Enter the name for this tabbed section: Introduction
There is, whisper it gently, a secretive faction within the Society known only by the code words 'armchair section'. It has no leader, and by definition no active membership and no activities. Except of course sitting in front of the fire in Portland St, drinking tea and nattering about any and all things railway.
Every chairman since Beeching was a lad has tried to encourage, cajole, persuade and occasionally threaten the more static membership to get up and go model, even to the point of limiting the seating capacity of the lounge. A sort of musical chairs without the music. Success has been limited, as there will always be members who prefer to model at home and socialise at the club. And quite right too, as every chairman ultimately comes to realise. And being an inclusive Society, we embrace diversity whole-heartedly, with barely a grimace and hardly a shudder.
Fortunately there are others who see the clubrooms as an extension of their domestic layout space, or in some cases as the whole of said space, and use it accordingly. And even the odd armchair member can occasionally be seen with soldering iron or Stanley knife in hand, if only to prove they still know which end to hold.
Click on a link at the top of the page to see the results of their labours.
For descriptions of two past layouts, click here for Saltash and here for Dulverton.
Enter the name for this tabbed section: Monsal Dale
Monsal Dale lies in the heart of the Peak District in an area of outstanding beauty. Being situated close to Manchester, Sheffield and Nottingham, it has inevitably become the weekend playground of their population.
The line through Monsal Dale is bounded at both the eastern and western ends by tunnels which provide convenient scenic breaks. On the ground, the distance between the tunnel mouths is just short of a mile, which in ‘N’ gauge would require a layout over 10m long. Although an acceptable length, a more manageable layout has been achieved by judicious compression. This has been done mainly by shortening the passing loop and reducing the distance from the viaduct to the station, whilst leaving the latter’s dimensions unchanged. Indeed, there is probably some merit in this selective compression since this can provide visual interest over the whole extent of the layout. Although typical 50-wagon mineral trains could operated if desired, a more realistic length is the 20-25 wagons that the passing loop can accommodate.
The track is all PECO streamline code 55 finescale, laid on high density foam, with slow-acting point motors over the scenic section of the board and rescued H&M motors in the fiddle yard. Hopefully there will be operational semaphore signals.
We now need to increase the amount of LMS stock, both locos (particular 4Fs for banking purposes), as well as rolling stock.
One further item that might need some serious consideration in the near future are the point motors in the fiddle yard. These are recycled H&Ms but they are problems in operation. It is not clear why – could be mechanical (either the motor itself, which is self-latching, or the linkage to the point) or it could be electrical (dry-soldered joints).
Some data for exhibition managers is here.
Enter the name for this tabbed section: Talisker Glen
Talisker Glen is a fictitious station set in the West Highlands of Scotland. It has a connection to the Inverness main line and has regular passenger services to Inverness, Wick, Thurso and beyond. It also contrives to feed the daily sleeper service to London.
The bulk of the freight traffic comes from the local distillery. This has a narrow gauge railway to provide a rail link to the exchange sidings, which includes a dual-gauge crossover. The distillery will be the main scenic feature on the layout.
We hope to create a distillery in every detail with every stage of the process demonstrated. The narrow gauge line is of type which might still exist today, as a freight-only line to transport the barrels down the glen to the exchange sidings.
The layout has nothing to do with the Talisker distillery, apart from the supply of bottled research material.
Enter the name for this tabbed section: Portland Street
Our newest layout, imaginatively titled 'the dual gauge' until we thought, with great originality, of 'Portland Street', after a boulevard not a million miles from outside the front door.
It arose from a cunning plan to remodel the existing fixed layout into something more user-friendly, and at the same time move Saltash downstairs, for ease of despatch to exhibitions. Both N-gauge and OO tracks have beeng laid, and appropriate scenery added.
Re-plastering proceeded in parallel with track-laying, after a short delay while a little industrial archeology was carried out, to see if secret messages from long-forgotten railway employees were inscribed on the uncovered walls. Or possibly even to discover the remains of said employees, walled-up by a stern stationmaster enraged at some minor misdemeanour. Nothing found, unfortunately.
Enter the name for this tabbed section: Garden railway
To have a garden is to require a garden railway to adorn it. That's it, nothing difficult, one just has to recognise that this is so. The SMRS has one. Of course.
Simple and profound that this truth is, there are still some unfortunates to whom it is not obvious, to say the least. Fortunately there are many reasons available to convince one's critics why it is so. One may be lack of spare bedroom space indoors for anything bigger than an N-gauge circle. Another is the need to provide the carefully-landscaped garden with the ultimate designer accessory, to make it stand out from the average domestic plot and give it an air of distinction and style.
And so it is with the SMRS. We have a garden, or rather the club premises has one which it's temporal owner, ex-Railtrack, has seen fit to allow us to use, and maintain at our own expense. For the easement of bureaucracy they have conceded this without going to the trouble of giving us any legal right to go so much as a centimetre outside the back door of the clubhouse, outside loo notwithstanding. An uneasy truce prevails, with each side pretending it knows nothing of the matter.
The idea of a garden railway had been maturing gently for some time, whilst the indoor railway projects have slowly developed towards middle-age. One factor was the donation of a quantity of old coarse scale O-gauge track, hand-built and of good quality. Like all good modellers we hoarded this largesse carefully until we could find a use for it. The trigger was the decision to clear the garden of its considerable piles of rubbish and create something more worthy of the name. Removal of the hedge separating us from the adjacent 1:1 scale commercial operation sparked the thought that we could use part of the border thus exposed to create a long-needed freight link with the shed at the far end of the property.
At present it is unpowered, allowing the purists to play with live steam, clockwork and the occasional battery electric. To facilitate construction the line was kept simple, merely a trench in the soil along the side of the concrete path, filled with 10mm limestone chips. We resisted the temptation to reach through the fence to acquire the somewhat over-scale genuine article. A line of bricks served to restrain the ballast and the single-line track was then laid loose on top. At the far end of the garden a loop was installed, of somewhat variable geometry as the remaining track was a mixture of different curves and straights. Trial and error saw both ends meet, in prototypical engineering style. A sprung point allows the traffic to go round the loop and return whence it came.
Two years on, the track has not so much bedded in as subsided in places. A major overhaul was therefore instituted, with a further hardware donation allowing the line to be double-tracked. Removal of the point allows the possibility of electrification to supplement the live steam and battery locomotives currently certificated for use on the line. The quantity of extra chippings required has been considerable, as was the weight of the bags, but the increase in operational scope and reliability has been significant. Now if only the full-size replica could follow suit....