Westside 12 at the Colorado Railroad Museum

The Brymston RR – Episode 7 – Loco Trouble

In a literary break from the actual layout we’re on to a loco issue.

The next stage in the layout planning process is to sort out the lower level tracks, access to and the size of the engine shed.

Someone wisely suggested mocking up the buildings. This I intend to do but to do so their first has to be some thought about what is the largest thing to go in the shed. This diorama is the home for my geared loco collection so whilst the Uintah Mallet and a K class have appeared in images they aren’t going to live on this bit. What is needed for the planning process is my largest Shay. This is a model of Westside Lumber #12

There is just one problem. It’s in a lot of smaller parts and needs putting back together and its a bit more complicated than just putting it back together as it has never run in this format.

A little aside to explain my soft spot for #12. When I first went to the USA with two friends our host in Colorado, Ed Gerlitz, was a good friend of Lyndsay Ashby, the operator of the Georgetown Loop RR. We all met up in the old depot which is the opposite side of town to the new depot where the trains ran from. We were having coffee and passing the time when Lyndsay decided we could just make it to the depot in time for the train. A mad dash across town followed, into the employees parking, over a fence and up the steps onto the loco without a real look at the loco. As soon as I was on, it tooted and set of. Only then did it dawn on me that my first proper view of a shay was from inside the cab. Guess which one it was.

When new the Sunset Models Shays had a 1/4″ wide toothed drive belt from the motor to a pulley on the crankshaft. Over time these perished and lost their teeth. You could get spare belts but it took a lot of dismantling the loco to fit them. A well known modeller in the USA, Lee Snover, developed a re-motor and chain drive solution. Sadly, Lee is no longer with us since 2018 but way back on 2009 just the boiler section of my loco took a trip back to the USA for Lee to work his magic on it.

You can see in this image the gear head motor on a bracket and the delrin chain drive into the crank shaft.

The reason its still in bits ten years later is that it keeps going in the too difficult pile. No, that should be the too involved/complex pile. What I plan to do is not too difficult but it keeps getting deferred as taking more time than I can spare just now.

I plan to detail it some more, upgrade the rather poor pickups, add DCC, Sound and a Keep Alive, LED lighting  and then, of course, a full paint job and weathering.

The decision I need to make now is do I…..

  1. Put it back together enough to do the clearance trials with the aim of doing it properly later
  2. Get on and do the mods and installation even if it diverts my personal modelling time away fr0m the layout
  3. Put it back in the procrastination box

Answers on a post card to…….


A 3D Printer Comes in Handy

I’ve had a fancy 3D printer for the business for over a year now but for the model business the emphasis is always the finest resolution and the smoothest finish.

Those that follow this blog will know I spent the weekend working on The Brymston RR layout but a snippet that only made it to Facebook reporting that my repaired Bandsaw was working fine mentioned that the dust vac extractor pipe had fallen out of place so everything was covered in dust.

As I am not using power tools on a daily basis in the workshop, I only have a portable vacuum that I connect to tools as needed. Prior to its repair the bandsaw hadn’t seen much use – or at least I hadn’t noticed its dust being a problem.

The problem is that the connector on the hose and the socket on the bandsaw are different diameters. In the past bodged working had been facilitated by either a stick wedging it in or the universal fix all – some tape.

There are commercial connector kits available but none of them seem to include an elbow which is what this really needs to make the pipe sit right to where the portable vac lives.

Time for a home made fix

First thing was to measure the various diameters and the tapers that were on them to make the parts lock together. Then it was time to fire up the CAD and get it drawn.

This turned in to a bit of a CAD lesson as I ended up using some features I hadn’t used before.

The result was this.




From there the CAD file is saved as an STL format file ready for the printers software to set it up to print.

This sets up the orientation of the print and creates the supports that hold it all together whilst it prints. The image to the right is what you see in the software but this is upside down to what happens on the printer.

The software normally sorts out the orientation to prevent resin pooling anywhere as it tends to cure by association if it isn’t able to run off back into the tank as the print rises from the bath of resin. This shape gave it a headache and it took several goes to get it right. From here it sends the print file across the network to the printer downstairs in the workshop.

Its all quite clever with the network control and monitoring but you do still have to go and press the start button. Instead of finest resolution of 25 microns this was printed at 100 so it was quite a quick print. Left to dry and cure in UV overnight today we have a proper connection the saw.



Naturally, this coincides with the bulk of the sawing having been completed


THE BRYMSTON RR -Episode 6 (I’ve started)

Well, its taken long enough but I have started.

Slightly gung ho and ahead of detailed planning I decided to cut wood. My thinking was this. I have been procrastinating the design of this for ages and have not actually done anything physically and for maintaining my own interest I felt I needed to do something with actual material on the layout.

I refer you to the Plan B plan adjacent. This plan is a plan view. Its 2D and doesn’t show any changes in height. (I’ve been messing with 3D printers too long as I first type the `changes in the Z axis’).  I really want to have different parts of the layout at subtly different heights really. This really reflects that when you build something as big as a railroad you rarely get a large dead flat area. That’t the reality, on the model I don’t want the layout to look like its on a flat piece of plywood.

In the plan point A enters the board at datum plus 2mm. This might yet get increased to +4 or +6. Form their the line climbs from the left hand road of that turnout  to just before the second turnout on the route. Its actually plain track because line B has been deleted. At that point it flattens out at datum +25mm and remains flat to the end of the line.

The line that kicks back towards G is held flat until clear of the turnout and then climbs to datum +40mm which it reaches about where the G is on the plan.  From there to the end of the board its flat. The flat areas are intended so that freight cars put there stay put and its also the best place for coupling and uncoupling.

Construction started with a sheet of 4mm ply I had. This was laid on the boards and marked out using a couple of models and some 0n3 flex track.  The profile was cut out with my recently refurbished bandsaw. I just wish I had noticed that the dust collector pipe had pulled out.

Whilst at it with the saw I cut up an old softwood drawer from to make the stand offs for the raised sections. Other bits of MDF were cut to make thinner shims and offcuts of the ply made joiners for the larger bits of ply.

Its all just been screwed together for now.

Right so the end of Sunday – ie Dinner and time for some festering in front of the TV – it looks like this.

The ply raised surface is temporarily screwed to the spacers which shows the height differences. More supports will be added, particularly ones custom cut to support the sloping sections. The ones near the turnout at the top of the grade will  be left loose until the point is built as there will be an operating mechanism to install and you know Mr Sodde and his laws would result in the inevitable if I glued them down.



First picture shows the raised siding that will be behind the shed.

I haven’t decided if the drop will be wall, sloping embankment or just the back of the shed. I’ll have to wait and see how the shed plan turns out.


The other end has a flat area which will have some further increase in Z above rail level when I decide what is happening.

The siding may be a dead end or it may be another way off this module to the `rest of the world’


Finally for this evening is a couple of shots with some track and rolling stock placed on the layout to give some idea of context







The problem now is that I have my modelling mojo back and I want to crack on with it but tomorrow is a work day. Alright for those with forced separation from their layouts but this is also my workplace. Its going to take some effort to leave it alone.


THE BRYMSTON RR -Episode 5 (a name at last)

(up to this point on the forum the layout had no name)

The layout with no name, has a name, I think…….

The Brymston Railroad.

Its bugged me since I started this that I didn’t have a name for it. I always fancied a name like Updah, amusing and with a life of its own but I couldn’t think of one and when I did think of one there was a reason it had come to mind, someone had already done it.

Then I got to thinking, well, reading and I was in the tiled reading room. The book in hand was Slow Trains Down South by Mallory Hope Ferrell. [incidentally, I only have volume 1, if anyone has a vol 2 they’d like to part with let me know]In it there are loads of shortlines that ran all sorts of odd services that ran out of habit more than demand.  One caught my eye, The Brimstone Railroad. It ran Shays, I hauled lumber and stone and the crunch for me was there was a picture of the two shays stood outside the loco shed.

I’m not building a model of a prototype just looking for ideas and all the best ones are stolen, or someone has had them first. I just want a credible back story to somewhere to run my geared locos.  I looked up Brimstone in a thesaurus and when you got past all the film references there were some alternative spellings and the anglicised version is Brymston.

So, now we have the Brymston Railroad which is a subsidiary of the Brymston Railroad and Navigation Company. Other subsidiaries are Brymston Logging Company and the Brymston Mining Company.

I now need to decide a name for the location of the loco facilities modelled. Given the thesaurus let on that the German derivative of Brimstone is Bernstein that might have to be the name. For some reason Bernstein Wharf appeals apart from the fact that its not very American, I suppose there it would be Bernstein Landing but even then, I have no plans to add any form of wharf or landing.

Where did my line run? Well, like the real thing probably from Sulfur to Brimstone, probably with branches to Hell and Damnation with the never built extension to Sodom and Gomorrah

In February 2019 Two alternative slants on the same news emerged.

V1.     Evil multinational corporation raids embryonic railroad funds leaving the Brymston Railroad coffers depleted leading to concerns for its future. Railroad management seeks to assure customers and employees that all is well and that the current cash flow crisis is short term.

V2.         The Brymston Railroad is delighted to announce an addition to its loco roster through good offices of noted auction house Echo Bay of San Jose, California. The new locomotive will serve the Railroad for a good many years. Concern has been raised regarding the financial state of the RR but management has assured interested parties that whilst there may be some short term deferral of other capital projects the RR is on a sound footing.

The truth is that if you’re flogging stuff on eBay to finance your new model you really shouldn’t do searches to see what’s for sale. However when you find a seller that doesn’t know his 0n3 from his 0n30 its to your advantage

The Brymston Railroad has acquired, on very favourable terms, a 40 ton Class B Climax manufactured by The Car Works. Delivered to the Railroad today it has undergone initial trials on the extensive one yard of our main line and appears to be very satisfactory.

Film may emerge later of the test runs but for now there will be a few more trials to evaluate the new acquisition and decide what adaptations may be required for Brymston RR service.  It will almost certainly be converted to an oil burner as the RR is trying to phase out other fuels because of the fire risk. Modern lighting and a turbo generator are likely addition. The loco is already air braked which is a saving. It will gain sound and control modifications in due course.

Well, that has got the Brymstone RR blog up the point we left off on the forums a year ago. I’d better go and do something to the layout so as to create some new content


THE BRYMSTON RR -Episode 4  (first contact)

Well, the layout with no name went to its first show on Saturday which was all a bit fraught as on Thursday morning there was no track on it.  Truth be told it went more as a display shelf but a versatile one.

A single point was made and then a length of PSC code 83 flex track added. It was a versatile layout being either DC or DCC as the only connections were by crocodile clip so it was easy to swap.

Actually, none of the track is going to stay where it is. The point was the first one made with the fast track jigs and is best considered a practice for getting my eye in. As is often the case I end up making two of things as the first one just tells me how I want to do better with the second one!

I am currently scheming ideas as to how to build the turnout in the jig on the PCB ties, then add temporary gauging strips on top so I can remove the PCB’s ties and spike the track down to all wooden ties.  If this were an extensive layout I wouldn’t bother and just slap some paint and camouflage on the copper. That may well happen on the ties at the rear of the layout or the one behind the shed but the ones near the front are I think worth the effort. A better tie bar design is fermenting in my head at the moment too.

A length of dual gauge track was also nailed to the front of the board just to display some 16.5mm gauge items and, bizarrely, a bit of H0/H0n3 dual gauge was the first bit to hand. On the way from York to Derby it was just pinned but, on the way, back it had added blue tack.  I didn’t pin right to the end and on the way there in the car it kept going boooinggg!!! like you used to do with a ruler on a desk at school. It was getting right on our wick!

You will also recall that the purpose of this layout is to provide an exercise ground for my geared loco collection which has previously just sat on display shelves. In the last-minute nature of this commitment to take the layout to the 7mm NGA open day I got three shays off the shelf and all of them decided to throw a tantrum. One went to the show. One got a repair started that wasn’t complete in time and the third needs a new gear sourcing so is a longer term casualty.

The one that got fixed but not in time has just had a test run. The loco has a Grandt drive in which a gear head motor points down through the floor with the male part of a UJ on the motor shaft. This bit is Delrin and it used to be a press fit but it had relaxed. The torque involved was too much for Dr Mikes glue, so the fix used slow setting araldite. I cross drilled the Delrin part and then roughed up the shaft with a cutting disk to give a key, smothered it in glue, pressed the Delrin on making sure glue extruded out the holes, wiped the surplus off and set it aside to harden. The theory is that even if the glue doesn’t bond to the Delrin its now effectively a keyed fit. I’ll leave you with a video of its test run.

Incidentally all the track laid for this outing has been lifted as it was just thrown down for the day



THE BRYMSTON RR -Episode 3 (still catching up)

Yes , still catching up to what was posted on the modelling forums a year ago. This instalment should get the words up to date so I can start posting some new stuff.

This episode deals with layout planning, well, the initial efforts as things and thoughts have already moved on as will be discussed in coming episodes.

As is traditional with model railways Plan A tried to cram too much in. To some extent this was forgivable as one of this boards reasons for existing is to provide a home for my geared locos and I have got rather a lot of them due to my habit of collecting them.

This version featured standard, but short, turnouts, too many of them and too much track. The three locos in the foreground are “on shed” and the headshunt to the left of them (where the circle thingy is) is too short to be off any use. Basically, this version is all turnout and no room to move.

A quick aside – Turnouts:   Having said short I should quantify this. In the USA turnouts have a number be it #4. #6 or #9. What this number denotes is the angle of the vee be it 1 in 4, 1 in 5 or 1 in 9. It only sort of equates to radius as a) radius of turnouts is something modellers have dreamt up and b) the diverging route is only curved between the blades and the vee.

It does still mean that my bendy shays will go across a #4 but my K36 2-8-2 doesn’t stand a chance needing a #6 as a minimum or a #9 to look prototypical.  It does also reflect the space they take up which I will illustrate in the future. Another handy thing for the ancient industrial layout is the sub turnout. Instead of fixed stock rails and moving blades the stub uses moving stock rails as in the picture. These were common but not suited to any sort of speedy running to they died out except in yards and on ancient none passenger industrial railroads. One really handy feature for fitting a quart into a pint pot on a layout is they are shorter than a bladed turnout,

Right back to the layout.

What comes after Plan A, plan B of course.

Plan B evolves. Since the original plan was posted I have revised it using a couple of wyes and a 3 way

  1. Point that connects to the rest of the world. Needs to be in this front corner at datum level to connect to future plans.
  2. This siding originally came off the back road. It may yet go back there or get deleted
  3. Water tank and pump complex – something like the Argent one
  4. 3 way stub turnout, because I can and it allows the access to Siding E
  5. Sand facility. May lead to siding B getting deleted (I have a Durango sand house kit looking for a home
  6. Fuel facility.
  7. Loco shed reduced to two roads. Two engines inside and two outside. Losing one track allows wider spacing and for the shed to feature a workshop lean to.

Turnouts in the diagonal route will be standard bladed turnouts whilst the 3 way and the front right one will be stub turnouts

Since that proposal was put to the group on the forum siding B has been deleted. The back siding has been moved nearer to the back and its turnout downgraded to a stub for space winning reasons. One of the design constraints/requirements was to make sure that a loco and bogie wagon would fit in the headshunt behind the shed (or as illustrated a Uintah 2-6-6-2 mallet fit in it.

Currently there is also some rethinking with regard to the length of the headshunt at the front that gives access to siding E. This will be discussed in future episodes as a design constraint that didn’t exist a year ago has presented itself.

I may also change the last remaining bladed turnout at the entrance to the board to a stub so that all on this module are stubs. I suspect that the fiddling with the access to line E the inch or two that being a stub gains may be crucial.

The centrepiece is likely to be the three way stub that gives access to the shed and headshunt.

I am currently toying with an idea to build all the track in sheets of 2mm MDF for a number of reasons. The main one is that once I have the alignments off the layout I can build the details of the turnouts on the workbench where the tools are and I can twist and turn the build to work at the best angles.

The other reason is that I want to mess with the ground level heights in the model. Nothing massive or alpine but I don’t want a flat layout. Raising the track, even if only 2mm allows some ground to be below track level.



THE BRYMSTON RR -Episode 2 (belatedly)

Well, I don’t know what to say. More than a year since I added anything to the layout theme here on the blog. Truth is not a lot has happened but I didn’t even finish the bringing things up to date as of  a year last February.

I’d better put that right, at least with the catch up to where we were on the forums with Episode 2.

OK, so having identified where the module is going to go there was a small problem. It was a flat surface, so it was naturally covered in Junk. A major tidy up was required to prepare for construction.

For the scenic part of the layout/diorama/module I ordered a 152cm x 45cm Scenic/photo plank kit from Tim Horn Baseboards. The attraction of this was that it meant it came with both an back board and a valance/frame or whatever you call it. This would mean that it would create a frame that supported lighting effects for the layout but it would also frame the view out of the surrounding view of my cluttered work room.

I could already see a potential issue with having a layout which presented a large flat surface just as you walked in the room carrying something you needed to put down. I had a plan for this but I still haven’t enacted it and its since come back to bite me as you’ll see in following episodes. Continue reading

NG North – A bit more info

Thank you to those that have wished me well and get well soon. I actually feel fine apart from an irritating cough that is more habit than anything else. However, having been laid low enough that the cellulitis in my dodgy leg that hasn’t bothered me for five years flared up and needed butch antibiotics to sort (I was one day off being sent to hospital for antibiotics on draught) I am a feeling a bit vulnerable and I have had quite enough snot, phlegm and coughing myself inside out for this winter and this was just the bog standard flu!

This wasn’t what tipped my final decision though. If you have seem Paul Holmes’s apology for absence for his Hulme End Leek & Manifold Layout on Facebook it makes pretty sobering reading. Here’s an extract …..

I was due to stay with our daughter, a haematologist. They had planned for me to change clothes, shower and decontaminate the car if I had returned to their house.

Her case load obviously includes patients who are immunocompromised through leukaemia and lymphoma.

My personal appraisal of the situation, as a retired doctor, is that the current response from our government is shallow, belated and inadequate. This is not the post to expand further on that.

I know that everyone is stuck between a rock and a hard place on this one and hope that the show succeeds despite the current situation.

Those of you that know me from shows and events with steam engines will know my other half, Annie. Not quite as extreme as a haematologist but she works at St Leonards Hospice here in York in the fundraising team, not medical, but she came home last night full of how she’s spent her day cancelling fund raising events and preparing to cancel others whilst the hospice was putting steps in place to slow or delay the infection getting into the hospice. That is why they are cancelling events that promote a gathering of people and looking at measures to limit visiting or to segregate more within the hospice. One of the scenarios they explained when asking staff to think very carefully was to consider who and where they mixed  with.  Me going to NG North and catching something is one thing, i’d take my chances, but I could get it, pass it on to Annie who took it to work before either of us knew anything about it.  That made my decision, whilst uncomfortable, a lot easier.

One last point I would make as to how it was a difficult decision was that I know that hospices rely on fundraising. I help with the fundraising for St Leonards Hospice which has to raise £6 Million a year to support the services it offers. Narrow Gauge North massively supports Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice so the consequences of the attendance at the show being poor can be far reaching.  I would ask you to think of this and if someone sticks a collecting pot under your nose please give what you can spare, doesn’t even matter which charity really, they are all going to be in the same boat when it comes to reduced income from fund raising.

Narrow Gauge North 2020

It is with great reluctance and a heavy heart that I have decided that EDM Models won’t be attending Narrow Gauge North on Saturday.

Having had a bad dose of bog standard flu recently, which I am still getting over, it’s had the effect of allowing normally dormant underlying conditions to flare up that have taken strong antibiotics to beat back into submission. At the moment my lungs are still below par, and I have an irritating cough.

Today’s advice to isolate if you have a cough means that as well as being at risk, I would be constantly explaining it’s not “that” cough.

In addition, my other half, Annie, works at St Leonard’s Hospice where they have been asked to take extra precautions and are taking steps to mitigate the risk of importing the disease to vulnerable patients. It doesn’t seem right to expose myself to risk that I could pass on.

All that adds up to the decision not to attend being the right one even if it doesn’t sit well with me. I have had a long conversation with the organisers this evening to arrive at this decision and I wish them well for the day. Plagues and pestilence permitting we’ll be at the 2021 show.

By way of a compensation to us not being at the show order from our website on the 14th and use the code


in the box for coupon code at the checkout and your order will ship free

  • Cant be used with other coupons
  • Applies to UK orders only

When an up sell backfires

Over one of my modelling benches I have an angle poise magnifier with built in lamp. It’s a little unusual being a larger format than most with a larger lens and wider coverage lamp. It’s a specialist crafters item and I think I bought it at a show. Can’t be sure as its been there awhile.

A short while ago it all went a bit dull on the bench as the lamp failed. The light was a square format compact fluorescent and you could see the ends of the tube had the traditional burnt ends of a failed tube.

As it helpfully had the lamp type on the label and the shop I got it from web address was there too I thought I’d show a bit of loyalty and whizzed off an e-mail to see if they had replacement tubes.

This is where is went a bit wonky.

The reply was “we’ve got the tubes” but then quickly skirted over that to sing the virtues of LED lit magnifiers and trying to sell me a completely new unit. Even went as far as offering a previous customer discount.  A second e-mail trying to get a new tube got more LED sell and no tube.

I didn’t want a new lamp as its sort of built into my workbench, but it turns out he was right LED’s work a treat!

After a bit of a rummage I found the remnants of an “LED’s on a roll” set that I had bought to do my layout wiring.

I stripped the lamp head down and then discovered a that the tube had clearly got a bit hot as it died. With the tube removed and the electronics for it stripped out I fitted four straight strips of LED tape in roughly where the tube had been. These were wired up in parallel on the marked connection points and wired back to the switch and a home made terminal. After a quick test the diffuser and head were reassembled.

The mains flex up the arm was re-purposed and connected to the LED’s at one end and the low voltage plug top power supply at the other.  This was fun as the spring loading in the arms without the weight of the head to counterbalance is a but like wrestling an angry snake whilst threading the wires.

Back on the bench it was time for the moment of truth.

LED’s off

LED’s on

Turns out he was right LED’s are better and this cost nowt as it used bits I already had.