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West Suffolk Junction

70338 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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Thank you for your kind comments Julian ....................

...................... though I did not understand all of them.

Best regards ............. Greyvoices (alias John)
I am going out today, just up the road to Cromford. Mount Tabor Models is hosting their annual "New Items Weekend" in the Cromford Community Centre where the proprietor, Ian, beguiles H0 enthusiasts with news from the Spielwarenmesse Nürnberg, the Nuremberg Toy Fair, which was held a couple of weeks ago. They usually have a few invited layouts on display as well. It's a beautiful sunny morning so a trip on the Matlock branch is just the ticket. The only concern is for my wallet but I must try to control my acquisitive urges.

I have been viewing the DVD that accompanies the March issue of BRM and was once again very impressed with Stoke Summit. Years ago I dabbled with a loft layout which never was finished, basically a two track mainline with up and down freight loops all set in a cutting with a couple of over-bridges. Though nowhere near the level of Stoke Summit it did share that basic railway cutting through rolling hills concept that seems to appeal to me. It is probably the theme to which I will return for West Suffolk Junction. I am eager to proceed with this as I can remember very much enjoying the process of creating the scenic element even though there was no station or complex of buildings; a railway in a rural landscape but with not much depth of field, all focussed on the confined world of a railway cutting. I plan something more complex this time as it will be a junction in a cutting with the added complication of freight loops and resultant signalling plus signal box upon which I plan to lavish a great deal of care (ten thumbs permitting).

First I have to complete the sandwich (not far to go) and continue the refurbishment of Glatzau (nothing much done). This morning I will forget all that and just enjoy my trip along the Derwent Valley. Last year I hosted a strategy meeting in my house, a couple of Belgian colleagues arriving via the Eurostar and Midland Main Line. I picked them up in Derby and then drove them north up the valley. They were astonished at the scenery, commenting how green and lush England looked once outside London, the landscape in Derbyshire being a particular delight. They had previously thought of England as being flat and built up, an impression shared by many tourists who seldom venture further than the capital.

Best regards ........... Greyvoices (wiping a Wordsworthian tear from his eye)
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Hi John,

Sounds like you have almost an ideal weekend ahead, what with the show offerings for today, & the continuation of the sandwiches tomorrow, very nice indeed.Aside from the possible damage, well more likely probable damage to the wallet this afternoon eh LOL !!!!

Also I fully agree with your intention to allow the "small" builders to have a go / learn from trying every part of the build - its certainly the way to go in my view.

All the best Cheers,

Thanks Norm.

Sandwich update

It's half term so track laying was put off until today. What a brilliant morning. The children have been fully involved with the choice of track configuration, patiently absorbed the electrics and control lecture and agreed that the bare bones approach was best for them. One complication was that Peco track pins are too small for the Hornby track holes in the sleepers but soon solved by using 2 pins per hole plus a smear of glue under the tracks. The track has to be firmly fixed because the layout will be hung on a wall when not in use.

The children were stoked up with baked beans on toast whilst granddad soldiered on with the track laying and me downing the hammer was matched by them downing their knives and forks.

I did not tell them much about the vagaries of polarity and was somewhat vague about the effect of the isolated fishplates separating the inner from the outer ring. They were left to discover all this for themselves, a controller and a loco each (2 excellent basic Bachmann analogue controllers). I left them to it at 12:00 midday and, except for a couple of problems where I was asked to help, these two aged 7 and 8 (18 months between them) have worked most things out for themselves and been hard at it for 3 hours and 40 minutes and there seems no let up in the fun. They have worked out how to work the points (only slight prompting from me) and were most amused when one controller took control of both locomotives. I can still here them organising the movements of imaginary passengers and the delivery of freight. Polystyrene has been utilised to make immediate stations and there is much planning of future structures.

Grandmother is sitting in the conservatory with a big smile on her face and for once I feel as if I have done something right. She is astonished at the children's enthusiasm. Her own childhood was, as she has just this morning admitted, impoverished because she had 2 sisters and no model railway. She asked me why I had not made a railway for our daughter and I have to ask myself that same question, why didn't I?

Next on the agenda is the building of a free Metcalfe kit (came with a magazine) and we are all going to watch a Youtube video on how to make trees. My granddaughter has just said to us, "this is brilliant fun and I can't wait to make all the buildings". My grandson is planning a polystyrene tunnel and a Lego footbridge. They have just twisted my arm to get some 00 unpainted people. I have also ordered the "group build" Dapol house kit which they are going to make (their first plastic kit) and I may well offer up their effort in the "group build" thread.

They just finished, hunger driving them into the kitchen. That's 4 hours constant play and exploration after I left them to it. What's equally satisfying is that the 2 locos, each powered by a clapped out pancake motor and bought for practically nothing from Ebay, are now running better than when we started, the grease on the gearing and liberal splashes of powerlube working their magic.

My grandchildren sorting out a problem for themselves.

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

PS. The added benefit of them now not needing to handle my rather expensive locomotive fleet is engendering an inner, secret smile. What a selfish man I am.
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Hi John,

Love the picture of the "activity" .. I bet you are glad you funded the locos the way you did 'though ....

I expect they will see them as their own and look after tham with greater care than you imagined ..

QUOTE ...................... though I did not understand all of them.

Sorry about that, I was, indeed, being a touch obtuse ....

The idea for lightweight boards came from modelling R/C aeroplanes, which need to be very strong because of the "G" Force abuse they get ....

Comments are simply related to the origin of your Layout .. sort of "Trains on Planes" ... Rounded leading edge, tapered trailing edge and so on ...

Once again, delightful to read about the lovely time the kids had ....
... 4 Smilies for a really good idea, well executed ... AND a smile from GM too! ... and what might be planned for this evening, Parker? ......?...... ?

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Thanks for the explanation Julian, all is now clear.

The children have been taken home to their parents but the sandwich still sits on our dining room table. It has been decided that as it's half term week and, in common with all long suffering grandparents we are on duty every day, it did seem best that the sandwich stays here for a little bit longer.

Yes I am in Parker mode this evening because Lady Penelope wants me to pick something up. I still hope for some more enjoyable form of recognition later this evening as a reward for being such an indulgent granddad but I'm not holding my breath.

Best regards .............. Greyvoices (alias Parker)
Best of luck for ... Errr ..... ...... the rest of the week .....

Excellent stuff John,

Again all the best for the rest of the week, luck its only half term, not summer hols lol !!!!


Another sandwich update. The children have been fully engaged with the sandwich layout and have had a lot of fun just playing with it. I have not interfered and as long as I can hear their happy laughter and chatter then I am well content. My every inclination is to lead them through ever more complex tutorials, developing their skills and knowledge but I realise that at this stage that would be counter productive. It's best that they be left alone to play and what follows will be entirely at the pace that they choose therefore of greater value. After all, this is half term.

So far the Ebay purchased locos have far surpassed my expectations. The Lima Class 47 ran well straight out of the box and I don't think it had been much used. In contrast, the Hornby Class 21 ran like a bag of nails attempting to move through a bed of treacle and my grandson, being the youngest, felt that once again he had been given second best. What a difference a spot of molybdenum grease and a liberal splash of powerlube makes for now his loco has become the star performer and gets better and better the more it is run. Gone is that awful grating and grinding noise that so typifies a clapped out pancake motor with worn gears, replaced with effortless smoothness and controllable speed. Astonishing.

The children have attempted one building kit (as mentioned in a previous post and now visible in the above photo) and eagerly await the delivery of more challenges in the post. My granddaughter meanwhile is experimenting with scratchbuilding. A walk is planned to glean suitable branches and shrubbery which will be converted into trees, the children most enthused by a Youtube video on this very subject. My wife returned from shopping with a can of unscented hairspray (apparently a prime tree making ingredient), truly a first for her getting so actively involved in the modelling process. I will have to be careful lest she becomes too enthusiastic. After all, I don't interfere with her knitting but I am always ready to offer up my two hands upon which she drapes a shank of wool so that she can roll it up into a ball. What follows is entirely her affair.

I have not forgotten West Suffolk Junction and I have a new addition to the coaching fleet, a GER restaurant car in early BR livery. This will look wonderful with a rake of similarly liveried Thompson corridors:

I may be more interested in what I snobbishly call more serious modelling but being able to breath life into a clapped out rather basic model has given me a lot of pleasure. This past week with the children has reminded me what the hobby is all about. Yes it may be obsessional, yes I do go to sleep at night counting rivets and of course we would be far wealthier if I was not so tempted to fritter away our money on my 4mm world but, and this is a big but, railway modelling is primarily a source of fun ....... for all ages.

Best regards .............. Greyvoices (alias John)
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Excellent news re the grandchildren, John. I thought they would enjoy the railway & likely treat it carefully!

I occasionally leave The Small Controller to it (only going to the study next door so I can respond quickly if there's a major derailment) and it's fun hearing him doing all the station announcements. Ever since he was tiny he has repeated these & given me a giggle as he could remember all the stations from home to Paddington, in order & without prompting, not long after he first started making sentences.

He must get it from me as his mother (aka The Long Haired Controller - trains are the only thing she doesn't control) as a Kiwi far prefers to use the car than take a train which is why I did the TranzAlpine solo at Christmas. I'm now wondering if I should have taken TSC with me...
Hi John,

QUOTE I will have to be careful lest she becomes too enthusiastic. After all, I don't interfere with her knitting

........ ................. Der De! ...
.................. Der De! ...
.................... Der De .. Der De! ...
......... ....... Der de! ...

Loving the developments here ... the kids and Grandad, I mean ....

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Hi John,

It seems / sounds like you ALL have had a very enjoyable & from the pics productive half term week. Not long now till Easter !!!!! Once the GKids are back to school, I wonder how many other little ones will also become hooked !

Again well done that man, Cheers,


PS. Received my Exceptional Wagon delivery from RJ in double quick time will post some pics on the loft layout thread.
QUOTE (Norman Byrne @ 23 Feb 2013, 10:50) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Norm

PS. Received my Exceptional Wagon delivery from RJ in double quick time will post some pics on the loft layout thread.

Thank you Norm. Nothing at all done this past 4 days as we finally threw in the half term towel and escaped to Antwerp on Friday. I had an invite from a railway company I have been involved in to attend their "Christmas" party. Great fun and my better half loves Antwerp so I am in her good books. Oh, and the beer was good.

The Eurostar performed effortlessly on both legs but there now seems to be far too many ticket checks and passport inspections (3 of each).

This week I have to honour a promise I made to the kids and we will be making a tunnel. So, no rest for the grandparents.

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

PS. I am responding to your PS with one of my own, please will you post pictures of your new exceptional load wagon?
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Ah! The escape to Antwerp ploy. I understand that. If you like Antwerp and the GE you must read "Austerlitz" by W B Sebald - a magnificent bahnhofy read.
For us it is Malta from tomorrow as the antidote for a freezing half term up at these latitudes. Two sets of two grandchildren from 5 - 8 all urging grandad to light campfires and cook sausages from 7.30 am onwards ultimately proved very wearysome.

With the older set (9&11) last autumn half term, I introduced soldering. They really took to it. I 'warmly' recommend this as an equally dangerous activity to fire raising, only it takes place indoors!
I was remembering how I was taught to solder at 9 by a wonderful LT&S modeller from West Ham called Vic Hobbs who was one of my dad's Guineau Pig burnt RAF airman patients. With scarcely any fingers he scratch-built the most amazingly intricate 00 gauge Tilbury tanks that ran on 2 rail DC.
We lived in Brum at the time and Vic would take me in with him to do the rounds of some fascinating model shops.

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What an amazing co-incidence LF&T. Arriving home last evening I found a packet on the doormat containing a copy of "Austerlitz" that I had ordered last week. I have also been reading Sebald's "The Rings of Saturn" whilst in Antwerp.

So, you go for the warmth of Malta. Good choice. I enjoyed reading your memories. Brilliantly on/off topic. Will you be monitoring MRF in Malta?

I am getting impatient to start on West Suffolk Junction (WSJ). I know that I saddled myself with other projects but the sandwich layout for the children has been a real success so I don't regret that for one moment. However, I am finding it difficult to get enthusiastic about the refurbishment of Glatzau (Sachs.). I have said that I will do it so do it I will but the thought of all the work involved in the knitting of the overhead wire is daunting.

I am awaiting delivery of a batch of Tillig Elite points as I have chosen this route to get good operation and near to realistic looking track for WSJ. Plain line will be C&L half metre lengths and incorporate an experimental stretch of steel rails, the bulk being nickel silver. The C&L is code 75 Bullhead whist the Tillig is code 83 flat bottom. I have seen others take this route and it looks rather good. I have nothing against Peco but the Tillig offers better performance (or so I think). Time will tell.

I have also upgraded to an Esu Ecos 50200 command station, attracted by the graphical track layout capability incorporating point, signal and other accessory control. It is an amazing piece of kit and feels much nicer than my mono 50000 which now languishes in a cupboard. I think that I will busy myself inputting the WSJ trackplan in anticipation of actually building the layout. I know, this sounds perverse, a bit like putting the cart before the horse but I have not had much success with the likes of Templot etc. so will transfer my pencil drawn plans straight into the Ecos. I have decided to buy the Ecosdetector as this shows track occupation on the Ecos (refer to Doug's great video of this in the Ecos Resources forum if you want to see it in action). I have still to decide on point motors and control but I'm veering towards the digitally compliant Cobalt, as long as this interfaces well with the Ecos. I have a drawer full of SMP and Peco point motors and have been contemplating using the Esu switchpilot but the new generation slow acting point motors have an undoubted appeal.

As you can see, all the above is a bit armchairish (surely the pinnacle of modelling experiences). Just as well as I returned from Antwerp with a stinker of a cold despite strenuous efforts to pickle my innards with the native liquids. If you ever get the chance to sample "Westmalle duppel" then do not pass up that opportunity, despite it being ineffective as a cold preventative measure.

Best regards ................. Greyvoices (alias John)
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Greetings Greyvoices from Marks and Spencer's cafe (with free wifi) in Strait Street Valletta, the old "Gut" of RN shore leave fame.
I too came to Sebald via the Rings of Saturn. My sister in law (who I rely on to point me me down such interesting 'bye-ways) knew him in Norwich, a most interesting man she says. He was an academic in the UEA Modern languages Dept. All his books were written in German and have been translated into English. So very sad he was killed on that terrible A 11.

Well that was a bug and a half. Two weeks of coughing, headaches and feeling so sleepy that I would have answered to the name Rip van Winkel. I did brave the odd excursion into MRF but I've done no serious modelling and my grandchildren are growing impatient for the promised next step on their sandwich layout.

However, today was my first full day out of the house as I visited my railway club hut to do a bit of spring cleaning to the club layout. I was the first there (in fact on my tod for ove an hour but in that time I fired up the layout and cleaned all the track. The layout is situated in a Portakabin which has a somewhat unreliable roof so dampness is a bit of a problem. The layout has been there for 8 years, an ex exhibition layout that was retired to a permanent location, bolted to a substantial sub frame but still it warps and flexs, a veritable living thing. So, today's task was to get the tracks in some sort of alignment across the baseboard joins, a challenge both vertically and laterally. The three tracks leading into the fiddle yard were so bad that they were displaced sideways by the thickness of the Peco Code 100 rail. I had decided to free the soldered ends of track at baseboard joins and fit all rails with Peco fishplates so that the track would remain aligned even if the baseboards were not.

All was going well until I went for the fishplates in my toolbox, the ones that I had especially ordered for this very task because I do not now use Code 100. Yup, you are ahead of me, I'd left them on my desk at home and the group layout is 18 miles north of my house. Typical. I have learnt not to become downhearted in situations like this because I am the living proof that Sod and Murphy dog my every intention. My life is littered with instances of turning up to wherever without the very thing that I went there to use, be it a business presentation (forgot to bring the laptop and all of the pre-printed materials), an interview (arriving in the town but forgetting to bring with me the address of the building where the interview was being held), England v France match at Twickenham (tickets left in my office desk drawer which did not please my three mates whose tickets nestled with mine in that self same drawer - I barely escaped with my life), attempting to enter East Germany in DDR days by train without my passport (which lay comfortably on the bedside table in my West German hotel which I had booked out of that very morning (nearly as life threatening as forgetting the Twickenham tickets)) ................ set against that sort of history the lack of appropriate fishplates is but a minor hiccup. A "plan B" soon evolved and trains were soon running across baseboard joins with the aid of an ingenious system of bent track pins which provided a roughish though adequate rail alignment. I'm back there tomorrow (hopefully with Code 100 fishplates) to do a better and more permanent job.

A couple of the other lads eventually turned up and soon we had all three circuits running sort of smoothly and the low level shunting and stabling areas also up and running. One of the chaps started to brandish one of those iphone thingies and promised to have some video footage (is that the correct term) up on YouTube by Monday. It did look good on his phone so as soon as he send me the links I'll post them on MRF.

Although I don't particularly like the idea of having multiple threads or forums running I am tempted to start something up for this group layout as it is very much a completed project, albeit a layout that does need a bit of coaxing to return it to it's best. I'll think about it tomorrow whist I'm there. I suppose it does seem absurd that, with the introduction of this latest layout I am now describing progress (or lack of progress) on 4 layouts.

Whichever way I choose to proceed with this, I hope to post some photos tomorrow and of course links to the videos on Monday but just now I am rather tired. My first day out after my brave fight against the mother and father of all bugs has taken it out of me (who was that mentioning man flu? It's a well known fact that handsome, intelligent men suffer more when they catch a bug. That's what I tell my wife but she just smiles and slowly shakes her head).

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

Glad you are feeling somewhat better and back on the circuit again.

QUOTE attempting to enter East Germany in DDR days by train without my passport

You were lucky indeed, as many found out, after being detained and beaten up as suspected spies ......

2 soldiers, in Berlin decided in a less than sober state, that it would be fun to climb over the wall one night. Despite being clearly soldiers, with ID cards and very clearly the worse for alcohol wear - it took 3 days to get them back again. They were by then very much worse for wear from the beatings they had, as the Guards were convinced they were on some kind of espionage mission, using the booze as cover for getting across the wall. .....

There are many such incidents but this is probably not the place.

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Glad to hear you're on the mend, John. Your Rugby story reminds me of my late Uncle who turned up at Heathrow to fly up for a Calcutta Cup match only to find that the airline would only accept passport, not his other photo ID & the passport was in his desk drawer in Kent.

His friends were kind enough to bring a programme back for him. They even had it framed, along with his unused ticket...
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