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Posted by on in Orchard Wharf

 In June Empire Mills was sold. Following its departure the space it occupied was cleared out and the baseboards for Orchard Wharf moved in. Thanks to the Lacey Dale team we now have a space for both groups to work in.

NB look out for the writeup of Empire Mills in the August 2018 BRM magazine.

We are now focused on building the dockside track, designing the control system, and planning the major components of the scenery.

Control: DCC and CBus

The layout team decided earlier on to use DCC for loco control. We have now decided to use MERG’s CBus for controlling point and signal servos and for the control panels. We’re currently working on the detailed design.

Track and scenery design

We thought we would forge ahead on the dockside trackwork but we've realised there is much to do to design the scenery. There are two reasons: firstly, we have to conceal the exits from the fiddleyards; secondly, we need to capture the atmosphere of the locality and provide reasons for all the rail activity on the wharf. Until we have the building lines settled there is little more we can do on the track. You can see the track components already made using John's innovative design if you pay us a visit -- the pointwork, using T-section angle for the flangeway, is unusually complex and quite challenging to build.

Get involved

All members are welcome to get involved with the layout. Talk to us on a Thursday evening,
email us (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or join us for a Friday evening session.

 

 

Tagged in: 4mm EM gauge

Posted by on in Orchard Wharf

In the last month we've had several good meetings, including a 'kick-off' to refresh everyone's acquaintance with the project, two meetings focused on aspects of the design, a site visit to Poplar, Canning Town and Silvertown, and a much-needed clearout of the space we need to start work on tracklaying and electrics.

I would like to thank everyone who has come along to join the team so far. It looks as if we have a good spread of interests that will stand us in good stead. It's also been great to have contributions that broaden our knowledge of the history of the area, giving us a wealth of prototype information from which to work.

We will soon set up a regular work afternoon/evening on Fridays. If you want to come along and are unsure whether there is a meeting please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I'd like to finish this update  with a YouTube video found by our team member James documenting a train journey from North Woolwich to Palace Gates in 1960. Rather than a 'cab ride', it's an assembly of several different viewpoints including from within the train, and gives a very good impression of the railways and much of the dockland area for those of us who couldn't be there at the time.

Tagged in: 4mm EM gauge

Posted by on in Empire Mills
Wagon repair shop on DVD

Back in February, we had a wagon demonstration next to Empire Mills at the Doncaster exhibition. During the show Phil Parker from BRM interviewed Ben W about the wagons he was fettling, and the result is on the DVD that comes with the June edition of the magazine.

Posted by on in Minories
Minories goes to Derby Roundhouse

On the 12th and 13th May, Minories headed north to the historic Derby Roundhouse - for the Michleover Model Railway Group exhibition. John, Rob S and Tom headed north on Friday in a transit van (which came with a special adaption to first gear to keep the driver awake), where we met up with former chairman and now local resident Richard to set up.

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The layout is still developing into its circular format, and it took us a while to get it set up. However it worked considerably better than its previous outings. Smithfield housing estate is developing, and at the other end Steve's new pub, tube station and office block is taking shape.

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Rob N (another local) joined us on Saturday which gave a bit more flexibility in operating, and gave the other Rob a chance for a cup of tea. With the local knowledge we navigated through downtown Derby to enjoy Italian and Nepalese cuisine (the latter only marginally affected when the Charlie DC Kits / Legoman Biffo came in for their dinner). The parcels and freight stock got a chance to stretch their legs, along with some interlopers from the Club's new layout Orchard Wharf from an era before yellow warning panels. And along with the normal Mk1 suburbans and we had all 4 of the DC Kits Cravens units running on the layout on the Sunday.

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We now have a layout email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. So one less excuse not to get in touch.

Tagged in: EM gauge

Following a presentation to club members at the beginning of the month, our new EM Gauge project Orchard Wharf  (set in London's docklands c. 1960) was shown off to the public for the first time at last weekend's London Festival of Railway Modelling. The layout formed just one part of The MRC's extensive demonstration stand. John Jesson was the anchorman over the whole weekend, and used the opportunity to get started on constructing the dockside track, which will all be inset into the surface of the wharf. I divided my time at the show between explaining the benefits of the club on the membership stand and discussing the finer points of 1950s British permanent way specification with John and several knowledgeable visitors to our display.

The boards, the track, and the approach to planning and design all came in for scrutiny and discussion. We will give more details, and post pictures of the boards, which are a stressed-skin construction in laser-cut birch ply, in a future post. Meanwhile, thanks to all those who came to chat with us; we look forward to seeing you again soon.

If you are a club member and would like to get involved in construction of the layout, we want to hear from you. Track building, as noted above, has just started. Electronics work starts soon. Scenery needs research and design. We don't yet have our own email address so please write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or speak to John Jesson or me, Ben Weiner, at the club.

Tagged in: EM gauge

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This weekend, 10 & 11 February, we're attending the Festival of British Railway Modelling at Doncaster race course. We're in the company of some pretty impressive layouts, not least in EM gauge. Look forward to seeing you there!

Tagged in: EM gauge Empire Mills

Posted by on in News
MRC Test Tracks at Warley 50

It's  been a busy first day at Warley for the MRC Test Tracks. A constant stream of locomotives kept the test team busy, with new owners were being reassured to see their purchases successfully  running round the tracks.

A handful of non-runners were identified, these were returned to suppliers for replacement or refunded.

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Posted by on in Minories
Minories November 2017

We've had a busy few weeks, leading up to two exhibitions over consecutive weekends in November- Tolworth then Wakefield.

It would be fair to say we weren't quite ready for Tolworth Showtrain - so apologies to the Hampton Court MRS and those who came on the Saturday morning. However with perseverance we fixed the key issues throughout Saturday and by the Sunday operating rather better. It was rather like taking a layout to its first show, and I forgotten how much energy and effort it requires. We also confirmed that the layout only just fits in my car assuming we have no overnight bags, and that was with loading in the last few bits through the windows.

Posted by on in Empire Mills
Empire Mills - Feb 17

We've had a couple of good operating evenings at Keen House already this year, and the picture above shows my Class 08 on shunting duty this week.

Members will have read in our last Bulletin that Empire Mills has new trackwork and a colourful new turntable fiddleyard. Over the next month or two we will be carrying on the refurbishment by rewiring.

As with the earlier work we've carried out over the last few months we think that some of the remaining operational issues can only be solved by a pretty thorough bit of work here. So the first stages will be to record how the layout is wired now and from that create a track plan and wiring schedule. Then we will switch on the soldering irons.  If all goes well we should then be ready for our trip to our next exhibition at Quainton Road at the end of April.

If you would like to get involved then come and see us on Thursdays at Keen House and talk to me or Tom, or drop us an email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ben  - layout co-leader

 

Posted by on in Minories
Sticking point

There are six points on Minories, all operated with Tortoise slow action point motors with Exactoscale baseplates transferring the movement of the motor through a tie-bar under the baseboard to wires soldered to the underside of the switch rails. b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_5758.JPGThere are stretcher bars between the switch rails, and although these do provide some mechanical joints between the two switch rails, the core drive is from the under-baseboard tie bar. If you want to find out more, these instructions via the C&L website might help:

 http://www.finescale.org.uk/pdfs/Tortoise%20instructions1.pdf

Posted by on in Minories
Converting Heljan Class 23 to EM

TOut of the boxhe Heljan Class 23 is one of the simpler conversions to EM gauge. I don't think there are any revolutionary ideas here, but hope this may be of use to anyone else contemplating the conversion or looking for an easy one to start with.

Tagged in: EM gauge Heljan Minories

Posted by on in Empire Mills
Empire Mills Summer 2016

As we indicated in May, we have an exhibition in Peterborough in October, and so the summer has been focussed on getting ready for that. As we started to fiix some problems with the track with (including some damaged track ends at board joints, the fiddle yard and some unevenness in the track itself) we encountered more problems. After some soul searching we realised that trying to fix the specific problems would probably just create more and that without decent working reliable track we would struggle to operate the layout well. So the decision was taken to relay all of the track. b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_5541.JPG

As we lifted it, we realised that some of the problems were caused by delamination in the camping mat foam used as underlay (possibly the glue?), and that whilst it looks good the butanone bonding of plastic chairs to woopen sleepers isn't as strong as using plastic sleepers. I used the same techniques discussed in previous blogs  for points and board joints to build the track in situ using some 1/8" cork as underlay. The added challenge here is building track in situ on wider boards than I'm used to or easily have space for in my workshop (who knew 6" made such a difference..) and with the scenery in place.

Posted by on in Empire Mills
Empire Mills gets a turntable

Following our last blog in May, we have unpacked the layout from its hibernation and a group of members gathered to go through the list of stuff that we thought needed doing. Now as we know, there is no 'right way' to build a model railway. There are certainly some wrong ways but most of us have a preferred way, generally one that is proven to work for us. And with a pretty much new team there were various ideas of how things that need to be sorted out could be done differently from the original plan.

One of the things on the list was to improve the track around the entrance to the fiddle yard, and the fiddle yard cassettes themselves. The current system is L-section aluminium fixed to foamboard which has warped, and it's all a bit tight around the entry to the layout.

Posted by on in Empire Mills
May 2016 Update

It's all been a bit quiet since the layout visited Portsmouth last Autumn. As is the nature of Club layouts, unfortunately some of the key team behind the layout have had to step back from the project for a while, and as the layout had been up and being worked on for most of 2015, we decided to give it a break whilst we take stock and build up a new team to take the layout forward.

However we've been invited to the National Festival of Railway Modelling in Peterborough in October, and there's nothing like an exhibition to focus the mind, so we'll be putting the layout up shortly, to work through a reasonably sized list of things that could do with improvement to make it more reliable, and to finish off the scenery. We also need to finish off the rewiring, to make it possible to operate the layout with DC locos, as well as DCC. We've had a couple of offers to help, but we'd be delighted to welcome new members to the team - you don't have to be an EM modeller, just an interest in helping or operating the layout. Please drop me an email or speak to me at Keen House.

Tom

Tagged in: EM gauge Empire Mills

Posted by on in Minories
Track building

One of the more frequent questions I get asked at exhibitions is how the track is built. Modelling in EM there isn't much choice for anything other than plain track, but my track building goes back to my teenage OO days.

Despite living only a couple of miles away at the time, I originally stumbled across The Model Railway Club at a Model Engineering show at Wembley Conference Centre when I was probably around 11 or 12. A demonstrator (to this day I can't recall who) was busy making track, and after a moment of asking myself why would anyone bother, I suddenly saw why, as it looked infinitely better than the Triang and Hornby track I had at home. The demonstrator explained what he was doing and why, and encouraged me to 'have a go', and in the process encouraged me to visit the next IMREX (also at Wembley at the time) and Keen House.

Posted by on in Minories
Class 127 DMU

 

Class 127 4-car DMUs formed the local passenger services on the Midland main line south of Bedford, so have always been on the list of stock required for Minories. A club member started work on a unit back in 2007, but it didn't get very far. In the interim, I made a 3-car 116 which provided the Midland service pending the arrival of the 127 - which made it's first exhibition appearance at the National Festival of Railway Modelling in October where we got some very kind comments and questions about how it was made, prompting this blog.

 

Both the 116 and 127 units are made from Lima class 117 bodies, b2ap3_thumbnail_127-5.JPGand the techniques are similar, the key difference between the models of the 116 and 127 on Minories is the windows used.

Posted by on in Minories
On our way to Peterborough

Our invitation to the National Festival of Railway Modelling has been the incentive to get a few more things progressed on the layout.

 

A major resignalling scheme has seen searchlight starter signals mounted on an etched brass gantry installed, replacing the Berko 3-aspect signals originally installed as a temporary measure hours before the first proper exhibition in 2007. The LEDs in the new signals have common anodes whereas the old signals and the remaining ground signal were common cathode, which meant reconfiguring the wiring on the 'interlocking' which clears the correct signal based on the route set. I hadn't written down how it was originally wired, so the most tedious part was working out the existing wiring had worked...b2ap3_thumbnail_Signals-Oct-15.JPG

 

The original signal box, again built as a temporary stand-in from a Prototype card kit, has been replaced by a small cabin, kit bashed from a Peco kit.

Tagged in: 4mm EM gauge Minories

Posted by on in Empire Mills
When you want water on your layout...

Water runs down hill. So, front and centre should be the wettest part of the layout because it it the lowest. I always find myself drawn to water on layouts so I thought I'd add something. The first problem is that there is no space for a sizable water feature. Adding to this, most of the basic landscaping had already been done, the hills are in place along with brambles and a tree so really all that can be done is the hint of water beyond the layout. The edge of a pond or marsh, even a small stream, just out of sight.

Started off simply enough.

Posted by on in Empire Mills
Grass laying on Empire Mills

Early on we decided to cover the front and back of the layout, most of the actual scenery, with carpet underlay. This produced a good effect, especially with a little bit of effort. It did, however, leave us with a dilemma about the middle of the layout. We tried a few different techniques for the ground cover round the various sidings, static grass, ground foam, but these didn't really produce the effect we wanted. There was too much contrast between the different materials and the change in colour certainly didn't help.