Saturday, August 31, 2013

Swaynton at Woking

I wish that I could find time to report the activities at Swaynton and the NWSAG of the EMGS. Sadly life gets in the way. Meetings are held regularly on the second Thursday of the month in the North West Surrey area. Members of the EMGS are welcome to attend and that also applies to potential members as well.

The last few meetings have been dedicated to installing the new disc signals onto Swaynton. By the way these are available as kits at £2.50 each plus postage. Please contact me via the website, as replying by this blog doesn't seem to work.

A decision to cut down the number of disc signals from the original plan was due to several reasons. These being;
  • That the prototype locations didn't have that many.
  • That the prototype only had so many levers available including push-pull levers.
  • The limited time we have available to install them.
  • That at every location we found a baseboard support in the way. (of course)
However we now have the critical signals working. Lets see if anyone spots it at the next outing.

Which brings me to our next outing. This is the REC show at Woking on 14th & 15th September 2013. Apart from the disc signals installation other preparation has begun. For those who are not aware of the activity behind the scenes here is a rough run down of events;

  • About 18 months to 2 years before the show we get an invite. Forms are filled in and the details of the layout are sent off.
  • Some time after this, normally about a year before the show, we receive an acceptance.
  • Around six months before the show the "Gaffer" starts to invite operators. Ideally 8 operators for each day. Not only do the operators have to be able to commit to attend but they also have to be competent. So if we have a new operator, they will have to undergo training to become "passed out".
  • About a month before the show the transport is booked. That is a van for the layout and cars for the operators.
  • At the same time the owners of the rolling stock start to clean wheels and check couplings.
  • A week before the show a schedule is published showing who is booked to work the layout and what they are doing. We operate on hour shifts with one operator at each fiddle yard, two operators driving trains on the line, one up one down, and an operator who controls the goods yard. The latter following the rule that something must be moving. So thus we have five guys moving trains. Behind the scenes we may have one or two guys spare who are available to repair stock at critical times and talk to the public.
  • The day before the show. The hire van is collected and is then driven around to pick up the layout the lights and facias as well as all the electrics and the team who set the layout up.
  • The van with the layout arrives at the hall as soon as it is open and we locate the position of the layout, unload and start to set it up. This takes around two to three hours.
  • On the morning of each day, clean the track and on the second day clean wheels, set up and check the signals and all the electrics. As well as checking that the boards haven't settled overnight.
  • Then we play trains
  • Before doing the reverse on Sunday evening.
All of this to ensure smooth running.
If you are at the Woking please do come and say hello. Also if you take any photos or video of the layout we would love to post them on the website.

See you there.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Here comes the Summer

One of the things that I most enjoy about ExpoEM is that, for me, it marks the start of the truly fine weather that heralds the hope of summer. I can remember my first attendances to ExpoEM when it was held in the Great Western Hotel at Paddington. It being the first warm weekend all of the windows would be opened to let in the fresh warm summer air. But the smell that I remember are the fumes of the HST's wafting from the train shed, perhaps accompanied by the odd sound of trains departing or leaving. All of this in the faded splendour of the old hotel where you could still get food served to you by BR livered staff.

I guess that you can't have it all and todays exhibition halls in an out of town leisure centre are what we can afford. It would be nice to get some decent food though, something I wanting at most exhibitions. Exhibitors normally get a good a choice, however the fare paying public do seem to have a more restricted choice. Normally this is the result of the catering agreement with the sports centre. However the food at Bracknell, where ExpoEM is held this year is quite good and they have some decent beer on tap too.

Why have I started this blog update with Expo? Well apart from the nostalgia of those days at Paddington, the show is coming up soon 18th and 19th May 2013. Being the local group we are involved in marshalling duties. Richard Stevenson is the man to contact if you wish to voulenteer. Due to other commitments (Helping at a cycle road race, the South East Womens Divisional Championship) I can't do the Saturday, but will be manning the doors on Sunday. Other members of the team will also be doing one or both days. So if you are attending Expo and want to pass comment on Swaynton please find us and have a chat. We will probably be sat by a door.

Progress on Swaynton.
Well the Crawley show went very well. Set up on Friday evening was perhaps the quickest we have ever done. We had the usual problems but had enough operators to allow us to tackle these straight away. What tends to happen is that faulty stock is taken out of service and put away without anyone having a chance to look at it. At the next exhibition the problem hasn't been fixed because no-one knew what was really wrong. So it was nice to be able to debug a few issues. The main problems came from the stock, the biggest being the set up of the AJ couplings. Being able to sit down and adjust these meant that we have finally knocked the problem on the head. There are a few wagons that need further work and no doubt that some couplings will get bent while in storage/transportation. But if we can adjust them quickly then there shouldn't be a problem. Other problems with the stock were the back to backs going out and one of the locomotives losing a tyre! where it went we do not know?
The only problems we had with the layout were the usual problems with the Fiddle Yards moving during the day and misaligning. This caused the odd derailment of trains leaving the yards.

Which bring me to the next project. New Fiddle Yards. As several people have pointed out, we really need to run longer trains, and it would be nice to run a few more. At the moment we are restricted to five coach trains and we have eight cassetes at each end. It has been suggested by exhibition managers that Swaynton should be a roundy-roundy layout. This is on the grounds that it would take up less space....actually we have worked it out and will need to be longer!

I have taken up the challenge of designing the new FY and have already started on the spec. Here I will ask for your feedback as the FY's will not only have to suffice for Swaynton but any other project we attempt. Which has made me wonder if the FY could be used for other layouts in general. After all idea behind Swaynton is that it is a modular layout.
So the next few entries will consider the design and spec of a generic FY for exhibitions.

Other news...It would seem that the curved modules for Swaynton have hit a snag. The plan was to have some curved scenic units that would take trains round to a FY. One of the curves was on show at our table at ExpoEm in 2011. We even had some help from visitors to apply the landscape. However progress has not really progressed since then due to the awful summer we had last year. David can only work on these outside. The crunch came when he decided to store the boards in the loft and found that they weigh too much! So it looks like the curved modules have been abandoned at least for the moment.

Stock... progress is on going in creating /converting stock. The main restriction is the lack of storage in the existing FY's. We would like to run all of the inter-regionals, the pigeon special as well as the main line through trains including the Royal Wessex.

Other projects within the group. Believe it or not some of use are building models of stuff not directly associated with Swaynton. Richard is well known for his models of pre-group LSWR stock, (when are we going to see a layout?). He is also involved with restoration of some of the models built for Metropolitain Junction. This is one of the earliest EM gauge layouts and can be found in the pages of Railway Modeller and Model Railway Constructor dating back the 1950's. Richard has also produced a potted history of EM Gauge and P4/S4. His write up can be found on the EMGS website.

As for me, well at Crawley I succumbed to a Bachmann 2EPB in blue. I recall these running past the back of my house between Addlestone and Chertsey. Now what am I to do with it? I think a small layout and DCC. But do I convert it to EM or P4?
And that takes me back to the beginning because it was those 2EPB's that used to take me to Weybridge then London for the ExpoEM at Paddington.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Update 2013

Is it too late to wish you all a happy New Year?
First appologies for the lack of updates. There hasn't been much activity since December that is really worth posting.
Unfortunatly key members of the group have been affected by lifes little mishaps and so planned activities have not happened.
The planned signal planting has not gone ahead as we have found ourselves with either no time or place to set up the baseboards. It doesn't help that the locations of each signal falls on a baseboard support. As it is we are planning to make up a blank to go over the one hole we have drilled and then make an assessment of work when we next set the layout up. This will probably be at the Crawley MRS show. we then have the summer to be able set up boards in a garage or hall if we can find one that is not full of stuff.

If anyone has a space that we could use with power and light please contact us.

Richard has been progressing some N15's although I beleive that will be in Southern Green so will be before the target period of 1960. But gives us the option of perhaps backdating the layout by 20 to 30 years. There was not much difference in the infrastructure in that period. Which is probably why modernisation came to be such a shock. Within ten years the line had been electrified, and electric and desiels replaced steam that dissapeared along with the goods yard.

For myself I have been working on upgrading a Hornby Bogie B van.


Modifications included conversion to EM (obviously) adding AJ couplings, installing Roxey window guards and adding a little weathering.
The only things that bother me is the size of the lettering on the gaurds door and the shape of the rain gutters.

For discussuion on the Hornby Bogie B and my notes on conversion follow the link to RMWeb

Next meeting of the NorthWest Surrey EMGS group is as per EMGS newsletter at my place in Woking.
If anyone is interested in coming to this meeting (you don't have to be an EM member of modeller but we may encourage you to become a member at some point) please contact me using the form on the Swaynton web site or via this blog.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of the friends of Swaynton.

Latest news, I have just got around to changing the website, is that we are not going to be at Melksham in 2013. This frees us up to accept an invite to the Crawley MRS show at Horsham in April. As yet we have yet to get confirmation.
That will give us our three outings for 2013 and a possible outing in 2014.

So on with plans for 2013.
Progress is still static with the curved boards. It is a case of rain holding off play as there is no room to cut and assemble them indoors. The plan is to create two curves to either turn Swaynton into a roundy-roundy or have the option to put the end-to-end fiddle yards behind the layout. The rational for this is that exhibition managers seem to have an issue with the dead areas at the ends of the layout where the current fiddle yards are. Also a through deck fiddle yard would also allow us to run longer trains. We do feel a little embarrassed that we can only run 5 coach trains. The Belle looks particularly truncated. We are hoping that we can run trains up to ten coaches long. The current method of Fiddle yard operation doesn't allow us to do that even though we can extend each end be another six feet should we so wish (and the exhibition manager grants us the space).

We have also been looking at the stock. There will some new editions at the next outing (hopefully depending on how much life gets in the way...etc). Stock has been purchased and is being converted to run some foreign train formations. There were some inter-regional trains that came to Bournemouth. York and Birkenhead for instance. As well as a pigeon special.
Anyone got any ideas how to replicate several hundred pigeons taking off?

I must also have a look at the coal in the coal merchants yard. When I planted the coal slaithes I didn't realise (forgot to research properly) that the coal would have arrived pregraded and so the slaithes would have different grades of coal in them. Doh!

We also have to plant the ground signals (dummies) that I have made up.
Unfortunately the location for each one seems to have hit a baseboard cross member!
Anyway the plan is to get these planted and working. So Douglas will have to be busy making up some more slugged solenoids.

Ah well time for some more mulled wine.

Happy Modelling.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

December Meeting

Just a reminder that tonights meeting of the North West Surrey Area Group of the EMGS meeting is in Walton NOT Woking as advertised in the EMGS newsletter. we had to swap the dates around.

Up for discussion tonight is change of venue for the exhibition calender. It seems that we will not be going to Melksham this year so we have another invite for that date. (I will update the website when details are known)
Also progress on stock for Swaynton.
Tales from Metropolitan Junction.
and the rest of the usual nonsense.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Next meeting of the EMGS North West Surrey Area Group (NWSAG) in November.

The venues for the December and November meetings have been swapped.
So see you all at WOKING this week.
Detials are in the EMGS newsletter. If you don't have a copy or want to know where or just want to come to a meeting send me a message via the website.

Up for discussion:

So Swaynton is to be partly assembled and spruced up for another photo session in the next month.
It's last photo session was a couple of years ago when MRJ commisioned an article on the layout. Phillip Hall spent the day photographing the model and came up with the striking picture used in our banner.
Douglas will be bringing along the electromagnet for testing of AJ's.
Richard should have more tales from Metroplolitan Junction.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Welcome to Swaynton

I will start by welcoming you to the Blog of Swaynton. The intention is that this blog will follow the progress (or lack of) on Swaynton for Millcliffe-on-Sea, or as it simply known, Swaynton.

For those of you not familiar with the layout I will refer you to our webpage here.

Looking back over the material I have I am surprised at how long it has taken us to get the layout to this point. And it is still not finished! The Layout was started way back in 1995, some people tell me that an exhibition layout should only have a ten year life!
I am hoping that other members of the team will help contribute to this little blog as well as other readers with suitable comments, suggestions and hopefully some discussions about the layout and the time and era it depicts.

We will also post suitable blog entries from other blogs here as a point of reference.

I have started this blog by placing into the banner what I think is now the classic picture of Swaynton taken by Phillip Hall and published in MRJ (Model Railway Journal, Wild Swan).