Southport Model Railway Society No 36: November 2014 Newsletter

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Southport Model Railway Society


No 36: November 2014                 Editor- Ian Shulver ([email protected])

Amazingly, our newsletter is now into its 4th year.  At times it has been a bit of a struggle firstly getting the issue out in a timely manner and secondly getting copy.  I am always on the lookout for short articles about railways, and more particularly model railways.  The article does not have to be in the best prose (help is always on hand for this) nor does it necessarily need photographs or diagrams (again we can help here if required).  Articles can be submitted electronically or by good old fashioned pen and paper.  So to all you budding writers, please send me something to include (it can be published anonymously if you desire).

Chairman’s notes:

Welcome to the November issue of the Newsletter. Where has 2014 gone!

You will see, as you read on, that much activity has been taking place behind the scenes in preparation for our slightly later than usual annual exhibition. It is less than a couple of weeks to go and there will more evident activity as we run up to the opening day, if you are able to lend a hand (or three ) in the preparation we will be more than grateful.

Still reflecting on the timing of the show reminds me that on the last weekend of September there was historically a clash of interest with our show and the Elsecar Garden Railway Show.  However this year, of course, presented a golden once in a long time opportunity to attend – so I did!  I won’t say any more here for the moment other than it was well worth going but will tell you more in an article for hopefully next months issue.  Also I am writing this having just attended the EXPONG (that is Exposition Narrow Gauge for the uninitiated) show in Swanley Kent. Once again I’ll say no more but will report back in a future issue.

Once again I look forward to our show and trust that as many of us as possible can be there, enjoy the show!



Monthly talks:

The October talk was given by a guest speaker, Robin Green, and featured many large format slides of the railways in Colorado.  It gave a taste of the diverse railway (sorry, railroad!) interest in the area – preserved 3ft, massive mainline trains, preserved standard gauge and some abandoned lines, now dirt roads. I think the many members who were present thoroughly enjoyed the evening and those who are embarking on the Colorado tour next year will be raring to see the real thing.  Our grateful thanks go to Robin for giving his time.

The November talk will be at the clubrooms on 25th November and will be a joint effort by Ian and Tony.  Being that the West Lancashire Railway has just ‘celebrated’ 50 years of closure we thought it would be interesting to describe the history of the line and what it looks like now.

In December (16th) Jim Ford will look at the development of railroads in Colorado.  This talk, as well as being of general interest will form part of the ‘homework’ for next year’s sleeper trip.  


Layout reports

Portland Street – Upper & Lower (Tony Kuivala).  Currently out of commission until the room has been redecorated.

Monsal Dale (Ian Shulver) – Once redecoration upstairs has progressed a bit more we can start to consider modifying the points in the fiddle yard and station throat.  In fact one of the fiddle yard points has now been relocated and is ready to be wired up (the old wire need to be extended a tad in order to reach the new position of the point.  However, I am getting a little concerned about fitting in the new “Y” point, making certain the geometry is correct and ensuring there is a sufficient length in the loop for the “Blue Pullman”. I think we will only know when all the work has been completed. 

Talisker Glen.  As with Portland Street, Talisker Glen is out of commission until the room has been redecorated. Once completed work on the layout will recommence.


2014 Exhibition – Tony Kuivala

We are virtually there.  All the preparations are in place.  All that remains now are the personal commitments of Club members over weekend commencing on Friday 7th November.  The first part of this is our in-house exhibition briefing on Friday 31st October at 8pm.  Normally this would be on the following Tuesday but has been brought forward by special request. 

In last year’s Feedback discussions there were points raised about specialist traders which we have responded to.  Our change of Exhibition date has led to inevitable clashes as some old friends have long standing commitments elsewhere.  We have five new Traders and the return of an old friend.  Crafty Hobbies from Barrow in Furness, Durham Trains of Stanley from County Durham, Layouts4u from March, Lincolnshire, MegaPoints Controllers from Northwich and Todmorden Model Supplies from Todmorden are making their first appearances.  Barrett Steam Models from Walsall return as we have Gauge1 live steam.  Overall we have one more trader than hitherto and a broader more interesting range of goodies available for purchase.  Our Club stand will be in main hall near café, so bring us your donations and other items with immediate effect.  Our society support and demonstrators have similar pattern to traders and with overall no change in numbers.  We welcome return of Lynton & Barnstaple (North West Group) and Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Society.

In all we will be presenting 23 Layouts, full listings are now on our website

Moving our date to November means we are changing our café selections to reflect colder weather and darker nights. There are some other more subtle changes which are not readily apparent.


Forthcoming events

The programme for the next few months is as follows:

Nov 8-9              SMRS Annual Exhibition

Nov 25               West Lancs Railway (then and now) – Tony Kuivala/Ian Shulver

Dec 16                The history and development of the railroads of Colorado – Jim Ford

Jan (TBA)          Backscene painting – Hilary Finch

Feb                      Offers required please

March (TBA)    Quakers and Railways


57a Redecoration

Internal:   The ‘addled’ plaster on the railway side wall of the Portland Street room was removed revealing a number of cracks in the internal skin of the wall as well as a few loose bricks.  This was addressed and both this wall and the one facing Portland Street have been covered with plasterboard and redecorated.  Once the ceiling has been painted we will be ready to move the layout and look at the remaining two walls (hopefully they will not require major DIY but only decorating).        

External: A leak was found in the supply pipe to the outside closet which has now been repaired but in doing this the cistern itself has been found to be rather precariously attached to the wall and will need attending to.  Tony has done a sterling job in generally tidying the garden and clearing out the woodstore and hopefully we should be able to get a good proportion of the exhibition barriers stored there.


Member’s news:

Two members’ item this month, both by Allan Trotter. What about some other contributions (please)?

Tri-ang Railways Mk.1 and Mk.2 carriages that could have been.

There were many items of ingenious design introduced by Tri-ang Railways over the years but one new item illustrated in the 1961 catalogue that is worthy of some mention is the BR Mk.I Sleeping Car (SLSTP, sleeper second class, twin berth and pantry, to explain the code).

Why and what, you may ask is significant about just a carriage?  Surely carriages are all much the same?  Don’t you believe it.  To explain, this was the first model of a Mk.I vehicle of accurate detail and scale length to be offered to the model railway fraternity and it also possessed a crucial design feature –  it was of modular construction.

The carriage consisted of a moulding of the underframe, ends and gangways onto which were attached the two bogies by means of rivets.  The carriage sides slotted into the underframe moulding, the interior unit dropped in and the one piece roof slotted onto the ends and sides forming a robust and attractive ready to run carriage.

The significance of this method of construction is that almost any type of Mk.I carriage could be produced, just by varying the sides and interior.  Even alternative bogies such as the B4 could be used and did in fact happen during the Tri-ang Hornby era.

In addition to the sleeping car, a further four types of Mk.I were introduced the following year in 1962, a Composite Corridor (CK), a Brake Second Corridor (BSK), a Restaurant Miniature Buffet (RMB) and a Gangwayed Brake Van (BG).  However, this latter one was not the correct length as the real ones were 57 feet long whilst all the other vehicles were 64 feet long. That is a minor criticism though.  The underframe, bogies and roof were also utilised in production of Caledonian type carriages which were subsequently also made in a variety of other company’s colours.  Also, the LNER Thompson coaches shared the underframes, bogies and roof.  All that was new were the carriage sides.  No interior was installed in these vehicles. You can’t say Hornby have not had good value out of this idea as the Mk.I’ s were still in current production in 2007.

There is one question that does arise and that is why did Tri-ang Railways and Hornby for that matter stop at only producing five types of Mk.I carriage?  The most numerical Mk.I vehicles built were the 64 seat Tourist Second Open (TSO) and 64 or 48 seat Second Corridor (SK) yet these have not been produced.  Many other prototype Mk.I’ s were built in large numbers such as the Corridor First (FK), Brake Second Open (BSO) and Restaurant Buffet (RB) so models of these would have permitted the make up of realistic 00 scale train formations in stead of being all composites.

The modular construction method was so innovative that Trix replicated the idea for their Mk.I models but they unfortunately duplicated Tri-ang with the CK and RMB. However, they did produce a Brake Composite Corridor (BCK), a model not made by Tri-ang.

So now you are wondering as to the purpose of this story. As the real Mk.I’ s use a number of shared components and the Tri-ang models are of modular constructed, it should be fairly straightforward to make models of Mk.I’s not provided in ready to run format.  Almost all can be made using existing Tri-ang parts but economy does enter into the equation.  The SK and TSO are the most economic models since these require parts from just two BSK’s. The BSO and BFK are also possible without the utilisation of more than two vehicles as long as the brake parts left from making the TSO and SK models are used.  Also, with two corridor sides of the CK left from making the BFK, a model of a most obscure Mk.I may be made, a Bullion Van (SLB). However an FK would require the consumption of no less that four CK’s, therefore this is not really an economical route to follow.

In the latter part of the 1960’s Tri-ang Hornby introduced their Mk.2 coaches but typically did not produce a complete range.  Of the four basic types of prototype coaches built, the TSO, BFK, BSO and FK, only models of the TSO and BFK were made.  A model of the BSO is very easy to represent as it only requires the replacement of the compartment interior with one of open layout.  On the real Mk.2 and Mk.2a BFK and BSO, the body and window spacing is identical therefore standard class passengers get the same seat spacing as first class.

Since the Mk.2 models are not of modular construction, making a model of the FK is not so straightforward as the Mk.1 variants and some major plastic surgery is necessary. Two brake coaches are required to make the FK model. Passenger windows, toilet windows and doors have to be transposed to form the correct layout for this coach.  An additional off centre intermediate door is also required on the corridor side. The two coach interiors require to be cut and reformed in the appropriate seven compartment layout.

Now for a bit of fantasy as to what could have happened. See the enclosed photographs for some Tri-ang Railways and Tri-ang Hornby model carriages that could have been. There’s more on the “Genuine Fakes” page at

And now, continuing with Allan’s series of papers on electrical matters.  If you wish to see the preceding articles, they are all to be found on .

Short Circuits No. 16 – Operating operational signals.

Signalling on model railways can become rather an involved process.  Although scenery, trains and signals can be reduced in scale, the means to control signals cannot.  To provide accurate signalling on your layout requires almost as much circuitry as the real thing.  Don’t despair though, reasonably simple, representative operational signalling can be installed so long as you are willing to accept a few compromises.

Semaphore signals can be operated by wire in tube, solenoids or even motor driven systems with control circuitry similar to point switching.  Colour light signals do have more scope for different methods of control.  As always there is no one single correct method, just different ways of achieving similar results.  With signalling on real railways, much of the complex circuitry is for the interlocking of points and signals to ensure safety and to prevent the signalman from setting up conflicting routes.  If you want to replicate this accurately, the same circuitry employed by Network Rail would be required for your layout.  A somewhat daunting task.  However, if you are prepared to accept compromises on not having a foolproof system then read on.

Point or turnout control as already been covered in previous articles so now it is the various simple ways to control colour light signals.  Once again common return is used to reduce on wiring.  There are two fundamental types of colour light signals, ones with separate colour aspects with either two, three or four lamps and single lens searchlight signals that can indicate either red, yellow or green but only one at a time of course.

Model signals can use either lamps or light emitting diodes. Resistors may be requires for either type depending on their stated specification.  Resistors are especially useful with lamps as it prevents them glowing unrealistically bright, overheating and melting the signal top.

For a two aspect signal, two wires are normally required to each signal, one for each aspect with the circuit completed via the common return.  With a single aspect searchlight signal using a two leg, two colour LED this can be done with two wires to each signal or even reduced to one wire per signal plus a common return using circuitry similar to the motor driven point motor.  In fact for single aspect signals of this format, the circuitry required is almost identical.  Once again though the diagrams are much easier to comprehend than the text.

Two aspect signal. Coloured lamps. Two wires plus common.
Two aspect signal. Coloured lamps. One wire plus common.


Searchlight signal. Red/Green two pole LED. One wire

 plus common.


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