Stopping off in the West Midlands…Tame Valley and Heamies Farm.

March 30, 2012

Further information on the canal aqueduct over the Grand Junction Railway was needed to complete the model on my small N gauge ‘Dudley Heath’ layout. On my way home from Ally Pally, a quick detour from the M6 was made to photograph this structure in more detail. It carries the 8.5 mile long Tame Valley Canal (opened in 1844) over the railway close to Tame Bridge Parkway station. Interestingly enough, this short length of canal post dates the railway, according to my records.

With enough photographic information to complete the top of the structure, I moved on to Heamies Farm, a classic photographic location on the WCML north of Norton Bridge. This spot is just to the north of what will be new railway constructed as part of the proposed remodelling of Norton Bridge Junction and realignment of the WCML. It was an opportunity not to be missed, with blazing sunshine and no long grasses on the embankments this early in the spring. Shutter speed ranged from 1/1200 to 1/1600 sec at f8 to f9 in superb light. Needless to say, the action was non-stop and this is just a tiny selection of the pictures taken which included Class 66s, 70s, 86s, 90s alongside the usual diet of Pendolinos, Class 350s and ‘Super Voyager’ trains.

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Working N gauge signals – Dapol again!

March 16, 2012

Two N gauge lower quadrant signals in the style of the GWR arrived from Dapol this week. I decided to make a mounting stand for them to show how they work. They are quite sophisticated, with motor, neat mounting screw threaded casing together with a large plastic nut and an illuminated lamp too.

A simple passing contact switch or ‘push to make’ switch such as that used for solenoid turnout motors is all that is needed to operate them. Do not use a switch that provides a constant current or the motor will be damaged.

They are nicely detailed too, with a fine looking ladder and wooden post. The on position spectacle plate of the distant signal should be yellow, not red however.

Four wires lead from the base of the motor casing. The black and red wires are for connection to a 16v AC power supply such as that from a DCC power bus or accessory output from an analogue controller. The remaining pair are yellow and should be connected to a passing contact switch to operate them.

Illumination of the spectacle plates is nicely done too. The LED fitted to the signal lamp is reasonably bright and a white rather than yellow one.

The home signal.

A 14mm drill is required to make a hole in the baseboard to fit. Once installed (the pair took just a few minutes to fit to the stand) the operation was smooth and neat. The picture below gives an idea of the size of the signal together with the motor casing.

I can see  these being a lot of fun to operate and their simplicity will make them attractive to beginners as well as experienced modellers. Scratch builders and kit bashers will see them as a basis for creating different types of working signal. My thanks to Dave Jones for the chance to look at the new signals and to feature them here.


Ally Pally next…and lift-out scenic panels.

March 13, 2012

Eddie Reffin, my fellow operator, is good at the ‘what if’ scenarios. He is also also a very good operator, a shrewd observer of modelling life and a very talented modeller too. He quickly identified a problem with the hidden staging yard on Dudley Heath. When something goes wrong under the scenery, sorting it out turned out to be awkward, as realised when the layout was exhibited at Doncaster last month. Despite the best track laying I could manage, my usually optimistic take on things and a determination to ‘make it work’; one or two errors with running trains in and out of the hidden staging yard disrupted the smooth flow of trains a couple of times. So, on my return, I ripped out the scenery that I had started and had a go at lift out panels.

Made of hard board, they are light weight and strong. hardboard is ideal because it can be bent to gentle curves and easily cut and shaped to fit awkward areas too. However, disguising the flat appearance it has requires some texture. I used hanging basket liner, cut into small pieces, trimmed and glued into place as an initial under layer of scenery.

The flat appearance of the lift out sections is being well covered with texture. Woodland Scenics fine turf is sparingly applied over the top using firm hold hair spray to secure it. Tress and bushes follow – snipped up pieces of Woodland Scenics foliage.

At the time of writing, the work on this side of the layout is nearly complete. The platforms are in the paint shop for a first coat of light grey; station lamps are being made up and I have dozens of little figures to add to the layout too.

It should all be nicely glued down by the time the car has to be loaded for the long haul to Wood Green and Alexandra Palace! And that hidden staging yard is now completely accessible. You know, there won’t be a single derailment in those staging sidings and those panels will stay in place the whole time!


A different magazine cover…

March 1, 2012

It’s not often I make the cover of BRM. Well never, unless it’s a spoof one such as that prepared for the January 2012 issue where I wrote an article on converting an old layout, ‘Finton’, from analogue to DCC….my partner in crime during that week of rewiring was none other than Mr Richard Wilson himself. Anyway, as regular readers will know, the cover above did not make it to the final mag for January, but we did have a good laugh at it…

On a more serious note, look out for the dramatically redesigned BRM from April…a preview can be found on Model Railways Live