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West Suffolk Junction

70339 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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QUOTE (frame69 @ 23 Jan 2013, 17:24) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Superb work. And its great to see a thread which its main focus is what we are all realy here for.

I may go as far as to say its a refreshing change to the usual cobblers that generally ends up with several members reaching for the handbags.


Frame made this comment on the excellent Millfield Helix thread and it struck me that I am probably classed as being amongst the purveyors of cobblers.
I choose to post on MRF because of the absence of handbags, unlike the sandbags that are swung in another place, not least by another chap named Andy.

Best regards ............ Greyvoices (alias John)
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QUOTE (Greyvoices @ 23 Jan 2013, 14:53) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>That was a very interesting post 34C, thank you. I am really interested in your hardboard drag method and have started eyeing up an old bogie well wagon with the idea of cutting out the floor and substituting a low slung block of weighted hardboard that resembles a dummy load. This, if loosely held in place at both ends, would enable it to be used successfully on an end to end layout. See what you've done, yet another item on my list of projects.

Spooky, John! I was browsing the forum a couple of days ago and came across a link to this Canadian Powerpoint going into great detail on track cleaning, which about half way through has a picture of exactly what you describe! Pendon is again credited as per 34C's post.
Perhaps not spooky at all Gavin because I posted the said link in post 51 of this thread. You may have seen it there. I must say however that I was initially pleased with how clever I was for modifying 34C's method of dragging a weighted piece of hardboard but now I realise that, when skimming through the relevant section of, "Go with the flow" one part of my brain must have retained the information but hid it from the bit that controls my typing fingers. Thanks for pointing this out.

Just a minute, "What's that you say Nurse Tredlightly? Time for my bedbath, so soon after the last one?"

Best regards ............ Greyvoices (alias John)
Curses, my brain! I knew I'd seen it somewhere! This could go round in circles. Remind me again next time I mention it!
We both have a perfectly reasonable excuse Gavin. I see that you reside in Suffolk. Need I say more?

Ah yes Suffolk, the place where I was brug up.

Best regards ........... Greyvoices (alias John)
QUOTE (David Todd @ 22 Jan 2013, 18:59) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>..............
He has only just moved there.........
an import........Aye - tis true....might as well come clean by going OT on your West Suffolk thread....
QUOTE (Greyvoices @ 23 Jan 2013, 20:59) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Ah yes Suffolk, the place where I was brug up.Sudbury is where I used to go on holiday (in LNER corridor stock) from Chelmsford with my auntie Jo who lived with us and was a Land Army girl. I learnt to drive a pair of Suffolk Punch ploughing horses on her mum's farm.

Being 'Essex Man', my grandchildren all ask me why I say rylewye and Narge ("A Fine City" further up the GE); I confess I've only lived in the NE since being lucky enogh to land a job here from Africa once the kids reached secondary school age - nearly 40 years ago.
A year or two back I stopped a pair of 8 year olds from setting fire to the door in the south porch of the grade 1 listed C13 church next door (the Scots were rather more successful in 1300); "Way aye! Why are yooz
tellin uz wot to do? Yer divvunt even cum from
roond heoR" they complained as I marched them off down the church path.


I rate the best posts on this forum to be by the self styled "in depth idiot" so wordy old fools and those who bumble OT can perhaps take some comfort

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Regarding the cleaning drag my first version was a vehicle. But smplify, simplify, and now it is just the hardboard with the block of lead on top. It needed a lot of power to get up the 1 in 80 grade and also needed to be completely reversible. The arrangement now arrived at is top and tailed by a pair of the earlier design Bachmann 'Peak' chassis stripped down and running as BoBo's , which supply all the guidance necessary to keep it on the rails. I use bar couplings from bent wire to hold the ensemble together. Not elegant to gaze upon, but effective.
Hi John,
Is this of any interest? Obtained by Dover Spam, this morning ..
. otherwise known as dt ....

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QUOTE (Greyvoices @ 23 Jan 2013, 20:59) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I see that you reside in Suffolk. Need I say more?

Ah yes Suffolk, the place where I was brug up.

Quite so, born, bred and still living. We're all a bit odd. It's the geography.
Julian, thank you for the link in post 68 to the ground signal paper. Very interesting. At one place it refers to the Ratio ground signal kit, one of which I have somewhere hidden in a drawer. Hopefully I will soon have to dig it out. It seems that I have been collecting stuff for the layout of my dreams for ever. A recurring thought with me is the ease with which our German counterparts can produce layouts of their home system with very accurate models straight out of the box. Ground signals are a good example and I have a fully working ground disc signal, manufactured by Veissman (or should the i be before the e ?) installed on Glatzau as well as a fully operational semaphore signal from the same source. How many years have we had to wait for British outline 00 working signals ....... finally Dapol managed it in 2012. Hopefully they will add junction/bracket signals soon but I fear we will have to wait awhile for ground signals. I should not forget to mention MSE who have brought out an operational signal (R-T-R from their kit of parts). I ordered one but am having to wait for their second batch. I asked the MSE chap if they were going to extend the R-T-R range but he said it was unlikely because he did not think there would be enough demand.

I have had a rather frustrating day as I have been trying to trace a short in the electrics of Glatzau. My efforts at cleaning may have triggered the problem (or perhaps not) but until I find out what is wrong I will not know. The scenic section of Glatzau comprises 2 boards so I did the logical thing and isolated the 2 sections, my ZTC 511 then indicating which board harboured the guilty wiring. I checked on the supposedly healthy section by trying to run a loco (just to double check) but it would not move. Strange. I started to wonder if the fault could be in the ZTC unit itself so I hoiked the Esu Ecos 50000 out of its box but just as I was going to hook it up my wife, in true Lady Penelope mode, required me for my chauffeuring talents; the roads being treacherous with ice and snow. See, I'm still good for something. What followed was a protracted afternoon of shopping etc whilst all I wanted to be doing was finding the fault. At last we returned, and I duly hooked up the Ecos to find that it indicated that the other board was the culprit. How can that be? I decided to go back to the tried and trusted method of two wires with crocodile clips, testing the layout siding by siding, line by line, but, (I bet you are ahead of me) each and every line worked perfectly. When treated piecemeal all works well but when taken as a whole there is a short circuit. This is what is commonly called an under baseboard phenomenon (UBP). There is only one known cure which involves a case of Spitfire and a phone call to a more knowledgeable and patient mate. So, for the last couple of hours I have been trying to contact more knowledgeable mates (without success) whilst consoling myself with the odd bottle of Spitfire. Thank goodness I stocked up on the essentials whist out shopping. Long may the UBP continue.

Who said model railways were boring?

Best regards .............. Greyvoices (alias John)
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Hi John, or should that be "Parker";

Sounds like the beer fridge is already paying dividends LOL !

Hope the view through the Spitfire is assisting in tracking down said shorts, as the UBP's can be a right PITA !

Your comments on the signals front is so true, I have a few of the Dapol Home & Distants, but have used some of my 20+ year old junction / brackets built from Ratio kits, but at present static only. Will have to have a look at MSE 's RTR offerings, I would imagine quite a difference to the Dapol's; but sounds like quite a long lead time. There is the guy in France who builds to order (* name escapes me at themoment), which appear to be very very high quality items; also does ground signals & all configurations of gantrys / etc. If you have any further info. on the MSE to hand, would not mind a look ?

Best of luck with the elecs; its always a bit of a black art to me !


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Evening "Parker" or is that Greyvoices (* without any shades mentioned), or John,

Is the Rolls in the garragge - LOL ?

Thanks for the link re - the signals. Have had a good look through, some very nice "parts" if only I had the skills !!!! The bracket signals to which the various links seem to lead at MSE are exquisite in my view; when is your 2nd / back order delivery anticipated to be ready ?

I also from following the links, came across the guy in France, as I thought, seems like he was in Chester in 2008'ish - BORG Rail. If you have not seen / looked at that website its worth a look.

Any joy on the "black arts" electrical fault finding today, on the layout ?


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and well...... it is amazing how often there are things are in your own neighborhood and you never knew they were there. This is one of those Gems.

What a fantastic thread, and it would not be out of place in a journal.

Thank-you John and the other contributors , this is a most refreshing read.

I also noticed your comments about "the other place" and one of its denizens. That put you in my world and shoved you up my list of literary philosophers in an instance.

Look forward to following this, now I know it is there.


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QUOTE (Greyvoices @ 23 Jan 2013, 16:11) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>It was this class that took over from the Britannias on the principle East Anglian services at the end of the fifties. There was a brief halcyon period when Class 24, 30 and 40 were interspersed with Britannias, B1's and sundry ex GER old timers, almost but not quite good enough to make up for the disappearance of B12, D16/3 and F6 classes.

So, I have a soft spot for Class 40's and was really pleased to see one or two working through Preston on their last year in service. However, for me, they always looked better in the green livery with light grey roof and red buffer beam/end of bogie but of course without the yellow panel. I was pleased to see that Bachmann planned a revised EE Type 4 model of D212, sound fitted so I ordered one. OK so only D200 to D209 were allocated to GER lines but if I so choose I can change the model's identity to fit in with a 1960 incarnation of West Suffolk Junction.

As I understand it, the BTC were not overly impressed with them as they didn't offer any advantage over the Brits on the GE main line and the Eastern region released them fairly quickly to be grabbed by the London Midland where I remember seeing them on the WCML through Rugby. I thought that D206-9 worked over the GN section but also failed to impress so that section waited for the Deltics to arrive resulting in 34A being open until 1964.

You may find this interesting; I've only had a very brief look through but as there's so much there...LINK

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At last, I can resume posting in this thread because the UBP has been solved. Yes it's shock horror time for this 63 year old has found the short circuit. I was so pleased with myself that I rushed out of the railway room, found the better half in the dining room, dragged her back to the layout and proceeded to beguile her with a to-ing and fro-ing sound fitted Brittania. Why is it that I am still surprised when she shows no enthusiasm for such a momentous achievement such as this.

I expected:

but the reaction was:

As Rex Harrison famously said," Why can't a woman be more like a man". On second thoughts, just as well that they are not.

Anyway, the short has been found, isolated, merely awaiting a suitable repair. With my head held high I can once again turn to this thread ----- now, where was I?

Perhaps it's best if I first acknowledge recent contributions, thank you Norm for your encouragement and the great link to David Hey's website provided by Hugh. I last looked at this site a few years ago when it was in an embryonic state but now it has grown into a veritable treasure trove. Hugh, your comments about a less than warm welcome for the EE Type 4's are no doubt true. I witnessed the replacement of steam as a young boy, not understanding what the true significance was. At the time we thought that steam would never disappear and we little dreamed that it would be gone so quickly. For British Railway's staff the consequences were all too apparent with so many jobs lost and railway communities becoming just a memory as locomotive and rolling stock facilities closed down throughout the region. Bury St Edmunds shed, 31E officially closed in 1959 but the writing was on the wall with the delivery of the Derby Lightweights and the arrival of mainline diesels effectively ended all the steam related jobs. No wonder the staff did not take to the new motive power. A drink after work with your mates or a social evening at the weekend attended by railway workers with their families in the local BRSA club (British Railway's Staff Association) becoming a thing of the past.

Thank you also to Kal for your kind words. I agree with you that it is the mix of contributions that make for a healthy thread, preferably an eclectic bunch with a variety of views. Speaking of which, they don't come much more eclectic than LF&T with his broad range of interests. Holiday's in Sudbury!! It brings to mind a little saying my Mother was apt to come out with when describing someone or some animal relaxing in the Sun; she would say that they were, "Sudburying of it". Pure Suffolk. I often wondered about the origin of that phrase but now all is revealed by LF&T, Sudbury was a well known holiday destination for the good people of Essex.

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

PS. It's time to call in to my own scale model of BRSA facilities (the small fridge in the railway room).
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Hi John,

It sounds like you are now the proud owner of the gold star in the black art of "Short Circuitary" - the prize for which is obviously a cold one from the local BRSA for Services to solving "& displaying" UBP - ENJOY !

Lucky the Night Matron, is the night Matron, the day one's pretty scarry !

Finally, are you sure that word beginning with "e" used in context with LF&T was not a typo, & a few letters short - of course Not they cry !!!!!?


Hi John,

QUOTE Finally, are you sure that word beginning with "e" used in context with LF&T was not a typo, & a few letters short - of course Not they cry

Used to have to teach a few declectic kids at school ...

Glad you found your shorts ... must have been cold without them, not to speak of the sheer embarrasment ......

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QUOTE (Greyvoices @ 28 Jan 2013, 19:23) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I witnessed the replacement of steam as a young boy, not understanding what the true significance was. At the time we thought that steam would never disappear and we little dreamed that it would be gone so quickly. For British Railway's staff the consequences were all too apparent with so many jobs lost and railway communities becoming just a memory as locomotive and rolling stock facilities closed down throughout the region. Bury St Edmunds shed, 31E officially closed in 1959 but the writing was on the wall with the delivery of the Derby Lightweights and the arrival of mainline diesels effectively ended all the steam related jobs. No wonder the staff did not take to the new motive power. A drink after work with your mates or a social evening at the weekend attended by railway workers with their families in the local BRSA club (British Railway's Staff Association) becoming a thing of the past.

We could smell the steam engines through Barking at our primary school and I often spent lunch times by a road overbridge at the London end of the station or after school for the price of 1d a platform ticket on the platform. I remember being very well warmed up from the firebox of one of the freight engines that had (presumably) come up from Tilbury and held at a signal.

However time moved on and I regularly travelled between London and Bristol when I moved there in 1978 and the closure of Swindon was a sad affair and must have been devastating for the place - I'd visited the works several times prior to closure. Some time last year I discovered Bristol Bath Road had closed - what a hive of activity that was. Stratford's now flattened; Ripple Lane's gone and it's almost impossible now to see anything "shed related" travelling anywhere by train.

On the entire GE there's a SP at Ipswich and Colchester still has it's greenhouse affair; Cambridge has next to nothing. So I think that on the entire GE section Norwich is about the only place with any sort of loco depot and you might see a maximum of circa 4 locos there.

The modernisation of BR didn't make any financial sense to me - scrapping engines a few years old with 30-40 years of working life left and selling them at scrap value and replacing them with various diesel classes that rarely saw 10 years service.

Well at least we can recreate a little of the way it should've been.

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A lot of stuff in this layout thread. Just to catch up on some interesting items you posted.

The pic of the side by side autos on the east german train is very interesting. Are there more photos of that layout?

The close couplings for the coaches look interesting as well.

And yes I too got a good chuckle over the painting of hand kissing of model railroader wife. ha ha

I look forward to seeing your layout progress.
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