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

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Well that didn’t last long

Having both boards for Penlowry now erected, it gave me a chance to check my design against the real thing. Obviously I have no desire to rip up any more of the existing track than I need to if I can help it.

Looking at the design on my computer and then at the board, I had a Blackadder “Hang on!” moment* as I realised the three way point at the RH end of the loop wasn’t in the right place on my diagram. I’ve therefore put it back where it should be which had made the track geometry so much better.

I’m also investigating whether I can get the layout printed out on a plotter so as to avoid improving Sellotape’s shares.

* if you’re not sure what that means, try here, from the 9 minute mark.


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Track plan

At the end of last year there had been a number of discussions within the household as to where my office would end up as we are planning renovation works. The final decision was that I’d stay where I was which is what then led to the bed moving as mentioned in my previous post.

While this was going on, there was a suggestion at one point that I might move to another room and this would have necessitated Penlowry having some if not all elements mirrored. I wasn’t keen on this but sketched up a few ideas to achieve this. One such sketch improved the shed layout no end and made it much more Western in design. I therefore decided to update the existing plan with this new shed arrangement which also enables the NG line to come into the yard to collect ash for some fill works elsewhere on the island.

This reanalysis of the space has allowed me to determine a position and role for my 15″ gauge line (z gauge) which will be an almost derelict line going to a pier on the channel between the island and mainland with an armoured train shuttling backwards and forwards manned by National Service recruits.

Having determined the “final” design (ha – as if) I then printed it lifesize – all 58 pages of A4 of it.

Next job is to stick them all together and then use them to mark out the new track plan on the baseboards.

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New year’s sleeping arrangements

On Tuesday, Mini-me2 slept for the first time in a big bed. This may seem an odd way to start a post about model railways but bear with me.

Until Tuesday, the spare bed was in my office. Not only was there the inconvenience of being chucked out of my office whenever someone visited (I work from home a minimum of 3 days a week), but also it was the elephant in the room preventing me from building up the rest of the baseboards for Penlowry.

The spare bed is now Mini-me2’s bed and when people visit he will be chucked out and will sleep in the bottom bunk of the bunks in Mini-me1’s room.

So now my work won’t be disturbed when people visit and I get the added bonus of the space I’ve been planning for.

Today’s job was putting up the other half of the original scenic section. It would have gone a lot smoother had I not made the joint leg too well and the screws holding it together not refused to come back out for adjustment, but following some persuasion which proves how well the boards were built in the first place, the two halves are now up and some drawing out of the new track plan can begin.

(And yes, I know Tower Bridge and the Roman catapult aren’t quite to scale but they were both good fun to build).

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Ending the year on a high

A few weeks ago I sent an email to the County project at Didcot volunteering (while noting I don’t live anywhere near Didcot and am very busy) but noting that as a York resident I may be able to help with trips to the archive at the NRM.

Straight away came back a reply saying yes please and can you go and look if they have drawing 59919 smokebox door.

Interestingly, as I replied in my emailing confirming that I would, 59919 was in a batch of drawings drawn between Jan 1914 and Feb 1921 and thus must be a standard part. I suggested it could be the door for a Castle.

Anyway my trip to the museum happened yesterday. The NRM doesn’t have drawing 59919 but do have a subsequent drawing from 1954 which superseded 59919 and is described as smokebox front plate for standard boilers 7, 8, 12, and 15, or to put it another way 47xx, Castle, King, and County proving it is a standard part and therefore is probably fairly easy to source someone who can make one.

While I was there I requested to see the development sketches for the County drawn in 1943-4. These are fascinating.

Sketch 4 has had the wheels printed and then the rest of the loco sketched. Note the Churchward bar frame front end, curved splashers, and Collett tender.

Sketch 6 has by now got the Hawksworth plate frame front end with a high running plate so no need for splashers (note the double drop, one behind the smokebox, and one at the front of the smokebox, outside Walchaearts valve gear, and a modified cab with no side window and a Collett tender.

Sketch 10 has the straight splashers, but this time with a concept tender looking almost like a cross between a Bulleid Spam Cam and S15 tender and the modified cab.

Sketch 13 looks very much like the finished article including the Hawksworth tender and includes a scribbled remark of what number the final design drawing is, but interestingly is still classified as 99xx as the change to 10xx was made very late.

I also had a look through some test reports from tests done by County no 1000 County of Middlesex and no 1009 County of Carmarthen.

What was clear from all this is a) they were rough riders when first introduced and this was fixed, and b) when on dynamometer car trials they ragged the locos trying different things. The log that states “recaulked firebox seams” suggests the blast pipe modifications they did must have had an adverse effect at some point. Also interesting that many of the tests included removing firebars to increase the primary air flow and thus primary combustion.

Indicator card from a test run presumably from WR dynamometer car W7W (GWR 790) which was of Churchward vintage:

Report into the balancing issues and scribbled response.

Report into loco oil consumption:

Hand written log of test runs:

And finally, on the back of a test report letter I found this pro-forma letter to respond to requests to visit the works.

Finally I’d just to wish everyone a Happy New Year and thanks for reading my meanderings over the last year. With the stats showing 50 odd countries reading this stuff I am often astonished at how widespread my writing gets. Thank you all.

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Well having finished my Christmas Eve jobs (emergency table out of the garage and into the conservatory to be joined with its more presentable sibling for tomorrow followed by laying of the same) I managed to get a bit more work done on the Court.

A new chimney and buffers and screw link couplings and gluing the cam boxes in place have made a big difference.

I’ve still to sand the footplate back following its fixing but it’s still quite delicate. As I’m using Sprat and Winkle couplings I’m going to run the wire for the coupling back along the underneath of the body gluing it all the way which should give the reconstructed front footplate much more rigidity and then I’ll finish the butchery.

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A holey week

Well I’m going to miss my deadline of finishing Caynham Court by Christmas. Partly caused by being in London, Christmas delays to the post, and it being far too cold in the garage. With any luck I’ll get some time over the holidays to get it done.

However, I finally managed to get to the garage the other evening. The plan was to drill a set of holes equidistant from an edge to form the supports for the cam chests. Doing this on the milling machine was a breeze and a good thing too since I ended up doing it three times…

Unfortunately, my initial thoughts on materials were a bit poor. Firstly I tried hardboard, and then ply but both delaminated when trying to cut out the supports. Then I found some left over plastic I’d used to form a splash back for a sink.

I then cut out 4 of the holes (the others were just in case spares) and mounted them on one of the cam chests I’d previously turned.

With some ridiculously complicated clamping…

…that allowed me to cut out the supports I needed.

Which were then glued to the turned chests having given them a quick scuff on the surfaces to be glued to give it a key.

Initial trial fitting suggests it’s going to look ok.

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Correcting the 2017 errors

There’s definitely two I know about and there may be more…

Firstly, I said the other day that a company had cancelled production of a particular liveried vehicle I had ordered. This turned out to be cobblers.

Basically the saga was that I’d ordered the new Dapol flying banana ages ago, and then got an email the other day from my chosen ex-Liverpudlian supplier to say that the manufacturer had cancelled the model and so my order was cancelled. I checked online and sure enough the models that were pre-order had disappeared and my order had been cancelled. Two days later I got the round robin email newsletter saying the one I’d ordered was now in stock. I therefore rang said Widnes based supplier and they didn’t know what had happened either but gladly fulfilled my order so I suspect an over enthusiastic sales team (or non-sales team to be more accurate) member had made what is known as an “administrational error”.

Secondly in a post back in March I said the Patriarch’s Duke model was a K’s kit. I had a feeling at the time that wasn’t right. And I was right. His Bulldog is a K’s but the Duke is the much superior Mallard Models kit. It still can’t pull the skin off a rice pudding though so may require some serious weight added to give it some better umpty before it goes into service on the Cambrian.