Manchester ’18

I’ve not been to any shows for a while but Manchester is well worth the effort, even with the epic journey I had to get there. Bus to Sandbach station – No Trains! – Bus back into Sandbach and another bus to Crewe. The train from there was, to say the least, crowded!

Anyway, having got to the big city I made my way to the show, only a couple of minutes walk from the station.

There were two layouts in particular that I wanted to see, Andy Jones’s Tarring Neville and Charles Insley’s Fort Whiting. I have seen the latter at a show in Chapel-en-le-Frith but didn’t have a camera with me at the time, the former I have followed with interest on the owner’s website.

That said, all the layouts at the show were of a very high standard. It takes a good exhibition team to put on an event with no “filler” so credit where it’s due to the MMRS.

I did not photograph all the layouts, you’re sure to find pictures of them all if you search the interwebby, just the ones that especially appealed to me, so here they are in alphabetical order for the sake of fairness.

Arcadia. David George. O

This would have been more interesting to watch if there was just one loco switching the yard instead of it being gridlocked with three shuttling pointlessly back and forth but I think it was being looked after while the owner was on his lunch break when I saw it.

The urban industrial backdrop is quite nicely done and I do like American diesels.

Arun Quay. Gordon Gravett. O

Exquisite scenic modelling with muted colours and careful attention to detail.

Fort Whiting. Charles Insley. OO9

Colonial narrow gauge railway modelling really appeals to me.

Proper hefty engines and railcars, a welcome change from the twee Welsh midgets usually seen on OO9 layouts [dives for cover].

North Ballachulish. Andy Cooper. EM

Andy C’s latest creation, which I have been watching on his website.

I am ever so pleased that he’s not fitted the air sea rescue with DCC sound!

Tarring Neville. Andy Jones. OO

Another layout I have been following on the internet is this delightful rural industrial scenic modelling from Andy J.

A striking feature of the layout is that it can be viewed from three sides, giving much more potential for scenic details than normally found on small layouts.

Zauberwaldbahn. Axel Klozenbeucher. Oe

Oh, come on, what’s not to like? It’s narrow gauge and it’s O scale! A beautifully scenic layout and that railcar really caught my eye.

I really should have more Teutonic influence on the FCPyF.



Posted in Narrow gauge, Other people's trains, Standard gauge, Toy train chit chat

Carriage and wagon report, and matters arising

The FCPyF is currently awaiting delivery of six more 3D printed mineral wagon kits. Also ordered at the same time were enough wheels to complete the two sets of five wagons each and Kadee couplers for fitting at each end of the sets.

Five of the railway’s similar sized converted Tri-ang/Hornby wagons have been assembled into a set with Kadees at the outer ends. This set will work alongside the new wagons to service the mine at Cuarto de Pulgada, freeing up the larger mineral hoppers to work in pairs serving the mine at Rio Paleta.

Traffic from the mine at Rio will continue to be handled by trip working from Grande because hauling loaded cars uphill from Rio to Cumbre in trains bound for Cuarto is not a viable option. The way the railway is wired prohibits the use of banking engines on trains that need to switch the siding at Rio. On the topic of banking between Grande and Cumbre, 0-6-0ST 19 will share these duties with the Grande station pilot.

Diesels 6 and 10, double heading, will be based at Cuarto and used on the mineral traffic between there and Grande. Consolidation 33 will handle the onward transit to San Fernandez. Mineral traffic from Rio Paleta, after being tripped to Grande by station pilot, will be forwarded in mixed freight trains from there to San Fernandez.

Additional cabooses are going to be required, but the FCPyF has never been known for spending money where it doesn’t have to! The three “mineral cabooses” for use on trains serving the mine at Cuarto are shown below. They all have history. The two nearest the camera are redundant coaches.

The four wheeler was built from an old Tri-ang OO coach for the (On18) Lochside Estate Light Railway, thus explaining the very limited loading gauge. It was later transferred to the Seaside Line and converted to On30 when Muston Sands was regauged. Quite how a former 18 inch gauge Scottish estate railway coach ended up in Sierra Oculta is a mystery.

The middle vehicle is a Chivers short way-car and was one of the first coaches used on the FCPyF when the railway was a microlayout. It later saw service on the Ferrocarril Internacional before being regauged for use on the Seaside Line. It was converted back to On30 when Muston Sands was rebuilt to the broader gauge.

The grey caboose is another vehicle with a complicated history. It was built for the original FCPyF microlayout and, like the way-car, it too saw service on the FI until the modular layout was retired from the exhibition circuit. It is now on its fourth underframe, the original OO wagon chassis was replaced with an N gauge one when the caboose was transferred to Muston Sands. It was converted back to 16.5mm when Muston Sands was regauged but the third chassis was a very old Tri-ang one with steamroller wheels. The fourth chassis is (only slightly) less old but has finer scale wheels fitted on pinpoint bearing axles for better running quality.

The caboose shown in the last two photos probably has the most chequered history of all my O scale narrow gauge models. It is, obviously, a Peco GVT coach kit and was built a long time ago. I dabbled very briefly in O16.5 with a scratch built tin turtle sort of loco and a pair of these coaches. The coach kits, and loco body, were actually assembled on night shift in BR’s Manchester telegraph office. The project never really got anywhere so I lost interest and moved on to something else.

I’ve no idea why I kept the coach but it was eventually converted into a brake van for the Ferrocarril Internacional by boarding up most of the windows and adding a stovepipe.

I was going to use it as one of the mineral cabooses but it was too tall to fit under the mine building so it’s been grounded for use as a hut near the signalbox at Cuarto.

Never throw anything away!

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


I have fitted couplers to the first four 3D printed wagons. These are hooks and loops made of wire, cut from paperclips, glued to coffee stirrer beams.

The wagons I already have, and six more that are on order, will run in two sets of five wagons each. The outer ends of each set will be equipped with Kadees but intermediate connections within the sets do not need to be uncoupled so these simple couplings will suffice. I have tested the couplings by propelling them through the reverse curves in the station at Cuarto de Pulgada and the wagons run smoothly. When painted to match the underframes the bodging should not be so obvious.

Hopefully five empties and a caboose will be a light enough train not to need banking between Grande and Cumbre so there shouldn’t be any issues arising from stretching or compressing the train between two locos.

That was last night.

Up early this morning so I’ve painted the couplings and their mounting beams matt black then allowed them to dry while I did some housework. Returning to the garage I placed the four wagons on the track at Grande and propelled them as a test train from there to Cuarto using one of the FCPyF’s smallest locomotives.

Did I say locomotive? Sorry! But if the bubble-car can push four wagons up the hill I’m pretty sure steam locos can manage unaided with a train of five and a bobber caboose. On arrival at Cuarto the inspection car was moved to the other end of the train so it could push the wagons back to Cumbre for another test. They were allowed to freewheel from the summit to Rio Paleta, where the inspection car caught up with them and pushed them on the level section through the station. From there the wagons freewheeled again, this time down the 1 in 12 gradient to Bodjio.

The Festiniog Railway is not the only one that can run gravity trains!

I mentioned on Sunday that a train of five small wagons looks longer than one made up of three larger wagons.

FCPyF 0-4-0ST #3 and an unidentified quarry Hunslet(ish) loco are struggling to reach the summit of the line because only three of these five converted Tri-ang wagons are empties. The other two are loads, picked up at Rio Paleta. This is not normal practice and will not be repeated. Traffic from the mine at Rio is usually handled by out and back trip working from Grande.

The additional traffic generated by the mine at Cuarto de Pulgada has given rise to a shortage of cabooses. A small four wheeled coach has been pressed into service for the conductor and rear brakeman to ride in.

When the train eventually reached Lago Cumbre it stopped for half an hour to make steam. Such practices are all too often ignored by modellers but, like stopping at water towers, they are prototypical reasons for steam trains to stop en-route and add interest to operating the railway.

The unidentified loco is work-in-progress. It will have a colonial style open cab with a sunshade roof making it look as if the FCPyF has acquired it from a closed Welsh slate mine and done some alterations to make it suitable for the Sierra Oculta weather. This and #3 may end up hard wired together in parallel to improve the pick-up and running qualities of both locos. Both are on Hornby “Smoky Joe” mechanisms.

Posted in 3D prints, Bodging and Kitbashing, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

Slow Sunday

No further trains ran on the railway after yesterday lunchtime. The passenger and parcels trains both remained at Cuarto until this morning when they were coupled together and ran as one train to Grande. On arrival the vans were stabled in the yard and the passenger stock in the carriage shed. The vans will work forward to San Fernandez attached to the rear of the morning mail train on Monday.

A return passenger working by railcar 30 was turned and shut down shortly after arrival at Cuarto. The railcar will work the first train on Monday.

Some work has been done on the extension. The exposed ironwork for the mine building has been painted matt black and left to dry before weathering. The unpainted upper part will eventually be clad in corrugated card, so does not need painting. Work has also started on the new loco shed. At the moment the pitch of the roof is too steep but this is just temporary to give an idea of what the scene will look like when completed.

The four wagons on the middle road are the new 3D printed kits, still awaiting the addition of couplings. I have six more of these kits on order to make up two trains of five wagons each. A train of five four-wheelers seems longer than a train of three bogie wagons, it isn’t but it looks that way.

Posted in 3D prints, FCPyF 2016 rebuild, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

Steamy summer Saturday

Steamy summer Saturday? Yes, it’s a summer Saturday, Sierra Oculta is in the southern hemisphere, and the FCPyF has been running entirely on steam this morning.

Mogul 42 on the vans was held by signals at Bodjio while consolidation 117 passed on a passenger train with Sentinel 14 as a banker.

The passenger train made a brief station stop at Rio Paleta.

A longer stop was made at Lago Cumbre for 117 to take water while 14 was detached to return, light engine, to Grande.

The FCPyF’s other consolidation, 33, was waiting to depart as the passenger train pulled into Cuarto de Pulgada.

The loaded mineral train stopped to take water at Rio Paleta.

Regulations require freight and mineral trains to be brought to a full stop before the signals are cleared for the junction at Bodjio, the siding here being the last chance to catch runaways before they reach the terminus at Grande.

The van train had been turned and was ready to depart as 33 rolled into Grande.

The unfinished building between the loco and the turntable will be the new dispatcher’s office when completed.

As the vans make up a relatively lightweight train 42 can manage the uphill run without assistance.

Consolidation 117 was waiting to depart with the passenger train as the parcels train cleared the single track at Cuarto de Pulgada.

In the meantime, 33 had been turned at Grande.

While 33 was being turned 14 shunted the mineral train to get the caboose on the rear and ready for departure.

After climbing from Grande to Bodjio it is downhill to Resurreccion.

The mineral train slowed for the level crossing at Resurreccion before opening the throttle again for the climb through Frog Rock.

Train chases usually end at Frock Rock, the scenery beyond here is not quite so photogenic. However…

This is the off stage bit of Sierra Oculta, the FCPyF’s northern terminus at San Fernandez is often referred to but seldom seen. The three track sector plate is not quite long enough to accommodate 33’s train so the caboose will need to be removed before mogul 7 can depart with the passenger train for Grande.



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

Two pounders

The brown coloured wagons featured in these photos are built from 3D prints.

They cost just two pounds each (needing couplers and wheels to complete).

The wagons are a similar size to the FCPyF’s existing ex Tri-ang conversions.

The wagon bodies have been painted but I’ve not attached them to their underframes yet, pending addition of couplings.

The appearance will be further improved by picking out the “ironwork” on the bodies in a darker colour.

I would thoroughly recommend these kits, click this text for link, no connection with the seller other than as a satisfied customer.


Posted in 3D prints, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

Not pretty

An unusual photograph showing two freight trains at Cuarto de Pulgada, both hauled by oil-burning steam locos. Mogul #42 is waiting to depart with “Los Forgonetas” as Sentinel #14 (propelling a supplemental fuel tank for increased range) arrives with an empty mineral train.

The expensive civil engineering involved with getting railways into mountainous areas is seldom undertaken for the fun of it. The usual reason is to reach valuable mineral deposits, the extraction of which more often than not results in blots on the landscape. Looking in the opposite direction reveals one such blot, albeit still under construction.

The “ironwork” for the mine building is taking shape on the new layout extension. The lower girders will have the heavy timber (coffee stirrers) loading bins visible through them and the upper level will be partially clad in wriggly tin (corrugated card) when completed.

The inset shows the origin of the structure. These mushroom crates are often discarded by restaurants but market traders tend to reuse them. However, it’s still worthwhile checking the market ground after closing time for any damaged crates that may have been left behind.

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