Tuesday, 18 December 2012

December 2012

Some more photos as the work progresses slowly:

Since the electrics are still being installed, the photos below are all posed. We have even cheated by posing a Q7 and the new Hornby O1 still in OO form whereas the track and rolling stock are EM - but you get the idea!

However Rich's WD has been converted to EM and detailed.

 This little sequence of shots shows an O1 setting off up the bank to Consett, with a Q7 banking. The Iron Ore hoppers should be full, going to Consett (use your imagination). Both locos are also looking suspiciously clean!

The photos of the ore train passing Stella Gill Flatts box show the compromises we have had to make. To model the large NCB shed brings it much too close to the Consett line. To scale it down to make it less obtrusive destroys the classic end on shot of the building seen in so many photos. The jury's still out.

Mark's model of South Pelaw box is coming on very nicely, and will be one of the iconic structures on the finished layout.

Martin has begun the daunting task of building a panel so that we can control the layout. These pictures show the complexity of the control panel for the scenic side. As well as powering the points and signals using servo units, we intend to use the CBUS system developed by MERG to control these and for power distribution around the layout. We are indebted to the North Eastern MERG group for their valuable help in helping us to get to grips with this approach.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

August progress

Here are some pictures taken on a recent get together where we had the scenic part of the layout erected.

These photos show some of the fruits of the last few months labours. One of the disadvantages of choosing this prototype is that the rolling stock will be for carrying coal, coke, iron ore, steel and not a lot else. There will be no glorious rakes of passenger carriages for example. We might operate a limited passenger service, with the possibility of an SLS railtour, but the main operational diet will be filthy wagons. Richard Clayton and Martin have produced the samples on show.

No the snow hasn't come. It's just that the embankments are still in the papiermache phase. Actually cardboard on wooden formers, covered with cheap paper kitchen roll, fastened down with diluted PVA.

The ore train arriving ready to go up the bank should have loaded hoppers (we can't have everything just yet). The ore train running in is made up from Martin's recently painted hoppers. The waterslide transfers were put on using matt acrylic varnish instead of water - a brilliant idea from a book. The Cambridge transfers are very delicate but with this method they apply easily and stay put.

Mark's model of South Pelaw Box, and Martin's signals are beginning to give the layout some character.

Another view of the Box, showing the ramp up to the South Pelaw colliery exchange sidings.

As discussed in an earlier post, one of the compromises we have had to make is to curve what should be straight sidings into Stella Gill yard, so as not to have the layout too wide. This curve has encroached upon the main line up to Consett, which is modelled to its correct radius. This in turn has squeezed the NCB shed that separated the main line from Stell Gill yard almost out of the way. However the gable end of this shed appears so prominently on nearly all photos of Stella Gill so we feel compelled to include it somehow. Reduction in the scale of the building is one option under consideration, and this picture shows our cardboard mockup in place, together with Richard Nice's impressive model of Stella Gill Flatts box.

So what's next? The main job looming large is to make a start on the wiring, so that we can make trains go. Watch this space ...

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Heavy metal

Of course one of the main traffics passing through South Pelaw was steel from the mills at Consett, bound for the shipyards of Tyneside, Wearside, and Teesside, with a corresponding traffic of empty steel wagons up the bank. So we will need a considerable population of steel carrying wagons as well as the iron ore hoppers, coal hoppers, and other mineral wagons.

Fortunately, the kit manufacturers sell a variety of wagons that are approprate for our period of the late 1950s to mid 1960s. Possibly rather venerable by this time would have been ex-NER wagons, so this example of the Wizard Models diagram B12 plate wagon has been weathered to look suitably decrepit.

One of the older models is the LMS long low currently marketed by Chivers, and formerly a Ian Kirk kit. These models are available with and without bolsters, and the picture below shows one of the ex-LMS vehicles branded Plate by BR.

One of the most widespread steel carrying wagons was the steel sided plate wagons produced by the LMS, LNER and BR. The Parkside kit is a good starting point for these, although the prospect of manufacturing a riveted version fills me with some concerns -- any ideas welcome. The picture below shows one of these kits that has been modified to model the LNER vacuum braked version.

On my workbench at the moment I have a couple of other plate wagons that will be models of the BR unfitted version with plate axleguards courtesy of a Bill Bedford chassis kit, and a later fitted version with hibox axleboxes.
Some of these plate wagons were adapted with double bolsters, and other adaptations carried trestles. The double bolsters are also catered for by Parkside. The rather grubby example below has deliberately wonky bolster uprights, but the plastic ones supplied with the kit are very fragile and need replacing with etchings at some point.

The Parkside trestle wagon is a bit of a puzzle, as it appears from photos that the BR Trestle-EA wagons modified from plate wagons had a replacement steel side rather than retaining the original plate wagon side. However, it is easy to fabricate a new side from plasticard. There are some nice pics of trestles built to run on Canada Road here and here (scroll down a bit on each page), which were an inspiration for me.

Speaking of inspiration, no blog post on modelling wagons could fail to acknowledge Paul Bartlett's wagon photos, miraculously restored. Paul, you are a star! Another massive source of insipration are of course Geoff Kent's books on the 4mm wagon.

There's lots more to write on this topic. Bogie bolsters, single bolsters, and representing steel loads all come to mind. However, it is logical to bring up the rear with some brake vans, which would also make a fascinating post of their own. Your homework is to identify which of the items in the following picture has been built from a Dapol kit, and which is the rather excellent new offering from Hornby.

Richard Clayton

Monday, 26 March 2012

Towards Stella Gill

Here are a few photos of the Stella Gill end of our layout. This is the area where we have had to compromise. The Stella Gill yard had something like 38 sidings. It collected coal from numerous collieries, served a coke works and was home to a large NCB store. The yard deserves a layout in it's own right. We have had to reduce the space between the line to Consett and the approaches to Stella Gill by curving the six incoming and outgoing sidings. As a consequence Stella Gill Flatts signal box almost backs onto the main line. The latter is built to the correct curve and gradient.

It might have been possible to have the sidings straight but it would have meant baseboards about six feet wide with severe problems trying to gain access to the fiddle yard. The layout is 39ft by 18 ft as it is, so a compromise it had to be.

The first photo gives an impression of the gradient as a supposedly loaded ore train tackles the bank. The second takes advantage of a shaft of sunlight through the window of the hall we were in. Rich's fantastic model of Stella Gill Flatts signal box casts a shadow behind but I think the result is worth it. Like the locos and hoppers, the model of the box is still unfinished.

The final shot shows the degree to which the tracks curve beyond the bridge (a mock-up at present). Please forgive the clutter of tools and materials in these photos.

Iron ore hoppers

Recent weeks have seen a heroic spate of activity from Martin, as Dave Bradwell ore hoppers have been transformed from flat etches into 3D models of the real thing -- we are now up to a grand total of 16.5 out of the 18 we need to run two trains of 9. Once you get the hang of them, they are fantastic kits to build because everything goes together sweetly. However, we have had a problem, and that is deciding what colour to paint them. This has been compounded by the difficulty of comparing photos taken under different lighting conditions, with different cameras, in different places (i.e Teesside and Sheffield)! The photos below show some of our results, with a loaded train setting off on the climb to Consett with a full cargo of 9 hoppers.

The colours we have tried include Humbrol rust, Precision track colour, and shades of BR bauxite. Yesterday, we agreed that Precision track colour, weathered with early BR bauxite would be the way forward. Phil also brought some read iron ore from Cleator in Cumbiria, which will make a realistic looking, and realistically heavy, load for them.

We had the whole scenic side of the layout erected yesterday, and it is looking superb, with the sweep of the lines climbing to Consett particularly striking. More photos to come!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Progress on layout and stock

The last six months of work on the layout have seen a lot of progress with tracklaying and establishing the contours for the scenery. The photos below were show views of the layout, with Martin Lloyd's signals temporarily installed in their rightful places. The first picture is looking towards Washington, with the signal box in the foreground, the lines to Ouston junction on the left, and the colliery sidings on the right.

The second photo shows the view in the opposite direction, with the lines to Consett curving around to the right, and the lines to Stella Gill Yard to the left.

Mark and Richard have been working on the signal boxes at South Pelaw and Stella Gill, and like the signals these are only temporarily fixed in place at the moment.

When we can all get together, progress can be quite fast. The next photo shows the whole layout erected in summer 2011, and gives an impression of the size of it. We are working on the main junction area, the boards in the foreground will carry the lines into Stella Gill yard and up the bank to Consett. The extensive boards on the left will hold the fiddle yard.

Since this picture was taken, work has proceeded on the entrance to Stella Gill, and the Consett lines. The next photo shows Richard, Pete, and Phil hard at work laying track on the Stella Gill lines in January 2012.

Finally for this entry, we have a programme of building models of the unique hopper wagons used to carry iron ore from Tyne Dock to Consett, using Dave Bradwell's excellent kit. The photo below shows the latest completed hoppers to come out of Nunthorpe works. So far we have about 9 constructed, with lots more to go until we have full and empty rakes of 9 wagons to run on the layout. More on these wagons next time.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The South Pelaw project

South Pelaw was an important railway junction close to Chester le Street in County Durham, where lines from Washington, Birtley, Consett, and the collieries in the Stanley area converged. The direct route to Consett was built to avoid a series of rope worked inclines between South Pelaw and Stanley, and was itself very steeply graded. Banking engines were attached at South Pelaw, and long trains for Consett were marshalled into shorter trains to go up the bank. Even into the 1960s, South Pelaw remained a busy junction.

In many ways South Pelaw is an ideal subject for a model railway, which encapsulates the complexity of railway operation that underpinned the heavy industry of Durham and Tyneside in the middle of the 20th century. One of the key traffics on the line was iron ore for the blast furnaces at Consett, which in the 1950s and 1960s was conveyed in trains of specially built hopper wagons, powered latterly by pairs of 9Fs.

Our model is built to a scale of 4mm to the foot and in EM gauge. We have sought to avoid as much compression as possible, and so it is big -- 40 feet long, and intended as an exhibition layout. The baseboards are built, much of the track in the scenic region is laid, and we even have a complete rake of bogie ore wagons built from Dave Bradwell's kit.

We plan to use this blog to document our progress, and would welcome comments from anyone with information about this fascinating place.