Monthly Archives: December 2016

A Return ticket to Buckingham – Part 1; A Running Day

For my 100th post we ought to choose an interesting topic, so it is fortunate that I recently  wangled a return invite to visit Peter Denny’s Buckingham Great Central on a journey back home from the north east!

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I was accompanied on the visit by Peter Bond and although perhaps not initially intended, this turned into quite a long operating session.  Fortunately, there were several cameras on hand; so there are plenty of photographs – sufficient to split this posting into two or even three, so look out for further installments in a couple of days time!

Pete managed to blag command of Buckingham’s control panel; which is the most complicated of them – so he did regret his decision at times!  Here he is looking suitably perplexed!

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Perhaps with good reason…………..this is the control panel:

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And this is the signal diagram:

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All platforms have calling on arms, all lines have inner/outer homes and the platforms operate to receive and deliver!  So, there are a fair number of signals to contend with – all (well, nearly all if we are honest!) of which work and need to be complied with.  Here for example is the main home gantry………….

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On this occasion, I operated Grandborough Jct, which has a less exacting timetable but even so, its control panel has a few idiosyncrasies.  It (like that to Buckingham) is entirely handbuilt including its switches so some of them need to be coaxed across, others need to be pushed firmly and a few – most of the signals – do not yet work.  There were also hand made block instruments and some signal bells to contend with.

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Buckingham operates to a careful conceived timetable, that plots a “day in the life” of a busy market town station, not so inconveniently located for travel to London.  There is a variety of fast and semi-fast commuter trains to London; a pair of pick up goods trains; local services services and a couple of services that come off the Leighton Buzzard branch which continue through Grandborough Jct to terminate in Buckingham, such as this one just coming to a stop at Bourton Halt and disturbing a hunt:

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Even with over three hours at the regulator, we managed less than 20% of the day’s timetable; so we were going at around 120% of real time.   Peter originally had a speeded up clock to keep the pace moving (which Tony, the layout’s now owner has on the wall but does not use).  Apparently, you needed an experienced team to keep up with the clock and – just like the real thing – if you started to fall behind the whole system quickly becomes bunged up!

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The timetable contains just over a hundred train movements.  It starts in the morning with newspaper and milk trains, getting the town ready for the day.  Then the early morning commuter trains start, along with connecting local services.  A little later, the London expresses start, timed a little faster for the city suits to use (and pay for, they are posh coaches!).  Here is one waiting for the right of way.

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Once the morning rush is out of the way, a more settled period starts and the freight trains move around the layout interspersed with local passenger trains.  However, towards the end of the day the reverse happens with the returning commuters.  By the end of the evening, Buckingham is chock-a-block with trains, as you can see here:

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But this is not the end of the day, because all of the locos need to be released and sent to the sheds, the trains remarshalled and made ready for the next day (which was great, because Grandborough Jct had no moves so I could go and poke Pete for all the errors he was making…………).

And here are the day’s operating crew!

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So thanks for joining me on this blog; we are a minnow by some standards with around 40,000 hits but I hope there are things in here that interest you and maybe even some sources of inspiration!

Improving the Oxford Rail North British Jubilee Wagon

As I mentioned in my previous post the Oxford Rail Jubilee wagon is a pretty good rendition of the original but it does have a few small issues and is fundamentally the wrong colour!  Actually, these proved very simple to fix and the conversion to P4 was relatively painless; so within a couple of hours you can have a good rendition of this typically Scottish wagon.

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First off was the conversion to P4 which is not possible to do with the existing underframe as it is too narrow.  In an approach that I have not seen before, Oxford Models have created an underframe that slips between the solebars.  Even better, this is not secured with glue and merely popping out the buffer shanks from their housings allows this to drop out.  Neither the buffers nor the brake gear are secured with glue either and I elected to temporarily detach these from the model throughout to prevent any damage to them.  Bill Bedford pre 1907 RCH sprung W irons were then used but it was necessary to scrape back about ½mm of the inside of each solebar to get these in.  Checking the ride height against the buffer height gauge I found that the right height was achieved without the need for any packing.

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Although the axleboxes that are provided as part of the model are a bit crude, I did not have any better ones available (although 51L do provide them) so sought to retain these.  There is a fair amount of cutting required to remove the remains of the plastic W iron and open up the rear of the axle box to take even a waisted pin-point bearing.  Definitely do this with a finger drill and not a powered one as you need to remove as much plastic as you can short of actually going through it.  Cutting these rebates was the slowest part of the whole task.

The end stanchions were separate pieces and popped off without bother but the planking joints did not run behind them continuously.  Therefore, whilst it was easy to reattach the stanchions with glue, I had to score the missing plank joints in first.  The buffer shanks are a tad too long, more appropriate for NBR fitted wagons than unfitted but these were easy to deal with.  The metal heads pop out easily and then a few strokes with a file takes off about ½mm to reduce the length.  The fixing hole needs to be deepened slightly and then the head can be resecured with a dab of glue.

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The missing ironwork to the solebar was from a left over etch; Mainly Trains and ???? do alternatives.  I found that the rivets to the straps either side of the door had some of its rivets in impossible locations (in the joint between planks) and I therefore shaved these off prior to applying replacements with Archer transfer rivets.  This is the first time I have actually used these and they are really easy to use; much quicker than any other method.  The strapping to the inside of the wagon was missing, so this was added with microstrip and more Archer’s rivets.  The hinge rings to the end door should be almost a full circle so these were replaced with pieces of bent wire to conclude the physical modifications.

The model comes fitted with scotch fulcrum brakes to both sides which is correct for some vehicles but I cut away one side as I wished to represent the more common variant that had these only to one side.  The actual fulcrum and brake block detach from the underframe without difficulty and I found that I could reuse it, after first mounting them on a piece of plasticard secured to the underside of the floor.  I did, however, change the brake lever which I thought to be a bit clunky with an etched replacement and added a fair amount of lead as the model is very light.  I also attached a piece of scrap brass to the underside – as seen below – as a temporary means to hold the wagon whilst it is painted.

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I chose to lightly abrade the surface of the existing lettering with a fine wet & dry paper as I was concerned that they might leave an impression through the new paint.  Thereafter I painted them all over with Tamiya Paints, German Grey, picking out the ironwork to the solebar and below with black.  The lettering was from PC Transfers sheet 20 but it will be partially lost below weathering; when I get it to this stage!

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Here we can see the benefit of the brass strip to hold the model with during painting and weathering.

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