Sunday, 11 June 2017

Minor fixes post-Bournmoor

The layout returned from its Bournmoor expedition in the cars of two of the Group members - which were unfortunately parked some distance from the destination at Wilmington. Many hands made light work, and the parts were rapidly brought inside, then we adjourned for an extended tea break.

The basic layout was quickly erected - we are getting quite proficient at this.

Keith had forgotten his list of things to fix, but Richard produced a copy from his iPhone.

First item on the agenda was trimming a wall which extended too far, making it difficult to fit the end warehouse in place.

Looking around, we couldn't find the end warehouse - and then realised it was in Scenery Box 4, which had gone back from Bournmoor to Somerset, for Pete T to work his magic on the other warehouse in that box...

Using his experience as a carpenter in a previous life, David S estimated how much needed to be removed, then attacked it with a hacksaw and removed what we hope is the excess.

Return of Scenery Box 4 sometime in August will prove whether we got it right.

The bit we removed has been carefully stored in Scenery Box 2, in case we need to stick it back again.

This month's slightly implausible visitor - an unfinished WD 2-8-0 from Keith. Whilst it might perhaps make a legitimate appearance as a trip loco, we used it as a shunter to check all the trackwork.

Pete K removed surplus ballast from below the dairy, allowing it to sit flat against the baseboard, then clearances were tested and the milk tanker was pushed in and pulled out without hitting anything.

The track alignment at the joint at the back of the baseboard needed fixing. Track was checked with a roller gauge.

David S then spent some time bending the track to shape and resoldering as required.

Testing showed that the problem had been fixed - until the next time...

An experiment by Keith - adding static grass as marker for the position for an uncoupling magnet.


Alan S brought his prototype "controller pocket",
to be fastened to the baseboard (by as-yet undecided means) to provide a secure resting place for one of the new MERG controllers when not in use.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Bournmoor Supermeet

Saturday 20 May 2017 A celebration of 35 years of the North East Area Group 1982-2017

Lightermans Yard travelled to Bournmoor Co Durham to take part in the celebration of 35 years of the North East Area Group which was well attended by 2mm Association members. Four from the Kent & Essex Group, Pete K, Keith, Alan S and Richard, were joined by our West Country and Yorkshire honorary members, Pete Townsend and Tom Cutting - quite like old times! The layout arrived in a hired van, thanks to Alan, Keith and Pete, and was quickly unpacked and up and running.

(above) Mick Simpson prepared a leaflet for the day with notes on each of the exhibitors and traders. 

Setting-up is becoming a well
practiced process. Here, with the
support of our West Country
honorary member.

Trackbed and some of the scenics in place.

Ready for operation and viewing. Revised backscene in place.

One of the operating teams in action; Pete K, with Tom and Pete T getting the feel of the new MERG controllers, the layout having recently been converted to DCC.

The Shop doing a brisk trade and (below) Mick Simpson announces the lunch arrangements - in three sittings!

Legend has it that when, about 25 years ago, Lightermans Yard was in its planning stage, the then Kent & Essex team lighted on 'Cannonsgate Goods Depot' a small finescale shunting layout designed and illustrated by Iain Rice in his book 'An Approach to Model Railway Layout Design'. Here is the man himself confronted by an interpretation of his original concept (below).

The Lightermans Yard track layout has followed the Cannonsgate plan, but the buildings and street scenes (mostly the work of Pete Townsend) play a significant role in placing the layout in the South East of London, a view re-enforced by a photographic collage of the London skyline depicted in Richard's back scene.  
Iain takes a closer look at the detail in the street scenes.

Layout packed in the van and ready for its return journey South 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

May Meeting

An unusual meeting - the layout wasn't present, it was scattered between various members' homes, in transit between last month's appearance at Epsom and next week's trip up to Bournmoor. So instead of the usual tweaking and gremlin hunting, we had a wide-ranging round-table discussion.

Logistics and timetable for the Bournmoor trip were discussed and agreed, together with a potential extension/diversion to collect various machinery and material from the late Bill Blackburn's collection to allow the association to continue to produce PCB sleepers.

The only photo-worthy item on display was David S' Co-Bo in an almost finished state (just needs the body fastening more firmly to the chassis...). It uses the Worsley Works scratch aids for the body, with a scratch built chassis.

Unfortunately the lighting conditions were poor, but I hope these pictures (mostly from Richard) will give some idea of the real item, though they don't do justice to the weathering.

It previously appeared in the September 2016 issue of the blog,  complete with a Thomas-style smiling face!

Various plans for development of the layout were discussed, including:
  • sending the warehouse to the West Country branch to be finished off, after Bournmoor and before the next exhibitions in October/November
  • finishing ballasting the trackwork
  • marking all uncouplers, in particular those on the brake van road, so that operators know where they are
  • more freight stock
  • more locomotives - which resulted in extended discussion about which (if any) available kits would be suitable, particularly for shunters but also as trip locos

I think it was agreed that 1961 was going to be the normal operating period - any earlier and the Post Office Tower would need to be removed from the backscene, any later and it would become difficult to justify continuing use of steam locos. Which led on to discussion of building a couple of 08 shunters - Keith and David S already have one each, but expressed reservations about them.

I'm not sure who was volunteered to extricate the chippie, who spent most of the Epsom Exhibition with his feet in the air and his head in the deep fat frier

As this report is a bit short, I will pad it out with another mystery shot from the archives. Answers on a post card please...

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Epsom Exhibition

Setting up on for the exhibition, on the Friday evening, presented a few unforeseen difficulties.

We met as arranged at 4pm, to beat the worst of the Friday afternoon traffic. The Exhibition venue was officially inaccessible until 5pm (still in use), so we wandered around outside trying to assess the best entry route.

After a while a few cars were allowed through the gates into the car park adjacent to the hall. Leaving the cars outside, we ventured closer on foot, trying to agree which way up the map should go. The hall wasn't yet marked out, but we discovered which distant corner we had been allocated. We located the nearest entry, then Keith and Pete K went back for their cars, which each contained half of the layout.

Assembly went smoothly, then came the testing, using Keith's Association 08. Despite Keith having taken home the trackbed, and cleaned and overhauled the points, gremlins were found to infest two separate points. A prolonged poking session eventually dislodged them and they appear to have then taken up residence in Nigel Cliffe's P4 layout, Coldfair Green, on the far side of the main hall.

In the meantime, Paula had set up the 2FS RoadShow in the adjacent spot, and foolishly entrusted it to us while she went off for a weekend in Dorset.

 We managed to negotiate our exit through the high security gates, and returned again early on Saturday morning for a track cleaning session, followed by assembly of the backscene. A few of the finishing touches, like information sheets, had been overlooked, and didn't arrive until Sunday. But we were (mostly) ready for the arrival of spectators at 10 o'clock.

Saturday was a busy day, the layout usually being surrounded by a significant crowd. Unfortunately that didn't extend to the adjacent Roadshow, where sales remained at zero - though there were a few visitors (mostly existing members).

We had a minor scenery repair session at the beginning of Sunday - Pete K glued back an awning that had become dislodged, and I reattached loose reins on the brewers' dray and repainted some broken ridge tiling on one of the houses.

Sunday morning was much quieter. Perhaps prospective visitors were still running the London Marathon, or just enjoying a lie-in.

Sunday afternoon brought more traffic. Lots of families, and we challenged some of the children to find cats/dogs/pigeons on the layout - the pigeons usually eluding them.

As can be seen, we were off the main hall, not perhaps in the most accessible location, which made the substantial (and usually highly appreciative) crowds of spectators a pleasant surprise.

Five o'clock on Sunday - a whistle was blown, and the show closed to visitors. Dismantling of the layout was impressively fast, and within half an hour it was ready for loading up. Next stop Bournmoor, in another month, for the 2mm Supermeet.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Preparing for next Exhibition - Epsom

Assembly of the layout revealed a couple of minor changes to optimum order - namely don't tighten the screws holding down the trackbed until the adjacent scenic boards are all in position

Pete K fixed the broken water crane.

Keith opened up the control panel and added a couple of connectors for the new MERG controllers.

Unfortunately when they were tested, the point motors were all dead, so he had to open it up again, and persuade that connector back into position too.

Work in progress from Alan S - 1 in 7 diamond crossing, using the new Easitrac points system.

Keith added a solid end to the fiddle yard, for security.

Seen from the operator side.

Extended testing of the trackwork revealed one problem area, probably poor contact from the point microswitch. Track taken home by Keith for some more remedial work.

Scene in the fiddleyard after a brief "banking" trial, where a second jinty had pushed the outgoing train from the rear, then dropped away (the DG coupling at the rear of the brake van being temporarily disabled). It also served as a quick check of fiddleyard capacity - 13 wagons, plus brake van, plus small loco (all the readily available stock). This probably needs cutting to about 10 wagons plus brake van plus large loco to allow the traverser to traverse...

The various layout components were split between the cars of Keith and Pete K, for transport to the Exhibition in a couple of weeks.

Spectators welcome - Epsom, April 22 and 23. Apparently we are staffing the 2FS Roadshow there too, so it should keep us fairly busy.

Monday, 13 March 2017

March Meeting

Mostly preparation for the next outing - Epsom in April.

Alan S had acquired a fourth scenery box - rather smaller than the rest, but conveniently shaped to match certain warehouses that won't fit in the existing three boxes.

Optimum order of assembly of scenery and trackbeds was established, by trial and error, to be recorded in the forthcoming manual.

Keith brought along the MERG controllers bought and assembled for the layout. There was a fairly extensive running session, with the controllers approved by those who tried them.

A couple of troublesome point blades were dealt with - at least temporarily. Trackbeds were taken away for more extensive treatment.

This month's implausible visitor - from David S, an ex-GWR heavyweight carrier with accompanying girder load. I think it's the Pollen E (diagram A7), originally 4 wagons, each with 3 axles, linked together and used initially to carry main guns for dreadnought battleships. Later it was split into 2 units, each of 2 wagons.

As this month's blog entry seems rather short, I have raided the archives again. Photo from Richard, before I joined. Back in those days assembling the layout looks so much simpler - no scenery, no legs, no lighting rig, just grab a couple of convenient tables ...

Monday, 13 February 2017

February 2017 - tweaks and gremlins

Various minor improvements were evident at the February meeting.

Keith had rearranged the trackbed box - the two halves of the trackbed are now fastened separately to the floor and roof of the box, instead of being screwed together in a confusing manner. Also there is now a screw fitting to the trackbed, to pull it down and reduce the bowing which tended to produce runaways during shunting.


 Alan S had rearranged the scenery boxes, numbering them as 1 to 3, that being the order in which their contents are positioned on the layout.

He had also provided battens for the duckboards, to provide another inch of elevation for vertically-challenged operators.

And finally Alan's main warehouse was on show, in an almost-finished state.

Richard was working on the extension to the backscene, to go behind Alan's warehouse and hide the fiddleyard. It should be finished by the next exhibition (Epsom in April), though Richard is off to Australia and will miss the next two meetings.

Testing of trackwork and uncoupling magnets revealed that the gremlins had struck again - a dead frog, positioned in a completely inaccessible location. The offending half of the trackbed was removed, and an extended diagnostic session identified a dry solder joint which was fixed.

An overview of the warehouse end of the layout, with new backscene in place, and selection of wagons for the layout - mostly a mixture of BR and GWR vans, from Pete K.

A close-up of the warehouse and backscene, during experiments to check the clearances.