Friday, 27 November 2009

Last Train over the Wolds

The 27th November 1965 marked the end of services on the York to Beverley railway with the very last being a six-car DMU running the 2142 from York to Hull - when this post is published tonight it will be forty four years to the minute since the last service set off and marked the end of the line service. The opening photo shows one DMU set on the last just ready to depart from Pocklington.

Of course I have covered the line before, but even so I feel that today's anniversary is worth a mention. If you get chance there's an interesting selection of photographs from the last day on the BBC Humber site. There is also an interesting piece with people's own memories of the line and the railway is very much about people, both railwaymen and the travelling public. There is still talk of reopening the line but for now you can still travel along part of the line, only for now it must be on foot...

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Best Laid Plans

There are certain articles I always go back - Chris Pendlenton's North Shields in MRJ No 58 is a prime example of this, so much so I'm on my third copy of it now! Another on is one article in Iain Rice's sadly missed RailModel Digest Issue No. 2 (along with an excellent article on Southwell) on Iain Rice's specialist subject, layout design.

He is, of course, very well known for his books and articles on this subject, both in the UK and in the USA. The two approaches from 'typical modellers' on the two sides of the Atlantic Ocean are quite different. UK modellers often seem to think about exhibition layouts with the emphasis being on appearance and American modellers seem, if their magazines are to be believed, to focus on operation. In Issue 2 Iain Rice proposes a plan which combines a UK prototype with an emphasis on operation.

Go back fifty or sixty years and many UK layouts were set up for operation - layouts like The Sherwood Section, for example, were very much focused on operation. Layouts like these seem to have mostly died out as many people lack the time, money and space for such 'empires'. The plan here addresses these rather nicely. It's inspired by the Burry Port and Gwendraeth Vally Railway in Wales, which was known for class 03 and 08 diesel shunters which had been reduced in height to clear structures along the line.

The plan would give a real sense of running trains from one place to another - something which has a huge appeal for me. The space required is quite reasonable too, at less than 10' x 8' - a room like this most people would try and squeeze in some kind of country branch station which could, if one wasn't careful, end up appearing cramped and rather unnatural yet the industrial subject here is quite at home in compact area and tight curves wouldn't look out of place.

I love how it combines various locations which would generate traffic and how they feed the exchange sidings where the branch meets the mainline. It's very much an opportunity to model a 'railway' rather than just part of it and in a space which many people could find and justify.

Looking at plans like this encourages you to think a bit out of the box in the approach to layout design yet it could easily have each scene modelled in the same way UK modellers tend approach small layouts with an emphasis on detail. Maybe this would be the best of both worlds? Plus having two or three friends round for operating sessions would help to bring the layout to life and would be a great way to spend an evening!

Monday, 16 November 2009

BBC Archive

I just had to share this wonderful link!

It's a wonderful selection of films! And it features two episodes of one of my favourite television series - Miles Kington's Steam Days. I remember watching these programs over and over again on video - it's a wonder I didn't wear the tape out! One of the episodes was about 46229 Duchess of Hamilton which may go somewhere to explaining my affection for this locomotive. The series was beautifully shot and Miles Kington was a railway enthusiast and this comes through in the programs.

Follow this link to see Miles Kington's wonderfully atmospheric journey from Fort William across the western Highlands via Glenfinnan to Mallaig.

It's superb!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Beavering Away

To provide a comparison with the new Beaver featured here a little while ago, I thought these images of a slightly older machine may be useful.

This is 51001 and is a long serving VolkerRail plain line tamper currently based in Scunthorpe and is out of public view for most of the time - you may see it from either Dawes Lane or the high level line from the blast furnaces if you're lucky!

The main difference from a production point of view is that this lacks any of the sophisticated computer control which the VolkerRail NL Beaver has but it's interesting to watch a good operator as the results can still be very good.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Fame at Last!

Just a very quick post this evening - we were featured in the Hull Daily Mail today! A great piece about the layout and what the project is all about! What makes it all the more pleasing is that the HDM's reporter, Katy Wood, was thorough in her research and has shown railway modellers in a very good light!

To read the online version of the article click here.

Botanic Gardens' Exhibition Debut

Last weekend Botanic Gardens made its exhibition debut! And no, we didn't know how big the layout would look either!

The layout was for the first time assembled as a single entity and it all went together perfectly! Dave's work with the non-scenic boards was superb! Chris' work with the station area is also to a very high standard. This area is a focal point of the layout and an area which many people remember. With the layout being a local subject meant we had a really nice reaction to the project with a lot of people sharing memories and experiences of the station and the surrounding area.

We didn't have much stock to run on the layout and my NER P1 did sterling service as it clocked up, we reckon, over 200 scale miles over the weekend! That's around 2,5 real miles! It hauled for most part a mixture of mine and Chris' stock. The weekend has showed us just how much a good run settles stock down, not just locos either; we found a couple of wagons which need adjustments for various reasons. We also need to find some way to stop brake vans being too free running amazingly!

It was a great weekend! Even if the time leading up to the weekend has cost me a fortune in DVDs and chocolate for Suzi! The interest that the layout generated was fantastic and really has raised my enthusiasm even more! Next year is going to be a lot of fun - loads of things planned and lots of stock to build!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Hull - This Weekend!

Just a quick reminder that the Hull MRS Exhibition is this weekend!

Full details have appeared on here previously and can also be found on the Society's website. Hope to see you all there!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Tamping In Newcastle

Last night I had a rather enjoyable trip to Newcastle to see VolkerRail NL's Beaver tamper at work. It's a great little machine and travels all over Europe on various jobs too including Sweden and Germany over the last few months. Making Tracks, November 2008 - Click to ViewSpeaking with the crew they do seem to like the opportunities that working on this machine brings!

The machine is enjoying its second stint in Newcastle on the Metro following a very successful first visit in the autumn of last year - it was very well received by the staff and management at Nexus, who couldn't speak highly enough of it during our visit! The speed of operation is very impressive and a huge source of pride for its crew.

It's a product of Plasser & Theurer - you may recall that I visited their 'Open House' event last year. This event was mainly focused upon 'big' machines intended for heavy mainline use and the Beaver is quite a contrast. My own experience of small tampers has been, most recently, within Corus' works with one of our own examples as well as rather tired examples on heritage railways. In these cases the degree of sophistication isn't that high; it's not needed though. Industrial railways are very much created as 'fit for purpose' and the key thing, in Scunthorpe for example, is to allow the safe passage of very heavy loads at low speeds.

VolkerRail NL's beaver is quite different though and is very sophisticated providing all the capabilities of a mainline machine in a small package which gives it distinct advantage on a system like the Tyne and Wear Metro with its smaller loading gauge.

It shows a direction in which a number of companies may be heading now; machines and plant which can operate in various countries. VolkerRail NL already has DR 73946 which, I believe, was the first tamping machine intended to be able to operate on any European standard gauge system. So as time goes on we may see foreign machines coming in and out of the country as and when work demands.

For those of you who don't get a chance to see just how a tamper actually works up close, I think this may be of interest. I have been asked a number of times at model railway exhibitions about this subject as many people are interested but the possibility of seeing it is quite low due to the times of work and the remote location of many work sites! So, here is a very short clip of the tamping banks in action -

The basic idea is that the 'tamping tools' pack the ballast beneath the sleepers as the machine 'lifts' and 'lines' the track by holding the rails. This adjusts the position in vertical (though only upwards) and horizontal direction, either left or right. Wikipedia actually provides a decent introduction to the subject too.

One final view of the Beaver during the works, its small size will be noticed -

It was a very enjoyable and educational visit - one of the many days which makes this industry thoroughly enjoyable from my point of view! I must also thank Phil Kirkland and Sid Lewis of Nexus for making it such an enjoyable visit.