Tuesday, 27 December 2011

The Test of Time

'Shifting Sands', my O9 representation of a seaside miniature railway, has not operated in over 18 months, in fact I can't think when it was last operated before it went to Cleethorpes for display in 'Rails to the Sands' during 2010.  Although the layout has been home for the best part of two months, I have not had the opportunity to carry out any test running due to other commitments.  However, on Christmas Eve time came into my hands and I was able to remove the layout's cover and see what was what.  Barring a couple of loose scenic items, quickly fixed, there was no damage to the layout and a visual check of the wiring confirmed all was OK.  Out came the stockbox and after an initial quick 'one loco in steam' check, other items emerged to be "tested"...

Operating 'Shifting Sands' perched on it's box-cover on the future  nursery floor.
The layout itself performed faultlessly, I didn't even have to clean the track as 'Shifting Sands' rails have been coated in graphite (from an artists pencil), a trick well known to members of the Gnatterbox Gn15 forum to improve electrical conductivity and reduce the need for cleaning rails and wheels.  There are some cons to this method but nothing that affects a small, level layout such as this.  Some of the loco fleet did require a drop of 'Electrolube' in places to improve their performance, but after a while all was running well.  Sadly the light wasn't too good that close to floor level in the evening and the resultant photos aren't shareable here.

However, a second running session today in daylight has allowed a few more shots to be attempted, and also allowed a different selection of stock to be operated, including some from my 'O9 Heritage Collection' that aren't always seen in operation.

'Intrepid' with coaches built by Clive Mortimer for his 'Great Ouse Valley' project.
What have always been known as the "Romney's" on 'Shifting Sands' are in fact coaches started by prolific scratchbuilder Clive Mortimer for a project called the 'Great Ouse Valley Railway', which Clive started but decided not to pursue several years ago.  I was gifted his half started coaches and finished three of them off, with a lot of rebuilding, as the initial enclosed stock for the layout.  Later replaced in service by my own scratchbuilt stock, these coaches are now showing a few signs of ageing such as warping roofs and a few knocks and chips in the paint.  I am in two minds whether to repair them or conserve them as heritage items!

'Thunderbolt', my first conventional O9 steam loco, with Owen Ryder/Avalon Line coach.
My Owen Ryder/Avalon Line 'Ratty' coach is perhaps a little on the big side for 'Shifting Sands' as it is wider and longer than the home-brewed open coaches, but it is of importance to me in terms of O9 history as it represents the early commercial period and a prototype vehicle as well.  It isn't as smooth on it's bogies as the  stock running on MicroTrains trucks, and has therefore not seen as much service as other coaches.  'Thunderbolt' had become overshadowed by my Pacific 'King George VI' in recent layout appearances, but this simple Bachmann conversion should not be overlooked as a source of scale-outline miniature railway motive power.

And finally....

'Pandora' in the dunes.
I could not resist this shot of 'Pandora' in the headshunt by the dunes.  Happy days....

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