Old tricks

Modellers of a certain age will remember the three axle Tri-ang motor bogies under the Brush type two, English Electric type three and Electra. Did I say three axle? It worked though, you see what you’re expecting to see.

I’ll need a rear carrying axle under Llama to make it an 0-4-2ST because the FCPyF version of Welsh Pony will have a bunker on the back of the cab to accommodate the motor. The small wheels are from a die-cast toy train, the axle needed shortening to fit the track gauge before it was glued onto the chassis.

The wheels are slightly clear of the rails to accommodate gradient changes without lifting the rear drivers off the track. The body shell for No.3 is deputising in these photos but Llama’s body will be mounted low on the chassis and the appearance will be similar.

And a new trick, for me at least, smokin’!

I gave up a long time ago but consolidations 117 and 33 were both failing the emissions test as they drifted over Jones River this afternoon.

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


My hip has been hurting all day and it’s considerably worse when I lie down so it looks as if  I’m in for another sleepless night. To keep myself occupied I’ve had another look at the failed Lima mechanism.

With the gears disengaged the wheels turn freely so it’s not them stopping it going. I took the motor apart and cleaned the commutators, when I applied power after reassembling it there was a slight spark from the crocodile clip, so there’s current flowing through the motor. It will turn manually by poking the rim of the windings with a coffee stirrer but it won’t budge under power.

Putting the chassis on the track, with another loco, then applying power directly to the Lima’s motor makes the other loco run, taking the power via the Lima motor, chassis and rails. So there’s no short circuit.

I really do not know what else to try in order to get it running, so I give up.

With the gears out mesh it could run with the motorised tender that’s coupled to the contractors’ loco (above) but the tender only has one axle driven and can’t pull the skin off a rice pudding. That’s why I’ve used it with the contractors’ loco, more to improve electrical pick up than for extra haulage capacity. I suppose 117’s tender (driven by an Athearn SW diesel chassis) could be borrowed, but that would leave the consolidation out of action.

For now I’ve put No.3’s body (donor of the SJ mechanism now powering 77) on the dead Lima chassis and parked it in the yard at Cuarto. In sight, so not out of mind, but out of the way.

I could build a coach on another Diesel chassis and keep the loco and coach permanently coupled as a push pull unit or possibly combine them to make a larger version of railmotor No.39.

Posted in Toy train chit chat

Up in arms

Derrotado’s passengers lost it completely when this morning’s train arrived. Mutterings started as the caboose came into view, backing towards them, and they thought it was another freight.

Worse than that, it was a tourist excursion. How dare they? Coming to our lovely valley when everywhere is closed due to the pandemic so we can’t make any money out of them, what gives them the right?

Well, passengers, using that same argument, what gives you the right to commute to their city?

The photo was taken to show No.77, a suggestion was made on NGRM last night that the chimney looked wrong half on the boiler and half on the smokebox. Very true, it had been bothering me too, so it has been moved slightly and now sits atop the smokebox. Notice also that the fancy green livery has been ditched, branch line steam engines should be black.

Later in the day I tried running 77 again, it had failed, dead as a Norwegian Blue. Not even pining for the Andes! I have had absolutely no joy trying to locate the problem so I gave up and tried another chassis under the loco.

77 is now an 0-4-0, seen above at Cuarto with the other new branch line loco, which has been numbered 78. Both are on Hornby “Smokey Joe” mechanisms, both have additional electrical pick ups on their tenders.

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

Now they’re really p!ssed off

The passengers from Derrotado didn’t like the Kenebrake railbus on Wednesday, yesterday they complained about the steam railmotor stopping for water. Today they are really up in arms. As train time due near the sound of a steam engine could be heard echoing along the valley, when it came into view what the waiting passengers saw was not their train but a freight backing down the branch. The morning passenger train has been cancelled but they were offered a ride in the caboose of the freight when it had finished shunting. Now, you or I, train enthusiasts that we are, would jump at the chance of riding a freight. Passengers are a curmudgeonly breed though and were still demanding a proper train as the freight pulled out half an hour later. Good luck with that!

While they’re not happy, I am, I got up early this morning and set to work creating a small coal tender for the new 2-4-0T, making it into a 2-4-0T&T and providing additional electrical pick ups. The tender is built around a burnt out OO motor bogie. The motor is an integral part of the typical split frame arrangement by Bachmann so I’ve removed the gears instead, allowing the chassis to freewheel. The new loco now performs faultlessly, even on the dodgy track at the far end of the Arroyo Santa branch.

Another tender-tank in the making is the “contractors’ loco”. Again it’ll be augmented by tender pick ups but in this case I’m planning on a dual motor tender and loco combination. No point wasting a perfectly good mechanism!

There’s a very definite “colonial” look when a loco is dwarfed by its tender, this one is intended mainly for use on the Antequera branch where the additional water capacity of a large tender is a major advantage.

Derrotado’s passengers were in for another shock when their homeward train from San Fernandez arrived at Perejil.

On changing at the junction they found this waiting to work the evening branch train. Take it or leave it, it’s all they were going to get.

Don’t argue with railway staff, it pisses them off and you’ll regret it.

The contractors’ loco and its tender have been wired together and given a test run. With two motors it is a powerful machine, it might even get a turn on the main line when I’ve finished building it.

Posted in Toy train chit chat

They’re never satisfied

Passengers, only ever happy when they’re moaning about something!

After complaints were received about the Kenebrake railbus yesterday management went out of their way to arrange something better. If not more luxurious then at least a bit less spartan. Were the passengers happy?

Were they heck! On arrival at Perejil a delegation visited the stationmaster’s office complaining about the additional stop at Littletown. They were less than amused when told, in no uncertain terms, that steam trains need water and asked if they’d prefer the Kenebrake for the return trip this evening.

Meanwhile, back at San Fernandez shed, the locomotive superintendent and his assistant are discussing the chassis for “Llama”. This will be a George England loco, very similar in appearance to the Festiniog Railway’s “Welsh Pony” but with a bunker instead of a tender.

As the bunker will make it back-heavy a pair of carrying wheels will be provided under the cab. The question is how to fit them, the super reckons a pony truck would be difficult due to limited clearance under the chassis but the overall wheelbase will be less than that of No.77 so the wheels can be mounted directly onto the loco’s frames and it’ll still go round curves providing there’s sufficient side-play.

Also in the photo, No.77 is on the back road, awaiting a visit to the paint shop and the new 2-4-0T is on the middle road, also queuing for the paint shop. On the front road, to the left of Llama’s chassis, is an 0-4-0ST under construction. All four of these engines are intended for branch line service.

The enlargement shows the two vintage locos on the front road in better detail. Llama will get a 3D printed body but the loco on the left is being assembled from leftovers, hopefully to give the impression of a lightweight machine, possibly a contractors’ loco dating back to the construction of the railway.

Posted in Toy train chit chat

The CVR loco arrives!

This was a gamble, there was no mention of the toy train’s size on eBay but it was sticking at its opening price of 99p so I took a chance on it.

Just a bit on the small side but not excessively so. Real NG locos can vary in size from huge to compact, this one is compact! That might be an advantage though, it means I can use it as a small On30 loco or a large one in 55n3 scale.

It sits front heavy on a modified Smokey Joe chassis so a pony truck will be added to make it a rather attractive looking 2-4-0T. Anyway, the bits have been parked behind San Fernandez shed for now and I’ll have another look at it when I’ve finished the big Pacific and the crimbo loco.

Before the delivery interrupted me I was working on a new video of the layout, this shows how the company is trying to economise its mineral train operations. Six empties uphill is no problem for most of the locos but the loaded downhill trips can be too heavy so the limit is three mineral wagons per train.

In order to split the downhill traffic into sets of three wagons it has been arranged for the first down passenger train to run mixed as shown in the film.

Also delivered today was the donor road vehicle for the new railcar. After soaking in bleach to remove the old paint it was given a fresh coat of colour.

It’s in there somewhere under the rust.

After a private conversation on the NGRM forum the FCPyF’s locomotive superintendent has secured another steam loco for a reasonable sum.

It may end up looking something like this when it takes to the rails and, finally, some late night rummaging in the scrap box produced this as potential for an early colonial or industrial type of loco.

I do quite like the look of this, it’s a combination of bits from a Bill/Ben and a Smokey Joe.

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

More from the MPD

Diesel 58 has been fitted with couplings and now only needs cab steps before it can be returned to service. As a freight loco it’s been provided with both tension lock and Kadee couplings so it can be used with wagons that have either sort.

The big ugly Pacific is now coupled to its tender and has made successful test runs, facing in both directions, on both main lines. Photographed next to the water tower at Rio Paleta, this slow moving conversion from battery powered toy to On30 loco is actually looking as if it will be completed soon.

Back at San Fernandez Shed, 77 is going green. I’ve decided to finish it as an ex Ferrocarril Internacional loco, now operated by the FCPyF but still carrying FI colours. Whether this is a new “heritage livery” repaint or just managment not wanting to waste money repainting an ancient loco remains to be seen.

Later in the afternoon I fitted a Kadee to the Pacific’s tender but it repeatedly uncoupled from the train so I’ve temporarily replaced it with a tension lock.

The loco managed this train unassisted, but not without some slipping between Rio Paleta and Cumbre so I’ll allocate it to the low level line working between San Fernandez and Grande.

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

A riparian morning

If you need to ask I’m not going to bother explaining!

With the bushes in the Arroyo Santa valley done I turned my attention to the stream itself. Having painted the river bed I cut a thin piece of plastic wrapper to fit over it then built the banks up with sand, filler and scenic scatter to hold the plastic in place. This turned out to be not as easy as it sounds, more Rio Diablo than Arroyo Santa, in the end I had to pin the wrapper in place to hold it down. I’m going to leave well alone and not touch the banks or the pins until at least the weekend so that the glue can set.

While I was shaping the banks this I thought I saw something move in the bushes. A bit later when fitting the sky backdrop I thought I saw something moving on the layout again. This time I stood still and waited, sure enough there’s wildlife in the bushes already. So, if you go down to the woods today be sure of a big surprise, there’s a spider moved in!

More coffee stirrer abuse.

Posted in FCPyF 2016 rebuild, Toy train chit chat

Scenic Sunday

I was up early again this morning and got quite a bit of work done on the scenery before breakfast. It now blends together nicely all the way through from Derrotado to Littletown.

Things are going to get messy after breakfast when these clumps of rubberised horsehair get converted into bushes in the Arroyo Santa valley by rolling them in neat PVA before sprinkling with dark green scatter.

I’ll then be able to spend the rest of the day peeling dried glue off my hands!

A small crowd has gathered at Derrotado, there must be a train due. It’s going to be late though because the MoW’s inspection bus hasn’t set off on its return run to Perejil yet.

Afternoon update.

I managed to get the bushes green and leafy without too much mess. The current bottle of PVA is very watery, even undiluted, and seems to wash off easier. I mixed it with green poster paint before dipping the horsehair and placed the clumps directly on the layout to dry after sprinkling with scatter, that way draining glue will hold them in place sufficiently. The layout not being portable is a major advantage in this respect. I then poured some neat PVA into the river bed, it looks like milky glacial run-off at the moment but it should clear as it dries.

The branch is now looking more like what I’d imagined (and hoped) it would. Next job, extending the sky backdrop to include the station area as well as the valley. After that I think I’ll spruce up the scenery at Cuarto de Pulgada because it looks a bit drab when compared with Derrotado.

Meanwhile, in Scotland.

The Lochside Estate & Fisheries Light Railway had lost the coach used for carrying beaters up onto the moor. It was last seen at the back of the fisheries store shortly before the pier railway was sold off. The estate manager assumed that the new owners had cut it up for scrap and beaters used an open wagon to ride in the following August. Nothing more was said about it until a fishing boat struck something about 20 yards off the end of the pier. Investigators found the missing coach! Apparently it had been swept off the pier during a winter storm.

The coach has been salvaged and returned to the estate, it did not fare well while in the loch, that is serious rust! When asked if it could be cleaned up and repainted in time for this year’s shoot the Laird’s response was not one suitable for printing in full here but abbreviates to “It is only used for one week of the year and then only for the peasantry from the village to ride, why spend money on it?”

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

Hi viz chocolate biscuits

As an experimental safety measure, particularly on the short stretch of street running beyond the compound gates at Grande, No.17 has been provided with reflective dazzle stripes on the buffer beams. If the experiment is a success similar hi-viz markings may be added to other locos used for shunting in and around the Grande area.

Never throw anything away!

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