Saturday, 5 October 2013

First outing

Chipping Compton had it's first outing last weekend, the 3mm Society's "Westfest" event in Wootton Bassett.  It had been invited as a "work in progress" exhibit which is just as well as it has a very long way to go before it's fit to be seen by the paying public.
It was a very useful shake-down for the layout as prior to checking it over and running a few trains in the week prior to the event it had not run for almost a year!  As you will have read in the previous (rather infrequent) posts I work on one section at a time.
Following a nice early arrival at the hall (I hate arriving at a show and have to rush setting up) the layout went together beautifully but when it came to run it the loco only crawled along at maximum power.
Thinking it was the controller that had given out Mike from Finney and Smith, that fine emporium for 3mm modellers kindly stepped in and lent me a "Pictroller" and suitable transformer.  A pity they didn't have any in stock as I would have bought one there and then.  A very fine controller indeed and on my Christmas list as a "from me to me" gift!   
Due to the way the layout is wired up I could not connect a 16 volt AC supply to the electro-magnets to uncouple the B&B couplings so goods traffic was kept to an absolute minimum.  A wire shunters pole hastily bodged together by my brother Rich utilising an X-acto knife handle was used for uncoupling passenger workings. 
The layout received some very kind comments and apart from the lack of automatic uncoupling it proved an enjoyable day's operating.
I did manage to get a few pictures:

Virtually the whole of the station is seen in this shot showing 7412 waiting to leave on a short goods working back to Andoversford.  The stationmasters house in the right background is nearing completion and will need toning-down a bit to fit in nicely. 

The goods shed is not bedded-in yet and one can still see the slight gap at ground level.  Once fixed in place this will be disguised.

I couldn't resist resist playing around with this shot (nothing clever....merely a few tweaks in "Paint").  Admittedly the backscene is not typical of the Cotswolds but much of it will be partially screened by trees.  Either that or I'll relocate the branch to mid-Wales :-)  

Another view of the goods shed. 

7412, a branch regular, has just arrived with the daily inward traffic today, just a brake van ready to accompany a couple of empty coal wagons.  

Saturday, 22 June 2013

A bridge too far

It's been far too long since my last posting but I'm happy to report things are progressing.  In my last piece I mentioned that I had misgivings over the bridge that passed over the line immediately before the hidden sidings.  I removed it and replaced it with one based on the type favoured by the East Gloucestershire Railway.  Instead of stone or engineer's blue brick mine is in red brick with the sides copied from the bridge at Lechlade which still stands.

Aside from being much more feasible in the location than its predecessor it has allowed more room for the as yet undecided industry served by the private siding.

In the months since the last posting I have also fitted the backscene.  I wanted a photographic one and having seen numerous makes decided on one from ID Backscenes.  The one chosen was "Hills and Dales" and in places resembles the Cotswold escarpment but as much of it will eventually be disguised by trees it should fit in ok.  Now I loathe wallpapering and opted to use a product called "View Glue" from Deluxe Materials.  It's not cheap I suppose at around £7.00 for a 225ml bottle but it certainly works well and is well worth the money.

Several weeks ago I decided to play about with the camera on my new phone and grabbing some rolling stock that was sitting nearby I took this shot.

AEC railcar W19W has arrived from Cheltenham whilst on the left a new Alvan Blanch muck spreader has arrived on a lowfit from Malmesbury.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Too fussy?

The construction of Chipping Compton has of necessity been quite a log drawn-out process, periods when nothing much happens with brief flurries of activity as and when circumstances permit.  Over this period of time parts of the project have been redone, sidings for example ripped up and relaid when the ballasting failed to satisfy me.  So it's time to take a step back and take stock of things so far.  Does the layout still meet my expectations when the layout was initially planned?  Over all yes and for the first time in many months I have set all 3 boards up and taken a few photographs.

I'm quite happy with how things are shaping up in this view.  The scene doesn't look too cramped and the large goods shed doesn't appear out of place.  I'm still not 100% happy with the siding in the foreground though.  When planned this was to be a carriage siding where the second autocoach would be kept when not in use for the morning and late afternoon school traffic.  Now I intend to park it in the siding serving the (now disused) cattle dock opposite the platform.  Thoughts then turned to it serving a small loco shed but a minor BR(W) branch line in the 1950's still having a loco shed in use?.....not very likely.  So, a private siding of some kind?  A timber yard perhaps?.....done too many times.  A factory?.....maybe but the limited space between the siding and the baseboard edge would dictate narrow buildings which would effectively block the view of the layout.  A gas works?...lots of traffic potential with coal in and coke etc out but again to do this justice much more space would be required for a works of such size as to demand a siding of it's own.  Certainly very small gas facilities existed at such places as Ashburton but that was serviced through the station goods yard.  I then thought of it being a siding used by the local council for deliveries of Tarmac, stone, timber, in fact anything that a local authority may need for it's highways and engineers departments.  There was a private siding in Cheltenham built for this purpose serving the former Central Council Depot on the peripheries of the St James yard site but this served a large town, would a small country town have such a facility?  Maybe not, but if it was imagined that the District Council had outgrown it's former site and needed somewhere to house it's fleet of vehicles and store roadstone etc, then moved to a former industrial site complete with a siding it begins to gain credibility.  This then is the state of things for the moment, with the siding seeing occasional use for incoming materials.
A view from the station throat with virtually the entire scenic section in view.  Other buildings are to be added obviously, the small signal cabin will be at the bottom of the platform ramp for instance and a coal office in between the 2 sidings on the left. 

The large goods shed is based on one at Culkerton on the Tetbury branch.  Chipping Compton serves as a railhead for a large agricultural area and a building of this size would be kept busy in the era before larger road vehicles took over.

Technically not a great photo but it does show how effective static grass can be.  I'm very pleased with the results so far. 

This is the one area of the layout which does cause me a little concern and whilst I am pleased with the actual bridge (from the Faringdon branch) it is the actual placing of the bridge that's the issue.
Bridges of this kind were found in cuttings with the load being taken by the cutting sides.  I'd always like this bridge since seeing it in Stephen William's book on GW branch line modelling but seeing it in place makes me wonder whether the site would have been suitable for one in real life?  The far side of the cutting stops just after the retaining wall.....would it have been stable enough?  I'm not a civil engineer so if anybody out there can answer this I'd be very grateful before the layout proceeds much further.  

Monday, 11 February 2013

The grass is always greener.................

In my last posting I mentioned the intention to use a static grass applicator.  I'd been in possession of one for over a year but had never experimented with it.  A couple of weeks ago I attended the wonderful exhibition put on by The Sodbury Vale MRC and enjoyed a chat with Gordon and Maggie Gravett, picking up several tips about methods of using static grass.  Upon returning home I set to with my applicator and was very pleased with the results.  Having used the puffer-bottle style of applicator in the past with limited success I had failed to appreciate the obvious benefits of the electric version.  Once applied the longer fibres tend to keel over but a quick pass with the applicator (not loaded with more fibres) every now and then whilst the glue is drying works wonders in maintaining upright grass.  The version I have is the one from "Finescale Model Railways" and resembles a tea strainer with batteries!  It's certainly not a toy and can give a nasty shock if you're not careful.  However, it's incredibly easy to use and is excellent value for money. 
This is just a "quickie" shot taken with a bridge camera and shows Chipping Compton with the pagoda and station building placed temporarily in position.  I failed to notice when taking the shot that the pagoda wasn't quite placed correctly and there is an unsightly gap.  The grass shows up well though and it is starting to resemble a railway (at last!).