Narrow Gauge South West 2013

So, Shepton has come and gone now.

It used to be my local show when I lived in Taunton, and I have many happy memories of attending it with my parents as a youngster.  Fortunately it falls a couple of weeks before my birthday, so was often good for suggesting the odd plastic kit if I’d been good that year 🙂  When I used to visit, upon entering I would always walk to the top of the stairs and immediately look to see what was on the stage, so I was delighted to find out that I had been put on the stage to return as an exhibitor.

After a rather tedious combination of average speed cameras and Friday evening traffic on the A303 (why didn’t I think to use an alternative route!?) we arrived and set up the layout on Friday evening before repairing to the hotel and having a beer or two.

Saturday morning and after a hearty breakfast we were off to the show, especially early as  there was a special purchase that myself and my friend and assistant operator for the weekend, Steve, wanted to pick up…

Yes, that’s right, Peco 009 ready to run (RTR) wagons! They had a limited number of special edition double packs of one box van and one open in each livery at the show.  I bought the L&B ones in the photos and Steve the SR ones.  They are excellent, well detailed, nicely finished, run smoothly, the NEM pocket mounted couplings work well, and the wagons are a credit to all at Peco in every way!  I hear Parkside Dundas sold out completely reasonably early on in the day!

I look forward to being able to order the coaches when they’re available, speaking of which…

Andrew Burnham, editor of Continental Modeller, was seen showing off some prototypes of the coaches.  They look excellent, just as the wagons they’re well detailed and run very smoothly, capable of negotiating some surprisingly tight curves!

The layout behaved itself, but I wish I could say the same for the stock.  I have recently added DCC decoders to my Five79 Tralee & Dingle loco, and the RT Models Peckett. The Peckett seemed to be running well, but occasionally would want to run at full pelt, quite concerning when it’s propelling a load of stock towards the end of the quay with no sign of stopping! And the T&D loco requires a ‘digi hat’ fitting to isolate the old design of Graham Farish chassis that’s a pain to convert to DCC.  This involved using heatshrink just behind the rearmost pair of driving wheels, and despite using the thinnest heatshrink I had, it caused a tight spot in the chassis which lead to some embarrassingly poor operation at times.  I need some more reliable larger stock soon, plans are in hand on that front…

There was an excellent range of layouts and traders at the show. I was particularly looking forward to seeing Tal Coed and Schull.  I didn’t get a proper chance too at Tal Coed at Barton le Clay, and I’d read about Schull recently, so it was interesting to see in real life.

Tal Coed by Chris Ford 

Tal Coed by Chris Ford

You can read more about Chris’ layouts on his entertaining and informative blog here.

Schull by Dr Alan Gee

Schull by Dr Alan Gee

Of the traders it was a pleasure to see David Hick’s 16mm scratchbuilt locos on offer again.  I always remember David’s stall from previous exhibitions, and I can recall staring in amazement at the workmanship when I was a youngster.  It was nice to have a chat with him and learn that a lot of his work is still done on a drill and lathe that he made at the end of the 1950s/start of the 1960s.  VERY impressive and inspiring, and superb quality.  The Peckett in the shot below has lovely detail to the bodywork and features things like a working reverser.

Cranmore, a 16mm scale Peckett ‘Gamecock’

Jurassic Models inlaid track

It was interesting to see the Jurassic Models stand and their lovely 16mm scale laser cut ply stock, but what caught my eye was the laser cut inlaid track, particularly after I’ve just finishing adding the Das to the quay on Isle Ornsay to do my own inlaid track.

Brian’s couplings under test

Finally, it was nice to see Brian Ellsemore’s couplings he’s developing under test on the layout.  He’s been working on a coupling system that uses a staple and has 3d printed vacuum pipes that look like they are coupled together, much more appropriate than having unconnected hoses for an entire train.  He’s made some improvements since I last saw them and they are a really neat solution.

A very enjoyable show, a nice opportunity to catch up with some fellow members of the 009 Society, and the NGRM Online forum, and to part with some money… I came home with a rather large pile of back issues of The Review, the two packs of L&B livery Peco wagons shown above and the latest Peco book of colour images of the Isle of Man Railway.

Thanks to Steve, Richard, Andy and James for helping operate during the day.

All in all a successful and enjoyable show!

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