North of the border

It is ten years since I built Tweedsmuir Street, the N scale microlayout was a spin off from an experiment in minimum space main line modelling in OO scale and, unlike the OO version, was completed and exhibited several times.

Tweedsmuir Street, N scale microlayout.

More recently the micro has been “in storage” – to be more accurate it’s been under a pile of junk in the garage and has not fared well. The embossed styrene sheet roof tiles have warped badly and the layout has also suffered other superficial damage.

The layout as it currently stands, with the roof stripped and the trainshed loose.

I’ve stripped the roof and will re-tile it using printed card instead of plastic. While the trainshed was off the layout I drilled holes through the baseboard at the buffer stop end of each track and corresponding holes in the staging area. Why? Because I have never had a British N scale locomotive that performed half as well as American or German models so, if Tweedsmuir Street is to be resurrected, it’s going to use my infamous “horizontal puppet strings” (fishing line) to power the trains.

MkIV DVT on the end of a Kings Cross train.

The little Scottish terminus is ideal for this method of propulsion because the trains used are all either multiple unit or push-pull and, as with the prototype, simply run in and out without any shunting or uncoupling.

HST cross country train.

The accompanying photos show the layout as it was, before being put into storage, and is it is at the moment.

Class 101 DMU local service.

The scenery should be easy enough to refresh, the only thing I don’t have to hand is suitable printed card for the roof. I’ve been unsuccessful locating this on line so I’ll have to wait until later in the week to pay a visit to Haslington Models.

As for the reality of such a simple layout with just three trains on it? Stand for any length of time on my local station and you will see… Pendolino (Mcr/London)… Hippo (Mcr/S.Wales)… 323 (Mcr/Crewe direct)… 323 (Mcr/Crewe via airport)…¬†Pendolino (Mcr/London)… Hippo (Mcr/S.Wales)… 323 (Mcr/Crewe direct)… 323 (Mcr/Crewe via airport)…¬†Pendolino (Mcr/London)… ad infinitum. When you’ve seen one of each you’ve seen all you’re going to get unless you drop lucky and can catch sight of a freight passing through.

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

Turning the tables

As the railway runs steam locos and single ended railcars which need turning at the end of their journeys these items of equipment are essential to the FCPyF’s operations.

#42 moves off shed at Grande…
… then collects her train, ready to work the afternoon mail to Cuarto de Pulgada
On arrival at Cuarto the loco is turned to work the return trip.

I’ve been doing some work on the FCPyF’s turntables today, adding the gallows superstructure to the one at Cuarto de Pulgada and repainting the one at Grande.

The turntables are scratch built, certainly not museum standard models but functional and good enough for casual observation. The turntable at Grande (above) is probably what followers of British railway practice are used to, with slightly arched steel side girders, but the one at Cuarto (below) is a wooden structure and more colonial in appearance.

Both are temporary models, standing in until such time as I get around to building something more detailed, but “temporary” can last a long time on the Pampas and Fernandez Consolidated Railway.

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

Historical photo

This image, recently discovered in the archives of the Gaceta Diaria, appears to show loco #5 at Cuarto de Pulgada a long time before yesterday’s visit to the station. The structure to the right of the train is a timber building that was burnt down in 1916 and stands on the site now occupied by the station hotel.

The location is barely recognisable but the curve of the run round loop, occupied by the railcar, gives it away as CdP before the goods siding was added. Note also that #5 is seen here before being fitted with a supplementary saddle tank. The loco’s tender actually carries ample water, the saddle tank is mainly to add weight for more traction.

OK, so the FCPyF is not a real railway and therefore cannot possibly have such a history. But it’s fun to play with photos all the same. The original image is from the WW&F, click this text to view.

Posted in Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

The little engine that could, but had to try twice

I’ve been busy at Cuarto de Pulgada this morning and had a play with the layout while waiting for glue to dry. #5 is seriously underpowered for use on a mountainous line like the FCPyF but I like the little engine and allocated it to work a tourist special from Centrales to Cuarto, it didn’t get very far!

The train stalled shortly after crossing Jones River, with no spare loco available at Centrales, #5 was going to have to “double the hill” and reversed slowly back down to the station.

The train was split and #5 took the coaches one by one up to Rio Paleta.

The first coach was left on the mine siding at Rio …

… then #5 returned light engine to Centrales …

… to pick up the second coach …

… and head back up the hill again.

On arrival at Rio Paleta the train was re-assembled …

… and they set off for Cuarto, running about two hours late.

More time was lost as the train stalled again just short of Cumbre. After a stop to build up steam pressure (OK, after getting an unprototypical shove from a large hand in the sky) #5 finally reached the summit and started the gentle descent into Cuarto de Pulgada.

As #5 arrived at CdP railcar 20 was waiting to depart, a mere three hours late. Nothing by FCPyF standards, life moves at a slower pace in Sierra Oculta.

Anyway, back to the land of reality! In addition to the new platform at CdP, and ground cover between the hotel and the goods siding, there’s a now a backdrop to hide the brickwork of the garage wall behind the layout.

I’ll get round to painting some scenery on it eventually but even as a plain white (misty?) background it is a major improvement.


Railcar 20 still hadn’t reached Grande by its return working departure time. Passengers from Grande travelled on the San Fernandez train as far as Centrales where they changed onto a dispatcher’s extra for onwards travel to Rio and Cuarto. Forney #4 was pressed into service with the old Ferrocarril San Pedro saloon, not as comfortable as #20’s trailer coach but nobody was complaining because it’s a very rare occurrence that the FCPyF looks after its passengers in this manner. Quite apart from which, nobody had a clue what time the railcar would be returning from Grande!

After its surprise appearance at Cuarto the Forney returned to Centrales as an empty stock train.

The real reason for the Forney being given a round trip between Centrales and Cuarto was as a test run following the addition of some ballast weight on the loco’s rear bogie to improve its tracking. A trailing load was required for the test because the loco’s rear coupler is mounted on the bogie and the coach was as good as anything else for the job


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

Platform alteration

Since the high line’s terminus at Cuarto de Pulgada was built trains have been using both sides of the run round loop for arrivals and departures, thus allowing two passenger trains to occupy the station at once. No problem here you might think, but only one side of the island between the two tracks had a platform face.

This meant that passengers using the curved track needed to alight at ground level.¬†Getting on and off trains at ground level is perhaps OK for minor halts, I can remember working on the NYMR in the 1970s when trains made (unadvertised) stops at Far Wath, a lineside cottage who’s residents travelled into Pickering on the first train of the day, but on the FCPyF even Frog Rock has a rudimentary platform and less trains call there than stopped at Far Wath. The terminus deserves better.

The photos show work in progress building a curved platform face, the edging “planks” are coffee stirrers with bird sand being used to build up the level of the platform behind them. When this stage has dried finer sand will be added to create the platform surface.

The photos also show that the station ticket office and adjacent hotel have been bedded in to the scenery, this little job in itself has made a vast improvement to the looks of this section of the layout, more work will be done to get the scenery at CdP on a par with the standards seen at other stations on the layout when I’ve completed the platform.

That’ll just leave the ground cover in the area around the turntable at Grande to finish off… And the goods yard at Centrales… And the grass around the mine at Rio Paleta… And cliff top at Cumbre… And then there’s…

As the saying goes, “no layout is ever finished”.

Posted in Bodging and Kitbashing, FCPyF 2016 rebuild, My trains, Narrow gauge, Other people's trains, Standard gauge, Toy train chit chat

Hotel Estacion

The Station Hotel, it can conjure up images of posh city centre accommodation, it can bring to mind any number of grotty back street pubs.

At Cuarto de Pulgada the Station Hotel is a colonial looking building adjacent to the FCPyF depot. A bit run down perhaps, certainly not five star rated, but it’s handy for the trains if nothing else.

The loco watering tower has been moved nearer to the turntable to make way for the hotel. As usual when adding a new building to the layout, I’ll leave it in place for a while to see whether or not I like the appearance.

I reckon it should pass the test so I’ll probably get around to bedding in the buildings and trees at CdP soon. This will include building a new portal for the bridge at the end of the station because the Hornby water tower has made this structure, with its integral tank, obsolete.

The hotel is a laser cut MDF kit built by Brian Mosby, of Mozzer Models and 24/7 Developments, purchased second hand via the Narrow Gauge Railway Modelling forum.

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


I think the term “using a sledgehammer to crack a nut” fits here.

The big GE “Shovelnose” loco, #29, has been returned to service following some minor repairs. Photographed at Grande on a filling in turn, between heavier freight duties, awaiting departure to Centrales with an empty wagon and a caboose.

Posted in My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat