Penlowry

Chronicling the development of my 5-gauge 4mm scale model railway with a few off-topic insights thrown in for free


Leave a comment

Making excuses

I admit it has been some time since I posted any pictures of actually doing any modelling on here. There are any number of excuses I could use for this ranging from just having moved house to being too busy drinking my Uncle’s good health.

Here are two which I thought were worth recording.

1. Designing layouts. I do this a lot for Mini-me. For his Brio. Recently he has started coming into our bedroom in the morning and saying “railway, railway, railway”. To translate this means “one of you parents, get your lazy @rse out of bed and play trains with me”. As my wife points out, “it’s all your fault”, and with that she pulls the covers over her head and leaves me to pacify the budding enthusiastic railwayman.

A Mini-Me / Me creation

A Mini-Me / Me creation

 

2. Restoring my Big-Big train to service. When I got my Big-Big train out of the box it had arrived in from my parents’ loft, it had a loss of traction tyres and droopy couplings made worse by the continual uncoupling and subsequent collision on the next circuit. Mini-me is fascinated by this train set (it really is a train set) so I have set about restoring it. I found some 7/8″ Lionel made traction tyres (suppose they should be tires being American) which have revolutionised the Hymeks (I have 2) from being incapable of hauling one 16 ton mineral wagon to being able to haul 2 Mk2s and 2 mineral wagons (the sum total of the rolling stock), each.

Traction tyres - Copy

On the coupling front I have decided to fit Lego couplings. I was going to fit hook and 3 link but since I want this to be workable by a toddler ( a very smart one, but still a toddler), Lego ones seemed the best option, and he already understands magnetic couplings from Brio. By making two cuts in line with the rear tab edge of the coupling buffer beam assembly, I should be able to drill through the rear tab and attach the couplings to the original mounting holes on the rolling stock using a bolt and nut (and perhaps a dab of 222).

Lego couplings

However, if you’ve read this far, I’ll let you into a secret – as I predicted in my earlier post Final Pieces, they weren’t. By procuring another tender frame I can sell off the Princess tender complete on eBay which makes sense and allows me to recoup a small amount of the capital cost of the Cathedral project. Now I have no excuses left not to get on with making it!

Tender frame - Copy

 


Leave a comment

Fifty years volunteering

My uncle reached the milestone of having volunteered on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway for 50 years. This is something to celebrate. So we did. On a train. With real ale. It really doesn’t get any better than that.

My parents hired a cottage for the weekend near Cullingworth and so on the Saturday we drank beer and on the Sunday we went walking on the Great Northern Railway Trail, a disused part of the Great Northern Railway. Possibly a theme to this weekend. Subtle, but you may notice it.

Anyway, here are a few pics from the weekend.

 

Our steed for the day, the SD160. Its whistle reminds me of a much missed American lco on the Ffestiniog...

Our steed for the day, the SD160. Its whistle reminds me of a much missed American lco on the Ffestiniog…

The prototype diesel -electric shunter Vulcan. BR missed its potential, the Worth Valley did not.

The prototype diesel -electric shunter Vulcan. BR missed its potential, the Worth Valley did not.

The Volcano is back! Celebrating the original name, the newly outshopped SpamCan will carry the name Wells for 9 months until being renamed "City of Wells"

The Volcano is back! Celebrating the original name, the newly outshopped SpamCan will carry the name Wells for 9 months until being renamed “City of Wells”

"A great railway," says a friend of mine, "about one pint long!"

“A great railway,” says a friend of mine, “about one pint long!”

Mini-me watching the coal tank and GNR coach at the Vintage Carriages Trust at Ingrow.

Mini-me watching the coal tank and GNR coach at the Vintage Carriages Trust at Ingrow.

No 72. I do like the USA tanks. Ugly but they mean business.

No 72. I do like the USA tanks. Ugly but they mean business.

A walk along the Great Northern Trail is possible for most people

A walk along the Great Northern Trail is possible for most people

The two viaducts at Cullingworth are spectacular

The two viaducts at Cullingworth are spectacular

Members of my family posing for the travel guide (no, not really)

Members of my family posing for the travel guide (no, not really)

This is a great piece of Victorian engineering

This is a great piece of Victorian engineering

Trying a bit of filtering on my phone

Imagine if the KWVR extended from Haworth…

Until next time...

Until next time…


1 Comment

Stefco – standing on the shoulders of giants

Steve Coulson  (C) FR Archives

Steve Coulson
(C) FR Archives

Last night, we of the Ffestiniog lost one of the greats of the preservation era. Steve “Stefco” Coulson stands head and shoulders above many not because he did more, but what he did had such variety.

A nuclear engineer by trade, and a staunch supporter of nuclear power, Stefco could, and regularly did, turn his hand to anything.

Funkey locomotive Vale of Ffestiniog  (C) Barrie Hughes

Funkey locomotive Vale of Ffestiniog
(C) Barrie Hughes

His achievements stand as monuments to that, particularly the Funkey, Vale of Ffestiniog, where he took something that shouldn’t have fitted on the FR’s loading gauge and made it fit, and carriage 122 which although ultimately only a prototype could have been the forerunner of a new fleet of tin carrs and still I believe is one of the first carriages to fill up due to its roominess. Certainly the design should be looked at by other railways who cannot build wooden carriages like the FR does.

Carriage 122 (C) Stewart Macfarlane

Carriage 122
(C) Stewart Macfarlane

Interior of Carriage 122 (C) Stewart Macfarlane

Interior of Carriage 122
(C) Stewart Macfarlane

Not only that but he was instrumental in helping set up the Purple Moose Brewery and was effectively their first resident engineer, and could even be seen disappearing into the cellar of a local hostelry when they had an intermittent problem with their lines.

Stefco was also an accomplished model maker and his ability to make sequential models by cutting the CDs you got free with computer magazines into cams to drive a sequence of model actions was astounding when you did get a chance to view the gubbins of the job. His model of a narrow gauge train being filled with coal by a digger then moving into the exchange shed to be tipped was just incredible.

For me Stefco was the Tamper Man. He was the first of a line of engineers who have tackled regauging tampers for use on the FR, and proved it could be done. The Stefcomatic, ex Southern Region, saved from scrap in 1968, and returned to use in 1978 by Stefco, was the stalwart tamper on the FR for many years. It had a brief second life when it tamped some of the lighter graded sections of the WHR but it couldn’t cope with the 1:40 gradients and the KMX was brought in to do the job.

Stefcomatic

Stefcomatic

Stefcomatic Both (C) Roger Dimmick

Stefcomatic t’other side
Both (C) Roger Dimmick

As I set about regauging the KMX, it was often Stefco I’d have a pint with in the evening to talk over the latest challenge. He always had an idea, or a thought; invariably it was just what was needed.

The man was an inspiration, a great engineer, family man, and  friend to lots of us on the Ffestiniog. He built on the giants of the Ffestiniog and his name will stand with them. He will be sadly missed.


Leave a comment

Never trust domeless engines…

So says Gordon on meeting City of Truro, before going on to lose his own.

The only drawing for the GWR Cathedral is this one which isn’t even Hawksworth’s work.

Hawksworth Pacific

It shows a really odd arrangement. The dome is where the safety valves on a GWR loco normally go, and there is a top feed but no safety valves shown.

The more I read about Hawksworth, the more I realise he was a true Western man. With that in mind I cannot believe he would have put a dome on his Pacific on the grounds that he could use an elongated King boiler and still have the regulator at the top of the Belpaire box and put the safety valves where they normally go.

Nick Parsons also had the same thought when he built his Cathedral because he put the safety valves in the normal position above the centre driving wheels, and put the dome between the bonnet and the start of the Belpaire box. Roger Meadows also didn’t agree with the concept drawing and did his with no dome at all.

Given Hawksworth’s Great Western-ness, and my belief he would strive for the best Swindon solution, I have decided my Cathedral won’t have a dome (but will be fully lined like Nick Parsons’ version).


Leave a comment

Final pieces

So the jigsaw has all the pieces. Last week a delivery arrived with the final parts (ok this may not be true) needed for the Hawksworth Cathedral.

parts 2Final pieces are the new 5 pole tender drive (it’s from Henry hence the GREEN wheels), new blackened rods for a a Princess and blackened crossheads, slidebars, and connecting rods for a King , loco crew and lamps from Springside. The lamps are correctly white, not red as the GW had rectified this oddity by the time Hawksworth was in charge.

Now I just need to build the jigsaw…..


1 Comment

Tamptastic!

I have a thing about tampers. They’re weird enough to be interesting. And once you understand how they work, the detail differences become interesting too (honestly!).

I worked on a tamper once. I took on the job of designing the regauging of one when the Welsh Highland was being built. The finished article is fit to tamp any part of the Ffestiniog Railway and the Welsh Highland Railway. Not surprisingly after tamping almost all of the Welsh Highland it needed a bit of fettling and went to Plasser for a rebuild a couple of years ago.

What’s this to do with model railways you ask? Well, when I was in Australia, Rob, better known for being one of the modelmakers behind Dduallt and Bron Hebog, built a model of the KMX tamper for the Bron Hebog layout. He said he liked it because it was unique.

Well it was until I asked him if he’d build me one. Coming from north of the border, this was an offer worth pursuing so over the last couple of years he (in his guise as Boston Largs Works) has been building me one. This isn’t entirely unrealistic as there were 3 of these tampers built to this design although the other 2 don’t sport the roof as that is an FR/WHR/Me addition. (Nor do they sport windscreen wipers as they originally worked down a coal mine in France so we got some from a local boat chandlers IIRC).

KMX tamper

KMX tamper (C) Rob Waller

The model is now complete. So in a couple of weeks I’ll be going to the Hull Model Railway Show to collect it (and maybe have a play on Bron Hebog). I am quite excited.

My unpainted tamper posed with the original finished one

My unpainted tamper posed with the original finished one (C) Rob Waller

Another view of the two tampers

Another view of the two tampers posing on the Bron Hebog layout (C) Rob Waller


1 Comment

A weekend in Wales

Merddin Emrys at Dduallt

Merddin Emrys at Dduallt

Well house sorting took longer than expected (what a surprise!) so I haven’t achieved anything on the modelling front. However, I did manage to make a visit to the Ffestiniog Railway for the Vintage Weekend.

I was fortunate enough to be rostered as a brakesman on both Friday and Saturday for the gravity train, one of which was from the summit which means I have now gravitated over the entire mainline from the summit downwards. The only slight unfortunate part of this was being stuck at Dduallt for about 1.25 hours on Saturday waiting a path back down. The loco crew were slightly more organised than we were and had brought themselves the requisite for shovel cooking.

Here are a few photos from the weekend (taken on a phone so not the highest quality).

Taliesin heading round the spiral

Taliesin heading round the spiral

Prince and Snowdon

Prince and Snowdon

Porthmadog Harbour

Porthmadog Harbour

View from the Cob with Snowdon obscured

View from the Cob with Snowdon obscured

Gravity train ride simulator - an essential part of pre-flight training

Gravity train ride simulator – an essential part of pre-flight training

Princess and Palmerston outside the old engine shed

Princess and Palmerston outside the old engine shed