate roof, the station building  would have housed a ticket office, station master's office, a small waiting room and toilet facilities. The light goods traffic being handled via the ticket office.

 

 

 

The only reminder of the grandiose plans the GWR had originally had, was the inordinately large signal box which was build at Bala Lake in the expectation of future development of the station's facilities. (Basically l could not find a smaller GWR Signal Box  kit from that period)

 

 

Unusually for such a small branch, Bala Lake also boasted a single road brick built engine shed. Built at the same time as the station itself, it was similar to the structure built at Tetbury in Gloucestershire, but unlike Tetbury, never had its water tower altered in height. Once again time proved this was an other additional expense which could have been avoided, as the light traffic could have been handled with the loco facilities already in existence at Bala Town. However the shed did remain in used up until closures along with the Ffestiniog sections in 1961

 

 

As Bala Lake station would have been  seen as an excursion destination set in the most rural of locations, any goods traffic would have been  very light and therefore there was never a requirement for a goods shed throughout the station's life. The incoming traffic being coal for the locomotive shed, and station. Light parcels and local mail were conveyed once a day on the shuttle services. Any other goods could be loaded/unloaded via the station platform, with any wagons being stored in the single siding opposite the platform, prior to returning to Bala Town yard.

 

By the late 1950s, the daily service consisted of a return shuttle service via Bala Town to Bala Junction. This service normally consisted of, by this time, a single coach, normally a brake 3rd acquired from broken up Collett four coach suburban sets, recently made redundant by the influx of new DMU sets into the area.

The Wrexham Auto service also ran through to Bala Lake, this also normally consisted of a single auto coach, but could be strengthened when required. After arrival this service would lie over in the carriage siding opposite the engine shed, before returning to Wrexham.

 

Saturdays would often see sufficient loadings, to justify a second coach on the shuttle services to Bala Junction.

Even as late as the late 1950s, there were still the occasional School/Church or Social club outings, which could bring tender engines onto the branch, requiring the loco to run back to Bala Town to be turned prior to working back.

 

 

The model is set between 1959 and 1961, and as such it is hoped that it will show the slow decline seen on the railway infrastructure during this period.

 

So if you are a fan of Pannier tanks, this is an ideal location to model as the Ffestiniog line saw 57xx 97xx 74xx and 64xx (Wrexham Auto workings) The area was also one of the last stamping grounds for the Collett 58xx.  All these locos are available ready to run from Dapol/Lionheart.

 

Since 43xx (Heljan) worked onto the Ffestiniog branch, its not to much of a stretch to see one working an excursion through to Bala Lake, so all in all not to bad a variety for such a small layout. If you were to push the time period back to the late 40s early 50s, you could also squeeze a 22xx onto the roster as well, however l believe Heljan have now dropped their plans for this model.

 

The scenic section its self consists of two 72 x 18 inch boards. Due to the location of the layout l have had to keep the width to a minimum hence only having 18 inches of width to play with. It turns out its a bit of a double edged sword in that whilst the track layout is limited due to this width, l can at least reach all the couplings quite easily. The fiddle yard is a 4 ft turntable at what would be the east end of the layout. This brings the total length to 16ft

 

I choose to use ready made base boards for this project, whilst not cheap they do speed up the basic foundation work. Also having pre marked holes for alignment etc made the fitting of Pattern makers dowels at the baseboard joins, a simple task

 

Track work is Peco code 124 BH rail, which l ve had no problems in laying and wiring up.

This afternoon, l fitted a couple of temporary electrical jumpers to the track work to allow me to test clearances etc, whilst doing so l took a couple of photos to give and over all impression of the layout. So far l am happy with the visual result l ve achieved, with the over all layout not looking to cramped

All the main buildings on the layout are Timber Tracks kits. I have found these very satisfying kits to assemble, and even a ham fisted individual like me can produce a reasonable model.

 

The photos below show the progress so far, please feel free to comment, all suggestions and  guidance most welcome.  Currently trying to source to GWR lamp huts, Water crane, and platform edging?

 

Bob C

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_20210731_132548.jpg

Bala Lake StationBuilding

 

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Rear vie of engine shed

 

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Side elevation of Bala Lake shed showing its similarity to Tetbury!

 

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The rather large Signal Box

 

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View from Bala Lake back towards Bala Town

 

IMG_20210731_132659.jpg

 

View looking west to Bala Lake station

Edited by Blobrick
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1 hour ago, phil_sutters said:

 

Many Thanks for the links Phil, l ll take a peek and see if they are suitable

 

 

Cheers

Bob C

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Posted (edited)

Whilst testing the point work yesterday, l took a couple of videos to see what the layout looked like through the lens of a camera. The quality is very poor, which is something l will need to improve on, however it does serve to give an over all impression of the scenic section of Bala Lake

 

 

 

 

Edited by Blobrick
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6 minutes ago, Andrew P said:

Brilliant start, From my holidays in Bala up to 2019 I too was inspired to do a similar project, mine has since been sold on, along with the Stock, but I look forward to seeing this develop.

https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/140882-bala-town/&tab=comments#comment-3416011

 

 

Thanks  Andrew, l appreciate your comments.  To me this seems the prefect location for someone wanting to set their model in a real location.  Where else can you get single coach trains as the norm, with a fair selection of motive power to boot, its the perfect location for 7mm projects.

The list of things to do just to move forward with this project is growing each day. So as with all journeys, its one step at a time.

Next on the list, I am hoping to fit the inspection pit in the engine shed tomorrow. Should prove to be fun!

 

Bob C

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  • Blobrick changed the title to Bala Lake : 0 Gauge : A might have been GWR/WR BLT
Posted (edited)

Well today l did get time to do a little work on the layout. As hoped l started to fit the inspection pit for the engine shed. The Timber Tracks kit includes a shed floor and an inspection pit as part of their Tetbury engine shed kit. I was lucky when l decided l wanted a shed as l managed to bag the last one they had, so l had better not make any mistakes on it!

First step was to cut out an opening for the inspection pit. A quick bit of work with the old jig cutter resulted in a suitable slot in the 9mm plywood base board top. A little filing here and there resulted in a nice snug fit.

IMG_20210802_130358.jpg

Edited by Blobrick
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Next l fitted the shed floor. This is a veneer with the brick work marked out on it.  Its a snug fit within the loco shed walls and helps locate the shed in position when the shed is placed over it. Dispite having used the Jig Cutter's guide against the edge of the base board, l still found that after being cut out the pit edges were not parallel to the base board edge. Fortunately there is a little play in the shed flood veneer and quick bit of tinkering got all the edges square. If you look directly down on the pit you can see its not quite square to the veneer, but when viewed with the shed in position over it, you can't notice it.

IMG_20210802_161939.jpg

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Next part was the rails over the pit. I had a spare couple of lengths of code 124 rail, so l ordered a packet of Peco chairs. These come in packs of 100 so l would had plenty to spare if l had any mishaps. The chairs were slipped on to the rails  and the position of the chairs set by reference to a old length of track. The chairs are a nice tight fit so don't slide around on the rails but l will secure them in place with a dab plastic cement once the rails are in position.

 

Currently l am scratching my head as to what to fit under the rails to make the transoms that the chairs will sit on. I did have a couple of lengths of ply strips left over from other models, and l had hoped to use theses, however they were not deep enough to support the rails on their chairs.

I m thinking possibly 2,5 mm x 9 mm styrene strips or similar,  would do the job but l m not sure it there is such a thing?

Does anyone have any advice as to what l could use?

 

 

IMG_20210802_163223.jpg

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Posted (edited)

I think tomorrow l m going to address to platform issue. I ve been looking for suitable platform kits, but those l ve found l don't really like. However l did note that SkyTrex produce a resin based Great Western platform kit.

Has anyone seen one of these or tried this kit? 

 

Bob C

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, Blobrick said:

I think tomorrow l m going to address to platform issue. I ve been looking for suitable platform kits, but those l ve found l don't really like. However l did note that SkyTrex produce a resin based Great Western platform kit.

Has anyone seen one of these or tried this kit? 

 

Bob C

 

I ve just had a quick chat with the good folks at Skytrex, re their GWR platform kit. It transpires that this kit is not one of their own, but one they acquired some time in the past. The site shows a picture of three elements which make up the platform, l was told that  the top piece is the platform wall, the second item down is a "Spacer" of some sort, and the bottom item, which looks like a narrow section of brickwork, they have never been able to ascertain what its for, so l m still scratching my head on this one myself.

 

https://skytrex.com/search?type=product&q=7%2F124

 

Whilst on to them, l enquired about their 7mm GWR water cranes. Unfortunately for me they currently only make the platform mounted version, which in addition to being platform mounted, has a cranked pipe as well.

 Typical of my luck as its a  ground mounted straight pipe version l need.  

I have found a company called Ragstone models, who also produce a ground mounted crane, but its to a different design and not typical of the area l m basing my model on.

 

More head scratching required here also..............

 

Edited by Blobrick
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  • 1 month later...

Well its been a little time since l updated this thread, l say up date, but progress has been slow so maybe update is the wrong term ! However l have started painting sleepers and rails, l must say its certainly a cure for insomnia, it seem to take forever. I have now finished the painting and started ballasting. I must admit l do enjoy this activity, and the sections l ve finished l am pleasantly surprised how they have turned out. I did intend to paint the rail sides in a rust colour, however l found they looked better finished in track colour, looking let obtrusive than if they had been finished in rust.

 

Before l could ballast the platform road, l had to complete the platform itself. The structure is made from 25mm squared timber from a well know outlet. Big mistake! The timber had not fully dried and once installed along with resin platform face and wooden platform surface, it started to twist along its length. l ve ended up with a 4 mm gap under either end of the platform.

Fortunately l ve been able to hide most of the unsightly twist with a generous depth of ballast along the platform face.

 

My next job will will be building up the 4ft  traverser kit l ordered about ten weeks ago, l ve just been advised that its on its way, so this should be fun.

 

I ve attached a couple of photos to show the little progress made

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View from the station throat looking towards the west end and buffers

 

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View looking back east towards Bala Town. The black edge to the ballast shoulder is my attempt at a cinder path

 

IMG_1496.JPG

Not a normal viewing angle, as it was taken from the rear of the platform, but l do like this shot, its evocative of those classic Bradford & Barton shots 

 

IMG_1529.JPG

Trying to show the rail side colour here

 

IMG_1520.JPG

First attempts in hiding the base board joints

 

IMG_1503.JPG

Another platform shot. with my favourite locomotive class

 

IMG_1521.JPG

Finally a closer view of the foot crossing and finished ballast work.

 

I ve still got the carriage siding to finish ballasting, which l hope l will complete today. I then need to turn my thoughts to how l m  going to finish the basic scenic work around the engine shed ?

 

Edited by Blobrick
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