Saturday, 8 July 2017

July 2017 meeting

Back to sunny (for once) Glasgow this month, where Alisdair hosted and Andy, Jim, Stephen, Simon and Graham appreciated the three different varieties of home-made cake on offer.

The main business of the day was to install a new lighting pelmet for the group's Sauchenford layout. Reversing the traditional roles of Scotland's two largest cities, the scenic part of Sauchenford lives in Glasgow and the functional part (the cassette fiddle yards) in Edinburgh. The two were temporarily reunited so the pelmet fixing points could be drilled.

Here it is in place.

The length of garden string in this view was drawn taut while the three boards were adjusted to check they were horizontally in line before the drilling points were chosen. The gardening theme was extended by the bag of rhubarb which was mysteriously hung on the door-handle of the layout room for the duration of our visit. The Visitor's Guide to Scotstoun implores visitors to respect the natives' cultural habits, and avoid prolonged eye contact. Polite enquiry yielded nothing. For all we know, every Scotstoun house stores its rhubarb thus, just as the citizens of my native Arbroath keep their coal in the bath.

The choice of LED lighting strip was then the subject of much experimentation and discussion, but we finally settled for yellower light, which seemed to give a summery feeling; the whiter LEDs worked with the layout's colouring to give a more autumnal tone.

With that settled, the customary bacon rolls were washed down with tea and coffee in the usual lavish quantities. We discussed the next 2mmSA Scottish Supermeet: the date has been fixed for 21 April 2018, at the same venue as before, Perth's Moncrieffe Hall, which worked well for the 2016 meeting. Mark it in your diary now.

At this point, the elephant(s) in the room were finally discussed. Two Jumbos in fact, or to give them their formal title, Drummond 294 class 0-6-0s. Alisdair's mostly-complete BR-period version from a Worsley Works etch met Jim's Caley-era scratchbuilt version, head to head. Click on the photo for a larger image.

"Caley Blue" is a subject of endless conjecture and discussion. One thing is for certain, it was a very attractive livery. My grandfather had no special interest in railways, but he travelled to school daily on the Caley over the Sidlaw Hills from Alyth to Dundee in the early 1900s, and sixty years later he recalled the vivid blue of the 0-4-4 tanks to me with genuine pleasure. But which blue, exactly? Well ... that depends. Look at the difference between these two shots of the same blue loco, taken a few seconds apart, first with the sun behind a cloud, then blazing forth.

Jim has written up his loco in the 2mm Magazine, and the interested reader is referred to the October 1982 issue, available in the Magazine archive. Alisdair's loco is close to completion, so a few more shots before it gets painted may be of interest. Like Jim's, the boiler has a detailed backhead.

Unlike Jim's, the smokebox door is secured with dogs, typical for most of the class in their last days.

The motor is in the tender: in this view from above, the coal load cover is removed.

Underneath, the brake rigging has already been fixed in place.

The drive to the loco is by a wire shaft with tee-pieces engaging in driving slots in the motor shaft in the tender and the gearbox shaft in the loco. (The right-hand tee-piece is hard to see here).

The loco chassis uses the Worsley Works etch frames with Association bushes.

The view from below.

We ended the meeting by playing trains for a wee while. Here, Jim's Jumbo draws a train of pit-props, explosives for shot charges, and empty mineral wagons into the colliery sidings, while Alisdair's 08 shunter from the Association kit strikes an anachronistic note in the background.

For a change, next month's meeting will be in deepest South Lanarkshire. We don't know how they hang their rhubarb there, but we aim to find out.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

June 2017 meeting

Six of us gathered in Edinburgh for June's get-together. The early morning rain was all to the good: it banished thoughts of healthier outdoor pursuits and gave an excuse for a day's modelling. There was a fair bit of blethering but we also got some work done on Sauchenford, the group's layout.

Jim had brought his latest signal from his Kirkallanmuir project for inspection. He's already described this on RMWeb, but another photo doesn't hurt. Note the ground signal positioned in front of the post of the  bracket signal.

Just to show he's no one-trick pony, Jim had also brought along some of his 4mm work. Yes, 4mm ... it seems that in his mis-spent youth he planned an enormous Hornby Dublo 3-rail empire in his parents' loft. Some of the rolling stock survived, and he brought it along to show us. Jim claimed these were built entirely from cardboard. Under some pressure from a hostile audience, he admitted the wheels, axles and couplings are not in fact card, but everything else including the underframes is. Presumably they burst into flames when the brakes are applied. They don't look too shabby for a teenager's models from half a century ago.

Jim also demonstrated the fine art of hooking up the operating mechanism for the ground signals on Sauchenford. It seems you need all ten fingers and laser vision to do this.

Nigel was working on changing the stay-alive capacitors from ceramic to tantalum types on his 02 class shunter (body from a Worsley Works NS etch, scratchbuilt chassis), in order to benefit from their superior performance at the DCC operating voltage. He explains the background in his blog. In this shot, the old ceramic capacitors are still attached to the loco. In the background is a block of old tantalums used to check the space in the cab.

The next stage was to remove redundant components for cab lighting. Here, the ceramics are still in place, with their charge/discharge components visible linking them to the decoder. There was further work to do but at that stage I went off to make coffee, and by the time I got back the job was complete.The new capacitors fitted neatly in the loco cab below window level, no mean feat in such a small prototype.

Stephen had brought with him the White Rose Modelworks 30cm x 90cm lasercut baseboard kit he'd purchased at the recent Bournmoor Expo. It made up into a very robust, lightweight, perfectly square unit. Stephen already has a cunning plan for it, which he proceeded to talk us through. Rather than reveal all at this stage, I'll just show the drawing.

Alistair was meanwhile drawing out a plan for a new layout (hang on ... what happened to his previous plan(s)?). Alisdair and Nigel continued platelaying on Sauchenford while the rest of us leaned on our shovels and watched. Nigel's 02 came in handy for finding dodgy bits of track, which Sauchenford seems to sprout whenever it's in storage for a month or two. This proved the value of the stay-alive capacitors: the 02 was rock solid over the track imperfections and dirty spots which cause poor running in other locos.

The rest of the time was filled by the ritual consumption of bacon rolls (barring Nigel, who has not quite adapted to the Scottish diet yet: we stretched a point and allowed him a chicken salad just this once,  since he'd impressed us with his tantalum capacitors, but we'll be keeping him under observation) and lemon drizzle cake. The sun started to shine by mid-day, but all thoughts of healthy exercise were forgotten. Quite right too.

The FCAG team will be manning the 2mmSA Further North roadshow at the Perth MRC exhibition later this month - if you're going, please be sure to stop and say hello.

[Edited 13 June to correct details of what was going on in the photos of Nigel's 02.]

Sunday, 21 May 2017

May awayday

We don't get out much in the FCAG, so when we heard the 2mmSA was combining the 2017 Expo with the North East Area Group's 35th birthday party, we licked our lips. Not only because of the prospect of a whole day's drooling over other people's models, but because of the catering.

First there was lunch: four choices of main course, three sittings of half an hour each, twenty minutes for your main course and ten minutes for dessert, then off you go lads, we need your seats, carry your plates through to the kitchen please:

Then we had to wait around another hour or two, filling in time by looking at some model railways which some thoughtful gents had brought along with them, before the Light Tea:

The Light Tea, according to the Expo publicity, is "not what would normally be provided at NEAG meetings". Presumably they get the full, unabridged Heavy Tea when there are no outsiders there to watch. No wonder they only meet every two months, they must need that much time to work off the extra calories. By fair means or foul, we FCAG visitors were at the front of the Tea queue at 15:30 sharp, and thus were able to bag the best seats for our Group Photo.

Alisdair spoiled the atmosphere of the day out a wee bit, by actually bringing a model with him - namely, the Jumbo reported on in the previous two months' blogs. The chimney question has been settled: a stovepipe: and for good measure, one of these squat Fowler domes. Rumours that he is doing this purely to wind up Jim Watt are surely untrue. Alisdair is now intensively studying heavy weathering, since the model is to be of a Jumbo in its final days towards class extinction in 1962.

It also has a well-detailed boiler backhead.

As for the layouts provided for entertainment between Lunch and the Light Tea, there was much to look at and learn. I've posted a few photos here. Our thanks to Mick and friends for a very nice day out.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

May 2017 meeting

Back in Edinburgh for this month's meeting. Alisdair, Alistair, Andy and Graham were joined by special guest star Nigel Cliffe, who among other Association jobs is the wheel elf gaffer. Nigel had brought along a box of chocolate brownies and some wagon wheels for inspection.

The chocolate brownies were exceptional. The wagon wheels (2mm ones, not the 1970s chocolate biscuits) were also precision works of art, as were the press tools for inserting the wheel centres ... 

 ... into the correct size of tyre, then, using a second tool, pressing in an axle at the correct back-to-back.

Nigel went over the process - principles and practice - in some detail, and we all had a shot at making wheel sets. We ate the brownies, which had a calming effect; we sipped tea; we relaxed. Then came the sucker punch ... this was not simply part of the Association's educational outreach program. Gaffer Cliffe was looking for new elves! In vain we attempted flight; the brownies had done their work, and we could barely move. Escape was impossible: we were cornered. Press-ganged, you might say. The story will continue in a future blog entry.

We had lunch, then started on the main task of the day: fixing Sauchenford's illumination. The existing halogen bulbs gave uneven lighting - bright spots separated by pools of darkness. A reel of LED lighting was deployed:

along with a reel of masking tape, and after an hour of gradual alterations we had eliminated the halogen bulbs altogether in favour of three LED strips on a lighting bar, arranged to project further in front of the layout so that the trains are not in shadow while the backscene is in sunshine. (These are Nigel's wagons on the layout, by the way). 

We were bothered by a reflection pattern from the rails, due it seemed to the regular spacing of the LEDs, until experiments with tracing paper at a 3cm distance from the strip, acting as a diffuser, solved the problem. Running the LEDs at about two-thirds brightness (using a digital control bought on the Internet) seemed to give the best effect.

After that it was back to the tea and coffee and general chat. Alisdair produced his Caley Jumbo for a progress update - he's been working on detailing the tender most recently, with brake gear and lamp irons evident. But it has nae lum! Not yet anyway. 

Alisdair was not saying whether it will have a proper Drummond built-up chimney, or a BR-era stovepipe. Time will tell. This loco-building clearly requires a special diet, however, as Alisdair demonstrated at the lunch stop on a recent Caledonian Railway Association tour of South Lanarkshire:

Reliable witnesses state that he also consumed a large slab of cake after polishing off that "snack". Apparently he's in training for the North East Area Group's "big tea" at their 35th birthday party in two weeks' time. Where will it end?

Monday, 24 April 2017

April 2017 meeting

This month, special correspondent Andy Peggie provides the report:

Four FCAG members held the fort, while others took advantage of the spring weather on holiday or other springtime pastimes. Alisdair provided the usual venue complete with home baking for the delectation of the attendees Alistair, Stephen and Andy.

The arrangement of the Sauchenford layout boards had been under discussion in recent weeks and the team proceeded with adjustments in the set up. The front display section was lowered and re-jigged to give a better arrangement in the operating mode, presenting a better viewing height both for front viewing and for the rear operators.

The rear board was permanently secured to base and firm connections to the front assembly inserted to allow a more rigid structure to be achieved during packing and moving the layout while maintaining a neat footprint for storage. The back scene was trimmed to remove the unsightly foxed edge which had developed.

The lighting arrangement then came under discussion and was altered in both height and the type of illumination, which it was agreed was too dark and cast inappropriate shadows on the scenery. Addition of strip LED lighting seemed to help the overall look while not being too garish due to the softening effect of the existing lights. This is to be implemented by Alisdair for the next meeting.

During dismantling the layout the lost point lever (as related in the February post) was discovered hiding in the structure and will soon be returned to its proper place on the layout!

These proceedings took place both before and after lunch and were followed by the usual wind down discussion session including the now commonplace appearance of diesel motive power on layouts which are now considered to be in the traditional area of railway modelling formerly held fast by Steam. Wagon names were also discussed regarding the use of animal notation for some as opposed to code numbers which it is understood to be as a result of the need for quick and clear calling up of stock over telegraph lines.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

March 2017 meeting

This month's meeting was in Glasgow, which served up a mild but damp day for the occasion. Simon, Gordon, Graham, Alistair, Alisdair and Andy turned up dressed to kill in rainwear and (for the East Coast tourists) bunnets, for we had been promised a wee tour of vanished railway sites around Scotstoun and Maryhill. Well, what else is there to do in Glasgow on a wet March Saturday afternoon?

First though we had a cup of tea and a chance to inspect Alisdair's latest project,  a Caledonian "Jumbo" (294 class 0-6-0 tender loco) from a Worsley Works scratch-aid etch. It looks to be coming together nicely.

The boiler (in the background) is rolled from 4 thou nickel-silver sheet. Alisdair finds brass tube sinks too much heat when soldering in small detail like handrail knobs. 3 thou sheet kinks too easily; 5 thou is too hard to roll smoothly at this diameter (a round file is used as a former: the teeth give enough bite to hold the sheet when starting the curve).

So much for the 2mm boilershop: it was time to go outside to seek out a few reminders of the level of competition between the Caley and North British companies on the north bank of the Clyde. Alisdair was well organised with map and photo handouts, and gave us a mission briefing.

The rest of this blog entry is strictly for bridge-lovers and disused railway junkies. You have been warned! Click on the photos for a more detailed view.

We started out at the former Whiteinch Victoria Park station, the North British terminus of the Whiteinch Railway, a branch of the Stobcross Railway built in the 1870s to get access to the Clyde, and closed to passengers in 1951 and goods in 1965. The station site itself has vanished under an urban park, and there is nothing to see, but the Danes Drive overbridge still stands at the station throat:

We traced the extension from Victoria Park goods yard onwards, down the middle of Scotstoun Street, red sandstone tenements on each side, towards the Clyde, and came to the Caley's 1891 riposte: the Lanarkshire and Dumbartonshire Railway, which linked the Hamiltonhill line bringing  traffic from the south-east of the city around its northern circumference before returning south to meet the Clyde at Partick, where it turned west and paralleled the north bank of the river on an embankment to its terminus at Dumbarton, accessing docks and shipyards along the way. This part of the L&D closed in 1966. Scotstoun East station platforms can still be seen here, with the booking office set into the stonework of the bridge:

The bridge at Methil Street:

and from rail level:

The island platform (the roadbed is now a cycle and footpath)

Just about the only trace of the station building  is the porcelain urinal base of the gentlemen's toilet: Alisdair couldn't resist organising a line-up:

We left the L&D, retraced our steps to our cars and took a short drive to Anniesland station, on the busy electric line to Milngavie. It's also the terminus for a diesel unit shuttle service via the North British Stobcross line to Glasgow Queen Street. A couple of minutes later in came our train, and in we got. The crew swapped ends and off we went.

Five minutes and two stations up the line we got out again, at the North British Maryhill station, junction with the Glasgow Dumbarton and Helensburgh Railway which is used by West Highland trains into Queen Street. Both Anniesland and Maryhill stations have long since been replaced by modern brick and metal structures. It started to rain gently, just to remind us we were in Glasgow.

We sought out the nearby River Kelvin, which falls steeply towards the Clyde through north Glasgow, making railway construction here very expensive. The Caley and NB competed to reach every industry alongs its banks and those of the adjoining Forth and Clyde canal. Although the Caley lines were closed in the 1960s, the stone retaining walls and frequent bridge remains still give a powerful sense of just how much capital investment was made here in a few short years at the turn of the nineteenth century, lasting  until Glasgow's progressive deindustrialisation and network rationalisation under BR swept most of it away in the 1960s.

First we had a look at the sidings which led to Dalsholm paper mill. This led steeply down from a connection to the NB at Maryhill across the Kelvin on a bridge whose abutments remain visible. Not much to photograph though, so, continuing downstream along the Kelvin Walkway, we passed under the twin viaducts - one stone, one brick - of the GD&H and the Stobcross Railway we'd just used on our short trip from Anniesland. From here on, we were finished with the NB; the rest of the walk would be over former Caley lines.

Wallking onwards, we left the river bank at Cowal Road to get a look at the Forth and Clyde Canal, opened in 1790 to link the east and west coasts of Scotland before the railway age.  (From here onwards a map might be helpful: Cowal Road wasn't built until the 1970s, but its predecessor Cowal Street is at the top right of this 1:2500 sheet in the NLS map library).

Maryhill is the site of an impressive ladder of locks and a small graving dock. According to an information panel, barges were built here in the 1940s for use in the Normandy Landings.

The rain was off by now and it was quite warm. We left the canal again and rejoined the north bank of the Kelvin, passing below the massive stone aqueduct.

The aqueduct's stonework is still crisp after well over 200 years.

Alisdair pointed out the almost-illegible painted legend, "PASSENGER STATION", on the aqueduct parapet. This indicated the original footpath to Dawsholm station, opened in the 1890s as northern terminus of the Glasgow Central Railway which tunneled under Glasgow through Central Station Low Level to a sourthern terminus at Rutherglen. In the 1890s Dawsholm was largely in open country with a few industries clustered around the canal, and sizeable gasworks for Glasgow Corporation to the north and west. Perhaps the hope was that housing would develop around the new station. In the event, it was Maryhill, next the NB station and with tramcars to the city centre, which saw its housing expand. Dawsholm remained cut off by its canal and mills until the 1930s when local authority housing grew up on both sides of the Kelvin - far too late for the passenger service, which was withdrawn as early as 1908. Apart from the sign, all other traces of the station have completely disappeared.

As well as the footpath, sidings originally passed under the aqueduct heading upriver to Dawsholm Gasworks, under the bridge carrying Bantaskin Street:

before crossing the Kelvin on a girder bridge whose remaining piers were the vantage point for a mallard duck and drake, unimpressed by our visit.

Heading downstream once more, the sidings ended in a long headshunt along the riverbank, linked to station yard level by a gentle incline whose retaining wall is still in evidence.

A further branch led directly from the station yard acrtoss a girder bridge to Temple gasworks near Anniesland where we'd started this part of our journey. The bridge piers showed it had been massively built.

A little further downstream a second bridge from the headshunt led to Kelvindale Paper Works on the other bank, cleared away in the 1970s and now a housing estate.

Back up on the Dawsholm line proper, we inspected the site of Dawsholm engine shed - again, no trace remaining, cleared in the 1960s to build St Gregory's RC church. The Caley had a large six-road shed here with a two-road repair shop which provided motive power for suburban and goods workings linking north and south Glasgow. In the 1960s, BR's four preserved pre-group Scottish steam locos (103, 49, 256, 123) were shedded here to work excursions all over Scotland before final retiral.

A little further on our progress along the Dawsholm line was arrested by the missing viaduct where it crossed the Kelvin to join the Lanarkshire and Dumbartonshire at Bellshaugh Junction. Bellshaugh, Kirklee and Maryhill Junctions formed a triangle here. On the opposite bank. stone viaducts which had supported the yard at Bellshaugh Junction could be seen.

There was just time for a quick look at the surviving viaducts which led tfrom Bellshaugh and Kirklee to Maryhill Central station, now vanished under a supermarket.

Retracing our steps, we crossed the river at Kelvindale Road and got a good view of the remains of the missing Bellshaugh viaduct.

Then we headed back upstream along the other bank of the river, taking a quick detour through a small modern housing development to find the point where the Lanarkshire and Dumbartonshire dives into Balgray tunnel on its way towards Kelvinside station and Partick, just along from Scotstoun East.

Andy's troglodyte instincts started to twitch when he found that the gate at the tunnel entrance had been forced open, but reason prevailed (and the sense that his car parking time back at Anniesland was shortly coming to an end). Picking up the pace a little, we walked back to the Kelvin and followed it upstream until we reached the canal, where we turned westwards along its bank, the Temple gasworks branch now on our left in a cutting. At one time a wharf on the oppiste canal bank was rail-served. We followed the canal back towards Anniesland, then headed along Strathcona Drive, where we had a good view of a recently-installed turnout linking the Stobcross line from Maryhill to the Milngavie line. This heads to the right in this view; the line on the left leads to the bay at Anniesland station from which our diesel unit had set out). This connection was added to facilitate diversions during the recent reconstruction of the Queen Street tunnel.

Knightswood South Junction is the other end of that connection. The catenary on the branch goes no further than this point: it is just long enough to allow trains on the Milngavie line to be turned back at Anniesland if necessary without blocking the main line.

And that was it - after a four-mile walk round this fascinating area, we'd come full circle and there was just time to nip back to Alisdair's for a welcome further cup of tea before heading home.

This was not the typical construction session of an F&C area group meeting, but in fact our walk was full of modelling interest, given the wide variety of bridge designs and stonework textures on view. Well done Alisdair and thank you very much for all that research and preparation ... time well spent, and it helped us work off the lunchtime bacon rolls and cakes. Who said Scottish railways are all about single track passing places in the mirk of a Highland glen?