Monday 6 May 2024

Leek & Manifold Transport Wagons

Personal modelling has taken a big hit recently with launching a new shop for STModels along with taking the trade stand to Narrow Gauge South. That was an excellent exhibition but being a trader by yourself means virtually no opportunity see round the show so I did a quick run round before the show opened. I was very taken with an Irish layout Fintonagh which has furthered my desire to build a CDR railcar. I think I have all the bits now so it is just a case of getting properly started!

At the show I was asked by a couple of people when am I going to complete the set of transporter cars for the Leek and Manifold Railway. You can already buy the Long Transporter wagon on the new shop here but the short transporters needed their designs finishing. The transporters have quite a history. The first being delivered in 1904, which was actually designed not only to be able to carry standard gauge wagons but to also carry horse drawn carts. History says they were never used for that purpose and were modified fairly quickly.

Then another variant came along in 1907 which was adaptable for two types of wagons, the difference being how low the brake gear hung underneath the wagon. Eventually one of the 1907 wagons was elongated to produce the long transporter wagon used for carrying the 6 wheel milk van.

Anyway, a little extra time at home has seen me largely finish the designs. Here they are, almost finished. 

Front right is the 1904 version, front left is the 1907 version with the raised section for taller wagons and at the rear is the long transporter wagon.

The real problem is how to fit wheels beneath them. The wagon only takes a P4 wagon on top and, even then, there isn't enough space underneath to fit a bogie wheelset with outside frames. My friend Matt, for whom the original long transporter was designed, used N gauge pony truck wheels but you have to have a supply of them to make any progress with the wagons.

I therefore took the extra time I have currently and have taught myself how to design an etched brass bogie to go underneath. It's designed to hold the Mosskits 6.2mm diameter wheels. Even then I think it will need the pin points removing from the axles to get full movement.

Here's the design. It's a simple fold up bogie with slots that the axles go into and tabs fold across underneath them to hold the axles in. I've done quite a bit of reading about tolerances and how some items get bigger and some smaller in the etching process so it will be very interesting to see if what I get back conforms to what I expect.

It's not actual modelling for myself but it has been quite fun learning a new skill - watch this space!

Sunday 7 April 2024


Ever since attending last year's Welshpool Gala and spending an inordinate amount staring at it in the loop, I have been wondering how to make a model of Diema. At the time I took a good number of photographs just in case I should ever find myself in a position to model it.

In the last Llanfair Journal there was a picture of their works train headed by Diema. The train itself consists of two modified Bowaters Pulp wagons, two RNAD box vans and a Zillertal coach (to be replaced once the Mess Coach has been rebuilt). As it happens I already had my own design for the Bowaters Pulp wagons printed. There are also two RNAD vans in the stash and I have 4 Zillertal coaches so I just need the engine. This is an ideal train for my new roundy roundy (I really must decide on a name) layout.

The biggest problem is a drawing of the engine - it doesn't exist. I asked the team at Welshpool and they don't have a copy either. They did say I could go and measure it but it's a 5 hour drive each way for me. By chance, a good friend, Steve Mann, said he was going for a day trip to Welshpool and foolishly agreed to take some key measurements which would allow me to extrapolate the rest from photos. He excelled himself and now I have most of what I need.

The power unit chosen is from Narrow Japan and came within a week of ordering it. It's a very dinky unit and they do a range of wheelbases and wheel diameters so I expect I will be back for more. I calculated the wheelbase from the centres of the bearings on the photos and the wheel diameter is a best calculation based on the rail height to the centre of the bearings. After that I chose the closest match.

Over the past few days I have designed the body in CAD and have done some basic sizing prints just to get the fundamental dimensions right.

I find myself missing two dimensions:

  1. top of rail to top of footplate
  2. top of rail to bottom of chassis side frame

so those are guesswork for now. It was inevitable that perspective on photos is making some of the calculations harder. The body is sitting a little low but that will be fixed in the next print. For now I will work on what looks right and measure them at the Gala later this year when I am again taking Melin Dolrhyd.

Lastly, here is the basic loco posed next to The Earl to give a sense of size. It is not a tiny diesel!

Tuesday 6 February 2024

New Year Update

It's been a busy few weeks on the railway front. First it was the SWOONs open day on the Saturday where I had my sales stand for STModels and then it was the annual committee meeting on the Sunday for the 009 Society which, in my role as 009 News Editor, I attend. The following weekend was the regular Wiltshire 009 Group meeting. Then it was the 2 day Southampton show where I was exhibiting Melin Dolrhyd as well as having the STModels sales stand. Last weekend it was the Alton show where I helped operate Garreg Wen for Matt Kean.

All set up and ready for customers at Southampton

STmodels continues to grow and I have done 3 commissions in the past month. The first was for some tank wheels, the second was for some Vale of Rheidol lattice fencing and lastly a request for Southern Railways 8 Wire Concrete fence posts. The last two are available to be bought on STModels.

Southern Railways 8 Wire Concrete posts

The layout with no name has also progressed. It now has the track down, it's wired up and a small amount of scenery has been created. The points are planned to be operated by wire in tube and that has been installed but doesn't show up in the photo. 

Adding the backscene former

The track plan is roughly what was on the initial sketches on the notice board. In the end the actual positioning of the points was dictated by my stock. The points are positioned such that I can have a Bachmann Baldwin and one WD bogie in the headshunt whilst also having 3 WD bogies in the loop and being able to run round them. The section of track between the loop and the running line is long enough to hold a Baldwin without fouling the running line.

The most recent job has been to add the backscene former. This was created with a piece of timber across the back, down the sides and along the bottom to which a piece of 5mm ply was glued. It's added some much needed rigidity to the board. 

The trouble is that it has given me a headache I hadn't envisaged. The layout was planned as something to take to shows that was simple, more easily transportable and more light hearted than Melin Dolrhyd. Keeping it simple was the mantra. The problem is that with it in the railway room against the wall I can't easily reach the point switches. The electrical section switches don't matter as they will always be on. I can just reach the point switches but have a habit of knocking trains off the track. I know I will want to 'play' with the layout and use it to test stock running through the points so it really needs to be useable in the railway room.

The only sensible thing to do is to change the point operation so that it can be operated from the front as well as the back. If I want to extend the mechanical operation in some way then I will have to break up that lovely curved front of the layout, that is if I could work out how to do it!

In the end I have to go back to point motors but I have decided to try servos - this layout was aimed at trying new things, after all. I am currently looking at an Arduino to drive the servos. I had already planned an Arduino Uno to operate a couple of working signals. All this means is I have to extend the system to handle the points as well.

In the stash I have an Arduino Mega, some Dingo servo mounts and some 9g servos. Time for a little experimentation!

Leek & Manifold Transport Wagons

Personal modelling has taken a big hit recently with launching a new shop for STModels along with taking the trade stand to Narrow Gauge Sou...