Fear not, this is not an announcement that the McRats have been converted from DCC to run on ethanol (although this remains the preferred fuel of the layout’s operators). Instead it is a recognition that after 13 years on the exhibition circuit, Portchullin was getting a little faded and even battered. The colours of the vegetation were fading and the woodwork was showing all the miles they have been lugged about in the back of a van – all in all it was looking like 1970s BR, just not in the right way.
We reached the conclusion that something needed to be done about it and in anticipation of an April exhibition invite, the gang arranged a session on the layout to give it a spring refresh. Sadly the show had become a covid casualty by the time we met up but we convened anyway and even the stone-cold hearted Pete was showing emotion at seeing us all again by insisting on greeting us all with a hug!
So out came the static grass machine, modge podge and various scenic materials and away we went…….
We ended up making quite a lot of difference in only a short while, but adding the dwarf bushes and other vegetation then took a lot of time and I am still thinking it needs more attention.
There remains a lot to do, including a revamp of all of the woodshell and lighting gantry, but the layout is looking a lot fresher.
The other main task in hand is a complete rewire. Too often we (well I, the others will have nothing to do with my wiring) have had heads under the baseboard trying to sort out either point-motors or errant wiring, it has to change!
With these strange times that we have been experiencing for the last six months, we have all become a bit cooped up in our abodes. Whilst the lack of model railway exhibitions is hardly going to make the six o’clock news (can you imagine!), I for one have missed both the inspiration and the camaraderie they offer.
We have not seen a plethora of on line exhibitions so it is welcome news to see the Scalefour Society making the effort to arrange one in place of their annual exhibition. This will “take place” on Saturday 26th September between 10:30 – 5:30 although it seems much of the content will be available thereafter online. Here is a trailer for it:
In addition to seeing familiar faces again, I was particularly struck by the possibility of seeing a number of “home layouts” that we don’t ordinarily get to see – and some big ones at that!
Some seems to be by video and others by an interactive youtube link so that you can chat to the team/person. This is the listing of what is proposed.
Layouts: Boston Frodsham by Mike Knowles Bristol Barrow Road by Robin Whittle Central Cheshire Lines by John Sherratt De Graafstroom (P87) by Vincent de Bode Drighlington and Adwalton by Steve Hall Eridge by the Kent Area Group Faringdon by Rex Davidson and Stephen Williams North Elmham by the North Norfolk Area Group Obbekaer (P87) by Geraint Hughes Pwllheli by Jonathan Buckie Southwark Bridge by Mike Day United Mills by Ray Nolton
Demonstrations Adrian Musgrave – Signals Alistair Ford – Timber Buildings on Black Gill Brian Hingston – Coaches Chris McCarthy – Baseboards Dave Keeler – Wagon Construction David Brandreth – Resistance Soldering Jim Smith Wright – Soldering White Metal John Farmer – Scenics Mick Moignard – DCC Sound Nick Rogers – Wagons Rod Cameron – Lewis Project Stuart Holt – Tree making
Illustrated Talks Martin Nield – Authentic Model Railway Operation Jim Summers – ‘Earning a Living’
I can see that chunks of the readership of this blog are dispersed in far flung places – take some time to see some really good 4mm without burning your air miles. The details to the log in can be found here:
So I know what I will be doing with much of the 26 September…………………. I will even make sure I have done some on-line shopping at about the same time so that Scaleforum hits my pocket in the same manner as usual!!
Taking a layout to shows is a surprisingly tense experience. There is the joy of the Friday traffic which typically adds 30% to the journey time (or rather more if the M6 is closed as I experienced once!). But it is the setting a layout up at a show is always a tense moment; typically there is always something that needs a bit of TLC and at Portchullin’s last show (last weekend at Spalding) quite a large dose of TLC became necessary due to these little blighters…..
Innocent looking isn’t?
It probably costs a tiny fraction of a penny but without it the layout is hamstrung because they are essential to the operation of the turnout motors. Portchullin uses Fulgerex point motors and this is a spring that activates micro-switches in these that change the crossing polarity and act as limit switches to the motor’s travel.
The frailty of the design is that these are only secured in place by their own tension and they are prone to bouncing out. A long journey in a van is just the type of thing to dislodging them – which is just what happened over the weekend, Indeed, it has happened before and has occasioned a number of the upside down sessions under the layout that Oly delights in telling you about.
We have now reached the stage where three of the five turnouts have crossing polarity controlled by separate switches. This creates some excitement for the operators as they have to remember to change both the turnout and the polarity – so much show that they refused to do so for the show!!
So, my fulgerex point motors, your days are numbered………………………….
Portchullin’s next exhibition may not be the furthest it has travelled but it will definitely be a first for the layout and indeed myself – an exhibition on the continent. In this case Modelspoor 2018 which takes place on the 23 – 25 February in the Euroteco Centre, Houten, near Utrecht in the Netherlands.
To the Anglo-Saxons amongst us, do not be put off by the website being written in Dutch. Basically almost everyone in the Netherlands speaks good English (embarrassingly perfect English typically) and it is a really easy country to travel around, engage with people and see what they have to offer. Although I have not been to Modelspoor before I have heard a lot about it – think Warley * 3 seems to be the gist of it (which may be a bit much in truth!). However, it has a core of “finescale” from across Europe to which I was very flattered to be invited and I hear is worth seeing in any case.
And of seeing Portchullin is a sufficient excuse to high-tail it over to Holland, coming in the van will also be Oly’s Six Quarters layout. In contrast to the fresh air of the west of Scotland, Six Quarters has air laced with Cumbrian coal dust and grime!
There are a number of other very good layouts there, including Jerry Clifford’s Highclere Colliery (under a new name I hear) and Gordon Gravett’s Arun Quay. Se even if you don’t fancy Portchullin or Six Quarters much (shame on you), it is still worth a visit.
So if anyone that reads this blog (well, either of you!) is over in Holland in a couple of weeks time, do pop over and say hello!
Portchullin’s next outing will be this forthcoming weekend at the St Neot’s show:
Come along and see some noisy diesels like this? I rather hope to have a type 1 make an appearance over the weekend and any HR enthusiasts might wish to see a Barney put in an appearance (still in brass, don’t get too excited!)
Portchullin’s next outing will be at the Great Central Railway‘s model event on Friday 20 June through to Sunday 22 June.
I have been looking over the stock and we should be up to around 7 trains, which is close to an all time record! Might even break out one or two unusual ones, even if they do still need some detailing work on them.
Whilst we have seen these pictures before, they are worth showing again……….
Trying to plan ahead a bit more than normal, I am just sorting out van bookings and the like for Portchullin’s next outing, which will be Warley on the 23 & 24th November.
We will be running the 1970s both days and there will be a few tweaks to the layout (a full set of working signals for one – our last troublesome one is getting a firm talking to at the moment!). Stop by and say hello if you are going.
We will also run the videos as usual. I have just come across my fav one of these on Youtube. This is The Line to Skye; which is firmly the inspiration of the layout. This film was commissioned by Ross & Cromarty Council’s campaign to try and save the line in 1973/74. It is firmly nostalgic and more than a little poetic in its content and style; which frankly makes it even better in my mind.
Anyway, as they say – you don’t just arrive at magic; you have to conjure it………………….enjoy!
My suggestion is to look at the youtube link soonish; I had to ask and get permission for the showing of this video and I sort of think that the poster on youtube might not have done……………………..
Less modelling has been achieved this week – due to a combination of work taking me a little more afield than normal and also because I was playing with someone else’s trainset.
In this case, the layout was Barry Luck’s (with assistance of the Mid-Sussex AG of the S4 Society) Brighton Road. It was shown in the carriage repair shop at Horsted Keynes; so we were serenaded by the sound of the real thing (and the occasional burble of a Sulzer as they had a class 33 working too.
Some rather nice photos from Jonathan Hughes are here:
Whilst I appreciate that there are many that are now quite experienced etch designers, even if this started as a means to forward their own builds, I am still taking first steps in this direction so I am pretty proud of the above. Mind you, I might be counting chickens before…………….