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?