Thursday, 16 July 2015

Gilling East

Just off the main road between York and Helmsley is one of the most delightful miniature railways you hope to stumble across.

In the grounds of the village hall at Gilling East is a 7¼" and 5" gauge railway - it's not he longest you'll see by any means, but it probably the smallest main line railway you could visit. A double track mainline runs round the edge of the grounds and features two marshalling yards, a decent sized passenger station, a four road engine shed and two signal boxes which supervise the fully signalled railway and work the signals and points by miniature McKenzie & Holland lever frames.

The yards can be seen, complete with the scale stock stabled in the nearer of the two - this is probably what the Gilling railway is best known for among railway enthusiast.

The railway is perhaps best known for its mainline galas when no human sized passengers are carried and the railway is taken over by scale 5" inch gauge stock. And this scale sized rolling stock is very accurate and each one is worth considering in its own right as a model but the sight of a whole gathering of them is incredibly impressive. However, our visit was a summer Sunday when people form the main traffic.

The setting gives the railway a lovely feel - very family friendly with room for picnics and climbing frames for children to use any excess energy!

Sometimes places which encourage families aren't necessarily the sort of places many people want to go though! But the atmosphere is so nice and laid back with people free to move around as they please (with people respecting the railway and not 'trespassing') with the Society's clubhouse providing refreshments and toilets, complete with baby changing facilities, all great stuff and beyond what you might expect for a society of model engineers! This does seem quite in keeping with the whole place.

The society members I spoke to were very friendly and very keen to engage in conversation with their visitors. This isn't a customer service type spiel but is very genuine and makes you feel very welcome. It would be all too easy to make visitors feel like they were getting in the way of the members playing trains (some standard gauge heritage railways are guilty of this!) but nothing of the sort. It makes us want to return - we can sit and enjoy a picnic while watching the trains go by and also have a few rides too!

Gilling East Village Hall

From my own personal point of view, the way the railway can be operated is great! It works with a type of Track Circuit Block with automatic sections on part of the line. Two signal boxes control movements on the railway - one controls the station and engine shed access while the other looks after access to the two yards. Communication between the two boxes is by bell. The care and attention which the signalling has clearly had is very impressive. The signals, too, are to a very high standard - all are North Eastern Railway slotted post pattern - they're probably in better condition than some of my signals! When we drove up I think it was a lovely bracket signal which gave Thomas an idea of what sort of place we were going to visit!

The perfectly scaled down McKenzie & Holland lever frames which feature in both of the boxes - click here for a view of Gilberdyke SB's M&H frame to see how good the miniature version is!

It's just a lovely place where you're made to feel very welcome indeed.

Well worth a visit!

Further Reading

Ryedale Society of Model Engineers
The Ground Level 5 Inch Gauge Main Line Association

Monday, 13 July 2015

Model Railway Journal - Bob Barlow

Model Railway Journal No.. 240

The latest Model Railway Journal, issue no. 240, has a very different appearance from normal but it seems very appropriate. Much of the magazine is has tribute to Bob Balrlow who edited MRJ for the first 14 years of its life. During this time MRJ set the bar very high indeed, but (and it's a huge but) if you read the back issues there was nothing elitist about it and it was very much a 'doing' publication, with plenty of articles about how modellers could achieve things.

The finescale, and hobby as a whole, owes Bob Barlow a huge debt.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Full Circle

How to get a little boy to help pack away his wooden railway quickly?

Well, make it like a real railway when it was closed and lifted, have a demolition train! We'd passed Gilling station, near Helmsley in North Yorkshire, this afternoon and we'd been talking about how there's no longer a railway there. So later on, when it was nearly bedtime and Thomas didn't really want to put it all away, adding a demolition train in to the mix worked wonders as it ferried track 'panels' ready for disposal!

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

A Bit of a Difference

The replacement window frames from Shawplan has been placed on the part completed Lima conversion on the left and to the right is an unaltered Lima body, albeit stripped of parts ready for paint stripping. The difference is obvious!

An interesting comparison of standards and finesse between a Lima class 47 and the replacement parts which are now available from Shawplan. Etched from thin stainless steel, the are very delicate and a world away from the moulded window frames which feature on the Lima moulding (which itself is at odds with the rest of the body which is very subtle and worth using as a basis for a class 47 even now!).

Between them, Brian Hanson at Shawplan, Ian Penberth at PenBits and Justin Newitt at Rumney Models, are making true finescale diesel modelling so much easier and accessible.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Malton to Driffield without leaving the Room

I really like the idea of a model railway where a train goes from one place to another - American modellers (modelers?) are very good are creating layouts like these. British homes don't really lend themselves to them though. I've posted about them before on here and that post is one of the most viewed posts on my blog! This isn't to say that British modeller's don't attempt systems. At the larger end of things there is the Gainsborough Model Railway Society's amazing model of the East Coast Mainline from Kings Cross to Leeds Central - this is very much like an American style layout, winding its way through a whole building virtually! At the other end of the scale is Paul Marshall-Potter's proposed scheme - something which is achievable but a modeller working on his in a reasonable space, a garage in this case. It's not that far removed from building a 'conventional' layout but its concept is a great leap forward from what British modellers usually do. You read it and think "I'd like to do someting like that!"

When Thomas and I have his wooden railway out, normally the trains do go from one place to another, even if it's between just two stations. We must, deep down, enjoy see our trains as having a purpose. The problem is, most of us just don't have too much room available for our little trains. There are things we can do to fit more in - smaller scale, tighter curves, shorter trains, etc., etc... But sometimes things can just look a bit too busy.

A teenage plan for a room sized layout based on the malton & Driffield railway - it misses out Wharrem which is one of the larger and most distinctive loactions on the line but the room needed, even in 2mmFS as here, would still be significant. But as it stands, a layout like this could provide a lot of fun and enjoyment for its operators.

There are other options which won't make things appeare compressed or compromised for a smaller space. A smaller scale is an obvious thing to consider - too often though, people pick N gauge and then pack in so much it just looks silly and toy like. But used carefully, the smaller scales can give a feeling of space in a relatively small area - combined with the right prototype, the results can be very good indeed. Chee Tor is perhaps one of the finest model railways ever built and it shows how well a smaller scale can be used to convey the feeling of space, and it wasn't as big as it looked either.

Go further and combine these advantages with the idea if a layout showing a journey and a smaller scale can really achieve big things. Have a look at some of the N gauge schemes which appear in Kalmbach's Model Railroad Planning and you'll see just how good things can look. Some of the 'sincere' plans (where the route will pass through each scene only once) are superb.

In a similar style, I sketched this plan when I was a teenager. I assume it was sized to fit a room at my parents' house, but I can't remember now! Nothing came of it, but I was attempting to model a couple of bits of the Malton & Driffield Railway during my teens in 2mm Finescale. It wasn't an overly succesful venture but I did learn an awful lot, especially about building track. The line itself is a favourite of mine - a ridiculous scheme which didn't really achieve anything it set out to do but set in one of the loveliest parts of Yorkshire, deep within the Yorkshire Wolds, diving underneath them at Burdale. Today the whole area is still unspoilt and largely ignored by visitors who pass along the main road to the much busier moors to the north. But there is a group working towards reestablishing the line - please do have a look at the Yorkshire Wolds Railway's site!

This was my teenage attempt at modelling Settrington in 2mm Finescale. The trackwork was mostly completed on this and the adjoining North Grimston. All that's missing here are the coal drops and the road leading to it. It worked too! The one item of motive power which was completed was a J27 based around a Nu-Cast kit. This was intended for the Farish 94XX chassis which I rewheeled with wheels from Neil Ballentine who used to prodce drop in wheel conversions for RTR Farish models. The wheels were a world away from the Farish originals (though not so much with the more recent Farish releases) and it felt like I was really getting somewhere with 'finescale'! It ran ok, but the pick ups I fitted to the replacement PCB keeper plate were probably not the best... I did produce a small selection of stock but this was the only loco which was appropriate for the line - for someone used to 4mm and 00, it was a whole new world of wagons. Some easily converted with replacement wheels and others built from the 2mm Scale Association's wonderful range of kits. I suspect this had quite an effect on me for how I've approached things later on in P4. I had a lovely Fraish Std 4 2-6-4t with Neil Ballentine wheels which looked very nice and I still have it somewhere. It was probably one of the better Poole era steam locos produced by Graham Fairsh and with the new wheels, really looked the part. I think I had ideas about a Whitby area based branch line! I might not have finished anything in 2mmFS, but I did learn an awful lot.

I part built models of Settrington and North Grimston stations, most of the track was completed but scenically the schemes never reached completion at all - fields mostly remained plywood coloured. The remains are still stored in a cupboard at my oldies' houes... Both stations would make excellent subjects for layouts in a number of scales. I intended to build Settrington in P4 for the Scalefour Society's 1883 Challenge but I think with uni and detailing and respraying diesels for people I just didn't have the time. A shame really. Worringly I did sketch out a scheme for Settrington in S7...

The idea of one train meandering along the Malton & Driffield would have suited single person operation. In later years a pick up goods would be the only trains the branch usually saw by the end of its life. the plan does give an option of working trains from Burdale back towards Malton, and is sited so these would traverse virtually the whole length of the layout too. There are issues with the plan; both Settrington and north grimston have been placed so they're viewed from 'the wrong side' as they would be better view from the outside. Settrington could be on the plan if you ducked under. The should also be a distinctive viaduct between the two stations which would be best added as it was a very obvious feature to passing motorists. I actually like how Burdale is presented but the biggest omission is Wharrem! This was one of the larger locations on the line and very distinctive with the quarry by the station and the stone silo still visible today. however the site would require a fair bit of room, which is, I presume, why I omitted it. Regardless of the mistakes and issues, I still think the line would make a rather nice system to model.

Further Reading

Yorkshire Wolds Railway