April 21st 2018 EKOGG in Faversham
To mark the 150th Anniversary of Colonel Stephens, Ross conducted us around the many minor railways that had been engineered by Stephens or which had become part of his “empire”. On the tour, photos showed the Colonel, his lines, motive power and rolling stock. Models were also included; the WC&P featuring. We examined the many photos and documents that Ross had brought during our refreshment break.
There was vintage footage of railcars from Pathe newsreels and pictures showed the rail-motors, with their luggage wagons on several lines. Photos illustrated many of the quirks of the Colonel’s railways: the strange little loco “Gazelle” in several of its incarnations; the “shed on wheels” that disguised a shunting tractor and the abandoned incline at Edge Hill. An interior view of Boston Lodge shed showed debris covered locos; maybe the same ones that I clambered over in the mid-1950s. The K&ESR three-armed signal post also featured. Perhaps it will be recreated sometime.
Les had found us many packets of scenic and ground cover materials for use on Sarre, and we heard experiences on the layout’s first show. Earlier several of us had met in The Vaults. Thanks, as always, to all those who helped setting out the hall and to Tim and John J aiding with electricals. Colin and I were amongst those assisting in the kitchen with John P and David Ho, but there’s always room for one more… Jackie checked the building and locked up at the end of the day.
Many thanks to Ross for his fascinating talk. I feel a visit to Tenterden’s railway museum coming on.
April 18th Wednesday at Badlesmere
Bumble bees and ladybirds being released from the hall, bracketed a very enjoyable day of modelling and running. We heard about Sarre’s enjoyable expedition to Eastleigh and caught up on modelling matters over mugs of tea. Besides Steve’s flat wagon, on the table, was an aged 0-6-0 chassis. This engrossed the engineers and by the end of the day David G had concocted wires from a controller to the motor and achieved movement along a track. John B and Steve had begun to put out Sarre early on, so that an electrical short could be dealt with, and for Jim to check the dimensions of the buildings he is completing. John B went on add field fences to the front of the layout. Several of us got to grips with the controllers and saw how many locos could be coped with. Ground cover and structures were discussed, and I heard DCC mentioned by Roger.… Barry and John P turned up trumps with an Arthur, a Lord Nelson and an M7, joining with C and P classes to run on Sarre, with my red saddle tank. We managed to set up several photos; without really hindering the workers. Thanks to those who helped in the kitchen, which now boasts two shiny kettles. The day ended with David Ho and both Johns easing the layout up to its shelves.
April 7th Sarre’s first show
Roger Harmer (photos by Ross Shimmon)
On 7 April 2018 the Wessex Narrow Gauge Modellers held their annual show at Eastleigh. As this year marks the celebration of 150 years since the birth of Col Stephens, an “exhibition within an exhibition” of Col Stephens related lines was included. This allowed standard gauge railways with a Col Stephens connection to appear. Thanks to Ross, Sarre was one of those invited. David G, John B, Ross and Roger loaded up at Badlesmere on 6 April and, after a few traffic delays on the M25, set up in about twenty minutes. A quick test with a loco showed that Sarre worked as expected.
The next morning we set out the stock to run a sequential timetable that Roger had drawn up. Ross took the controls and John took charge of the fiddle yard. David and Roger took turns as “front man” to talk to the public, visit the show and cover for the workers in time of need. So smoothly did Ross and John run Sarre during the day that the other two were barely needed. However, David was able to repair one of Roger’s locos that had developed a spark throwing ability and figure out a workaround for a short that developed during the morning.
We had taken sufficient stock to cover failures but, apart from Roger’s loco, everything worked well. The sequence didn’t quite finish logically but the principal operators quickly decided that one ad hoc move left the stock in the right places to run the sequence again from the beginning. We did lose a lot more ballast in transit but we felt that a less solid looking formation is required to better reflect the light railway appearance that we want. This, and some other thoughts, is to be pursued at upcoming meetings at Badlesmere.
The show displayed a lot of fine modelling in various scales and gauges along with some trade with, obviously, a narrow gauge bias. Sarre was commended to us by many visitors and also to the show management. The only other 7mm standard gauge layout was Plaxtol Road (which some of you may have seen in Railway Modeller last year. There was also a magnificent 7 1/4” live steam model of the Lynton & Barnstable Railway’s “Taw” from a local park railway. The show finished at 1700 and we drove away at 1750. The return drive was less congested and we had unloaded and left for home by 2000. All in all a good day out.
April 4th Wednesday at Badlesmere
We ended the afternoon with Sarre prepared, crated and ready for exhibition at Eastleigh, and with the Circuit’s second line all wired up; pretty good. John P, got his stalwart regulars into action preparing lunchtime drinks, and, later, we also had many hands making light of the sweeping and clearing the hall.
Jim had appeared in the door clasping wooden warehouses, as Sarre’s baseboards were being set out for an assault on scenics. Soon people were adding ground cover to the goods sidings, while gaps in the platform were filled and the station name board fixed. Controllers and stock were tested after lunch, when ballast was cleared around point blades and railhead polished. The baseboards were tried face to face before the end plates were fitted. The majority of us fourteen aided in some way, but obviously, a great deal had been done at last week’s extra session organised by Roger.
Paul Weeden and Barry had been quietly soldering their way around the Circuit’s length today, and at the extra meeting. They achieved that target after lunch, then had a look to see what others had been up to, although Paul was seen wielding a large wrench at the cisterns by way of a change.
March 21st Saturday at Badlesmere
On the work table Paul H fitted DCC decoders to two locos and David Ha worked on a brass van, but the focus of the day was Sarre. Roger had had four of the boards at home and completed the soft scenics on one and got the ground work in place on the other three. The primary task was to finish the ballasting and this was achieved. The sidings were done in “coal shale” and the other lines in “proper” ballast. A couple of our members were able to nicely blend the two types where the different lines meet. Meanwhile, John B finished the trunk and branches of a tree to go behind the wall and spread some horsehair among the branches to take the leaves. These will go on at the next meeting. Jim brought along the carcass of one of the factory buildings with its loading dock. It fits exactly and Roger suggested gently that it would look wonderful finished alongside the other warehouse that Jim will now make (by 28 March …….). A couple of huts were positioned over point motors to hide them. David Ho added a switch to the wiring so that, should the point motors fail, they can be operated by hand without causing short circuits. The station building was bolted into place and some wooden fencing installed to partially disguise the joint with the backscene. Another structure is needed to hide the rest of the point motors.
Those present agreed that we needed an extra day on Sarre and this will be Wednesday 28 March. This will see the initial scenic stage finished and some test running. Wednesday 4 April will be given over to testing a sequential timetable before it goes to Eastleigh on Friday.
March 17th 2018 Saturday in Faversham
Members gathered at the Fleur for Tim’s talk ‘The Confessions of a Teenage Signalman’. He did wonder if the title might just attract a different audience. But no, it was made up of the usual suspects. Tim told us that he had begun working on the London Underground in June 1983 at the age of 16. He was employed as a Junior Trainee Railway Operations (JTRO) and after some initial training, he was sent as a box boy to Aldgate signal cabin. He worked there for six months before moving to Hainault and Woodford on the Central line. At that time there were nearly 40 signal cabins on the Metropolitan, District, Hammersmith and City, Bakerloo and Central lines, although the other lines were operated from centralised control rooms at Euston and Earl’s Court.
The trainees were told by their manager that mechanization would make their jobs obsolete within a few years, but several of his friends who started with him are still with the Underground today. There are still nine signal cabins on the underground, the oldest one at Edgware Road dates back to 1923. It is scheduled to be preserved. Tim tried pulling the levers in a traditional signal box, feeling embarrassment in front of fellow trainees when he found it difficult. Most of the boxes he worked in had Westinghouse frames, starting with miniature levers followed by push buttons and route selection. Among the fascinating topics Tim covered were the interaction between the Underground and steam and diesel trains on the Widened lines. The spotters among us noted a ‘Jinty’ and an N2 and was that a class 31? Perhaps the item that fascinated most was the Pianola-style punched roll that operated the points, signals and station announcements automatically. What happened when things went wrong? It had to be put right manually. When the timetable changed a new roll had to punched by the typists at HQ. All in all, Tim described a very different railway environment from that featured on Sarre and Edington Junction! But fascinating nonetheless.
Messages came in during tea that it was snowing hard in Gravesend. So, having washed up and tidied the room, we made our way home through a deserted Faversham, thinking of all those Underground trains clattering over complex pointwork at incredibly short intervals.
March 7th 2018 Wednesday at Badlesmere
A little while ago, the Hall Committee asked that we turn off the water at the end of each session. Thus, we have to turn it on at the beginning. Paul, being the first to arrive who knows where the stop-cock is, went to do the honours and a jet of water shot up his arm. It seems the weather had got at the hall supply!.. Nevertheless, 20 minutes later Ian “the Fixer” Earl got us to the point that that one toilet was working (essential for some….) and tea/coffee could be had (essential for all!).
The roundy-round was set up and Paul H gave a couple of his GWR locos an outing. These were followed by Roger’s Dapol 08 diesel with three air-braked wagons in tow. Colin S ran his “ED” class 73 and then his 4-CEP. John J ran his Heljan class 60.
Sarre was set up for ballasting at the right-hand end headshunt and siding. Ross brought his “ballasting box” again which moved things on considerably. Roger made up a paper template for the building footprint along the backscene hiding the cassette. Jim has taken this away to cover in building flats and half relief. David Ho shaped and fitted the front scenic boards but there is still a lot to do at the next meeting on 4 April just three days before it goes out to its’ first show. John B and Roger started to make a small tree each to go behind the wall at the right hand end. John’s is starting look good; Roger’s is just starting.
David G brought along a brass kit of a 6-wheeled S&D coach and was working on that. Apparently, it is one of four of various parentage that have “surfaced” in his railway room. Jim showed us a brass kit for a brake van that he plans to start soon.
We have received an invitation to take part in a television programme about railway modelling. It is to be competitive (a sort of Strictly Come Railway Modelling or Great British Model Railway Off………).
And by going home time, it had stopped raining.
February 21st 2018 Layout running at Badlesmere
The second track met itself coming the other way on The Circuit and back scene boards are all in place on Sarre; which made for a good day for the fourteen of us, depite motorway problems and the chill weather. Brass was in evidence on the modelling table where David G soldered, Tim worked on a van and Barry showed the boiler of the SECR Class J that he is scratch-building. Paul H and Geoff R were putting the modelling world to rights a bit further along. Into this, all unsuspecting, dropped Chris M, who had seen us on the website. After being shown around he aided the kitchen stalwarts. We discussed the design for a pop-up poster; everybody offering useful points.
David H and Colin were fitting Sarre’s back scene to give clearance to the point controls and cables; the final effect lifting the layout’s appearance in every way. Even before they’d finished, John B had installed a wall and tree to soften the end profile. Roger’s BR(S) push-pull set occupied the platform road. Paul W, Barry and John J prepared the new track, having to recoil each time a train passed on the other line – actually, not that often while Jim and David G’s chain driven Sentinel shunters were hauling wagons. Swifter locos later appeared and the running ended with John J’s impressive EWS Class 60.
February 17th 2018 Model display & AGM in Faversham
Choices, choices… Far too many, when judging the models from our display – thirty entries, all of which gained votes from the twenty of us there.
Les Gibson and other eager modellers were waiting on the balcony, as I dashed by with the keys, and, once the door opened, busied themselves putting out tables. David Hopkins aided by Jackie Davidson readying the kitchen. A half dozen project and interest items were shown and the sales stands beckoned, but, once description labels joined the competition models, we were into the AGM. Roger’s proposal that, in addition to taking layouts out, we fly the flag for the group at model railway shows in the south-east was well received. All present said how much they appreciated the Guide News. With no changes to the committee, we closed the AGM, grabbed teas and got down, often on our knees, to examining the display.
Freight stock included a Lowmac, pre-Grouping wagons and early BR. Carriages stretched from four wheelers through six wheelers to a lengthy railmotor. Two diesels, a Class 40 and an 08, appeared in the Loco line up. Steam featured an East Coast pacific, an LMS 8F and two classic 4-4-0s at the large end, with a chain driven shunter and a GWR “Clara Chuff” saddle tank at the other. Small locos, a short coach and a cottage were on the Projects corner before the Scenics. Here lorries were next to a busy and well equipped lineside café. Railway Street Garage abutted a weekend garden plot with an old carriage; both full of character. Besides them, a lofty town house was next to Westhall Signal Box and a grounded van. After chatting and pondering, refreshments were cleared, buyers were prised away from Bring & Buy and we gathered to see who had made the winning models.
Colin Smith collected the first certificate for a mini-diorama “The Sidings” – an old carriage used as a dwelling, with decaying Dormobile, enamel signs in the hedge and washing blowing on the line. Passenger Stock was won by a GWR steam railmotor, which Alan Ketley described as a challenging build. An SE&CR brake van, from a resin kit, gained the Freight award for Roger Harmer. The Locomotive section was headed by Barry Weston’s “Charterhouse”, a Schools class that we’ve seen running-in on our Circuit. With models safely tucked into boxes and furniture stacked away, we headed home.
February 7th 2018 Wednesday at Badlesmere
Up through the frosty woods and across the snowy uplands came the EKOGG members to huddle in the red glow of the hall’s heaters. We soon had the circuit running, table up and hot drinks shared out. With heat above and chocolate biscuits below, the modelling table was popular. David G worked across from John B who was making a well-equipped line-side cabin. Paul H had a small station, another laser cut building; while I cut card to make a lean-to for a LSWR cottage. Steve was cleaning and fettling wagons and vans.
Jackie and Colin S were soon at work ballasting on Sarre, where a faint whiff of urgency was apparent as they are threatening to take it to a couple of shows this year. David Ho. fitted point motors with Brian M aiding their positioning in the scenery. A rake of Birdcage coaches was on the Circuit with Geoff’s Terrier. Jim ran-in his 4F, while Paul began extending the second track. After lunch, light locos gave way the more modern stock. With Tim in attendance, Steve and Colin were soon comparing powered bogie sets when D205 and the Fell diesel joined a SR electric for a run.
We caught up on news when we dined together. Thanks to all who assisted in the kitchen. Another enjoyable meeting ended as all hands to stowed away and shut the hall.
January 20th 2018 Saturday in Badlesmere
The Canterbury show attracted some members in the morning. Although there wasn’t much for the O gauge fraternity there was a good representation of Rolvendon in 4mm scale.
Sarre was set up for more electrical work and further ballasting at the left end including the line in from the fiddle yard. Ross brought a “ballasting box” to aid the work. Towards the end of the session, John B and Stuart ran a couple of locos that they had brought along including a Dapol 08 in green that Stuart has subtly weathered. Paul had some of the Test Track boards up to continue laying the second line. David G brought along a brass wagon kit that he worked on with Chris. Significant progress made. Roger did a bit more on the KFAs (modern warflats) that he is scratchibuidling in plastic. Ross brought along some railway magazines to give away. John B showed us a tea hut that he is making from a K&S laser cut kit. Another enjoyable session.
January 17th 2018 Wednesday in Badlesmere
Edington was set up for practice (play) runs and used to test locos from Geoff (H class in Southern black, L class in Southern Green and a Collett Goods in GWR livery). David G had a freight train running behind the Dapol Jinty, a souvenir of our venture to Wigan last year. All the vehicles appeared to be RTR apart from the brake van. Sarre was set up for continued electric installation and a beginning of ballasting at the left end (viewed from the front) sidings. Today there wasn’t much individual modelling, just David G working on some Dingham couplings and John J examining bogie tanker wheelsets.
As usual, Roger had some stuff for sale and two buildings and two wagons went away with new owners.
Badlesmere has planned its Medieval Fayre Sunday 20 May. As their activities are outdoors, we have been invited to set up inside as a sort of open day. The twelve at the meeting agreed that we would meet on the Saturday as usual but leave everything up and return the following day to display our activities.
January 3rd 2018 Wednesday in Badlemere
Wishing everyone a Happy New Year, we came in, out of the stormy winds, for our first session of the year. Once we’d downed hot drinks, we were ready to set out the Circuit and table for those working on Sarre. Roger brought many locos and a variety of stock from a family sale, including scratch-built Great Western locos, some with outside frames, and an early tram. These were soon being tested along with members’ stock. Jim was working on a rather nice loco shed on the long table and kits were being constructed. The eleven of us caught up with news and laid plans for Sarre’s ballasting at the next session. Those on the Circuit must be experts at stowing away, the baseboards being whisked onto the racks in double quick time, while those aiding David Hopkins as he checked point motors were still steadying baseboards.