Celebrating the Unusual at the Beds n Bucks Open Day

The Beds and Bucks Narrow Gauge Modellers Open Day was on the 14th May this year.

I have to admit I had very mixed feelings as I drove there. It was the first Open Day since the death of Mark Howe who was the backbone of the Beds and Bucks group and organised our Open Day for many years. It was going to be strange to have the event without him. Just before the show opened we held a minutes silence for Mark. This moment of reflection and respect made me feel better. I knew Mark would have wanted everyone to enjoy the day….

… and everyone did.

It was a great team effort from everyone in the group (and in many cases their families too), and the day went very well indeed.

There were many super layouts and I could include photos of each of them. Instead, I’ve decided to focus on three layouts, each one unusual in some way.

Green Pond Mine by Lyn and Jim Owers is a micro layout 60 x 40 cm (24 x 16 inches), that combines HO9 and HOf, and is completely automated. The electrics were displayed behind the layout.

The 9mm HO9 track sits alongside the 6.5mm HOf to create a 2 foot 6 inch gauge line and two 15 inch spurs. All of the trains start, move and stop automatically in sequence. The operators sit by the layout and talk to the visitors – nice!

It’s a really unusual concept built to a high standard, creating a very attractive layout.

Morton Stanley by Chris Ford and Nigel Hill is a very well modelled, compact O-16.5 layout.

While many modellers try to pack in lots of interesting vignettes or scenes throughout their layouts Chris and Nigel have taken a different approach. Morton Stanley is almost ‘minimalist’. There isn’t a lot happening and this really evokes a sleepy narrow gauge line, where trains are infrequent, and profits are a long way away.

I really liked this approach and I enjoyed chatting with Chris and Mike.

From ‘minimalist’ to ‘maximalist’ (if such a word exists). This is the Grasslands and Wetlands Railway by Glyn Bennett, an indoor narrow gauge line in G scale. Now, you don’t see that very often!

The layout is very well modelled…

…and there are some lovely scenes.

Glyn very kindly offered to let me operate – I jumped at the chance! The locos and stock are very well built and run very smoothly at low speed.  The wire in tube point operation was very positive, and the electrics really simple to understand (which is always good in my book!). I had a great time and I could have done it for hours. Many thanks to you Glyn, it was a real pleasure to operate your layout!

The next Beds and Buck Open Day is on Sunday 13th May 2018.  We are already planning it…

For Sale !

After my last blog where I enthused about the beauty of the Waggonfabrik Uerdingen AG coaches on the Waveney Valley Railway I received an email from Mark Crane with some very interesting information.

Mark told me that Station Road Steam in Lincolnshire have restored one of the coaches and it is for sale. Full details of the coach and a lot more pictures can be found on the Station Road Steam website here.

I must say the Station Road Steam team have done a fantastic job of the restoration. Look at the beautiful teak and the lovely green livery. The coach is priced at £11,500. I’m no expert on the value on miniature railway stock but that seems pretty reasonable to me.

Gosh, I am tempted. Although there are a few minor things I have to keep in mind.

  1. I don’t have the space to store it.
  2. I don’t have any track to run it on.
  3. I’m not sure I can persuade my wife that we really need a vintage miniature railway coach.
  4. I searched hard but I can only find £2.53 down the back of the sofa

I guess it will have to stay a pipe dream until I win the lottery!

Many thanks to Mark for emailing me, and fuelling my dreams. (Mark – I tried to reply but my mails are bouncing back because your servers think my emails are spam. I suppose IT systems don’t appreciate trains like we do!).

Finally, I hope the Station Road Steam team don’t mind me using one of their photos for this blog. The coach is so beautiful I couldn’t resist….

Three Narrow Gauge Lines in One Day

At Easter we visited Bressingham Steam and Gardens in Norfolk. I got the chance to ride on three narrow gauge railways, each one a different gauge, on the same day. If you like lovely gardens and railways I recommend a visit.

We started with the 10¼ inch gauge garden railway. Our loco was built at Bressingham and is modeled on a Hunslet quarry loco. She is named after the founder of the gardens, Alan Bloom.

The Garden Railway is around two thirds of a mile long (1.25 km) and runs around the beautifully landscaped garden with trees, flowers and the ‘island beds’ pioneered by Alan Bloom. The loco can pull up to 60 passengers in three coaches, and she made very light work of this when we visited.

After a walk around the gardens, we went to the 2 foot gauge Nursery Railway that runs for 2½ miles (4km) around the old plant nursery. This time we met a genuine Hunslet, Gwynedd, the first ‘Port’ class locomotive supplied to Penrhyn Quarries in North Wales in 1883. She worked the quarries there until 1954, and has recently been fully restored by the Bressingham Steam Society. She reentered service in 2016. She looks fantastic…

…and runs well too…

The second loco running on the 2 foot gauge was George Sholto another Hunslet loco that operated at Penrhyn. Built in 1909, she has been reboilered and overhauled and reentered service in 2011.

In the engine shed I found Bevan, a loco built at Bressingham in 2010 and based on the Kerr Stuart Wren design. I don’t think the originals had tenders and, to my eyes, it makes Bevan look more like a miniature railway loco that a 2 foot gauge one.

Just to show I can appreciate the subtle beauty of a diesel loco, here’s a diesel Hunslet built in 1980 (works number 8911).

I like the asymetrical bonnet…

.. and the very simple cab.

The Nursery Railway runs alongside the 15 inch gauge Waveney Valley Railway in a couple of places and it is great fun to see the two trains running so close together. Here’s a view of the 15 inch gauge from our 2 foot gauge carriage.

Obviously, we had to visit the Waveney Valley Railway. St Christopher is the main loco on the WVR. She was constructed by the Exmoor Steam Railway in 2001 and moved to Bressingham in 2011. She’s a good looking 2-6-2, well proportioned and sturdy, with outside frames and Walschaert’s gear.

Here’s the makers plate.

It’s interesting to compare the modern style of this plate with the Hunslet makers plate from 1909 on George Sholto – how styles have changed!

I was very pleased when I saw the carriages on the 15 inch line.

These very elegant carriages were built in 1937 for use in an exhibition in Dusseldorf, Germany. I first saw one in the engine shed on the Bure Valley Railway (see these photos) and I was so impressed I wanted to ride in it. Today, I was going to get the chance 🙂

Here’s the makers plate. The Waggonfabrik Uerdingen AG was founded in 1898, merged with the Düsseldorfer Waggonfabrik in 1935, and is owned by Siemens now. Interestingly, the carriage I saw on the Bure Valley Railway was Fabrik-Nr 11811…

The Waveney Valley Railway have this ‘brake’ coach, that combines passenger seating, a guard’s compartment and (what I assume) is a luggage space. I wonder if this is original or a later modification. I’d love to know a little more about the history and design of these coaches.

In the yard there was this bogie.

Perhaps it’s one of the original bogies for the Dusseldorf carriages.

At Bressingham there are two 4-6-2 pacifics built by Krupps of Essen in 1937. These were the locos that hauled the passenger coaches in the Dusseldorf exhibition park. Amazingly, both locos survived the war and, although Rosenkavalier was overhauled she was placed in storage and never used.

Alan Bloom purchased both locos, and several coaches, in 1972. He paid £10,000 (plus £1,750 transport costs) for the lot. Having acquired them, he built the 15 inch gauge line at Bressingham. It was completed in 1974.

These are large, imposing locos and it must have been an impressive sight to see them in steam. Sadly, both locos are out of service and will need to be overhauled before they can run again.

A third loco was built by Krupp to the same design, and this was purchased by the Romney, Hythe
& Dymchurch Railway in 1976 and is now known as ‘Black Prince’.  Additionaly, the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway are currently restoring a very similar locomotive and there’s an interesting history here.

It’s good to look around for little details that are worth modelling. For example, these two point levers. One is boarded over to protect the point rodding…

… in the other the pull rod just disappears into the ground.

There is a standard gauge line at Bressingham too. I didn’t examine it in detail, but two things caught my eye. Look at this lovely, weathered coach.

And this diesel shunter made me smile. Do the side skirts hide a Kato 103 chassis…?

There is more to Bressingham than railways. We rode on the Gallopers, had a great time on the 1950’s Dodgems with Rock and Rock background music, and tried our luck on the penny slots.

Plus, best of all, we got to meet one of our heros… Peppa Pig…





Surprise! Moving O9 Models

A little while ago mrfagsy asked if I could post a video of my stock. I don’t take a lot of videos but here you are mrfagsy, this is especially for you. (Click on the image to start the show).

The stars of this Hollwood extravaganza are my ‘test track’ and all of my O9 stock.

The ‘test track’ is a scrap of plywood salvaged from a skip with some set track brought from ebay.

The loco is an A1 Models O9 brass kit, with a kato mechanism, plasticard chassis and axle boxes built from 2mm diameter bolts and odd bits of plastic.

The wagons are scratchbuilt from plasticard and run on Peco N gauge wagon chassis. I use Greenwich couplings.

Not much more I can say, except, I hope the camera movement doesn’t make you feel sea sick!

Three New O9 Wagons

… and the wagons are brown. Humbrol German Camouflage (160) to be precise.

I do like the colour. In fact, I got so excited by the warm, red-brown I forgot to photograph them before I weathered them!

All three wagons are the same colour. One appears to be lighter because it has received less weathering with Citadel ‘Stirland Mud’ and a bit more Citadel ‘Ulthuan Grey’.

If you are interested you can follow how I made them here (you’ll need to scroll down the page…).

Brown, Brown, It’s Gonna Be Brown

I’m singing ‘Brown, Brown, It’s Gonna Be Brown’ to the tune of the famous Status Quo song ‘Get Down, Deeper and Down’, because I’ve decided my O9 open wagons will be brown.

I’ve made a test strip of all the browns I can find in my paint box. I sprayed a piece of card with Citadel Corax White, my default primer. I painted and dry brushed each brown onto the card. I had one can of brown spray paint and I sprayed that on (rather too heavily as it turned out).

I like Humbrol Brown (186) and Humbrol German Camouflage (160) best because they are an attractive red-brown.

I will sleep on it before deciding.

One other thing I’ve learned from this is that the dry brushed effects from Citadel ‘Dryad Bark’ and ‘Stirland Mud’ will be great for weathering. They create very nice dirty, muddy effects.

(If you are not familiar with the Status Quo tune watch this video, but be warned it contains long hair, waistcoats and 1970’s special effects!)



I Do Like a Good Rummage Box

The Cambridge Model Railway Club Exhibition was a couple of weekends ago. For me the best part of the exhibition was the retailers.

I was impressed by the wooden model kits from Laser Cut Railway Models. Very nice kits with good detailing. I couldn’t resist buying one. No idea what to do with it, but I’m still pleased with it.

Several other retailers had rummage boxes, and I do like a good rummage box. I picked up some useful secondhand bits and bobs for future scratch building projects….