Monday, 11 May 2020

May 2020: Social Distance Meeting

This month we chose to do what several other 2mm Association Area Groups have done and have a virtual meeting using Zoom. Anticipating some problems with technology and Internet connections, and not a little resistance too, Howard - with his MERG - experience set up a zoom space to commence at our normal meeting time on Sunday May 10.

The zoom meeting space. Howard acted as administrator. Participants are shown at the top of the screen (those with computer camera and microphone are shown live). The 'Chat' window on the right is for text conversations and for those who don't have use of a camera or microphone.All the activities on the screen can be shared in a browser window, including individual participants' contributions using 'share screen'.
The theme of the meeting 'what's on your worktop', was announced beforehand so images could be collected and shown without the need to download during the meeting. We recorded the meeting, but the mp4 file is too large to post here.

First to show, David says I’ve attached a couple of photos of things I have been working on, one is a new test track using a couple of the association’s point kits and a start has been made on a new loco one bogie almost finished and the other not to far behind just got the rest of the loco to do now!

The last one isn’t railways but they’re almost 2mm scale.

Alan was contributing using the chat window and sharing his computer screen.

On the left a still from a video of a 7F on the test track, and below the track opened out to the circle below. The 7F is the same kit of parts Keith used. It is an etch by Nigel Hunt and I have produced the fire box and boiler. Along with my version of the build I have been making other parts to assist construction, hence I am probably 2 and a half years behind Keith's version. I have only just completed the valve gear and again I have made some extra parts to help with this. As you can see it now runs and I am happy with the performance so far. I am looking to make the chimney and dome again I have used commercial castings and they do not look quite right.

Referring to the following pictures, Alan adds; The first of the photos below shows a batch of gear meshing tools for the shops.
These have been machined from Brass bar. The round bits have all been turned on my CNC lathe, including off set turned pin holders for the pins. The pins themselves are silver steel (tool steel) which will need to be hardened.

The next photo with the etches are some parts I am developing for the 'Fowler' tenders required for various locos running on the S&D. The etches are an old Mike Raithby design he did for his 4F kit. As designed they are a little narrow so I have made extra parts the correct width on the mill. The chassis is made with etches and double sided PCB the chassis alone is made from many pieces and pivots on a pin so as to transfer load onto the back of the loco a useful feature. My design uses only 12 parts and screws together. It is hoped to make new tender side pieces and most of the gubbings that goes above the chassis to form a complete tender. Keith has produced some nice axle boxes in resin to complete the detail.

Just a quickie to say I thought yesterdays meeting by Zoom quite successful. Although I did not have a microphone or camera I managed to contribute to the meeting. As you can imagine this is a little frustrating having to type while others are talking but all in all I think it was well done. The 30-40 minutes or so went very quickly. Nice to see those I could see!

Howard says; "I started converting MSN to DCC by removing the sectional wires and adding a DCC bus bar. However my stomach problems (acid reflux) means I cannot easily bend down or lift heavy objects, and this started after I commenced the DCC conversion. Working on one baseboard means I need to turn it over, and I found this difficult on my own. Having broken the loading gauge and one of the station lamps I decided I needed an alternative solution.

So I turned to another problem – how to support the corner boards. Eventually I came up with the Mk3 version – a folding set of legs which fits under a corner board with no alteration needed on the corner boards. This can be slid along the corner board once it is fixed to the layout and help support the next corner. In keeping with the ethos of MSN it would have been better to make this out of plywood, but I did not have any suitable and so used some wood recycled from some bunk beds. There is a small plywood base that holds the legs in position, and I fitted levelling feet.

I then realised I could reuse these to hold each baseboard in a way that allowed me to turn the baseboard over. 
I used an M6 bolt to pivot the end plates, and small brass bolts to hold it in position with holes in the end plates. I added some threaded insert nuts on the end plates to take the M6 bolts; unlike the T nuts these can be fitted flush to the surface.

I have also been heavily involved in MERG. We have several meetings each week using the video conferencing program zoom (4 last week, 2 this week). I am developing some new kits, including a “CBUS Beginner’s Pack”. Furthermore I have been looking at suitable CBUS modules for Evercreech Junction – my recommendation would be to use boards based on the CANVOUT range rather than the CANMIO boards.

Richard showed a full size mock-up cameo intended for the Diamond Jubilee Challenge (now in 2021). Clyde (working title) inspired by an old Woodbines advertisment I have had on my studio wall for years and prompted by the chance discovery of a picture of John Brown's yard on the Clyde. (apologies to any of those north of the border for this southern intervention)
This looks ideal for the challenge, so I set about modelling. Originally intended as a joint venture with Tom Cutting, but when he moved back to Yorkshire we modified the involvement and he is laying the track. 

This image shows the hull of a liner on the slipway with the distinctive shipbuilding cranes and a mobile fitting out crane. The cranes are styrene and moulded strip. The fretwork is made using a Silhouett cutter. The buildings will be scratch built modeled on Glasgow shipyards.

Locomotion will be provided by a Peckett 0-4-0 industrial saddle tank, with inside cylinders. Alan Smith is making a 'solid' split chassis for me to give weight. I started a N Brass kit, but decided my engineering skill were not up to it and the chance discovery of a 3D version from Shapeways made better sense! Trains will enter and exit the scene between buildings.

Pete King (not in the meeting) Offered a few scraps here of what he has been up to.

Unfortunately when Alan and Keith offered up Richard’s Evercreech “one sheet plan” it was found to be the wrong size. I checked on Templot and asked Keith for a drawing with scales added to verify my settings. It turned out they were wrong. The two attachments show the scaled drawing, after correction, with the Templot spacing ring set to scale 40ft and then set to 9.42mm. 

Meanwhile, on Brixham I have copied one of Richard’s blog photos to remind you of how it looked when Keith handed it over to me. The remaining photos show the boards now painted inside and out and with varnished cork in place, the first piece of Templot fixed in place with a closer view of the TOU tiebars and finally the TOU extenders I have made to transfer the movement from the operating rods which will be on the lower board up to the top board. Once all the templates are in place they will be varnished to seal them before track laying. The templates will cover the tiebars and  just have slots in them for the dropper wires to pass through. With any luck this should make the TOUs fairly unobtrusive.

From Pete Townsend (in Somerset, not at the meeting); Just a couple of pictures to show that I haven't been completely idle down here. Still a lot of work to do on new layout named "Leigham Road". Currently laying track on curved end boards to get round to fiddle yard.

Hopefully this report of our first Zoom experience might encourage more of us to take part next time. It really was an interesting meeting lasting about 40 minutes and given that we will remain in lockdown for several months yet, a great way to demonstrate what we are working on in the 2mm world.

Please join us again next month.


  1. The John Browns' cameo looks superb and I'm sure will make a knockout model. The Forth and Clyde Group was briefly seduced by the possibilities of a circular-track shipyard cameo with a gantry crane, at Yarrow's yard: But that scene you've chosen is way better. Looking forward to seeing it at the Diamond Jubilee+1 show! Graham

  2. Looking back at some of the blog posts on Evercreech Junction, I came across some showing the Highbridge end of the branch area. AIUI your layout is going to be circa-1950s/60s? In which case it looks as if parts of the map are out-of-date, for example showing the Down Branch Home signal in its pre-1930s location etc.

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