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.

Thursday, 16 April 2020

April 2020: Lightermans Yard on the Road in 2019

The Covid-19 Coronavirus lockdown has meant that we were unable to have our scheduled April meeting. The idea of looking back over the last twelve months of being 'on the road' with Lightermans Yard suggested a way of keeping our social presence. It so happens that we were showing off pretty regularly at exhibitions throughout the year, here is a reminder, if only to ourselves, of our appearances.

Our first outing of 2019 was in January to the Erith Model Railway Society exhibition. Visitors voted “The Yard” best in show for which we were the first recipients of The John Muskett Memorial Shield. To our delight the layout behaved itself, apart from the odd nudge of the tank locos. We will be prioritising stay alive units in these locos in an attempt to achieve near faultless running.

February we were showing at the Tonbridge one day show which lived up to its reputation. By the 10am opening a substantial queue had formed stretching
quite a way from the entrance.  The show was very well attended.

We all enjoyed the weekend at The Festival of Railway Modelling at Alexandra Palace in March. Our position in the West Hall, Stand 142, attracted an almost constant crowd of onlookers. There are just so many pictures to be taken of the public enjoying Lightermans Yard! Some casting their expert eyes over the scene - and the operation ...

April saw us at the East Surrey N Gauge Exhibition. Usually at mixed scale shows people are heard authoritatively telling family and friends “Now this is N Gauge”. At this N Gauge Show the viewers were all aware of The Yard being 2mm finescale and gave very complementary and informed opinions. Some were heard to ask about the more technical aspects of the trackwork and point control. The operating staff from other layouts were also very friendly towards us and, again, said some very nice things about Lightermans Yard. 

In June a four man crew set off for the Tutbury 2mm Association supermeet on a very wet Friday morning with Alan, Keith and Pete K in a hire van and David in his car. Despite the miserably wet journey, upon arrival it was possible to reverse the van under a canopy so that unloading was relatively dry.

As always with Association meetings it was good to catch up with old friends and put faces to names. The show was generally thought to be a success with a lot more visitors than last year. 

In September the 2mm Association 2019 AGM was held at the Steam Museum in Swindon on 7 September - deep in GWR territory.

Although we didn't exhibit it's worth mentioning that of the competition awards, Keith won two of the 9 awards for the same entry, four BR wagons. The Dreadnought Trophy for passenger rolling stock and the Members Choice Cup.

The Saturday following our October meeting found us exhibiting at the Beckenham and West Wickenham Model Railway Club one day show.

The exhibition is held in what is normally the church with the pews set aside, a dauntingly high roof and very few visible signs of Sunday's use. Lightermans Yard was in the main church on a raised stage near the hidden alter. There was a large array of organ pipes in the wall behind our stand.
It is worth adding the first couple of months of 2020. In January Lightermans Yard was invited to show at the Southampton Model Railway Exhibition at Eastleigh. This two day event was well patronised with good layouts and some trade stands. The exhibition was set in several large spaces in the 6th form college, including the theatre and sports hall. 

The Yard's operating crews experienced an enjoyable and fulfilling two days, particularly overhearing the complimentary comments from 'out the front'.

March was somewhat overshadowed by the coronavirus scare, however, five braved the journey to prepare and the now familiar task of loading the cars for our next exhibition appearance at the Abingdon & District MRC (ABRAIL) on Saturday 21 March. Cancelled shortly after our preparations, and the outcome is that Lightermans Yard is still 'on the road' split between members north and south of the River. We are currently unable to return the layout to our regular meeting base and storage at the church hall in Wilmington. Meanwhile our plans are to hold virtual meetings, more on this in May.
However, this month we were pleased to see that the current Spring issue of BRM has included a ten page article on Lightermans Yard in it's London feature. The photographs were taken by BRM's Phil Parker at Alexandra Palace last year. The basic text provided by ourselves. 
Stay safe - it's an opportunity to model in this lockdown world. No place for excuses!

 Watch out for a report on our virtual May meeting around 10 May.

Thursday, 12 March 2020

March 2020 Meeting

Our March meeting was somewhat overshadowed by the coronavirus scare, however, five braved the journey to prepare and the now familiar task of loading the cars for our next exhibition appearance at the Abingdon & District MRC (ABRAIL) on Saturday 21 March.

We have been experiencing a mysterious locomotive stall on the Back Yard Feed despite 'stay alive' being fitted. David and Alan checking for light showing a dip in the track.

We eventually discovered that the addition of an anchor bolt to the underside of the track board to the base frame - to solve another joining problem - was to blame. 

David produced his two diesel brake tenders now with running detail and weathered colours.

Alan showed a custom crossover with servo controlled point motors, an intended test for Evercreech Junction.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

February 2020 Meeting

Big thanks to Pete King for this month's meeting report and photos.

In spite of Storm Ciara, Alan, David, Gordon, Keith and Pete K managed to make the meeting (will nothing keep these madmen away?). Once the unpacking of the cars, after Eastleigh, had created the usual pile of parts the meeting proceeded.

All present unanimously agreed to accept the offer of a place at next years’ Portsmouth show.
Keith making the “right way up” repair.
The first and most important item was to make a more permanent soldered repair to the errant wire, see the Southampton blog. Keith was happy to be soldering the right way up for a change!

Brake tenders.
David opened a box of goodies which included two diesel brake tenders, a class 37 body and a track maintenance vehicle. The class 37 had been heavily modified and 2 millisized. The resizing was achieved by reducing the length and making two cuts lengthwise either side of the roof to reduce the width. David said the ends of the bonnets should be slightly inclined so that was also part of the extensive mods.

The class 37 showing some of the mods including etched cab windows.

Some class 37 details.
Track maintenance vehicle.
Keith showed an Evercreech Junction fiddle yard crossover he had constructed this using the Templot templates provided by Pete K.
Under the crossover showing one pair of tiebar droppers.
Keith’s toolbox craving some limelight!

It was then time to face Ciara once again for the journey home.

Loco of the month; Modified Class 37!

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Southampton Exhibition 25-26 January 2020

Lightermans Yard was invited to show at the Southampton Model Railway Exhibition at Eastleigh. This two day event was well patronised with good layouts and some trade stands. The exhibition was set in several large spaces in the 6th form college, including the theatre and sports hall.

Gauges from 0 to N were represented with a good showing of fine scale layouts; P4, EM, 009, 3mm and 2mm FS.

The 2mm Association Roadshow and Jerry Clifford's demonstration of modeling in 2mm FS, were busy for most of the two days.

Pete, Keith and Alan Smith ferried the layout down to Eastleigh on Friday and setup Lightermans Yard and checked that everything was running and functioning properly. Of course, the next morning one or two niggling faults appeared, one of which sent Keith underneath the track to re-attach a drifting wire! Apart from that, a point blade on the back road lost contact with loco wheels causing a stall in one direction. Later we encountered uncoupling problems on the reception road, not always the magnet's fault.

Otherwise the operating crews experienced an enjoyable and fulfilling two days, particularly overhearing the complimentary comments from 'out the front'. On Saturday the operators, working mainly in pairs, were Pete, Keith. Alan and Richard. We found we had too few locos to be able to assemble trains in the fiddle yard - added more locos on Sunday. Howard joined us on Sunday. Important 'driver experience' for Richard and Howard.

Always pleasing to see a large crowd around the front of the layout!

Pete and Keith on the operating side, and Keith's very occasional intervention to help the annoying uncoupling snag.

We ran a mixture of steam and diesel traction placing this almost in the final days of steam.

Moments from the rest of the show;