Friday, 31 May 2013


Leaving Dalegarth.

We've just come back from a long weekend in Cumbria. We went away as it was our fifth wedding anniversary!


The weather for the most part was excellent; clear skies and warm sunshine. Only on the last day did the heavens open. And they did so spectacularly. Though I have been informed that it's to be expected up there, as 'how else do you think they keep the lakes topped up'...

Drigg Signal Box

The area is lovely and it's the first time I've been right to the coast in Cumbria. In part it has similarities with parts of the East Yorkshire coast. The coast has much for the railway enthusiast - the Cumbrian Coast line is delightful and still traditionally signalled. I imagine that being a signaller on the line is quite a nice, laid back way of life.

Wroxham Broad at Ravenglass

Despite the weekend marking our wedding anniversary, somehow it was planned we'd to visit the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway! It's a place I've wanted to visit for a very long time, and thankfully it didn't disappoint.

Ravenglass, RER station

I was really taken by the railway - it was a shame we didn't have a ride, but a small boy who wasn't very well just wasn't up to it. He still enjoyed seeing the railway! Asking a few times questions like "Is that engine like Jock?"

Northern Rock at Ravenglass, very similar to Jock!

The railway has a really lovely feel to it and I think is well worth visiting. It has a friendly feel to it but I felt the operation for turning trains seemed slick and professional. It's hard to balance the two and still have a nice feel but they've done it here very well.

Wroxham Broad approaching Dalegarth

Just before we came home we managed to squeeze in a visit to the top end of the line at Dalegarth and have a drink and a piece of cake before heading home. I think someone had turned the lake filling system on!

Samson in the rain at Dalegarth!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Drighlington for Adwalton

The other night I was fortunate enough to be invited to join the West Yorkshire Area Group of the Scalefour Society on a visit to see Steve Hall's Drighlington for Adwalton project. Steve is very well known within the model railway world for two things; firstly his involvment with Scalefour North and also his wonderful layout Halifax King Cross, a very run down urban piece in P4.

His new layout is also to P4 standards and, for any home layout, rather big at 40' long! A number of people have said in the model press that "big layouts don't work in P4", but clearly they do. Actually very well in this case! If you want to read more about the layout, you need to seek out a copy of Model Railway Journal issue 201 and this site has information about the real location.

There was an invitation to bring stock to 'test the trackwork'! A couple of my locos had a little run and the Class 25 I've been on with recently went down rather well! Considering it's only been up and down a short test track until the other night, it did very well! The accelleration and decelleration settings need to be tweaked - what works well on a little test track proved less than ideal on a large layout! But it looked very nice as it glided through pointwork. The Penbits running gear really proved itself!

A really lovely evening of trains and chat! It's all part of our wonderful hobby!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Project 31 DCC

This forms a post script to my previous post about 'Project 31'. The model was finished but West Halton, as well as Botanic Gardens, is intended to be DCC, so all the locos will, obviously, need to be appropriately equipped. I've chipped a lot of locos over the last few years for both others and myself, however I'd still class myself as a bit of a novice when it comes to DCC as a whole.

I see DCC at shows an awful lot and all I want is simply control of the trains. Seeing everything controlled from a handset seems very 'unrailwaylike' to me. And it seems to take much longer than is desirable! So a nice simple solution - West Halton will have mainline locos mixing with works locos so DCC will certainly simplify operation of the exhange sidings!

When I built the chassis I made no provision for space required by a decoder! The wiring was very temporary and very half heartedly done; just enough to allow the loco to run! There's weight secured in the roof above the motor, so no room on top of the it. The easiest solutuion I decided was to build what is essentially a shelf from Plastikard. There's a enough room to remove the bogie for servicing as long as I'm careful!

Wiring is simple as the loco has no lighting - the photo I worked from show the loco running with no lights on at all. The chosen decoder was recommended by my local shop and is by Gaugemaster. It's a basic four function decoder and the loco runs beautifully! But now I'm wondering if the cab interiors need a little toning down - their rather clinical appearance contrasts starkly with the loco's external condition!

It strikes me that there's quite a bit of snobbery around the choice of decoders as well as a good deal of brand loyalty too. Brand loyalty I quite like; we all do it to a certain extent. But the snobbery is quite odd really - on one well known forum one person asked for people's experiences of the Gaugemaster decoders and received twenty five replies telling him what he should get instead! Not "I tried them and prefer this" but almost ignoring his request! A bit like when the resident 'expert' which every club, society and pub seems to tolerate offers his opinion, whether you wanted it or not!

So, initial impressions of the Guagemaster decoders are very positive - I much prefer learning by doing.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Tredethy Wharf

On Sunday morning we managed to squeeze in a visit to the Cleethorpes MRS' exhibition before I had to come to work. If you missed it, make an effort to attend next year as it's a little gem of a show - despite the appearance of being a 'typical' small club show, they always have some excellent modelling on display and also the Scalefour Society has a distinct presence.

Which brings us nicely to Tredethy Wharf!

This is Ian johnson's first layout since returning to the hobby and it looks very good indeed! I've followed his progress on his blog for quite some time now. Once you've fuinished reading this, be sure to have a look at Ian's blog;

The layout has progressed very well, one end is looking very nice indeed. The track looks pretty good too - even signs of greased fishplates which I like to see.

Also now appearing are typical Cornish items of stock, and nothing can be more Cornish than china clay wagons!

To bolster the home stock, various 'guest' items were making appearances, and Thomas insisted that I take a photo of 'the green tank engine'!

It's a layout to keep an eye on for the future and one which, I hope, will inspire others to take up P4 too.

And finally, our journey back took us passed one of the many 'proper' signal boxes for which North Lincolnshire still provides a home.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

A4 at York

A bit of a bonus at the National Railway Museum this afternoon! We went as Thomas had his next lot of injections this morning (all the ones a three year old boy has to have!) - 60009 Union of South Africa with an Up special in torrential rain!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Industrial Railway Locomotive Sheds

Published last year by the Industrial Railway Society was Industrial Railway Locomotive Sheds by Adrian Booth. The author may be known to you if industrial railways are of interest. Irwell Press have published a selction books with his wonderful colour photos.

In the beginning there were only industrial railways - in many ways industrial railways are railways in their purest form and they can be a world away from the 'mainline'. All too often modellers try and model them in a similar to the way they would any other subject. This is a shame as it almost misses the point. For many it's these differences (not too mention steam's continuation far beyond 1968) which appeal and give industrial railways their own special charm. The variety is immense too - some indsutrial locations, especially those which required the use of fireless locos, can provide sites which are very clean, almost clinical and quite unlike the railways beyond their site's confines. Similarly there can be those which are filthier than any thing that most enthusiasts or railwaymen have experienced.

This variety and non-conformity is well illustrated throughout the book. The locations featured provide all sorts of contrasts - from Stewart & Lloyds' Corby site where the shed looked very much like a contemporary 'modern' BR establishment to a rather ramshackle affair at Idhurst which looks like the encroaching trees are holding the structure up! It's an excellent book, especially if you're interested in industrial railways.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

NYMR 40th Anniversary

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway reopening following closure of it as a through route. A lot has changed since it was part of the national network, I suspect it now carries far, far more passengers than it ever did during its supposed 'heyday'. Of course the nature of the nature of the travller has changed; now the railway is very much a day out itself rather than merely a means of travelling somewhere.

To celebrate this forty year period, the railway is having a ten day gala! Ten days does seem like a long time, especially in times where we are constantly reminded how bad the economic climate is and with people's finances being squeezed ever further. But for a railway which runs scheduled services over Network Rail metals, this bold statement is perhaps not unexpected!

The way my shifts fell I didn't think I'd be able to see any of the gala; but because we were going to see Eddie Izzard I'd already booked the day off work, so Small Person (Thomas) and I managed to get a visit in! We headed to Levisham first for what should have been a fleeting visit but we were invited into the signal box! Helps when you know the signalman on duty! And Levisham is a lovely little box - amazing how small it is compared with the boxes I've worked. The 25 lever frame is somehow shoehorned into a box which originally housed, I think, a 10 lever frame!

Thomas watching for trains!

And for a little box, it certainly can keep a signalman busy on gala days! What a lovely place to be with three steam hauled trains within the station limits! I could quite happily work somewhere like that!

I think we both had a really lovely visit! After Levisham we headed for Pickering and as a treat he got a die-cast Neville and the book with Neville in it! And as a real bonus Christopher Vine, author of the Peter's Railway series of children's books, so we had to have a copy of the latest paperback - signed of course!

As we left Pickering, mid-afternoon I realised I soon had a sleeping little boy in the back; books in hand and Neville balanced on his knee! And all in, a really lovely day!

Force Majeure

Last night we went top see Eddie Izzard, and his Force Majeure tour. He remains my favourite comedian - the combination of observational and the surreal really appeals to my rather warped sense of humour!

If you get a chance to see him, don't let it pass you by!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Reduced Circumstances

Last night we saw Mitch Benn at Hull Truck with his Reduced Circumstances tour. Quite different from the other times we've seen him performing live - it's a one man show with no backing. He's perhaps best known for appearing on The Now Show on Radio 4 - and his show centres around his music as you might expect.

If you go and see him, it's a great night and well worth making the effort! And it's also a great way of supporting live performances.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

The Start of Something Big

It's been lovely weather in Yorkshire this week! The other evening we decided to make the most of it and go for Fish and Chips at Wetwang! Sadly Small Person fell asleep in the back of the car so missed out and we ate them in the car!

Wetwang was, of course, on the Malton and Driffield Railway; a part of which is currently being revived by the Yorkshire Wolds Railway. After we'd had a tea we drove home going via Fimber. I knew their first vehicle had arrived, a Mark 1 full brake which will form the centrepiece of an exhbition centre, but I didn't know their first loco had too! It's ex Trackwork, a rail contractor in Doncaster, and must be the first locomotive on the line for fifty five years? Quite a historic moment I think.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Derailment on the Great Central Railway

This has been in the news recently. Perhaps a touch voyeuristic but it’s an interesting video – a grandstand view of what happens. I won’t speculate as to the course of events which lead to the loco passing the signal (he may have been authorised to pass it or he may not have been - something's gone wrong somewhere clearly), but the report will make an interesting read.