Christmas Express at W5 Belfast
October and some of November was
taken up building a train set for W5, which is a science and
discovery centre in the thriving Titanic Quarter of Belfast.
The order was for two battery
electric locomotives, a pair of coaches and large loop of track
with two points to create an inner loop. They had decided to
invest in a Christmas grotto along with a Christmas Express train
to take passenger around their winter wonderland. For us it was
the largest single order to date and included quite a bit of
The set up was desinged to allow
for one man operation so the rear coach had a drivers control
panel along with a hand brake which allowed for the train to be
braked while loading and unloading. Trains are to start running
from 27th November.
One of the highlights for me was
the chance to fly out and see the W5 complex for myself. With a
week and a half to go before opening the track was down but
construction of the elf village was still in full flow. With our
modular track system, the track was laid out and joined in just
over an hour. Each join is locked with two 8mm bolts.
It was one of the wettest days of
the year (even for Northern Ireland) on my visit. I had been to
Belfast before but had no idea where I was until crossing over
the river. The picture on the right was taken out of the window
looking across the Harland and Wolff ship yard. On the right you
can see one of the two massive cranes (called Samson and Goliath)
that dominate the Belfast sky line.
Having never done a business
flight before I can see why it is so popular. My return flight
left Belfast at 7pm and I was at home in Romford by 9.10pm.
I have been promised pictures of
the completed set up which I will post here once I get them.
If you are in the Belfast area -
even better go and see it for yourself. see http://www.w5online.co.uk for details. If you want to see a modern hands on
interactive discovery centre (as against a museum) then you can't
do much better than this.
Thanks to our
suppliers who helped me out with this project
were PNP Railways, Trax Controls, 4qd and
We have been blessed with two lots
of snow. I was lucky in a second trip to Northern Ireland as the
plane only just got out of Edinburgh before it was closed for 2
days. I manged 2 days going to work int he snow but with the
schools closing for a 3rd day and Barry not making it I had a
The December snow fell on a
Saturday completely covering the railway in the garden. Through
out the year my dad has been adding garden lights which looked
stunning in the snow. The foot prints in the station area of of
the foxes which came out to play.
With the snow came the cold
workshop. With a couple of fan heaters going it did eventualy get
up to 12 deg, which is quite good if you keep moving.
7 1/4" Gauge Coal Wagon
|After a bit of feed back the new coal
wagon driving trucks have been slightly tweaked.
- Composite foam seat (sanwich of medium and hard
- Swivel up running boards with locking hook
- 1" taller chassis
- 1.5" taller body
- New narrow coupling
- 4" wide running boards
Due to the weight we are supplying these with a lift
off body which can be bolted on if required.
New Jasper Body
With the 1.5mm bodies gone which
were made by outside fabricators, I have replaced it with a new
style body. Made in house they have a rolled bonnet and with a
curved roof. The main request I kept getting was for a split
Pictures of the first new body
before being sent to Stockport.
Out and About
we had our portable track at three Railway Exhibitions
It was nice to get back to 5inch gauge
and its easy handling. For Chelmsford exhibition we took
the points and had a second train running. We also used
one of our long 4 wheel trucks which freed up the two
public running coaches.
A big thanks to all those who had a
ride and donated money to St Fancis Hospice. I think we
are a little down on takings from last year but still
worth the effort.
Barnards Farm Railway
In preperation for the W5 contract
we wanted to test the new 7 1/4" gauge power bogies and
coaches. Thanks toBill Dadswell who is one of the many volenteers
helping lay the track at the Barnards Farm Railway.
||This railway promises to be a huge set
up once complete. Unfortunately due to track laying we
could only run up the side of the airstrip and across the
end. Still plenty of track for our testing purposes.
Thanks to Bill for not only sorting things out
for us but lending us a set of batteries from his
Metropolitain locomotive, as we were so busy loading up
things we forgot to pick up ours.
The power bogies utilise our standard
motors and like the Trojan has two per axle but with 4
axles offers nearly twice the power. The main advantage
using two motors is the reduced gear load on the main
spur gears. On test we were hitting speeds of 10-12mph
with plenty of spare power left.
We also took one of the W5 coaches
which behaved incredibly well. Having the bogies tucked
up in the chassis means they are wide but proved to be
for their latest progress.
In The Workshop
||It was a relief to finally get rid of
the 7 1/4" gauge track and coaches. At one point I
could only just reach the printer behind the stack of
track. October and the first couple of weeks of November
were nearly all taken up with the Christmas Express train
so there is little to report.
trusted Axminster horizontal bandsaw decided it didn't
like it's new blade. After a lot of fiddling about,
cursing and swearing I decided to buy a replacement saw.
This time a machine with a bit of grunt. You know it is
going to be big when it rolls up on the back of an artic
lorry. Once again the stacker truck paid for itself.
As many of you might have noticed the 7
1/4" section is growing. It is an area we want to develope
and as such we will be stopping some of our products.
- Sorry but we simply do not have time to
build colour light signals which nearly always ends up as
bespoke orders. We are intending to rationalise the range
and offer basic kits and components. We will be doing
this to save time. If you have always fancied a fully
finished feather signal with ladder then please order
soon as it may be your last chance.
- Industrial Hercules body 1.5mm steel. I
have one on the shelf which has been there for over 2 1/2
years. When it is gone I will be replacing it with a
2.5% VAT rise. It will be happening from 1st
January 2011. In line with this we will be putting our prices up
2.5%. Sorry but we have seen so many material price increases
that we cannot simply absorb the increase. If you buy before the
deadline then you will be charged at the old rate.
We will be closing early on 24th December and
opening again 5th January 2011. As always I will be on the phone
Sorry ran out of time for the 10 years of the
Have a good festive break and hope you join us
again in the new year.
All the best for now - Paul