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.