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.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Gremlin hunting

The November meeting started quite well.

David S had brought two loading gauges, one concrete and one rail-built.

Alan S distributed some experimental DG coupling checking devices - black blocks machined to fit on top of the rails, with slots at appropriate positions to check heights of buffing plates and loops.

They also included a jig to mark positions to drill holes in DG base plates, and in the mounting plates on wagon chassis, to allow them to be screwed in and adjusted - but he had found the procedure to be too fiddly to be useful.

One of these in use, checking the heights on Alan's own jinty.

Latest contribution to the layout's wagon collection - box vans and a plate wagon from David S, using some of Keith's cast resin bodies.

This month's unlikely visitor - a part finished Princess Elizabeth, from John Lewsey (himself a rather infrequent visitor to the group). A Nigel Hunt kit, construction described on RMweb here

At this point a smell of burning was detected from the power supply, and the gremlin hunt started. Testing separate parts of the layout isolated the short as being present in the half of the layout away from the fiddle yard - checking the separate circuits for point motors and uncoupling magnets revealed no problems, so the short lay somewhere in the trackwork circuit. Connecting cables were switched, and eliminated as the cause of the problem.

Eventually the short was narrowed down to one position of a specific set of points. Initial diagnosis suggested the switch was at fault, so the control panel was dismantled and the offending switch replaced.

Unfortunately the problem persisted, but eventually poking various parts of the offending set of points dislodged the gremlin and the layout resumed working properly.

By this time there wasn't much time left to attack the "ToDo List" generated from the previous month's experience at Wilmington Exhibition, so this was deferred until next month.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Wilmington Exhibition - October 2016

A somewhat exhausting weekend, virtually on  home ground.

Assembly of the layout was well in progress when I arrived at about 7.45 on Saturday morning, then slowed somewhat as all the various scenic sub-boards were carefully slotted into place.

By opening time (10 am) everything was up and running, and early testing confirmed no major problems.

Alan Smith's warehouse (latest incarnation) made its first appearance on the layout.

A good overview of the right hand side of the layout - next outing should have the backscene extended to fill the gap.

Another train arriving, adding a few more wagons to keep the shunters occupied.

Shunting in progress.

The design of the layout severely restricts length of trains - loco plus five wagons maximum.

More intensive shunting - both of the Jinties in operation.

Topping up the coaling stage.

Some of the loco roster.

Class 24 diesel and Q from Keith, 4F and Jinty from Alan S.

Eagle-eyed viewers may spot that the top of the water crane is missing - broken in transit and awaiting repair.

A peek behind the scenes - trains formed in the fiddle yard/traverser, waiting their chance to add to the wagons in the yard.

A serious photography session before opening time on Sunday morning.

Unfortunately none of the fruits have yet made their way to the blog...

We were in a separate small hall, away from the main hall and the church, so the crowds of spectators were never overwhelming.

Most were very appreciative of the layout, particularly the front scenery, and we kept a few of the younger viewers busy trying to find all the pigeons.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

September 2016

Next month's exhibition, which is concentrating minds on ensuring that the layout is working reliably.

Extended testing of locomotives, trackwork, and rolling stock revealed a few minor problems, all of which were successfully fixed.

Some stock from Alan S - a converted Minitrix brake van and three not-quite-finished BR box vans.

Also from Alan S, a couple of converted Farish locos, using the Association's "almost drop in" replacement wheel system. Jinty and 4F are not entirely convincing for a south London layout but a quick and simple way to get some locos running.

Keith's train awaiting arrival from the fiddle yard. The class 24 wasn't running as well as it should, the wagons were fine.

Some of the stock being shunted during the testing session.

Coaling stage, incorporating a water crane, from David S.

Work-in-progress - some of my contributions to the wagon collection (carefully photographed with strong rear lighting to hide their flaws). Some non-standard vans, to add variety to the mix.

This month's improbable visitor - an unfinished co-bo by David S from a Worsley Works kit, apparently a friend of Thomas...?

News from the Southwestern branch of the Group - a photo from Pete Townsend, showing his new log cabin (and future railway room).

Monday, 15 August 2016

Wagon workshop - August 2016

The August meeting was planned as a wagon-building workshop. The intention was for members to build some wagons to populate the layout, reducing reliance on the stockboxes of Keith and Alan S - in time for the forthcoming (October) Wilmington Exhibition if possible.

Everybody appeared to be well equipped, with a variety of mobile workbenches and wagon kits to

 Keith started with a general introduction, suggesting source books for building techniques and prototype information, drawings and pictures. He then went step-by-step through his suggested method of construction, specifically for a BR standard van, with numerous tips and suggested tools/jigs.

For example
a top hat bearing soldered to an flat brass "handle", for checking the size of the hole in the etch
a pair of forceps with a "notch" for inserting wheelsets in the underframe
use of a wheel-less axle to hold top hat bearings in position whilst soldering

He showed off some of his collection of cast resin wagon bodies, and distributed van bodies to be mounted on the underframes being built. He also recommended the use of self-cast axleboxes, rather than the fold-up etched ones in the kits.

All the would-be builders were far too interested in this talk to make much progress on building their own wagons, but went away full of enthusiasm and good intentions to have something ready for the next meeting.

The layout lay untouched, though Alan S had some progress on the warehouse to demonstrate.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Chatham Debrief

 A rather shorter report this time.

Most of the July meeting was devoted to a debrief of the recent Chatham Exhibition, where Lighterman's Yard (apparently now nicknamed "The Yard", to sidestep the apostrophe controversy) made its first appearance at a major public exhibition. Though that's not strictly accurate - it appeared at Warley some years ago, in a rather unfinished state.

The numerous invitations to other exhibitions suggest that it was a successful debut, and threaten a busy time over the next couple of years.

There were a few issues from points and uncoupling that needed attention - some were fixed during the meeting, others postponed for later.

Various organisational issues were discussed for future shows - transport, manning, funding, and communal toolbox being the main ones.

David Smith brought along this model which had started life as a recent Farish class 47. The body was lowered, the bogies were narrowed, and detailing was added - new handrails, doors and roof fans. Despite heavily weathered wheels it ran well.

A cast body from a master made by David Smith. 3mm scale, so even if it had bogies they probably wouldn't fit on the track.

Checking the track, using the Class 47 and a couple of vehicles from the dairy dock.

Whilst a layout is never complete, the Yard doesn't have much left on the "must do" list - mainly completing the ballasting, building the last warehouse, and training the operators. So "working on the layout" probably won't be such a central feature of future meetings.

A wagon-building workshop is planned for the next couple of meetings (though this has the stated aim of providing extra rolling stock for the layout).

So now is probably a suitable time to repeat the invitation to prospective members to come along and see what goes on here. Volunteer operators will be particularly welcome, but all aspects of 2mm modelling will be discussed.

Saturday, 25 June 2016


Several members of the group converged on Tutbury Village Hall for the Supermeet, and I include below a few of the photos I took.

Some of the wagons built by the late Steve Sykes, together with prizes that they won at 2FS AGM competitions.

Laurie Adams' layout "Yeovil Town"

The shunting tractor on Yeovil Town, which tested the driving skills of several spectators.

Ian Smith's "Modbury"

Andy Carlson's "South Yard".

An updated/extended version of Mark Fielder's "British Oak" layout, which features in the Beginners Guide. This version, by Richard Caunt, incorporates working hopper systems which deposit coal into the barge (and coal dust into the neighbourhood!).

David Long's "Mayfield Street".

Early stage of a narrow gauge layout by Phil Copleston.

Discussion of the "Minories" layout, which Mick Simpson and Alan Whitehead almost finished over the weekend at Railex.

 A view from the other end.

"Colwyn Bay Goods" from Bryn Jones.

Various works-in-progress on Keith Armes' table.

There were at least half a dozen other displays that aren't included in the above photos.

An enjoyable day was had by all, well worth the long trips to get there (which paled into insignificance against Kevin Knight's ...)