Sunday, 23 April 2017

Epsom Exhibition

Setting up on for the exhibition, on the Friday evening, presented a few unforeseen difficulties.

We met as arranged at 4pm, to beat the worst of the Friday afternoon traffic. The Exhibition venue was officially inaccessible until 5pm (still in use), so we wandered around outside trying to assess the best entry route.

After a while a few cars were allowed through the gates into the car park adjacent to the hall. Leaving the cars outside, we ventured closer on foot, trying to agree which way up the map should go. The hall wasn't yet marked out, but we discovered which distant corner we had been allocated. We located the nearest entry, then Keith and Pete K went back for their cars, which each contained half of the layout.

Assembly went smoothly, then came the testing, using Keith's Association 08. Despite Keith having taken home the trackbed, and cleaned and overhauled the points, gremlins were found to infest two separate points. A prolonged poking session eventually dislodged them and they appear to have then taken up residence in Nigel Cliffe's P4 layout, Coldfair Green, on the far side of the main hall.

In the meantime, Paula had set up the 2FS RoadShow in the adjacent spot, and foolishly entrusted it to us while she went off for a weekend in Dorset.

 We managed to negotiate our exit through the high security gates, and returned again early on Saturday morning for a track cleaning session, followed by assembly of the backscene. A few of the finishing touches, like information sheets, had been overlooked, and didn't arrive until Sunday. But we were (mostly) ready for the arrival of spectators at 10 o'clock.

Saturday was a busy day, the layout usually being surrounded by a significant crowd. Unfortunately that didn't extend to the adjacent Roadshow, where sales remained at zero - though there were a few visitors (mostly existing members).

We had a minor scenery repair session at the beginning of Sunday - Pete K glued back an awning that had become dislodged, and I reattached loose reins on the brewers' dray and repainted some broken ridge tiling on one of the houses.

Sunday morning was much quieter. Perhaps prospective visitors were still running the London Marathon, or just enjoying a lie-in.

Sunday afternoon brought more traffic. Lots of families, and we challenged some of the children to find cats/dogs/pigeons on the layout - the pigeons usually eluding them.

As can be seen, we were off the main hall, not perhaps in the most accessible location, which made the substantial (and usually highly appreciative) crowds of spectators a pleasant surprise.

Five o'clock on Sunday - a whistle was blown, and the show closed to visitors. Dismantling of the layout was impressively fast, and within half an hour it was ready for loading up. Next stop Bournmoor, in another month, for the 2mm Supermeet.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Preparing for next Exhibition - Epsom

Assembly of the layout revealed a couple of minor changes to optimum order - namely don't tighten the screws holding down the trackbed until the adjacent scenic boards are all in position

Pete K fixed the broken water crane.

Keith opened up the control panel and added a couple of connectors for the new MERG controllers.

Unfortunately when they were tested, the point motors were all dead, so he had to open it up again, and persuade that connector back into position too.

Work in progress from Alan S - 1 in 7 diamond crossing, using the new Easitrac points system.

Keith added a solid end to the fiddle yard, for security.

Seen from the operator side.

Extended testing of the trackwork revealed one problem area, probably poor contact from the point microswitch. Track taken home by Keith for some more remedial work.

Scene in the fiddleyard after a brief "banking" trial, where a second jinty had pushed the outgoing train from the rear, then dropped away (the DG coupling at the rear of the brake van being temporarily disabled). It also served as a quick check of fiddleyard capacity - 13 wagons, plus brake van, plus small loco (all the readily available stock). This probably needs cutting to about 10 wagons plus brake van plus large loco to allow the traverser to traverse...

The various layout components were split between the cars of Keith and Pete K, for transport to the Exhibition in a couple of weeks.

Spectators welcome - Epsom, April 22 and 23. Apparently we are staffing the 2FS Roadshow there too, so it should keep us fairly busy.

Monday, 13 March 2017

March Meeting

Mostly preparation for the next outing - Epsom in April.

Alan S had acquired a fourth scenery box - rather smaller than the rest, but conveniently shaped to match certain warehouses that won't fit in the existing three boxes.

Optimum order of assembly of scenery and trackbeds was established, by trial and error, to be recorded in the forthcoming manual.

Keith brought along the MERG controllers bought and assembled for the layout. There was a fairly extensive running session, with the controllers approved by those who tried them.

A couple of troublesome point blades were dealt with - at least temporarily. Trackbeds were taken away for more extensive treatment.

This month's implausible visitor - from David S, an ex-GWR heavyweight carrier with accompanying girder load. I think it's the Pollen E (diagram A7), originally 4 wagons, each with 3 axles, linked together and used initially to carry main guns for dreadnought battleships. Later it was split into 2 units, each of 2 wagons.

As this month's blog entry seems rather short, I have raided the archives again. Photo from Richard, before I joined. Back in those days assembling the layout looks so much simpler - no scenery, no legs, no lighting rig, just grab a couple of convenient tables ...

Monday, 13 February 2017

February 2017 - tweaks and gremlins

Various minor improvements were evident at the February meeting.

Keith had rearranged the trackbed box - the two halves of the trackbed are now fastened separately to the floor and roof of the box, instead of being screwed together in a confusing manner. Also there is now a screw fitting to the trackbed, to pull it down and reduce the bowing which tended to produce runaways during shunting.


 Alan S had rearranged the scenery boxes, numbering them as 1 to 3, that being the order in which their contents are positioned on the layout.

He had also provided battens for the duckboards, to provide another inch of elevation for vertically-challenged operators.

And finally Alan's main warehouse was on show, in an almost-finished state.

Richard was working on the extension to the backscene, to go behind Alan's warehouse and hide the fiddleyard. It should be finished by the next exhibition (Epsom in April), though Richard is off to Australia and will miss the next two meetings.

Testing of trackwork and uncoupling magnets revealed that the gremlins had struck again - a dead frog, positioned in a completely inaccessible location. The offending half of the trackbed was removed, and an extended diagnostic session identified a dry solder joint which was fixed.

An overview of the warehouse end of the layout, with new backscene in place, and selection of wagons for the layout - mostly a mixture of BR and GWR vans, from Pete K.

A close-up of the warehouse and backscene, during experiments to check the clearances.

Monday, 9 January 2017

January 2017 - Layout Manual

Having rashly offered to produce the planned "Manual", I spent the first part of the session taking photographs (almost a hundred!) of the process of assembling the layout. A few of these are included below.

Finishing assembling the legs

First scenery sub-board being added

Connecting up the lighting

Adding one of the smaller scenery sub-boards

Next we attacked the "To Do" list, and managed to knock off a few items. For example, clearance problems within the dairy building were investigated, and it became clear that the Dapol milk tankers, though over-scale, were not the cause of the problems - rather it was the steps on the sides of the shunting locos. So the solution is easy - enforce the ban on locos entering buildings (both warehouse and dairy) which will be written into the Operating section of the manual.

 Richard had brought a draft version of the next stage of the backscene - to fit behind Alan S's warehouse and block the view of the fiddle yard.


 The recently added backscene had created operating problems - namely it was too high for most operators to see over...
The fix was "duckboards" resting on the scenery boxes, but these aren't quite high enough for the more vertically-challenged operators, so they will need to be raised by another inch or so.

It was decided to acquire/build three MERG controllers dedicated to the layout, rather than rely on borrowing controllers from individual members, and contributions were collected to finance these.

Substantial chunks of the layout were allocated to members to take away for further work at home - Keith taking the track boards for various tweaking, and Alan S taking the scenery boxes for labelling and rearrangement to better fit the ever-expanding range of buildings.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Exhibitions schedule - December 2016

The exhibition invitations for the coming two years were the main focus for this meeting, the last for 2016.

Lightermans Yard Show Calendar 2017-2018

22-23 April          - Epsom
20 May                - Bournmoor
14-15 October     - Farnham (AGM)
21-22 October     - Uckfield
11-12 November - Tolworth
17 Feburary        - Tonbridge
14-15 April         - Crawley

 We are committed to the NEAG at Bournmoor in May 2017 and possibly to Epsom too.

The discussion focused on the two following weekends in October 2017, and whether we should drop Farnham (AGM) or Uckfield. However, the general consensus was that both are good shows, although Farnham would require a van and some overnight accommodation.

In addition there may now be a further Wilmington Exhibition 7/8 October 2017. However the initial reaction is that we have already shown twice on 'home ground' and these dates would mean three different shows in as many weeks in October.

At this stage, We will may decline Tonbridge in 2018 as it's only a one day which may be too much to deal with. Crawley are still awaiting our confirmation.

Transportation of the layout and personnel was discussed at length and a formula for shows inside or close to the M25 could be managed with two cars. Bournmoor and Farnham (possibly) will involve hiring a van and both require some accommodation. Several member/operators will travel independently or by train to shows in the South East (with minimal costs) on a daily basis.

Inevitably there will be future alterations to this schedule. It was felt that, although it is very complimentary to the layout, we should not necessarily jump and fulfil every invitation.

Servo Driven Point Motor

At the end of the exhibition discussion, Keith produced a demonstration model of a servo driven point motor prototype using MERG and other components, with the idea of producing a possible point mechanism kit. As usual, this demonstrated Keith's legendary skills and also created wide interest.

Component parts: Servo motor £1.50 approx; MERG programming box £20 (one off cost); MERG programmable card kit £6; add a switch, Easitrac point and power supply.

Merry Christmas and a happy productive 2mm New Year!

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Warley 2016

Saturday 26 November 2016. Group visit to the Warley Model Railway Exhibition at the NEC Birmingham.

Many thanks to Pete King for organising travel and entrance to the exhibition for the party of four who made the early train from Euston; Pete K, Alan S, Gordon and Richard. On arrival in the Exhibition we met up with our Hon West Country member, Pete Townsend.

Much to Pete K's obvious delight we were confronted with the full size re-build of the GWR 'Betton Grange' locomotive (none of the 80 Grange class survived the torch), many of its parts were savaged from Barry scrapyard, some re-engineered and, for Warley, the boiler borrowed from Cogan Hall (eventually to be replaced by the boiler from Willington Hall). Apparently having undergone so much refurbishment and much new work, 6880, the 81st Grange, will be classified as a new locomotive.

Next stop the 2mm Association stand where an array of demonstration and build activities were taking place. We focused on a demonstration by Mick Simpson of 'scale' sound effects applied to a 2mm diesel loco and DMU unit, their engine noise and horns just audible against the background exhibition 'hu-bub'. Under the demo track 'plank', Mick revealed the use of independent battery and switch operated servos used as point motors wired for both DC and DCC. This is a very neat and cheap solution to a complex part of the construction of some layouts. 

This simple demonstration layout also sported working 'catch points', a 'fiddle yard' extension and 'off the board' train storage at either end. Mick has threatened some 'scenic' additions.

Apart from the stand, the 2mm Association was represented by Copenhagen Fields, with new work on the marshalling yards in evidence. The display always attracts large numbers of spectators, and probably accounts for much of the interest shown in the Association, even conversions and new members. "No it's NOT 'N' gauge!"

Much of our time at the show was occupied by 'window shopping' with the occasional purchase.   

Another treat for Pete K was in the second full size locomotive on show, the narrow gauge Vale of Rheidol No 9 from Aberystwyth.

A delightful layout that caught our eye was a G scale narrow gauge live steam Hambledon Valley Railway. The sight of real steam applies a certain prototypical realism (unlike Photoshop additives).

A very satisfactory visit and a sleepy return to Euston on Virgin, thanks Pete.