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.