Wednesday 21 December 2016

Success and progress.

My visit to Keighley on Saturday 17th was brief but good.

First step was un-soldering the white wire from the switch for the frog, which eliminated that as the short. 5 sleepers down, umpteen to go! I then connected the multi-meter to the siding rails and proceeded to laboriously examine the insulation gap on each sleeper, in turn. Any gap that looked as if there was the slightest chance of a short was given a scrape with an old craft knife blade.

Eventually, about halfway along the stretch of track, I found one sleeper where the gap ‘appeared’ to only be partially cut. Anyway, a few swift but careful cuts & scrapes with the knife ensured a proper gap. Simultaneously the needle on the multi-meter moved towards infinite resistance and a small cheer spread round the room (well I and the two locals who were watching & assisting, anyway).
Overview of the end board showing Brookes sidings on the right of the main lines.

The area of the problem...  Multimeter & knife at the ready.

Mug shot of the culprit.

Further probing with the multi-meter indicated there were no further shorts so I got out the soldering iron (having remembered to bring my big one!), flux & solder and prepared to connect Brookes sidings to their new buss bars installed at my last visit.
I started by moving the connections to the switches that move the point blades and switch power for the frog from the main buss bars to the Brookes sidings bars. Checking each connection in turn to make sure no new shorts had been created.  Then I moved on to connecting the running rails to the buss bars but time & cold fingers prevented this being completed so that will have to wait until next year.

Next visit I will connect the rest of the droppers to the buss bars and look at connecting Brookes sidings to the controller.
There is a further thin copper wire that needs soldering to the side of a rail joint on the main line.
Some of the wires under the board are really too short, being pulled taught. So we should perhaps think about extending them by a couple of inches to give a little slack.

Finally, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.


Friday 11 November 2016

More frustrations from a different source.

A slightly frustrating visit to the club on the 22nd of October.

On my previous visit we had managed to get power to the whole of the layout including Brookes sidings but then discovered that we had a short somewhere on the end board (the one with most of Brookes sidings).

At an intermediate visit someone had tried to find the source of the short by cutting the feeds to the sidings from the buss bars. However, some of the main line feeds had also been cut and some of the siding feeds had been missed.

So, this time some careful work with the multimeter, showed that the main line was not the source of the short, and in fact showed that one piece of rail on the main wasn’t linked electrically to its neighbours by the thin copper wires that are soldered to the side of each rail joint.

Therefore the main was re-connected fully and the rest of the sidings were disconnected from the main line buss bars.

Then a new pair of buss bars were installed for Brookes sidings. (hmm, do we need some for the goods yard? and does the goods yard have sufficient droppers to maintain reliability?).

Nothing has been connected to the Brookes buss bars as the rest of the afternoon was taken up with methodically searching for the short with the multimeter.
This was eventually narrowed down to the area of the outermost 'Brookes' siding and the point that leads to it. The rest of Brookes sidings seem to be fine. Hopefully we'll be able to pin-point the short soon.
I think the next step will be to un-solder the switch for the frog to eliminate that & then examine the sleeper insulating gaps. Must remember my big iron next visit.


Saturday 27 August 2016


Frustrating times recently.

Firstly because, for one reason and another, I haven't been able to devote much time to modelling.

Secondly because I haven't been able to get to the club since the change of venues and haven't been doing anything to progress the layout.

And thirdly because the Coal Tank build has almost ground to a halt and it's not going too well at the moment.

The first two I can hopefully do something about in the near future.

The third may have to wait a little longer as I'm pushing the boundaries of my skills with a soldering iron and bits of metal and am finding them wanting. In short I've got the loco body just about as far as I can but I'm not happy with it. The boilers gone in between the side tanks ok, but when it comes to the smokebox I've made a bit of a hash of things and am having problems putting them right.

So much so, that I'm going to put the Coal Tank to one side for the moment and go back to the platforms and other structures for Lightcliffe. The etches for the footbridge have been waiting patiently for my attention and there's a lot of white platform surface that needs covering in Yorkshire stone.

The latest progress picture of the the Coal Tank are attached for posterity ... not that I'm giving up on it but I need to set it aside and come back to it at a later date.

Hopefully the next pictures I post will be more progress on Lightcliffe - the next Group meeting's in a couple of weeks and I've got a week off work next week so should be able to get something done. Also might have a trail for some plans for the Brookes Building but need to pay a visit to Halifax with the bloodhound to follow it up - watch this space!

Monday 8 August 2016

Sticking Down the Buffer Stops

An extra visit to Aire Valley RMC meant I could sort out the various items stored under the layout and also, after preparing the goods yard area for them on a previous visit, stick down the buffer stops for the good yard and Brookes sidings

The buffers were all made to the L&Y pattern by Chris Arthur a while ago, however to fit them in the goods yard some plaster that was laid down at the end of some sidings needed removing, as per this slightly fuzzy photo from April -

When the photo was taken, the buffers were not stuck down whilst the plaster was removed and some pieces of plastikard adjacent to the sidings were trimmed.

Here's a view of the buffers now glued in place...

This is the view from the road, even at this early stage with the scenery there's just something about a line of sidings abutting onto a road like this -

The buffers for Brookes sidings have been done too -


The next PAG meeting is on Saturday 13th - jobs for this meeting include installing extra bus bars under the Halifax line and checking that the newly installed buffer stops don't short anything out in the sidings. Hopefully we should also be able to start on landscaping as well.

Monday 2 May 2016

Putting labels on boxes ... and Coal Tank progress

Unfortunately I wasn't able to make the Group meeting on Saturday ... life getting in the way of modelling again ... but I did manage to find time over the weekend to put the finishing touches to my model of Lightcliffe signal box and also (about five years after starting it) to the 'box for my own layout based on Coniston.


The one outstanding issue with the Lightcliffe box is the rear - I've yet to see a photo that shows it and it's questionable if there were any windows in it, but there is one photo of the toilet end where there appears to be a window showing through the end window (as below).

Discussions with Neil Moxham have left the question unanswered for now (Neil's of the view that the photo show a reflection) but hopefully there might be a photo out there somewhere (a view across the park perhaps) that might solve the mystery.

There's also the question of the height of the box in that it was built on an embankment but again, in the absence of a photo it's difficult to know how far down it went.

Next job building wise will be either the gents on the Halifax bound platform (for which Chris Arthur has produced some drawings) or to tackle the footbridge. A plan of the Brook's building is still proving elusive though I have now got a decent drawing of the site as well as a lead at Calderdale archives which I must follow up.

Most of my modelling time recently though has been taken up in trying to put together the etches that I commissioned from London Road Models for the LNWR Coal Tank.

As things stand, I've managed to put most of the body together and have got the chassis assembled to the point where the motor's in place, wired up and working but there things have stalled slightly whilst I work out how to do the rear truck. Build threads can be found at both RM Web ( and Western Thunder ( but I've just realised that I've never actually got round to posting any photos on here, an oversight which I shall now remedy!

Thanks in particular to Nigel Hunt and Steve Dunkeyson for helping me get as far as I have and to Chris Higgs for the work he's doing on producing a 2mm specific chassis etehc.

In addition, I'd also like to thank John Redrup at LRM for all his help in getting the project off the ground and to everybody who ordered a set of etches - over 50 sold to date and looking forward to seeing some of them up and running. I've still got a few left though so if there's anybody that still wants one then please let me know.

Until next time!

Monday 11 April 2016

The Single Slip Saga... Part III at last!

Now that Lightcliffe is installed at the new Aire Valley RMC premises, we can start work again - and first on the list is my old adversary the Single Slip that is at the Bradford end of Brookes Sidings.

This is the layout, all set up and with enough of the covers pulled back for me to do my work -


The last times I mentioned the single slip I was going on about the operating units - finally I've been able to link them to some sliding DPDT switches which, for the time being are being used to operate the points.

This is how it looks now -

The connecting rods are made from a combination of brass rod and tube, with bosses made from bits of 'chocolate block' connect sawn in half holding it all together. This may be superseded by a more permanent arrangement where the component parts are soldered together, but I prefer for now to have the option to adjust the length of the operating bars.
This is a view from a slightly different angle - 

This shows the DPDT switches under the roadway that will go along the back of the layout.

That was the easy bit - as testing the mechnical side of it shows that my operaing units and rods work well. Next time, when I'm down for an extra PAG meeting on Saturday 30th, I'll be starting on the hard bit - the wiring!

Thursday 31 March 2016

The Ale Van Cometh

For some reason I've found an impetus to get going on some wagon projects that have long been in gestation.

Firstly, we have the aforementioned Ale Van - in this case a van seen in Don Rowland's book 'British Railways Wagons' which is a BR Meat van converted for Ale traffic by replacing the side vents with plain planks.

I of course like my beer so I thought it'd be nice to have one -

Many years ago I did model this in N Gauge using a Parkwood Kit and a PECO chassis, that though was sold long ago when Bachmann brought out their 12t BR vans, so a replacement using the Association kit has long been on the cards.

Sticking with the BR fitted theme is a 5-plank fitted High, this from a combination of a Parkwood kit and an association chassis -

It's worth noting that the bodies may appear a tad skew-whiff as they're not glued on yet. So the final 'unpainted' one is this plate wagon, based on a PECO body with an association chassis...

One of the other projects is a series of coal wagons using the 12 foot chassis suitable for Parkside kits, such as this where I replaced an old Parkside chassis with the association chassis - the reason being to both improve the running and the looks -

Now these are ready for the paint shop, there's more coming up, including a  Vanwide based on a combination of Parkwood and Association kit parts and more mineral wagons on the 12ft chassis and then some locos to finish off. So enough to keep me occupied for now.

April will see two Pennine Area Group meetings, the first one on the 9th, the second later in the month, possibly on the 30th.

Thursday 3 March 2016

Remembering Steve Sykes

I've recently heard of the sad passing of Steve Sykes, who was a group member until he moved away from the area some years ago.

Steve's forte was in scratchbuilding wagons, particularly of pre-grouping prototypes and he was often seen on the 2mm association demo stand at exhibitions working on his latest wagon using his trademark cream plastikard.

He was always willing to share his skills, and we start with a picture from the archives from 2006 of Steve demoing his techniques at a Pennine Group meeting when we used to meet in Todmorden -

One of Steve's trademarks was that when building the wagons he used cream plastikard for wooden-bodied prototypes, on the basis that it was a much closer colour to wood than the usual white plastikard generally available, or the kinds of plastics used for injection-moulded kits.

Here's a few of his wagons in their unpainted state, with the ironwork made from white microstrip -

He also used a fine 'scrawker' to scribe out the planking, which he marked out on by pencil on the plastikard prior to cutting it much in a similar manner to lino cutting. The result was a technique that was able to accurately model a wide variety of prototypes with a great degree of fidelity as often the initial marking out could be done using either drawings or photographs of the prototype.

He also had great skill in painting and finishing the wagons, which were often hand lettered, as the next couple of photographs will hopefully show.

His choice of prototypes was quite cosmopolitan, firstly this is a set of SE&CR wagons - 

..and this is an older photo from 2003 of some Metropolitan Railway wagons -


Hopefully this short retrospective of the photos that I have of his work will serve as a tribute to Steve.
He will be missed by many of us in the group, and our condolences go out to his family and friends.