Friday 1 May 2009

Crewe Area Group meeting 19th April

Our April meeting was once again at Tony Montgomery’s house. This time we met to have a play with Tony’s latest purchase. He has brought Ambergate.

Ambergate way originally built by John Webb with help from his friends in the Leamington and Warwick MRS. It had passed through another set of hands before Tony snapped it up off Ebay. For those wanting more background to the layout there are still details to be found on the Leamington and Warwick MRS website. The picture above was taken at our meeting with most, but not all, of the layout occupying most, but not all, of Tony’s living room. Denise is so understanding.

Many of you will remember Ambergate which was once a regular on the exhibition circuit. The more knowledgeable among you will now be saying, but that was EM not P4. And your would have been right a few weeks ago, but not any more. Since making the purchase Tony has been busy converting most of the visible area track work from EM to P4. Some of us did wonder how he would get on with this. As the track is soldered up on riveted ply sleeper, the plain track was never going to be to much of a problem. The question was, how would he get on with the point work!

To test it out a number of members brought along various P4 Locos and stock, all of which trundled back and forth over almost all of the track work available with little apparent difficulty. This includes the four double junctions on the 15′ x 20′ part of the layout erected. There is in fact a fifth double junction on the complete layout, but Tony was apparently disinclined to indulge in the demolition necessary to get that baseboard attached to the rest of the layout in his living room. Denise is only so understanding. In the event, in terms of track holding this was a triumph.

There are other issues however which may account for the layouts reputation for periods of inactivity while the operating crew looked puzzled. The key feature of Ambergate is that this was a triangular station, a feature fully reproduced by the model. So the layout is one giant double track reversing loop, with complications. The solution to the electrical polarity issues that arise from this track layout is remarkably cleaver, but logically opaque. We spent a happy afternoon sorting out a variety of “what happens if” scenarios when the points, electrical section and polarity controls were all operated together. We now understand exactly why previous generations of operators may have looked puzzled, but in the end we could get locos to go where we wanted and to travel in the right direction, expect for the loco which was wired up the wrong way round.

Tony has had a long term aspirations to model Buxton station. He now intends to combine this with much of Ambergate, which is prototypically logical. The whole thing is intended to occupy a palatial railway room to be built in one corner of their garden. He also plans to go DCC which may simplify the electronics a bit but will still pose some interesting electrical conundrums. We await future progress with interest.

Pictures as always by John Sherratt, the second one shows a 4F and a Class C 0-8-0 proving it all works.

Friday 24 April 2009

Twelve months on...

Yes it hardly seems that a year ago we formed as a group. Regular monthly meeting, well attended and if someone isn't coming I get an email and a totally hopeless excuse, usually work or something equally feeble.
This month was no exception, Bernie Baker has bought shares in Hornby Railways as hes' added 13 chips to his fleet of converted locos. What makes this special is the action of these engines, very, very smooth and beautifully weathered. Bernie has worked wonders on some of these machines as I've always been a little suspicious of RTR conversions, not usually a candle to a good built chassis. But Bernie's are right up there and you would be hard pressed to tell the difference.

The two panniers and the two 56xx run equally as nicely. Alistair Stannard has been as equally busy, producing some very nice rolling stock to run on Belle Vue. Rod Hall has been really busy building a stock of plate wagons and hoppers all with sprung under frames and really looking the business. Rob Foot has been producing some very elegant lineside additions, some water cranes.

All in all, the group is now well established with many arm chair modellers now producing some very fine work. We have not gained any more new attendees but, on the other hand, we have not lost any members from our inaugural meeting either. Everyone who attends, contributes during the evening. A very healthy state of affairs, so my thanks to all the members for their support, but one big thank you to Dave Hagger, who has helped so much in getting this group going and continues to help with the monthly meetings.
The next meeting will be the end of May...

Tuesday 21 April 2009

New Area Group

North East of Scotland (Grampian) Area Group (Proposed New Group)

We wish to consider setting up an Area Group based on a reasonable travelling distance around Aberdeen. The group is intended to be a meeting of like minded modellers sharing ideas and techniques details of which would depend on the interests and wishes of those participating.

An initial meeting is planned for some time in the early summer.

Interested? Please contact: John Anderson: 01224 743503
j.anderson177 at
or Peter Heald: 690c Great Northern Road, Aberdeen, AB24 2GG phone: 01224 684002 e-mail: pj.heald at

Thursday 16 April 2009

Fylde Area Group

On the 9th April we had the usual run and natter meeting, this time I took the camera to the meeting and have a number of photographs to post. The meeting was well attended with 10 members present Martin Walmsley brought along a number of interesting locomotives shown below, some very local to Preston:

An LMS jackshaft shunter 7080-7119 built from 1939, a derivative of the design from English Electric (Dick Kerr) works in Preston in 1934.

A LNWR box tank, which worked Greenbank sidings north of Preston before the Kitson's displaced them, the yard had very tight radius turnouts, apparently these short wheelbase locos has to be escorted (coupled to another locmotive) through the station area to avoid them disappearing off the track circuits.

Now that Preston has been convered to DCC, we also had a visit from a nice, sound fitted, class 20 (used by Graham Seed at the Scalefour North demo stand the previous weekend)

Also nicely sound fitted was an early Type 2 (class 25) sat in the carriage siding on tickover.

Our next meeting (run and natter) is back to the usual third Thursday, 21st May. Please contact Mike Norris (details on blue sheet), should you require more information.

Wednesday 1 April 2009

Fylde Area Group

On Thursday 19th March, we had our usual meeting attended by 10 members.

This month was a talk and presentation by (myself) Mike Norris on 'P4 Track Construction', I do not intend to write my own review, but if any one would like to read a review one is present in the March 2009 HMRS Points newsletter. I will also be presenting this talk again for the Manchester Model Railway Society on September 11th at Dean Hall Manchester.

Needless to say this did lead to an extensive discussion after the talk with many experiences aired, problems discussed and the permanent way generally put to rights by the gang.

Our next meeting (run and natter) is not on the usual third Thursday but on Thursday 9th April. Please contact Mike Norris (details on blue sheet), should you require more information.

Thursday 26 March 2009

Layout Visit for Crewe Area Group

The 8th of March saw the members of the Crewe Area group assembling for our monthly meeting in the very appropriate surroundings surrounding member Dick Petter's magnificent layout. Dick has a most enviable layout room in the properly converted loft of his house giving "all the comforts of home" standards of accommodation in which to enjoy his hobby. The layout takes up a good proportion of the space, so the meeting was conducted in the areas which remain. No lounging in arm chairs on this occasion. Joining us for the day was editor John who had taken time off from his Snoozitorial duties to pay us a visit.

Those who've met the group layout, Knutsford East, at exhibitions may remember that it represents the junction of a proposed but never built branch from the LNWR Crewe to Manchester line to the Cheshire Lines Chester to Manchester line at Knutsford. Dick's home layout represents the other end of this branch where it leaves the main line at Chelford. The plan was that once the P4 Challenge was over and that flush of exhibition invites has died down, Knutsford will takes its place in Dick's loft attached to Chelford. Knowing Dick I'm sure there is a way of doing this but I can't say it particularly obvious how it would all fit in!

Chelford is already well developed but, I'm sure Dick would say, as yet incomplete. Progress has been rather stalled by the need to get Knutsford up to standard and keep it that way. Now that we appear to have a year off from the exhibition circuit, it seem that there are some new green shoots of development in the form of the production of a very workman like set of signals. There is also much evidence of a heroic LMS stock building program. The layout features a two track main line oval which allowed us to circulate a number of visiting loco's and other items of stock for their owners edification and delight.

Chelford is built into its room and is not intended to be displayed anywhere but at home, so the attached photos may be the only way you are likely to get a look at this very attractive layout. That is unless you decide that you are actually resident within striking distance of Crewe and you wish to join the group! Photos by John Sherratt as normal.

Editor John Surveys the seen, one suspects he is considering the possibility of a future Snooze article.

Chelford Station Buildings look most attractive. No sign of the cattle market though.

Just a small selection from that heroic stock building program. The C13 is an interloper which has presumably come up the branch to Knutsford which runs across in font of the turn table.

Thursday 12 March 2009

Fylde Area Group

On the 19th February we held our usual monthly run and natter.
There were 7 members in attendance, including a visitor 'Andrew Fowler' who is modelling a 'OO' layout of the Preston East Lancs extension (Preston East Lancs Goods to Todd Lane). He was keen to pick everyones brains for tips and hints, maybe he will become a Scalefour society member one day - it was be good to see someone several years younger showing such an interest.

The next meeting is Thursday 19th March, for a talk/discussion on 'P4 track Construction' by Mike Norris. Please contact Mike Norris (details on blue sheet), should you require more information.

Saturday 7 February 2009

Fylde Area Group

On the 15th of January we held our first meeting of 2009. 10 members were present and we spent most of the evening in various topics of conversation, including Salt and Mustard vans and where they travelled and debated why was gunpowder sent to Bishopsgate (G.E.) goods depot circa 1928.
We also had a visit from a Barton Wright 4-4-0 which was reportedly having pulling problems, following a series of investigations identified a problem with 4 wheel truck, which was lifting the front of the loco and therefore the leading driver, significantly reducing the traction effort.

The next meeting is Thursday 19th February, please contact Mike Norris (details on blue sheet), should you require more information.

Monday 2 February 2009

Risborough and District Area Group

Aylesbury Station and Shed
Saffron Street retires from the exhibition circuit at Railex on the 23rd and 24th May first ambitious plans were drawn up for a replacement P4 layout, the problem being the time it would take to get to a finished state therefore a smaller layout that could be built in a shorter timescale would be built as a test bed to a larger layout postponed to a later date. Various ideas for a depot or a yard were discussed before the idea of modelling Aylesbury shed were developed. At first it was thought that just the two road shed and Risborough branch platform could be modelled but after discussions putting the two main through lines and associated platforms would add increased operating potential.
The model will be built without compression but will be cut short at the south end through the platforms and at the north end just after the public footbridge. The layout will be only nine foot in scenic length by two and a half feet wide, with cassette fiddle yards at either end. The layout only has five turnouts two on the mainline for access to a loading dock and three to the loco yard including a quite interesting catch point built into one of the turnouts.
Those unfamiliar with Aylesbury the station and engine shed had quite a varied development. The shed opened at first as a GWR single road broad gauge shed and following extensions and rebuilding with a saw tooth roof ended up as a two road shed by the 1890s. The ownership of both the engine shed and the station from 1894 being shared with the Great Western, Great Central and Metropolitan. In the late 1950s the Midland region of BR took over and therefore the range of locomotives and regions we can run in very extensive, for example we can run locos as diverse as GWR 14XX and Parrie tanks to LNER A3s, V2 and tank locos, plus LMS Royal Scots, Jubilee, and B.R. standard locos. Unfortunately BR diesels are a little less varied but photographic everdence points to class 24s, 25s, 40s and Westerns.
We plan to set the model in the period 1946-1967, with various alternative details drop ins to account for some of the changes in this period. Also we have deigned the layout to be viewed from either side, time will tell which provides the best viewing.
We hope to have the basis of the layout complete within twelve months with the entire track in place and the engine shed and some other buildings finished, although the layout is built to P4 standards one of the main platform lines has no turnouts in the so therefore we can accommodate EM gauge through this line.

Thursday 29 January 2009

Naggers monthly meet

Our first meeting since November with the Christmas break ruining our run. However, most of the Naggers turned up, and those that didn't, sent excuses. Some of these were highly suspicious!
As ever, Mr Steffan Lewis produced a wealth of goodies that he's going to be putting on display, once Maindee East is back up and running.
Bernie Baker brought a brace of diesels with him. A Warship (Lima conversion) and a GWR railcar, both of which performed admirably. The Warship had been given the 'unloved' treatment, and Bernie has really captured this look.

Dave Hagger, brought a brace of Bachmann Mk1's that had been converted using a method shown to him by Chris Pendleton. They ran smoothly and steadily and took about 25 mins each to do.

At the beginning of the year (07/01), some of the Naggers ventured across the 'bridge' to Newbury to play with Mr Mick Wakefields layout 'Grantham' - what an absolute thrill. We were treated to seeing Chris Pendleton's Deltic strut its' stuff , and trust me this engine can really strut! Breath taking power and smooth operation, exellent stuff! Micks' layout is a scale mile around, so Chris put an A4 on, with 9 behind and wound it up, last timed for the mile at 156 mph! P4, don't you just love it!! Thanks to Rod Hall for arranging the visit and thanks to Mick for his hospitality. A big thank you to Chris for taking on all comers with the barage of questions that were thrown at him. For a better view of this visit see:

Tuesday 13 January 2009

The Orginal and Best and Still Hard At It

Sunday 11th January saw another of the regular monthly meeting for the Crewe Area Group. This month it was my turn to act as host so most of the Crewe area crew turned up as for a pleasant afternoon chin-wag over tea/coffee and chocy biscuits, ably purveyed by my lovely wife. As a previous Blog gave an excellent back view of the group I felt it appropriate that on this occasion you should get the benefit of a front view.

Talking of lovely, the days main entertainment was provided by Don Roland's explanation of the production of his model of the Forth Hotel which is pictured here. It seems he has been doing a bit of sub contracting for the East of Scotland 4mm Group's Burntisland layout. This building stood on the quay at Burntisland, having been the Manse before the railway arrived (or at least the middle bit was), then a railway hotel before the fourth bridge and finally railway offices. In expanding their layout it seems Burntisland will be quite a bit larger than its original 18.83 challenge incarnation because this build has a significant footprint in its own right. Quite what a member of the Knutsford East team is doing producing a model for them north of the border is a question that is perhaps best left un-answered, just remember you saw it here first guys. Don enlivened our afternoon with tails of exactly how be built this excellent model with no more than a ground plan, a few ceiling heights and a few photos.

We also welcomed a new group member, Adrian Prescott. Actualy he has attend some of our meeting before but on this occasion he chose to commit himself by paying his sub. He also brought along a model of an LB&SCR loco in an entertaining mud coloured livery. Regional prejudices aside, it looks a very nice job. It is pictured her with another new CLC coach from Dick Petter. Here in lies a tale. The three CLC coaches which run on Knutsford that I produced, like this one, from Bill Bedford kits, made up six inches over width. This one has been corrected, leading to suggestions that I might like to saw my three in half longways. Hum, well see.

My thanks to John Sherratt for the photos.

Saturday 10 January 2009

Fylde Area Group

Happy New Year!

On Thursday the 11th of December, 10 members were treated to Tony Miller's talk and presentation on 'LNER Goods Traffic'.

We were shown the justifications for goods traffic and detailed background to the traffic flows, especially private owner coal traffic (including anthracite which could run anywhere). This led to details of the LNER wagons built specially for coal traffic, from Diagram 9 through to diagram 188 and the original NE hoppers from 12 to 20 tons (and eventually 40 ton hoppers). Followed by steel traffic around Scunthorpe and Frodingham and some of the specially constructed (war time heavy metal) wagons. Tony then covered details of various yards around the system including the rebuilding of Grimsby fish dock. He then focused on the rebuilt yards just before the 2nd WW at March Whitemoor, then on to Wath and Mottram.

A most informative and enjoyable evening was had by all present - Thank You Tony.

The next meeting is Thursday 15th January, please contact Mike Norris (details on blue sheet), should you require more information.

Saturday 3 January 2009

More Brinkley Boards

Further progress as at 13.00hrs today. Chris and Morgan admiring their handiwork.

The main line has been laid on the new regraded incline... will any loco, apart from my Peak, lift Morgan's coaches... will Graham's locos now storm the bank... ?

Featured in the foreground are the three new loco inspection pits positioned in front of the site of the three road shed - detailing including water cranes etc to be added later.The nearest rectangular hole is the site of the shed and will hold the shed track base which will be fabricated out of plasticard in a similar style to the pit roads.
The two new boards add 2.5ft to the layout, give additional space in the shed yard and enable the gradient on the incline to be changed from around 1 in 38 to 1 in 60.

The new Midland coal stage will be positioned between the tracks at the far end of the board... where the chisel and hammer are positioned, whilst to the left in the photos is the extended headshunt for the goods yard.
Cheers, Robin