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


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


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.


This is what actually happened


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


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

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