Cleared for Printing: The third renumber pack transfer sheet from NMS.

July 23, 2010

It has taken a little research and development to produce this sheet of OO gauge (4mm scale) renumbering transfers which will become NMS-3: BR era coaching stock and multiple units. It has finally gone for printing, is expected any day now and will be of the same high quality as the first two sheets which are proving to be very popular. It is intended to help those modellers who wish to renumber models with otherwise great paint finishes such as the Bachmann Mk.1 and Mk.2 coaches for example; but can also be used by repainting enthusiasts and those building and finishing kits. The number style is BR Rail Alphabet which will suit BR blue era and many ‘sectorisation’ and privately operated vehicles. Small black numbers are provided for EMU front end numbers too. Note the ample supply of prefix letters and a ‘number jumble’ from which groups of numbers can be taken to simplify the task of applying vehicle numbers. This is our most ambitious sheet to date and offers a great deal of options. At £3.95 per sheet, it’s great value for money, as always from Nairnshire Modelling Supplies.

The fourth sheet is now being type set which will be a renumbering pack for BR Large Logo BR blue locomotives including Class 37, 47, 50, 56 and 73.


Top Deck layout – a back scene and a turnout…

July 18, 2010

Slow progress on the Top Deck layout of late; the garden has taken over for the time being. However, there are some tasks which take a great deal of time and attention, none more than building turnouts and finishing the back scene. Well-built turnouts are critical for reliable operation and a properly finished back scene is critical to the finish of a layout. So both have been carefully constructed and finished recently before any work can commence on the train roads at the front of the layout together with new baseboards and track for the branch. All of the embankments, tunnel structure and hill side behind the mainline will be built before the train roads are installed and the mess carefully controlled with dust sheets and a powerful vacuum cleaner. This is important because below, on the two lower decks is my Montana Rail Link layout.

Looking in the opposite direction: the track at the real Folkestone East location does tighten up for Martello Tunnel. The train adjacent to the location of the signal box. My black pen scribbles are being replaced with correctly marked in track centres so I can place the foam underlay correctly. 1:6 turnouts and a 1:6 diamond crossing have been constructed for this location which will be a cross between the post 2000 track formation and the previous one.  Space and the need to reconcile a straight railway into a square room means some shortening of the junction into the train roads. I had to reclaim some space to make it fit!

The turnout leading from the main line into the train roads is placed at last, a 1:7 built on a Timbertracks turnout base using Peco track fixings and flat bottom rail. The cross-over from Down to Up line is curved were it is straight on the real location. I could have placed it on the straight, but this would have moved the junction down by several feet, shortening the train roads from 10-car to less than 8-car capacity between buffer stops and the start signal gantry. Compromise and pragmatic layout design is what it is all about and the model is an adaptation, not a scale model. Hence, some careful scenic work will be required to disguise the entrance to one of the fiddle yards seen in the back ground.

This pictures shows the finishing work to the back scene – the last of the filler needed to hide the joins and make it as seamless as possible. The layout is quite narrow, concentrating on modelling the railway and little beyond the boundary fence. After all, it is *supposed* to be a scenic test track! The land will be built up behind the track and planted with medium sized trees, using Woodland Scenics fine leaf foliage. Regarding the choice of stock, more on that soon – I have some work to do on the fleet so I can run trains representing the early 1980s to present day. Hence the creation of a hybrid track plan based on the post and pre-2000 formation. Makes operation much more interesting!

A welcome return of the swallows and an electricity bill…

July 8, 2010

In fact, the swallows have been with us for a fair few weeks, but only recently took an interest in the wood shed once again and we now have chicks in the same nest for the second year running:

Looking slightly comical with tufts of fluff and big beaks, we have counted three in our very brief glances into the wood shed. I think they think we are a dead loss…

No food? Okay, we are not available for photographs then… The sheer number of adult swallows in the area this year, from what we can tell,  is encouraging. We are seeing them every where we look over the fields in this area east of Nairn and around Nairn itself, especially along the river. perhaps not surprising as the area is very beautiful and a lovely environment for birds of all kinds. Insect life is pretty diverse and in good numbers, making it a good place for insect eating birds to survive.

Whilst on environmental stuff, we recently received our electricity account for the six months to June 17th. Oh-oh, always a nervous moment for many households given the high energy costs nowadays. The statement covered that particularly cold winter spell at the beginning of 2010 here on the Moray Firth (and the rest of Europe by all accounts) when we experienced temperatures down to minus 12 to minus 15 degrees centigrade at night and struggling to around minus 3 to plus 3 degrees during the day for what seemed like weeks at a time; followed by a chilly spring. This was always going to be a real test for our air-to-water heat source pump which relies on air temperature for heating the house. Admittedly, we do keep a check on our power usage and PV panel generation by taking meter readings every week, so the result was no surprise.

The heat source pump, our only heating and hot water source, was commissioned in March 2009, making last winter its first full cold spell and what a cold one it was too. The electricity result was even more remarkable, even allowing for increases in insulation in the house, an ongoing project and critical to making the best of energy efficient devices. According to the bill summary, we used an average of 50 units a day for the period compared to 72.5 units for the corresponding period the year before. A significant drop since the heat source pump was installed compared to the old electric central heating system and one which has dropped our costs dramatically. With further fine tuning and completion of our liquid insulation project using Nansulate, we hope to see that reduced further this coming winter. With a bit of luck, we will not see a return to the severe temperatures of last winter – even a few degrees warmer during the day compared to last winter would see a significant fall in energy usage during the winter months. If the weather and temperatures this winter passed had been the same for the winter of 2008-9 instead of being significantly colder, I wonder what the average usage per day would have been?

The pump heated the house to around 18 to 20 degrees centigrade constantly without the usual heat and decay cycles of more traditional systems. It is clear to me that the combination of the Danfos heat source pump and Nansulate insulation has reduced our power consumption dramatically bearing in mind we have made no other changes to electrical demand in the house (we are pretty careful with lights and not leaving things on stand-by).  We are now applying Nansulate to internal walls where we hope this will stop heat loss through the gap between stud walls and the external stone walls of the house.

The real problem with buying energy efficient equipment is finding the initial lump of capital to pay for the kit and installation. However, someone told me they had decided to buy a heat source pump to replace an oil central heating system because a simple calculation demonstrated that with current very low interest rates, the savings in power bills is a better return on the investment than is possible by placing the money in a saving account or even a high interest bond or similar investment vehicle. It makes sense and you cannot be taxed on the savings you make on using less energy either. Factor in government incentive schemes to help pay for such installations and it might not be as expensive as it initially appears to be.