Tanked up

The FCPyF is closed to all traffic at the moment because I’ve got a contractor doing some work in the back garden this week so the bridges across both doors are dismantled to allow unimpeded access.

With no distraction from trains I have moved the tank at Grande (1), now located near the turntable instead of behind the loco shed. The area behind the shed, formerly a scrap metal pile, has been cleared and will be developed as workshops and a messroom. While Lago Cumbre (2) is out of the layout I’ve taken the opportunity to build a new water tank for the station. Based roughly on the old Hornby tinplate tank in use at Cuarto de Pulgada (3), the new water tank utilises three peanut butter jar lids and the support pillar is part of a broken toy of some description that’s been on the kitchen windowsill for a couple of years (never throw anything away).

The photo of Lago Cumbre shows the tank under construction, it still needs painting and a ladder adding but that’s a sticking point. I cannot find O scale ladders anywhere, N, HO, and OO no problem but no O scale.

The building on the short pier in photo 2 is not a privy, it’s the pump and filter house taking water from Summit Lake!

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

The hidden mountains of Sierra Oculta

Very few photos of the FCPyF between Cumbre and Cuarto de Pulgada have been published. This is because the area is mountainous and isolated, though a few places have ancient Inca footpaths for access.

The image above was taken in the early 1940s when the two bridges featured had recently been rebuilt as concrete arches after the original steel trestle structures were both found to be badly corroded.

Two less well preserved, undated, pictures of the line have recently come to light when the work of a local photographer was discovered by one of his descendants. The first is of another bridge not far from Cumbre. The FCPyF’s civil engineer was an admirer of the bridges built by Robert (Concrete Bob) McAlpine.

The second old photo shows a truss girder bridge much closer to Cuarto de Pulgada with less rocky, but still difficult, terrain.

Posted in Narrow gauge

Small engine policy

Followers of British railway history will know that “small engine policy” refers to the Midland Railway’s use short trains or double heading.

The Andes are, in geological terms, young mountains and still restless. There have been a number of earthquakes recently, bringing some doubt as to the stability of  Puente Pulgada and the FCPyF has adopted a similar small engine policy on the Cuarto de Pulgada line to lighten live loads on the bridge. Passenger trains are being handled entirely by railcars, with tail traffic as required for general freight service.

However, the overnight mineral traffic still requires locomotive haulage.

Small engine policy sees the heavy ore train being handled by three locomotives, numbers 95 and 48 on the front and number 4 on the rear.

Number 95 is new, a Hornby “Smoky Joe” chassis and a “Toy Story” body making something of a Frankenstein’s monster type loco. The theory is that 95 was built as a 2-4-0 but had the front end shortened in a rebuild following serious damage received as result of a derailment. To be honest I’m not completely happy with it, my original intention was to use the loco body as the basis for a Heisler geared loco but I’m having difficulty finding a suitable mechanism so 95’s current appearance is a temporary stop-gap.

The solution might be to build the Heisler as a three, or even four, truck loco, with the mechanism in the water tender and the loco itself riding on a dummy chassis. The loco shown above is standard gauge, but it’s not inconceivable that a mountaineering line like the FCPyF could have ordered a narrow gauge  version.


Posted in Toy train chit chat

On the rocks and under the weather

The cream colour of most of the rocks in Sierra Oculta was a failed attempt to copy the colour of an outcrop at Rio Paleta and has never really looked right.

It has been repainted over the last couple of days with some fractured strata added in places where the loft insulation foam was not originally covered with newspaper before plastering and painting.

Where possible the rock faces were roughened by scoring with a screwdriver then rubbing with the heel of my thumb.

Undiluted black paint was applied using a brush then washed off using a wet sponge, leaving uneven colouring and dark “shadows” in crevices. The results are pretty good in some places, passable in others and still work in progress in a few locations.

I’m particularly pleased with the effect achieved at Cuarto de Pulgada (above), which is a big improvement on what it looked like previously. Though I still need to get round to repainting and/or weathering that shiny Hornby tinplate water tower.

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

Bigger toys

My old friend Colin and I made a trip to Blaenau Ffestiniog on Monday, given that we are both railway enthusiasts you’d be forgiven for thinking we were interested in the railway that the town is famous for.

OK, so maybe we were, but the main purpose of the visit was for the railway it connects with at the other end.

As the day progressed the weather did too. While the rest of Britain baked in the sun Wales was exactly as I remember it from childhood! As a child I used to play on the trackbed of the Welsh Highland Railway near Beddgelert.

I am pretty sure that nobody in those days would have dreamt of seeing huge steam locos pulling long trains over that trackbed, but that is exactly what Colin and I visited on Tuesday, starting our epic steam hauled journey at Blaenau behind the brand new replica of Lyd.

The WHR is the only place in the UK where you’ll find a train snaking round hairpin bends to climb a hillside and the scenery it does it through is well worth a few hours of anybody’s time, whether they like trains or not.

A word of warning though, look out for dragons lurking beneath the benches!

I do my best to educate Star on the finer points of being a train nut’s dog, but she still doesn’t seem to appreciate riding on slow trains over uneven track, she’s young yet though, so I’ll make allowances.

We got back to Blaenau on the last train of the day, which was on time when it arrived so the crew had time to do a bit of polishing before they took it back to Portmadoc.

On Wednesday we caught an early bus to Minffordd from where we got a train to Machynlleth and from there to Wolverhampton, where we parted company, Colin heading south for Bristol and me north to Crewe.

On arrival at Crewe I noticed there was a connection due out for Sandbach, so I decided to save the bus fare in exchange for the walk from my station to home. As the train approached Sandbach it passed a freight on the slow lines, then rocked over the junction at Sandbach to come to a halt in platform three… On the slow line… In front of the freight! I waited to see the spectacle of the freight train being switched onto the fast line through the station to overtake the passenger but was disappointed to see that a Vermin Pendolino had been following the local and batted through at speed.

The local was allowed back onto the main a couple of minutes later and I waited on the footbridge for the freight to follow it. A bit different from the diesel hauled freight train in the previous photo!

A very enjoyable few days, good company with my old mate, good beer in the Gwesty Ty Gorsaf at Blaenau, a superb out and back trip over both the Festiniog Railway and the Welsh Highland Railway, topped off with taking the scenic route home via the Cambrian Coast line.

Posted in Other people's trains

14 to Cuarto

I had all intentions of doing some work on Phoenix Yard this morning but got side-tracked messing about planning a new coach for the FCPyF, more of which when it begins to take shape. The new coach will form part of the mis-matched set used with Sentinel #14 and, having got the train in the station at Grande, I then decided it needed a run to Cuarto…

Any excuse to play trains!

Posted in Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

New ‘boose

The Tri-ang tender used with the FCPyF’s consolidation was an eBay purchase and came with an HO scale Bachmann caboose, the chassis of which was used to replace the original running gear under the tender. That left me with a spare caboose body.

The body was shortened to match an old Hornby four wheeled coach chassis then beefed up using coffee stirrers to gain width and height, creating a new On30 caboose… You can never have too many brake vans!

The new crummy differs from a similar conversion in that it is smooth sided (card) rather than having the vertical planks (coffee stirrers) used on the earlier model.

Both are currently fitted with tension lock couplers but these may be replaced at some stage with Kadees.

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