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Newsletter  January 2013

 Sept 12 - Jan 13

Hopefully you will have noticed the website change over the Christmas period. The old website got a little bit messy with numerous broken links and duplicated pages. There were over 500 pages which I have trimmed down to less than 150. The new site is based around the drop down menu, which I am hoping will hold me in good stead for many years. Took ages planning it out and then actually rebuilding the site. I would estimate 5 days plus numerous evenings and there is still pages to put back.

I hope you find the format easier than before but if you are having problems then do get in touch. One bit of feed back was the missing accessories. Turns out they didn't notice you don't have to drop the menu bar down but you can click on accessories. I have put in links on other pages so hopefully it will help people to navigate around.

If in doubt use the search box - except for buffer stops. I noticed the only text is in a graphic image.

The grand plan - 3 clicks at most, to any page.

Alexandra Palace - London Model Engineering Show 2013

Once again we attended the London Model Engineering Show and shared a stand with Station Road Steam.

The joint stand worked well for both parties and allowed for circulation space. Stand space is at a premium and you have to chose limited items to fit in your 2.5m x 2.5m space.

It is not cheap but then it is one of the events + it is our local major show.

Arrival on Thursday for set up. By using my small trailer I was able to wheel most of the items on to the stand in one go. No the TV was in the back of the car and did not arrive on the trailer.

I popped in to the workshop on Friday morning before the show to pick up some bits. Having made the "To The Trains" sign I thought how fitting for Station Road Steam to have "Station Master" The joy of a vinyl cutter and a spot welder for the bracket.

Looking at last years pictures of the stand the pictures on the back board didn't seem to stand out. So this year we chose 8 pictures and put them on notice boards. The use of the TV to show pictures meant there were over 100 pictures to be seen.

The organ in the The Great Hall really makes this a unique venue. We ended up with two trams on our stand so a big thanks to a Mr Anders who let us use his tram engine, laminated wagon and Wisbech coach for display. He then very kindly collected it from us late on Sunday. Long way to come for a show but another reason why we hope to be there next year.
Close up of the 5" gauge tram which now lives in Germany.

One of the nerve racking things was how much snow had fallen while we were in the show.
Well the above picture was on Sunday. Not too bad
In Summary
The London Model Engineering Show represents a huge investment for us in time and money. Is it worth it? Well time will tell. At the end of the day the money comes from sales. I was trying to convince myself that shows such as these may have had there day. The press with "Snowmagedon?" certainly kept the fair weather visitors away.

We had a great three days meeting and chatting to people from all over Europe. Quite a few traveling over on the Eurostar certainly shows that to some, model engineering shows are still very important. We also had a lot of our catologues go out.

The venue can be hard work getting there on public transport and if you miss parking in the car parks on the hill it can be a long walk, but then what a venue. Steeped in a history full of fun and tragedy. I would recommend a visit to the official website and read the history and the proposals for the site. There were loads of people complaining about the food and drinks. Please do take the time to fill in the forms on the Alexandra Palace website. Let them know what you think. The site is run by a charitable trust but that is still no excuse.

Next year look for the brass plaque on the floor which commemorated the start of the rebuilding in 1984. It was a few feet from our stand.

But YES we will be there as I believe this show helps raise our profile and reputation.

Brass Drivers Controls

After searching the internet for many months to look for drivers controls I had to give up and make my own. Not ever having commissioned foundry work before (except plaques) it has been a learning curve. The new controller is primarily for the large 7 1/4" gauge locomotives but will equally fit in a 5" gauge driving truck and could be used as an alternative to the hand controllers.

The brass top plate is mounted on a laser cut steel frame which incorporates a notching device to give the drivers handle a notching effect. The notching disk also has a key slot to give the a positive stop at the max and min positions. Although it has notches, the control is via a potentiometer so you still have infinitely variable control.

OK see the video and it might make sense.

Prices and launch date to follow.

Two (or Too) Big Locos

With the Chingford Captain Howey loco being over a year old it is a bit unreasonable to keep borrowing it to demonstrate at trade and club days. So in October I decided to restart the construction of a second loco. Originally the frames were welded on the back of Captain Howey's but then stood up right in the workshop for a year or so.

The shape of a second Romney Hythe and Dymchurch loco takes shape. For a change I decided to make the nose from plywood especially as I had a new larger router bit.

Andrena taking her lunch break in the back end of the loco.

Left - The corners to the rear body are joined together using dovetail joins. This is to avoid any chance for cracking on the corners. It also removes the need for mechanical fixings to this corner so it can be routered to a rounded edge. This time I invested in a 70 router bit to get a 1" radius.

East Herts Miniature Railway - Lady Amwell

Having seen Captain Howey running at their track I was approached about building a custom locomotive for the society. They liked the Chingford loco but wanted something more unique. It was decided to loosely base their loco on Lady of the Lake which runs on the Ruislip Lido Railway.

The chassis complete with 8mm steel buffer beams.

Side frames for the loco - over eight foot long. Unlike Captain Howey we needed channel section. Getting 3mm thick channel was a challenge. Any thicker and it would have added a lot of weight.

Jasper in the cab - lifted in through the roof, and Faith. Just shows you how big the loco is.

Unlike Captain Howey the rear bonnet has slanted roof and pointed front. This posed a problem of how to construct the joints but still allow for routering of the edge. The solution was to use these key slots to pin the joint. Again this allowed for screw less join. At 80 a sheet birch plywood isn't cheap but it is certainly nice to work with and provides a very high finish.

iDrive update

The 140 amp 24v controller we use in our engines is still going strong and now it has a few more tricks up its sleeve

The use of the iDrive in the large locos has led us to explore additional features on the controller. To start with we are now able to put relay control direct from the wiring loom. This removes the need for separate battery connections. We have also programmed the top socket so it will provide 24v when reverse is applied. This can then be used to switching lights over when reversing.

Although the board is the same it is the way we program it that has changed. Pre 2013 controllers will not have these features unless we re program them. Happy to re program any controllers but you will need to bring them back or arrange to meet up at a show.

Pinewood Railway - RoR Owners Day

Bit of a gamble to hold a day so late in the year but for once in the year the weather was kind to us. Many thanks to Colin Gross who did all the dirty work. Thanks again for Colin who has been mugged in to repeating the event on May 25th 2013 but this time with Station Road Steam owners.

Ron Manning driving the 12v Jasper - Thanks to David who did the signals for the day.

Ready for this - Clark and Jasper behind Clark's Jasper locomotive which is called Clark.

The boys unloading Captain Howey which Ron kindly brought over from Chingford.

Clark and Jasper waiting to go out on the mainline.

Graham with his early Trojan followed by Keith with his Y6 tram engine

Captain Howey with Keith and Philys

Colin's Hercules complete with sound system. This loco causes me a lot of grief because of the amount of requests I get to have a Hercules like this. We are working on it.

As well as a Hercules and Jasper I took a trailer with the ride in tram. Ran well but definitely needs a dash board and drivers control. Something just wrong with a hand controller.
We were all made to feel very welcome at the club. We all just turned up and played trains. A great railway and a great club. Do hope you can join us in May. Should be great especially with Staffords in steam.

7 1/4" Gauge AGM - Mizens Farm

This years AGM was held at Mizens Farm. Our second visit as we had attended the 7 1/4" gauge Juniors Day. On both events the club were most welcoming and it was a joy to attend.

My family joined me on Saturday and we had the tram out on the track. Pictured here with Clark driving.

Once again too busy talking or playing so I only took a few pictures. Beautiful steamer with matching coaches. Many envious people around this loco.

Left - Tinkerbell from East Herts Miniature Railway.

My only trips around the track behind a steam train was behind EHMR tinkerbell. They even took it up the new inner line with hair raising inclines and descents. Great fun. The club coaches from Mizens Farm are also interesting. Sit astride but with a curved roof and windows to give it a railway coach look.

Very stable and nice looking. The use of inside frame bogies allow for low running boards to run the full length of the coach. While the handles on the roof are totally practical, they do detract from the details of the sides.

I only did the Friday and Saturday and by all accounts the rain set in and spoilt the running on Sunday.

Up north this year? Not sure yet.

W5 - Belfast

Two years ago we supplied a complete train set to W5 in Belfast. W5 is a centre which is a very hands on interactive centre. To call it a museum would be wrong and to call it education based makes it sound dull, but it is a  kind of cross between the two, with the best of both and none of the boring bits. Christmas time and for the third time they were setting up their winter wonderland and Christmas Express Train.

I was asked if I would go over to replace worn out rail. The circuit is a very tight one for 7 1/4" gauge and it was always known that the aluminium rail was sacrificial. It was accelerated in the first couple of weeks by a couple of damaged wheels which had nicks in. Presumably in transit the offending coach had been rolled on concrete.

While the track could have done another season they would rather have not tempted fate.

Armed with two battery drills drivers and a rail bender I spent two days replacing rail. Anyone who doubts our bender obviously hasn't used one. Curving the rail was a doddle. Pinging out the chairs, un bolting the track connectors, cutting and drilling rail was the hard bit.

So the rail replacement program worked -  2012/13 season -

"Christmas was brilliant, train was great success again we had about 16,000 people ride the train over the eight weeks and only one derailment!!"

Walk to work. W5 entrance is just below the right orange panel.

In the evening I took a big walk. The new Titanic building was amazing. The blue lines represent the Olympic and Titanic hulls on the slip ways.

Having seen the building in the distance it wasn't until I was up close that I got the concept of the ship bows. Amazing building, just need to go when it is open.

Belfast Town Hall. Lovely building and what a shame a few weeks later it is witness to such horrible scenes. I was told when hitch hiking around Northern Ireland in 1992. If you have the answer for the troubles in Northern Ireland  you don't obviously understand the problem.

Shoeburyness Model Railway Show

Quick mention of the above show. We attended the show to run our portable train set up. Managed to collect 326 for St Francis Hospice. Big thanks to the organisors for making it so easy. Great show but looking for help next year.

Faith came to help on the Sunday, along with her class dinosaur who had to fill in a diary about his adventures.

Joy of 5" gauge coaches and track on the trailer.

Chingford Christmas Steam Up

And finally a few pictures of my Polly. I can't thank Ron Manning enough as he totally rebuilt it for me. He has also been guiding me on how to look after it properly this time.

We got it steaming around 11am and it ran through to nearly 4pm with out a break. Lovely axle pump so no injectors, just running and enjoying a steam engine. Only trouble is fighting the kids off. Even Faith had to have her go at the front. So I spent most of my day on the rear of one of my raised trucks - not the cushion.

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