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Last train to Castle Rackrent?

Last week I was able to visit Richard Chown’s house to have a play with Castle Rackrent at one of his operating sessions.

Castle Rackrent is both an individual layout and also a system; comprising a total of five stations, a harbour and a couple of fiddle yards.  It is based on Irish practise, so is all hand built to 5’3″ gauge.  Given that the layout is 7mm/1ft, it is pretty substantial and wraps around Richard’s basement a couple of times.  This creates the situation where it is somewhat of a challenge to know what is going on in any other location on the system – this does not matter as the stations communicate with each other via bell codes (well, only one adjacent station in our case due to a fault, so we adopted a version of the telegraph system known as shouting!).

It is fair to say, even with this and possibly due to some inexperience on my part, things still get chaotic.  We ended up with four of the six possible trains at our station at one point.  The normal controller Mr Summers was not in attendance fortunately, otherwise I sense some firm words might have been had…………  It was all good fun though and is not really a basis of operation I have experienced before, even though of course all it does is mimic the real thing.

Here are a few photographs; starting with the terminus and original station on the line, Castle Rackrent:

photo 2 photo 5 (2)

I spent my time (mostly successfully directed by Ian) at Moygraney, so here are rather more pictures of this station:

photo 1 photo 1 (2)photo 2 (4) photo 2 (6) photo 4 (2)photo 5

Immediately next to us was Mount Juliet Town):

photo 2 (3) photo 3 (2)photo 4 photo 2 (2)

It is worth noting the red tag on the rear of the brake van in the final picture above.  This is a form of tail light and one of the jobs of the signalman at each station is to check that the full train is there by checking that each train has a tail light.  The eagle eyed might also note a few coloured discs on the top of the wagons – these are a form of wagon label; each colour describing the station that the wagon is to be detached at.  It all adds to the the challenge of working the line.

The final two stations I have pictures of are Salruck Junction and Lisgoole:

photo 4 (3) photo 3 (3)

And the reason for the title of this post?

Fortunately, this was not the last train to Castle Rackrent; which will no doubt please the show manager of the Perth show (where the layout will appear in June 14) but it is the last to Castle Rackrent in its present form.  Richard has in mind changing the arrangement of the layout and introducing another station.  So it was still a historical evening.

Timber!

A fairly big day in Glenmutckin’s life today; the start on baseboards.

As I mentioned in the last post; a couple of my team who help on Portchullin made the mistake of both criticising my carpentry skills and then admitting that they ran a joinery business.  I guess you can see that they thus talked their way into a task and we spent day one in doing these today.

I know that a bad workman blames their tools; but by god having all the proper kit makes things much faster and a great deal more accurate!! To say nothing of someone who knows rather more about joinery than I do!!

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The intended design will be predominantly open design around a skin of ply.  Initially a rectangular box is being made, as above.  After we have made the first batch of these we will then laminate a further layer of ply around this to provide the material to support the raised scenery and also to house the rebates for the pattern makers dowels – when we have done it hopefully the pictures will make it more clear.

We got three of these boxes made today; here are two of them – what is particularly pleasing is that they are perfectly level across the joint (see the bit of timber laid across the joint).  This is an area that I really did not get right on Portchullin and I note that lots of other modellers don’t either – right up to the famous person modelling Leamington Spa.

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So thanks Tim and Julian – I am sure some signals can work their way back!

And a small plug for my hosts; if you are looking for a powered loft ladder; give them a try http://www.st-joinery.co.uk/electricloftladder.html?gclid=COfvoN-HyrwCFYWWtAodjCQAcw

A week on tour – part 1; way out west

I have been on travels a bit this week, firstly work took me down to Bath so I took the opportunity of visiting the Bristol/Avon area group of the Scalefour Society.  They meet weekly (I think) and tend to rotate around different venues – in this case they were at Paul Townsend’s for a visit to his layout Highbridge for a bit of a running session.

There seemed to be a preponderance of things called diesel hydraulics; not too sure what they are:

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But there was some more sophisticated trains there:

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Highbridge is a good layout, based on the station of that name.  This was where the S&D cross the GW main line from Bristol to Exeter which it did on the level as the two lines passed under a bridge.  It resulted in some rather complicated trackwork which is very model-able; even if there is some of the wrong type of green………

2261-at-Highbridge-Crossing-a

It is a well modelled layout as this shows:

Gordon Ashton Station

If perhaps a bit spoilt on the night by my mo.  Being done for prostrate cancer charity; so if you are feeling like this is a good cause then make a donation here

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Thanks to Gordon Ashton and Tim Venton for the photos.

Cutting and Shutting

I wished to use builder’s trestles for the supports for Glenmutchkin as they fold down, are very sturdy and durable (and are fairly cheap).  But, I also wished to go for a fairly full depth on the layout and they only come in the one depth (about 26 inches).  This meant I needed to cut and shut them, to make them into a stretch trestle.

Fortunately, my father in law was over at the weekend, and he has had 40 years in the motor trade so could tell us a thing or two about how to cut and shut (sorry Bernard!).   So, coupled with my brother and his welder, we have managed to cut and shut the first three trestles (the others do not need the same treatment).

Here is my brother James hard at work on the smaller of the three.

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I need to sort out a better means of storing Portchullin’s lighting pelmets.  One of the lessons I have learnt from Portchullin is that it has too many odd shapes and insufficient thought on how it should be stored/transported.

 

Cutting the first Sod

Tomorrow should be a big day for Glenmutchkin, because if my brother remembers we will be cutting the first sod of the layout building.

Now all good railway lines start with a ceremonial cutting of the first sod by the Duchess of something or other; typically with a nice silver spade and after which everybody retires to the local hostelry for a fine dinner…………….whilst the navvies start the really hard work.  Well we probably will only be different by dropping the silver spade.

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More seriously, as long as he does not get blown away in the forecast storms, my brother will be bringing his welding kit over with him, so we can make a start on the big chunky bits.

Welding kit……………on a model railway; am I going crazy?   You’ll have to come back to find out!

Been Quiet – Sorry!

Whilst I have been quiet with regard to postings, I have been both modelling and doing other things.  I just have not really had the camera out much!

One of the “other things” I have been doing was exhibiting Portchullin at Wigan.  The layout threw its only real spanner at us on the first morning where we found that one of the Fulgerex’s had sent one of its electrical contacts into orbit (it has happened before) and thus would not operate.  A little bit of cussing and work below the board managed to get it to manually change to the loop and we thus did without the front siding all weekend.

I did not manage to get any pictures myself but “Black & Decker Boy” did take a rather good video:

This compliments the other really good video of the layout taken by “Highlandman” at Epsom a couple of years back:

Glenmutchkin Part 5: Signalling

Whilst they are not without their frustrations (they are delicate for example), I was slightly surprised to have enjoyed building and using the signals as much as I did.   Therefore, Glenmutchkins will going a bit more large on signals.

I am assisted in that the Highland seemed to follow the trend of the pre-group companies and be fairly lavish with their signals.  Taking significant cues from my sources of inspiration, Wick and Kyle of Lochalsh, this is where I have got to with a signalling plan.

Glenmutchins-MTs-version-of

As can be seen, there is a fair amount to this as I have assumed that there is a junction off scene that is signalled from the station cabin (although this is still under review) and not only is the yard signalled onto the running line but both the run around loops and the shed are both signalled.   It looks like this will be a 45 lever frame, so there is a fair amount to do……………

A particular signal to note is the one with arms 17,18 & 19 on it.  This is a repeater for arms 15 & 16 so directs locos coming off the yard where they are to go to.  This exact same situation existed at Kyle and in addition to being a surprising duplication between the two signals the former is that the signal is situated well up on the bank and faces fairly firmly towards the shed, not the running lines.  I do not presently have a photograph that is free of copyright to illustrate this but there are lots in the various text books; try The Highland in LMS Days or LMS Engine Sheds.

Portchullin’s Next Outing

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My existing layout, Portchullin – as shown above in Andy York’s photo, has its next outing this Saturday (16th Feb) at Tonbridge. Details of the exhibition are here

After this, it will be a month’s rest and then we are out at the London Festival of Model Railways at Alexandra Palace. This is on the 23 and 24th of March and Details can be found here

After this, it will be Wigan in June an unconfirmed invite for Hartlepool in July and then Warley way off in November.

Glenmutchkin: Part 1 – Have summer house, will build……..

Much of 2012’s modelling time was devoted to the building or a summer house; at least that is what we told the planning authority it was.

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In reality, it was a better storage home for Portchullin that formerly had to be carted up two flights of stairs to the loft to live and also somewhere to get some of my “railway stuff” out of the house.  At least the domestic authorities knew that it would provoke me into scheming my next layout……..

I used to spend literally hours scheming up layout plans; is it not as much fun as actually making them?  But I have never had this much room – a heady 16 feet for the scenic section and, as I have arranged the summer house to have a set of doors at one end, the fiddle yard can be erected for operating sessions through the door so can be in addition to this dimension.  After much playing, this is what I have come up:

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There is a lot of working up still to do on this, but it shows the basic concept that I’ll be working too.  I’ll explain more as to its concept another day, but it draws its inspiration from a couple of the Highland’s termini so hopefully you can see a little of some fairly well known stations in the plans.

Roger Farnworth

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