Model Railway Forum banner

West Suffolk Junction

70345 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)
See less See more
101 - 120 of 421 Posts
Morning John,

Many many thanks for the latest set of reconfigured pics & the accompanying notes on the Exceptional Wagon. I certainly had got the wrong end of the stick, as to its operation / use, but the lights are now most definitely on. The extent & "cleverness" of the engineering involved is now even more appealing; & your sequence of pictures & words tell the detail excellently, thanks again.

It is indeed a very very nice model, & as has already now been stated will be likely to dictate the size of your future display cabinet. Maybe given Richard's post above, it needs a friend to be configured in the alternative format for a dual display LOL !!!!!

The theory / techniques it utilises for keeping within guage is indeed very "simple" but very clever at the same time. Often the best combination, but the hardest normally to achieve. When handling very large steel beams on sites, they sometimes use a wheeled boggie, for want of a better description, almost like a "giant" pallet truck arrangement, but with amazingly strong capacity. On the Royal Opera House construction in Covent Garden, the base steelwork for the Flytower, consisting of 4No. 53Ton beams, were delivered & located / moved into position in this manner, perched ontop of 40m deep undereem piles (* the last undereams to be physically inspected by a man in a basket in this country, before the law was changed - now all by cctv camera). But the base steel beams were robotically moved on the trolleys (dollies as named), around the confines of the tight streets adjacent the Opera House in the centre of Covent Garden & moved into position; was quite a sight to see; it also saved us about 6 weeks on the build programme, & almost did away with the need for major on site welding !!!!!

Anyway, back to the thread, thanks again for the pics & words, very much appreciated, Cheers,

See less See more
Thank you to everyone who has taken the trouble to comment on the recent posts. I must admit to feeling very self indulgent for having purchased the Schnabel wagon. 24 axles!!!! The only place for it will be a display cabinet as it is depicted in a livery which is outside my chosen time period, Epoch 5 of the unified Germany and I model Epoch 3 & 4 of East Germany, before the wall came down.

Richard's model is interesting and seems to be the Uaai 831 with modified cabins. This was at least built in the DDR in 1986 but is modeled in DB Cargo post unification livery. Would this be a Lilliput model?

Best regards ........... Greyvoices (alias John)
Sandwich day is upon us and I have all the ingredients ready for the arrival of the sandwich makers. By the end of the day we will have produced a 100 x 180 sandwich made of 4mm ply and dense foam, 2 ovals of track joined by 2 crossovers, controlled by 2 basic Bachmann controllers.

The grandchildren will then take it home with them and do all the scenic work themselves. They will each start with one short train, one steam and the other diesel. Hopefully there will be no arguments over who owns what. The children are 7 and 8 years of age, a boy and a girl. It's time for them to have their first railway.

I will post pictures of progress.

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

You are no doubt ready for an early night by now - if not there already. Hope it was a great day for ALL of you. And its great you made this move. Can't wait to see the pics.

Really really well done, Cheers,

Thank you John for an informative and enjoyable read.

Ps, The DP, refugees,will now attach themselves to your thread,and give me a little breathing space,

with Thanks.....dt..........
I must have done something really bad in a past life to deserve the attention of DP refugees.

It's been a busy day. The children were really excited and duly ended up covered in glue. We did not achieve everything as we decided to allow the glue a reasonable amount of time before tracklaying will commence. The main objective though is complete, the sandwich has been created and lays on the dining room floor weighted down with books. I have decided not to do anything fancy like track bus or concealed wiring on this layout as I like the idea of the children having everything visible. This should help them to understand the principles involved just as I learnt when I was a boy.

I have to admit that it is my granddaughter who is most enthusiastic but she is 18 months older. We had a long discussion, once the sandwich was made, on how to make buildings, trees, oh and various other sundries so it would seem that we have months of fun ahead of us.

I will post a couple of photos tomorrow. Please forgive my laziness this evening but they have made this poor old chap really tired.

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

PS. Thank you Julian for the sandwich inspiration.
See less See more
QUOTE (Greyvoices @ 11 Feb 2013, 00:04) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>...I have to admit that it is my granddaughter who is most enthusiastic....Interesting.
If women had shaped the railways instead of men, how different would the outcome have been?
I reckon a wider gauge, possible a more dominant management style and much higher pitched whistles......

See less See more
These special purpose wagons are fascinating - maybe time for a separate thread on them ?
Glad to hear the nippers enjoyed it, John! The Permanent Way Department in my area got a bit sidetracked over the past couple of days, so there was limited operation. The Small Controller was distracted by plenty of Rugby & a good swim, though!
Thank you all for your kind comments. I realise that I've not followed up with sandwich making photos but so far all there is to see is a filling of foam glued between two sheets of ply. It will get more interesting. Thanks once again to Iarnrod and Julien for the inspiration of using old stock and a sandwich. This is much more fun than just buying a Javelin set.

Brian made a suggestion that a separate thread should be started for topics such as the special purpose wagons. I can see his point of view but I prefer the simplicity of just one, all inclusive thread. I realise that a lot of what I write about is of interest to H0 and continental modellers and perhaps less so for the 00 enthusiasts but I have derived great benefit from having a foot in both camps. "On my layout" sort of works and is a home for the genuinely confused amongst us. I really enjoy the British approach to modelling which, because of the limited support by manufacturers, relies heavily on make it yourself type of skills. This is in contrast to, say, modelling the German scene which offers comparative riches of off the shelf locos and rolling stock and a whole plethora of buildings and sundry accessories that make the UK model railway market seem very limited.

I think it is time for the modeller of the British scene to expect that their manufacturers should up their game in line with continental manufacturers. Where possible I hope to highlight what I perceive to be the strengths of both camps and yes there are some plus points on this side of the channel. The recent Gresley and Thompson suburban coaches are superb and some of the latest locomotives are first class. It's just a pity that the motors and couplings are still not yet up to the same level. I am not one of those who feels we should switch from 00 to H0 for the time to do that was in the seventies. We mised the boat. We are where we are and many of us have invested far to much in 00 to contemplate a wholesale change. What we can do is look to the H0 world and expect similar standards of engineering and my exploration of the special purpose wagon was to highlight what can be achieved and to what we can aspire. Thinking of that last photo of the Uai 838 wagon, nestling back in it's box, I can well imagine a future Bachmann box set of a special loads transit train comprising 2 Brill wagons each loaded with 2 Pollen bogies and 2 Brill wagons loaded with the load carrying superstructures. A subsidiary wagon would be a covered van to carry all the straps, wedges and chocks and there you have it, the UK equivalent to the German special loads train in transit mode. Would we buy it? Yes I think we would but would we buy it in numbers sufficient to make it possible to sell at an attractive price, probably not. H0 enjoys a global market whilst 00 is strictly limited to those wishing to model a UK prototype.

I use the Pollen bogies as an example because, during my BR career I once had them in my fleet. The only use I ever found for them was as an exhibit at a West Anglia Gala Day in King's Lynn. I placed them in platform 2, alongside a newly delivered Class 60 and the first Dutch liveried Class 31 which I borrowed from York. The Class 60 was in the area for crew training at March. You can see how long ago this was. The Pollen bogies were important as they were built in 1904 to transport Dreadnought class battleship gun barrels between Swindon and Falmouth. It seems that these gun barrels needed to be re-bored after every few firings and Swindon had the machine that could do it. But how fantastic that in the early nineteen nineties we were still using pre-WW1 wagons, albeit now for peaceful purposes such as for bridge beams. They were refurbished in the late eighties and the decision was made to repaint them in their original GW paint scheme, complete with GW markings, every bit as fascinating to a UK modeller as is the Uai 838 to the German counterpart. I wonder what happened to the Pollens? What I am trying to put across is that if they were a German prototype they would have been modelled by Trix decades ago.

I do hope to be able to focus soon on the creation of West Suffolk Junction and my 00 doings. First there is the matter of the sandwich and then we shall see. In the meantime I will plug away with just this one thread as it is easier for me and, I hope, of interest to some.

Best regards ................. Greyvoices (alias John)
See less See more
As I mentioned Pollen bogies I thought I'd search the interweb to see what was out there. Not much but I did find this photo which does not proclaim any copyright:

Admittedly in un-refurbished condition. I took some photographs of the Pollens loaded on the Brill wagons but they are nestling somewhere in my slide collection. I invested in a half decent slide scanner so I will at some point in the future be able to post a more appropriate image. The above image seems to be related to a Cambrian Models reference so I take a plastic kit is available. Now the possibility of a couple of Pollens loaded onto a Brill wagon looks a distinct possibility. I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has modelled this combination or in fact made up a Pollen bogie.

Best regards ................ Greyvoices (alias John)
See less See more
QUOTE (Norman Byrne @ 8 Feb 2013, 09:39) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Morning John,

It is indeed a very very nice model, & as has already now been stated will be likely to dictate the size of your future display cabinet. Maybe given Richard's post above, it needs a friend to be configured in the alternative format for a dual display LOL !!!!!


Before I finally move on from the subject of special loads wagons I thought I would respond to one of Norm's comments by posting an image of a much more serious collection than mine:

Now that is a serious investment. I had a word with the dealer who supplied the wagon to me and he reckons that he sold it to me at a massive discount as it was hanging about on his shelves. He thought it cost me about £120 which would seem to be a bargain for a solid metal forged wagon of this quality (cheaper than 3 hornby coaches).

Best regards ................ Greyvoices (alias John)
See less See more
I really do want to get on with my 00 doings but keep tripping over interesting H0 stuff that I imagine might amuse the more flexibly minded railway modeller. In this instance it follows an impulsive forum search to see if there is anybody else wishing to come out of the Schnabelwagen closet. My search came up with this topic: Trix Tragschnabelwagen; I then followed the link on page 2 to a very amusing website.

Derbyshire is yet again covered with snow and the roads this afternoon have been particularly slippery so I was in full Parker mode. Luckily, my wife just received a phone call cancelling her church meeting tonight in the next village so I am all set for an evening in the railway room, making full use of the BRSA bar whilst I indulge in a bout of selfish modelling. Nothing to do with sandwiches, no thought of HO layout refurbishment. I think that I will start by testing the DCC gubbins that I have just had delivered; something designed to control two Dapol signals. I know, I read the topic on MRF dealing with the peculiarities of these signals and how easy it is to create a cheap fix but I am not gifted in the electronics department so I spent money on a ready made gadget. Thrust me into a room full of short sighted women bearing trays groaning with pies and beer and I'm in my element but ask me to understand a wiring diagram and I grow weak between the ears.

Best regards ................ Greyvoices (alias John)
See less See more
QUOTE (Greyvoices @ 12 Feb 2013, 12:57) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>As I mentioned Pollen bogies I thought I'd search the interweb to see what was out there. Not much but I did find this photo which does not proclaim any copyright:...
If it helps i've got a photo of the other side of that wagon taken by me last summer @didcot:

(I may have some more in this album, but i dont have time to search through it at the moment



See less See more
Thank you Cameron. I must also dig out my slides of the refurbished and painted Pollens.

Best regards ........... Greyvoices (alias John)
Hi John,
Nice close ups.

Given the weight they carried and appropriate depth of chassis - those springs are unexpectedly small &#8230;&#8230;&#8230;.

See less See more
A good thought Julian. A quick search of the internet turned up the fact that a Dreadnought gun barrel weighed 100 tons. So, 2 bogies equalling 6 axles gives us a weight per axle of 16 tons 12 cwt, say 18 tons with cradle and packing. Given that there is not much vertical movement allowed (see the proximity of the stops) and I imagine the speed would have been restricted to not more than 15 mph, the springs would not be required to work that hard.

If you compare the very slender springs fitted to the contemporary 5 ton tare weight wagon which would have grossed at 6 ton 10 cwt ton per axle or even the later 10 ton capacity wagon, which would have operated at higher speeds, the Pollen springs, being short and not required to flex a great deal would seem to be adequate. I am no expert but if the Civil Engineer was happy with this level of suspension then the springing must have been sufficient.

You have succeeded in winkling me out of the railway room, (just at the right time because I've been listening to M.U. holding Madrid in the Bernabau on Radio 5) and up the stairs to the bookshelves to take a look at the appropriate Great Western wagon book.

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

PS. I agree with you, Cameron's photo is really good.
See less See more
Hi John,

Thanks for the recent posts, the 3No line up of the "Exceptional" wagons is certainly a splendid sight & one thats worth a few bob too !!!

Glad the next generation of the MR family team have enjoyed the sandwich making so far. If they are on half term next week, you might need to get a few early nights before an intensive week of layout building starts LOL !!!

If you were drawn out of the railway room at or after halftime in the MU game, the 2nd half was not a spot on the 1st; all to play for in 3 weks time tho' I think thats worth making sure you catch.

Anyway hope you are now also able to get back to your layouts, but thanks again for all the detail & pics on the above.



PS. I have been tempted by one of RJ's Exeptional wagons, which is hopefully enroute from the land down under !
See less See more
I am able to report some progress on the sandwich layout:

Dry run with the track

I thought it best to have a dry run before the serious business of track laying gets underway on Sunday. I want the children to be involved at every stage so that they understand how it all goes together and can honestly feel that this is something that they have created. There is nothing "fancy" about this layout, just 2 ovals of track, isolated electrically so that the children can run 2 trains independently/simultaneously. They will discover how a short circuit happens and how to rectify it. they will understand the sequence of transformer plug wired to a controller and controller wired to track. I know they are just the basics but that's how it starts. I have chosen Bachmann controllers as they seem to be bombproof and inherently safe. Somebody has put a bit of thought into their design.

So far I have tested a Lima Class 47 and a couple of Bachmann intermodal wagons, both Ebay purchases and very cheap. The 47 runs beautifully. I also have a Hornby Class 21/29 but this is not such a good performer. I have managed to get it going but it makes a bit of a racket. I am still searching in the railway room for a steam engine and a couple of old Bachmann Mk1 suburban coaches that I have mislaid (typical). I put it in a safe place but for the life of me I cannot remember where that is. Hopefully, by Sunday, the children will have a train each.

The sandwich idea has so far proved to be a winner and how refreshing to re-visit the sort of layout to which I aspired as a boy. Breathing life into old models and seeing the excitement of both old and young is very rewarding. My granddaughter was much taken with the flag on the loco so on Sunday I will have to explain all about 1977, the jubilee year, Stratford depot and how her mum was hauled by this very loco when she was 6 years old. How time flies.

Best regards .............. Greyvoices (alias John)
See less See more
What a good start John,

QUOTE How time flies.

&#8230;. &#8230; I see you have left plenty of room for later additions &#8230;.

Only a couple of ideas here so far &#8230;
&#8230;. albeit from 2 of 5 - dt reject &#8230;&#8230;

You will need to make the Leading Edge much rounder and a better taper for the Trailing Edge too &#8230;..

I'm glad to see you have added some weight to the Nose too, although final balancing will, maybe be a touch more refined than a heap of freight &#8230; none-the-less a good start &#8230;. well done &#8230;

Have you considered what Power Unit to use &#8230;.. there are some very good Brushless Motors around these days, given you seem to be going electric &#8230;..

Those legs are a little old fashioned for take off and you might consider those new fangled wheels for the undercarriage &#8230; just a thought &#8230;.

Alright .. recovered now &#8230; back OT &#8230;. I do like the idea of taking it stage by stage to let them be involved ..

I reckon you will get a whole load of fun from watching the little ones learning and coming up with ideas of their own too &#8230; [ has to beat counting &#8230;. err &#8230;. Oops, best not go there ..

See less See more
101 - 120 of 421 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.