Running the railcars

Wednesday again, my day off. I was going to take Harvey for a walk at the seaside to use up one of last year’s free passes. Walking in the rain is fine when you can get warm and dry as soon as you get indoors but not so much fun when you’ve got a couple of hours on the train before you can get changed, so we stayed at home instead.

I’ve had a lazy day, not in the mood for doing any serious modelling but I did paint railcar #27’s new trailer this morning. Since then I’ve had a good long operating session on the layout using four railcars.

#20 approaching Centrales as #21 is held at the signal on the low line.

On the high line #20 and #27 took turns about working through from Cuarto de Pulgada to Grande and back, calling at Rio Paleta and Centrales. #27 does not fit on the short railcar cassette (or the turntables at Grande and Cuarto) with the coach attached so this train gave me some practice using the full length cassette between Centrales and Grande. #21 and #22 alternated on the low line running through from Grande to San Fernandez and back, calling at Centrales, Resurreccion and Frog Rock.

Railcars #27, with the new trailer, and #22 at Grande.

It’s a much more relaxed pace using the layout in this fashion. A lot of people would rather watch the steam trains but, to me, a railcar is just as much a train as is loco and stock, also (again in my opinion) they convey the Latin American railway atmosphere more than a conventional train does.

Posted in FCPyF 2016 rebuild, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

Railcar reallocations and a new timetable

I’ve discovered why the donor mechanism used for freight motor #9 had been consigned to the spares box. The gears slip intermittently when travelling in the forward direction. If it were the other way it wouldn’t matter because the railcar only runs in reverse when shunting.

Anyway #9 has been dispatched to Cuarto Sheds to await attention or replacement of the mechanism and I’ve been working out a suitable Monday to Saturday roster for the other railcars.

Pending #9’s return, Porter #5 has been allocated to the tourist trains but the steam loco is too slow so the round trip only operates between Centrales and San Fernandez, departing after the freight train from SF has arrived, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The return working runs on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, arriving at Centrales mid-afternoon.

Railcar #44 provides a local service between Centrales and Grande.

Freight motor #20 has been fitted with a knuckle coupler on the rear, allowing a coach to be attached for a daily round trip from Centrales to Cuarto de Pulgada and back. #20 is too long to fit on the turntable at CdP with the coach attached so it needs to be treated as a loco hauled train and run round instead of being turned as a unit.

Railcar #21 (above) works a round trip between San Fernandez and Grande each day and #27 (below, with van) does the honours between Cuarto de Pulgada and Grande.

That’s the railcar rosters sorted, at least until #9 returns to traffic, the next job is re-timetabling the loco hauled trains to fit in with the extended journeys since Grande was added to the layout.

It will need fine tuning but the basic pattern will be #42 (above, at Grande) on the mail and passenger train between Grande and Cuarto de Pulgada, #7 (below, approaching Centrales) with a mixed passenger, mail and freight train between San Fernandez and Grande.

#2 will haul freight trains from San Fernandez to Centrales on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, continuing from Centrales to Cuarto de Pulgada in the late afternoon (shown below at Resurreccion).

The freight will return the following day from CdP to Centrales as the first train in the morning, continuing to San Fernandez after lunch. The freight train operating days slot in with those of the tourist train as mentioned earlier.

Freight trains between Grande and Centrales will run as extras when required, using #8 (above, on shed at Grande) or any other available loco.

This will result in a daily service of two local trains and one express on the upper line, the lower line has one express and one local each day. The through freight train makes a round trip spread over two days, overnighting alternately at SF and CdP, and the tourist train runs in each direction on the lower line every other day.

Despite its Marxist government, and like many other Latin American countries, Sierra Oculta has a devoutly religious population. There is only a very limited Sunday service with railcars #27 and #21 each making a round trip from their respective home stations to Grande and back.

Of course, a railway system like the FCPyF would have a lot more trains than are run on the layout. Mail, passengers and express freight are amply catered for by the trains modelled but there should be a lot more heavy freight to make the railway profitable. However, these trains would not be seen at the termini, nor would they call at small lineside stations, being dealt with in large out-of-town yards instead. Hence they are of little interest to us and can be conveniently ignored.

There’s a lot more to operating a layout than just playing trains!

Posted in FCPyF 2016 rebuild, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

Roughing it at Burnt Fly Siding…

… Or hitting the bottle again.

Like much of my modelling Burnt Fly has been an on/off project for a while. The micro-layout is supposedly a scene somewhere on the FCPyF’s Centrales to San Fernandez route, though it is portable and not part of the main layout. The short siding enables two railcars to pass each other or a railcar to pass a longer train. The siding is single ended so railcars need to reverse, either in or out, depending upon which direction they are travelling.

I’ve just painted the inside of the bottle and added some loose bits of hanging basket liner to rough in the scenery and see how it looks.

The result is quite pleasing so I’ll make a batch of ground foam for the foliage and go with it as a passing siding hidden deep in the woods, somewhere in the valleys of Sierra Oculta.

Out of the woods, #9 with the open tourist coach in tow carried on to Centrales after meeting a northbound train at Burnt Fly.

Posted in Bodging and Kitbashing, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat


A recent foray onto a well known auction site resulted in a job lot of vintage O scale models. Of the three only one was originally intended for use on the FCPyF, the other two being slated for disposal elsewhere.

The water tower is shown in situ at Cuarto de Pulgada, along with some of the palm trees left over from Grande. I have replaced the missing hose pipe and chain using a drinking straw and a “rope” made from coat hanger wire. Scenic work at CdP has been put on hold while I’m working on Grande and Cumbre but the station building, water tower and trees will get bedded in properly so they blend in with the platform – eventually.

The other two items appear to be home made. While good for their era they are obviously “toy” rather than “model” so the tunnel will be incorporated into the scenery on the disused San Pedro branch near Cumbre.

That just leaves the station. As I said it seems to be home made and, like the tunnel, is probably older than I am. I’d say both were built for a boy’s layout by the youngster’s father because the woodworking is quite good but the realism is, putting it politely, basic.

The station is of interest because of the adverts glued to the building. I doubt that I’ll find a home for it on the FCPyF, or any other layout for that matter, though it could possibly form part of a retro modelling diorama and has been put into storage.

The lot cost me a fiver, plus postage, worth it for the water tank alone. When the base is bedded into the scenery it should look like a standard “off the peg” item exported to Sierra Oculta from the UK, by a well known railway equipment manufacturer in Liverpool.

Posted in Bodging and Kitbashing, FCPyF 2016 rebuild, My trains, Narrow gauge, Retro modelling, Toy train chit chat

Cerdo Negro

This freight motor is something I’ve been working on for a while. It kept getting forgotten because of events on the main layout but it has been on the front siding at Cuarto Sheds, so I’d see it clearly whenever I went upstairs, for about two months.

This afternoon the bits were finally assembled and the “Black Pig” had a test run between Grande and Resurreccion.

The front end is a die cast lorry, the rear is a Gnomy van, the mechanism is from a Dapol Terrier and it runs with a very distinct whine, not unlike an old Bedford truck! The six-coupled chassis is explained by it having been built on an old steam loco’s chassis. Perhaps the boiler was a right-off and the railway decided to re-use the frames instead of scrapping the whole loco? OK, so I’ve got too many OO scale locos that never get used. I’ve still got two other Terriers, ample for use on the Foxbaile Light Railway, and several bits and pieces (such as buffer beams, which are difficult to obtain) have been salvaged from the donor loco as spares.

I’ve gone against my own modelling advice and painted it black, thus making it difficult to photograph, even on the relatively well lit section at Resurreccion, so it’ll probably be weathered to a dark grey with hints of rust.

Posted in Bodging and Kitbashing, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat


Until the branch closed in the late 1950s Cumbre used to be the junction for the line to San Pedro. Dismantled branch lines were once a common sight on many railway journeys, perhaps less so nowadays as the old track beds have become overgrown but they’re still there if you know where to look for them.

The area of Sierra Oculta around Cumbre on the FCPyF is quite barren so the former branch line is still quite evident. Nothing new here but I have bitten the bullet this evening and wrenched out most of the expanded polystyrene that was used to support the scenery before the glue-shell dried. The main reason for doing this was to allow daylight into the low level staging yard but it also creates a storage area below the mountain.

Visibly new at Cumbre are the rebuilt telegraph office and the water tower, as mentioned in yesterday’s Special Traffic Notice, both buildings give a logical excuse for trains to stop here but without trying to cram a station into the very limited space available. Steam locos will be short of water having climbed to Cumbre (which means summit) from Centrales or Cuarto de Pulgada while both steam and diesel trains can be stopped by the telegraph operator to receive fresh orders from the dispatcher.

A hand operated “highball” signal will be provided for this purpose.

On the topic of train orders, I have added discrete self adhesive two letter telegram codes on the baseboard fascia at each location. GR at Grande, CE at Centrales, RN at Resurreccion, FR at Frog Rock, SF at San Fernandez (staging yard), RP at Rio Paleta, CM at Cumbre and CP at Cuarto de Pulgada. These are inspired in part by the North American practice of identifying switch towers with two letters but mainly by British Rail’s National Teleprinter Network codes that were in use when I worked in the telegraph offices at Manchester (MS) and Crewe (CE). The NTN system used four letters, the first pair indicating the location and the second pair identifying individual offices, for example LDTO was Leeds telegraph office and SGSV Stalybridge supervisor.

Posted in Bodging and Kitbashing, FCPyF 2016 rebuild, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

STN 12-6-17

Special Traffic Notice 12th June ’17

With immediate effect watering facilities at RIO PALETA have been withdrawn. Alternative facilities are available at CENTRALES and CUMBRE.

Pampas and Fernandez Consolidated Railway, issued Centrales, 12th June ’17

Since the module was first built there have always been loco watering facilities at Rio Paleta. The original Tri-ang water tower was moved to Centrales and replaced with a smaller tower when the module was incorporated into the fixed layout. However, this was on the other side of the line and cast a shadow on the backscene which tended to spoil the image. I reckon the station looks better without it anyway.

The small tower has now been moved to Grande, where it fits into the scene better than the new tank I built yesterday.

The new tank will be installed instead at Cumbre, until now little more than a place name on the layout’s track plan but the provision of the water tower gives a reason for steam trains to stop there. Cumbre is a logical place, at the summit of the line, for trains in both directions to take water. Cumbre will also be provided with a telegraph office for train orders though probably something a bit more photogenic than the blue crinkly tin hut in the picture shown above. I also need to do something to hide the garage’s brickwork where it is so close to the track.

On the topic of water towers, I have “won” a vintage model on Ebay. My intention is to restore it for use at Cuarto de Pulgada but I will have to wait for it to arrive later this week before I know whether or not this will be feasible. The Hornby tinplate water tower appears to be lacking its chain and rubber hose but both should be easy enough to replace. The lot also includes a couple of other items which appear to be made of wood. I’m uncertain of their pedigree and may resell them individually if they’re any good, if not I’ll see what I can convert them into. Never throw anything away!


Posted in Bodging and Kitbashing, FCPyF 2016 rebuild, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat