Saturday 18 March 2023

Basingstoke Show

Last weekend was the Basingstoke Show and I took Melin Dolrhyd. The new fiddle yard worked really well and my fellow operator declared that he liked it which is good from someone who prefers to keep their distance from technology.

It's a very friendly show with a range of layouts and traders, though I understand that several traders dropped out on the day which is frustrating for the organisers and anyone who was coming specifically for those traders.

Sadly, "The Earl" failed to get going. The first hour of a show is always fraught with locos warming up and generally getting into a rhythm. "The Earl" never got into a rhythm. It stuttered it's way round the layout and no cleaning or fettling of pickups was making any difference so it was immediately retired and will have to be overhauled to get back into operation. It is over 30 years old and was made by the late Rod Alcock so it's fair for it to want some attention.

It meant that Dennis, from the Snailbeach Railway was called into service for the two days. I clearly need a couple more engines to ensure the layout only runs engines that have run on the WLLR.

The other noticeable issue was some of the stock on some of the points. There were a few derailments in the fiddle yard. One particular point was very noticeable.

When I got the layout home I set it up again in the lounge and ran stock in a variety of directions. Above is the point that was giving most trouble. As you can see, there is a huge offset on the join between the blade and the fixed rail. When going through the point from the toe, stock was hitting that join and the lighter wagons were bouncing off.

There was also a track offset between two boards which surprised me due to the number of alignment dowels and the track being soldered at the ends. It didn't cause any issues but I have now corrected it so that it shouldn't cause and issues in the future.

I have also embarked on an exercise of checking track and wheel geometry as well as coupling heights. Anything one can do to bring consistency has to help with good running. Thankfully, nearly all the problems occurred in the fiddle yard. The front of the layout was fine.

There were two other narrow gauge layouts at the show. The first was one the Basingstoke Group were refurbishing that they had obtained second hand. The second was "Sandy Shores" by Jamie Warne. This can best be described as a small sand dune shunting layout. It won the Chairman's Choice trophy. Jamie has kindly sent through some photos which are reproduced here. You can also follow his blog here.

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