Author Archives: Steve Hales

Forthcoming Exhibitions

Mauch Chunk has now attended three exhibitions in its current configuration; It is proving popular.

Mauch Chunk is available for two exhibitions a year from the end of 2018 and is now booked up until early 2023:

Warley National Model Railway Exhibition – 22nd-24th November 2019 – National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham  B40 1NT  www.thewarleyshow.co.uk

The London Festival of Railway Modelling – 28-29th March 2020 – Alexandra Palace, London N22 7AY  www.world-of-railways.co.uk/shows/show/the-london-festival-of-railway-modelling

Perth & District MRC – 27th-28th June 2020 – The Dewars Centre, Glover Street, Perth  PH2 0TH
www.perthmrc.com

Railex NE – 24th-25th July 2021 – John Spence Communits Highschool, Preston Rd, North Shields NE29 9PU  Blyth & Tyne Model Railway Society

Spalding MRC – 6th-7th November 2021 – Springfields Event Centre, Camelgate, Spalding Lincolnshire  PE12 6ET  www.spaldingmodelrailwayclub.org.uk

Trainwest – 9th-10th April 2022 – Springfield Community Campus, Corsham, Wiltshire  SN13 9DN  Bentley Model Railway (Railroad) Group

The “Train Show” at the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) National Convention – August 2022 –  Birmingham, UK (details to be confirmed)

Glasgow 2019

Model Rail Scotland – 22nd – 24th February 2019 – Scottish Event Campus (SECC), Glasgow, Scotland, G3 8YW

This time the work on Mauch Chunk took place a good while ahead and the layout was dismantled a week ahead of the show ready to pack – much less stressful. New etched fencing to the road at the west end of the layout, rebuilt fences along the trackside (now more to scale), many more trees and many new telegraph poles were the main scenic changes.

As impactful were the changes to the stock: the locomotive stock has now mostly been weathered – particlularly the steam locos, which many at the show noticed. Passenger cars had corridor connections added and other stock, particularly smaller tank cars, were repaired and weathered. There were again more customised NE cabooses – making 24 in all. Some more recent diesels have not yet been weathered as considerable detailing will be carried out before this is done.

Behind the scenes, new 4:3 ratio monitors were used for Big Bear and this greatly improved the operator experience – Peter Thurston who wrote the software visited over the weekend.. A CCTV system was used for the Westbound operator to see the uncoupling magnet. Finally, Phil Sutton drew and Richard and Gavin applied new fascia lettering and symbols. This transformed the layout and made it look nicely professional.

Gavin and Mike had fun loading the layout into a short wheelbase Luton van rather than the long wheebase van we had ordered (don’t ask). It was rather tight!

The layout ran well initially, but later the Lenz control system overheated on several occasions. The Peco point motors in the fiddle yard throat also began to fail on day two and needed considerable fettling to keep them working.  The crowd was excellent on all three days, and many were very complimentary.

We ran several ‘multi-occupancy’ roads in the staging/fiddle yard and this allowed us to run several short consists and light locomotives, giving more of the loco stock a viewing to the public.

It felt as if Mauch Chunk had come a long way since previous exhibitions and it was more enjoyable to operate. The exhibition team was Steve Hales, Richard Oldfield, Gavin Liddiard, Mike Rapson, Gareth Evans and Dave Millward.

The final bonus was winning 1st prize in the ‘non-association’ layout category. Photos inlude shots of the working side and one of Peter Thurston who wrote Big Bear software, is based in Scotland and visited us in Glasgow.

Model Rail Scotland interviewed me (Steve) and you can see the result (!) here:

 

 

 

 

Prepared for Glasgow

We’re all prepared for Glasgow!

Last week we set out all the stock and tested it in new consists and configurations. Everything (well nearly…) ran well and since then several items have been further weathered. Richard’s new K1s 4-8-0 has been completed and is running and photos also show an ABBA F3 set hauling a long freight Westbound.  Other photos show the locomotive and other stock lined up in their fiddle yard roads.

Finally, the new fascia lettering is coming together!

We hope to see some of you at the Scottish Exhibition Centre on Friday through Sunday this weekend.

Preparing for Glasgow – part 2

Work is still progressing on preparations for Glasgow – most of it in intensive sessions coinciding with Steve’s visits to Barrowmore from East Yorkshire.

Photos show Steve weathering boxcars with Pan Pastels, these were then sprayed with fixative and/or acrylic matt varnish. The spraying does fade some of the colours, particularly the brown and organge, but has the advantage of fixing them.

Richard continued making corridor connections for all the passenger cars from black card, scored and folded into concertinas then superglued to the car ends. A LOT cheaper than the commercial options and looks just as good.

Dave (Millwood) continued to help by ballasting the gap in the platform and making more of the cantilevered telegraph poles for the extended LH end wall. Steve also made and planted many more telegraph poles for the RH end and the front.

Richard replaced the broken plastic handrails (they are so fine) with brass wire equivalents on half a dozen small tank cars – a substantial task. Gavin airbrushed the latest K1as camelback prior to decaling.

Finally the stock was set out to arrange train consists prior to reboxing it in the correct order. Note the new caboose tail ligthts.

 

 

Preparing for Glasgow – part 1

Another trip to Barrowmore in early December resulted in more progress: Firstly we had to rescue Mauch Chunk from underneath a substantial pile of baseboards – mostly associated with the O-guage Johnstown Road layout. The Barromore clubrooms only have room for one of our large layouts to be erected at a time and the others usually need to be moved round each time to accomodate this. Gavin and Richard helped erect Mauch Chunk and all was well once a connector had been partly rewired and a mysterious short had been eliminated.

Richard got down to building (soldering) the remaining fencing for the roadway on the RH side of the layout – there hadn’t been enough uprights in the original etch – and I (Steve) got on with spray painting them and drilling holes for all the uprights. Eventually Richard soldered the pieces together in situ and after a final handpaint of these parts they were done.

Dave Millwood – an S4 modeller who is new to Mauch Chunk – is rebuilding the other fencing between the roadways and track which on reflection we had decided was overscale.

I have also been preparing 24 sets of Cal-Scale Marker Lites (PR 190-375) to use on the cabooses. After removing the sprue and filing smooth, they were painted yellow. Three of the lamp sockets were painted yellow and one red as per the prototype. These were then filled with Glue’n’Glaze crystal clear (From Deluxe Maaterials) in two stages with overnight drying in between – which produced realistically shaped lenzes of the appropriate colour. Finally holes were drilled and these were fitted to the cabooses.

After all this activity, Richard and I relaxed by trying out some switching moves using a mixture of fixed undertrack magnets and the big hand in the sky. This latter will hopefully be at least partially replaced with Subarishi smart-couplers before Glasgow in late February.

Kitchen table modelling

The visit to Barrowmore with the caravan took place and the camelbacks and the H1 were decalled with liberty heralds. Unfortunately painting with a matt varnish resulted in white deposits which will need to be disappeared during weathering. Decalling some of the next phase of cabooses (another half dozen) was more succesful.

I also attempted to start building the post office, but a long time having elapsed since my last buildings were constructed (ten years?!?) resulted in a degree of incompetence that made me yearn for something more reliable. I have therefor embarked on planning to get at least the framework cut with a laser cutter. Should this prove succesful it could result in the purchase of a laser cutter by Barrowmore MRG at some point in the future.

Locally I have been attending the East Riding Finescale Modellers group in Hull. A fine bunch of fellows who seem to manage to model to a high standard by the expedient of standing round chatting and drinking tea – I expect to be enlightened some time soon!

Most recently I resorted to the kitchen table to finish decalling the latest cabooses (modified from generic NE cabooses), adding roof grab irons and painting their roofs. Just the tail lamps to add to a selection and they’re ready for Model Rail Scotland in February.

 

 

Summer hiatus broken by Gavin!

Since the last post I (Steve) have moved house to the East Riding of Yorkshire and this has somewhat impacted my modelling opportunities. The layout was taken down in early July and will probably not be put up again until December to allow modelling on the boards prior to exhibiting at Model Rail Scotland.

However, there is no holding Gavin back: He has worked on the motors and DCC chips of two of my camelbacks still in the original brass – a 4-6-0 L by Red Ball and an 0-6-0 B4 by Overland Models. These still need decaling and weathering which I will do on a visit back to the Barrowmore clubrooms hopefully in September (taking our new, well 2004, caravan!).

The 4-6-0 will supplement our existing 4-6-0 on (mainly teminating) passenger train duties. The 0-6-0 was not a regular visitor to Mauch Chunk, but will be used for switching around the goods shed and in the coal sidings at the Western end.

In the meanwhile, enjoy these photos – also seen on the BRMG facebook page.

Scenic work – May 2018

With Mostyn back from the Alexandra Palace exhibition and enhancements of the Mostyn Expressnet completed, Mauch Chunk – or at least the scenic part – was again erected in the Barrowmore clubrooms.

The focus has been on improving the appearance of the ballast, which was rather large; growing more trees for the woodland at the RH (North) end; and improving the roadways.

Gareth has done most of the work on the ballast which is now much improved. Steve has regrassed the area where the old trackside huts once stood and has been ‘growing’ the trees. These include Supertrees imported from the USA which are used at the front. To fill the bulk of the space, trees have been made from templates of sedum, astilbe and ‘dead’ heather. In all these cases the bulk is built up with theatrical hair before adding coarse woodland scenics scatter which is held on with ultra-hold hairspray – as cheap as possible.

More skilled is the production of the fencing for the pathway by the road. We etched posts to which Richard then soldered 0.5mm brass wire (four strands) and a second post is the soldered on top. The end result works very well.

Attention will now move to the roadway.

The Mostyn Hiatus

Mostyn is to be exhibited at Alexandra Palace (London) towards the end of March, so most work stopped on Mauch Chunk during the period leading up to this.

Some work has been going on: I have rewired the board connectors on the four ‘old’ large scenic boards using 12-way Mat-N-Lok connectors as with the rest of the layout. This brings all the wiringit to the same standard.

Passenger and parcel stock has been re-Kadeed to allow for closer and more reliable level coupling. We have also started to add corridor connectors. Seven more cabooses are beeing worked on to have their eighth window removed and will then be repainted and decalled.

Finally the Mauch Chunk boards, on their trolleys, were stacked underneath the O-Gauge ‘Johnstown Road’ layout while Mosty was put up.

 

Chiltern MRA 2018

Chiltern MRA – 13th/14th January 2018 – Stevenage Arts & Leisure Centre, Lytton Way, Stevenage SG1 1LZ

We prepared the layout for this exhibition right up to the night before and beyond. All the pointwork has been rebuilt on the scenic section and all the track except 14 feet relaid. Much of the scenery has also been reworked and has been extended round the curve at the right hand end, as has the fascia – see the progress pages for more details.

Most notably, Richard finished the signal gantry built from a custom etch and on the Friday night he and Gavin got its 3-position semaphore working. We again used Big Bear and TeamViewer to control the layout from two laptops and introduced a tablet for additional control.

Once a few pointmotor niggles had been sorted in the fiddle yard, the layout ran exceptionally smoothly over the new track. We had a guest operator from the NMRA on the Sunday and he was most impressed. The crowd was good, especially on the Saturday, and reflected the very high quality of the show.

Again, steam power – mainly brass – was to the fore, as were brass double enders and babyfaces. There was particular interest in the camelbacks after the recent article in the January Continental Modeller.

Mauch Chunk showed its potential and was enjoyable to operate. The exhibition team was Steve Hales, Richard Oldfield, Gavin Liddiard, Mike Rapson, Kevin Bays and Philip Sutton. Gareth Evans also helped out.

Claude Doussot took a video which he has kindly allowed us to post on YouTube – please click on the image below:

 

The photos show us packing the van and putting up the layout, as well as operating it and the fiddle yard – and of course lots of photos of the scenic section!