Wednesday 23rd December
Extension report from DaveM:
Fifteen members turned out in initially brilliant sunshine. Coming away from the Bridge towards the Long Cut 6 bottom blocks were cemented in after slight adjustment to a couple of the bases. It does take time to cement in these first blocks as the spacing and alignment must be checked then checked again after each adjustment even if very slight. With the first block laid a gang dug away the ground in this area and levelled the soil to the height of the retaining wall – the whole area is looking very smart. In addition blocks where laid on the two bases leading up to the Bridge.
The planned track work for January is as follows:-
1) Complete the capping on the six remaining pillars leading down to the Pond.
2) Build up to their full height 4 pillars leading up to the Bridge.
3) Build up the 6 pillars beyond the Bridge.
4) Align and lay the bases of the 7 pillars up to the fiddle beam.
5) On the LHS complete as many of 12 pillars leading
up to the waterlogged area as resource allows.
Note that there is no official working party scheduled for the 30th December.
Extension – Year End Track Report: Here
Wishing everybody a Happy Christmas
We’ve now made 3 prototypes (2 of which are pretty much lash ups) of colour light signals. Mk1 uses 12 volt LED clusters, same as yellow and green on swing link signal except 35mm rather than 50mm. These have a beam angle of 120 degrees which is a lot more than we need, but the problem is that when the battery starts run down, the yellow, which isn’t very bright to start with, gives up the ghost completely. Mk2 uses 12 volt white clusters, the intention being to put spot light filter material infront to get red/yellow/green. There must be something odd about the spectrum from these white clusters, as with a green filter hardly anything gets through. They are getting pretty dim with a flat battery as well. Mk3 usues individual LEDs, 4 off for each colour in a series/parallel arrangement. They have a 30 degree beam angle, so appear much brighter with a lot less current consumption, down at <40 mA. This appears to be the way to go, it allows the use of a voltage regulator to overcome the effect of battery run down. I’ll try to remember to bring the 3 prototypes to the next natter night. In the meantime, does anyone have a suitable junction box in which we could mount the battery? At the top end we hope to have the solar panels set up so that we don’t have to connect up anything before running, just switch it on. What we need is about 1 ft cube, with a lockable door so we can bolt it down to something immovable
Wednesday 16th December
Extension report from DaveM:
A good turnout. The main attraction (distraction) was Paul bringing his new blue Duchess “City of Stock on Trent” for a hydraulic test.
Following a scare that the long cut on the left hand side was not deep enough the bubble posts followed by Craig’s laser were both run through the cutting to the top. Both methods came to exactly the same measurements. There was no real problem but we are just on the limit of 14 inches clearance at the top. The gradient has therefore been changed by increasing the gain in height on each Beam from 3/4 inch or 19mm i.e. 1:106 to 20mm (1:101) which gives us an extra 1 1/2 inches over the next 24 Beams. The base of one pillar which was too high was dropped to save cutting the block. It is important that the top of the bases are at least down to ground level to give the minimum 14 inch clearance.
The Pillars at each end of the Bridge have finally been cut to the correct height and the blocks grouted in although the top slab on the entry pillar still needs to be glued. The glue does not appear to set which could be due to the weather conditions or the tube is too old.
The plan is to have a working party on Wednesday 23rd but not on the 30th. Four more pillars on the left hand side can be cemented to their correct height while a number of base blocks on both sides of the Bridge can be cemented in.
Bridge report from PaulC
The only job left on the bridge is the kick rail which will be made of 100 x 6 flat bar. I am going to leave this until into the New Year as we don’t need any other steel stock at work. I will therefore only order it when we need other steel otherwise we will incur a delivery charge. I may mention this to Roger when next I see him because it may be worth ordering the tip rail flat bar at the same time now that the club coffers are a bit healthier. As there is so much drilling etc to do on the tip rail I am not sure whether the galvanising cost is really worthwhile.
P.S. I will be purchasing the Duchess. It has the makings of a good engine with a little fine tuning.
Wednesday 9th December
Extension progress report from PaulC
The bridge handrails are now complete along with a section of handrail after it of about 5 meters. This ensures that nobody can now topple into the pond or slip down the embankment. To complete the bridge structure completely we need to fit a kick rail at the bottom which will be done in steel which will be 150mm high by 6mm thick. This steel will be ordered next week and made at work and then brought to site the following week. There is only a little black painting to be done with Hammerite and the entire job will be finished. The two pillars before and after the bridge need to be set and then work can progress on the matching pillars at both sides. We also did some block work today to allow soil to be brought in at the exit side of the bridge to level up the walkway. This section will also be fitted with a kick rail to match the bridge. In effect the bridge and the exit section of banking should be totally finished in two weeks time. Prototype colour light signal made, but it turns out that the yellow MR11 LED clusters are pretty poor and give up the ghost at 10 volts, which is not a lot of use when you remember the drive circuitry drops 1.5 volts. We've had a play with a white LED array and some yellow spotlight filter material. Amazing what some people have packed away in their workshops isn't it. Now going to alter the software so the apparent brightness stays the same as the batteries decline, no point in having them blinding when the batter is well up, only wastes the energy Once again Condiments of the Season to all
Wednesday 18th Nov
Weather was not promising on Sunday, so I didn’t go to running day. I’m told there was only one loco running. Good thing about these battery electrics is you can have them on the track in minutes, so even if you get rained off you haven’t wasted that much time.
Good turnout today despite the weather. Mr Landlord brought his loader and transported blocks, sleeper material etc across to the extension site. A lot easier than humping them! Work on the extension proceeds apace.
Frank brought his 3.5”g 4f for boiler test, which it passed (hydraulic and steam). It is very nice indeed, worked straight out of the box as they say.
BarrieP has entered his Duchess for IMLEC, which is at Urmston next year. He has engaged the services of a previous IMLEC winner to drive, so as he says if it wins it is a super loco, if not it’s a **** driver. We’ll have to have a club outing to cheer the loco on.
Phase 1 mods to the swinging link signal now complete. When the battery gets down to less than 10.5 volts a buzzer will sound. It was quite loud when I set it up in my workshop, but outdoors it isn’t. I’ll try to find a louder one, but when you’re working on a shoestring you use what you’ve got. I won’t insult your intelligence by suggesting what should then be done. Phase 2 will include fitting less powerful red lights, and making it so only one comes on for track occupied. Most of the time the green is on and that only draws around 1/10 amp, but the reds draw nearly 1/2 amp. I think all agree they are too bright.
When you pass the distant by the generator house it will now go to caution. This is to avoid having a clear signal when there could well be a train in section before the first home. With not having continuous block sections this is the best we could come up with.
The parking area is now very soft. Many people are choosing to park by the main road and walk across unless they are delivering something. This avoids unnecessarily churning up the access track and car park.
Natter night Thursday. Don’t forget the HotPot Supper, at the Daten Club on Thursday 10th Dec. Be there or be square. For tickets contact Sam Simms on 01942 884126.
Extension Report 15th Nov
Brian H reports:
The Wednesday teams have been hard at work over the past weeks and the track extension project is progressing well.
On the right hand side working from beam 87 to just past the water tank, nine pillars have been completed and new steel beams installed. Then 22off flag bases and the 1st block are now in place taking us just past the end of the pond and also a further 4 base flags are in place.
Paul C and his team have now completed all the major work on the bridge with just the handrails to be fitted and the wall after the bridge needs to be finish off. Nine flag bases up to the bridge and five flag bases after the bridge have been installed.
block plus a further seven flag bases are in place ready for the block work.
Flags and blocks have been move around the site ready for to be installed over the next few weeks. We now have the sleeper material which has been delivered along with further supplies of flags, blocks, sand and cement. More beams have arrived on site and have been stored at the back of the tool shed. One of our members has produced the first batch of CNC punched stainless steel fishplates which look just the job.
Wednesday 11th November
Running day on 1st started out cold and foggy, so a lot of tea drinking went on until after lunch when it brightened up. Only one steam loco (Henry with Emma Victoria), but several electrics. BrianR’s class 37 refused to play, the vital spark wasn’t getting down to the controller.
Last week I connected the track circuiting for the section after the first distant. The idea is that when you pass this signal it will go to caution so that a following train doesn’t think there is nothing in section. This is a bit of a compromise, but having block signalling which doesn’t go all the way round is more than a little unusual. I’ve used stainless welding wire this time to see if it’s any better, as it’s springy it’s not as easy to fit.
The talk on Thursday was excellent, never realised the Ship Canal railway was so big, probably bigger than some pre-grouping railways!
This week Bruce and I commissioned a device which will switch off the lights in the pavilion if the battery goes flat. If you hear a high pitched buzz and the little red light on the unit is lit, the battery is flat. At least turn the switch off, even better take the battery home and charge it up. Note that sealed deep cycle batteries need a constant voltage charger, normal car chargers will boil them dry. Most of our batteries are well past their sell by date. In course of doing this we found a 1.5 volt drop from the generator house to the pavilion, so we’ve moved the battery back into the pavillion under the bench on the right as you come in the door. This is probably a handier place to have it anyway, no need to unlock the genny house to get at the battery. It’s a good idea for the last person out after lunch to turn the lights off. A member has invested in a more modern solar panel, which we will experiment with over the coming weeks. We need some heavy cable, it’s 50m to the nearest sunny location, and even at low current we will get volts drop (nearly 2v at 2.5 Amps with 2.5 sqmm). Anyone got 50m of 4 sqmm twin looking for a home?
We also dug a trench from the first distant to the track, but we couldn’t do the final hook up as I’d left the wiring diagram at home. I’ve got the flashing light signal at home fitting a flat battery warning. I doubt it will be ready for this Sunday, but the back up signal is there. The club is now operating on GMT again, Barrie reset the clock.
If someone sends me a report on extension progress I’ll add it in
Wednesday 22nd October
Wednesday turned out to be a very wet miserable day with traffic chaos in and around the region but despite all of what nature could do to ruin a working day around 15 people turned out.
Paul Caldwell put out a call for assistance on Monday as he had loaded the grating onto his trailer and needed help to off load at the track site 3 of us turned out to help and what a struggle it turned out to be. There is a technical name for the grating but for the non techs it forms the walkway either side of the track on the new bridge see photo.
Back to Wednesday before the grating could be fitted a considerable amount of digging and mixing of concrete had to be done. New retaining walls were built and back filled to form a smooth walkway off the bridge. Finally the grating was cut to fit around the pillar under construction in the front of the photo and the grating finally secured into place with clamps all that needs to be done now to complete the bridge are hand rails and cosmetics. Considering bridging the gap was the major hurdle in front of us when the track extension was in the planning Paul has done a very remarkable job in designing the bridge and all the steel fabricating to make it possible he deserves all the praise.
Sunday 18th October
Progress on signals (from Duncan):
I stood at the top end and watched the trains going by. No faults at all, and no-one complaining. Then the signals at the bottom end started to play up, the green light failed. I’d convinced myself it was a blown bulb until we checked the battery voltage. They won’t work on 6.5 volts, and it damages the battery to run it this low. Changed the battery and all was well. If any problem, change the battery. The red lights work until a even lower voltage, but that didn’t stop one driver just ignoring them.
Wednesday 14th October
Progress on signals (from Duncan):
Several people have given me vague descriptions of an intermittent fault on the signals at the top end. Of course every time I connected it up on a Wednesday and run a truck through it worked perfectly. However, today it didn’t, and because I now had an accurate handle on the symptoms, the fault was fairly easy to find. I had put the break in the wrong rail, and left the old ally fishplate on the other side because ‘you don’t need a break in that side‘. Having found the problem it should have been a few minutes work to rectify it, but of course the non stainless bolt had rusted up solid, so I had to trek all the way back to the container to get some mole grips and brute force the bolt out. It now works. Having interrogated people today, this fault fits the symptoms in that the 2 sections at the top were acting as one (intermittently), so that if you were stopped at the first stop signal you would have to wait until the preceding train had cleared both section before the signal was clear, and even if there were no preceding train, you would get a danger at the second stop signal, as the second section thought you were the train in it, if you see what I mean.
You will notice some white markers on the ends of some sleepers. These mark the beginning and end of sections of track circuit. Note that some track breaks are very close to the signals (too close, I’ll sort it out when we do the extension). If your loco front wheels pass these markers when you stop at a signal it will never clear, as you are the train in the next section.
There will no doubt be further issues. Please send me a coherent report of what the problem is, what lights are showing, what the arm is doing etc. Being told that ‘that signal at the top end is not working properly‘ is not terribly helpful. The most likely fault is flat battery! We’re working on that as well.
Wednesday 7th October
Today was a monumental day regarding the track extension we now have the first 9 beams in place . Work on the bridge by the end of play saw the cross beam footings cast and the cross beams and handrail pillars in place it really is now looking like a bridge.
Phil and Rob have now completed the cuttings on both sides of the track so that means all the hard work has been completed the embankments have been raked to a very eye pleasing landscape all ready for re planting with woodland type foliage of which Roy Allen’s wife Barbara has volunteered to undertake.
Finally Dave Mullholand has declared the track extension is well and truly surveyed and has declared as from next Wednesday we need all hands on deck to start laying pad’s on the up side of the track come on your club needs you.
Sunday 4rd October
Sorry for the delay in reporting Sunday’s running. Jerry Mole reminded me to include Keith’s Darjeeling class B tank which he brought along for all to view. This really is a remarkable model the fine detail is outstanding right down to tiny lock’s on the tool boxes unfortunately Keith forgot the key’s so we were unable to inspect the scale tool’s inside !! One other detail i must comment on is the working steam turbine all hand made and really looks the part.
I’ve first hand knowledge of these loco’s as I spent two week’s riding and filming the line in the late 1990’s and I can truthfully say Keith’s engine is a perfect copy(or would be if he’d scaled me down and placed me on the footplate) ha.
I’m sure all the members who saw the loco are as eager as I am to see it in steam. Well done Keith.
Saturday 3rd October
What a show ! Steve Hudson and his gang of die hard support crew were entertaining the crowds in Warrington town centre with the “Back to the future ” show. Steve had mounted the Delorian car on the front buffer beam of his Simplex and thrilled the crowd propelling it forward at 8.8 Mph forcing it back into the future very entertaining stuff. Our own Paul Middlehurst and family paraded around in wonderful Edwardian dress all in all a very good PR exercise for our club.
Thursday 1st October
Tonight’s talk at the cricket club was a fascinating subject ” Where were the German aircraft carriers ” How many of our members had even given this subject a thought? answer very few !! David White a former merchant seaman went into great detail about the building and fitting out of these massive vessels also about the politics surrounding there conception.
Funny as it may be the first air craft carrier was launched by the wife of Firdinand Von Zepplin the person who was the subject of our previous talk. Getting back on track the carriers never did see active service they were ferried back and too between Baltic ports and ended up being scuttled by the Russians it was a very informative evening with many questions from the floor answered in great detail. Our president Henry thanked Mr White and asked for a show of appreciation from our members.
After the presentation our Chairman Roger Hall announced that Brian Renton had volunteered his services and taken up the position of club Secretary.
Roger then went on to explain that a complete costing had been done on the purchases to complete the building of the track extension and announced that due to huge savings on the cost of steel and the loan of equipment the balance in the bank is very healthy thanks were given to Paul Caldwell and Phil Parker for there efforts.
Wednesday 30th September
The first beam was delivered today for the construction of the ” bridge ” ? by the end of play the retaining walls were completed and back filled with stone and the beam was fixed permanently into position.
Rob and Phil toiled on digging the cutting on the up side and it really is looking good.
Henry and Barrie have now completed the first ten pillars and it is really looking as though we are progressing.
We seem to have quite a few photographers knocking about whilst work is in progress maybe some of these photo’s could be submitted to the gallery ? any offers.
Saturday 26 / 27th September
Stars of the show were our very own Barrie Purslow ( there by special invitation yuk ) and Brian Renton with his hugely popular class 37 Mary Queen of Scots.First on was Brian’s loco coupled up to the most beautiful rake of freight wagons it was allowed to run free around the track hastily followed by the paparazzi filming and photographing like mad.
When sufficient crowds had gathered Mr Purslow decided it was time to thrill the multitude with a display of his radio controlled Black 5 locomotive pulling the rake of wagons. When everyone was well and truly entertained he uncoupled the loco ran on to the turntable and carried on to amaze the crowds by performing tender first !! what a showman he was also on TV that week I think he needs to lie down for a bit before he ends up on who’s got talent ?
Wednesday 23th September
After the previous Thursday’s night run things were a bit quiet today on the loco side of things. Just one engine appeared today for boiler testing a lovely 31/2 gauge Ivatt atlantic.
Things are really hotting up on the track extension Phil arrived with the digger and put the finishing touches to the cutting on the up side of the track. Paul Caldwell brought along a wonderful mini tractor complete with its own generating set this enabled us that have been mixing concrete by hand to use our new concrete mixer this really speed ed up the laying of the bridge foundations. After lunch work started on the retaining walls for the bridge and by close of play all retaining walls were complete.
Winter will soon be upon us so we need to make the most of the road access for delivery of materials to enable the pillar work to carry on during the winter months
Saturday and Sunday 26th/27th a group of our members are off to the Leyland societies track where Mr Purslow is appearing by special invitation ( they must have seen him on TV Monday night ) to demonstrate his radio controlled black 5 on demonstration goods trains this must be well worth a visit. Sorry for the short notice.
Please support the Steve next Saturday running the portable track at Warrington Market’s Back To The Future day. Picture appearing in next weeks Warrington Guardian!
Message from Duncan:
Following reports of problems with signals, I have tightened all the track circuit connections on the system near the pavilion. To avoid bi-metallic corrosion we used aluminium wire, but it is very soft, and is creeping under the bolts, giving rise to intermittent poor connections. Tightening it up at the beginning of each running season should sort it out, if not we have another cunning plan, use 1mm SS wire rope with crimped on SS connections. I also note that some of the connections near Daresbury halt are damaged. This no doubt caused by derailments when passengers getting on and off at the steam fair
The signals have built in fault diagnostics. It would make life a lot easier if you could report what is actually happening and which lights are flashing when there are problems. I will put a copy of the operating instructions in the pavilion.
On Sunday the main flashing light signal was only working on the red lights. This was because the battery was flat. If there are no lights showing, this is a fault. If no lights showing you don’t know that the red is operational and so don’t know that the swing link is locked. I have today brought 7 flat batteries home to be charged. The one remaining battery is about 1/2 charged. I’ll have at least some of them back before next running day. We are going to amend the fault codes to indicate flat battery.
Sunday 20th September
Running day off with a flurry of engines attending one imparticular new to the club was a 5ins gauge LMS Jubilee 5XP 4-6-0 number 5606 Falkland Islands owned by Dave Dunphy out on a test run a very nice engine ( it took me less than an hour to get my hands on the regulator a personal record ) Bob has taken his warning and instead of hanging around transport cafes he his back brewing amber nectar. Patrick Mullee
Thursday 17th September
The long awaited day of the night run ! imagine our surprise on arrival at the track to find Phil and his gang had been busying away with the digger and the long dreaded cutting was almost complete. This as helped enormously to get all the hard work done before the onset of winter it’s a massive thank you to the gang.
Back to the night run everyone agrees this is a fantastic event everyone enters into the spirit with all sorts of headlights laser beams. There was a variety of steam and electric loco’s something for all tastes. On the night we estimated 40 people turned up to enjoy the atmosphere and they were all treated to a hot pot supper or burgers well done to all concerned. The only downside was all the children who attended had to leave early as it was school the next day. Unlike a few of us that didn’t want to leave. Maybe next year our organiser may want to think about a Friday night run ? Well done Mr Purslow. Patrick Mullee
Wednesday 16th September
Today at the track there was a hive of activity with the labour was well organised. We had a group racking the new embankment another one on building the pillars and trial fitting the new beams on the bridge site concrete was being mixed by hand at an alarming rate to cast the bridge foundations and as usual the bubble gang were out plotting the gradients. Patrick Mullee
Wednesday 9th September
group of our members joined the Retired British Rail staff on a coach trip to Whitby on arrival at Pickering we had the option to bale out and continue our journey on the North Yorkshire railway. Needless to say we did and very enjoyable it was with the steep and curvaceous gradients it is a very challenging road for the steam traction.
Imagine our surprise on the return journey when we received a text from our treasurer informing us that the tree at the top of the track is down and the cutting on the up side of the track was well under way. A swift call to John confirmed it was true and not a joke so Thursday morning I decided to run up to the track and take a look.
On my arrival at 10-30 Rob and Phil had just unloaded the digger and were setting about getting as far as they could with the cutting. I hadn’t come prepared to work but we got stuck in and before too long Roy Allen arrived and there was soil flying everywhere “Robot Rob” I’m sure he lives on Red Bull ! along with his side kick Boy Phil have taken it upon themselves to finish all excavations before we loose the weather what a fantastic duo eat your heart out Gotham City. We dug and we dug no sign of a tea break Roy and I were exhausted until finally at 18-15 I was compelled to leave with the cutting extended by another 15 feet and landscaped all that was left to do was clean up the site this the lads did and finally vacated the site at 19-30 incredible commitment and well worthy of praise.
Friday 11/9 I’m going about my duties travelling along the A49 delivering pet foods imagine my surprise when I spotted our tea lad BOB hanging around the car park of a greasy spoon transport cafe has he turned into a “Stobbart spotter” ? we really do need to talk to him.
Saturday 19/9 The naughty boys of the club the ” Hatton four ” ignored all pleas to call off the running for the Hatton show. Three engines turned up the weather was poor but we managed to secure £54 wongars towards the track improvements so not a bad day after all. Many of the people who braved the walk across the field did so because they did it last year. Well done to Barrie Brian and Roy and myself of course.
More and more people are commenting on our hidden jem amongst the trees and cannot understand why we don’t project ourselves a bit more. If we are to attract younger members maybe we should be looking down that route? comments welcome.
Weather pending don’t forget Thursday night is running night……,P Mullee
Track Extension Update
With a good turn out today of 20+ members five groups were working around the extension site.
Our landlord has allowed us to remove a large tree which is close to the planned footing for the bridge. Wasting no time our tree contractor arrived on site and the tree was removed in no time.
Jobs today included building pillars, refitting the access gate by the water tank, further digging of the footings for the bridge, confirming levels ready to start excavation work from beam 116 on the left hand side.
Philip P and his Mini JCB has been on site this week for two days. On Tuesday he was digging out a very large tree root and today started to excavate the route from around beam 116 towards the bridge.
Wednesday 2nd September
Another good turn out today the weather stayed fair until around 3pm just as we were all retiring for afternoon tea.
Today was quite momentous for the track extension as the first pillar was secured by our president Henry Woods as fitting to Henry’s past building projects it had to be “BOB ON” to satisfy Henry’s desire for perfection. At close of play 10 pillars had been secured a really good start. The idea is to finish construction of the 10 pillars and secure the beams into place before moving on to the task of constructing the embankment on the bottom bend.
Paul Caldwell arrived with materials for the casting of the foundations which will support the steel beams that will form the bridge across the pond. More digging was done to make sure a firm foundation can be constructed to carry the increase in traffic predicted when the line is opened.
Many of our Wednesday gang are of the opinion that this exercise has given the members something to focus on and will make the winter months more enjoyable as the track starts to take shape. One problem that has arisen as activity on the track progresses is young Bob the tea lad has taken to wandering around the site we need to fit him with a tracking device !
Wednesday 26th August
Another really good turn out today, lot’s going on our boiler testers were kept busy as young David brought along a brace of boilers for hydraulic testing both boilers passed well done.
Wednesday 22nd July
Family party prevented me getting to running day, so no report. Damn nuisance this family bit.
Mr Landlord has had a meeting with United Utilities about a new water supply, hopefully we will have better pressure in the fullness of time, although it’s a lot better now than it used to be
Not much to report this week. I turned up late as usual and set up the theodolite, then it rained, so I gave up. BarrieP was seen wielding the strimmer around the extension route, can’t see what you’re doing if it’s all covered in weeds.
DaveM gave everyone a guided tour of the works so far. The route is pretty well fixed, details of gradients, cuttings and embankments are being worked on.
GerryM brought a 3.5″ Britannia for testing. Very nice, now wants a coat of paint. Not my forte, someone once described my painting as ‘spreading it about with a hairy stick’.
Possibly the last outing of the portable track this year is Newton Town Show on August 1st. This small band of brothers, who provide a very significant slice of club income, would welcome any assistance, whether it be putting it all together, running it, or taking it all down again
Wednesday 15th July
All went off successfully, we were very busy and most importantly no accidents. It all started out with a buttock clenching moment, no water supply, either to us or to the rally field. Turns out there had been a burst at the Hall and United Utilities had turned it off, not realising that it was the same supply to us and Mr Landlord. They had it back on within a couple of hours, until then the diesel men provided a sterling service, and they continued to fill in throughout the weekend. Thanks to all who were involved in whatever capacity. All of you who believe that Elvis had gone to the moon in a Lancaster bomber (as reported many years ago in Daily Star I think) were proved wrong when he turned up at the weekend driving a certain green loco
The badger set that has been quietly collapsing for some time finally gave up the ghost at the weekend, so it has been dug out and backfilled with bricks and rubble. No doubt Mr Brock will dig a detour, but it won’t be through that lot!
Henry fixed some damage to the swinging link lock. I’ve had this in DG before, but people persist in working it incorrectly. Please ensure that you take the load using the vertical handle before you pull out the bolt. Otherwise it all goes back with a jerk, the hole for the locking bolt gets damaged, all the mechanism is subjected to extra load, and the concrete beam has been known to be knocked out of place. It’s not difficult, so why not do it right?
Craig and I tried to set up the theodolite to do some more level checking, but something seems to have gone awry, one of the vials seems to have come loose. I’m dropping it off (not literally) at Roger’s, he knows a lot more about them than I do.
New member Bill had his USA loco, but seemed to be struggling for steam, better luck next time.
Natter night tomorrow, then running day Sunday
Wednesday 8th July
I couldn’t get to running day on Sunday, so you’ll have to put up with Bruce’s report:
Wednesday 1st July
main job this week was fencing. Photos in the gallery at
You wouldn’t believe that many of this motley crew held down responsible jobs in real life would you.
More lining and levelling went on as well, we will get it right eventually.
Paul brought along the final 4 signals for the top bend. Once I’d opened up a rail joint they worked fine. As before, on the actual steam fair the semaphores at the bottom end will not be fitted, only the flashing light will be in place. Let’s remember to find the dongle on Wednesday so we’re not panicking on Saturday.
Next week we will be concentrating on getting ready for the steam fair
We’ve been invited to Wigan’s open day on 26th July, from 8:30 (yes in the morning I’ve checked , obviously early birds these Wigginers). Insurance and boiler cert if you’re taking a loco.
Wednesday 24th June
Cracking day on Sunday, good turnout of locos, including visitor Craig with a real petrol electric. I’ve seen 5″g petrol electrics before, but they have been way overscale, this one all fitted inside a scale outline body, which itself was very nicely done. Unfortunately my phone is still playing silly so-and-so, picture is unreadable. Two Brians had their battery locos, both with very realistic sound cards, lots of other locos, too many to remember all of them.
The extension gang have been busy, we thought Mr Landlord was coming to scoop out the ditch on Monday, instead he pulled out the stumps of the old leylandii, and dug us a rather splendid cutting. It’s not as deep as it looks on the photo, but still very impressive. Before you ask why is it so wide, that’s the width of the bucket on his digger.
On Wednesday Frank and Bruce fitted wooden rubbing strips to the underside of the headstocks on one of the trucks, the idea being to reduce track damage in a derailment. Of course you have to test these things out, so with 100kg of weights, 100 kg of me, and a couple of lighter passengers we had a ride round, no loco, so it looks a bit strange.
After last week’s appeal we’ve been given two good mowers, one brand new, thanks chaps. Rob proceeded to mow everything in site, if you’re visiting the track keep moving or you’re likely to be mown. Henry was testing a boiler for JerryM. It looks basically sound, but lots of little leaks on fittings frustrated the test. Better luck next time.
More levelling, and more fence erecting. The ground is very very hard, Ray’s post hole borer just bounced off, I dug one hole with pick and spade, very hard work as you’re trying to keep it fairly small but deep.. Message from BrianH follows
Next Wednesday we need to have a "Big Push" to complete the reinstatement of the fence around the extension site. Brian has asked for your support and hopes the will be a good turn out as many hands make light work. If you can we would like to work a little longer next Wednesday to reduce the work needed the following week, which is in fact the week before the Cheshire steam fair. My suggestion of just putting the posts back in their old holes and having a dog leg in the fence was laughed out of court, watch this space! Loads of photos this week (thanks Frank, Keith and Pat), to avoid crashing the website they are at
/?gallery=24-june-2015. You'll work out who/what they are
Wednesday 17th June
Smaller turnout today, the bad weather forecast probably put some people off. Didn’t actually rain until about 3:30, but it tried.
Fencing gang have run out of materials, more promised from landlord to be delivered today. They tidied up the leftovers, and made a couple of gates. We need to get fence re-instated before Steam Fair
Rob the demon mower cut the grass all round the track getting ready for the steam fair. Unfortunately the petrol rotary breathed its last, oil pouring out of the inlet manifold. Does anyone have one lurking that they would like to donate? If not we’ll have to buy one. Must emphasize, working order and safe, no old scrap!
Henry’s Emma Victoria passed its hydraulic and steam tests (there’s a surprise)
Tree man came and quoted for taking down the sycamore by the pavilion. Despite the fact it has leaves on he reckons it is living on the store of starch in the timber, which is thereby getting more brittle, and the sooner it comes down the better. He wants us to take out a couple of steaming bays to give him room to work, not a big job, but will need to make sure it doesn’t clash with steam fair. Bruce has spoken to organiser, who has promised to leave us an access onto the field unlike last year when the rides men tried to barricade us off. If you are coming to track that weekend just show your membership card to the man on the gate and they will let you in.
We’ve been given a mixer, brand new thanks to SteveH good offices, see attached picture. In my young day one cleaned a mixer by chucking in a bucket of water and half a brick. This is no longer allowed according to the instruction book, so when you’ve used it, please hose it out.
Natter night tomorrow, then running day Sunday.
See below picture of the steel for the extension beams, delivered and cut to length. Welding soon, then drill and galvanise.
Wednesday 10th June
Very good turnout for running day on Sunday. I won’t try to list them as I’d miss someone and cause offence (what me!). The visitors from 8D association were well impressed. Roger Bruce and I had a play with the theodolite to check some levels. It took us a long time to work out how to get the cross hairs in focus, then the results seem a bit strange, so we’ll check again.
Today we had another good turnout of locos, some for boiler testing, JohnE brought his Nelson to see if we can sort out his valve timing. Watch this space. Just for interest I checked the gradient coming off the bottom bend towards the steaming bays with a spirit level. We’ve always thought our max gradient was 1:100. Well according to my rough measurements, as you come off the left hand bend, along the short straight and into the right hander by the carriage shed it’s 1:70. No wonder those with little steam always seem to finally grind to a halt just there.
BillP gave us a crash course in theodolite use, then checked some of the levels that the extension gang have set in using the hose pipe. Some were bang on, some weren’t. More checking needed..
remembered my camera today, but the battery went flat, so not many photos, but here they are
And finally, the photo they said you’d never see. PaulC had to hide behind a tree and leap out at the last minute to get this Duchess driver at the controls of a DIESEL
Friday 5th June
Running day last Sunday was spoilt by the freezing cold weather. When I got there only Gerry and PaulC were still running, and they didn’t last long
Good day again on Wednesday. More grass cutting and extension levelling amongst other works. Henry installed the new locking mechanism on the swinging link, much improved. Operation is as follows:
to unlock, pull the handle up until the locking pin engages. Don’t try to move the link without the locking pin enegaed, you are likely to have the bolt foul the running beam.
to lock, take the weight off the locking pin by pulling the handle up slightly, then pull out the locking pin, then lower the handle. Don’t just pull out the locking pin.
discourage non club members from operating the link, they don’t know how to operate it and have caused damage in the past.
Bits and pieces had a good showing. Bruce showed his Worden tool and cutter grinder and a host of attachments for grinding drills, end mills, turning tools etc. Frank brought along his many years old radio controlled boat. Just refurbished after being out on loan to grandchildren (no they hadn’t wrecked it). It’s going to another lot of descendants now, but he didn’t seem too hopeful of it’s survival this time. Ham fisted son-in-law apparently. Wayne brought the loco that Henry boiler tested last week (less boiler, that’s off being fixed) It’s certainly big for 3.5″g, and the workmanship is superb. Sam has his Rob Roy along. I thought I took a long time to build locos, but this is becoming a saga. Gerry had made an ER32 collet chuck for his Boxford. Very nice too. Henry showed some valve gear bits from his latest loco, and I brought my organ. Still not quite finished, only a few weeks to go, but I’ve said that before. Mike treated us to a rendition of tales of yesteryear. Not sure what it had to do with bits and pieces, but tat’s Mike for you. If I’ve forgotten anyone apologies, old age you know.
In the the break we had a quick committee meeting and agreed the purchase of all the steel for the extension beams. PaulC got us a very good deal from one of his contacts and offered to store it at his plant under cover and cut it into the required lengths over the summer when he is usually short of work anyway. Can’t say fairer than that. We’ll definitely have to build it now!
Running day again Sunday, let’s hope for better weather.
Wednesday 25th May
First outing of the season for the portable track gang raised over £400, this select band keep us going financially, so thanks chaps.
Good turnout today, we get more people on Wednesdays than running days now. As I arrived (late, bad hip) Henry was wrapping up the testing of a boiler off a 3.5″g USA loco. It would be big on a 5″g loco, never mind 3.5″. Unfortunately it had several leaks and as it has soft solder sealed stays our tame boiler bodger probably won’t touch it. It’s owned by new member Wayne, made by his late dad. DavidP’s boiler passed it’s steam test, so he had a few incomplete laps. Incomplete because the track was blocked by works vehicles (see below).
DaveM’s team were involved in more levelling and setting out. At the moment there seems to be a conflict between levels obtained going clockwise and those from going anticlockwise, hopefully this is a temporary glitch, we could finish up needing an inclined plane, or the railway version of the Anderton lift. The embankment past the end of the pond is not as high as I had imagined, not as high as the one coming round the bottom bend towards the carriage shed, and we hardly notice that now it’s grassed itself over. That was made from old bricks from demolished buildings over the fence, one of the first jobs I was involved in perhaps 30+ years ago. We had the use of a tractor with back box to do that. I’ve now got visions of moving spoil from the cuttings to the embankments using trucks with hoppers both sides, something like the Listowell and Ballybunnion. Would put Gilling in the shade!
Brian’s gang continued replacing the fence, it takes a lot longer to put it up than to take it down. Looks like we might need another couple of Leylandii felling, that should be fun.
Others were involved in grass cutting, and Henry had a trial fit of the new swing link locking mechanism, much better than the old version as you don’t have to grovel about under the truck footboards, and it’s a vertical movement, which is much more natural than horizontal at ankle level.
Sunday is a running day (5th Sunday), then it’s bits and pieces next Thursday, followed by another running day. on the 7th June. We are expecting a visit from the 8D association, so let’s have a good turnout.
Wednesday 18th May
Good turn out at running day, no dramas, Gerry’s mythical friend was there again.
I couldn’t attend on Wednesday (unexpected visitors), so what follows is from Brian H:
A good turn out on Wednesday and much work done around the site. Dave M team worked hard marking out the route and levels for the extension. As a result we how have a good understanding of the scale of earthworks required. Paul C and a number of members cleared the undergrowth around the pond next to the field and found this area is not as wet as we believed, this is in fact good news. Further work to re-instate the fence progressed well using the recycled timber, Richard B has in fact offered to supply any timber we will need to complete the fence work once we run out of recycled timber. After fitting a replacement motor last Sunday and after fitting a new motor pulley, we now have a working bench drill which will be great help when start work on the extension trackwork. Other work was going on around the site including the grass around the current track was cut, Henry was boiler and steam testing.
Wednesday 11th May
Beautiful day today, and a big turnout. Henry was kept busy with boiler testing, Keith’s Metro passed and then he reeled off many laps until his ‘legs got cold’. I’ve suggested diverting some exhaust stem up his trouser legs, but that didn’t seem to be thought wise. Two others were up for hydraulic, but exhibited leaks from fittings, seem basically sound, so some detail attention required.
Vernon brought his radio control steam outline 4-4-0, which seemed to run OK.
Other works included getting the shed paint off the pavilion windows, continuing to mark levels on the extension, and replacing the fence further into the field to allow room for the track. Several photos including the bluebells at the top end, which are quite beautiful. Sorry for the poor quality of the picture of Frank, but it is too good to leave out. My phone is playing stupid, had to get #2 son to rescue the image. Where we were working the ground is very hard, trying to knock the posts in didn’t work, bore a hole a tamp earth round the post.
Has anyone got an electric cement mixer we could borrow fairly long term? Otherwise we will be looking at buying one if t’committee agrees. We’re going to be mixing a lot of concrete in the coming months/years. Whilst we had Ray’s post hole borer we did a few trial holes at the boggy bit at the end of the pond. In places the top couple of feet is soft, but it then seems to get fairly hard, so looks promising.
Running day again on Sunday
Wednesday 6th May
Weather defeated most people (including me) on running day, only one loco. I understand there was an alternative running day on Monday, but no info.
Wednesday it rained, but that didn’t stop the work. Cutting back of bushes overhanging the ditch ready to get the digger in to clear it out, more fence removing, and more banging in of pegs.
Natter night on Thursday. several people have bought ex radar equipment cooling fans to use as blowers. These are meant to run on 24v, and despite the advert they are pretty useless on 12v. Bruce brought along a box of tricks he’s found on ebay which converts 12v to 25v, much handier than carting around 2 batteries.
Revised membership cards now available from JohnE, these have the correct dates.
PaulM and I set off to go to Harrogate today (Saturday). M62 closed completely, took us about 2.5 hours to get to the top of the hill, where everyone was being diverted onto A road, which was complete stationary so we came home. There’s always next year.
Wednesday 29th April
Must have been suffering from brain fade when I wrote last weeks’ exciting episode, as I missed two bits of news from Sunday 19th running day . Firstly PaulC has rebuilt his Black Five as follows:
It was a shame that you were not at the track to witness the vastly improved performance of my Black Five. Having fitted new tapered seals to the piston valves and made new piston rings (there were actually no pistonrings when I stripped them) I steamed up and crossed my fingers. I am glad to say it went remarkably well and I did get grudging praise from Barrie P in the form of "not bad for an agricultural engineer".
Secondly we had another visit from our mythical member. To avoid confusion, Dobbie is the one wearing a green sweatshirt and no hat. Must get some subs out of him, anyone got a conversion from Pounds Sterling to Galleons? (note there are 29 knuts in a sickle and 17 sickles in a galleon. Just the kind of simple relationship which will appeal to all the imperial measurement stalwarts out there)
Today the pavilion and toolshed got yet another coat of preservative, and the second CCTV overlooking the entrance to the container got fitted. Gerry brought his Scot along for a run, but the major epic was cutting down and shredding all the trees which were in the way of the extension. Project manager Brian will be producing a more detailed report, suffice to say we had a very good turnout, all the work got done, and no-one got injured despite one of the biggest Leylandii having a delayed action fall and making me break into a canter. It looks very different with a big hole in the Leylandii. Forgot my camera, this is off my phone, More photos from Roy at /?gallery=building-the-extension
Wednesday 22th April
Running day on Sunday was pretty cold. By the time I got there everyone was packing up before getting frostbite. Shame really, about 2 hours later the sun came out and I was sitting in the garden Finally got there today, really warm, and the bluebells are just beginning to show. Lots done:
- Mr Landlord took the opportunity to do some spraying as the weather was so good, so no tree munching, but the fence where we will encroach out into the field has been carefully removed, and will be replaced on the new line later.
- As well as marking the route, the elevations have been marked, the deepest cutting will be about 2 ft. Next week we’ll know about embankments
- quite a lot of little shrubs cut down.
- pavilion now has had 2 coats of preservative, one more to go. Tool shed also anointed, next week the carriage shed will get a coat.
- personnel gates at top end locked to discourage dog walkers, who have been letting their dogs foul around the track, not pleasant when you’re cutting the grass
- One of the CCTV cameras fitted.
- and finally, the news you’ve all been waiting for:- I’VE FINISHED WIRING UP THE SIGNALLING. Over to you PaulM
Wednesday 15th April
yet another no show on my part, I had a better offer of a day’s walking in the Peak District. Might have been better at the track, clouds are pretty wet from the inside. However I do have lots of updates from those who were there. But of repetition, but saves me editing it all. First from Bruce:
Wednesday 8th April
No you didn’t miss last week’s I didn’t get to the track First apologies to those who didn’t see through the April Fools joke in my last missive. Brussels bureaucrats aren’t that stupid you know. Edict 104/2015 is actually about fish quotas. The garden railway we were offered has gone to a member, no doubt he will be organising Pimm’s on the lawn when he gets it rebuilt. Auction night went off well, lots of good stuff, which fetched reasonable prices, although a Pultra lathe for £20 must count as a bargain in anyone’s book. First running day went off well, quite a good turnout, but perhaps I should have checked and avoided Easter Sunday, several people had family commitments. A small band of us went to Mold today to look at their elevated section, so we could learn from their experience when crossing the end of the pond with our extension. Their piles are made from second hand lamp posts, 4″ diameter galvanised steel. They drove these up to 12 ft into a bog to support their track. Ours is easy compared to that. Lots of other good ideas to pinch as well, I particularly liked the scabbard so you don’t drop fire irons all round the track. Mold also have a garden railway section, very sweet. There’s plenty of room at our track if anyone gets the urge. Go to //www.moldmes.com/gallery.html and scroll down to ‘smaller gauges’. As I wasn’t there I’m not up to speed with what went on today, I’m told Vernon brought a radio controlled electrically powered tender for his Britannia. He demonstrated his slip fielding skills when it nearly ran off the end of the access track. Wednesday 25th March AGM went off well, the actual meeting lasted ~25 minutes, which is quite long enough. Bruce, JohnE and Rob were up for re-election under our rotating policy, as there were no other nominations they were duly re-instated. Although the bank balance is healthy the insurance is going up, and we are expecting a rent rise next year, so we agreed to increase subs from £31 to £32, associates and juniors to stay the same. John E would be happy to take your money at any time. Cheques to John at 80 Highfield Road, Lymm, WA13 0EE, or by bank transfer. Sorry we don’t do plastic. BrainH then gave a presentation on the proposed extension, followed by a vote of all members. 30 for, 8 against, so I can now stop calling it proposed Lovely day again today, the car park bit is starting to dry out and should be OK for first running day which is April 5th, Easter Sunday. We were all busy little bees today and got a lot done
- More filling in of rabbit holes so you have more chance of moving around the site without spraining you ankle
- inspection of trucks ready for running season
- more track levelling. The KLR use a laser pointer, must have a play sometime, pointers are cheap enough
- repainting the end of the pavilion with preservative, I think it’s 4 years since it was done and the end facing the village gets a lot of high winds battering rain into it
- I came equipped to finish the signal wiring. I simply knew the last piece was in the container, just shows how wrong you can be. I’ve found it in my workshop
- Last time Bruce and I looked round the extension we came to the conclusion that we needed a straight 30 ft long bridge over the end of the pond. I did some sums which showed that it isn’t actually unreasonable to make this is a single span, so no need for piers in the boggy bit. However when I stretched a string across, it became apparent that someone has moved some of the yellow marker pegs, and that a single straight span would need very sharp bends at least at one end. If you want to investigate different routes feel free, but please use new differently coloured pegs rather than undoing Bill’s good work. I’ve pegged out a route which involves a curved bridge, shorter spans and over something that seems a bit more solid so we can get piers in (I think you have to have either a very wide bridge or piers with a curved bridge). We are going to visit Mold and chat to their construction team about how they did their extension over a similar unlikely bit of ground, see //www.moldmes.com/gallery.html and scroll down to extension. Do we have anyone in the club who understands foundations, ground loading etc. It’s a lot out of my expertise, we employed Civil Engineers to do that dirty work when I was in paid employment
- Dave finally finished repainting the portable track. A sterling effort by him and one or two helpers
It’s auction night on 2nd April, so bring out all your surplus valuable items and the stuff you bought last year in a fit of auction hysteria. Remember one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Some of it is just junk.
Wednesday 18th March
Spring has finally arrived, nice and warm today, and the daffodils are beginning to show their heads. Enough of this lyrical stuff, Dave and Stan carried on with the portable track repaint until they ran out of paint, I took a photo but it didn’t convert from .nrw. I’ve sent it to the guru, so it might be in a later edition. Rob and co installed a new post for the water tower and associated tap, the attached photo might be a modern art installation, in which case feel free to suggest a title.
I made what I hope are the last connections to the track for the signalling, but I’d forgotten my multimeter so I couldn’t finish off in the junction box. Everyone else was busy checking over the track. The heads of the rails are beginning to mushroom again. This reduces the gauge, and we’ve had trouble with derailments from this in the past, so so lots of filing going on. It doesn’t take long if you catch it early. AGM tomorrow (oh joy), followed by a presentation on progress on the proposed extension Wednesday 11th March Not much to report today. The forecasted rain held off until early afternoon, but I think it had deterred some people. Vernon brought a very nice 3.5″ Britannia chassis he has picked up, and PaulC ran his latest toy, a nice 5″g Black 5. Unusually nothing dropped off, including the loco not dropping off the track. Apart from the wonderfully smooth ride over the re-aligned trackwork, he never noticed running over the steel beam, so that looks like a success. DaveM and Stan continued with the portable track painting, next stop the Forth Bridge. Rob tried to get the double glazing unit out of the leaking window, but it was not for moving, so he’s siliconed round both windows on the end wall. AGM a week tomorrow (of joy). Several members are going on a Jolly Boy’s Outing next Monday, a grand train ride Warrington, Carlisle, Leeds, Lancaster back to Warrington. If you’re interested contact Pat Mullee Finally as a bit of light relief, here’s an insight into the brain of the USA fire service. Wednesday 4th March Cold today, but it didn’t rain.
- Our eagle eyed antipodean correspondent (Jim K) noticed last week that the anti tip rail brackets had not been bolted down. Well they have now (see photo), and a lot of humps and hollows have been removed from the track on the really old concrete beams in this vicinity. Track is now connected up again and subject to normal inspection is I think ready to go
- More portable track wire brushed and painted. Is it me or is Hammerite nothing like as good as it used to be? I took a photo but my camera has only stored it as .nrw and I can’t seem to convert it
- Trench dug to extend water supply to water tank position. Phil has donated a piece of scaffold tube for the tank support, watch this space.
- Fossy has provided us with some stickers for the 4 wheel trucks (photo). Unfortunately when I peeled the backing paper off one of the ones of the truck Bruce painted, the paint came off with it. Even tho’ he used etch primer, painting galvanised is not easy. For those who think this is Health and Safety overkill let me point out that we have seen no less than 3 adults and one child on one of these trucks. I don’t think anyone can consider this sensible.
- the pillar repairs done last week had to be redone, don’t use old cement, it doesn’t set properly
- both beams (steel and concrete) installed and levelled. I think the steel one looks well, but I would, I made it. Track re-instated (not sure if it’s packed yet. Photo below
- ground at side of track dug out near the old cabin to increase clearance to footboards
- area between the tracks from steaming bays towards Daresbury Halt levelled. Phil leaned on the water tower post for a well earned rest and found it was rotted through. Next week will see new post and underground water supply. If anyone has a burning issue with siting of the water tower let Rob know. It is where it is so that on steam fair you can fill up whilst waiting for the train in the station to load.
- more wire brushing and painting of portable track
- Bruce and I checked levels on the proposed extension and the suggested alternative route. We might need to do more digging of cuttings as the current plan has a lot more embankment than cutting so we would need to import earth from somewhere. If we get it right the earth dug from cuttings is sufficient to make the embankments. It all looks feasible, the major issue is a 13m long bridge over the top end of the pond. This sounds a lot but the existing steel bridge is 4m and we can win a bit by building some substantial abutments, so we are looking at 3 bridges like the one we have and 2 piers planted in the pond. However, when I pushed a stick into the mud it just kept on going for well over 2 ft before it broke. It hadn’t hit anything solid. Someone needs to do some trial work both here and near the end of the Leylandii (where it is also pretty boggy) to establish how far down we have to go. We could make a single span bridge but it would be impossible to manhandle into place and access for lifting equipment is severely restricted by trees
- boiler passed its hydraulic. It is a really good job.
- As requested, most people are leaving their cars by the gate unless they need to bring something across. The parking area is really soggy, one car had to be pushed off today. Even driving on the roadway is causing the hardcore to be pushed down into the mud.
- Paul is bringing more ash next week, lots of shovellers required
- Super-elevation problem sorted out
- portable track being wire brushed and painted
- 2 dodgy beams removed (don’t get the wrong side of Barrie when he has a hammer in his hand) and pillars got ready for replacement, next week all being well
- leaf clearing
- one boiler on test. It looks like a good one, but some of threaded holes need a tap putting through to clean them up. More next week no doubt
- I had a week off wiring, bored with that.
- Bruce and I walked the proposed extension route. If you see us wandering around with a hose pipe next week we haven’t gone barmy, we’ll be working out the levels on the alternative route.
- Photos in the gallery at /?gallery=wednesday-gang-18-feb-2015
We had a visit from the local constabulary last week following the spate of break ins. On their advice we are going to put up some very much more obvious dummy cameras as a deterrent, but in reality there isn’t a lot we can do with such an isolated site. We’re considering a chain on the gate into our bit, but they will just climb over the gate. A couple of shooters came across today for a chat. According to them the hall across the fence has had a big clock stolen off the gable end of the stable block in the past week. This despite a resident security man complete with scary looking dog. Rob made an announcement which I would like to share with you. He is not returning to Australia. Next week he will tell us something we didn’t already know! Natter night tomorrow. If the weather stays like this we’ll be running soon. Once we’ve got the beams back that is. Wednesday 11th Feb Thursday’s talk was excellent, what a tragedy we’ve lost this kind of capability. You could have mounted a reasonable sized bungalow on the big vertical borer and swept its chimney with a single point tool. Beautiful day today, a bit warmer. We’ve has another break in, carriage shed and tool-shed. Nothing taken but damage caused. There is no point trying to make these wooden structures like Fort Knox, last time they broke into the carriage shed through the roof causing more damage than this time. New hasps and staples have been fitted and a steel bar bolted down the edges of the carriage shed doors. If they ever do get round to building houses across the fence it might be worth fitting a burglar alarm, as it is no-one would hear it. It might be possible to put a remote sounding alarm on, but by the time anyone would get there the miscreants would be long gone. I’ll report it to police, but there is little they can do. I very nearly finished the track wiring, just the final connection to the black box to make, but we didn’t have the potted connection to hand. Bruce made these some time ago, but our communication went wrong somewhere so I had to chisel out some of the potting and modify them, just need filling up again. As you will remember last week I ran out of washers, so during the week I made some more. As I was tidying up this week I found a little tin. You’ve guessed, loads of washers, I think Frank made them Finally got round to looking at the portable track and sorting out any defects. It’s in remarkably good condition considering how many times it has been assembled and disassembled in the past years. Another team were involved in ‘low level pruning’ around the top bend. Just an excuse for another bonfire I think. Bruce is up to his knees in paperwork about pruning/felling the dead trees in the protected woodland bit. It looks like we’ll be OK but if we do anything without proper authorisation we could get prosecuted. Here’s a picture There’s still plenty to do before running season starts again, in particular replacing 2 concrete beams and sorting out super-elevation. Wednesday 4th Feb It was actually snowing here at 10:00 last Wednesday, but still a couple of people turned out (not me). Good job they did because driving rain had got through the windows, knot holes etc in the end wall of the pavilion and caused a bit of a flood. They boarded up the window as best they could and went home, sensible. Today could not have been more different, beautiful day, blue sky, but a tad chilly. I carried on with track circuiting (there’s a surprise)I I ran out of aluminium washers , but it will definitely be finished next week weather permitting. Rob and his merry men finished off the toolshed roof, that’s looking good. I actually saw someone using Frank’s short ladder, I knew it would be invaluable. Rest of the team had a good tidy up and a bonfire. We’ll have to get into replacing beams and sorting superelevation soon, it’s running season in a couple of months. Tomorrow’s talk is by Len Uff on supersize machine tools, should be good Saturday 24th Jan Wednesday dawned rainy and cold, so I rang some of the usual suspects and it seemed no-one was bothering. However, I was wrong, some stalwarts turned out in the cold and wet and continued with the toolshed roof repair. Sorry to have to report that MikeC has had a minor heart attack, but he’s had a stent fitted and is expected to make a full recovery. He was in hospital for 1.5 days, it’s all done via a very small hole in a vein. Marvellous. Thursday was Bits and Pieces and we had a good turnout. For photographs click on ‘galleries’ and ‘BitsAndPieces 2015’. First up was Bruce with the tender for his Stirling single. The steel looks like copper, he has plated it by standing it in a solution of copper sulphate. This makes it easy to see the scribed lines, and stops it going rusty. It is also reputed to help paint adhesion. I wonder if you could copper plate brass for the same effect? It’s looking very nice, including working leaf springs (steel and tufnol). You curve the tufnol by tying it in a coil and boiling it in water. It shouldn’t work but it does. I’ve played about with plasticard leaves before, that seems to work as well, you need more steel as the plasticard has very little stiffness. Next up was Henry with his second Emma Victoria loco, making steady progress Then we had Stan with his grinding rest. Someone who shall remain nameless mentioned to him that ‘real men grind their own tools, not this carbide insert stuff‘, so he has made this rest which is adjustable in every dimension and has screw feed on two axes. Very nice indeed. After this a loco will be child’s play, and he’ll save a fortune on tips. Bill brought another of his obsolete technology rebuild projects. It is a Compton electric organ. Rather than generating the tones with an electronic oscillator, they are generated by a series of rotating slotted discs. The keys then add together these basic tones in a pattern dictated by the organ stops. All very complicated, but at least it stay in tune as all the slotted discs are on the same shaft.. Bill is going to use the mechanical keyboard, but make it control some modern electronics which plays recordings of real pipes in response to the keys/stops. I hope I’ve got that right, if not ask Bill. Roy brought along his standard class 4 tank. I think festina lente might be a good description. The platework is fiendishly difficult. If it’s straight it’s wrong! Roy’s appears to be right. He reckons that the learning experience is don’t start on a standard class 4 tank. Sam brought along his stalwart Rob Roy, he seems to be steadily going backwards every year. This year he had stripped it all down to put a decent profile on the wheels, and had decided to fit some springs that work instead of the rock hard ones supplied by the trade. He finished up moving the to the underside of the axleboxes, where at least you can get at them for adjustment. The actual springs were cut from a long length, which meant making up a gauge to get them all the same length. At least one commercial spring manufacturer will sell reasonably small numbers of springs without a silly minimum order provided you order on line. Can’t remember which one, if anyone is interested I’ll try to dig it out. Bob has been making windscreen wipers for his Hymek. Little details like this can be quite difficult to make look decent, but they really enhance the finished model. He’s cheated on these, they don’t actually work, but who wants to drive model locos in the rain anyway? Whilst everyone else had been talking, Paul’s latest creation had been playing away in the background. It is an electronically driven clock. Anyone else would use hands and a face, or LED numbers, Paul has used Nixie tubes. These are the things which gave the countdown to the bomb going off in 50’s SciFi films. They require 200v to drive the as they are gas discharge devices. The clever electronics work off 5v. There was a serious (and potentially expensive) puff of smoke when he managed to drop a washer into the works and connect the 200v to the 5v. Fortunately his unbelievably large junk box provided replacement (obsolete) chips. To add to the mystique, it marks the quarters by playing Westminster chimes, not on bells (too easy), but on organ pipes. The pipes were recovered from old chapel organs. All very green you see! Blower is I think an air bed inflater. It’s speed is electronically governed to keep the pressure right depending on which pipe is being played. I finished off with three of the pipes from the organ I’m slowly building. When you make a steam engine, if it doesn’t work it is usually fairly obvious why. Having made 29 pipes I found some of them worked a treat, others were very breathy, and some didn’t work at all. Managed to find an expert who advised that if I didn’t seal the inside face of the pipes with varnish, they wouldn’t work, as the wood is porous. Not an easy task as some of the pipes are bent, and some are quite small. Cut holes in the bent pipes, make up a variety of strange looking paint brushes, wait for it to dry, then sand the insides with long sticks with sandpaper glued to the end, then repair the holes, and a week or so later all the pipes were sealed. Absolutely no difference. Turned out eventually that if the end stoppers are not absolutely airtight, or the face where the wind slot is is not absolutely flat, you’re on a hiding to nowhere. Both of these are easy to achieve with a belt sander and some copydex, but you have to know these things. All 29 now sound OK and have been tuned, another exercise in frustration. I’ve learned a lot doing this project, all of which will be absolutely no use to me in future, but c’est la vie Finally a bit more from my hobby horse. Last Monday between 17:00 and 17:30 the National Grid experienced its highest load of the winter so far. You will be pleased to note that windpower contributed 1%. Wednesday 14th Jan Just before Xmas we had an extra natter night at which Bruce outlined progress on proposed track extension and attention to the dead/dying trees in the protected woodland. I finally got to the track today after several weeks absence. Fifteen people there, we need to sort out seating in the pavilion, it’s getting a bit crowded. I returned to the track circuiting, another good day or at most 2 should see it complete. Not the best of days for doing it, I gave up when my fingers were frozen. You can’t handle little nuts and bolts with gloves on. Frank was converting a long ladder into a short one, I’ve no idea why either, but it must have seemed like a good idea. The tool-shed roof has wanted some attention for some time. Closer inspection revealed that it is going rotten in places, so when they managed to find the angle grinder Rob an his crew started to cut some of those panels which DaveF brought some time ago with a view to making a new roof out of them. Very green, they would have been landfill otherwise. Hint, if you’re going to use the generator anyway, start it up then you’ll have light in the container. The long cable going up to the floodlight in the tree by the pavillion has been taken down, it can be plugged into the socket by the steaming bay now. We’ve been asked by the landlord that if we arrive and find the gate open we should leave it open. There are sheep in the second field again, but they are securely behind an electric fence, so no problem If you missed last week’s speaker you missed a good one. I knew there were some pretty big engines involved in colliery winding, but the thought of 60 winds an hour, yes one a minute, from deep underground carrying 20 tons of coal on each wind is amazing. This includes loading and unloading the wagons carrying the col into and out of a three storey cage. The Health and Safety issues in winding men were very strict. One day over the statutory inspection period for the equipment meant instant dismissal for the engineer in charge. No pressure then. If you’re ever up in West Cumbria the Haig Pit winding house in Whitehaven is well worth a visit. I remember the ramshackle incline down from the clifftop to the harbour. Coal was mined 4 miles under the sea. Next meeting is 22nd Jan, bits and pieces, let’s have a good turnout. Wednesday 7th Jan Well I hope you all had a good Christmas, I was in my usual Bah Humbug mode, not allowed in workshop because ‘it’s Christmas’. So? Didn’t get to the track today as it was raining here at 10:00 am, with worse forecast, so you’ll have to wait for tomorrow night to see what happened (if anything). Speaker tomorrow is John Firth, Development of Steam Power in Mining. Then on the 22nd it is Bits and Pieces. We’ve had a good showing at the last couple of events, let’s not spoil our record. PaulM is promising another of his outlandish creations, I might have an organ that will play at least some notes. Friday 4th Dec I’ve been a bit remiss with my journalistic duties recently. Conspiracy of dentist appointments, weather and picking up family from airports have stopped me getting to the track. Good news is that I’ve completed the last of my organ pipes, Xmas present is going to be the required midi de-coder (well it’s better than socks) Last night’s talk from John Lilley was really good, I never thought there was so much to tooth doctoring, from plain toothache through murder mysteries to the examination of Philip of Macedonia’s skull for battle damage (father of Alexander the Great). We had a new member joining up, welcome to David Dunphy. He has a 9F, will be interesting to see it on our tight bends, should be OK as it has flangeless centre drivers Weather permitting it is a running day on Sunday, probably the last of the winter as we are going to start replacing track beams and sorting out the swinging link lock in the new year, so continuous running will be ruled out. I don’t remember running this late in the season since we lost tarmac access. Please keep dead slow on the access road, it could easily get chewed up. Hot Pot supper next Thursday, if you want a late entry contact Sam Simms (email@example.com). On the 18th Dec we are having an extra meeting at Pewterspear to update members on the proposed track extension