Newood East Railway  - N.e.r. - the first 50+ years!

N.E.R. Genesis

In 1947, at the age of 15, I was heavily into building and flying model aircraft. I belonged to the local model flying club, I was a member of the S.M.A.E.(Society of Model Aeronautical Engineers) and a devout reader of Aeromodeller magazine each month.
During a visit to the local library (Pinner in Middlesex) and whilst looking for a book on aero modeling I found a copy of "Railway Modelling in Miniature" by Edward Beal. Here is my personal copy and as you can see it's been well used!
What a revelation!! Since most of my childhood was spent during W.W.2   I had not been lucky enough to have an "electric railway". The best my father could do was a clockwork Hornby Set. My great friend Stewart Harley had an "O" gauge Electric Hornby set which I was occasionally allowed to see. His older brother guarded it jealously!

The Reverend Edward Beal's book was like a flash of lightening, "you could actually build your own model railway ! Wow!". There were places where you could buy "all the bits and pieces". I even found one in Watford which was fairly close to Pinner and certainly within cycling distance (my only form of transportation at age 15)
A visit to this emporium resulted in a few lengths of grossly oversized N/S bullhead "OO" rail, some precut brass sleepers and a track gauge made of wood (beech I believe). A trip to the local ironmongers provided an electric soldering iron, some solder and a small tin of flux. Our G.P., one Doctor Thompson, taught me how to solder, although in retrospect I'm not sure just what needs to be taught about such a simple process!.
Phyl, my young stepmother, provided my first baseboard, her old wooden ironing board!. The first yard or so of track was kind of so so! As I didn't have a locomotive to run on it there wasn't really much stress placed on my accuracy. I soon realized that this was not the way to go and a visit to Hamblings in Cecil Court soon resolved a lot of my problems. The Hamblings advertisement is actually from another of Ed. Beal's books, "Scale Railway Modelling Today". "Today" was in 1939 so the prices were slightly out of date by 1947, the time of my first visit. I doubt if they had changed that dramatically however. Note the N/S track at 2/3d. per yard (That's 11.5p) Hatton's price in May 2014 is  £2.56 over 22 times the price!
From somewhere I obtained a brass kit for a 57XX pannier, I don't remember the maker (it might have been Jamieson) it had a copper tank piece and lead/brass fittings. Somehow I assembled and painted it, made my own mechanism using brass strip, Romford wheels and axles and a Zenith motor. Boy what a beautiful motor that was. It had a 5 pole armature and a ball thrust bearing at each end. The brushes were carbon and had an equalizing spring to hold them in place. Of course at this time I was working in outside 3rd rail mode. 2 rail seemed to be far too complicated. Eventually the 57XX was converted to 2 rail, but more of that later.
In 1948 my father has despaired of my permanently "scruffy" appearance and said "What you need is a girlfriend my boy!" He was quite right, I did!
I set about setting up a liaison with a young (13 year old) girl who lived just up the road. But I digress, the point is that now I had both a Model Railway and a girlfriend to support and on my 5/- (25p) a week pocket money this was a virtual impossibility.
I left school and got a job in November 1948. I was paid the princely sum of £2 -10 - 0d (£2.50) per week. This enabled me to pay my weekly season ticket to work, buy my lunches, give my mum a donation, take my girlfriend to the pictures at the weekend and spend the rest on the N.E.R.
My job was located in the City (London business area) and there were several Model Railway shops within walking distance for a quick lunch time visit, as well as the possibility of going to Hamblings on the tube (London Underground) during the 1 hour lunch break that we got. This meant missing lunch but it was well worth it. Some shops that I recall were
City Models in Liverpool Street station arcade. Allan Brett Cannon (ABC) in the forecourt of London Bridge station and another one on the corner of Broad Street near Liverpool Street whose name escapes me. Of course there was also the one with the memorable but unpronounceable name, Walkers and Holtzapfel. At this time they were on Baker Street in London. They also
 owned Romford Model Ltd who made the then famous locomotive drivers and the special screwdriver with a slot in it. The ads are from another of Ed Beal's books, New Developments in Railway modelling, published in 1947 the same year as I got "hooked" on model railways.

In April 1950 I was "called up" for National Service in the RAF. This effectively put a temporary hold on my railway modeling activities for the next 2 years. I did some planning while I was stationed in the Middle East including some rather grandiose electrical schemes for automatic signals and train control. I was in the electronics section of the RAF so had access to some excellent "brains" amongst my fellow servicemen. None of these electrical wonders was ever implemented but it kept me busy in my spare time. I still have some of the diagrams but find it difficult to make "head or tail" of them now.

Upon my demob in 1952 I got down to some serious modelling and the pictures above show the N.E.R. circa 1954. By now it had been converted to 2 rail and some scenery was in place. I never did get around to finishing the backdrop as you can see. The concrete block walls of the garage are clearly visible at the left.

The turntable in the foreground was automatic and used a system I designed using a Post Office relay and a very slow motor. The table was locked in position resulting in perfect alignment and could be moved to any road by the press of a button. One day I might draw up the system and publish it but you know how it is, "so much to do - so little time".

The picture at the right shows the terminal station (Newood) In the foreground is a Rivarossi pacific which I fell in love with at ABC and just had to have ! I believe it was £6.00 and ran like a dream. This was the reason for my conversion to 2 rail. The station building was scratch built from card from a set of plans from Hamblings.

In 1955 the "girlfriend" became my wife and my employers saw fit to transfer me to Liverpool, about 200 miles north. The parental garage N.E.R. had to be dismantled, actually demolished is more appropriate. I salvaged most of the track and this was eventually used on a new layout. It consisted of "K's" fibre sleeper bases and the point work was all home made using their brass rivets and soldered N/S rail. The track itself was built using Fleetwood Shaw's method. This consisted of "K's" fibre sleeper strip, countersunk on the back at every 6th rivet hole using a 1/4" drill. A jig was built that held F/B N/S rail upside down at the correct gauge. The sleeper strip was laid on top (actually the bottom) and solder was "dropped" into the countersunk holes creating a sort of "rivet" In order to achieve a good joint a drop of Baker's Soldering Fluid was dropped into each hole before applying the solder. This flux was highly corrosive and if not cleaned off completely eventually resulted in the fibre strip being eaten away. The track was not in any way flexible and required a jig for each radius as well as for straight. Fleetwood Shaw had a huge layout in his loft in Hampstead which used this method and all the track was laid loosely on top of 1/8" foam rubber. This resulted in a very smooth running and quiet layout. I recall that he used Post Office surplus "Uniselectors" to give him a sort of automated Cab Control. I only visited him once in the early 50's but the memory has stayed with me ever since.

We started our married life in the upstairs half of a house in Hoylake on the Wirral Peninsular near Liverpool. The flat had a "spare" bedroom in the front over looking the sea. I built an 8' x 6' sectional layout comprising the usual 2" x 1" PAR softwood frames. Each was "L" shaped 4' long by 3' wide, which when bolted together left a small operating "well" 3' x 5' in the middle.

A small section of the Hoylake layout showing the joint at the 6' end
I have only this small snapshot of this layout but it survived for several years and included a 4 track automatic traverser which worked on a similar principal to the turntable. Eventually my oldest daughter was born and took over the spare bedroom, the layout was transferred to the "back end" of the garage which proved to be extremely cold and damp.
We moved to a brand new bungalow in 1958 but as it only had two bedrooms there was no room for a layout. I eventually negotiated the purchase of a used portable wooden shed that was actually a "chicken house". I lined it with insulation board, but never succeeded in getting rid of the smell of "chicken s**t". Efforts were made to build a new layout in this new home but it never really got off the ground. There were many other calls on my time what with a large brand new garden, a new daughter and a job that required a great deal of travelling.

Now we are in 1962 and we moved back to the Greater London area, back to Pinner, actually. We bought another 2 bed roomed bungalow and a brand new garden shed. My efforts at insulating and heating the shed were never very successful and I turned my attention to the loft. By sheer luck I obtained a large quantity of foil faced insulation board and had enough to line the entire loft. I put down a floor of T & G pine and bought a loft ladder. I ended up with a space about 20' x 12' with a space for reversing loops outside the main room. The layout was a "looped eight" with passing sidings in the reverse loops. A large through station ran diagonally down the centre of the room. Track was again all scratch built as previously. Rolling stock comprised a selection of Kitmaster mainline coaches with a rake of Exley Midland suburbans. I built a Deltic diesel from a Kitmaster plastic kit and motorized it with a Romford flywheel motor bogie. It had a second motor in the body which ran in series with the bogie and would give a degree of "throttle" control. This second motor also made a rather satisfying diesel noise while the loco was stationary. I believe there was some rudimentary circuitry involved but I don't remember what exactly.

The loft at 18 Norman Crescent. (Yes it is me, looking an incredibly young at 32 - Circa 1964)
I learned a serious lesson from this layout, namely that the maintenance and cost of such a large layout is very difficult. Furthermore, despite the insulation, the loft still got extremely hot in the summer and was pretty cold in the winter. Expansion and contraction of the track was a real problem. I did finally get the mainline all laid and running but then came another move. This time to a small townhouse in Carpenders Park. By now my second daughter Carol, had arrived and we needed all three bedrooms for us and the girls. I resorted to the shed again, it moved with us! Again the same old problems of heat and cold. For a time I ran a small mail order business making P/C board sleepers. This proved to be too labour intensive and not very profitable after I'd paid for advertising in the RM. In addition to these distractions I'd now discovered "Am Drams" and was getting very involved with The Rickmansworth Players.

The next several years included a divorce, another move; this time to Radlett in Herts (1970), a second marriage (1975) and finally emigration to Canada, in 1976, where this is being written. During these years there was little or no railway modelling at all !at all !

Now we're in Canada.
For the first many years we were all far to busy trying to get used to the idea of being "colonials" to spend any time on railway modelling. Eventually we bought our own house with a basement and thoughts slowly returned to the possibility of building something.


A visit to the UK on holiday provided the impetus in the form of a copy of The Railway Modeller. An advert for Rivarossi LMS coaches prompted an order for 6 of these beauties!. A Hornby Royal Scot completed my passenger requirements.
Start was made on a simple out and back layout. Construction was very conventional, open top 3"' x 1" softwood framing, bolted together with 3/8" bolts and wing nuts. 1/2" poplar ply was used for the track bases with 1/4" cork sheet as an underlay. Track was Peco ballasted with Woodland Scenes applied using diluted PVA (plus a drop of washing up liquid). This layout didn't proceed very far as I was tempted to try my hand at "N" scale.

I traded in all my "OO" stuff at George's Trains on Toronto and purchased some basic "N" scale American outline stuff. I decided to try an experimental 3' x 6' layout using a plan from the Atlas planbook "Nine N Scale Model Railroads". The chosen "Railroad" went under the somewhat delightful name of "Scenic and Relaxed" It used Atlas Set Track and switches (turnouts) and was probably the most complete railway I ever built.

I made a serious mistake with this layout, I bought a very cheap diesel locomotive which just didn't perform at all well. I decided that this was an inherent fault with "N" scale and more or less gave up on it. That is until I happened to be in Hutch's Trains in Burlington one day and he had some Kato locomotives on show. The performance was outstanding, needless to say I bought one immediately. It was at about this time (April 1988) that we decided to move to a "newer" house and this had a totally unfinished basement that was dry and warm. What joy!

Once we were settled in I embarked on a major "N" scale project measuring some 9' x 13' loosely based on the "Clinchfield" design. Again conventional construction methods were used, 3" x 1" softwood frames with 11 m/m poplar plywood track boards. I find poplar an extremely good material for baseboards. It's much softer and lighter than Fir or Birch. It has a pleasant neutral white colour and takes pins and screws easily.

This layout lasted for quite a few years and was about 40% finished. all track was laid and working, some electrics were in place and some scenery. In actual fact the whole project was much too ambitious and was really suitable for someone much younger than me. (By this time I was into my early 60's!)

The 2068 Headon Road layout mid 1990's

Another move, (Summer 1996) this time to a condominium apartment. Quite large, BUT NO basement! For the first year I gave up all ideas of ever having a model railway again.

Then...inspiration!! My new accountant had a layout in HIS OFFICE!. What a great idea! My office is the 3rd bedroom of our condo, but it has one long wall opposite my desk that is just shy of 15' long. Furthermore there was room for a 30" square at each end that would not interfere with access to the room or my desk.

The FINAL? layout. (January 1998)

So what to do with this space? First of all I wanted to get back to my roots, namely British style, this is a symptom of getting old! You want to try and re-capture your youth and one way to do it is by creating something reminiscent of past years. Inevitably the decision was to build a Free-lance - sort of GWR/LMS branch line. This meant that I could legitimately run a 5700 pannier alongside a Black 5 or a Jinty. Also Farish make such a cute little GWR railcar. (always wanted to run one of these!)
First the design...the baseboard is 14' 8" long with a centre section of 15" width and a 30" square at each end for reverse loops. I decided to keep things simple and use a solid top of 11m/m poplar ply on a standard 3" x 1" softwood frame. I mounted this at 48" height, this is actually the highest I've ever worked. I can thoroughly recommend it especially if you're "knocking on" a bit in the age department. Wiring is difficult enough without having to grope around under a 36" high baseboard. At least at 48" you don't have to get down quite as low to deal with the nether regions. The main track area is covered with 1/4" cork sheet glued using water based contact adhesive. The layout is a continuous "dog-bone" with passing loops at one end. The station represents a small/medium through country station. Freight and locomotive facilities are limited but enough to allow me to do some fairly interesting scenic things in the future. Ballasting is now under way using Woodland Scenes fine grey ballast mixed 2 for 1 with their dry adhesive. This is liberally spread over the track that has been pre-painted track brown. The ballast is "arranged" using a largish, say 3/8", soft paintbrush. I also found that a 6" steel ruler can be used as a kind of scraper to trim the edges. When the ballast looks ok I liberally spray everything with water and a drop of washing up liquid using a Woodland Scenes sprayer. This gives a really nice fine mist. The whole thing take a day or so to dry out and then I shall clean up here and there and generally "dirty" it all.

These photos show the very early planning stages of this FINAL version of the N.E.R.

Here we go !                      Bare bones                  Trial layout

I had a large stock of Peco track and turnouts and didn't need to buy anything to complete the track work. All turnouts have Peco point motors mounted directly on them and these are controlled by pairs of Radio Shack push buttons on a custom control panel. I also "had in stock" a capacitor switch machine power supply that I had built from a design in one of Kalmbach's excellent books. I've traded in my American rolling stock for cash and used this to buy an initial few bits and pieces from my good friend "Madge" Madgewick of Model Railway Imports in Oakville. For testing purposes I bought the following Farish items: 5700 Pannier, 3 GWR Suburban coaches, GWR Railcar and a dozen or so wagons. These give me a chance to check for clearances, track alignment and reliability etc. I must say that I sorely miss the smooth operation of my Kato USA type locos. Farish doesn't come anywhere near the silky smooth operation of these little Japanese wonders. I can remember when British was BEST and the Japs were the makers of poor imitations. What a turnabout. Anyway this is not meant to be a sermon.
Progress has been steady over the last few months. From the pictures below you can see where I'm at at the time of writing (April 24th 98).

 The control panel is made using a piece of white enamelled Masonite (hardboard) upon which layout was "drawn" using automotive lining tape, the whole board was then sprayed matt black followed by a couple of coats of satin lacquer. Wiring has been largely completed. I used surplus telephone multi core cable "stripped down" to individual pairs. All turnouts have Peco switches fitted to the underside of the motors to ensure good electrical continuity. I've also added a separate miniature micro switch which is adjacent to one end of each turnout tie bar. This switch is just glued to the cork using "super glue" and is wired to a pair of red and green LEDs on the control panel to indicate the physical setting of the points. Items like this are really cheap over here in Canada. The LEDs are about 10p each and the micro switches less than a pound.
Lastly an overview of the 'Western" end of the layout showing the reversing loop. Sorry about the picture quality, my daughter managed to drop my camera so I had to borrow a Nikon!. Not yet used to its settings. I will replace ASAP..
I can't tell you what a great pleasure it is to have one's model railway right in amongst my working environment. I am a software developer by profession and as such find that I get pretty "brain fagged" after several hours of programming. All I have to do is "swivel" my chair around and add another length of wire to the layout or a coat of paint to the Ratio signal box I'm working on. It's the perfect combination of business and pleasure !!

The FINAL? layout continued....(End May 1998)

Progress has been a little slow these last few weeks, wretched clients keep wanting me to do work for them! However all the eventually visible track is now ballasted and most of the turnouts are working remotely from the control panel, Had some problems with getting electrical continuity from blade to frog but the Peco Switches attached to the underside of their point motors has helped. These switches are pretty crude and probably work better with 00 rather than N, simply because to the greater "throw" on an 00 turnout.

The Ratio GWR Signal Cabin is more or less complete, just have to finish off the roof and fix it in place. The interior was a real fiddle! The tiny etched levers sorely tried my 66 year old eyes. however its done and I'm moderately pleased with it. With the benefit of experience using these brass etched parts, I believe I can do a better job next time around. Ratio's instructions leave quite a lot to the imagination and construction took a fair bit of time. I'm working on the station building right now. Interestingly enough the etches are in stainless steel on this item. The seem to be a little more robust.

Had a lot of trouble with both the GF Pannier and the Railcar. The latter decided that only one bogie would be driven!. Eventually managed to get it apart and adjust alignment by what we used to call the in the RAF "judicious bending!" The Pannier proved to be slightly more tricky, there is a short somewhere when the body is attached firmly, leave it loose and it works just fine, tighten the screw, DEAD SHORT. So far can't find exactly where its happening, but no doubt I will crack it eventually.
Here are few few more pictures taken with the "borrowed Nikon" and using flash, much better resolution etc.

The FINAL? layout continued.... Some revolutionary thoughts! (July 1998)

I'm not very happy with the reliability of "N" scale in general and with Farish locomotives in particular.
Admittedly after much "tweaking" and "fiddling" my 57xx Pannier runs reasonably well, that is when it deigns to start!. Much prodding and baseboard thumping is frequently needed to persuade it into life. The same applied to the GWR Railcar until I replaced the brushes, Lord knows why they needed replacing on an almost new locomotive its hard to fathom. Furthermore the availability of "N" scale British style items is so limited compared with "00" that I'm seriously considering swapping scales.

Watch this space for a BRILLIANT IDEA ! Just arrived in the last few minutes.

I'm going to move back to "00" !!

However I don't want to burn my bridges in "N" completely so I'm going to take the middle out of my present layout. This is the centre section of a little over 9' 9". It can be removed intact by just cutting the tracks to the reversing loops at each end. All the point work and electrics are on the centre section. I have removed the bookcase from underneath the layout and replaced it with a low level filing cabinet and an old printer table of about the same height. I propose to "drop" the centre "N" scale baseboard intact onto these new supports which will place it about 15" under the yet to be built new baseboard that will house the "00" tracks etc. I will have to lift the "N" gauge reverse loops tracks from each end section, but this is no big deal since there is no turnouts and no wiring involved.
The new "00" baseboard will be wider (24") than the "N" one (15") . The provisional plan is for an out and back terminus with a reverse loop and hidden storage sidings. The track will be Peco Code 75 fine scale in all visible sections otherwise Atlas Set-track which is much cheaper over here at least (Canada) Rolling stock will be the usual mixture of just what 'takes me fancy'. I don't believe in inventing fancy justifications for "my toys"! So far I have a Hornby Pannier and three wagons (Bachmann) I propose to standardize on Kadee couplers since they are cheap, reliable and easy to convert to. (OK so they don't look like 3 link but on the other hand neither do tension lock couplings which are much more visible than the Kadees) Work will start after the summer break, probably late September.

So here it is! The provisional design for the new 00 layout. Nothing spectacular, just a fairly simple two level affair with a modest terminus which is loosely based on "Clun" the design by Iain Rice in the most excellent Wild Swan Publications book "An approach to Model Railway Layout design. This connects to a "dumbbell" continuous run via a 1 in 40 incline concealed behind the back drop. The minimum curve is 15" (nominal - Atlas or Peco Set track) but all such curves are hidden and largely accessible. I've included a continuous run for two reasons, firstly its useful for running in locomotives and secondly I just love to watch a train running round and round! With the above design it gives the appearance of a length of double track so that the "tail chasing" effect is largely lost. The overall size is 14'10" x 34" maximum. This still fits along the side wall of my office (3rd bedroom) leaving plenty of room for access and work!
The design was accomplished using XTrkCad from Sillub in Ottawa. Although it takes some handling this CAD programme does a fantastic job. The bitmap at the left doesn't do credit to its powerful features. Using an "old" wide carriage 24 pin dot matrix printer I am able to produce large scale drawings of the complete design (1/4 scale) as well as producing full size layout templates for direct placing on the baseboard.

Construction is due to start soon, actually a soon as I've finished the wife's Dolls House which was started back in 1980. Some sort of ultimatum has been issued! It looks like this will be in the next week or so, just in time for the fall model railway season.

I'm also looking into the possibility of using DCC as a means of controlling this new layout. I have a background in electronics (albeit some 45 years ago!) but the same principals still apply (I hope). The idea of being able to control locos independently of each other on the same length of track is highly appealing.  My currently most favoured supplier is MRC who produce a basic set which will allow you to control up to 6 locos simultaneously with a minimum of fuss. The price also seems to be about right, $229.95 Canadian for the basic outfit.

Work Begins !

I've finally gotten around to dismantling the "N" Gauge" layout and starting the bench work for the new "OO" gauge layout.
I've made a couple of minor adjustments to the plan shown.  I've increased the minimum radius to 17" or thereabouts. I found some rolling stock wasn't too happy on 15" . This increase in radius necessitated widening the table framework to 36" at each end and there is a small conflict with the door!. However one can still get in OK and since I'm really the only one who uses the room (it doubles as my office) there really isn't a serious problem. The other small adjustment is to add a "kickback siding at the front of the terminus goods yard.
This shows the "door" end reverse loop. (Click for larger image) The paper pattern was generated using XTrkCad software and printed out on an "old" dot matrix printer. As you can see it shows both the track and its centre line as well as a user definable track board outline. The paper patterns were tacked to the 11 m/m poplar ply and cut out with a jig saw.

N.E.R. "OO" December 1998 ...

Just to recap, my frames are built using nominal 2" x 3" select pine. This is screwed together using 2" x #8  countersink (flathead) screws. No glue is used so that they can be disassembled and re-built should the need arise. The track boards or profiles are cut from 11 m/m G1S (Good one side) poplar plywood which is nice and clean to work with, cuts easily and takes pins and paint perfectly. The back of the framework is screwed to the walls and supported at the front by 2" x 3" pine legs. I personally don't have a problem with building "baseboards" this way. I find it relatively cheap, especially as much material can be recovered from previous frames, its quick, the total frame for this version of the N.E.R. took less than 4 hours to cut, assemble and install to the stage you see in the pictures below.

Left to right ..The "Door End" loop with cork underlay pinned in position. Shelves underneath allow lots of "hidden" storage. Eventually this "storage" area will be hidden by the high level terminus that is located above the reverse loop.
Here you can see most of the length of the baseboard. It is 14' 10" overall length. The ends are 36" wide with a centre section of 24".It is mounted 48" above floor level, I find this height is best for someone of advanced years like myself! At the left hand side (along the wall) you can see the beginning of the incline that will loop round into the high level terminus. Hopefully this will be under 1 in 40 (2.5% for our North American friends)You can see the XTrkCad patterns roughly in place for the beginning of the "Window End" loop.

Above track laying has begun. Peco Streamline, Code 75 fine scale. The low level "main line" is laid and tested. Nothing fancy, just cork underlay and lightly pinned track. Eventually the exposed portions will be properly ballasted using Woodland Scenics ballast mixed with their dry adhesive, arranged in place and then well sprayed with water with a drop of detergent added. This will only be done after the track has been painted. First coat is matt black to simulate creosoted sleepers, then the rails will be picked out in rust colour. A bit of a fiddle but well worth the effort in the end .

I've made some changes to the track plan as above.  Added a small Low Level Terminus. Originally there was nothing here, but with the simple addition of a double slip I've fitted in a tiny station with run-round and a bay, might even manage a "coal siding" or something off the run round . This is instead of some "hidden" storage sidings that I was considering. (N.B. The green tracks are high level, the black low level, buildings omitted for clarity. )Half of the crossover has been replaced with a double slip to enable access to the newly added lower level terminus.

In the photo above the "old N" scale layout can be seen underneath together with the inevitable collection of "junk" that's needed to build a model railway. Eventually I plan to remove the "N" scale baseboard and salvage anything that's worth keeping. In particular there is a Peco point motor on each "N" turnout which can be removed and reused as well as some tiny D.P.S.T. micro switches that can be used for switching turnout polarity.

There will be an "interesting" plate girder bridge over the end of the low level platform where the high level approach road crosses it. This alignment is somewhat tricky but should work OK. I shall probably re-work some of the high-level terminus tracks to suit the slightly reduced area.

February 1999

The high level baseboard (11m/m poplar ply), is temporarily in place. It will be framed wherever possible with 2" x 1" pine. The gradient to this station which runs alongside the wall, is not covered over by the upper baseboard. It will be "hidden" by a backdrop and some low relief shops etc.

The GWR Auto coach is "parked" in the bay of the new low level terminus. All the turnouts have Peco switch machines (point motors) fitted below them and they have got wiring "tails" soldered in place ready for eventual hook-up to the control panel. The motors for the double slip will be "above ground" and hidden under a suitable structure or embankment.

Above looking towards the "window end" The upper baseboard is temporarily located to allow for track alignment. the through girder bridge that will carry the high level track over the end of the lower terminus can now be accurately located. The top end of the gradient can just be seen at top centre. Not sure yet what will happen to the large loop that will lead from the gradient into the upper terminus. I may well hide most of this under a townscape or hill. Perhaps an old church or farm would look nice, something suitably "old world" and bucolic. The 18" loop won't look too good exposed.

March/April 1999

The last couple of months have been pretty hectic, too much work and a new Grandson!. However some good solid progress has been made on the N.E.R.
Scenery has started to appear, a new control panel has been built and all existing turnouts are wired to it and working. Some new locomotives and rolling stock have been acquired. The low level main line and country terminus are now finished so far as track work is concerned. The inclined track runs up to and over the truss bridge (Dapol Kit ex Airfix))
The following pictures show progress...

The control panel is installed, as yet no scenery. The Country Terminus start to take shape. I've used fine aluminium screen wire as a base for the embankments. This is probably not available in the UK since they do not need or use window screens. Its a perfect base for any sort of plaster work. I used a something called "screen wire as a base for the embankments. This is probably not available in the UK since they do not need or use window screens. Its a perfect base for any sort of plaster work. I used a something called "Amaco Sculptamold" for the first time. Its a wonderful product, very fibrous and dries absolutely rock hard. I added some black powder colour to it to "kill" the stark whitene. I then work it over with poster colours followed by judicious application of various colours of flock. The start of this process can be seen under the truss bridge. The station building is the ubiquitous Ratio Country station kit in progress. Road access to this rather cramped station will be via a level crossing over the double tracks seen in the foreground. I have the necessary Wills kits ready for assembly.. I then work it over with poster colours followed by judicious application of various colours of flock. The start of this process can be seen under the truss bridge. The station building is the ubiquitous Ratio Country station kit in progress. Road access to this rather cramped station will be via a level crossing over the double tracks seen in the foreground. I have the necessary Wills kits ready for assembly.. I then work it over with poster colours followed by judicious application of various colours of flock. The start of this process can be seen under the truss bridge. The station building is the ubiquitous Ratio Country station kit in progress. Road access to this rather cramped station will be via a level crossing over the double tracks seen in the foreground. I have the necessary Wills kits ready for assembly.

New locomotives are, a Bachmann Collett goods in GWR livery, great runner and really smooth. A Bachmann Warship also in GWR colours...Wow.....Now this is what all manufacturers should be aiming for. Almost silent, heavy, silky smooth, all 8 wheels pick-up and are driven. Body finish is great and the price is right. I have a pair of GWR Suburban brakes (Dapol) and a few more sundry wagons (Bachmann and Hornby) Eventually all these will be fitted with Kadee)  Eventually all these will be fitted with Kadee Magne-Maticouplers. I know... I know!! Totally non-prototypical, but they're a damm sight neater than the tension-lock abortions and they work like a dream. Our local Model Railroad store (Hutch's Trains) - has a great deal on these couplers. Over the years I've tried just about every type of coupler from Peco simplex to three link, since I enjoy operating and shunting (switching) I need something reliable and easy to fit.)

I'm building a "High Level" brass loco, my first venture into this "modern" technology. Progress is slow but very satisfying, not too sure about the "works" but I'll keep you posted. Also I've ordered a couple of Comet Gresley suburbans which I intend to build as an articulated set. This is pure nostalgia on my part. I used to travel from Harrow on the Hill to Moorgate in these many years ago. (Metropolitan and Great Central!)

The Warship waits for the Colletts Goods to clear the mainline while the pannier sits in the spur
siding with its Auto coach.

The embankment is, as yet, unfinished, even so its natural texture and colour looks fairly good. There is a section of Ratio retaining wall embedded just behind the auto coach. Next job is to start on the track work for the main terminus. The Wills semi finished station building can be seen approximately where it will finish up. I have a roll of "cloud" vinyl wallpaper which will be applied to replace the current track plans.

A few words about the control panel. I've made several of these over the years, this one is a strictly KISS version. The board is a piece of enamelled hardboard (Masonite) sprayed with dark green high gloss acrylic paint. I drilled/cut most of the holes for the various switches before painting. The panel is hinged along its bottom edge so that it can be folded down for access to the wiring. Our local electrical component store (SAYAL) has an absolute Aladdin's cave of bits and pieces and I found some rather nice D.P.D.T. toggle switches with plain silver aluminium toggles.($2.00 about 80p each) These act as the controls for all my turnouts. Each one has an attendant push button to send a "shot" of juice to the Peco point motors. I use a home made capacitor discharge unit which really gives them a jolt! Other switches will be added as required. I had considered going with DCC but "funked" it at the last minute. Instead I'll stick with simple cab-control, at least for the time being."

A word about this latest batch of photos. They were taken with a simple fixed focus cheapo camera. (Actually a special offer from my Gas (petrol) company ). In the past I've borrowed a friend's Nikon but he lives a fair way away and is not over keen on lending me it. One day I'll have to get a digital camera, but right now the N.E.R. has priority over any spare cash I may have.

So it begins to look a bit like a model railway. Still lots and lots to do, but surely that's the joy of our hobby. I've now been "at it" for 52 years, so I reckon I'm something of a guru. Not particularly talented but it gives me great pleasure even at my advanced age of 67 in 1999.
The "old minces" are still pretty good and the hands pretty steady. Long may it continue at least for as long as The Good Lord sees fit to leave me on this mortal plain (or should that be plane?)

By the way...

This where I develop custom software to support my modelling habit! (Just in case you're interested!)

N.E.R. "OO" May/June 1999

Onward into late Spring 99...
Still very busy trying to make a "buck" writing software. The N.E.R. has been somewhat neglected these last few weeks. However there is some progress.
The embankment has now had its first set of colours which will do for the time being. I used poster colour and lots of water, just "sloshed" it on using Yellow, Green, Blue and Brown with plenty of white and a touch of black here and there. A small sprinkling of flock adds a bit of texture and there are few desultory "bushes" from something I had in stock!

The station building has progressed somewhat and there is now a signal cabin and level crossing. The latter is from Wills and the former by Ratio. A start has also been made on ballasting, I used a medium grey ballast and sprayed it with water and a drop of washing up liquid. I should mention that the ballast was first mixed with Woodland Scenics adhesive. (2 parts Ballast to 1 part adhesive). This certainly sticks like "you know what to a blanket" but you have to do a lot a scraping afterwards to release the point blades and get rid of stray bits of ballast. Tedious, but worth the effort.
The platform has acquired some passengers and some working lamps, not very prototypical but they look pretty when lighted. The platform surface is somebody's embossed plastic sheeting, thin but effective. Painted overall "concrete/york stone" colour and then touched up flagstone by flagstone with various shades of grey/brown, again tedious but rewarding.
The track has been laid out for the upper level terminus but as yet not finalized. I'm sort of living with it just hooked together for the time being and at the same time siting various buildings to get the best arrangement. There is a Ratio single road loco shed and a Ratio goods shed at present being tried in various positions. These will be followed by the Cooper craft weigh scale, Ratio loading gauge and Ratio Goods hoist. Future purchases will include a water tower, coal staithes and lots of fencing various and of course a complete town of Newood!.

A "head on" view of "Mollton station". Semi finished Ratio loco shed in background

the top two pictures show the provisional track layout for the high level terminus (Newood) The half finished Wills Country Station can just be seen top centre with the Ratio Goods shed to the left of it. (also unfinished) next is a closer view of the terminus showing the pannier in the "bay" with the autocoach, the first low relief shop is leaning on the old light switch which has now been moved over and replaced by a rotary dimmer (just visible behind the goods shed.

N.E.R. "OO" October 1999

The summer has finished and being extremely strong willed I resisted the temptation to spend a fortune whilst in the UK on our annual holiday. I visited a few model railway stores, in particular The Engine Shed at Ford in Sussex (Near Arundel) This is a great store, extremely well stocked and with helpful and knowledgeable staff. I stocked up on leaflets and catalogues resisting the temptation of buying one of everything!.
Another highlight was a few days stay in York (actually to hear my grandson sing in the Bedford School choir in York Minster, what a fabulous experience) and consequently a day at the N.R.M. ( National Railway Museum) for the uninitiated. Also absolutely fabulous! Perhaps the only disappointment was the "O" gauge layout which is looking its age and in real need of an update.

The N.E.R. has not made any startling progress over the last few months. Usual excuses, holidays, work, a death in the family etc. However I have been experimenting with ballasting, a task that many funk or leave out altogether. Over the years I've tried all kinds of methods and have yet to discover a definitive system that satisfies my appearance requirements and is easy and quick to execute. The current ballasting seen in the pictures below is a combination of methods.

I have used Woodland Scenics products. How we managed without this company's amazing range of products I don't know. I first tried mixing Medium Ballast - Gray Blend with their dry adhesive. Sprinkling this over the area to be ballasted, getting most of it off the sleepers with a soft paintbrush and then over spraying it with water plus a drop of washing up liquid to lower the surface tension.  Hmmm...not bad but it turned the ballast somewhat pink. I then sprinkled dry ballast over the area and sprayed with Woodland Scenicscenic Adhesive. This is, I believe, just watered down white PVA glue. This works fine but of course everything that is in the general area get sprayed with glue. The makers claim that it is matt, however this is not strictly true as it imparts a slight sheen (or as the lady in a paint shop said " a shite scene") to everything that gets some. I wasn't entirely happy with the final effect and found it was improved by over coating with a sprinkling of Gray Fine ballast and re-spraying. This is probably what I should have used in the first place. Having applied the ballast and adhesive I spent many a happy hour armed with an Xactonife scraping the grains of ballast off the sleepers etc. I then dry-brushed the sleepers matt black and painted the rails with rail colour. The final effect is just about acceptable.

The DMU is a recently acquired Hornby 3 car set, currently running as a 2 car set since I'm short of space in the bays(s) Runs just about how you would expect, noisy and a bit jerky. Of course I've been spoiled by the Bachmann Collett and Warship. These are so unbelievably silky smooth I can only liken them to the best of the US models. I am still resisting going over to US outline even though the availability of products over here in Canada is a million times more than that of UK outline.and Warship. These are so unbelievably silky smooth I can only liken them to the best of the US models. I am still resisting going over to US outline even though the availability of products over here in Canada is a million times more than that of UK outline.

Next project is to get the upper terminus (Newood) track laid and wired and hopefully ballasted. This is projected to be finished by early in 2000. Work and budget permitting.

N.E.R. "OO" November 1999

Winter is upon us and supposedly this is the beginning of the "High Season" for railway modelling. I have made some good progress recently and as the pictures show the main terminus is now taking shape.

Work in progress, I'm trying to finalize the layout of this terminus and juggling my stock of turnouts etc.
As a result of an article in MRJ No.113 I have ordered one of Bob Jones' wonderful etched footbridges. Coincidentally it is of an N.E.R. design, of course this is the original N.E.R. not mine. I have long wished to include such a model and consequently changed the design of the terminus to have two platforms linked by the bridge.

This is the footbridge, picture courtesy Model Railway Journal. I am currently awaiting the arrival of the kit and anxiously look forward to assembling it. The next photo shows the completed track layout. Space for the second platform is between the two crossovers. The second platform will be fenced along the goods yard side and will therefore only accept passenger trains on its right hand side.

 The next photo shows the completed track layout. Space for the second platform is between the two crossovers. The second platform will be fenced along the goods yard side and will therefore only accept passenger trains on its right hand side.
The "black" patches are actually pieces of card covering the holes for the Peco switch machines (point motors) These are made on my computer using MS Publisher and a business card format. I draw the slots for the fixing lugs and the operating arm on the card layout and then reverse the print so that they print white on a black background. Using standard Avery business cards I can print 10 at a time and then just cut out the slots with an Exacto Knife. Eventually they will be trimmed and then hidden by the ballast.

The buildings are a bit of a mixture and as you can see none of them is really completely finished and certainly not fixed in position. Doubtless you will be able to identify them without my help. Platforms will be built using 1/4" x 1/2" model aircraft balsa stripwood and then surfaced with either Wills paving or maybe just styrene. The visible faces will be covered with Wills English Bond brickwork.

Here's a closer view of the Ratio Good's Shed

Almost finished, just needs to be somewhat more weathered.

Next job is to connect all the turnouts to the control panel, set up the various feeds and test all the track work thoroughly before ballasting.

I now have a second power unit and this will be the supply for the terminus. I'm considering "Cab Control" but never really "got a handle" on it and I'm not sure of the advantages. Perhaps in the future I will go with DCC but this is a low priority.
I'm also planning to install a "fiddle yard" that will connect with the terminus and allow trains to leave there and go directly to the fiddle yard avoiding the continuous main line altogether. This will allow greater flexibility in running and make for much more interest. I haven't yet finalized the design for this and there is a small amount of domestic objection since the fiddle yard's baseboard will run across the lower part of the window. I've installed the turnout coming off the terminus approach road and am now debating whether to also install one running in the opposite direction thus creating a "Y" junction into the fiddle yard. This would allow trains to travel in and out of the fiddle yard either directly to the terminus or via the incline down to the "main line". But first I must get the terminus fully operational and looking somewhat more finished.

December 1999

At last I have bought a Digital Camera, I needed one for work so it seemed a good investment especially since it can also be used for the N.E.R. history. Here's are some of the first pictures.

These shows the new footbridge mentioned on the previous page, which still hasn't received it's final coat of paint and is resting on the as yet, unfinished platforms.

Continued on NER Page 2