Association of


Railway Modellers


7th January 2015

Posted 20/1/2015

 A very successful evening...

January 7th was a good evening of in-house presentations by members of "what's on your bench" style.

Interests ranged through 16mm trams, garden railways, finescale P4, 0 gauge, gauge 1 live steam & electronics.

A good time was had by all and the range of interests really is surprising!



8th July 2015

Posted 13/7/2015

Wednesday, 8 July – Evening Visit to a members garden railway.

Despite the awful start to the day the evening was dry, albeit a little chilly.  The latter was more than compensated for by the warm welcome and hospitality provided by our hosts, Ian and Trish.

Ian’s G scale garden railway is well thought out and delightfully integrated into the surrounding garden – Trish’s passion.  The layout, despite a work in progress, is flexible in operation and already includes features which give an insight in to how the completed layout will look.  I particularly liked the use of a redundant sink, filled with water, to provide the justification for an excellent viaduct!

 The layout is not just on one level but has gradients up and down which necessitate you actually “driving” the trains under your control – something myself and one or two others found needed a lot of concentration!  Various stock was operated during the evening, some of Ian’s and some that members had brought along, using various means of traction and control.  All a pleasure to watch.  Some of us even had the privilege of a visit to Ian’s N scale “layout in the roof”, recently converted for that purpose and equally impressive.

 The refreshments Trish provided were superb and obviously represented a considerable amount of effort on her part – for which we were all grateful.

 Many thanks to you both for a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

 David K.




9th September 2015

Posted 15/9/2015

Etched Brass Kits for Buildings

Report on the lecture from Andrew Vaughan - 9th September meeting.


    Rarely do you hear the word “amazing” when talking about etched brass kits.  But it was used this evening and with every justification. 

    Andrew’s presentation itself was well-considered, thorough and entertaining and a perfect introduction to his range of etched brass building kits in N, OO and O scales.  It was no surprise, therefore, that this same thoroughness had been applied to every aspect of kit development and production – optimising the content of each etch, incorporating as much detail as possible, fully exploiting the 3-dimensional possibilities of each model, ensuring construction was straightforward and that all of this was backed up by an excellent set of instructions. 

    The attention to detail is exceptional with the lamination of etches not only recreating prototypical thicknesses and providing additional strength but also facilitating assembly e.g. the risers on the signal box stairs also include individual slots for locating the treads.  All achieved from an etch having a basic thickness of 0.3mm! 

    And Andrew’s demonstration of the use and application of “superglue” was a personal eye-opener.  So much so that I wouldn’t even consider soldering as a construction method as it would create more problems than benefits – imagine trying to solder in the treads of the signal box staircase!  Final robustness isn’t an issue either as this has been considered in the kit’s construction. 

    Overall, this was a super evening and considering that Andrew only started up this business 12 months ago there is already a lot that some etched brass kit manufacturers could learn from him. And finally, if you’re an O gauge modeller contemplating the construction of a greenhouse, look no further than one of Andrew’s kits – where else would you find a hand fork and trowel in 7mm scale!  Gardening anyone??

David Knight


More on the Etched Brass Buildings talk.

 Further to David Knight's description, Michael Ling has supplied some details from Andrew's talk.


Andrew makes etched brass kits of buildings in 2mm, 4mm and 7mm.  The buildings are complete in themselves but do not include guttering and downpipes.

Equipment needed:

Superglue (from B&Q), medium viscosity, applied with a scriber.  Or use epoxy resin or solder the kits.

Small pliers, side cutters (eg Xuron), needle files, scriber, primer paint and water based acrylic paint eg from Games Workshop (called Citadel) not Humbrol.

How to assemble models:

Sand surfaces with 240  grit emery paper  before cutting from sprue.

Ensure tabs and the half etched fold lines are inside the model

Clamp tab to inside of model and check for squareness.

Apply glue round the edge of the joint with a scriber.

How to paint models:

Use water-based acrylic paints, applied with a small brush; paint thinly, adding paint in layers.  For realistic effect, do not be too neat.

Start with a primer basecoat (Andrew used Skull White Spray paint).  Paint in a lighter colour than your intended finished model to look.

Add an Ink wash (brown ink: 1 part to 4 parts water) to flow into the brick courses.

Blot with kitchen paper and repeat three times.

For corrugated roofs, try a metallic paint (Andrew uses Mithril silver which has been discontinued.  Try Tamiya Flat Aluminium or Runefang steel!)

Paint discrete parts of model (eg stairs of signal box) before final assembly.

Glazing come last: acetate sheet is included in the kit fixed with PVA (not superglue).

 A selection of suitable tools and adhesives is available from Andrew via his website.  ASRM members were impressed by the high quality of the kits and by the (deceptive?) ease with which Andrew assembled them.


7th October 2015

Posted 10/10/2015

From Bretagne France to Hessen Deutschland

Report on the meeting on October 7th.

At our October meeting, Doug Rhodes brought along portions of two German exhibition layouts he had been working on during the year. 

The first was a modified version of the fiddle yard to his German seaport model - Hansestadt Brunshafen.  Inspired by an article in a magazine called Eisenbahn Journal, a single Faller kit for a town hall had been severely kit bashed to produce a row of historic waterfront buildings in low relief. 

Using the baseboard and track formation from a previous layout, the second model displayed was of a fictional Endbahnhof or terminal station set in rural Hessen not far from the Iron Curtain in the 1950s/60s period. 

A detailed account of both models and how they were built, resulted in a prolonged and lively discussion from a very well attended meeting.



5th November 2015

Posted 6/11/2015

Two reports on the evening from Stephen Duffell and Dave Knight.

“Kerrinhead” A P4 Scale layout by Gavin Clark .

    At our November meeting, Gavin Clarke from Ludlow discussed the building of his layout Kerrinhead. This is a P4 layout and had its origins at the regular weekly meetings a local modelling  group, that was originally for P4 aficionados but now includes OO, EM and 2mm folk. Gavin's railway room is housed in an attic room and a steep and narrow access dictated the size of baseboards which did not follow conventional rectangular shapes. Instead boards were curved and the edges followed natural landscape features such as walls to disguise the joins.

     There already existed a P4 layout running around the room and Kerrinhead was built as a branch line terminus. It is set in the Lancashire hills, based in features around Todmorden, and is a fictitious Lancashire and Yorkshire station in the period soon after the 1923 grouping. It features a single platform station with goods shed, coal drops and a small engine shed and turntable. It took 3 years from conception to its first show at Scalefour North in 2015. Gavin built the baseboards and was helped in building trackwork by the late John Bailey (who also built and engineered the turntable) and Geoff Taylor who provided buildings at one end of the layout. The large mills to the rear of the layout await completion.

    Gavin brought along two of the baseboards to show constructional methods, together with the control panel. Much interest was shown in his methods of scribing walls and other landscape features, although not everyone felt they had the patience to model in this way. The control panel contained the lever frame (another John Bailey design) that is available from the Scalefour Society, and the layout is run using the NCE DCC system.

Stephen Duffell.



    Gavin’s most enjoyable talk, supported by slides of the layout and 2 actual sections from it, delivered exactly what he’d promised – an insight into its origins, the inspiration behind it, its construction, the problems encountered and some of its main features. 

    What was obvious throughout was Gavin’s attention to detail, not only in replicating a prototypically accurate station layout but also the landscape in which it sits,the features within it and the architecture typical of the area in which the layout is based. Particularly pleasing is the absence of straight lines in the landscapingand its 3-dimensional qualities – both reflected in the buildings located within it and considerably enhancing the layout’s overall realism. 

    All of this, however, creates constructional problems which were obvious in the sections of layout he brought with him.  These too had very few straight lines and resembled the pieces of a 3-dimensional jigsaw!  A situation further compounded by the limitations on size imposed by a narrow right-angled staircase that has to be negotiated in order to remove the layout from its usual storage location before transportation to exhibitions.  Determining the size and shape of baseboards and trying to match the joints between them with convenient “break points” in the landscape has been achieved with remarkable success.  However, being such diverse shapes and sizes means that they can’t be self-supporting and have to be assembled and supported on a level “sub-baseboard” of trestle tables. 

    To get an insight into the quality of buildings, readers are best referred to the pictures that appear on the internet – type “Kerrinhead” in to Google.  What isn’t obvious from these is that the majority of stonework featured often comprises stones individually applied or scribed into a modelling compound!  And with the rubble stone walls in the landscaping this is generally done in-situ – way beyond my patience and ability!

    The choice of P4 for trackwork etc. was barely referred to but consistent with the striving for prototypical accuracy demonstrated throughout the rest of the layout. 

    This was an inspirational evening, difficult to summarise but I would thoroughly recommend that if you see this layout featured at an exhibition you make the effort to go along and see it – you will not be disappointed!

David Knight.


6th January 2016

Posted 18/1/2016


Current Projects

A report on the meeting from Michael Ling.

Various members brought along some modelling, they had recently been working on, to present to the meeting.

  • Nick Coppin's quarry scene featured an intriguing trompe l'oeil (or visual illusion, if you prefer plain English) adit.
  • Stephen Duffell had constructed LSWR ballast wagons from kits.
  • Jason Hargreaves had built an N Gauge shunting yard.
  • Tim Lewis had converted a Hornby K1 locomotive to P4.
  • Sandy Harper had built the LMS version of Stroudley's later Terrier and a Highland Railway wagon from a resin kit.  He now has the job of painting a class 49 4-6-0 built by Mackintosh for the Caledonian Railway.
  • Gordon Woods's NE Railway projects included: a scratch built signal box; weathering and re-numbering  a Bachmann 2-8-0 Austerity; a rake of 20 ton tanker wagons and a rake of Kitmaster coaches with replica interiors.
  • Peter Starkey had made a Model Engineers Laser kit of the LMS diesel-hydraulic loco. (first and only!); radio controlled.
  • Ian Payne had brought a scenic section from the N Gauge layout in his loft.  The river was made initially with varnish then casting resin was added.
  • Michael Glover had modified a Lilliput model to produce a German tram. Radio controlled.
  • Douglas Rhodes exhibited a loco named Douglas made for his 4th birthday by a friend of his father's.
  • David Knight recommended 'Oil on the Rails' (HMRS publications) by Alan Coppin and informed us that the Shrewsbury Model Centre had closed.

Michael Ling



3rd February 2016

Posted 5/2/2016

Two reports on Neil Ramsay,

Modelling Irish Narrow/Broad Gauge Railways.

This was a very well-attended meeting.  Neil is a well-known modeller of Irish narrow gauge on 45mm gauge track and more recently he has branched out into Irish 'broad gauge' on 79mm track.  He has a particular interest in diesel railcars.  He brought along a varied selection of models which created much interest. 

He began by briefly outlining early Irish railway history and how they arrived at the two gauges of 5'3" and 3'.  He explained how the financing of railways in Ireland differed from the rest of the UK and talked about the impact the 'Troubles' and subsequent creation of the Irish Free State, had on the railways.  He explained how the thinly populated Irish countryside helped encourage the development of the diesel railcar in Ireland, on both the broad and narrow gauge, before the GWR and other companies began developing them over here. 

There were dozens of slides of both models and prototypes and Neil's enthusiasm for his subject swept the audience along even encroaching on coffee time!  After a break when the models were closely inspected, Neil described some of his modelling techniques.  These were well illustrated with photos of models under construction.

All in all, a very enjoyable evening with much food for thought.


Here is another report on the evening from Eric Challenor.

 Around 20 members attended the meeting and we were treated to a talk by Neil Ramsey, who hails from deepest Herefordshire. Neil produces garden railway models in 15mm/foot gauge and brought along several items for us to see. He started by giving us a brief history on the railways of Ireland, both broad and narrow gauge, with some delightfully quaint pictures to accompany and illustrate his comments. Moving to the modelling aspect, the various types of wood available were discussed and compared, together with the relatively straight-forward treatments needed to obtain a quality finish to the model. His insights into the mysteries of large scale construction were also explained, including an unusual and effective method of using super-glue gel to join large sections of wood to plastic.    

 Treated was really an understatement; with Neil’s obvious love of Irish railways, we were shown stock built to a very high standard, which included examples from CIE, The West Clare, The Clogher Valley and my own favourite, one of the later articulated railcars from The County Donegal Railways Joint Committee, resplendent in its Geranium  red and cream livery. Some items even had working smoke units, with the blue haze of emanating exhaust fumes adding that special touch to the evening. Neil rounded the meeting off by showing us three short video clips of his garden railways in action. Altogether, it was a thoroughly enjoyable meeting and I for one, am very glad that I did not miss it.



2nd March 2016

Posted 6/3/2016

The Importance of Forward Planning when building a Model Railway - John Barnes 

On 2nd March one-time member of ASRM and now active member of Warley MRC John Barnes returned to Shrewsbury to deliver a thought provoking talk on the importance of Forward Planning when building a Model Railway.  Taking us step by step through the modelling process John repeatedly emphasised the maxim - think twice and do once - in avoiding mistakes and achieving satisfactory results.
Among his recommendations were:-
1.  Use large scale OS maps for different periods and journals such as Railway Archive for initial research.
2.  Construct baseboards that are relatively light in weight and easy to move - a principle which should also apply to 'home based layouts' that ultimately have to be taken down or altered.
3.  Avoid the use of chipboard and try always to use new materials.
4.  Draw full scale track plans on lined paper.
5.  Avoid placing points over base board joints.
6.  If you intend to use DCC try to incorporate it from the start.  Remember excellent layouts can be achieved using analogue DC.
7.  Traversers need special consideration.
8.  Keep a record or plan of your wiring systems so that faults can be more easily traced.
9.  When setting up a garage based layout attach the base boards to the walls using wooden battens and bolts.  Do not attach them directly.
10. Cover transformers but make sure there is an air flow through these and through control panels.

Doug Rhodes



6th April 2016

Posted 8/4/2016

A report on the meeting.

    After the AGM, short presentations were made by members on current projects on their workbench, and the scales of models shown progressed from Z to P4(4mm), to Gauge 1, to 16mm live steam.

     Dave Gotliffe displayed a number of scratch built structures from his latest project under construction - a contemporary Swiss layout in Z Scale. The station and surrounding buildings are based on St Gallen in North-East Switzerland and the road bridge is based on Baden in North-West Switzerland.  Dave also displayed a selection of photographs of the originals and drawings from which the models have been constructed.

      Stephen Duffell showed various MSWJR and LSWR carriages under construction. These included some built from etched zinc sides that Trevor Charlton used to produce, brass etched kits of early Beattie coaches and coaches with printed sides  that were made by PC kits.

     Peter Starkey brought along the body of a gauge 1 diesel, the prototype being the first diesel locomotive built by the LMS using the frames of a Midland Railway 0-6-0 as the chassis. Peter appealed for help in sourcing details of the radiators situated on the roof. The only photographs show just a side view.

     Ian Payne had two locos from his garden railway. The first was an 0-4-0 based on a LGB cab and a rebuilt hood at the front, radio controlled with battery power. The other was a 16mm live steam radio controlled loco, based on a Roundhouse models Lady Anne kit that had been rebuilt by Ian. It was named in honour of the lady in the house, Trish.

     Finally David Knight demonstrated his wheel cleaning cradle with inbuilt power supply – useful at shows for cleaning wheels quickly.

Stephen Duffell



1st June 2016

Posted 12/6/2016

The County Donegal Railway 

    If you had assumed that the subject for this month’s meeting, “The History of the County Donegal Railway – a further look at Ireland’s broad and narrow gauge railways”, would only be of interest to Irish railways’ devotees you would have been proved completely wrong.

    Eric, obviously aware of this possibility, had carefully put together a selection of slides with supporting text that included all the facts but also conveyed the relevant information in a way that contained something for everyone – including stories about the people “in charge” and responsible for the day-to-day running of the Railway.

    It wasn’t a case of 1 slide and lengthy monologue, several slides were shown whilst the supporting information was imparted – possible because Eric had employed 2 narrators to read out the latter whilst he controlled the slides.  The regular alternation of these narrators also avoided any potential monotony creeping in.  Thanks must go to Neil Ramsay and Peter Cox for their narrative contribution.

    Further thanks must also go to Neil for bringing along a selection of his excellent narrow gauge models to support the talk.  Many of the slides shown, including various items of motive power in particular, were brought to life by seeing them in 3 dimensions as well.

    A lasting memory will be the diversity of appearance and unique character of much of the rolling stock and the inventiveness of the railway company, driven by limited finance, in its provision.  When diesel railcars appeared in the late 50’s, causing great excitement, little did I realise that The County Donegal had had them at least 20 years earlier!

    A big thank you to Eric for the obvious thought, time and effort that he had put into the preparation of material for the evening and for making it such an enjoyable one – and another thank you to Neil and Peter for their contributions to the evening’s unqualified success.

David Knight



6th July 2016

Posted 8/7/2016

Visit to a members garden railway

A report on the meeting from Peter Cox

    At a time when the weather was not expected to look kindly on those who choose to take their hobby outdoors, some ten members were lured by the promise of live steam to the delightful home and garden of Nick and Sue Coppin in Broseley.  We were amply rewarded for our willingness to risk the threatened showers by a warm, dry evening, and by an even warmer welcome. 

    Our hosts’ garden is on the side of a wooded valley, and there was interest immediately as we descended steeply into the dell; a working water-balanced 10 1/4 inch gauge funicular.  This was the first example of Nick’s ingenuity on display, and it performed smoothly as water was poured into and out of the balance tank.  The only slight disappointment was that, while several of us had hoped in view of the steepness of the slope that it would be man-carrying, it was not.  The balance tank just could not hold enough water to raise our weight.  We looked in vain for a small child to try it out!

    Once down below the funicular, the sound and smell of steam reached us, and we reached the track set amid fruit trees.  It was an oval of 32mm track with a 'Y' junction connecting it to the sidings.  The oval was level with the ground at the uphill end, and raised on wooden posts to a height of about 3 feet 6 inches at the other end.  The sidings too were at this height and placed under an open-sided shed, providing a convenient and sheltered spot for raising steam.  We were treated to runs, immaculately executed, by four different steam locos, one gas fired and three meths fired, in two different scales: 16mm and 7/8" to the foot. Three were Nick’s - a modified Accucraft 'Ragleth', a single cylinder tram and a Kerr Stuart 'Sirdar' 0-4-0T.  The fourth engine was Andrew Vaughan’s improved Mamod which, apart from the flawless running he achieved, was still Mamod enough in looks to bring back some happy childhood memories.  There was also an electric quarry engine, powered by a car battery, which maintained interest by running a smooth automatic shuttle service on a separate track.

     Our enthusiastic enjoyment of the locos’ firing and running was further enhanced by the splendid drink and food cooked and served by Sue -  Oh, those wonderful olive, salmon and brie puff pastries!  Who says railway modellers are only interested in trains?

     We then had an opportunity to see Nick’s enviable workshop and the garage where, in addition to admiring the carpentry work of his new experimental circular 32mm layout, we could see the possible inspiration for this circle by looking upward to the coracles, no less, stored in the rafters.

     It was a full, varied and thought provoking evening - everything one could have hoped for - and we all left full of ideas and inspiration (and puff pastry).  Nick and Sue have set a very high standard for those who follow, and we are all very grateful for the time and effort they put into making the evening so successful.

 Peter Cox


7th September 2016

Posted 13/9/2016

A report on the meeting.

About a dozen members attended the Special General Meeting when Peter Cox was confirmed as the new Chairman.

Various members then talked about models they had finished or were still working on. Many gauges were included.  Stephen Duffell and Tim Lewis talked about their P4 locos and wagons.  Michael Glover showed us his latest G scale Madrid tram.  Ian Payne is modifying a VW camper van to be a G scale track maintenance vehicle and also had a 2mm model based on Abingdon station.  Peter Cox was seeking some help with his HO trees and Peter Starkey is progressing well with his early diesel shunter in Gauge 1.  At the other end of the scales, Dave Gotliffe demonstrated his latest Z gauge Swiss train.  I represented the narrow gauge with a couple of 16mm scale locos.  Covering 2mm to 1/12 scale, Andrew Vaughan rounded off the evening with some of his latest etched models including a very impressive 4mm scale pylon.

Nick Coppin.

5th October 2016

Posted 10/10/2016

Live steam models in 0,00 & 009 scales

    I had been looking forward to the October meeting for a while since I heard it was to be a demonstration by Brian Caton, having seen a few of his live steam locomotives before at an exhibition in Scotland last year, and also had the chance to operate one on Nick's garden railway.

          On arrival at the meeting, we helped set up the test tracks – 24 feet of straight O gauge demo track and an oval of OO track, which were wired and tested for electrical connection. These tracks were the first of many examples of cleverness which were to follow, as even the wiring of the track was subject to Brian's ruthless ingenuity. Spring loaded pins in each track section made reliable connections to its neighbour, and all were secured together with steel pins through hinges in the underside. A simple test lamp checked for continuity.

    Firstly Brian explained the inspiration for loco building came from his father's models, but with an ambition to make them as close as possible to the real thing, and the idea that if you could remotely control the speed and direction, he wouldn't be wearing out a racetrack of bare grass around the lawn, chasing after any over-enthusiastic steam locomotives. Like all learning processes, there was some history of control methods tried and revised, one of which involved a 10amp supply that apparently was prone to arc across the tracks during operation, which prompted me to think of the time-travelling loco from the Back to the Future movies!

    Brian had brought several of his incredible O gauge models, and gave a summary of a few of them describing an array of steam terminology which alas was lost on me (although he assured us that 'it's only steam engineering'!). As far as I could see, the term 'just like the real thing' doesn't do them justice – they are not 'like' the real thing, they 'are' the real thing – just a bit smaller.
A couple of members tried their hand at operating – when power is briefly applied to the track it turns a small motor in the loco forwards or back depending on polarity, which in turn varies the regulation of the steam, enabling precise remote control of speed and direction.
Following on were a set of 5.5mm to 1foot steam locos, then OO, then a tiny little magic box of OO9... all live steam, all amazing models, and all reliable little runners.

    The videos of Brian's garden railway looked very good – and filmed from on-board as if leaning out of the carriage window. I particularly liked the winter scene with snow on the ground – this doesn't stop the running, you just have to send the snowplough round the track first of course!

    An excellent evening which I'm sure everyone enjoyed – thanks Brian!

Andrew Vaughan



2nd November 2016

Posted 15/11/2016

3 short presentations by members 

1 Kettle Valley Railway by Peter Cox.

Peter Cox gave a typically lucid presentation on the Kettle Valley Railroad in Canada, which he had visited on a family holiday in the summer.

He explained why the railroad was built and how the formidable geographical obstacles were overcome. A video and Peter's own photographs, illustrated the challenge: towering mountains, plunging ravines, the seasonal hazards of snow, ice and fire. No wonder the railroad (begun 1910, completed in five years and on budget) was called 'McCulloch's Wonder'. We marvelled at the innumerable trestle bridges that kept the gradients manageable.

The line was closed in stages between 1961 and 1973 and the track lifted. A section has been preserved (and restored after a major fire in 2003) by the Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration Society; another section survives as a cycle path, a mere 4,100 feet above sea level.

No Cox presentation is complete without musical accompaniment. He ended with a recording of "The Kettle Valley Line"' taken from "Songs and Stories of Canada" and sung by Hilda and Phil Thomas. It was surprisingly enjoyable.

Michael Ling.


2 USA model railroad clubs by Ian Payne.

The first Ian described was to a club in Greeley, Colorado, some 30 miles north of Denver.  The “clubhouse” was an industrial looking building labelled “Greeley Freight Station Museum” – a rather confusing title which Ian speculated may have something to do with the avoidance of rates.  Inside the building was far from industrial with a very pleasant environment that contained an enormous HO gauge layout, able to be viewed from ground level and a mezzanine walkway.  The quality of the modelling was excellent, as was its operating potential – requiring several operators to optimise this potential.  This was a truly impressive set-up that would be envied by the majority of British MRCs.

The next visit was to the “Gadsen Pacific Toy Train Operating Museum” in Tucson.  This included a huge O gauge layout which, unfortunately, hadn’t progressed to 2-rail – being based on Lionel 3-rail track that is still being made and sold in the US.  It definitely had a “toy-like” feel to it, perhaps giving rise to the inclusion of “Toy Train” in its title, and had little of the railway modelling quality of the first club.  This, Ian suggested, could be partly due to the quantity of propriety models available in the US covering all elements of a model railway – why model it when you can buy it off the shelf?!  Membership to this club was around 60$ a year with funds being boosted by the regular organisation of “swapmeets”.

The final visit was to the “McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park” in Scottsdale, Arizona.  This was a huge undertaking, incorporating full-size as well as model railway exhibits celebrating railways generally, on land donated to the local authority by a local farming family for the benefit of the local community. The “Park” included 3 separate model railway clubs and featured model railways in N, HO ,O, 71/2” and 15” scales, the latter being an extensive sit and ride installation, all to a reasonable standard of railway modelling.

Overall, this was a fascinating insight in to American railway modelling and the American approach and attitudes toward it.  In America an interest in railway modelling is something to put on your CV not something you wouldn’t disclose unless forced - perhaps I’m not as odd after all as I thought!

David K.  


3 The Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway.  Eric Challoner.

Rounding off the evening, Eric gave an illustrated talk on the S, L & NCR. This was a 5'3" gauge line which ran from Sligo on the MGWR to Enniskillen when it joined the old GNRI between Londonderry and Portadown. It opened in 1880 and when it closed in 1957, it was the last privately owned common carrier railway in Europe, having escaped the mergers of the 1920s. Apparently no one wanted to take it on and it was kept alive with government grants. One of its main purposes was to transport cattle from the West of Ireland and on to Belfast and thence to England. It was characterised by old rolling stock. The locos never carried numbers, just names. They were painted two tone dark and light olive green. The coaches were archaic and unheated, though they did have very up to date diesel railcars built by the Wigan firm of Walker Brothers.

Eric's life-long interest in Irish railways dates back to his childhood when he travelled the railways while visiting his mother's family in Northern Ireland. The talk will be continued on another evening; we look forward to it!

Nick Coppin


4th January 2017

Posted 5/1/2017

Members project night (What's on your bench).

This was a very good evening with a wide range of contributions provided entirely by the members.

Nick Coppin talked briefly about a Swift Sixteen model of a War Department Light Railways 'petrol tractor'.  This is a 16mm to the foot scale model built from resin castings and etched brass.  It is intended for use on his Ffestiniog layout.

Mike Wakefield demonstrated his flywheel-assisted wagon used to control his live steam locos.  if they try to speed, the flywheel keeps them in check and when they slow down, the flywheel gives them a push to keep going.  He was inspired by the Australian-built 'Slomo' mechanism.  He showed us a short video of it in operation on his garden line.

Ian Payne brought along a charming 45mm gauge brake van recently built from a North Pilton Works kit.  It is mostly laser cut plywood and comes complete with interior furniture, lighting and glowing stove!  Ian has added a guard and tail light.  There was interest in his vinyl cut lettering made on a CNC cutter.

Andrew Vaughan brought some more of his delightful etched brass models in a variety of scales from N to 1/12.  There was cutlery and crockery, board games, ladders, a Dolls house train set with a gauge of 2mm!  There were GWR station benches, garden tools and a brilliant 0 gauge pram.  Andrew will be at the Stafford show next month.

After a coffee break, Stephen Duffell  showed us a beautifully manufactured Hornby coach.  It was a model of a Southern rebuild of a LSWR panelled wooden coach.  The SR added a ten foot rivetted steel section to the older coach, so Stephen decided to saw it off again to produce a fine quality model of the original LSWR vehicle.  He will mount it on a shorter Coopercraft  chassis.  This meant he had a spare, over-length chassis so he added an etched LSWR body kit to that, getting two coaches from the one Hornby model.

Tim Lewis had lots of cattle wagons for his P4 Coldstream layout.  Parkside LNER, David Geen LMS and a couple of 'fabulous' and very accurate Southern cattle wagons; one Maunsell and a Bulleid.  He compared the models with a much older whitemetal kit and there was no comparison in quality.  He also demonstrated a 00 gauge Wickham trolley with its motor in a little wagon which whizzed up and down the track.  He plans to convert the trolley to P4 and add a DCC chip.

Dave Evans showed us a little analogue meter he had bought from Charlies for £3.99.  He also had some building kits and textured pages downloaded from the Internet.  They were from Smart Models and Scale Scenes  You can download and print kits and roofing materials etc with the capability to calibrate your printer for accurate scale printing.

Staying with the card modelling, Howard Mainwaring had built a fine Metcalfe church which he illuminated from within using a USB light.  He also showed us a shunter's truck built from a brass etched Connoisseur kit which was coupled to a nice 0-4-0 side tank loco.

Michael Glover had two Japanese 1/160 scale Kato models.  One was a very smart tram, the other was an industrial building he had built from a kit.  Apparently it went together very quickly and very well. Michael recommended his supplier -

Finally, Gordon Woods had brought along some 00 gauge models and a length of demonstration track.  There were some nice wagons and coaches which he had detailed and weathered.  He uses Life Color acrylic paints in an airbrush for the weathering with some use of weathering powders.  His locos caused much interest.  An LNER Q6 with DCC and sound was demonstrated and seemed very good.  A Haymarket shedded A4 'Merlin' had slightly better sound and a super whistle.  They puffed when the regulator was opened and stopped puffing when it was closed with the sound of clanking side rods!  There were even tyre and brake squeaks when the locos stopped.  He then demonstrated a Sutton's Locomotive Workshop class 24 diesel.  It sounded like there was a full size loco in the room!  It was very impressive. 

A very informative, entertaining evening rounded off by Peter telling us about an online American modelling magazine



1st February 2017

Posted 5/2/2017

Mamod steam by Mike Wakefield.

Report on the February 2017 meeting by Andrew Vaughan

Having acquired an old Mamod live steam locomotive model last year from a certain well-known online auction site, I was looking forward to hearing Mike Wakefield’s talk all about Mamod railways.

Mike began the talk with an overview of how Mamod got started, its development of stationary engines, traction engines, cars and boats, with the first locomotive coming along in 1979. The early steam models were fired with meths, which was then changed to solid fuel blocks for safety. These little smelly fuel blocks are not a patch on a good meths fire, but they do work as I have used them myself, but a bit of ‘Mamodification’ is quite common to convert them back to meths (including my own loco).

I had heard the brand had something of a chequered financial history, but I hadn’t realised quite how chequered it had been. Mike explained about several changes in ownership of the company, with and without the design rights and tooling of various parts of the trains and track, and legal issues with another company, MSS, who had continued to make the old style locomotive. Eventually though the legal stuff seems to have been ironed out, and the company now seem quite busy being successful.

More recent developments of updated locomotives included converting to gas power, adding lubricators, changing to piston valves, and various other tweaks. As it would turn out, many of the upgrades didn’t work quite as well as hoped with reports of paint burning off and lubricators that didn’t lubricate! However in the case of the lubricators this is now fixed - their new locos feature Mike’s own design!

The more recent models and new ones in the pipeline - Brunel, Thomas Telford, and Stirling - are having their issues addressed, and Mamod products continue to be popular with collectors. If the new proposals are going to be up against some tough competition in Accucraft and Roundhouse, it will certainly be interesting to see what Mamod can do in the future.

Thank you Mike for a very informative and interesting presentation.

Oh, what about Harry the Rocket? hmm… I think the less said about Harry, the better!

Andrew Vaughan



1st March 2017

Posted 3/3/2017

The Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway.

The Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway

Where we have come from

& where we are going

    I haven’t had the opportunity to visit the W&LLR for a few years now so had been looking forward to the this talk by Charles Spencer, the General Manager, and I wasn’t disappointed.

    Charles began his talk by explaining how he, a Canadian, had been a firm railway modeller in both 45mm live steam and OO while progressing in his career in the Canadian banking sector. Then in 2007, during a 10 day holiday exploring Welsh narrow gauge lines, he travelled on the W&LLR and was so smitten he enrolled as a  volunteer which eventually led to him applying for, being offered and accepting the job as the railway’s General Manager in 2015. Naturally he has moved a little closer than Ottowa.

    There was then a brief history of the railway from its opening in 1903 to its closure in 1956. Surprisingly for such a cash strapped line existing primarily for goods and livestock traffic, the company had equipped itself with three ornate Pickering passenger coaches, as well as an assortment of over 100 wagons of various types. The passenger service never generated sufficient revenue, so was discontinued in 1931, and the Pickering coaches scrapped.

    After the line closed in 1956 the two original steam locos were moved to the BR depot at Oswestry, where they remained until the fledgling preservation society found its feet and began to restore the line to working order.

    Charles then summarised the current steam locomotive stock of seven (although not all are fully restored)  before going on the talk about the various carriages which have been sourced from both central Europe and Sierra Leone. This section of his talk was completed by detailing the work to the permanent way, assisted by a diesel permanent way vehicle (ex MOD) and a tamper wagon (ex South African goldmine).

    Many features of the preserved railway have had to be created from scratch because they never existed when the line was built, and yet visitors, together with the sheer number of trains currently being run, demand them. These vary from the fully functioning signal box at Llanfair through to soon-to-be-purchased hoists to get wheel chairs and their users into the carriages.

    After a short break for refreshments, Charles resumed by outlining the present operation of the railway, and in particular how much it relies on its 200+ volunteers, having only 4 paid members of staff.

    Narrow gauge lines represent such a large proportion (32%) of the 553 miles of preserved railways in the UK, but with tourism accounting for 9% of the countries’ GDP, it was vital for their continued existence that they attracted repeat visitors to the line. This was particularly important to the W&LLR so the railway was being actively sold by staging special events and novelties. Examples were given as Fish-and-Chip trains and Diesel Days, all of which had been extremely popular.

    Charles concluded by outlining his plans for the future as the line had to increase revenue as it was currently too reliant on gifts and donations to break even. Unfortunately, although 80% of the W&LLR visitors come via Welshpool, the railway doesn’t own, only leases, the land at the  terminus there. This has necessitated, at least initially, new developments having to take place at the Llanfair end of the line. New workshop and visitor facilities, including a museum, have been planned and the first stage has been initiated by the purchase of three factory buildings adjacent to the line.

    A very informative evening all round and encouraging that Charles could end on such a positive note.

Mike Wakefield



3rd May 2017

Posted 28/5/2017

The Coalport Branch by Neil Clarke

    This was a well-attended evening with members coming to listen to local historian Neil Clarke talk about the LNWR branch line from Hadley Junction to Coalport in East Shropshire.  He first looked at the origins of the line which was built to access the coal, iron and clay products of the South Coalbrookedale coalfield.  It was partly built on the bed of the Shropshire canal and opened to goods in 1860 and passengers a year later.  Though single track, the foundation allowed for double track.  On leaving the Wellington to Stafford line at Hadley Junction, the stations were: Oakengates Market Street, Malins Lee (which opened a bit later), Dawley and Stirchley, Madeley Market and Coalport.  In addition, there were numerous sidings leading to industrial sites along the route.  The line was very steeply graded in both directions with a fearsome 1 in 31 between Coalport and Madeley.  The middle part was level where is utilised the canal bed.  The only signal box was at Oakengates.  Ground frames were used at other locations along the line which was worked in three sections using a staff and ticket. 

    Neil described the goods carried and their changing sources and destinations as the industries in the area waxed and waned.  There were ironworks at Snedshill, Priors Lee, Old Park and Blists Hill, bricks and tileworks at Hadley, Snedshill and Blists Hill.  Clay came in from Cornwall for the Coalport china works, fish from Hull to Dawley via Leeds and Shrewsbury.  The last use of the line, was to take coal to Watkiss coal merchant at Stirchley in 1964, four years after the rest of the line had been closed in 1960. 

    The line was used extensively for passengers with some extraordinary numbers of passengers carried to Oakengates in the early years of the line.  From 3 trains a day at the start, the numbers rose to a maximum of 6 a day each way in 1948.  The passenger service ceased in 1952 apart from school and Sunday school outings, railtours and excursions.

    Locos used on the line were dominated by LNWR Webb Coal tanks, with Webb 2-4-2 tanks, 'Cauliflowers', Fowler tanks and Super Ds also being used.  When the line was operated by the WR, ex-GWR panniers appeared in the line.

    Neil illustrated his talk with numerous maps and a number of photos of trains dating back to the 1890s .  He also related stories from his own memory and from reminiscences he had collected over 70 years!  He finished with a review of the remains of the railway, much of which is incorporated in the Silkin Way cycle and foot path.

    Members asked a range of questions and there was at least one memory of travelling on the line in 1950s.  A fascinating view of a very local railway.



7th June 2017

Posted 11/6/2017

Railways and Durham City - “a journey to a model" Gordon Woods

    Gordon grew up as a child living next to the ECML  to the south of Durham station, and he spoke first of the prototype railways in the Durham City area, and then his ideas for modelling part of the scene.

    Durham was only a small city and became surrounded by industrial activities based on coal. Many of the railways ran in a west to east direction taking coal to the coast for export. North south lines came later, with the Leamside line lying to the east of the ECML and Durham City. The early stations serving Durham were some way from the town, Shincliffe being the first and furthest, then Gilesgate and Elvet. The present station opened in 1856 on the line from Sunderland to Bishops Auckland, passenger use at the other stations ceasing. Thus to the north Durham had route to Newcastle and Sunderland and to the south the ECML and Bishops Auckland route.

    Just to the south of where Gordon lived is a 4 arch bridge (called the Stone Bridge), each arch carrying a separate group of lines on different levels. The most westerly line was that heading south from Consett, and this split into two, a westerly arm (going through arch 1) and joining the Durham to Bishops Auckland line which ran through arch 2. The easterly arm from Consett dived under the Durham to Bishops Auckland line through Arch 3, whilst he ECML ran through arch 4. Gordon discussed the traffic he saw on the line in the late 60's and the rationalisation that had since taken place at the Stone Bridge and its subsequent demolition.

    It was this complex of lines running south of the Stone Bridge that Gordon planned to model and this formed the basis of the second part of his presentation. A new railway room is under construction and the Stone Bridge will form a scenic break for one end of the layout. A model of the Stone Bridge has been constructed, Wills kits providing a good basis to kit bash the actual structure. There was a branch leaving the Bishop Auckland line just south of the bridge and his gave access to Broom Park colliery. With a bit of selective compression this can be incorporated on the track plan, and history rewritten to keep the colliery open until the 1960-64 era in which the layout is based.

    The decision was made to build the track to OO Finescale standards. This has a track gauge of 16.2mm and a flangeway of 1mm allowing all current OO models to run on it successfully. To achieve a realistic looking track and flowing pointwork for the junctions it will be necessary for Gordon to build his own trackwork. The idiosyncrasies of Templot were mastered and a track plan produced. Attendance at a Missenden Railway weekend with Norman Solomon taught the basis of do-it-yourself track building. Much pleasure has been gained from research into  train formations and producing stock for trains such as the Tyne-Tees Pullman.

    It was a most entertaining evening and we await the further development of the layout with interest.

Stephen Duffell.


5th July 2017

Posted 10/7/2017

Garden railway visit.

Evening visit to Peter Starkey's Gauge 1 railway

    Eleven members met at Peter's garden to see his splendid Gauge 1 line on a warm and sunny
evening. When the Broseley contingent arrived, guests had assembled in the garage where Peter's sports car seemed to be arousing as much interest as his collection of locos!

    We moved outside and Peter ran his nearly-complete LMS diesel hydraulic shunter hauling a goods train. The line is a large circuit running around the edge of the garden on posts about 3 to 4 feet high. It has 10 foot radius curves and is pretty much level. Peter then ran a pair of LMS diesel electric locos in tandem hauling a train of green and cream LNER coaches. He then lit up an LMS black 5 and that gave a spirited run pulling the coaches running tender first.

    There was a lot of natter and refreshments and Ian ran his 16mm scale narrow gauge train behind a 'Leader' 0-4-2ST and I ran my 15mm scale Tralee and Dingle inspection car. A lovely evening and many thanks to Peter and his wife for their kind hospitality.

Nick Coppin


6th September 2017

Posted 8/9/2017


    Members were invited to bring along a current modelling project to talk about.

    Barrie Kelsall brought two 7mm scale models. The Great Western 'Shrewsbury Castle' 4-6-0 and a LSWR T9 4-4-0. The Castle was pretty much finished and looked excellent! Barrie just wanted to tone down the paint on the smoke box. The T9 was a Laurie Griffin kit and had been causing some headaches with nicely made parts not really fitting together. Barrie mentioned that his fantastic 7mm scale Barmouth bridge will be in Barmouth soon for a 150 years exhibition. 

     Andrew Vaughan had a variety of his etched kits to show us. There were some lovely 7mm scale interiors for a drawing office and a signal box, a 16mm scale chassis for a narrow gauge diesel loco and a remarkable 2mm scale mine pit head gear. The latter created much interest.

  Dave Gotliffe showed us a fine Swiss office building from his Z gauge layout. It is lit with white and yellow l.e.d.s and looked very convincing. He used a booklet from All Components for advice on what resistor values to use with the l.e.d.s. He used some 2mm etched kits from Severn Models in his building.

    Ian Payne went up a few scales with 16mm garden railway buildings carved from Thermalite blocks. He used a wood saw, chisel, bradawl and file to cut and shape them. They were then painted and varnished and had an imitation slate for the roof.

    Peter Starkey brought along his LMS diesel hydraulic model again for us to see the progress. Now it has a roof radiator built up from Plastruct and brass. He has some detailing and lettering left to do.

    After a coffee break, Michael Ling distributed Timetable cards. These are part of the timetabling for his N gauge model of Bewdley on the Severn Valley and Tenbury lines. He started with 1939 working timetables and added a few trains for more operating interest. To ensure the extra trains could run, he produced graphic train diagrams and ultimately the Timetable cards. They have Time, Signal Box, Platform, Arrival or Departure, Special, a Train code and the actual train movement. 

    Stephen Duffell brought a nearly finished P4 model of a M&SWJR 2-6-0 which was mostly scratchbuilt with a chassis from Roxey Mouldings and a tender made by Simon Bolton, who came to talk to us a little while ago. He has made good use of tiny magnets for holding things like smokebox door and boiler backhead on.

    Gordon Woods had lots of Airfix/Dapol tank wagons, weighted with lead and with Alan Gibson wheels. He also had some 21T hopper wagons from Dapol, GMR, Hornby and Parkside. To pull them, a Q6 with 3D modelled NE loco lamps by Modelu. Now he has to build 25 fish wagons!
Staying in the North East.

    Tim Lewis is working on springing P4 wagons using Masokits units. These are good but really only fit the Parkside kits without lots of work. Other makes cause much difficulty. He also brought a J25 loco; his Millennium project (this is 2017); still to be finished!

    Frank Lax had an N gauge GWR Siphon; a Low Siphon only 6'3" high. Siphons were used for milk churns or fish. It was a Mill Lane kit made from laser cut plastic with added brake levers.

    Peter Cox finished off with another laser kit. This was an HO American Caboose; three kits in fact which Peter bought on EBay for a bargain price! He was very pleased as there are lots of extras in the kits which are very finely made from laser cut wood.

A good evening's meeting.



4th October 2017

Posted 10/10/2017

Narrow gauge in the public eye By Trevor Hughes

    Trevor gave us a most entertaining evening, starting with his seeing and being inspired by Derek Naylor's Aire Valley Railway in a back number of the Railway Modeller, through to his current layout, Crowsnest Wharf. His early attempts at narrow gauge modelling were to 4mm/ft running on 12mm track, followed by a brief dabble with P4, but dissatisfaction with with the components provided by Studiolith saw a return to the narrow gauge.

    In the1990's an S-scale model of Tan-y-Grisiau station on the Festiniog appeared on the exhibition scene. Surveying for this layout started in 1977 when much of the infrastructure was still in place. The models were constructed in skimming plaster, cast in rubber moulds. A stippled effect was produced with wet and dry paper in the mould, and the resulting plaster was scribed and painted with watercolours. An additional material was 'mudstone' from the Pennines, which was cut with a hacksaw and knife, and walls built up with little pieces stuck with PVA. Methods of locomotive construction owed a lot to the influence of Sid Stubbs, and followed 2mm finescale principles of split frames and stubb axles.

    The current layout, Crowsnest Wharf, is 12 foot long and to 7mm scale and based on the Snailbeach Railway. Use was made of hairspray to fix scenic materials to trees etc, but over time the scatter material falls off, and is now fixed with dilute PVA applied with a brush, followed by a final spray of matt varnish as a fixative. For best scenic effects static grass should be used in the foreground and scenic scatter to the rear. Locomotives (Baldwin no 4) are scratch built and there are 2 identical trains, one loaded, the other empty to run on and off the scene. Wheels are made by Stan Garlick's method with 2 saw discs separated by the thickness of the spoke, cutting 2 slots in the wheel disc, mounted on a dividing head. The formed spokes were pressed into a tyre turned with a form tool. Axles are either plastic (knitting needles) or steel set in a plastic tube. Motors are Escap and North West Shortline gearboxes favoured. Sealed ball bearings are used on the driving wheels.

    Recently 3D printing techniques have been used to produce fine details such as chairs for track. The final comments were on baseboard construction. MDF was not liked, Trevor's preference being for plywood, stiffened by the use of geodectic triangles. The layout is supported on Draper Trestle units with 2/3 metre beams between them. This provides a secure flat base on which to place the layout.


Stephen Duffell



1st November 2017 

Posted 20/11/2017

Dave Fenton talks about Megapoint controllers

    It was a great pleasure to welcome David Fenton and his wife Sheila from Megapoints to our November meeting.  Those of us who have met Dave before at exhibitions already knew of his enthusiasm and expertise, and we were looking forward to a lively evening.  Word had spread, and it was good to be able to welcome several new guests and also visitors from the Craven Arms club.  A very full room of members and guests were certainly not disappointed by what followed.

     Dave brought a great many exciting pieces of electronic control equipment with him, many of them newly developed, and expounded on their use, simplicity and advantages with total and infectious commitment.  He explained how his career had been in main frame computers and big systems, but that he had also had an interest in model aircraft.  When he decided he had had enough of the corporate world he realised that railway modellers were, through the inertia of the market and ignorance of what was available, paying way over the odds for control equipment that was definitely not state of the art.  Since then he has set about providing control systems based on two things; the use of servo motors, which are reliable, cheap and come in many varieties; and on control units for them designed specifically for the need of railway modellers using his electronic knowledge and experience. 

     Dave is nothing if not practical, and he demonstrated the ease with which servos can be mounted to drive points from both below and above the baseboard.  He then showed his Servo Control board and the ease with which it can be wired up and programmed to control the servos, including a random bounce option for powering signal arms.  Next followed the Multipanel Processor board, which is designed to link control of points (or signals, or sections, etc.) simply to a control panel of your own design.  He showed the switches and LEDs that he has developed in such a way that they can all be plugged simply together in one’s own panel, but also some beautifully professionally produced laser-cut panels made to your own design, which are now available through him.

     Dave is a hard person to keep up with, and every time you see him he has something new to show, or something on the stocks.  He demonstrated how his boards can now be used to drive relays, solenoid switch machines, Tortoises, and for block occupation detection, as well as for servos.  The most striking part of the equipment is that any, or indeed all, his boards can be ‘chained’ together in series by using just one piece of standard three strand servo cable linking each board.  His aim, as he stated, is to provide modellers with the control tools that we need at a good price while enabling us to enjoy the latest advances in electronic know-how without having to become electronics specialists ourselves.  Some modellers will of course be fascinated by, and spend much time on learning all the techniques necessary, but I think Dave convinced many of us that he can give us the control we want with minimum extra effort.  (Disclaimer - I am a very satisfied customer - it does exactly what it says on the tin!)

     So much interest was shown in his products after the formal end of the talk, with Dave inundated with questions, that the organisers almost had to force the meeting to a close before we were ejected from the room.  For those with further interest - or who just want to keep up with developments - there is a very comprehensive website, , where details of his products and many interesting and helpful videos can be found.  It is rare to meet someone with quite so much drive and energy, and it all made for an instructive and fascinating evening.

Peter Cox (Chairman).



3rd January 2018

Posted 5/1/2018

Andrew Vaughan of Severn Models - designing and painting brass models.

    Andrew Vaughan gave a very informative talk and demonstration of painting with acrylics including choice of paint, brushes, primers, ink washes and dry brushing. He followed this by explaining how brass etched kits are produced and how etching works.

    His helpful leaflet on painting with acrylics is available here.

    Following his talk on painting, Andrew gave the meeting a concise overview of the etching process. With the aid of slides, he showed how the brass sheet is coated with light-sensitive photoresist on both sides. A negative transparency of the metal to be etched is laid over each side of the sheet and ultra violet light shone onto it. This has the effect of hardening the photoresist where the uv light hits it. The remaining resist is then washed away leaving some of the brass exposed. Ferric chloride is sprayed onto both sides of the sheet simultaneously and this etches half way through the brass. Where both sides are etched in the same place, all the brass is removed. This might be a window opening or the edge of the model. Where the etching is only from one side, you get a half etch. This might be for a fold line or for a particular texture.

    What was apparent from his talk, was the huge amount of thought that goes into the design of his models. He does print an accurate card version which can be cut out with a scalpel and assembled as a trial run for the brass kit. From an initial list of 12 N gauge building kits, he now markets over 60 kits from 2mm scale up to 1" to the foot. These include mostly model railway kits but with an increasing range of kits suitable for dolls' houses.

    A very entertaining and informative evening's talk.


7th February 2018

Posted 19/2/2018

Railways  of Western Australia – Stephen Duffell.

    Stephen Duffell’s travels in retirement are expeditions rather than holidays.  Not for him the lure of sunny beaches and sangria in Spain.  Instead, accompanied by Gwynneth (and sometimes by their son Mark), he prefers to explore railway systems, travelling by a trusty motorhome that affords flexibility and independence.

    At February’s meeting he concentrated on the railways of Western Australia.  A map of Australia, with one of a diminutive Europe superimposed, demonstrated the sheer size of the continent, and the ambition of the railway engineers who aimed to conquer its vast distances.  The first railway in Australia was built in 1831; WA’s first railway dates from 1879.  When the Commonwealth of Australia was created in 1901, uniting the various states, WA joined on condition that a railway was built from Adelaide to Perth.  This line was to 4’8½” gauge, whereas most of the lines in WA were 3’6”.  The two gauges coexist still.

    Charles Yelverton O’Connor (1843-1902) was the chief figure in the development of WA’s railways and infrastructure.  He served as Engineer-in-Chief for the last eleven years of his life.  His projects included the Golden Pipeline, 329 miles long, to bring water to the remote, dry mining town of Kalgoorlie.

    Much of WA consists of desert.  The population is concentrated in the South-West, where the capital, Perth, and ports (Freemantle, Albany) are located.  The railway map is busiest here, but lines were also built to service industrial development and mining in remote areas:  gold at Kalgoolie; iron ore further north; wool; and timber.

    Stephen was an informative guide to the history and geography of WA’s railways.  His photographs enabled us to share what he saw.  They covered a range of activity, from current traffic to railway museums and preserved lines.  Many of the preserved locomotives were built by British firms with whose names we are familiar, such as Beyer Peacock.

    This was a fascinating talk on an area little known to many of us.  There is a WA branch of the Australian Model Railway Association.  Having seen some of the exciting modelling possibilities shown in Stephen’s photographs perhaps we should affiliate to it as soon as possible.


Michael Ling


15th February 2018

Posted 1/2/2018

A visit to Ian Payne's layout.

    What we hope will be the start of a new initiative for the ASRM, took place on Monday 15th February.  Five members visited Ian's beautifully lined and insulated loft where he has a large N gauge layout.  It has various sections in different stages of completion and created much interest with the visitors.  We ran trains for much of the time and chatted a lot!  Trish supplied us with some very welcome refreshments and we were all impressed with his storage and workshop facilities built around the layout.



7th March 2018

Posted 18/3/2018

Resistance soldering - Phil Rowe and Radio contol - Dave Evans & Ian Payne. 

Resistance Soldering.

                                     Phil Rowe brought his resistance soldering equipment with him and demonstrated the speed and accuracy of the technique, particularly with respect to the addition of small detail parts to a larger whole.  The part to be attached is tinned - or solder paste can be used - , held in position on the earthed larger part of the model by the electrode, and then a foot control is used to pass a short sharp current through the joint.  After a couple of seconds the joint glows brightly as the heat builds up; the solder is seen to melt; and, most importantly, once the current is switched off, the electrode is then kept in position until the solder has solidified, ensuring absolute positional accuracy.  To the ham-fisted, or at least those of us without the benefit of three hands,  the advantage over normal soldering was immediately apparent. Though Phil works in larger scales, it was clear that the accuracy possible with this system makes it very useful in smaller scales.  The downside is that a fairly robust transformer (up to 50 amps at 1-4 volts) is needed, and these are expensive (well over £100), but Phil’s demonstration certainly convinced us that the investment would be well worth while for anyone doing serious modelling in brass, especially after he generously allowed several of us to try for ourselves.


    Radio Control.

                                    First David Evans told us about his experiments with radio control in 00, in particular in using the Protocab system (though Deltang and RC trains are also producing systems).  It was particularly interesting to see how small the necessary components have become recently, making it perfectly possible, with a little ingenuity, to fit the receiver and the rechargeable battery in a standard 00 tender.  This makes radio control available in the smaller scales where it would not have been seriously considered until recently unless using an auxiliary van or coach - which may still be necessary for tank engines.  Protocab provides a complete starter set, with a controller which can control up to nine different locos, and the parts needed to equip one loco.  This kit currently costs around £240, and fitting out subsequent locos costs about £100 each (roughly comparable to adding sound in DCC), but all you need after that is the rails to run the trains on, and there are no short circuits to worry about from incorrectly set points or reverse loops.

                                    Ian Payne then took over to talk on radio control in larger scales, where it is already more established.  He talked about two systems of control, the Timpdon which was designed specifically for model railways and the Planet which originates in model aircraft and model boat practice, and a third (half) system which is very cheap, but can result in conflict, confusion and possible disaster if anyone else uses it at the same time!  Taking examples from his own experience and models Ian was able to surprise us pleasantly by how economically and effectively locos can be run by radio control.  Space is not of course at so great a premium in the larger scales, but he showed his inventivenessin just how much can be packed into models of even small (0-4-0) prototypes, with the aim in his case of having sufficient battery storage to ensure a minimum three hours running time.  He also showed how he had modified controllers designed for model aircraft to be more appropriate for use in driving locos.  His practical can-do approach to problems with his emphasis on keeping costs down and the advantages of standardisation in, for instance, batteries and servos was very convincing, once again raising dreams of the garden railway in those who have not yet gone there!


Many thanks to Phil, David and Ian for taking the time and trouble to prepare and deliver such interesting and thought-provoking talks.  Once again it was made apparent just how much expertise and knowledge we have in the Association, and how willing members are to share it.


Peter Cox



4th April 2018

Posted 11/4/2018

AGM followed by "what's on your work bench".

       Following the AGM, 13 members spoke about something they were working on currently.

Michael Glover brought along some plastikard buildings he had made using Kato models as inspiration. He had illuminated them inside with batteries and leds imported from China; eight for £6. He recommended Tamiya masking tape.

Ian Payne has been working on the radio controlled loco he used in last month's talk on r/c. It has been painted and is awaiting details. Ian ran it up on blocks.

Gordon Woods showed us an overbridge from his layout of Dearne Valley Junction, just south of Durham. The original prototype had 4 pairs of tracks running underneath and survived until a few years ago when it was replaced. The model uses Wills kits and embossed plastic and required much modification and is very convincingly painted and weathered. The tarmac road was produced using
gloss grey paint, generously drenched in talcum powder.

Tim Lewis had some nice P4 wagons built from plastic and etched brass kits and underframes. He mentioned how he uses an RSU exclusively for soldering them together.

Barrie Kelsall has nearly completed a Gladiator kit of an LMS Duchess in O gauge. It is etched brass and nickel silver with a cast resin boiler and firebox and looks very convincing. He uses split axles for pick up from the tender only. It is an idea from Sandy Harper and Barrie uses spring wires attached to the wheel bearings to conduct the current to the motor on the locomotive. He has not had any pick up problems with locos using this technique.

Phil Rowe brought two Gauge 1 scratch-built Midland bogie coaches of c.1901 vintage. They are part of a rake of seven coaches he is building for a live steam Midland 'Spinner' though Phil doubted the single-wheeler would be able to pull them all with its limited adhesion. The coaches are made from 1/32" plywood with the mouldings cut and glued in place. The roofs are made by laminating thin plywood over a wooden master developed from a Tenmille wooden roof. The bogies are from Peter Korzilius and they have ball bearings on the axles. He is using Halfords Vauxhall Burgundy paint and has drawn the transfers 10 times full size and had them reduced before printing them onto transfer sheets.

Sam Ryan had a whole layout for us to look at! It was his 009 test layout and he had a couple of saddle tank locos and three Glyn Valley coaches which he ran round the track. One of the locos is called 'Sam' and the other is Talyllyn painted in the early 1990's livery.

Frank Lax showed us his GWR 6 wheel coach in N gauge using a Peco chassis.

Stephen Duffell had a range of very nice-looking LSWR coaches in salmon pink livery. Some were 4 wheelers from 1865 with lookouts on the roof between the two end compartments. These allowed the guard to see signals and apply the only brake on the train, other than the tender brake! The coaches have buffers 3D printed by Modelu. He also had some LSWR bogie coaches. The Southern
Railway added extra length to old LSWR coaches by attaching a metal extension. Hornby have made of model of these and Stephen has chopped the extension off and returned them to their original LSWR state! This left him with longer underframes to which he has added new SW bodies with laminated and scraped plastikard roofs and windows from glass cover slips.

Trevor Hughes brought a length of his 1/32 scale Talyllyn Railway model based on Towyn Pendre in 1908. He recommended the use of Google to accurately measure distances on the ground. He also emphasised the importance of using good quality, waterproof plywood for baseboards and sticking to one type to reduce the chance of warping. He varnishes before ballasting, to avoid the ply getting too wet. The track is made from chairs, lost-wax cast in brass from 3D printed masters, keyed onto Kalgarin flat bottomed rail. The ends of the baseboards have brass reinforcing for the rails and each length of rail has two dropper wires to ensure continuity.

Mike Wakefield has talked before about Mamod models and he showed us their latest diesel loco which he has fitted with sound. It is a hefty model, nearly 2kg and Mike uses it with a snowplough to clear debris from his garden railway.

Andrew Vaughan dreams of building a model of Ironbridge and Broseley station but even in N gauge it is quite big! He brought along the results of some of his research and planning. These included large scale maps from National Library of Scotland for track plans, historic aerial photos from Britain from Above (log in for the high definition photos) and SCARM (Simple Computer Aided Railway
Modeller) for a CAD program to design your track layout based on commercially available points.

Nick Coppin was so inspired with the visit to Peter Starkey's Gauge 1 garden line last July, that he has started modelling in that scale for the first time since the 1970s. He brought along a scratch-built GWR open wagon.

Once again, the range and scope of the Members' model railways, gave us an informative and entertaining second part of the evening.

Nick Coppin



2nd May 2018

Posted 11/5/2018

First Experiences of Fitting DCC Sound to Diesel and Steam Locomotives – Gordon Woods


Gordon Woods gave an in-depth review and analysis of fitting DCC sound to Diesel and Steam Locomotives. He is currently producing a fine scale 00 gauge layout based on the north east of England with a small element of East Coast main line added to the mix. For this layout the motive power is mainly being handled by Q6 ex-LNER Steam Locomotives and Class 26 and 37 Green Diesels. Obtaining realistic sounds of the highest quality for these locomotives was Gordon’s ambition and his talk and demonstration showed how this can be achieved.

The chips with sound on board (known as decoders) are the heart of this aspect of railway modeling. Good quality decoders range in price from £85 to £120 and a good quality decoder should offer the following benefits:

-          Sound level capable of being influenced by the locomotive motor and control settings

-          Have a range of volumes

-          Decent documentation

-          Ideally sound based on the particular locomotive you were adapting

Gordon went into the details of the various decoders by different manufacturers and their suppliers, making the point that for the better product with a greater range of sound options you had to spend a little more. Before buying a decoder it was essential to know how many pins there were on your locomotive’s DCC socket.

The other main element of sound installation was the speakers. Examples he showed ranged from ‘sugar cube’ size to somewhat larger with the main criteria being the space available in the locomotive for their fitting. In some instances boxes needed to be made to enclose the speakers and he showed examples of how this could be done.

Of much added interest to members was his demonstration of how to go about installing the decoders and speaker in a locomotive and the way to fine tune the sound for the particular locomotive. The sounds available from the better decoders in addition to the chuff for a steam engine and the growl for a diesel were extensive and growing covering such elements as flange squeal, coal shoveling, horns and whistles, water injection etc. Insofar as installation of the bits and pieces in the locomotive was concerned Gordon emphasised that it was essential to insulate decoder and speaker wiring from the locomotive mechanism. An example of a computer program called Decoder Pro showed a quite bewildering array of fine tuning tweaks in sound available to modelers who wished to go into more detail and refinement.

Helpfully, Gordon produced a not too extensive range of tools necessary to complete an installation. He recommended the use of a higher wattage soldering iron using resin core solder when soldering wires to the decoder.

He outlined that there were still a number of issues with the manufacturers of decoders over their range of sound and volume levels and in particular their lack of standardisation on wire connections to the decoders. Things were improving and in the future one could look forward to decoders with a greater range of sounds, improvement in speaker design and generally sound equipped locomotives becoming more affordable. He added that further information on sound was available on the internet, in the railway modeling press and on decoder manufacturer websites.

The examples of the sound levels which could be achieved were amply demonstrated by Gordon by operating his locomotives where the volume of sound developed easily filled the room. Adding sound is a developing aspect of the railway modeling hobby and Gordon’s talk and demonstration expertly showed what could be achieved in this regard for which members were very grateful.


David Evans

6th June 2018

Posted 12/6/2018

Railways Associated with Mining in Shropshire – Talk by Michael Shaw

At the Association’s meeting on 6 June Michael Shaw gave a very informative and detailed talk on the railways linked to the extractive mining industry of Shropshire. He is an author of books on the Lead, Copper and Barites Mines of the County as well as a more recent publication on the Mines of the Shrewsbury Coalfield. For our purposes he concentrated on the tramways and railways, and the locomotives and rolling stock which served these industries.

In his review of the lead, barites and copper mining he identified the different forms of rail track used ranging from plateways, T rail and conventional tracks. Surprisingly was the extent of the rail lines which served the various mines and their complexity. In respect of the barites mining in the Snailbeach area it is hard to imagine that between the two world wars Shropshire was probably the largest producer of barites in the country. Excellent slides were shown of some of the locomotives and wagons used in the industry.

Michael illustrated the extent of the Shrewsbury Coalfield and he referred to the main pits in this respect to the west of Shrewsbury at Hanwood, Arscott, Cruckmeole and Moat Hall with Hanwood being the last to close in the early 1940’s. He illustrated what few remains there were of this coal mining.

He completed his railway themed review of industry by referring to the timber and sawmill activities showing a track example still in situ in the floor of the National Trust’s shop at Attingham Park. He also made reference to the sandpit at Coton Hill which was connected to the main line railway. Local railways were also utilized at the Sentinel Works and the now named Centurion Park at Harlescott when it was in use as a very early Royal Flying Corps and later RAF base. The construction and later operation of Shelton Waterworks used a railway and inclined plane from the River Severn to the Water Tower. To complete the picture he brought us up to date by showing photos of the Ffestiniog locomotives which ran during the Shrewsbury Flower Show a few years ago.

This was a very much enjoyed presentation by Michael Shaw whose depth of knowledge on the extractive industries of Shropshire was clearly very apparent to all for which Members were very grateful.

David Evans



4th July 2018

Posted 6/7/2018

Visit to a members garden railway

About fifteen members gathered in Broseley at Mick and Anita's house.  There were the usual comments about hairpin bends and lots of left hand corners which we are used to in this most civilised part of Shropshire!

The weather was very sunny and warm but as the evening progressed, plumes of steam became more evident in the cooling air.  A variety of locos took to the tracks.  Mike Wakefield's Mamod diesel and my Great War 'Tin turtle' petrol loco were first out while the steam engines raised steam.  Andrew Vaughan had his Mamod which ran as sweetly and swiftly as ever.  Phil Rowe had managed to replace a broken gauge glass on his Welshpool and Lanfair 'Countess' only to have it lose a slidebar.  Mick ran his Ruston Hornsby diesel up the branch line with a train of skips.  I think it was Mike Wakefield with the 'Ragleth' and two vans and Ian Payne seemed to take the prize for easy running with his loco 'Trish', a Lady Anne named after his wife.  This was radio controlled and various members had a go running it.  My Kerr Stuart continued to play up after a rebuild and had to have its meths sucked out  before being consigned to its box.

In the garage, the 00 layout was running faultlessly with trains in both directions and a nifty electric signal that changed as the train passed it.

A very pleasant evening and thank you again to Mick and Anita.

Nick Coppin