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West Suffolk Junction

70571 Views 420 Replies 34 Participants Last post by  Greyvoices
I was born in 1950 in Bury St Edmunds. That says it all really. By using the resources available on the web I have discovered that I was born on a Sunday but other than a parent induced few years attendance at the Plymouth Bethren Sunday School the significance of the day of my birth seems to have had no lasting effect. (Goodness me, this is starting out like Lawrence Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy).

Let me start again. I have chosen to model a GER location circa 1950 because I was born in West Suffolk in that year. That's better. The catalyst for this was a hopeless case of homesickness following a few years living and working in mainland Europe. (I described this in an earlier thread within the 00 forum, "A return to UK modelling", so I will not bore you with a rehash of all that waffle. David the moderator suggested I move ramblings to this forum). I first thought of modelling Bury St Edmunds but when I dimensioned it for 4mm I soon became aware that to do it justice I would need a room 60 feet long. I can imagine that there may be the odd one or two reading this who will think, "why not N gauge? Such thoughts should be nipped in the bud as 2mm has never appealed to me; it just does not look right. Anyway, there is more chance of Stephen Hawkins threading cotton through the eye of a needle than yours truly usefully employing his 10 thumbs in the pursuit of 2mm modelling excellence. It has to be 4mm because that's what I started out with as a nipper in the fifties, it's a scale still small enough to conceal modelling imperfections, especially if you squint a bit, plus I am just able to place the models on the track within a reasonable timespan. What of 7mm? Too big, too expensive and shoddy modelling skills all too apparent.

So, the lack of 60' to play with and a complete inability to accept compromises that would enable a 4mm version of BSE, complete with 31E and the must have bridge over Fornham Road plus the cannot do without Thetford and Sudbury branch junctions has led me to the conclusion that I must find another location to model. I think it best that the quest to find the right location should be the subject of a separate post so I'll leave that subject for later. My researches have proved to be most enjoyable, the armchair modelling phase being a pure delight not least because you always have one hand free to hold a beer glass.

Even though, for a time, I was unsure what my model would depict I was determined that it would be somewhere in West Suffolk. This knowledge allowed me to make a start on the locomotive and rolling stock fleet. This process commenced whilst I still lived in Germany where I was fully employed and properly remunerated. Being then in my late fifties I could well imagine the not far off time when my income would be severely depleted and my faculties somewhat dimmed. I therefore started to collect the minimum core fleet that would be needed for a true representation of 1950 West Suffolk. This is another "subject for later" as there is much to tell. In the meantime I thought that you might appreciate a glimpse of the pride of the fleet:

GER E4 62783 built for me by John Houlden. An Alan Gibson kit fitted with a DCC chip.

There are so many other elements involved in this tale that I wish to write about. Perhaps that is the intrinsic charm of railway modelling, this multi discipline pastime that can become so important in one's life. I believe that it is this complexity that keeps it fresh in your mind. If you weary of detailing yet another coal wagon you can be revitalised by contemplation of the next trackwork installation or avid study of your bookshelves or the internet to get an accurate composition of the 07:52 all stations stopper to Cambridge. There is also the problem of where can I put my layout? I did a lot of research on this question, bought books on the subject, scoured magazines etc. and the conclusion I came to was that our house in the UK (which we hung onto whilst we were abroad) was just not good enough. I managed to convince my wife that when we returned to the UK we had to move. After much negotiation this has happened, the principal requirements being a decent kitchen and an integral garage that could be converted into a railway room (you can guess which was my wife's stipulation. Sexist? Me?). This has now been acheived, a house found and moved into that we both like, kitchen extended as per without which, "you can forget it buster", garage door removed, replaced with windows and a door punched through into the house plus a radiator plumbed in so that it is nice and snug. Now all that remains is for the detritus of 63 years to be cleared away from the garage and the walls and floor suitably finished off:

That's approximately 20' by 9'. Not quite the 60' that I dreamed of but certainly useful enough. Unfortunately a lot of the clutter is boxes full of models and I am going through a process involving selling what is surplus, donating what I deem still worth something and possible benefit to good causes and taking erstwhile prize possessions that time has deemed worthless to the tip. I will soon be able to start on the shoulder height baseboards upon which West Suffolk Junction will rest. More on this anon.

I think that is enough for the first post. I will appreciate comments, suggestions, criticism if gently put and kindly in intention plus of course, bucketfulls of encouragement.

Best regards ................ Greyvoices (alias John)
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Lovely pictures. I'm very appreciative of how good the guides were. I had a day driving the 40? ton sports truck, thank you very much to the Hussars [ longish story and boreing so will leave it there ]. Back to the pictures ... any bloke dirving that beast onto a truck, hasn't got the faintest idea where the truck is, let alone where the tracks are.

As a clue about it - I pulled to a stop behind a Cheiftain at some traffic lights which opened onto the main [ Berlin ] Highway. He was indicating right [ a sort of clue to other drivers ] and was straddled across both lanes [ givng him room to get out there and slither to the right ]. A lady in a small car slid past my right, seeing she could just fit in the gap by the Tank ... anyone ahead so far ...

Lights went green and both the tank and little lady set off for the far side carriageway to turn right [ they don't drive like we do, remember ]. they both got to the centre and the Tank driver hauled on the right lever .... the Chieftain did ecactly what it was told to do and slewed right ... RIGHT over the front of the pushy lady's car. everything from the windscreen forward went flat onto the road .... everything - FLAT! I'm not sure how it missed her feet, on the pedals ....
. The tank crew hadn't noticed until another vehicle managed to get in front and stop them .... the lady in the car was still screaming when they went to apologise .......

Moral of the story .. the british army have no idea where they are pointing their tanks ... keep well out of their way ..

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I just hope that there are no tank drivers reading this thread Julian.

Those are great pictures Iarnrod as they really illustrate the difficulties in loading these vehicles. I assume that the flat wagon must be continental as it seems to be carrying a full UIC identification panel. The rails also appear to be fastened with nuts which is not British practice (except for that strange NER variety and that is totally different). If only our loading gauge was just a little bit bigger we could have had a lot more military traffic going by rail in the UK.

Best regards ........ Greyvoices (alias John)
Hi John,
QUOTE I just hope that there are no tank drivers reading this thread Julian.

My guess is that most Tankies have broad enough shoulders to have a smile ... I expect they have rather more eventful tales to tell too ...
.. although a good lookout in the rear-view mirror might be good, from now on.

What is perhaps more worrying is a German lady who was prepared to take on a Chieftain Tank, in a rather small car .......

Perhaps Iarnrod might have some recollection of where and when the pictures were taken ....
As you say, John, military traffic might make for some interesting modelling opportunities.

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The first picture (taken in spring 1991) is at the railhead for Bergen/Hohne or Soltau/Luneberg where we did the bulk of our training & had gunnery camp. I know this as the GPMG is fitted on 0D - we had stowed these in the panzers when we set off from barracks in Paderborn to the rail depot at (IIRC) Sennelager & we always fitted them on arrival.

I also seem to recall that there was a passenger coach on each train for a guard crew to travel. The journey wasn't long but the boys on guard would settle in with a hydraulic picnic & decks of cards to while away the trip.

The second was in the Regimental Journal from 1988. This was just before I arrived at the Regiment & I've removed the caption to spare the blushes of the driver lest he has become a railway modeller in later life.

Just wish I had taken more pics at the time, but as a very Junior Officer indeed I was kept very busy with all sorts of other things!
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It just had to be Germany Ianrod, thanks for the confirmation.

I was just wistfully looking at an Airfix model of a WW1 Female tank being offered for sale on Ebay. I must resist.

Best regards .......... Greyvoices (alias John)
If I ever get back into AFV modelling as I was at School as well as resurrecting the railway The Long Haired Controller will have a fit. At least the railway stuff can be folded away against the wall when not in use & my suggestion of a small inglenook/plank so The Small Controller & I can have something readily accessible has met with pursed lips as it is...

Anyway, back OT. I love your locomotives & rolling stock. Will be interested to see how things develop!
Morning Gents,

On the military / tanks theme for model railways, there is a wonderful layout on the current exhibition circuit created / exhibited by Peter Goss, I have been lucky enough to see it at a couple of shows, the standard of modelling is second to none in my opinion. The website will give you a flavour :

..... as you will see set during war time & with lots & lots of military activity on display - including Tanks LOL !!!

Really, loved the various pics & associated tales posted above on John's threads, the mental picture of that German lady - well enough said !!!!!!!

Enjoy the link, Cheers,

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What a beauty:

This picture is copied from an Ebay listing. I don't think that the seller will mind. As I have already said, I am very tempted but then I'd have to have 10 of them, find 10 RECTANK models to put them on, source a J15 in GER livery, also an NER coach for the drivers plus sundry other items to complete the scene.

However. I must resist. I am trying to downsize my continental collection, shrinking from anything post war in Germany to the present day so that I am left with East German late fifties to the wall coming down. Also of course GER in 1950 ........ ish ......... but also ex GER territory diesels in the early sixties. If I add WW1 GER tot he mix I'll be back where I started, a room full of boxes with no space for even a small layout.

Best regards ............ Greyvoices (alias John)
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QUOTE (silky_jack @ 15 Jan 2013, 09:39) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>There's something seriously cool about tanks on trains!!

I certainly used to think so! A standard wind-up for new boys (known as NIGs for "New In Germany", even when posted to a UK-based Unit) was to tell them that the train guard actually travelled in the turrets of the tanks & for security purposes would be closed down inside & the turret hatches locked over them.

QUOTE (Greyvoices @ 15 Jan 2013, 10:25) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>...As I have already said, I am very tempted but then I'd have to have 10 of them, find 10 RECTANK models to put them on, source a J15 in GER livery, also an NER coach for the drivers plus sundry other items to complete the scene...

Arrrrrgh! You've now made me think of a Squadron's worth of Chieftains & 43X series vehicles on flats. As I would want to model my own lot I may have an excuse not to - there is no 1/76 scale model available of the variant I commanded. Mind you I did start modifying an Airfix one...
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Hi John,
Who said nostalgia isn't something to be looked forward too....

Was in Berlin for a while when the wall was up and did the occasional trot as Duty Orrifice on the Berlinner, Military Train to and from West Germany. I have got the coaches on order, although when they will ever get into production is anyone's guess.
It seems there may be cause for another small board of the checkpoint, in the offing when/if they ever do arrive. I'm not sure if there are actually any pictures of the job being done by Blue Jobs .... not sure if appropriate to set the scene after the Vodka exchange Travel Document Checking was done with the Russian Orrifice .
.. At least no-one could complain that the figures weren't upright .....

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This topic has become decidedly military in flavour and I for one don't mind that one little bit. It's refreshing to know that what is often just a chance remark sparks a memory, interesting anecdote or perhaps just a downright witty riposte. I think it's called communication. I've never been in the military though it sometimes feels as if I've earned a campaign medal or two. My work on railways has brought me into contact with odd branches of HM Forces a time or two and it was always a pleasure dealing with professionally minded people who had a natural respect for the professionalism of others. I think it comes with the territory. Mind you, I've also met a few who were b****y idiots, but they would have been b****y idiots in civvy street so that was no reflection on the service to which they belonged.

I could ramble on for hours with my railway/military tales (shock horror) but I will discipline myself and mention just one. I had dealings with a certain railway yard in the east of England where one of the chaps who worked there had been in a Panzer Corps. Yes, in WW2 he had been in the German army driving a tank. He had been captured, brought back to the UK as a prisoner but after the war ended wanted to stay here. He was a great bloke, not exactly an Einstein but he was good hearted and would never intentionally harm anyone. On top of this he was a very good worker. I happened to be visiting the yard and joined the blokes in the mess room for a cup of tea. The ex Panzer driver had just returned from his summer holidays, a trip by train to somewhere south of Austria (oh the joys of free staff travel). When asked if all had gone smoothly he said yes but with the exception of some little difficulty in Vienna. He was pressed for details and had the mess room in fits of laughter as he related how he had fallen asleep as his train approached Vienna where it terminated. He slept on, even as the empty stock was shunted out of the station into the carriage sidings. He did not know how long he slumbered except that when he awoke it was dark and he was unsure of his whereabouts, even which country he was in. He decided to walk back to the station, suitcase in hand, along the darkened tracks. Unfortunately he started off in the wrong direction, doggedly tramping on into the unseen countryside. He told us how he finally made it to a smallish sort of town just as the Sun came up. From there he just resumed his travels, the night spent walking along the tracks probably quite insignificant compared with some of the ordeals he had endured in his former life. The atmosphere in the mess room was wonderful as they did not laugh at him but were laughing with him. He would be nearing his century if still alive today. It's a pity that I cannot recall his name.

Best regards ......... Greyvoices (alias John)
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Hi John,

Do keep those ramblings coming, along of course with the progress on both of your model railways, including your Summer deadline ! No pressure eh lol !!!!!

On a similar OP ramble while it comes to mind, to your German chaps train into the siding storey. I was working on a project in Geneva a couple of years ago for Barclays, it was my first visit to site, so was finding my way somewhat blindly from the airport to the train into the city, then a tram out to the site; got there all OK. But when travelling home, I left with a couple of London based Engineers, who were regular travellers so thought easy peasy will tag along with them to the airport. Especially as I was cutting it fine for my flight ! Anyway we got to the station dashed up the stairs onto the airport train; well thats what we thought (well they did I was merely following them LOL !!!!). The train pulled out & I thought to myself, blimey this is a much older train than the modern one I travelled on this morning. Then someone said not many people on this train, then it stopped, which when we looked out was in a bloody massive marshalling yard / sidings in the middle of nowhere. For some reason we all sat there for a minute, then having looked out of the very small section of opening window & seeing no one around, we headed off for the front of the train to find the driver / guard / etc. Got there eventually, we had got on right at the back it seems. To find train was empty apart from ourselves. Then we decided to try to open the door to get out & find someone, whilst watching the planes fly off overhead, knowing that one of them was no doubt mine LOL !!! Having not been able to open any doors to get out, a few calls were made, but still to no avail. Then the door burst open & in walked a very startled driver, somewhat surprised to find a group of English peeps on his "empty" train ! After some discussion he took us back to Geneva, not the planned destination of said train, but a nice guy; & we started over again. Got to airport had missed flight, long wait till next one; but a funny storey in hindsight, & one which was the basis of a lot of ribbing on subsequent trips to site LOL !!!!!

Sorry for the thread hijack / waffle !!!!!


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My "uncle" Frank was Eighth Army right through WWII from Africa up thru Italy and afterwards taught me to drive in his Ford Consul in the early 1950s on Southport beach.
He had a particular way of creating tight car parking spaces - marking them out using seaweed and he watched us all backing into them.
"Why can't we just drive into them?" I asked.
"Take my advice: always back into a parking space lad.
You never know when Rommel may turn up. You might have to leave in a hurry!"

Everybody should have an Uncle Frank and Geneva Airport, I spent a whole year commuting through there, out from East Midlands on a Sunday afternoon and back each Friday evening. It cost me a fortune in chocolates to keep things sweet at home. Under the thumb --- not me. We had a portrait painted a while back and it clearly shows that I am the boss in this house. If there is any interest I'll post it here.

Anyway, back to the main topic. I have completed the initial setup of the returned layout, fathomed out the wiring and hooked up my ZTC 511 (which I intend slaving through the ESU Ecos 50000 as I've heard it all works better that way). I bought the Ecos in Germany just before the colour one came out. Good timing. I had a little running session this evening, some of the locos never having been run before. Goodness but I have some cleaning to do as the track rubber couldn't shift some of the grime. In another thread I have been trying to convince a chap who is no doubt far more knowledgeable than me that steel track is better than nickel silver. After this evenings gungefest I will definitely be laying steel rails on West Suffolk Junction.

Tomorrow I will at last get to see if the coaches that I've had built with Bill Bedford couplings run through the points and curves ok. I have a thing about close coupling and find the all too frequent six foot gaps between coaches really off putting. If the Bill Bedford couplings work well then I intend fitting all fixed rakes in this manner. Here is a Bachmann Thompson coach coupled with a D&S kit GER coach (built by John Houlden):

I think that this type of coupling would look really good on blockenders, the slang term for so-called suburban non-corridor stock. Eileen's Emporium list them on their website and I also think that there is another make but I cannot remember where I saw them. If anyone has experience with this type of coupling I would welcome a second opinion.

It's really great to be active with modelling once again though the refurbishment of the returned layout looks a bit daunting; I will have to completely dismantle the now rather tired remnants of the overhead masts and wires and start again. A lot of this is salvageable however so hopefully I will not have to spend too much.

Whilst I have been busy with today's activities I have been thinking about the dear chap whose funeral we attended in Wales yesterday. He was only 11 weeks older than me but sadly he will not now enjoy his years of retirement. My wife had to put up with my usual running commentary about how the railways have gone to the dogs. After 80 minutes in a single car DMU rattling between Derby and Crewe she started to agree with me. Crewe always seems colder than everywhere else in Winter so having to wait for a delayed connection to Chester did not help. Even if the trains run on time a cross country journey like this averages around 25 miles per hour, 4 hours to do about 100 miles. They call this progress but I know that journeys times away from the main routes into London have not improved. They should scrap the HS2 idea and spend the money on improvements that benefit people throughout the country.

Enough of my ranting .............. Best regards ...... Greyvoices (alias John)
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Hi John,

How did I forget to mention the Geneva / Chocolate experience - it always broke the bank LOL!!!!!!

The close coupled / connected coaches, along with all the great detail look first rate, hope they run / perform as smoothly as they look. Is the plan to have a number of permanently coupled rakes on the "new" planned layout ?

Its good you are already enjoying reigniting your railway modelling interests, long may it last.

Yes Norm, the plan is to have a few semi permanently coupled rakes, that is if I can sort out adequate fiddle yard capacity. As you can imagine form my chosen location there will be a variety of Gresley and Thompson corridor and non-corridor sets, various rakes of parcels and horsebox vehicles, milk tanker trains and of course the usual gamut of freight trains, not forgetting p/way movements.

The snow has induced a quiet day at home and I have been busily adding a couple of plug points prior to cladding the external wall. Thankfully the wall is already double skinned, the converted garage already feeling quite snug even though the outside temperature is -2 but an extra layer of insulation will not go amiss. If I think back to my youth and my attempts create a layout in a loft I am amazed how I could have put up with such extremes of temperature.

I have been hunting around for some IPA, isopropanol, as the tracks on the returned layout are in a shocking state. Scrubbing away with a track rubber seems to have no real effect, the rails seeming to be coated with generous dollops of Hattie Jacque's gravy. I can see the sense in exploring the idea of an on board source of power, something that is from time to time suggested by the more experimental amongst us. I know that we now have the benefit of "stay alive" for the DCC brethren by why not go the whole hog and install rechargeable battery packs. If only Hornby live steam had been developed for digital control.

I was also very magnanimous today as I offered to relocated the small second fridge into the railway room so that my wife could use the space gained in the kitchen extension for more cupboards. What a selfless act!!! This was one of the many decisions I made today and it is so nice to have a woman who readily accepts my ideas as being inspired. Here is the portrait I mentioned in an earlier post where I am demonstrating the usual assertive behaviour that railway modellers adopt with their wives:

Does this look familiar?

Best regards ........... Greyvoices (alias John)
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Hi John,

Very nice Pic LOL !!! "Adopt the pose" I can hear them cry !!!!

I think your cunning plan is excellent, brownie points for re - homing the fridge, freeing up essential kitchen space for cupboards, I think our kitchen design took twice as long as expected due to the "need" for maximum cupboard space LOL !!!! But your adopted / re - homed fridge, will morph into the Railway Room beer fridge, once the incorrect (* or correct some would say),delivery of IPA arrives. Hope your fridge agreement is for an empty one !!!!!!

Have fun, Cheers,

QUOTE (Greyvoices @ 19 Jan 2013, 02:18) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I have been hunting around for some IPA, isopropanol, as the tracks on the returned layout are in a shocking state. Scrubbing away with a track rubber seems to have no real effect, the rails seeming to be coated with generous dollops of Hattie Jacque's gravy.
Try here John. I got a 1 litre before and it went pretty quick as it has SOOOO many uses. So last time I got the 5 litre.

Will thinners, that gets used in old style cellulose spraying, do the same things as IPA?
I ask because my son always keeps a large cannister on hand for cleaning as well as re-painting the various components of his classic bikes.

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