Winter 2013/14 to-do list

In previous years the local area group had a tradition of “The List”. This was solemnly passed around at the last steamup of the season, and all present would list just one of their many “Round Tuit” tasks awaiting completion, with the understanding that it would be done before the first steamup of the following season. It was just a bit of fun with no adverse consequences for failure (apart from a little gently mickey-taking) but sometimes provided the extra burst of energy needed to finish something off. With no club list in the offing this year, I thought I’d take time out to produce a list of my own, showing everything that needs to get done on the railway. No deadline, no “this one by spring”, no promises; just a warts-and-all glimpse behind the scenes of the average garden railway. Most of these are unfinished jobs, but some are unstarted-but-on-the-wannado-list.

Steam (Nos 2 and 5 out of traffic, rest available)
Mamod No1: Idle for too many years. Complete overhaul and re-assemble.
Rheidol No2: Re-pack piston ring and gland
Pooter No3: New pressure gauge. Repaint in the next year or three, and possibly rename and number
Lady Anne No5: Complete overhaul (axles and bearings done, valve gear still to do)
Trisantonia : Re-mount rear coupling to ponytruck instead of bufferbeam, so she doesn’t pull the first wagon off on tight curves.
Tennyson : Change couplings to choppers. Name and number plates
Lyn : Repaint scorched smokebox. Adjust coupling height. Name and numberplates. Complete repaint?
Rotkopf : Descale boiler. Detail and spot repainting. R/C?
Salem : Find and fix electrical fault
Baguley : Name and number. Repaint?
Fowler : Repair drop damage and re-assemble

4 ex Mid-Derbyshire coaches: Repaint all 4 into LR colours. Repair/replace broken bogies on 2. Replace battery box on 1. Replace missing/damaged running boards
6 Locomotion & 1 IP kits still to finish.
2 Brandbright 4w opens cosmetic repair, all 12 to repaint and number, ditto 6 bogie opens
1 Bbt van, 1 accucraft brake, 2 1 s/h wagon to repaint, number and change couplings.
Unfinished kits: 3x IP cattle vans. 3x Bbt 4w vans, 1 Andel C&M Brake, 8 Imp skips.

2 1 points in upper circuit with broken tiebar-blade joints to repair/replace.
Numerous other points missing check-rails, count up number required and order from PECO.
Some joints starting to look a bit 50p: Identify and relay on smooth alignment.
More experiments with decorative ballasting, once satisfied with alignment.
Civil Engineering:
Repair subsidence on lower level crossing.
Rebuild lift-out bridge with a bit more breathing-space.
Cut back cutting slopes to gentler, more natural angle and plant/seed.
Station platforms at Thimbleby, Minting (Down), Hatton and Wragby (branch)
Any/all station and other buildings. Get jigstones production-line organised!
Complete signal kits on hand, ditto lever frames.
Connect points to levers.
Block instruments, bells and associated wiring.

Historical “research”
Complete fictional history for website. Complete train-graph timetables and use to work out fictional fleet, then use this information to create plausible numbers for locos and stock.
From traingraph, create timetable for Horncastle branch for use on “Operating Days” and try it out (solo & with wifey assistance) to test feasibility.
Prepare car-cards and way-bills for proper wagonload freight ops for “Operating Days”, and road-test (note that this requires all wagons to be individually numbered, with the option of removable loads for opens too)
Draft simple 1-page rulebook and how-to guide for “Operating days”
Plan, advertise and actually HOLD an “Operating Day”

Enough there to keep me busy for a few years, if I retire tomorrow….. Would be nice to get some of them done though, particularly those relating to Operating Days, in which I plan to use the model to simulate a real narrow gauge branch rather than meander gently round in circles- fun though that is.


End of the 2013 season

It was the best of years, it was the worst of years (Shakespearish). On the plus side, the fleet is at its biggest and best ever. In January, for the first time in 20yrs a brand new just-for-us steam loco arrived to be unwrapped, admired and introduced to service- “Trisantonia” of the RH Atlantic class. In April a nice day out turned into a great day out when we were surprised to learn at the Roundhouse open day that our second new machine “Tennyson” (Taliesin class) was ready, and if we could hang on for 5 minutes while they found a box it could come home with us. Could we? What do you think. Finally after nearly a year of epic brain-bashing the Wizard of Wigfa announced in August that our Lyn was finally fit to travel- and with a couple of last minute tweaks she was. Lyn has been on the books since 2007 but with indifferent-to-nonexistent performance (not helped by a couple of boobs of my own) she’s never really been part of the fleet, more an expensive an frustrating ornament. Not now, though. Runs like a dream.

This insane and un-repeatable level of indulgence isn’t really our style, but it was a now-or-never thing. Taliesin and Atlantic had been on my ‘want’ list ever since they came out, and when it was announced last summer that they were to be discontinued it was decision time. Even then, it would not have been possible without Mr Back2Bay6 and his interest-free-credit scheme, a nice fat deposit and a year to pay off the rest made it do-able, so at the 2012 Llanfair show we signed on the line and settled back to wait for the postman’s knock. Lyn was delivered to Abbeybach at the same time, but a quick re-time and replacement of pony-truck pivots turned into a can-of-worms job, complete with long pauses for new bits to take the slow boat from China. The speed was not helped by my late decision to go for r/c, but having seen what a lively runner she was on test, and remembering how inaccessible the cab is I think it was the right choice.

On the down-side, for the third year running uncertainty over my work-schedule meant we missed the deadline for submitting “available” days to the local area group organiser, so we had to take pot-luck on steamup days. In the previous two years this meant we didn’t get to run every month and some days weren’t particularly convenient. This year we also had a change of organiser, who rather than send out an amended calendar every time there was a change sent out an email to all concerned. This is fair enough, and saves a lot of work BUT it meant that instead of being “on the calendar” we were lost in people’s inboxes and I think attendance suffered. Hopefully work should be more stable next year so we should get our “available” days sent off in plenty of time to get our fair share of dates properly displayed.

Apart from hit-and-miss attendances, it’s been a very poor year for visiting other railways. Work has been absolutely bananas this year. The continuing story of the joint-line upgrade has given us a non-stop year of last-minute crises, with the project blithely asking for impossible levels of extra shifts for engineering work even as our manpower levels shrink as people take jobs elsewhere while they can. It’s been impossible to plan more than a day ahead for any but the biggest personal events, and life has turned into work-sleep-work-sleep-work-runaway! Wifey is pretty good at spotting when I’m at the end of my string and in need of some playtime, and now we have the caravan a break is quick, cheap and easy to organise. The only downside to going away every long weekend is that there’s never any time at home to get things done, either chores or fun things. The project is also running late, originally down to be complete next March it’s now shaping up to continue until the end of August so that may be another summer up the Swanee.

So 2013 in summary, epic year for shiny new toys but unfortunately also an epic year of underachievement. No real progress has been made on anything, which effectively means backward progress as nature continues to take its toll on any model railway in the great outdoors.