We have been doing quite a bit of work behind the scenes in the last few weeks to make CF easier to shift and exhibit - especially as we have Ally Pally coming up in less than a fortnight. We have a truly massive fiddle yard board at the back that has undergone a weight & width reduction programme. It is now 10kg lighter and a bit narrower. Our bespoke barrier is now screwed together, making it much more robust and unlikely to fall apart in transit. And silly things like a lifting hook and lifting bar are now properly located in storage pockets in the box they relate to. All of these minor changes can save valuable minutes when erecting and dismantling the layout.
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Quite a lot of recent progress in the King’s Cross yard. The ramp to the Cally Goods & Coal Yard is now blocked out and in red oxide primer. It is red brick anyway, but will need detail cladding in our home made brick plastic. In the short-term it will be weathered in its current form to meld it into the scene.
Following Putnam's last showing at the London Festival of Railway Modelling in March, work has commenced on expanding the side of the layout away from public view. The storage sidings, now shared with the clubs a-building modern image OO gauge layout Ingatestone, are being increased from 8 to 13 lines. The Club's carpentry whizz has grafted on extensions to the baseboards and work is well underway on the trackwork. Once that is complete it will be a case of all hands below decks as we get stuck into the wiring.
As you can imagine, we get a fairly steady stream of requests to help others make bespoke model railways, from a huge range of people - private individuals, TV and film productions and fixed installations in commercial premises.
We aren't in a position to help with most for all sorts of reasons (normally unrealistic budgets and timescales), but from time to time we get asked to help with a project that is both interesting and achievable in the timescale. Although a few years ago now, you can see some of our work in Bernard Butler's video for "Not Alone" which had specially built O gauge tracks and ran some of the stock from our layout Happisburgh.
Recently we were approached to build a working railway for a pop-up restaurant in Vauxhall. For the uninitiated, a pop-up is a temporary venue, and in this case it's a lovely old mews area, normally used by a steel fabricator. Except over the summer it's being turned into an American gold-rush themed restaurant every Friday and Saturday night, with a five course meal and music for about 80 people a night. So the whole restaurant has to be set up on Friday afternoon, and taken down again and put into storage by Monday morning. So a bit like an exhibition every weekend but with better food and drink.
One of the more frequent questions I get asked at exhibitions is how the track is built. Modelling in EM there isn't much choice for anything other than plain track, but my track building goes back to my teenage OO days.
Despite living only a couple of miles away at the time, I originally stumbled across The Model Railway Club at a Model Engineering show at Wembley Conference Centre when I was probably around 11 or 12. A demonstrator (to this day I can't recall who) was busy making track, and after a moment of asking myself why would anyone bother, I suddenly saw why, as it looked infinitely better than the Triang and Hornby track I had at home. The demonstrator explained what he was doing and why, and encouraged me to 'have a go', and in the process encouraged me to visit the next IMREX (also at Wembley at the time) and Keen House.
Above we see a couple of pictures taken by Lawrence Robbins this afternoon at Keen House. These show the great progress being made on Ingatestone. Mo, Tom and Kevan are seen building the base for the new dollies that will take boards 5 & 6 in due course. The second photo shows boards 5 and 6 which connects into the country end of the fiddle yard that will be common with Putnam. The mock up of the bridge prepared by Bob Allaway has been a great help in getting track centres spot on and avoiding side-swiping on the curves between Mark 3 coaches (the longest vehicles that will run on Ingatestone). Once the last piece of trackwork has been done, we will turn to soldering the main power buses to the power droppers. Come and drop by and meet with us - we will be in most Thursdays and the next couple of Sundays !
Baseboard joints are a necessary evil if you ever have to move your layout. Scenically they create what is often an obvious rift line across our otherwise beautiful handiwork, but operationally they can be a major cause of unreliability. So I try to make the joints as unobvious as I can, but robust enough to stand the knocks and bangs that happen to all portable layouts and maximise the chances of good operation.
It is very difficult to make a board joint better later – so I spend time getting the basics right.