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Monday, 21 December 2009

ACE Coach Roof Destination Board

I'm in the process of assembling a representative ACE train with Merchant Navy Pacific and Bachmann Bulleid coaching stock and wanted to add roof destination boards to the coaches. Each coach has provision for four boards, two each side positioned centrally. My research thus far has been inconclusive. I have the impression that there was no hard and fast rules on the use of ACE roof destination boards. Train images show either two boards side by side, one board or none at all!

The boards have straw lettering on a dark green background.

Legends:

"ATLANTIC COAST EXPRESS" either on one board or across two boards, possibly with the word THE preceding ATLANTIC.
"WATERLOO TO ILFRACOMBE" and the other destinations BUDE, TORRINGTON, PADSTOW, PLYMOUTH, EXETER CENTRAL and WEST OF ENGLAND. The latter for the East Devon destinations of Seaton, Sidmouth and Exmouth.

I have surveyed hundreds of southern train images but yet to find an ACE showing any of the boards with discernible lettering. I am making my best guess as to what to place where until a photo turns up.

In 4mm scale I made boards using MS Word and the font Vrinda 8pt. Printed on sticky back labels 43mm x 2.5mm. Two strips of 1mm high x 1mm thick plastic card were applied to the sticky side top of board for rigidity. The board is positioned on the coach roof between the board end brackets and pressed onto the rain gutter where it is held by the label glue showing on the bottom of the board. The board can be easily removed when the coaches are used on other duties and reapplied when forming the ACE, so long as the stickness lasts.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

What it was like to travel on the ACE

Came across an excellent personal acount of what it was like to travel on the ACE in the 1960s.

You can really picture what it was like from the authors descriptive text. With the eventual demise of travelling by train, brought about by the greater convenience of road travel, the author finishes by recounting early experiences of the journey by car instead of train - quite a contrast!

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Catch The Bus Part 4 (Final)

Finished the bus today! Just a week of spare time required, much of which was spent researching the prototype to ensure the model finish looked authentic.

Easy to assemble and my initial fears about assembling the glazing panels was unfounded. Very pleased with the outcome.

For the full story:
Catch The Bus - Part 1

You can now see the bus by visiting my model railway.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Catch The Bus Part 3

The difference between a toy bus and a bus model appreciated by adults is more than how it looks. It is about its connection with the real bus in its place and time.

I am in the process of making a model bus kit. When it is finished it shall be placed at Misterton station on my model railway as though it was picking up or dropping down passengers at a bus stop.

I have to hand a number of photographs of the real bus and have poured over these to pick up details that need to be added or adjusted on the model and its intended location. Three issues about the real bus and its location have arisen so far and these are:
  1. What does the back of the bus look like? (Photographers have focused only on a view from the front).
  2. Did a Conductor accompany the Driver and what were their uniforms
  3. What did a Crewkerne bus stop look like in the 1960s?

To help find answers my research lead me to the book, Somerset's Buses - The story of Hutchings & Cornelius and Safeway Services by Laurie James. First plan was to visit the local library to see if they could obtain it as I knew such a specialist publication was unlikely to be on the shelf. The response was, "The county does not have it and a nationwide search of libraries would be needed and no, we don't know how long it would take". My next plan was to buy the book and so I turned to the Internet and a search uncovered several second hand copies being sold by individuals on the Amazon web site. I bought the £12.99 book for £3.25 + postage. It was delivered in 2 days and frankly the book looks brand new - no defects at all.

Eagerly I thumbed through the book for the answers to my questions. There on page 92 was the only picture of 200 APB and no, it was a full frontal! Without a rear view of the bus to hand I will have to be guided by the relief detail shown on the model.

My answer to the Conductor issue was answered though with a photo of both driver and conductress in full 1960s regalia - and even their names! So I can now add an authentic driver and conductress to the bus - You can see with research how the bus begins to tell its own story and gives rise to interesting conversation when showing the model to others.

With regard to a bus stop sign. One picture showed a 1950's bus stop at Yeovil. The pole has alternate black and white banding with a rectangular sign at the top depicting the towns and villages on the route.

Catch The Bus - Part4

Catch The Bus - Part 1

Friday, 2 October 2009

Catch The Bus Part 2

My TiNY bus - Burlingham B44F 200 APB, released this month by TiNy Bus & Coach Kits arrived safely by post today. The supplier kept me informed about my order status throughout and delivered in good time.

Very well packed in a sturdy, nicely labelled cardboard box. Upon opening I was both surprised and pleased by the small number of parts required to construct the bus.

The body shell is one piece as is the finely detailed interior. Wheels, axles and a few other fitments together with glazing panels complete the kit. Instructions are also supplied. The glazing panels fill me with dread as they could be the most difficult/fiddly part of the build.

Anyway, first job is to paint the parts, inside and out before assembly. So, I'm now off to research and source the paint colour.

Catch The Bus - Part 3

Catch The Bus - Part 1


Sunday, 20 September 2009

Model Train Smoke

I just happened to have access to a disco fog machine. This is quite a large black box with a liquid reservoir, jet outlet and remote control. (Cost about £30).

I set it up behind Crewkerne tunnel mouth on my model railway. Because of its size it had to be setback quite some way. A large bore cardboard tube was used to funnel the 'fog' into the back of the tunnel mouth.

There is a time lag between operating the remote and the 'fog' being jetted so, the trick is to work out when to hit the remote as the train approaches the tunnel exit. I ran a freight train around the circuit, hit the remote to give a short burst and a bellow of smoke came out of the tunnel with the train bursting through it.

The unexpected and amazing effect was that as the train came out of the tunnel it pulled the smoke with it! The plume clung to the engine rolling over the top and sides as though it came out of the engine chimney. The smoke continued to cling to the freight wagons and after the train passed by the smoke remnants drifted across the tracks - just like a real train.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Maplin Steam Engine Sound Generator (MK134) Review

Those familiar with my main model railway web site will know that I use recorded engine sounds played from a PC to accompany my model train train movements. This is fine for trains starting off or in full motion but shunting is another matter. Shunting engines move very slowly with frequent stops and starts. So, this inexpensive electronics kit from Maplin provides an answer.

The generator has an on/off switch, volume, speed and whistle controls. It is powered from a 9V battery, but could be powered from an AC to DC adaptor up to 12V easily.

When switched on and the volume turned off a continuous hissing sound is still heard, reminiscent of a stationary engine leaking steam. As the volume is increased we hear the beat of the engine in motion and adjusting the speed control we can emulate the speed of the engine from a crawl to the fastest express.

A more 'basey' sound can be achieved by placing the speaker at the end of a long cardoard tube (mine is about 3 feet) and baffling the rear of the speaker with a pair of socks - one inside the other placed over the rear.

The steam sound is realistic and works well for the shunting movements I intended it for.

The Whistle on the other hand is not realistic. It lacks the sound of the steam rush of a real locomotive whistle. It sounds electronic - too pure.

The Kit

The instructions are in the step-by-step pictorial format. There is scant textual information for the uninitiated about how to tackle an electronics assembly.

Component values or identities are either colour coded or stamped on the body with a very small number.

Some of the components, especially resistors cover up their circuit number on the PCB (printed circuit board). So, if you put one in the wrong place and need to remove it you have to work out from the supplied circuit diagram and the track runs on the PCB which one it is!

Four pins are supplied which are soldered to the battery connector and speaker connection points on the PCB and then the battery and speaker wires soldered to them. These are pointless and fiddly - throw them away and wire the cables directly to the PCB.

As with all electronics, if it don't work when you switch it on then you are pretty much stuffed without electronics technical knowledge and diagnostic equipment. All you can do is check the components were fitted in the right place, all the wires are firmly soldered to the PCB pads and there are no solder bridges between components where not meant to be.

Battery not supplied. Use a new one, not one previously used.

Kit Assembly Rating 1-5 (5 easy, 1 difficult)

Experienced in electronics assembly with understanding how it works: 5
Have built electronics successfully before but not knowledgeable in how it works: 4
Never built an electronics kit but have used a soldering iron: 3
No previous experience whatsoever: 2 (give it a go anyway)

Tips

1. Follow the step-by-step instructions precisely. Note the colour code provided for resistor colour banding value identity.
2. Having pushed a component through the pcb splay out its legs so it does not fall out when turning the assembly over.
3. Apply the soldering iron to the component leg and its PCB pad then about 1 second later apply the solder to the joint side furthest from the soldering iron - not to the bit of the iron.
4. Solder in place the group of components from a step of the instruction and cut their leads short before moving onto the next step.
5. Use a magnifying glass to check the solder joints are shiny, cover the PCB hole and not bridging other component leads where not meant to.

Tools Required

Essential: Small electrical wire cutters, soldering iron with fine point, electrical fluxed solder.
Helpful: Small electrical pliers, magnifying glass, solder removal pump or copper braided wick.
If it don't work: Multi-meter, oscilloscope.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Taking Railway Modelling to the Next Level

Railway books are a great inspiration and aid for modelling an authentic railway scene. But it was only recently that I discovered a new aspect to the hobby, which I shall call 'Inspired Modelling'.

This is about emulating a photograph of the prototype train and period shown in a railway book by re-creating the scene on the model railway and then taking a photograph of it. Post processing the image to add effects such as steam and smoke with the aim of getting as close as possible to the book photograph.

N15 with an up goods trainThe outcome is truly staggering. My wife thought I had scanned the book photograph! that's how realistic the model image is that I achieved.

It is only with the advent of finely detailed ready to run railway models from the trade, versatile low cost digital cameras with macro facilty and photo editing software that has enabled us to do this.

One of the model photos I created was based on that taken of the prototype by the famous railway photographer Ivo Peters. When I look at my image I feel as though I had stepped back in time and became Ivo Peters at the moment he snapped his image.

There are some discrepencies between the two photographs especially when it comes to railway furniture or landscape in the prototype photograph that does not exist on the model railway. But it is close enough to be a very rewarding experience and new extension of the hobby.

My 'Inspired Modelling' photos are viewable only for a few months during summer months in the 'Special Features' section of my website, accessible from the web link in this article.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Loneliness of the Line Side Photographer

About half-hour before the train is due I set out alone across lanes and fields to my selected vantage point. Today my path was laid out before me by well-worn tractor tracks through a wheat field. Following these across the baked soil the sight of Battledown Flyover (The Gateway to the West) peeked through gaps in the tree lined edge to the field. Across the boundary to the next wheat field and the full majesty of this famous bridge could be seen.

Now to find my vantage point. Should I set up the tripod in the middle of this field, near the old LSWR railway foot crossing or somewhere close to the bridge? With 15 minutes to go another enthusiast is seen some way off with tripod in arm treading the path to the foot crossing. I followed in his wake, but upon reaching the crossing he was long gone, probably found a hidden spot on the other side of the track ready to pounce on his prey.

In the distance near the bridge I spied a gap in the full-grown line side hedge. Aiming straight for it I hoped the tall vegetation of mid summer would not obscure the view. Now to hack through 1.5m tall grass to reach the wire fence. Safely positioned on my perch the tripod was set up on a slight knoll next to the wire. Some practice shots with the digicam secured the scene, nicely framed by bridge, tree and line side equipment cabinet.

Now the waiting game. A chance to take in the peace of the countryside. Hover flies and butterflies mingled with the tall cream coloured grasses around me. The silence broken only by song birds. However, a rustle in the grass gave away the arrival of another approaching enthusiast, who was armed with two tripods and cameras, putting my flimsy tripod and insignificant compact camera to shame. But, I had bagged the best spot and he was resigned to a position further back out of site of the rails.

The tell tale sign of smoke plume rising from an approaching steam train mixed with cumulus cloud formations on the horizon signaled the moment to get on the shutter. Within seconds, it seemed, the train burst forth from under the bridge like thousands of its peers 50 years and more ago. The thunder of the wheels and rhythm of the exhaust filled the scene. Snap - and the picture is taken. The train gone as quickly as it arrived. Only an expanding trail of grey white smoke and a sooty odour lingered across the scene.

An exchange of experiences of the shoot and chat on a common railway interest with my fellow enthusiast ended the episode. Everyone I have ever met on these photographic expeditions have a happy demeanor and are willing communicators, free in their imparting of knowledge about the subject. A friendly farewell and we go our separate ways to return home and process our treasured snaps.

Loneliness of the line side photographer? Not a bit of it.

Find out when a steam train is due near you this year.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

1960s Atlantic Coast Express (ACE) Summer Train Formation

The ACE departed Waterloo at 11am until the final run of this named train on September 5th 1964. Whilst the destination of the engine was Exeter coaches ended their journey at either Ilfracombe, Plymouth, Torrington, Padstow, Bude, Sidmouth, Exmouth, Exeter or Seaton (the Seaton coach was discontinued after 1957) . The east Devon and Exeter coaches were taken off at Salisbury to continue the journey behind a Salisbury engine. In summer, coaches were split between the 11 am and an extra 11.05am service, e.g. for Plymouth, Padstow and Bude.

The composition of the ACE was complex and varied depending on the time of year and passenger demand for the service. My interest is the early 1960s and the train as it would have been seen running through Somerset to and from the west.

A representative makeup of the down 11.am ACE .
14th July 1962 as shown in 'Portrait of the Atlantic Coast Express' by Stephen Austen:

Acceptable coaches are Bullied 63' or BR MK1 or a mixture of both for later years .

1. Merchant Navy class engine
2. Brake (BSK) - Ilfracombe
3. Composite Corridor (CK) - Ilfracombe
4. Brake (BSK) - Ilfracombe
5. Brake Composite Corridor (BCK) - Torrington
6. Restaurant 2nd (RS)
7. Kitchen Buffet (KB)
8. Brake Composite Corridor (BCK) - Padstow
9. Brake Composite Corridor (BCK) - Bude
10. Brake Composite Corridor (BCK) - Plymouth
11. Brake Composite Corridor (BCK) - Exmouth (Detached at Salisbury)
12. Brake Composite Corridor (BCK) - Sidmouth (Detached at Salisbury)
13. Brake Composite Corridor (BCK) - Exeter (Detached at Salisbury)

Up ACE departing Exeter Central 12.30pm.

1. Merchant Navy class engine
2. Brake Composite Corridor (BCK) - Padstow
3. Brake Composite Corridor (BCK) - Bude
4. Brake Composite Corridor (BCK) - Plymouth
5. Restaurant 2nd (RS)
6. Kitchen Buffet (KB)
7. Brake (BSK) - Ilfracombe
8. Composite Corridor (CK) - Ilfracombe
9. Brake (BSK) - Ilfracombe
10. Brake Composite Corridor (BCK) - Torrington
11. Brake Composite Corridor (BCK) - Exmouth
12. Brake Composite Corridor (BCK) - Sidmouth

00 gauge (4mm scale) Model Sources:

Merchant Navy Class Engine - Hornby
MK1 Brake (BSK) - Bachmann, Lima
MK1 Composite Corridor - Bachmann, Lima
Restaurant - Bachmann, Lima
Buffet MK1 - Hornby, Bachmann
MK1 Brake Composite Corridor (BCK) - Bachmann, Lima
Bullied 63' composite corridor and 2nd Brake Corridor/Open - Bachmann

No one produces a RTR (ready to run) Bullied BCK* but the Bachmann 2nd Brake Corridor/Open is a close match and could be converted by applying the yellow 1st Class banding above the two windows nearest the guard/luggage area - post 1963 era, or a yellow 1 (one) on the coach door - before 1963, which is also relavant post 1963.

*Postscript: Partial Self Assembly Mk 1 BCK  is available from Replica Railways.

Monday, 8 June 2009

How to be a Great Ebay Seller

The average Ebay Seller from my experience as a Bidder show very little customer care. Zero communication, late shipping and even shipping to the wrong customer is what winning Bidders can expect at some point. The trouble is many Ebay Sellers are not in business for a living. If they were they would soon realise that customer care is of paramount importance in order to survive. But, the point is they are handling a commercial transaction, whether trading once or frequently and should always give the customer due care and attention.

1. In your listing always describe the product condition, declaring any defects present, and use a decent camera capable of close up shots for smaller items.

2. Soon after the auction closes (I mean within minutes) send your Ebay invoice to the winning Bidder. Include a congratulatory message. Reiterate your payment terms and state where you will be sending the item when payment has cleared.

3. Send a reminder if payment has not been received within the expected timeframe. For PayPal transactions send a reminder a few days before your deadline with an explanation of what measures you will be taking if payment is not received by the due date.

4. If they are paying by cheque notify them when you have received it. If they paid instantly via PayPal confirm that payment has been received and state when you will be sending the item. Ship as soon as practical after payment has cleared.

5. Use sensible packaging to protect the item and include a print of the order details in the package.

6. Where you have multiple items to ship to different customers within the same time frame take care not to mix up the orders. Carry out all paperwork and packing for one customer before moving onto the next.

7. Always leave feedback after you have shipped the product taking care to leave the right feedback for each customer.

With these measures you should have happy customers and your feedback will remain positive.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Catch The Bus - Part 1

I have been searching for a model bus that fits the place and period of my model railway and I think I have found it. First I had to find out which bus service operated in Crewkerne in the 1960s and a route that included the station, because it is at the station I want to position the bus.

The bus service that fits the bill was Safeway Services of South Petherton and the bus I fancied is the AEC Reliance with Burlingham bodywork, registration 200APB. Pictures shown on the web site about Safeway Services placed this bus in the early 1960s and in fact it eventually went into preservation in the 1990s and can be still seen at bus shows today.

I spent a long time searching for an 'off the shelf' Safeway Services model bus of the 1960s to no avail until I came across TiNY Bus & Coach Kits who are planning to introduce a 4mm scale kit of this very bus during 2009. (What a coincidence!) Tiny responded very quickly to my email about its availability and price. It is planned to be available later this year.

I will need to supply my own decals for the model, not an easy thing to make. I started looking into what company logo Safeway had used on this bus in the 1960s. Photos of the bus from that period show an indistinct shield emblem that did not seem to match other Safeway logos from later years. It was only after researching the bus history that it dawned on me what was going on. This bus was originally owned by the bus company Safeguard Coaches of Guildford but was sold to Safeway in 1962. Safeguard had a shield type emblem and what I think Safeway initially did was paint over name details on the shield, which is why the shield in the Safeway pictures looks blocky. I still don't know what logo they applied to the bus before 1965 but I came across another photo of the bus from the period that shows no logo at all! So that could be a blessing for me as I will not need to create an intricate logo for the side of the bus.

Catch The Bus - Part 2
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