There are a few readers who occasionally correspond with me by email. They are aware of the fact that I do not check my inbox on a regular basis and it can sometimes be a few days, or weeks, before I reply.

I am retired but even when I was still working for a living it neither required nor involved electronic communication, by voice or by written word. Driving a local delivery van was this loner’s idea of a perfect job in the twenty first century!

I’m a technophobe when it comes to communication, probably a throwback to my time spent working in the telegraph office and switchboard on British Rail. My mobile telephone does not accept text messages, it is possible to get this feature disabled but Vodafone took a lot of persuading before they would agree to doing so. In fact my mobile spends most of its time either with a flat battery or switched off, you’ve got more chance of getting an answer on the land line. When making a call I will hang up if I get through to an answering machine, maybe I’ll try again later, maybe I’ll not bother.

I am of an era before instant gratification was expected. It used to be perfectly acceptable to stick a stamp on a letter and send it by post. This method of communication still works, though not at the speed youngsters demand!

Anyways, I am digressing from emails. I logged into my AOL mailbox this morning (31/5/23) to find that the layout had been significantly changed and I could not find anything other than adverts. This when browsing using AdBlockPlus. In trying to delete these I think I may have cleared all incoming messages received in the last fortnight.

I did say I don’t check regularly.

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After the bank holiday

Back to the daily routine after the bank holiday, better inspect the line before resuming operations.

A couple of wagons have been moved since Saturday and needed collecting. Just local kids playing about on the railway, no harm done.

The warm weather has encouraged the grass to grow on the loading bank, but the pathway is still passable, and I’m pretty sure those steps are new even if their paintwork suggests otherwise!

A experiment with split couplers and a small magnet proved to be successful this afternoon.

All in all though I have to say I’m quite pleased with the way Moonage Sidings is turning out.

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Moonage bank

I mentioned masonry in yesterday’s post. Scratch that. Timber is cheaper.

Better than cheap, corrugated cardboard from a box that was destined for the recycling bin is free.

It’s Sunday, the railway is not operating today so those kids have got the run of the line. Quite literally, having nicked a flat wagon to ride on.

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Loading bank at Moonage Sidings

I reckon a shed large enough to serve as a loading facility at Moonage Sidings would overpower the scene so a simple earth bank will suffice.

The gap left between the bank and the track is deliberate, I’ll add some masonry here once the groundwork is firm enough to work on. It shouldn’t take long for the glue to dry because it’s a warm day. Very strange for a bank holiday weekend!

Most of the bank will be overgrown with just a worn path, as indicated by the paint, where the sand is wheelbarrowed up the ramp for tipping into the wagons.

Terraforming was done using expanded polystyrene packing material held with PVA and filler then covered with brown paper.

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Route availability

I have been testing the SM32 locos to see which layouts the are suited to.

The tightly curved track at Moonage Sidings means the Plymouth will be the only loco suitable while the flex means the umbilical loco can only be used at Poacher’s Hill.

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More daydreaming

I have retrieved Moonage Sidings from the shed where it had been left while the sand/filler roadbed set solid. The ballast had cracked in places as it dried, only to be expected because it is quite deep.

After the repairs had been effected I took another look at what is meant to be going on here. Experiments with a receiving bin for the skips to unload into proved disappointing as there was insufficient depth for a full wagon load of sand unless I cut a hole in the baseboard. So it’s back to Plan A and a wriggly tin shed with a chute to load the skips instead.

It’s not going to be automated, or even mechanised, just an open skylight in the roof on the side away from the track with a sloping channel running through the building. Sand spooned in at the top will flow down the chute into a waiting wagon under the canopy.

KISS, Keep It Simple, Stupid!

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Hoagy’s Alley

I have been working on the front edge of Syxtene Mill today, the aim is to create a fence similar to the one that featured in the Top Cat cartoons I used to enjoy so much as a child in the 1960s.

It’ll need a lamppost, with a telephone cabinet on it, and a dustbin to complete the image.

Not forgetting the cat of course!

I’m sorely tempted to hang a “Do Not Disturb” notice on the bin!

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The view from Temperance Building

And in the death,
As the last few corpses lay rotting on the slimy thoroughfare,
The shutters lifted an inch in Temperance Building
High on Poacher’s Hill

Future Legend, David Bowie

This is what the red, mutant eyes saw.

Not quite how Bowie envisioned Poacher’s Hill!

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Change of plan

Nothing new there then, it happens all the time at Blackcloud Railways HQ. While bending paperclips to make drawbars and fitting the coupler pockets to a few SM32 wagons last night I noticed that one of the flat cars was prone to crabbing when propelled. Investigation revealed this to be due to its very coarse scale wheels.

The same sort of wheels are under the chassis intended for the steam loco so these two are plotting something between them and there is a change of plan.

Instead of using the cheap Chinese toy train mechanism I’ll build the steam engine on the Tri-ang Big Big Trains chassis. This means the loco’s outline will be altered with a lower cab footplate and coal bunkers on either side the firebox instead of behind the cab.

As a knock-on effect from this change of plan the battery electric will now be built as a puppet rod loco. This allows the bodywork to sit considerably lower, bringing it into line with the wagons’ buffing plates. I really like the appearance of this loco now, instead of riding high on its chassis and looking top heavy it has the wheels almost concealed within the bodywork. The jury is still out over whether or not it gets a cab roof. I still need to replace that missing door hinge though!

There will still be five SM32 locos but instead of three being on umbilical electric power, with the option for later conversion to radio control, there will only be two and instead of one puppet powered loco there will now be two of them too.

The radio controlled Hudson responsible for the whole SM32 diversion is still awaiting a driver for completion.

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Meet the staff

When working in larger scales with open cabbed locos it is essential to provide staff. The first of these was intended for the Hudson Hunslet but he’s too tall for the cab so he’ll be used as driver of the steam engine when it is completed, in the meantime he can be found leaning on something while watching the other staff working.

The scruffy teenager driving the home made loco is a large G scale (1:22.5) figure and not a bad match for the 16mm scale models. The figure sitting on the flat car was intended for this loco but he will be used as the battery electric’s driver instead (again to be found idling around until his loco is finished).

The Plymouth shunter is operational and its driver will be glued in place when he’s been painted.

Another standing figure is on order (eBay photo above), he’s 80mm tall so he will be a good fit in the Hudson’s cab. By way of a comparison, the standing figure in the photo below is 65mm high.

He’s too short to be an adult but these two smaller G scale figures (roughly 1:24) will be used as a couple of young lads playing on the railway.

This photo recreates a Glossop School trip to the Festiniog Railway in the early 1970s. After walking over the inclines from where the train then terminated at Dduallt a group of us got ahead of the main party and hijacked a wagon to ride in style into Blaenau!

After tea I finally got round to fixing the chassis for the steam engine so it can negotiate the points without the gearbox grounding.

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