What She Was Built For

I was doing some calculations and it occurs to me that it’s been 15 years since I purchased the kit I modified to build my little Mannig Wardle 0-6-0, Pioneer. I built the loco in about 2005 and have since rebuilt her and added lights. However it strikes me that the reason I built her, to some day work the pier at Morpeth, has finally been fulfilled because she was finally able to take a spin out on Morpeth pier this morning.

There are a few details to add and a ship model to finish but Pioneer has finally found her home.

I woke this morning thinking that I didn’t have any pressing jobs to do (although I’ll concede that the lawn does need mowing) and didn’t need to make any visits to town, friends or family so the day started as one of those rarest of days: free! 🙂 Interestingly, running the first real train on Morpeth has turned up a few problems. This has been my experience ever since I started in this hobby: when you go from theory to reality you always need to adjust wheels, couplers and buffers. Now by this I mean that I’d been gradually building wagons for 15 years and while a few of the older examples had been occasionally pushed about on QW and Morpeth, all of the new wagons had essentially been built and then packed away in boxes. None of my stock, either old or more recently built, has ever had to cope with curves because both Morpeth and QW are essentially straight. So getting these wagons to round a 1500mm radius on the main and a 1350mm radius on the curve into Morpeth was always going to be interesting.

The wagons that gave me trouble were a BWF with long buffers and hook draw gear that was held in place by springs you could have used to launch someone out of a cannon with, my three cattle wagons which all have buffers and couplers that are way too close to the bodies and the couplers on my 49 class diesel which looks wonderful with its coupler tucked prototypically in under the buffer but threw anything coupled to it as it entered the curves into the ditch. I pushed the hook on the BWF out 6mm and replaced the spring and chopped into the coupler box on the 49 and pushed the head of the coupler out beyond the buffing plate and just about everything now rounds the curves. I also found a big blob of epoxy glue on one of my 4 wheelers that was making it run like a three legged goat. I scraped this off and it now runs as smooth as a baby’s you know what! 🙂

However another problem turned up when I tried to run the 49 round the train at Morpeth. The loco got to the break between modules and came to a dead halt. I did a bit of shoving and testing but this was a real dilemma and I decided it was probably connected to the two dead stationary decoders I’d discovered 2 weeks ago. Anyway this morning I trooped upstairs with my electrical tester and got to work trying to decipher what was going on. Well it turns out that a wire between the modules had come loose and once this was reconnected not only did the loco complete its run round move but the two stationary decoders hooked up to the solenoids at this end of the yard suddenly sprang back into life. What had thrown me was that the Tortoise machines on the same module were still working even though one of the bus wires had come loose. It only occurred to me later that this was probably because of the different way power is supplied to these motors but in the mean time I’d ordered two new Snapits from my usual supplier. Anyone want to buy two brand new NCE Snapits at bargain basement prices that will be arriving in the next week or so? 🙂

After this small rewiring job was completed I looked around the room for something else to do that wouldn’t require weeks of dedicated work, not something like building a hand made point. The mdf cladding from the pier module that had been dumped on the floor when I chopped off 300mm last week was still sitting under the layout so I decided that cutting this to the new shorter length and reapplying it shouldn’t take much effort. So I set to.

If you compare this photo with the one of the end of the pier module I posted a few days ago you can see that it didn’t take too much to repair the damage. A bit of judiciously glued strip wood and screwing the yellow mdf in place and hey presto! 🙂 It needs a bit of filler and the paint needs a touch up but I’m happy with the ease with which this job came together.

The pier module was the last project I worked on as I sold my previous home and moved into my present one. It was never quite completed and it and the ship model I’d made a half-hearted attempt to commence both sat unfinished in separate locations while I got the new house up to scratch and commenced building the new layout. Because this module was designed to be a show layout, built as separate modules that bolt up to each other, I’d never got around to installing the jumper cables and plugs that bridge the electrical gap between the pier and the main part of Morpeth. So while I’ve shortened the pier module and got it to fit into the space that will allow it to be used as a part of my permanent layout, I haven’t given up the thought that I may exhibit it some day. This means that the wiring running from the main layout out to the pier needed to be via plugs and sockets: I couldn’t just run wire out to the pier as I’d been able to do with most of the new layout. There were droppers from the rails running on the pier and I’d run wiring up to the spot on the adjoining layout to a socket where the gap would eventually be jumped but I didn’t have a socket on the pier module, although surprisingly I had made a couple of spare jumper cables ready to be used when I did get around to this job. In transforming Queens Wharf from exhibition to permanent mode I’d pulled a few socket assemblies out from under that part of the layout so I had a couple of spares to use on the pier module; all I had to do was install them. Hence Pioneer getting a run.

The final job was to glue a couple of pieces of strip wood onto the end of the pier model to mask where I’d chopped a big chunk off the end of it. Luckily, in staining the deck wood for this model I’d done more than was needed so all I had to do was get some of this excess strip wood, stain a few cut ends with a Copic marker pen and trim and glue in place two new pieces of timber to cover the end up. You’d hardly know the damage had ever been inflicted 🙂

4 thoughts on “What She Was Built For

  1. Looking good sir.

    Curious about prototype equipment in your era. Here in the US we typically call the switch from steam to diesel the transition era. Were 4 wheel wagons common as the larger double truck cars like your covered hopper in the video commonly used together or are you exercising toddler’s license?

    Any way you are well along to a great layout.

    • Bill,
      I am being broad in my use of stock but remember, I haven’t had a layout set in a particular era to guide my rolling stock choices. However bogie stock didn’t really come into the NSWR system till the 60s and there were still substantial numbers of 4 wheel vehicles running in the 70s. So I can get away with the mix and on a branch line like Morpeth the stock was likely to be more run down and decrepit stock was likely to survive longer.

  2. The pier looks great Trevor, (and like it belongs). I’m sure you’ll appreciate the walk-around operating space far more than having the slightly longer version stuck away somewhere in storage.

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