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?

Sunday, 12 February 2017

February 2017 meeting

Back in Edinburgh for this month's meeting, with the wind and sleet to remind us it's February. Time for the results of the Forth and Clyde 2016 Challenge to be revealed. The idea was to model a diorama in 20cm x 16cm, with the only stipulation that it must include some track to 2mm standards. Andy, Jim and Alisdair had completed models to show.

Andy chose to model a coal merchant's siding in a rural setting; he literally put it together in an evening. Cleared of silver birch trees and structures, the board will cunningly be re-used as a fiddle yard traverser in his next project.

The red-painted drum is a paraffin tank, for retail sales as the coal merchant does his rounds.

Jim's creation has already appeared in his RMWeb postings, but here are a few more shots. The pictures say it all really.

Alisdair's diorama featured in last month's blog, but a month later there is slightly more vegetation showing:

The lid with its LED lights lifts off, revealing the frame and backscene which can be re-used for other dioramas.

It's worth clicking on the image to see the detail in the bed of the burn.

As for the rest of us, Stephen was mid-way through his model at last report, but was kidnapped by his fanily this weekend so we didn't get to see it. Simon's model featured in last month's blog entry. Graham and Alistair are in sackcloth and ashes for not finishing anythng worth picturing, in spite of four months to do the job. I'll spare you our pathetic excuses.

Jim had also brought along for inspection the locking-box for the lever frame of his layout "Kirkallanmuir", which he also described briefly on RMWeb.  This is made up from his own etches: the tappets have notches etched in place, and each bridle irons with its locks is made from a single etched unit with multiple layers which folds into place like a particularly fiendish piece of origami. The only time a lock needs to be separately positioned and soldered into place is when one is required on both sides of a tappet. This makes construction much faster and more reliable. Hopefully Jim will write it up in detail for the 2mmSA magazine.

After we'd ooh'ed and ah'ed over these various offerings, and had some lunch, finally some modelling got done.

Alisdair had got hold of a Severn Models "Tools and Wheelbarrows" etch and proceeded to entertain us for the rest of the afternoon as sundry bits of wheelbarrow flew off into the wide blue yonder.

There was some unparliamentary language. But by the end of the session, a wheelbarrow had been conjured up from the flat etch. It has to be said that a 2mm scale barrow is not large.

 Although a complete non-sequitur to the foregoing, here is an image of Alisdair's skrawker for carving surface detail into styrene sheet. Although often described, it is not always obvious exactly what form a skrawker should have. Alisdair makes his from a used Swann-Morton scalpel blade ground to shape using an abrasive wheel in a mini-drill.

Jim spent a couple of hours working on Sauchenford to re-install the ground signal Alisdair stood on at the December meeting, and to bed in some point levers which he'd etched. These too are small.

So small, indeed, that one of the three levers he installed mysteriously disappeared when our backs were turned and could not be found despite considerable searching. Alisdair didn't stand on it, or so he says. Perhaps it is still stuck in the scenery somewhere. Fortunately Jim had made a spare, so all was not lost.

And with that important detail concluded, it was time to return to reality and head off into the rain. If you are visiting  Model Rail Scotland later this month (and if not, why not?), come and have a look at our dioramas on the 2mmSA stand: C15 on the hall plan, next the Scalefour stand and opposite the Gauge 'O' Guild. See you there!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

January 2017 meeting

The first meeting of the New Year saw us back on the west coast. Alisdair hosted and Alistair, Andy, Anthony, Stephen, Simon, and Graham drank his tea and coffee and ate his bacon rolls and cakes.

Some modelling was done as well however, around the kitchen table in best Area Group tradition..

For most the focus was on the 2016 Challenge: produce a diorama on a 20cm x 16cm base with, at minimum, some trackwork to 2mmSA standards - an opportunity to try out new techniques, or an excuse to model something different from a main project.

Jim was absent this time, but nonetheless we felt his presence in the room because of his latest status report on his goods yard scene on RMWeb, which he'd followed up with a few stern e-mails telling the rest of us to get our fingers out. So who obeyed?

Alisdair has built a cameo inspired by the 3' gauge Upper Works Railway in Lochaber, which linked the British Aluminium Company works near Fort William to its extensive hydro-electric schemes at Loch Trieg and Loch Laggan, and serviced the tunnels, valve shafts and pipelines along the way. It's not complete, but already looks impressive.

As a civil engineer he identifies with the subject, which he discovered hill-walking in the 1970s; presuming the railway to be defunct, he crossed a burn using one of its spindly, handrail-less bridges, and was mildly startled when a train rattled past him on its way downhill a few minutes later.

He has modelled a scene with twin pipelines crossing a small burn, and the 3' line on a timber bridge behind.

A cardboard box was adapted to become a proscenium arch and lighting unit - the latter using LED strips and a remote control (whit!) to vary their intensity.

As usual Alisdair's structures look the part: the stonework of the culvert where the pipelines are exposed is subtly convincing. The poor colour balance in my photos doesn't do justice to the model.

Simon has killed two birds with one stone: his father Russ modelled an N gauge station building over 40 years ago and, for his 80th birthday, Simon decided to place it in a suitable context for display. So his diorama is an island platform with a retaining wall as a backscene.

Even with the building loosely placed on the platform it looks at home.

The scene is named "Dalmally" ... which will have a few people scratching their heads, since Dalmally is on the Callander and Oban and has a two-storey stone station building, whereas this specimen is clearly a typical West Highland Railway design. The explanation is that the building originally graced an N gauge layout inspired by the idea of a West Highland branch to Tarbert (Loch Fyne), with an intermediate station at Dalmally. So there ... Rule 1 applies.

And for those of you reaching for a tape measure, yes, it is not strictly 16cm x 20cm. There are exceptions for 80th birthdays, and anyway the building is longer than 20cm on its own!

Andy has spent most of his time building a bathroom and kitchen in 1:1 scale recently, but had brought wood and Easitrac. With domestic tasks out of sight and mind, he finally started his diorama:

Alistair progressed his model of a railway scene with low-relief tenement backscene:

Anthony, visiting his old FCAG haunts after (we assume) getting a special day pass from the NEAG, was working on a coach bogie.

He also had a nice box of his own stock with him. At the top, two open wagons from Jim Watt's Buchanan Kits etches; below, his own scratchbuilt Highland Railway brake van and open wagons, plus a Highland 6-wheel composite and a double-deck sheep van, both from his own etches.

The coach is worth a closer look: it is built up from four (or was it five?) layers of etch. Anthony admits to chosing a prototype with absolutely no tumblehome, which simplified matters a little. The centre axle simply slides in inside bearings; there are no Cleminson trucks. All very nice.

Stephen was working on a buffer-stop for his diorama. Fired with enthusiasm from the meeting, he continued to work on the trackbed once back home, and sent this photo (from which we can deduce his scene will have two track levels). Whether voodoo or acupuncture is involved is not known, but it seems to work for Stephen.

My progress was a little less spectacular, but I did make a start on soldering up some of the windows for the GNSR loco shed at Macduff which will be my challenge entry. Jim Watt very kindly drew up and etched these for me: they fold up in a "Z" ...

with the centre part spacing the two sets of astragals apart, so that a piece of glazing material can be slipped in between the layers. 

These are windows for the store, 1cm high: the arched windows for the shed itself are larger and work the same way. I'm looking forward to starting those.

So John Knox Jim's fiery sermons to the FCAG congregation seem to have had some effect, and even the greatest sinners (who are mysteriously all from the East Coast) have started on the long road to redemption. Only four weeks now to the deadline!