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Controlling Bottom Works Sidings

Followers of this blog will probably be aware that I share some of my model railway escapades with the two authors of the blog OTCM.  Both of the authors are in the process of putting together entries into a competition to build cameo layouts being orchestrated by the publishers Titfield Thunderbolt.  Cameo layouts was the topic of a book written by Ian Rice and seeks to describe a small layouts seeking to use presentation techniques to capture a slice of the whole in a convincing manner.

To be fair to Oly, his entry is largely complete as long as he does not seek to tinker with it too much(!), the same could not be said for Chris’s entry – titled Bottom Works Siding – so he has some catching up to do!  To assist Chris I offered to make his signals and after a few weeks of work we have reached the point where they are complete.

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Chris’ model is based on the GCR’s route over the pennines at its Yorkshire end.  It will represent a set of transfer sidings from the Woodhead route electrification to a industrial line serving a coking plant – so I suspect we will get to see a fair amount of grot in the finished article!   Its signals are LNER or BR(E) practise which is mildly different to what I have built before in some regards but not others as there was a lot of standardisation between the LMS and LNER (and BR more or less adopted LMS practise).  So first up (above) is an LNER standard wooden post with replacement BR miniature upper quadrant arms.  The post is a piece of brass square section that I filed to a taper (hard work) with predominantly Masokit’s fittings (which I found to be notably better than MSE’s equivalent).

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This one is effectively a standard LMS/BR tubular post signal (apparently with brewer’s droop – sorry!) with a small bracket that has another miniature arm signal to it.  This is assembled with a combination of tubes and angle section from Eileen’s Emporium, along with some more Masokit’s arms.

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And finally a miniature ground signal – which despite being startling small was not actually all that difficult to build – it being based on a excellent little etched kit from Palatine Models.

As a result of a lost camera, there are not really any meaningful photographs of the signals being created but fear not, I still have a few to go for Glenmutchkin, so there will be some to come!  In the meantime, and to prove that they really do go, here are some videos.

In the fullness of time, I dare say we will get to see these in situ, so why not subscribe to Oly and Chris’ blog, to get an instant notification?

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NER Hoppers

I am presently cracking on with a batch of NER hoppers for Benfieldside.  Having acquired the layout, Tim and Julian have very little stock to run on it, so as part of the repayment for the use of their facilities and expertese on my boards, I thought I would help to correct this shortfall.

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The origins of all of this present batch of hoppers all go back to the Slaters’ injection moulded kit, which is of diagram P7 wagon.  There were around 17,500 of these wagons at the time of the grouping and the LNER carried on building them for some years thereafter with only subtle differences; so not unsurprisingly there were quite a lot of variants.  Thus, I have been doing a lot of modifying!

In each case, I replaced the very clunky W irons with Bill Bedford replacements; even though these were to be to EM, I felt that they would improve their performance.  The first examples were essentially built as the kit was intended with fairly traditional brake gear (which was to one side only).  However, having built my first one, I decided to refine the brake gear by drawing an etch for replacement steps, V hangers, morton brake mechanisms and brake levers.  This (along with a comparison with the plastic equivalent – the painted wagon), is below:

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However, a significant proportion were modified with end levers that operated a crank that was connected to the Morton gear.  At the ends, there was a much more chunky ratchet arrangement to retain the lever in position.  Again, I drew this up on the etch, and the arrangement looks like this:

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The NER undertook a number of experiments with these vehicles to attempt to reduce rolling resistance and this was the subject of my next modification.  On the right (below), shows the provision of a second outside set of W irons.  This was to add stiffening to the axles.  There is a set of Bill Bedford W irons to cater for this, but I chose instead to create a fresh set on the etch.  On the left is a further variant, where an anti-friction bearing was added in addition to the outer W irons.  This was a wheel that ran on the top of the axle and I presume the idea was that as it rotated less, there would be less friction.  I suspect that the introduction of an open bearing surface that would instantly get contaminated with coal and grot would actually have the exact opposite impact – as these were removed by the grouping era, I may well be right!

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The final variation of construction that I have modelled was a slot cut into the ends, which appeared on some vehicles.  The NER used these on vehicles that were hauled up rope inclines – of which they had many.  A plank of wood was inserted into the hole and wedged such that it was secured behind the end posts to ensure that the haulage point was close to the centre of the wagon.  They found without this that there was a tendency to pull the end posts loose due to the uneven point of pressure.

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Next up will be the painting and lettering of these; where I have three eras to chose from that would have all been apparent immediately pre- first war, which is when Benfieldside will be set.  More on this in a future post.

If there is a desire from anybody for the etches, I would be able to offer them; so drop me a note?

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