Nothing for ages and then loads come along all at once

First, I apologise for it being 8 months since the last witterings on my blog. I guess I need to get my act together and move the blog more into my eye line so I actually think about it occasionally.

Actually the last post was about my experiences with the National Health Service and the comedy of errors that was my stay in hospital. The aftermath of that stay actually went on through until Christmas which created a massive back log in the workings of EDM Models which I am still working to clear now. Luckily my health is pretty much improved and were back to normal.

In a previous post called, “getting a life” I rued the way the job had taken over full time and we never went out anywhere. Still guilty of that to some extent but last weekend we had a cracking day out to the seaside.

We were very fortunate to be offered a family and friends ticket from Northern Rail which allows one days unlimited travel for two on Northern Rail (only) trains for six quid each.

Our day started in York on the 07:19 to Leeds, this was a Blackpool train and was a 158. A pit stop and a coffee in Leeds and the next train was the Midland_Hotel,_Morecambe,_Lancashire,_England-31Aug2010_(5)08:19 to Morecambe. Checking the timings on-line revealed it was timed for a 142 Pacer so finding it to be a 150 was considered an upgrade. Searching for a bin to dump the coffee cups the guard made us smile with the comment that when the trains was built in 1985 the bins were bigger than the coffee cups.

Arrival in Morecambe was at 10:30 and we set off for a mooch round the town and the shops. Shops- Yuk, Browsing pointlessly – Yuk! I did the bloke thing, got a book, found a coffee shop and announced “I’ll be here when you’re done”.

With the pointless browsing out of the way we went for a walk along the sea front towards our goal, The Midland Hotel, originally built by the Midland Railway just over the road from the railway station in the Art Deco style. It fell into disrepair and was close to derelict but its been beautifully restored and is now a superb four star hotel.

Annie’s family used to holiday in Morecambe when she was a kid but The Midland was out of their price range and then by the time they could afford it the hotel was closed and decaying so when its restoration started Annie and her mum watched it with interest and then booked themselves in for three days in the opening week. They visViewited again five years ago as one of the last trips they made before Mum passed away. By this weekend, being the only one where we were both free, just happened to be one day short of the fifth anniversary of her passing which caused a pause for thought more than once.

Enough of that, We were there for lunch this time and dined in the The Sun Terrace Restaurant with this view out to sea.  Lunch was excellent

StarterMainPud

 

 

 

 

  • Starter – Annie, Morecambe Bay Potted Shrimp, Me , Pressings of Pork
  • Main Course –  We both had the roast chicken
  • To finish – (can’t call it pud-too posh) sticky toffee pudding

I could get used to this quiet easily as long as you don’t show me the bill

Back to railways for a bit now and a pet hate. Stations that are no longer stations! Usually its stations that the railway has decided are no longer fit for purpose, to0 big, wasted space, of no use and all the other excuses they come up with to justify doing away with them. Whereupon someone else comes along and makes a liar out of them by renovating the buildings, finding a use for the space and making it pay.

I mean this building is clearly a railway station and now its beautifully done up the only thing it lacks is trains. You can see from 265px-Morecambe_Promenade_Stationthe map below where the line used to run.

 

What was the platform space is now a tatty market, Kentucky Fried Cat and a car park and part of the route is new roads south of which are naff amusements and a supermarket.

Station Map

I suppose the argument was that the new station was easier to maintain, nearer the population centre, sized more in keeping with the train service now there aren’t the holiday trains all of which hides behind the fact that the land was probably flogged off at a profit.

Morecambe Railway Station

Morecambe Railway Station

The new station is at least one up from the abandoned platform with a bus shelter (although it does have one) with a modern station building at the end of a single platform giving two platform faces.

One is a dead end and seems to be used by the class 153 single unit that shuttles back and forth to Lancaster (this based on about 20 minutes of observation) whilst the longer platform has a run round loop so it could accommodate loco hauled passenger trains but is more likely there so that the loco nuclear waste traffic to/from Heysham can run round its train.

The 20 minutes observation mentioned above was the time we waited for our train home. Our luck didn’t hold although there

 

Picture of a Northern Rail Class 142 Pacer diesel multiple unit

Picture of a Northern Rail Class 142 Pacer diesel multiple unit

Class 142’s were instrumental in my taking voluntary redundancy from BREL when it was offered way back in 1988. Having just spent nearly two years working on a technically advanced prototype train for London Underground the next job was building seven of these contraptions a week and they were clearly built down to a price. I was doing the wiring on the underframes and every aspect of it was cheap and nasty. I thought, `if this is the future I want out’.

My feelings were confirmed by the journey home. It started out not too bad and on a journey of half an hour it would have been fine but this unit was on a 75 mile meander through the wilds of Lancashire and Yorkshire lasting 2 hours 20 minutes and after about an hour you start to realise how uncomfortable the seats are, by about two hours standing up is starting to appeal and by the time it arrives in Leeds you want to stand up but everything has gone numb and you can’t stand up.

AnnieThis day then took a very nice twist and a lovely ending to the day. With our Northern only tickets we should have been waiting from 18:36 to 19:20 at Leeds for the next Northern service to York (just 1 an hour) which takes 40 minutes as it stops at all the intermediate stations. Now normally the thrift of our cheap tickets would have seen us refusing to pay for something we could have for free but more than two hours on a Pacer saw us both lose reason. As our Pacer stopped in Platform 9 at 18:36 Platform 10 had the 18:38 to Newcastle Cross Country service waiting to depart. The train manager was standing in the rear door just by where we got off the Pacer. As one we asked, “how much is a single to York?” he Melooked at us a bit odd until we pointed and said, “we’ve just had 2 1/2 hours in that!” pointing at the Pacer. He took pity on us and ushered us in to first class for a 20 minute sprint to York with coffee a biscuit and free WiFi. We were back in York 20 minutes before the train we should have got was due in Leeds.

Final sport of the day was commiserating with the TM as his train filled up with very inebriated Geordies making their way home from York Races and watching the girls in silly shoes and dresses trying to run for the train.

I started this by saying, “Nothing for ages and then loads come along all at once”. This is instalment one, there is already a second being doodled and ideas for another forming. The next two are likely to be more model railway related. 

 

Near Death Experience Opens the Eyes

indexWhat started as an ache in the shoulder and put down to sitting awkwardly whilst packing orders on Friday 26th September turned into a fun night with a paramedic and then a swift ambulance trip to York District Hospital.

From where I was laying it seemed that they were playing a game of “guess what’s wrong with him” and only went back to investigate a some of them once they had got down to the really silly suggestions.  Their initial guess was heart attack and they were on about shipping me off to Leeds but then they decided it was more likely to be pulmonary embolism [PE]

4478966309_6deeb0fb27_z

Anyway after 7 hours on a trolley in A&E I was finally admitted to the acute medical ward and then later moved to another ward which despite me being a medical patient was a surgical ward.

Anyway to cut a long story short I was treated for a PE with clot thinners and dissolvers and eventually given a CT scan to see if it was sorting itself out. One theory is that as some long term swelling on my right calf has just radically changed some crap from an old clot has come lose and then got stuck elsewhere.

The treatment worked quite quickly with normal service at least superficially restored in about 24 hours. What this meant of course was that I was in hospital feeling OK and bored out of my mind. Some serious reading filled some of the time but a saviour was (and I never thought I’d say this) was 10603843_10152377502660205_3529710875076813013_oFacebook. First up it let me keep in touch with friends but it also allowed an outlet for some creative writing which some say should have been written up as a comedy on the TV. Its all still on FB so I am not going to repeat it here apart from one item. As the boredom set in and escape seemed to be being frustrated by and NHS arse and elbow misalignment I noticed that the socks Annie had brought in for me to wear on Wednesday were actually marked Wednesday.

I declared these were my “escape socks” and still awake a 00:51 declared they had 23 hours and 9 minutes validity remaining. I was able to declare that the “escape socks” worked with 4hrs and 25mins to spare. I was back the following day as an outpatient though

Recuperation

10440678_10152388869055205_3255564055943096488_nI was sent home to rest and when I laughed I was told to, basically, “waste a week”.  With the help of some friends that has proved to be quite successfully achieved with an afternoon out in Wetherby and a day spent just riding trains with a trip up to Newcastle, then lap or so of the Metro, a ride on the ferry and the odd bit of refreshment.

10447611_10152388907870205_3802771896577791652_nThe ferry ride was bracing so it was lucky there was respite at with one of these waiting at the end of it

10408014_10203531370622671_2165096766881610957_nThe journey back to York in the First Class of a XC Voyager was OK but with no on board catering until Leeds. Luckily for us whilst I was leaving the service at York and my mate had to go all the way to Derby there was a break of journey at the Station Tap in York where they had these.

The week will be finished off with a trip to the Ffestiniog Railway Victorian weekend where its going to seem weird to be a spectator and not part of the cast

The Future

Well, the last couple of weeks has proved a bit of an eye opener and has changed my outlook on life.  There is certainly going to be more doing stuff I want to do and less doing stuff for others. In the short term things are going to take longer to complete and, if that doesn’t suit some people, they’ll be looking for someone else to do their work.  Longer term I can see me being a lot more choosy about the work I take on but we’ll have to see how it pans out.

Guildex and Playing Trains in Wales

This is an expanded version of some waffle included in an EDM Models newsletter  and done here to keep it brief in the newsletter

Guildex

This tale starts with EDM Models attending Guildex. Guildex is the annual major O scale show organised by The Gauge O Guild on the first weekend in September

Waffer Thin Mint

Typically of a show weekend it starts with me cramming as much stock into the car as I can fit whilst trying to remember to leave room for me.

This time there was added pressure on space as I was away for a week carrying straight on to North Wales for a few days driving trains and had all the kit on-board for that as well.

Guildex is the major show in the O gauge calendar but this year it lacked a certain something. The `buzz’ wasn’t there, visitor numbers were down on last year as were sales.

Its an expensive show to attend as well. By far the highest stand rent we pay and then there is extra cost for almost everything else. It didn’t help that they are rebuilding the centre of Telford by knocking it down and starting again. To be fair though it will be better when its done (it would take some serious effort to make it worse) but for now its a conesfest and parking nightmare.

Sadly for too much of the weekend this was the scene

Telford

I had threatened that we wouldn’t be attending in 2015 but I’ll decide later.

On to Wales

The drive to Porthmadog from Telford starts with a burst of motorway followed by a swarm of roundabouts to rival Milton Keynes. Eventually you get to Nescliffe and turn off on to country roads that take you through Knockin (avoid the obvious joke about the shop) Llanymynech and into the Tanat Valley. This takes you over the top of Milltir Cerrig and on to Bala. This has to be one of the most scenic drives there is on a sunny summers evening like this was. Sadly there seems to permanently be some Burke trying to drag a tin box over this unsuitable road. I used to drive this route to Wales regularly when I lived in Surrey but its about 20 years since I last did it. I could remember there were two hairpins and a chicane but I couldn’t remember which order they came in.

Boston Lodge – Four Days Driving Double Fairlies

This is what was supposed to happen according to the advance roster.

Planned

This is what actually happened

Actual

Rosters need to be taken with a pinch of salt as they adapt to operational needs but even then what happened was plan C. Plan B should have been with the grey one again on Friday.

wdlrfrontcover01The eagle eyed will have spotted I wasn’t doing anything on Monday. Well the day was spent doing admin type nonsense, shopping and house cleaning. The highlight in the evening was a trip to see a friend and fellow modeller Roy Link and I came away with a copy of his new and excellent book on the war department light railways, the study of which saw off the rest of the evening once I got back to base. I would thoroughly recommend this book and also recommend you don’t hang about buying one as the print run is nearly sold out

Whilst there are three double engines we keep using them so they are always in differing states of wear. They do have the advantage that, as the bogies can be swapped, their life can be separated from boiler life and maintained separately. The grey one David Lloyd George is on a brand new pair of piston valve bogies, the maroon one, Merddin Emrys is on a pair that have just had an intermediate overhaul which leaves the green one Earl of Merioneth. A couple of years ago its own bogies were getting very tired, so when DLG was taken in the works for a ten year boiler overhaul, conversion from oil to coal firing and to get its new Earlbogies,  EofM (aka The Square) was put on its old bogies as they were deemed to be in better nick than its own. Two seasons of hard work have rectified that and they are now close to completely knackered.   With the completion of DLG the Earls own bogies are now being overhauled so its just eking out its time waiting for them to be ready.

Merddin08Originally the green one was rostered with the intention of the maroon one having some TLC but then there was an issue with lack of available staff to do the TLC and it was decided that to use the good nick maroon one and rather than run the green one and waiting for it to fall to bits.  I was happy with that as the Merddin Emrys is the original and best Double Fairlie. The only down side of the first two 11 1/2 hour days is the 8pm finish which is too late to do much with your evening.

2014-09-09 15.20.20One of the highlights though was the Pizza delivery. Friends in Porthmadog run the Pethau Melys coffee, cake pizza and craft shop on the harbour. In autumn they close on Monday, my only day off! A playful whinge on their Facebook page resulted in pizza delivery not quite to the engine but close (we were going to photograph it on the engine but it didn’t last long enough.)

On early’s on Thursday (07:15 start) with the grey one(DLG) we got it ready in plenty of time despite the grey livery being nearly impossible to get keep clean we were off shed in plenty of time and over to Port. Its important to achieve the prompt arrival in Port as that is where breakfast is sourced!


A Moments Interlude

Often heard is the statement “I wish I could do something to help” but I don’t have the skills/time (insert excuse of your own choosing). Well there is something you can do.

10155111_10152350882888293_7175121550156132583_nI mentioned cleaning engines. That takes rags and we can never get enough of them. To clean an engines paint and shiny bits at the start of the day and then wipe all the oily filth off it at the end of the day takes a lot of rags. To give it some sort of size one engine takes about four T shirts or one bed sheet per day. With up to eight engines being got ready each day that’s a lot of rag.

You could help collect suitable rags and either deliver them to the railway. In some cases we could collect

Undressing2Actually, we’d have decline this first ladies very kind offer as the rags we need are soft cotton ones with no buttons zips or fasteners. (they scratch paint).  Synthetic materials   aren’t very good either as they tend to be none absorbant and melt on the hot bits

Ideal are shirts (buttons removed, T shirts, bed sheets and the like.

This young ladies contribution would be ideal but if we get any of the more `interesting’ apparel in the rag bin there is always some idiot cleaner who’ll end up wearing it


Anyway back to trains.

The 1o:10 train was 11 very full coaches and DLG had to work hard to pull them (We’ll skirt round the issue of one of its bogies not being very well) but we got to Blaenau with it OK

DLG2

On the late diagram the usual form is to hang around at the top end of the train whilst it unloads and do posing for photos with the passengers and so on.

On the early turn both times you are in Blaenau you are not there long enough and have to get on with running the engine round to the other end of the train, taking water as you pass the tank.

10704169_10154500567535276_238207424753315902_nDLG’s coal bunkers are the smallest on the three Fairlies so with a heavy train you would expect to use a lot of coal but, even so, it was a bit of a surprise when my fireman for the day, Phil Brown, took a photo and then handed me his phone (driver & fireman are separated by the boiler) as we were going down cemetery cutting.

With about two miles to go the bunkers were close to empty and swept out by the time we arrived.

Luckily, help was on hand to fill it up again and the second trip didn’t use as much.

 

Merddin09Friday should have been another grey day but when I walked into the shed Merddin was outside and not DLG. The fireman for the day had come into prep the engine a bit ahead of me and had found a problem with DLG that couldn’t be quickly corrected so we had to make do with another day with Merddin Emrys. Some days you are just lucky!

 

PapersWell that was it. Septembers driving over with and back to reality. A quick shower, three and half hour drive home, a very short nights sleep (or so it seemed) and then unload the car and face this mountain. I am sure the postie takes my being away as a challenge

Start of of a New Section

Well its about time this blog grew with some information. It seems that I have in the past written articles here there and everywhere, on the RM Web Forum, on the NGRM forum, on Facebook, in my own newsletter and in the main NG trains website. This all ends up as a discontinuous mess so the plan now is to do it on here and then have links in all those other places.

Some content will be along shortly

Getting a Life

Once upon a time I had a hobby………

That hobby was model railways and I built models I wanted for myself in my spare time. Sometimes I worked all the spare hours on a project and at others I could leave it alone for weeks. Then it became a small side line business that took a small amount of my spare time whilst I still did “the day job”. Inevitably it grew to take every waking moment when not at work.

Just over four years ago the day job offered me the ultimatum of “move to London or you’re redundant”. Easy one that, we parted company and EDM Models became “the day job.” Foolishly I thought that I could do what I was doing and also have a life in the space the `work’ used to fill but, no, EDM Models grew to fill all the available space and time.

Then a conversation along these lines occurred. “Do you fancy going out to X or Y on Saturday?” said the other half. “No, I’ve got this or that to finish” Says I. “Typical, we never go anywhere or doing anything these days!”

She’s right we don’t!

That simple exchange has prompted a bit of a rethink. If this is to be my `job’ even if doing my hobby as my job is supposed to be seventh heaven it’s got to have the structure of a proper job. So for the rest of this summer (2014) our opening hours are Monday to Friday only unless we are at an exhibition. Work will be done Monday to Friday be it retail sales, custom building or DCC and Sound installs. There will be no more ruining a weekend trying to get jobs finished. There is also likely to be a bit more selectivity in the jobs we do take on.

As if that wasn’t enough I get this offer, “do you want to come and play with this engine on a completely new railway?”

Hugh-Napier2

You’d think that would be an easy one too wouldn’t you but no. Sorry can’t do that weekend I am stuck at an exhibition (that is a best marginal).   Well this is going to be an annual event so you’ll have to come next year. Looks like EDM Models won’t be at Guildex in 2015

Just when you thought you had covered everything

EDM Models Newsletter

Just when you thought you had covered everything…

Someone comes up with another format to learn. First off we introduce a new newsletter format which takes some head scratching to figure out. One of the consequences of this is that its narrow format, used so it shows up phones and tablets, is a bit restrictive when it comes to adding any articles actually about modelling.

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