September Newsletter 2020

The Chairman's Dribble.

Hello everybody!

We are nearly out of September and in a few days we will be in October and but for three months the year will be gone. Lets hope 2021 will be a better year and perhaps we can start to enjoy ourselves and also our hobby.
As you will be aware we have managed to keep the track maintained with a limited crew of six people. We have spoken to Mr Parrott and we can now work Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and play on Saturdays. But still with only six people on any one day as laid down by H.M. Government; this allows members to contact MickW to book a slot. Pictures on Dropbox will show the progress on how the crossing is progressing and is not far off of being finished and to all who worked on this project, a great job has been done. Norman H and Ralph R have been refurbishing the fence round the outside of the track with new posts and runners which look fantastic.
I have now started to do some testing on Traction Engines and Loco’s when they can be fitted in, so if you need a test you can contact me direct or MickW and we will do our best to accommodate you as it will be good to get some of these done.
This year has been a very trying year, but we are getting through and are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
At the moment it does not seem as we will have our AGM in November, but the accounts are being done and as soon as we have them we will provide you all with a copy.
So, please keep safe and I hope to see everybody sometime in the not to distant future. Dave M. Chairman

The Secretary's Report.

Well, where has 2020 gone? Have we got the better of this Virus? When will we be able to get together for any sort of normal general meeting? Will we get an AGM? All questions and no answers.
We will have to think very hard in the future if we are to continue maintaining the track and improving the facilities and where will any future finances come from. I doubt if many of you will have given it much thought, but just by missing the last five months we are at least £125 poorer because we have not held the normal meeting raffles. We also did not get The Weeting Rally and we have not been able to have any activities which make us any money at all. If we were a business we would have perhaps gone broke. The insurance company has NOT refunded our fees even though we have not been able to run. So to continue to improve and maintain we will need to do something.
Until we get an AGM, I am happy to continue as Secretary. MW

Thoughts! The trials and tribulations during this period of Covid-19 which none of us have ever seen before.

Since Wednesday March 4th 2020 when we held our last general meeting it has been hard to please everyone in our club. The one thing about being British is we all have the same freedom of speech and this can sometimes mean that we can each hear a statement and each member can have a different point of view.
I remember as a manager, I was sent on a course of management and was absolutely gob-smacked when we were given an A4 sheet of paper and ask to write down what we saw. I saw a ghoulish witch! I was only one of three managers who saw this were by every one else, perhaps 22 other managers, saw a beautiful young girl.
It took some explaining to me to see it their way and yes the picture was done to confuse but it taught me that there are always many ways to look at one single problem and not every way is the correct way. So I learned to listen to others and not get stuck in to ‘my way is the only way’.
I think and hope that when you perhaps read this that you may think the same way, because I feel there are members who think they are always right, you may be, but please think there can be many points of view.
This period of lock-down has been very difficult because the rules are NOT clear and are written by very clever people who may be saying one thing and could be saying another – it is a legal way out of yes, when they really mean no. So please, lock-down has been difficult; it has been unique; so please let the current management do their things and if you are not happy about it then ‘Stand up and be counted at the next AGM’, when ever that may be. I have said enough.
We, as a club have been working three mornings a week since June 6th 2020 and we are well on with the crossing. We are tackling the fencing which looked dreadful when we came back to work. This is on going , but is going very well. We are cutting the grass regularly and the site is starting to look very good.
We could perhaps start a florist shop as we have quite a lot of lovely dahlia flowers, but then I am sure they would not last long. MW

John Cartwrights Obituary

As most of you will know, our member John Cartwright died of a heart attack on the evening of Tuesday 14th April 2020. John was a regular member and attended every single work day that I can remember. John was always there making tea and coffee and was always ready to ‘Chat’. He will be sorely missed! John’s funeral was held at Brecklands Chapel at 11 O’clock on 4th May 2020. It was at a time when only a limited number of people could attend and so there was a very poignant video funeral available through ‘Obitus.Com’, which myself and Dee W watch.
We learned that he had lived his younger years in Twickenham and became a keen member of The Hanworth Rugby Club. John had his own trade engineering company in Southend and moved to Norfolk in 1982. He had two Daughters.
He obtained a pilots licence to fly light aircraft and would regularly fly from Tivitton Airfield in Norfolk.
He first had a stroke in 2007 and a heart attack in 2011 and all the time he was a member at BDSME he walked with sticks. He was learning to play the Banjo. John modelled aircraft and boats; his workshop was in a spare bedroom where he had a mill and small lathe; he was building a ‘Sweet pea’ before he died. The last piece of music play for him was The Rolling Stones ‘Brown Sugar’ which said everything about John. RIP.

Three pictures of John C controlling the tea urn; his favourite bit of kit. Always a smile from his kitchen and one day when we had a whole day working we had lunch – and who cooked it? well, everyone had finished except John. So? Yes! John C.

Jeffrey Broads Obituary

I have already advised everyone by email that our old member Jeff Broad has died. Jeff died in hospital on 19th July 2020.
Jeff was born in Sawbridgeworth, Herts on the 26th March 1928 and had a normal comprehensive school education. He entered work as a car mechanic and when his National service came up he joined the Northamptonshire Regiment. He was part of the 2nd battalion of rifles and was called up on 18th April 1946; his trade on enlistment was a fitter apprentice. His Nation Service was mostly spent in Austria, until he left the 2nd Bn, The Northamptonshire Regiment, in April 1948. He had a very nice military conduct record, which said, good; reliable; responsible; worked without supervision. His working life was all in metal and he worked for a Bishops Stortford company called Millers.
His passions were gardening and furniture making along with Model Engineering. He almost completed two Minnie traction engines, one each for his two daughters. He also had a mention in Model Engineer Vol 177 no 4024 September 1996. It said “Built by Mr Jeff Broad of Brandon DSME, this fine 1/32 scale model of a two high, non reversing stand (Rolling mill) was a fascinating item at The Hewitt School in Norwich when Norwich DSME had a show”. See below
Len Cd

sept 2020 5

Len C, Peter E and Jeff B

The Crossing Update

Right from June 6th an iconic day for two reasons: D Day 1944 and restart day back at the track after lock-down. The weeds had had a real go at overwhelming the site, but we soon got on top of this and the grass was cut and the weeds pulled up. The whole track was sprayed with weed killer and we were back on top again. Geoff B took command of the flowers and things started to look, well normal and great.
Before lockdown we had finished the sleepers and these were ready to creosote and bolt together to make 3 lengths of solid oak beams crossing the crossing at 3.7metres long, 12 inches wide 6 inches thick.
We had with the great help of Shaun C dads tractor digger, dug out, well say about 10 cubic metres of soil down to the chalk base, so 10 cubic metres of ballast , hard core, sand, and oak timbers had to be placed to within millimetre’s according to the drawings. Of course the track, track wise was reasonably level, but the three levels of the track from the inside to the outside were anything but level and anything but square to each other. Anyway, if a job is worth doing, its worth doing properly, so we used the drawings as what had to be done and started laying hard core. I think we had 5 or 6 tons of type 1, as well as all the old broken blocks and bits laying around the site, and 4 tons of sand, we used 52 blocks, and 60 one cwt kerb stones, we have used 545, 100mmx 200mm x100 paving blocks to make a walk way on the bridge side and work is still on going, but the finish is in sight.
The pictures are I hope self explanatory

Picture one: ballasting inside line.
Picture two: already sanded with the two sleepers being joined together .
Picture three: laying the joined together sleeper in the inside position. 
Picture Four: Inserting blocks before walk way is installed.
Picture Five: all three sleepers installed , ballasting centres before sand and kerbs are installed.
Picture Six: inside track rails being installed, there are three different width rails so that there is only a small gap between

Each rail, five all together, to help the traction engines pass over the rails smoothly.

Newsletter June 2020

The Chairman's Words

Hello Everybody!

These past few weeks have been very difficult for most people: this pandemic is something that we did not except, but it seems this is something we are going to have to live with. Over the past few weeks the committee and myself have had to take steps to comply with government guidelines and sometimes these steps have not been easy to understand, so, hence it has not suited everybody, but this is what we have had to do, whether we like it or not.

Over the past week, to comply with the new guidelines we have been able to open the track to allow six members only at one time, on Monday Wednesday and Saturdays, to attend and do some necessary maintenance work, providing we keep social distancing. As you have seen, this has to be shared out with everyone, to allow members a chance to visit the track. If this is a success we will introduce Boiler testing, which we will be looking at as soon as possible, so please bear with us. So, as soon as there are any changes to Government ruling, we will inform you.

There is a risk assessment form which needs to be filled in by each member, if they visit the track, to comply with the Government tracking system. I know this is hard with all these new rules, but we need to keep people safe, so please bear with us and let’s hope we can soon get back to a normal life if possible . So please keep safe, I hope to see you all soon. DM Chairman BDSME.

The Secretary's Report.

Well what can I say, what a few months, was it “Hell” or what? personally I found the time and the lock-down, “what I always imagined retirement would be, because when I was at work I thought 30,000 mile a year driving was a lot, but even being retired I was still doing nearly that same mileage, until March lock down I have not done 300 miles and well this has been great. Missed Mondays, Wednesday, and Saturdays, but have learned how to screw cut in the lathe, how to waste nearly 3 feet of 1/2 brass rod, but well the discipline has been great, some more done on Tom Rolt and a box under the bench with my first ever engineering project “ Rob Roy” has been out on the bench and I have now made and scrapped four cross head pumps, So Paul B, when will you be going to the scrap man because I have a rather large scrap box at the moment, but hey I will get there.

Now back to us. Brandon & District Society of Model Engineer, from the emails I have received during lock down I feel that there is something in being a model engineer, one or two “I’m bored” emails, but all in all some very very positive one’s and Kevin’s Under the bench Challenge has been taken up by several members and pictures are in the remaining pages of the Mardle.

Alas, we has lost our friend John Cartwright, not to the virus, but a heart attack, his humour and wit will be missed by many, but, not perhaps by all. We need a new caterers assistant: is there a rule of last in? perhaps not. Anyway for now it’s bring your own until things change.

Several other losses – The Weeting Rally, The extra Money,

Fawley Hill, Sir William McAlpine railway visit is cancelled but booked for Next Year.

All the normal traction engine rallies are I believe off.

We have had an email from a company called “OWL Castings”

Their email says we are a small metal casting company and have been servicing the needs of model engineers for over 10 years, as part of our expansion into model steam locomotive sector and to help keep sprits up in this strange time we are willing to offer your members a 20% discount on all of their metal castings. We cast in iron, bronze, brass and aluminium, and will be happy to provide quotations if required.

Their web site is

A telephone number is also provided.01843 297110.

I would just like to say I do not have any connection what so ever with this company

Just one more thing. John Cartwrights machines and tools are for sale. I know in this time it would be difficult to see what he has, but his Daughter has sent me some pictures. Alas, they do not mean a lot to me: she has offered his recently started Sweet Pea to the club if we have someone who would like to take it on and finish it.

He also has a lot of metal and Sam his daughter would like to sell it all very quickly.

Please let me know if you are interested?

Just some news. Perhaps some of you will be interested in the news that during lock down several members of the committee have been talking about the clubs activities. looking forward, perhaps arguing about which way forward, but certainly we are all in contact through the internet program “ Zoom”. This is similar to “ Skype”, but personally I am not sure which is best as I have been a Skyper for perhaps fifteen odd years. It costs nothing and is a really good way to speak to family and friends over either a video link or even as with me several of my Indian friends do not have computers with cameras on so we basically type the message and talk through typed messages. Anyway, during lock down we have continued to talk trains, traction engines and civil engineering. Perhaps there could be an opportunity if lock down goes on and on that we could have a general meeting on the internet: time will tell. 

See you all as soon at it is safe to do so. mw

Light heartedness has been in the fore, and here are a few of the words.

Steve HW. My self-Isolation Quarantine Diary.
Day 1– I can do this!! Got enough food and wine for a month
Day 2– Opening the 8th bottle of wine, I fear wine supplies might not last.
Day 3– Strawberries: some have 210 seed, some have 235 seeds . Who knew??
Day 4– 8.00pm removed my Day pyjamas and put on my night pyjamas.
Day 5– Today, I tried to make hand sanitizer. It came out as Jello Shots!!
Day 6– I get to take the Garbage out, I’m so excited, I can’t decide what to wear.
Day 7– Laughing way too much at my own jokes!!
Day 8– Went to a new restaurant called “The Kitchen”. You have to gather all the ingredients and make your own meal, I have no clue how this place is still in business.
Day 9– I put liquor bottles in every room, tonight I’m getting all dressed up and going Bar hopping.
Day 10– Struck up a conversation with a “Spider” today. Seemed nice, he was a web designer.
Day 11– Isolation is hard , I swear my fridge just said , “ what the hell do you want now”?
Day 12– I realised why dogs get so excited about somethings moving outside, going for walk or car rides. I think I just barked at a squirrel.
Day 13– If you keep a glass of wine in each hand, you can’t accidentally touch your face.
Day 14– Watched the birds fight over a worm. The Cardinals led the Blue Jays 3-1.
Day 15– Anybody else feel like they’ve cooked dinner about 395 times this month?
Day 16– There are 3691 tiles on my neighbour’s roof opposite.

OK, one for the engineers.

I recently called an old engineering friend of mine and asked him what he was working on these days. He said that he was working on “ Aqua-thermal treatment of ceramics, aluminium , and steel under a constrained environment” , I was extremely impressed, until upon further enquiry, I learned that he was “washing up” the dishes with hot water under his wife’s supervision.


Donald Trump goes on a fact-finding visit to Israel. While he is on a tour of Jerusalem he suffers a heart attack and dies. The undertaker tells the American Diplomates accompanying him, “ You can have him shipped back home for $50,000, or you can bury him here in the holy land for just “$100”. The Ameri-can diplomats go into a corner and discuss the two options for a few minutes. When they return to the undertaker they tell him that they want Trump shipped home. The undertaker is puzzled and asks,” Why would you spend $50,000 to ship him home when it would be wonderful for him to be buried here, and it would only cost you $100? The diplomates replied,” A long time ago a man died here, was buried here and then, three days later he rose from the dead.

We just cannot take that risk.

More More. Should we, why not.

One day Donald Trump, President of The USA, was visiting his troops, when one of his bodyguards no-ticed that in the crowd a member of the public was pointing a gun at the President, his immediate in-stinct was to call out “ Mickey Mouse”. With that a shot went off but no one was hurt.

At the enquiry afterwards the body guard was asked, why the hell did you shout Mickey Mouse, the bodyguard said “ it was my very first day as a body guard and I had been briefed earlier that I should say one of the Walt Disney Characters, but I got the wrong one. The enquiry then said “ what was this character, and he said “ I remember it now , I should have said Donald, DUCK.

Ok Just to the bottom of the page.

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a women below. He descended a bit more and shouted “ Excuse me, can you help me”? I promised friend I would meet him an hour ago, But I do not know where I am.

The women replied “You’re in a hot air balloon hovering at approximately 30feet above the ground, you’re between 59 and 60degrees north latitude and between 107 and 108 degrees west longitude”

You must be an engineer said the balloonist.

I am, replied the woman, how did you know?

Well answered the balloonist everything you have told me is technically correct, but I’ve no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I’m still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help at all. If any thing you have delayed my trip.

The woman below responded, “ You must be in management”

I am ,replied the balloonist, but how did you know.?

Well said the woman” you don’t know where you are, or where you are going. You have risen to where you are due to a large amount of hot air. You have made a promise, which you’ve no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same po-sition you were in before we met. But now somehow, it’s my fault.

Two more, I promise.

A lawyer and an engineer were fishing in the lake district. The lawyer said “ I am here because my house burned down, and everything I owned was destroyed by fire. The insurance paid for everything.

The engineer said” My house and all my belongings were destroyed by a flood, and my insurance com-pany also paid for everything.

The lawyer looked somewhat confused. How do you start a flood? He asked.

Last one.

Did you hear about the constipated engineer?

He worked it out with a pencil.

It was a natural log


The Under The Bench Challenge

Dear Members,
We hope you are keeping safe and getting through these tough times OK. We have heard on the grapevine that many of you have been spending plenty of time in your workshops, carrying on with your model engineering projects. Some people have even started new ones! These include new railway locos, rolling stock, various wheels, wood turning, stationary engines, and one member is even considering cooking their dinner in the smoke box of their scale traction engine! What will you make? Keep up the good work, keep safe, and we look forward to seeing you and your project when we next get the chance. KB

Below: Chris H pictures. The rear wheel picture shows the traction engine wheels rivet being squeezed in. Chris say the rear wheel is 30” diameter and weights more than he can lift.

Geoff B – first picture following his nightmare. Then rejigged.
Second – very competent set up.
Third picture – All three holes superbly finished.

Brian M project in lockdown, a nice looking pedalo.

Geoff B new “Steam raiser”

More of Geoff B boat along with the steam engine which will power it. Looking good.

The following four pictures are John M project. Two rather nice oscillating engines made to “LBSC” design. 

John said “It was more Watch making than model engineering”.

7 1/4” Gauge Container Wagon by Kevin B.

Norman H electric 7 1/4” Electric loco, made to Norman’s design with materials in stock. Looks very good. Well done!

Mike L our newest members new workshop. Mike has completely insulated and revamped the area during Lockdown.
Looking very good. Now looking for his next project

John Cartwrights Models and Machines. Let me know if anything take’s your fancy.

Norman S project during lockdown. A “Gypsy “ caravan. Looks a very interesting project. Well done!

Mike H 0-6-2 Metre Maid and new Driving Trolley. Looking great!

Newsletter March 2020

The Chairman's Dribble.

Hello everyone! March is here, so spring is just around the corner, so summer cannot be far away. So lets hope for some nice weather. As most members know there are several events planned for the coming year, so make notes in your diary’s. Norman H and Ralph R have refurbished the foot bridge with new wooden slats all the way across and it looks a very professional job.
The railway crossing, under the guidance of Mike S and Mick W with their willing crew of workers are well on the way, so things are looking good. So all in all things are moving for-ward quite nicely. So lets hope the weather is good to us so we can have an enjoyable year. Well that’s all for now, let us all make this another good year. DM Chairman

The Secretary's Report.

The new running season is about to start again. At the track we are working hard to get every thing ready. Our plan is to finish it as soon as possible.
As you will see in the calendar dates are being added and our first day will be the Apprentice day where we would like the junior members or members who would like to drive steam engines and perhaps have not had the opportunity, only back and forth, but some experience.
I need to impress on you all, I need the Hockwold forms filled in and returned as soon as possible. Hockwold Show is on Sunday May 31st, so if you want to exhibited then please do your form and let me have it. The FRIDAY May 8th VE celebration day, nothing concrete here yet but a celebration perhaps to be-hold!.
Remember our website We still do Mondays and Saturdays and perhaps Wednesday when the weather is kinder. Will let you know MW

Annual New Year Lunch.

This year’s Lunch was held at the Santon Downham Village Hall on the 12th January 2020, the caterer’s provided us with a selection of dishes which made this meal for £15.00 a very special meal. There was a bar where you could buy what ever drinks you wanted and there certainly was not the hustle and bustle of our previous venue. We were all together and feel that it was somewhat special. The meal was served very promptly and it was hot and all very nice, and looking round the plates which were empty, perhaps meaning it was good, or everyone was really hungry or we were not served a lot and could have done with some more, very much a long way from the truth, but I did not have any complaints so, it would seem you all had a good meal.
It was certainly different all being together and it was I hope a success. This year we had 46 persons attend and we could probably have had perhaps another 16 so maximum 62, without being overcrowded, still that’s for the future. We had a few engineering jokes read out, not much laughter. But it put things in order for Dave M address, Thank You, Dave. Enclosed are three pictures, just to show you all, the ambience of the place. MW thanks to Gill F and John M for the pictures.

Track Report

During the last few months the lean too has been completed and is a very good addition to our storage problems. It needs some tinkering, Paul B is adding some lights and Geoff E is going to add some rails so we can keep our members trollies and the like, in a bit more se-cure place than in the tunnel, so watch this space.

The Crossing

The crossing is coming on a pace. The hard core and sharp sand has been purchased and delivered ready for making the foundations really solid. The metal has been purchased and being worked on, the crossing has been dug out to the chalk with the help from Shaun C, Dad’s digger, oh, so much easier than digging and wheelbarrowing the spoil away. The old broken kerb stones are being laid in the bottom of the footings and at present this is up to date where we are.
The rails are being made, but most days have been too cold, too wet and too windy to do any welding, but we will get there. Mike S is drilling and milling the 3.8metres rails for the crossing at home and when this is complete we will purchase the railway sleepers . All in all we coming on exceptionally well with a very good set of worker each working day. We are doing Mondays and Saturdays at present and hopefully when the weather is kinder to us, Wednesday will be back, but watch this space.
Below is a couple of pictures of the digging out process.

We dug out the crossing to the chalk, which was about 24” deep we then “Whacked “ it and laid all the broken kerb stones and blocks in the bottom, we then filled in the gaps with a fine layer of sand ready for the ballast to come next.

We are going to include a walk way or zebra crossing for people to cross on, run-ning next to the bridge, a me-tre wide, this will be block paving we have acquired , thanks to Norman H the crossing will be approximate-ly 12 feet wide, to our metric men about/ not exactly. 3.64m

The crosses are our levels, these horizontal pieces of wood are the rail hights from either side. Here Geoff B is “ Whacking “ the ballast down hard and flat. Still more to come but the weather this month has been a right Pain.

This is one of the longer sleepers being set up ready to mill the top and bottom slots in the side, this will give us a groove which we can bolt a piece of 60mm x 12mm x 1metre long bar on each side allowing us to join two sleep-ers together and butt up the kerb stones flush to the sleepers.

Another picture showing the road crossing between the blocks, the kerb stones will be laid flat side up and between the sleepers, with a centre section from the flat concrete slabs we have. On the left side will be a paved walk way made from paving blocks.

Ballast has been laid and we have been waiting for the sleepers to be milled with the side fixings to join two sleepers to-gether. This has now been completed and delivered to the track, along with the metal side straps and bolts.

The Bridge Repair

Following last year’s emergency repair, something had to be done with the bridge. We have purchased some very adequate timber for the job and this has been sawn up and painted ready to be fixed across the walkway of the bridge. We have also, well Geoff E has welded a strong central angle along the whole width of the bridge the make the tim-bers more stable, see below the pictures. This is an ongoing project so watch this space.

The Boating Pond

We still have a bit more painting to do on the posts. The wire netting has certainly done a fantastic job, as the water is very clear and clean. The rain continues to fall and we have had to keep the level of the water below the top of the frame so we have had to pump some water out to satisfy this. The grass has started to grow and all in all this now looks a picture, instead of an eye sore / trip hazard boating lake. When the sun shines it does look very good, especially when the new plants go in, so again keep your eyes pealed.

News update due to the Coronavirus.

As you all know we are in the midst of a global epidemic where the rules are changing every single day.
You will have all seen our latest email Sunday 22/3/2020, just to remind you that Brandon & District Society of Model Engineers is now in complete shut down on all aspects for the foreseeable future.
We will of course update you as and when we hear any more from the Government to tell us when things can be reversed.
As you all probably have realised, The Mardle was mostly written before the epidemic really started, so the dates in the calendar will probably not go ahead but we will advise you as and when we know anything definite. So, we will have to play it by ear so all we can say at present is keep safe, keep calm and carry on and we hope to see you all after this “ Virus” has run its course and gone away. DM & MW