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Bury St. Edmunds Model Railway Club

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The ad hoc BSEMRC Newsletter

Issue Four

Thursday 14th May 2020

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So, the lockdown has being eased. I don't think I'll be rushing out to play a round or two of golf or to visit a garden centre. For the time being I'm staying put and keeping very safe. Personally I'm not sure whether the easing of the lockdown is too much too soon? We'll have to wait and see.

In the meantime, I bring you Issue 4 of 'The Anorak".

Thank you to all those who've contributed. It is very much appreciated.


“Lacking-in-Inspiration” – Phil Basham

Having been furloughed from work at Easter now gives me the opportunity to get on with some serious modelling on my home layout, which many of you will remember as Simon’s exhibition layout “Fox Hollow”. A stipulation of the sale was that I must rename the layout. As I will run predominately LMS Steam era I expect it will be a fictional north country name, but I am still waiting for divine inspiration! So temporarily I will call it “Lacking-in-Inspiration”.

This is a great layout for running trains with my two 8-year-old grandsons, who enjoy the hands-on experience of playing trains. Under the current social distancing restrictions, we have managed a couple of sessions using Whats-App video calling. My grandsons tell me what to run, when to stop at the station, etc from the other side of Bury St Edmunds.
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To recap this DC layout is around 12 years old and consists of two independent track ovals each with a passing loop behind the back scene. On the scenic side the inner oval has a spur leading to 2 sidings and engine shed. There is also a raised level of the scenery a single track has a point at each end giving 3 in scenic sidings, plus a 4th behind scene siding.

Control is through a Gauge master Q, giving simultaneous independent running of all 4 areas of track. The 4 points on the front scene are all switch via Peco point motors from a control board behind the backscene. The 4 points behind the back scene are manual switching.

Although Simon gave the layout a thorough check out before passing ownership to me, I have noted that PVA used to stick the cork to the baseboard is beginning to lift.
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I hope this is evident in the above two photos showing the buildings in situ and with me lifting gently you should see the distortion of the white lining across the picture.

Another peculiarity requiring attention is the wiring on the engine shed spur of the mainline. This works fine with my Graham Farish Diesels, but my Union Mills steamers just refuse to go beyond the end of the mainline point.
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I think the reason for this is that the UM locos are tender driven with pickups on one side of the loco and the opposite side of the tender. So, once I clear the stockpiled loo rolls from under the layout, I will have to investigate the wiring!

There will be changes I would like to give the layout my own stamp, but these are for future newsletters.

Why I became an occupational physician…. - Chris Sharp

Why I became an occupational physician….

In 1983, sheltering in a shell-damaged hangar during an artillery battle at Beirut International airport I found myself wondering about my career. I was accompanying a wounded American marine whilst for the first time in my life carrying a loaded pistol with the safety catch off as the RAF Chinook helicopter that had delivered me there, disappeared into the distance. The American helicopter that was meant to be picking us up was late. Having trained in general medicine and latterly in general practice, I joined the RAF partly because of disillusionment with the NHS and partly due to a fascination with aircraft. Whilst the current situation was exciting, and in the emergency medicine connotation appropriate, this was not something I wanted to do for the rest of my career.

Three weeks later I found myself landing in the middle of Beirut, again during an artillery battle, with a medic in the middle of the night, to pick up a wounded television sound recordist. Neither of these episodes appeared to be about preventing injury or rehabilitating ‘patients’.

My interest in flying had been present from an early age, but my manifest myopia had been a preclusion to starting a flying career in the 1970s. After joining the RAF, I was privileged to be able to fly with the aircrew that I looked after and to be informally trained in flying fixed and rotary wing aircraft. The latter became very real as a skill in Northern Ireland, Cyprus and The Falklands, where I was involved in retrieving casualties, supporting them in flight and delivering them to secondary care. Normally on the return trips to base I would be in control of the aircraft.

Subsequently, the RAF formally taught me to fly and I gained my private pilot’s licence, partly achieving my ambition. I completed my first formal occupational medicine course—the Diploma in Aviation Medicine— and acquired skills to assess the capability of aircrew to return to operations after illness and injury. It was one particular aircrew assessment after injury that convinced me that a career in occupational medicine was where my interests would be fulfilled. I had to assess a fighter pilot after musculoskeletal injury. His future flying career would be affected significantly by an adverse assessment and might have condemned him to nonflying duties. Much to his relief, my assessment and report allowed him to return to flying duties, and as it turned out to an interesting future career.

This assessment, among others that I completed in my role, confirmed my desire and satisfaction with occupational medicine and led me to apply for formal occupational medicine training. The rest is history as they say and that former pilot is the current world land speed record holder! Partly thanks to him, I have had an amazingly satisfying career, but perhaps in some way I also contributed to the UK holding a world record.

Parish End - Mike Hamilton

To fill in all of this free time which has been foisted on to a lot of us I've been cracking on with my N Gauge layout; Parish End. Its coming on very nicely and I'm nearly at the stage of my first attempts at laying grass terrain matting, which I bought from The Model Tree Shop. It's pricy, but looks an excellent product. There is a bit of static grass applying to be done, which I'll use my home made Static Grass Applicator (made from a very cheap battery operated fly swatter bat I got from a petrol station last year for about three quid, a tea strainer from Wilko for one pound and a couple of bits of wire soldered on). I've had a bit of a test with it and I must say that its really good. I'm not too sure how long it'll last for, but for about four pounds its a bit of a bargain.

I've also had a go at making a couple of brass etch kits Both from N Brass Locos. The first one I had a crack at was their LMS Yard Crane kit. I'd not done a brass kit before, so decided that this could be a fairly easy kit to make a start on. The kit came as a single sheet brass etch just a little larger than a credit card and a 3D printed boom.

Putting the kit together wasn't too difficult. I decided that I was going to use super glue as opposed to soldering the kit. The only snags I found were that some of the parts (it being N Gauge) were exceedingly tiny and did get a little gummed up with excess glue, but I did manage to clean it all up.

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Once painted (very rusty and neglected) I decided that the crane would be better suited to being mounted on a flat wagon. I had a couple of Peco wagon kits squirrelled away, so with a bit of hacking and filling and some brass tubing and rod to make the pivot I ended up with something that I really like. As I said, it is very rusty and dirty. I did tone it down somewhat as I think I went a bit overboard on the weathering. The wagon will ultimately live in a disused siding with a bit of undergrowth around it.
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I also bought a plate layers trolley from N Brass Locos - incredibly small and I think it's made of 18 parts! It took me a couple of days to make and paint.
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Here are the links to the bits and bobs mentioned above:

Static grass and grass matt - The Model Tree Shop

Static Grass Applicator

LMS Yard Crane and Plate Layer's Trolley - NBrass Locos

Alpacas - David Fennell

Some Unusual Guests

For the past six weeks or so we have enjoyed the company of thirteen Alpacas. They belong to a farm down the road where, because of the dry weather, they had run out of grass on which to graze.

All thirteen are males as, I am told, they behave better towards each other and to people without the presence of female Alpacas. The farm keep them for their fleece, which I understand brings good money and in the summer they also offer campers on their campsite the chance to walk them around the locality for a small fee.

Keeping Alpacas is not uncommon in the UK now, especially so following the diversification in farming. Most are kept for their fleece but some are now kept for meat. But I didn't mention that to them!

Alpacas are camelids and they are indigenous to the high Andean plains of Peru. They are related to Llamas but are noticeably smaller. There are essentially two sub-species the Suri and the Huacaya, both of which are present in this small herd. The Suri have a shaggy coat and the Huacaya a more bulky woolly one, which is the more valuable. I have enclosed a photo of each type. They are sheared in mid to late spring.

Normally they are docile; spending most of the daytime eating grass after which they lie-down and chew the cud. Alpacas drink very little. Their only nasty habit is that, when annoyed or anxious they spit and it is disgusting! However, they mainly do it to each other and thankfully not often to humans! They make a noise when they are excited, but it is a very quiet high-pitched 'hum' and is made with their mouths closed.

I had the enjoyable experience of walking one of them back to the farm after their stay with us, in company with five others. They have a halter and lead and are generally content to follow. There is of course a hierarchy and the dominant male has to lead; the others will not go first as I found out! Despite tugging hard I could not get mine to enter the field first. He just sat down - camel-style.

Hope you found this worth a read. No possible connection to trains or railways; unless you know otherwise!
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How I started In Model Railways Part 1 - Alan Johnson

The first I remember about model railways was when my older brother began building an engine out of brass and then later he converted a Hornby Dublo 3 rail to an outside 3rd rail. But he didn’t have a layout to run it on.

I thought that I could build one for him! So I found a place where they had some wood and my father collected it in his van. Then at the weekend I started to build this enormous structure only to find that I could not lift it, alone get it up the stairs and into my bedroom. When I say the timber was 3 x 2 for the frame and 4 x 1 for the boarding and it was about 8 feet by 4 feet in size. ( there’s nothing like learning the hard way ) you realise what I mean. The base board was taken apart and I cut down the timber to a more sensible size.

There was a very good model shop near me which sold Graham Farish flexible track, so after buying several lengths and some separate rails I was ready to go. But the problem was I didn’t know what to do, and by now my brother had left home to start an apprenticeship. I had to wait for him to come home one weekend to show me how it all fitted together. Then I was away, the track was laid and the outside rail was soldered onto
brass screws and set in positions to allow them to be isolated. This was quite simple once you realised how it went, ( just like the southern region electrics ).

Switches were fitted to the electrics, controlling each section just as you do today.

I can’t remember what the controller was, but it all worked, and I was very pleased with myself. I started to build the station platforms next but that was as far as it got. My parents broke the news to me saying they were going to move to Suffolk. This meant that I was going to live with an aunt and uncle, so the layout had to be sold, and it would be years before I ever started another.

Find out about the next exciting episode in part 2.

In 1972 My Model Railway was Packed Away - Richard Hodgson

In 1972 my model railway was packed away when my parents moved from a small village 9 miles south of Carlisle to Grange-over-Sands in the south of Cumbria and I started my work life in Manchester with British Transport Hotels at the Midland Hotel.

I’d been lucky as we lived in a large Vicarage & had my own railway room, this had built my layout on three baseboards in OO using a mix of Hornby Dublo set track and Graham Farish flexi-track with their liveway points. 
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This was the final layout with the exception of the single track on the top & right hand side.

The railway had been packed away in its original Hornby, Triang & Wrenn boxes and stored at my Parents until 3 years ago when my Father moved into a retirement home and I was asked if I still wanted it or should it go with a lot of my parents stuff to the local auction house. I brought the boxes back to Suffolk and revived old memories, Claire my wife, suggested I build a new railway in my retirement & said she’d love to help with the scenery & painting figures etc. so 48 years later this is where I am. 

Model railways have changed a lot so I have been researching, reading, asking advice, watching numerous YouTube films, attending shows and been amazed at what I’ve seen and the standard of detail. I decided to build the best layout I could with the finances available and to go down the DCC route. 

In January I emailed Tony who invited me to come along & visit your club and was made very welcome. I also  joined MERG, to get a better understanding of the electronics needed to run my model railway and not having soldered since my school days with a large soldering iron you heated over a gas ring! try and improve my soldering skills.

The lockdown has allowed me to decorate the study, now railway room, build a number of MERG kits including a surface mount kit that was challenging and try to finalise my planned railway. It will be an imaginary branch line based in the 1960’s in Cumberland where I spent my childhood, it will be OO although I’ve toyed with EM but think this will be a step too far. The room is 12’ 9” x 6’ 7” so the plan is to have a terminus station & goods yard down one side 12’ x 2’ going round the end of the room over some scenic features and into a tunnel with a fiddle yard and work area. 

Once the lockdown is eased I will build my baseboards and move the actual ideas into reality and no doubt ask a number of you for your help & advice along the way. 

Puzzle Corner

Another Railway Trivia Quiz just for fun and no using Google!! :-)

Submitted by Mike Hamilton

Apologies for the confusion of Q 7 in the last issue. I got distracted and lost my thread.

The question should have been: Q 7 For which railroads centenary did 4-6-0 "King George V" travel to the U.S.A.?

And the answer is of course is: The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad

So, onto this issue's quiz

Q 1
What type of vehicle is a Great wester "Toad"?

Q 2 Which is the longest railway bridge in Britain?

Q 3 Between which two stations in East Anglia did "The Rhinelander" service run?

Q4 How many "Pacific" type locos did the GWR ever build?

Q 5 For what purpose is a Pandrol Clip used?

Q 6 Who played "Buster" in the film "Buster", which is about "The Great Train Robbery"?

Q 7 Which "Britannia" Pacific was displayed at the Festival of Britain?

Q 8 Which named Inverness - Kyle of Lochalsh service has an observation car?

Q 9 How was the BR crest depicted on D1000

Q 10 56 feet 11 inches and 63 feet 5 inches were standard lengths of what?



I hope you enjoyed Issue 4 of The Anorak.

Any comments, articles, hints and tips etc. would be much appreciated as I have now run out of material (again).

Please email me at

In the meantime keep well and keep safe.

Cheers for now,