Penlowry

Chronicling the development of my Cambrian and Narrow Gauge 4mm scale model railway


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Destination “K”

Recently I have done some travelling. With places which begin with K. Korea was one trip – for once being in the South was preferable to being in the North. The other was to Kingston upon Hull. Or ‘Ull as we prefer to call it. 

The Korea trip was a business trip to Seoul and included a look round the depot for Metro Line 9 and a trip on the high speed line. The trains for Metro Line 9 look like a fat Class 141. See:- 

Metro Line 9 EMUs

Metro Line 9 EMUs

The high speed trip was a there and back from Seoul to Daejeon in the middle of the country. 1 hour each way. Both legs were in a KTX-1. These are the Alstom Atlantique TGVs with a nose job. Incredibly, they even used the same paint for the colour stripe class demarcations on the body sides. We did see a KTX-2 while we were at Daejeon which is Korean built with Alstom equipment. KTX series 3 and 4 are pure home grown products but we didn’t see them. 

KTX-1

KTX-1

KTX-2

KTX-2

There was also an interesting flower bed with clock outside the station at Daejeon.

 

No trains today...

No trains today…

The trip to Hull was as previously mentioned to pick up my tamper and have a gander at Bron Hebog. It really is as impressive as the pictures always suggest. Well worth seeing when it’s next out.

My tamper has a quick test. Here it is approaching Cutting Mawr above Beddgelert

My tamper has a quick test. Here it is approaching Cutting Mawr above Beddgelert

 

One thing I did like at Hull was the opportunity to hire a stool for a £5 returnable deposit for small people. Mini-me is still a bit short but he still found it useful at the Hull Model Engineers’ stand.

Mini-me in "choo-choo" heaven

Mini-me in “choo-choo” heaven

The other layout which was on my top 2 list was Crumley and Little Wickhill. The corner layout enabling the perspective of looking down the valley rather than across it produces stunning views. Very well done and makes me wonder if I can do that anywhere on mine.

I also had preliminary discussions with Boston Largs Works about another commission. Watch this space!!

A view showing the wild expanse of the layout. Note the "wind up" Russell in the foreground (not clockwork - it's what cut down Russell does to WHR fans)

A view showing the wild expanse of the layout. Note the “wind up” Russell in the foreground (not clockwork – it’s what cut down Russell does to WHR fans)

Wife, Mini-me, Tamper. A good day out. (and wind-up no.2, the Parry people Mover on the extreme left, which you will only ever see going downhill...)

Wife, Mini-me, Tamper. A good day out.
(and wind-up no.2, the Parry people Mover on the extreme left, which you will only ever see going downhill…)

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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.


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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