Dear Members

Further to last weeks announcement that we were moving forward with our return to the clubroom, this week Boris has imposed further lockdown restrictions. Our Indian summer has come to an end and Autumn has arrived. The final straw, massive interest cuts on any savings we might have.
We were sorry to hear that Derek was taken to hospital with what he thought was angina turned out to be a heart attack. A week later and a couple of new stents he has made a good recovery and is back home.
This week you will see that the club have been given a collection of mainly European rolling stock from the family of Brian Appleby who has sadly passed away. Members with a penchant for collecting European rolling stock or those about to start may find something of interest.

What has not changed, is yet another excellent newsletter

Keep safe


Phil and Nigel

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Our “neighbours” at Brambleton


Only a few of you have accepted my invitation to visit the Brambleton club site at Harpenden. Perhaps it is on the “wrong” railway line. Anyhow, I will show you a few things you are missing.
Brambleton is one of the largest outdoor model railway clubs in the UK
All the track is 32mm gauge. There are two layouts: an 0 gauge one; and a 16mm scale narrow gauge one. There are some steam-up sheds and signal boxes on site, but no real infrastructure – there’s no electricity or running water! You will find it at the junction of the Nicky line with the Midland main line.



To the pictures: the first (927) is “Joseph”, an 0-4-0 Peckett, new from Bassett-Lowke. It’s pulling a ancient scratchbuilt truck (ebay) with the battery pack, and some vintage Bassett Lowke tinplate wagons. All are on coarse scale wheels.



The second (730) shows a particular dilemma for the owners of old tinplate stock. Plastic and metal wheels can decay (Mazak rot); and Hornby “pizza cutter” wheels are certainly out of order, because their flanges are way too big. This wagon (BL) is fitted with Darstaed coach wheels, I think. But it is surprisingly hard to get a direct swap. Either the axle length or diameter is wrong, leading to fiddly fitting jobs, unlike this one. I think this is much easier in other scales.



The third (813) is what it’s all about – live steam. This monster is a new Garrett belonging to Luke Petch. He has recently fitted radio control, which saves running after it. It’s VERY powerful, and pulls long rakes of South African wagons and coaches; indeed anything which can be thrown at it.



The final photo (940) is my Accucraft Shay “Hilde” pulling a dead Garrett. “Hilde” doesn’t really need radio because she is geared, and cannot run at anything over a sedate pace. Usually she pulls some skeletons or disconnects, with about as much tree as you can balance on 32mm.
Hope this persuades you to come and gawp at some bigger trains soon (UK govt permitting).
All the best









So after many years of pipe dreaming (is it still politically correct to mention smoking?) you have finally found some time to build a train set (oops sorry model railway). Another result of Corona virus perhaps?

So for many years you have harboured ideas of building a layout resembling the East Coast Main line starting with Kings Cross and ending at Edinburgh with at very least York and Newcastle included because you like them. So now realisation kicks in. You haven’t got any where near enough room. In fact no one has got enough room even if you model in ‘Z’ gauge of which more later.

So what room have you got? Well if you sell the car you may be able to use the garage but the wife may have other ideas about this. She has also told you in no uncertain terms that you can’t use the front room or dining room either. Perhaps if you have a spare bedroom and you offer suitable bribes to the household authorities you may be able to use that. Suggested bribes include a World Cruise etc. Now you can be certain that if a bedroom is offered it will be the smallest, probably about 6×4. So another blow to you early dreams.

What else if there? Well you may be able to use a shed if the garden is big enough. Again the household authorities will not take kindly to ¾ of the garden disappearing. Not even a World cruise will buy this one. If you are lucky you may get away with a 6 x 4 shed. Something about this size isn’t there?

Finally you could look in the loft if you can manage to get up there amidst many year of miscellaneous items being stored. A word of warning here. Before opening the trap door full protective gear should be worn with particular emphasis on a crash helmet as something is bound to fall out. Just hope it isn’t something of the wife’s that is breakable.

So you think that you may have managed to find a space somewhere but let me give you a few warnings about what you may have in mind. The garage will probably be cold and dirty and if the car is still to live in there then the layout will have to be able to move out of the way. More on this later. The shed will similarly be very cold in winter and probably damp as well. In summer it will be infested with every insect you have ever seen. The loft similarly will be cold in winter and hot in summer. You will also have to work out how you are going to gain regularly access since standing on top of a step ladder every time is not advised.

So now to the drawing board or more likely a scrap of paper on the dining room table. Over the years you have accumulated many sketches of layouts on the back of envelopes and such. Reality will now kick in as you realise that the wonderful ideas will not fit any where near in the space you have let alone Kings Cross to Edinburgh. Nil desperandum! (That’s nothing to be despaired for those of you who don’t know Latin). There is always a solution. The only problem is finding it.

Many sketches later and innumerable pieces of paper you believe that you have now managed to come up with a plan. At this time it is advisable to draw the plan out full size but most modellers skip this stage as they don’t have any paper big enough and anyway it takes too long. So amazingly you have found that with a few minor changes you can fit Kings Cross into the space you have available. Indeed the planned 6×2 board will allow all of the main aspects with only a couple of parts missed off. The flaw here will become apparent once you have built the baseboard but that is for part 2 if I make it that far.









For the benefit of the club we have been donated, a collection of largely European carriages, plus some old freight trucks, mostly HO a few OO.
Many items are boxed, much of it in very good condition. 
The items are from manufacturers such as – Jouef, Piko, Marklin, France Trains, old Fleischmann (some tin plate), VEB, Lima, Fuggerth, ACME, Sachsen, Trix and Rico.
Anyone interested, contact Nigel








 A final few odd stories of bad days on the NVR.


A City of Peterborough tale again with an interesting (for me anyway) finish. The loco was lit up with no problem but once the pressure was up to about 40psi steam could be seen escaping from somewhere around the fire box. The engineer was duly summoned and having taken one look failed the loco. As the pressure rose higher before we could throw the fire out the leak became much worse so obviously the decision to fail was the right one. It was shortly after this that the boiler was taken off and went away for repair, for what I think was the second time since the locos return to service.

I was then asked to go as second man on the class 14 which was to substitute for City of Peterborough. So I had an enjoyable and easy day on the class 14 part of which was spent driving which was an interesting experience.



Another interesting occurrence that I was only to witness as a visitor occurred on an extremely cold winter morning. Wayne had been rostered as fireman and as Chris and myself were driving up to Yorkshire for a few days we stopped at Wansford to have a cup of tea and to say hello. On the drive up the temperature gauge in my car was showing minus 12 and this was by 10 am in the morning.

Having found Wayne and the rest of the crew of the two locos that were to be used that day down by the shed I discovered that they were still not in steam. As Wayne was to explain when he had driven to Wansford at 5am the temperature had been minus 18. Needless to say everything was frozen solid. This included the water in the boilers, in the tanks/tender and in the hoses etc. They had lit warming fires under the injectors and around the locos to try and thaw them out to at least be able to light them up but to no avail.

We left them to it and carried on up north. Wayne was to tell me later that they had managed to get Thomas into steam but then found the brake gear was frozen solid. They had finally managed to run one train to Yarwell and back but as there were only a couple of passengers and with the conditions as they were they then called it a day. He also added that the track inspector had arrived about 9am and demanded to know why they hadn’t set about thawing out the points which were also frozen. As if they didn’t have enough to do. This was the same one that I had mentioned before regarding the ash incident. A  really unpleasant and unhelpful person.



Now we come to probably the worst day of all. It all started well enough. A pleasant and reasonably warm spring day greeted us and we were early off shed with the Polish 0-8-0T, which as ever was steaming well. Even the injectors seemed to be behaving themselves for once. The driver was John who was always a friendly, helpful and cheerful guy. He was very experienced and, as I may have mentioned before, was the owner of the little 0-4-0ST ‘Dora’. I can’t remember the name of the cleaner after all of this time but I do recall that he was fairly new. As the day progressed he showed himself to be well on the way to being passed out as a fireman.

The long and the short of all this is that, as quite often happened, John was happy to let me drive. The cleaner took the shovel and John quite happily parked himself in the corner of the cab and left us pretty much alone although of course keeping an eye on what was happening.

The first trip went well enough and I was enjoying handling the loco which was responding well. It was on the second trip when events took a serious turn for the worse. Between Orton Mere and Peterborough the brakes suddenly came on and we ground to a halt. I looked around to see if I had inadvertently caused this but John then pointed out that the communication cord had been pulled and of course the brake was completely deployed pretty much instantly.

As we looked down the train to see what was happening we saw the guard and one or two others at the side of the track and went to find out why we had been stopped. The really unfortunate answer was that a little girl had leant on one of the handles on the continental coach, the handle went down, the door opened and she had fallen out.

She didn’t appear to be seriously hurt fortunately and was carried back into the train. An ambulance was called to Peterborough Station and we set off again to meet it. She was taken away to Cambridge hospital I believe. We were to find out latter in the day that she had not been hurt other than a couple of bruises and scratches. A really lucky little girl. After this of course we were still a little perturbed and not as relaxed as we may have been.

It was on the last trip back from Peterborough when things were to perhaps occur as a result of the morning incident. As we approached Orton Mere we suddenly noticed that the Class 14 on an engineering train off of the Fletton loop was running beside us. It was at this point we noticed that the signal was against us. This was extremely difficult to see as we were looking directly into the sun. By this time it was too late to stop before the signal and we inevitably ran a ‘SPAD’ (signal passed at danger). The train was safe of course as we were routed into the second platform so there was no conflicting path.

After some delay the engineering train set off for Wansford as the track inspector insisted that it take priority, despite the fact that we had passengers waiting. This was the same one that I have previously mentioned above with the ‘frozen’ incident. Need I say more? A most unpleasant and unhelpful person.

In due course we returned to Wansford and went on shed to dispose. Of course we had to complete the dreaded ‘Yellow’ forms to explain what had happened.

A few days later the inspector phoned up to ask more questions but there was nothing to add that hadn’t been on the form. I believe that it is quite common on the last trip even on the ‘big’ railway for drivers to lose concentration. The mind wanders after a long day and of course the morning’s event was still in our minds. The low sun was the final factor. The penalty for passing a ‘SPAD’ is a 3 month suspension and that is what John and I suffered. As it was early in the year there were no trains for several weeks so I didn’t really miss much. I did however decide that I would never drive again and from that day to this, apart from the odd occasion, I haven’t and have no desire to become a driver.






Q) What do you call a fish with no eyes?
Q) What do you call a sheep with no legs?
A) A ball of wool!
Q) What do hippies do?
A) Hold your leggies on!
Q) How do you make an apple puff?
A) Chase it round the garden!
Q) How do sheep keep warm in winter?
A) Double grazing!
Q) What do you call a donkey with 3 legs?
A) A Wonkey!
Q) What’s the stupidest animal in the jungle?
A) A polar bear!
Q) What’s 12” long and jumps all over Australia?
A) A kanga ruler!
Q) What’s green and lives in a cage?
A) A canary that’s not ripe yet!
Q) What’s the fastest vegetable in the world?
A) A Runner Bean!





At home with the Slatfords


Turns out it was a marble in the ashtray.



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Answers to last weeks Quiz.