High on the fells

I’ve replaced the station building at Eskdale Head and done some work on the old mine tramway so it is now operational, even if it might still be a while before trains can run on the main line.

A pair of short fiddlesticks would mean I could operate Eskdale independently, I’ll investigate the possibility of clamping them onto the modular link sections so they can be attached to Eskdale/The Level or Carters Bridge for home use of the 55n3 modules. Carters Bridge was designed as a self contained shunting layout in addition to its modular role but the double sided module needs “wings” to the left and right of the on stage area for stand alone operation.

Tomorrow’s job should be fairly simple. The existing wiring for the Eskdale side of the module will be left as it is. The wires to the running line (A) and switched connection by-passing the point blades (B) will have new jumper leads attached at the end of baseboard terminals (D1 and D2). As it stands the wires to the running line for The Level (C) are linked to Eskdale via the central connector block (E). This link will be cut and new wiring provided to a second pair of jump lead terminals (F1 and F2) at the baseboard ends.

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Back on The Level

I have partially repainted the backdrop on my 55n3 Colby Level module, hopefully brightening it up a bit in the process.

The module needs new jumper leads adding before it can be used with Carters Bridge or modules belonging to the group’s other members. I took the originals off when the flip side was used as part of the FCPyF but they should be simple enough to replace. When I built the double sided module I wired both tracks together, as I’m going to be fitting new leads it might be a good idea to split the module into two electrical sections so whichever track is not in use can be isolated and used for stock storage. The other side lost its station as Littletown under FCPyF stewardship, this will be restored and it will become Eskdale Head again.

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Prize length

Stop sniggering at the back!

There is a preserved LNER sign at Goathland station which proclaims the track to be maintained to a standard worthy of such commendation. These signs date back to when there used to be local permanent way gangs responsible for their own individual lengths of the railway, as opposed to outside contractors who might be working in Hull one weekend and Halifax the next.

I do not think the PWay gang responsible for the track in San Fernandez are likely to be nominated for any awards! When they saw the cameraman they abandoned their pump trolley on the shed lead and headed off for breakfast instead of posing with their handiwork.

The track in the station has been weathered this morning, toning down the whiteness of the sand and filler mix.

Railcar 48 was assigned to the early train for Grande today but, this being the FCPyF, it has not left yet. Early means sometime before elevenses in these parts.

Diesel 15 had the honour of taking the first train over the newly ballasted junction instead.

No.9 has had some work done on her tender. Both loco and tender are motorised and they’re hard-wired together. They were awkward to pick up because neither body was secured to its chassis but the tender is now attached using “Blacktack” (which I am informed does not dissolve in oil the same way that other reusable putties do). Time will tell, but I’ll take care when lubricating the mechanisms.

Another double-motored small loco is 79. She’s in the works for tarting up. The (cardboard) cab is getting a bit tatty so I’ll replace it with beer can sheet metal. The tender will also get some attention. It sits too far back on its wheels so I’ll either alter or replace the chassis to get a more balanced look. No.79 will be repainted in Heritage Brown after her rebuild.

Ravenglass & Windermere No.5 was to be fitted with Kadees to act as a spare shunt engine at Carters Bridge but she has been re-allocated for passenger traffic and retains her original Dapol couplers for compatibility with the R&W coaches. Blacktack has again been used, attaching the cab to the footplate, and the loco is ready for transfer back to home rails. I had intended to extend the OO loco’s front end around the dumb buffers but they were simple plug-in parts so I removed them and added a new (coffee stirrer) headstock. The appearance of the engine has changed quite surprisingly, and pleasingly, because of this shortening of the front end.

And finally, as they say in the news before the trivial bit to make you feel better about all the doom and gloom, compare this photo with the earlier one of No.15.

A barrio bajo is taking shape on the outskirts of San Fernandez. The shanties will be made to look as if they’re constructed using a mixture of scrap materials for the walls with corrugated iron for the roofs.

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Two bridges

The Safety Elf has been asking awkward questions this afternoon.

Questions like “Is that bridge held together with duct tape?” to which the FCPyF’s civil engineer had to admit “Erm, um, well, yes… But it’s only temporary.”

Then, at Casablanca Bridge, “What about this one?”

“Ah, this one’s a proper job, Bostick.”

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Engineering work at SF Junction

The PWay gangs on the FCPyF prefer to dig the track up during the day, any day, it really doesn’t matter. Passengers will moan whether it’s a bank holiday Monday or a working day morning rush hour that’s disrupted, pointing out that “their” trains should not be cancelled, and somebody else should take the hit instead, so sod ’em all. It’s not as if the FCPyF makes any money out of them is it?

I went to my local pet shop this morning. They’ve got no chinchilla sand in stock. Neither have I, so the ballast is bird sand mixed with dry filler. The difference in colour between the junction and the track on the link section doesn’t matter because real railway ballast is not all the same colour. Model railways often look far too neat in this respect.

Once brushed into shape the sand/filler mix is sprayed with wet water and left to soak for a few minutes. This activates the filler and helps to hold the sand in place as diluted PVA is drizzled onto the track. I’ve set the timer on my phone to go off every hour so I can give the points a wiggle as the glue dries, it’s better than having to unstick the blades afterwards!

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Over the edge

San Fernandez Junction has an extra bit of trackwork added. The siding leading from the bay platform has been extended and splits into two under the bridge. This is purely scenic, San Fernandez Shed will remain as an independent micro layout, serving as a safe place to keep models I’m working on or repairing, but it makes sense to have the shed lead visible on the main layout.

Modelling the theoretical access to the shed means that random locos and stock can be parked between the station and the bridge as if waiting delivery to/from the works, even the shed pilot, Connie, might put in an appearance.

The points are a damaged set that came in a mixed box of junk from a charity shop, with steel rails and some sleepers missing they’re never going to be repaired and put to proper use. The track leading off the edge of the baseboard (A) is the line to the shed. American modellers frequently include lines disappearing over the front edge of the baseboard, usually with space for one or more cars to be spotted as exchange traffic. It adds operational interest without taking up a lot of room. The dismantled track (B) is a former connection to track two at the junction, such scars of rationalisation are an everyday sight on real railways, yet they are seldom modelled and have been missing from the FCPyF since the San Pedro branch track bed was replaced by the forced perspective (OO9) line above Cumbre.

This was a distraction before breakfast, the real job scheduled for today was getting the wiring soldered to the rails and the trains running again. So, just under a week after I decided to alter this end of the layout, it’s operational again. It seems fairly durable in this formation, the support for the lower house doorway crossing is a lot more solid than it was. The proof is in the pudding, I had Casablanca off the top of the washing machine while I was doing laundry yesterday, everything has gone back together again perfectly.

Losing about ten feet in length from the San Fernandez deviation route is a small price to pay for the more reliable operation. Derailments happen in real life, especially on poorly maintained third world railways such as the FCPyF, but when they occur too frequently they take a lot of the enjoyment out of running the layout.

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As I was typing this BBC R4 was airing a programme about Madness (the band).

How’s this for One Step Beyond?

The die-cast toy caught my eye while I was buying a newspaper on Wednesday, possibly for using the shopping trolley on a fishing line powered micro layout or just as a bit of static silliness with the robot painted silver and standing guard over a flying saucer.

The Day The Layout Stood Still.

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Going south

The Mondays and Thursdays only way freight from Antequera to Grande conveyed traffic for Derrotado this morning.

It was the turn of the staff, instead of the passengers, to have a moan as the train interrupted breakfast time at the station. Put that coffee pot and pan of chilli back on the stove and get some work done for a change!

Playtime over. The reason that southbound way freight went via Perejil was because of engineering works at San Fernandez Junction. It was a devil of a job getting all four track ends on the lift out span level and in line at the same time but I think I’ve cracked it. Having said that, as soon as I get the nail punch out to hammer home the pins one or more of the tracks will almost certainly decide to move!

In common with the rest of the FCPyF’s signalling the Veinte Veinte starter has not worked for a long time. Trains are dispatched from the station with instructions to pass the board at danger and proceed with caution as part of their written train orders. Shunting manoeuvres needing to go beyond the peg are also required to have a train order clearing them as far as the Casablanca end of track two, so they do not foul the junction for through trains on track one (nearest to the tower).


I got the points for San Fernandez Junction from Hattons, they were considerably cheaper than any of the “buy it now” listings on eBay. Included in the package was a current catalogue. I leafed through it for a laugh while my tea was cooking this evening, well, if you don’t laugh at the prices you’ll cry instead, and Hattons are famous for being discounters.

What is really a laugh is that there’s a whole forum of frothing fanboys and wish-listers who pledge their intentions to buy one of everything as soon as it’s announced by Bachmann, Hornby, Heljan or whoever. Fuck knows how they intend pay for them!

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Two termini

I have spent some time working on the scenery for San Fernandez and Derrotado this afternoon. The two recently relocated termini both survived their moves with the baseboards and track reasonably intact but the backscenes were both damaged in the process.

The rock face was severed behind the station building at Derrotado, it has now been rebuilt. The scenic area of the branch terminus is a lot shorter than it was when joined to Arroyo Santa and the line now exits to fiddleyard between some trees and the cliff.

The backscene for San Fernandez is more or less starting from scratch, though some of the low relief buildings from the pre-2020 version of the station have been reused. Two thirds of the backscene needs to be detachable for access to the hidden siding. I’ve done this as two sections for ease of handling, these are between the green low relief building and the water tower and between the water tower and the bridge. I’m undecided what to do at the turntable end, it’ll get either a few industrial buildings or more greenery around it.

Click here for a larger image.

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Getting back into the routine

As the dust settles following the latest seismic activity in Sierra Oculta the FCPyF is getting back to work. Derrotado’s passengers have realised the advantage of being a branch terminus again and there were no complaints as they boarded to morning train to San Fernandez.

Two Scania railbuses, with a bug box coach between them, provided ample seating.

The third Scania is working with freight motor 23 and another bug box on the Puerto Tablon to Frontera service, the morning train connecting at Tablon Junction with the southbound Antequera Mail.

No.9 and a single brake third worked the Antequera Mail today, not exactly luxury accommodation for a named train, but the passengers on the FCPyF’s northern division are a hardy breed.

The mail train cannot be described as an express, calling as it does at all stations!

It eventually arrived at San Fernandez Junction just after lunch time and backed into Veinte Veinte station.

Railcar 31 was waiting for the mail to arrive. The Grande train departed as soon as the cross-platform connection had been made. Yes folks, trains still wait for booked connections in Sierra Oculta, unlike some countries I could mention!

This afternoon was spent adapting an old Hornby Dublo signal box to make SF Tower.

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