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There's always lots happening at the Model Railway Club. Keep up to date by following our Blog. If you would be interested to edit a blog and you are an MRC member please contact the webmaster.

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Posted by on in Empire Mills
Empire Mills Summer 2016

As we indicated in May, we have an exhibition in Peterborough in October, and so the summer has been focussed on getting ready for that. As we started to fiix some problems with the track with (including some damaged track ends at board joints, the fiddle yard and some unevenness in the track itself) we encountered more problems. After some soul searching we realised that trying to fix the specific problems would probably just create more and that without decent working reliable track we would struggle to operate the layout well. So the decision was taken to relay all of the track. b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_5541.JPG

As we lifted it, we realised that some of the problems were caused by delamination in the camping mat foam used as underlay (possibly the glue?), and that whilst it looks good the butanone bonding of plastic chairs to woopen sleepers isn't as strong as using plastic sleepers. I used the same techniques discussed in previous blogs  for points and board joints to build the track in situ using some 1/8" cork as underlay. The added challenge here is building track in situ on wider boards than I'm used to or easily have space for in my workshop (who knew 6" made such a difference..) and with the scenery in place.

Posted by on in Empire Mills
Empire Mills gets a turntable

Following our last blog in May, we have unpacked the layout from its hibernation and a group of members gathered to go through the list of stuff that we thought needed doing. Now as we know, there is no 'right way' to build a model railway. There are certainly some wrong ways but most of us have a preferred way, generally one that is proven to work for us. And with a pretty much new team there were various ideas of how things that need to be sorted out could be done differently from the original plan.

One of the things on the list was to improve the track around the entrance to the fiddle yard, and the fiddle yard cassettes themselves. The current system is L-section aluminium fixed to foamboard which has warped, and it's all a bit tight around the entry to the layout.

A G-scale commission - Part 4 - The Django Express Arrives

The owner of the venue was persuaded to allow us to put removable brackets up along the way to support the layout, which was a major relief, as we were worried that if supported only on the legs if someone grabbed it and fell over, they could bring the layout with it. The brackets not only provide extra support, put also enable us to fix its relationship to the wall, so it doesn't move in or out. The brackets are a simple two-slot type from a well known DIY chain, with a wood baton screwed to the top on which the boards rest, and pieces of wood screwed inside for the boards to sit over.

Posted by on in Modelling
A G-scale Commission -Part 3

Work continued, with more track laid, and the wiring following closely behind. The connectors are 3-pin XLRs, with wires linking directly between the sockets on the boards and then to each section of rail. There are separate jumpers between each of the boards. The wire is thicker than we'd normally use, to make sure it can take the current and not have a voltage drop over the length of the layout.


The team that had been making baseboards moved onto some legs. The idea was to provide support along the undulating floor of the venue, with some sort of representation of an American trestle bridge. Following a prototype leg, to check the concept, I got some 70m of timber baton to Keen House from the trusty timber merchant on the roof of the car, and we set about cutting it into the sections. We made a jig to help speed up the process, and in the pictures below you can see the jig next to some half constructed legs, halfway through construction and with Tom S and David screwing in the leg height adjusters. I'm not sure why the screw driver is that long either.

Posted by on in Modelling
A G-scale commission - Part 2

Work has continued over the weekend, with all 15 boards now made. The picture here shows 12 of them with some of the underside cross-bracing. What's more, they all fit together, but our work-room is only about 10m long, so it's not possible to erect the full length at one time, even if we didn't have parts of four other layouts up at the moment.b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_5050.JPG

The boards are aligned using dowels, and then held together using toggle latches. These are now fitted to 10 of the boards, so that track laying can continue unhindered this week.

Posted by on in Modelling
A G-scale commission - Part 1

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.

Ingatestone headlines at The MRC Open House !

Ingatestone had it's first official display yesterday at Keen House. Receiving many positive comments and considerable interest, we ran our first official train round the layout, powered by Dapol's forthcoming Class 68 locomotive. Below are pictures of the banner being broken by the first train,together with some other shots taken by the Ingatestone crew!  We will be running again this Thursday at The MRC New Member's evening with some "interesting" motive power - come along and see us !  Many thanks again to Joel at Dapol for the kind loan of the Class 68 to run the first train - more detailsd are available at: 




Posted by on in Ingatestone
A point for Ingatestone

The track plan for Ingatestone is relatively simple, at least on the scenic part. However there are two points required and the requirement was for a "B7". Here's a quick guide to how it was built - you can try yourself at one of our Track Building skills transfer day.

Although the key to building a reliable point is using track gauges to get the spacing right, I always start with a template. In this case it's one printed from Templot, but you can but them. This shows roughly where everything should go.


Using a mix of plastic sleepers and copperclad - see this blog for why - these are held down with double sided tape.

Posted by on in Empire Mills
May 2016 Update

It's all been a bit quiet since the layout visited Portsmouth last Autumn. As is the nature of Club layouts, unfortunately some of the key team behind the layout have had to step back from the project for a while, and as the layout had been up and being worked on for most of 2015, we decided to give it a break whilst we take stock and build up a new team to take the layout forward.

However we've been invited to the National Festival of Railway Modelling in Peterborough in October, and there's nothing like an exhibition to focus the mind, so we'll be putting the layout up shortly, to work through a reasonably sized list of things that could do with improvement to make it more reliable, and to finish off the scenery. We also need to finish off the rewiring, to make it possible to operate the layout with DC locos, as well as DCC. We've had a couple of offers to help, but we'd be delighted to welcome new members to the team - you don't have to be an EM modeller, just an interest in helping or operating the layout. Please drop me an email or speak to me at Keen House.


Tagged in: EM gauge Empire Mills

Posted by on in Ingatestone
Class 68 Launch for Ingatestone

It is only fitting that the MRC's new OO layout  Ingatestone is opened by the latest in 4mm Locomotives. Join us from 11am on Sunday 8th May when Dapol's brand new Class 68 will break the tape to open our new 21st Century mainline layout. 

Ingatestone gets ready for open house !



Great progress has been made on Ingatestone since the last appearance at Ally Pally last month. We are now attached to our joint fiddle yard. We have run the main track power bus along the remaining front boards 1,2 and 3 and added jumper connections between the boards. The foam sub-base for the landscaping has started to be applied and shaped - see the photo.

Our next aim to have a full circuit available on May 8th when The MRC's open day takes place - come along and visit us at home and see what the team has been achieving. There might be something very interesting running around the layout !!



Minories at 60th Anniversary Exhibition in Romford

We were delighted to be invited back to the Ilford and West Essex Model Railway Club's exhibition "West Essex Modelrail" on 23/4 April, their 60th annual show. It took place at the St Edward's School in Romford,






We were in a small pocket of EM layouts,

Posted by on in News
Ingatestone goes to the Palace !

A very successful weekend for Ingatestone at the London Festival Of Railway Modelling held last weekend at Alexandra Palace. After the safe delivery of the three boards (numbers 4 to 6), the "in progress" demo drew a lot of attention and positive comment from the show-goers. Over the weekend, all of the group took their turns helping out on the layout or with the stewarding. See above for a picture of the lads on the Sunday afternoon !  Next stop will be at the MRC Open Day on May 8th at Keen House. More information is at:  See you there !

When was the first model railway exhibition?

This was the question posed recently on the excellent mremag - the thrice weekly supply of news and views for railway modellers.

I suspect that as the oldest model railway club, our first exhibition is probably the first - in which case the answer would be March 13th 1912 as one of our club evenings that was also open to the public. The first two day show was at the Kingsway Hall in Holborn in 1924. It's timing over the Easter weekend led to the start of the traditional London Easter show. With the changes in working and holiday patterns, Easter isn't such a good time for a London show, so the equivalent event - the London Festival of Railway Modelling takes place at the end of March each year, in which the MRC is proud to play a key part providing the 'amateur' content of the shows.

There's more detail in the MRC's centenary supplement from BRM - which you can read here.

Posted by on in Ingatestone
It's a wrap !

In preparation for Ally Pally this coming weekend, the Ingatestone crew have been busy getting ready the boards that we are taking to display. On Sunday, the packing crates for the corner boards were finished, with an extra day of work by Tom, Bob and myself getting the foam core for the scenery being cut. What is on display will be a work in progress to show visitors how we are building the scenery, to allow them to ask questions, learn and hopefully come and visit us at our open day in May. To act as a "place marker" for the PECO

Posted by on in Putnam
Getting ready for Alexandra Palace

b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_4613.JPGPutnam will be among the 40 layouts appearing at the London Festival of Model Railways.  The team have been putting in extra hours to finish a number of mini-projects before we pack everything away ready for transportation 'up the hill'.  Visually there are a number of new buildings along the back of the yard, and a number of bigger and better handmade trees on the more rural end board.  Equally important are a number of re-wiring exercises which aim to improve resilience.  All of which helps make Putnam better than ever.  Come along to Alexandra Palace on March 19th and 20th and see the layout, and feel free to pose any questions you have to the operators.

Posted by on in Ingatestone
Ingatestone turns the corner !

After a lot of wiring, testing of the track power on Ingatestone has started - here we have Bachmann Class 37/4 37421 on the up line on board 6 powering round the corner - next Thursday we will be testing the boards that will be attending London Festival of Railway Modelling at Alexandra Palace. Come and meet us and see the layout - we'll be in the West Hall !  The hard work to progress the hoods for the corner board storage also took a step forward today as Maurice and Tom completed the panelling and secured the strengthening battens in place.

Posted by on in Ingatestone
Ingatestone powers ahead !

This weekend saw Lawrence. Mo and Tom make progress with the power wiring for the layout, as well as on the woodworking. Protector boards to avoid track damage on board ends are being fabricated, and the covers for the trolleys that will be home to the corner boards 5 and 6 took more steps forward. See the pictures of Lawrence making connections on Boards 3 and 4 above and below. We welcome anyone who would like to joing us - all skill levels are most welcome!


Posted by on in Ingatestone
Ingatestone readies for Ally Pally

With our first official outing only 6 weeks away, when we will be showing as a work in progress at the London Festival of Railway Modelling at Alexandra Palace - have a look at:


This last weekend, Lawrence, Mo and Tom were hard at work progressing the side board boxes and getting our wiring further down the line (pun intended) to allow us to run demonstration trains at LoFORM. We are to have a similar wiring pattern to Putnam, our HO scale sister layout, as we will be sharing their fiddle yard.

We look forward to seeing you at Ally Pally, don't be shy, if you have any questions, ask!

Posted by on in Ingatestone
Ingatestone is so Bracing !

Progress today on the storage and transport boxes for the two side boards - five and six. Tom and Maurice spent today adding the bracing to the side panels which will eventually be mounted on the skates and provide protection. I took the opportunity to do some wiring on the aforementioned boards, to get them ready for their first outing to London Festival of Railway Modelling at Alexandra Palace on March 19th/20th. Please feel free to drop by and say hello to us and see the latest progress first hand !