Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Man From M.E.R.G.

So I realised that while I've done six posts recently about my trip to Barrow Hill Live, as yet I haven't shown you a single model railway! So this post will show a model railway, but something a little out of the ordinary.

According to the programme there were 11 layouts on show and yet the one I found most interesting wasn't listed as it was part of the Model Electronic Railway Group (MERG) display stand. Now I've messed about with some electronics on this blog, but my efforts pale in comparison to those on show here. What you can see in the photo is a DC layout (no fancy computer control) which is fully automated by the stack of electronics in the centre. Essentially the track is broken down into a large number of independent blocks each of which is controlled by a MERG SuperBloc board which ensures that two trains can never try and occupy the same piece of track, as well as controlling the signals and updating a layout diagram running on the laptop (from the discussion that was all the laptop was used for given that the system was DC and not DCC).

It was great fun to watch with trains running at different speeds being held at signals until the next block was clear, and the guy who had built it was happy to explain and demo how it all worked. I probably spent no more than a few minutes in front of each of the actual layouts on display, but nearer half an hour talking to people on the MERG stand. No surprise then that I've become a member!

If I ever have enough space I do have plans for a large layout that would require block level control due to the track plan so I can see me a) building a number of their kits and b) asking for advice on the forums when my limited electronics knowledge runs out. Hopefully I'll be able to give back by helping more on the software side of things.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


All the promotional material I had seen for Barrow Hill Live had mentioned that one of the visiting locomotives, which would be in steam, would be LNER B1 number 61264. I was a little confused therefore to see a B1 named Impala, number 61002, in steam. Not knowing how many B1 locomotives has been preserved, I just assumed it was a last minute change that hadn't been announced. It turns out though that the locomotive was 61264 just masquerading as Impala.

From a little bit of research the only surviving B1 locomotives are 61264 and 61306. A little further digging and I found that 61264 has been temporarily renumbered to 61002 as part of the 40th anniversary festival of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Apparently, prior to being scrapped, the real 61002 had pulled trains from Whitby to Grosmont, Pickering and beyond, along what is now the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. I'm assuming it will revert back to being 61264 next time it is painted.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Coming Soon...

I mentioned before that there was very little trade at this years Barrow Hill Live. This did mean that I managed to leave without buying anything, although having looked at the Bachmaan display I have a feeling I'll be spending some money soon.

Bachmann's stand wasn't your typical retailer stand as they didn't actually appear to have anything for sale. What they did have was a working N gauge layout (quite fun to watch) and two glass display cupboards showing manufacturing samples of some of their new products.

I was obviously most interested in the N gauge models on display (these are Graham Farish models as Bachmann is the parent company). In the first photo you can see that they are about to release a model of Tornado in BR Blue, the same livery she is currently wearing. The unpainted model in this photo is I believe a Midland 4F, but as they weren't labelled in any way it's hard to be certain. While the model of Tornado looks fantastic both of these are really too big for Jerusalem.

The second photo shows a much more promising candidate to expand Jerusalem's loco fleet; an LMS 3F Jinty. This model will apparently be available in a BR black with the early crest so will match my existing loco nicely, and hopefully it's diminutive size will be reflected in it's cost once available.

The third photo is, however, the most interesting. If you read the previous post then you will know that I'm interested in locomotives that at one time may have travelled along the line at the bottom of our garden; this is one such locomotive. This 2-4-2T was designed by Aspinal for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (although seen here in a BR livery) and I actually have a photo of one in Penistone. Unfortunately, this model is OO gauge and so won't be any use for Jerusalem but I'm still tempted to buy one. If I do buy one though I'll be going for the limited edition version from the National Railway Museum who are going to be releasing it in it's original Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway livery through Locomotion Models.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Butler Henderson

In one of the very early posts on this blog I looked at the different railway companies that had, at one time or another, run trains along the line at the bottom of our garden. One of the reasons for doing this was that, at the time, I was considering building an OO gauge layout set somewhere local and wanted to get the locomotives right. This led me to the problem that out of all the OO gauge models currently on the market only one was suitable (albeit unlikely to have run on the line) for the whole period up to the grouping in 1923; a Bachmann model of Butler Henderson produced exclusively for the National Railway Museum. After Iain spotted that Butler Henderson was the background to the Meccano Garratt I thought it was worth actually showing you what this locomotive looks like.

These photos were actually taken last year at Barrow Hill when I was at Model Rail Live but she (I know it has a masculine name, being named after a director of the Great Central Railway company, but I was always taught steam engines should be treated like a lady regardless of their name) is a static exhibit and doesn't appear to have been moved during the past year. Unfortunately it isn't very easy to take good photos of the engines around the turntable, as it is impossible to get far enough back, so I went for mostly detail shots instead, rounded off with a photo of the OO gauge model.

While Butler Henderson may now only be a non-working static exhibit this wasn't always the case. On the 25th of August 1985 she was in fact happily pulling trains along the Great Central Railway, captured here by my Dad at Rothley station.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Garratts Galore

Having watched Tornado being shunted onto a siding the first thing I did was head back inside to find some coffee, at which point I saw my first working model of the day; an LMS Garratt made from Meccano. While not as impressive as a real Garratt in steam this video should give you an idea of just how big these locomotives were when they were in use on the British mainline. Unfortunately none of these locomotives were preserved, although there is a standard gauge Garratt (I think a South African one) in the Power Hall at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester which is worth seeing (I was there for a wedding and couldn't get a useable photo).

Strangely having never seen a model of a Garratt in the flesh before there were actually two others making appearances on different layouts at Barrow Hill Live; an O gauge and an N gauge one. But details of the layouts on show can wait for another post.