London MEX at Alexandra Palace

London MEX at Alexandra Palace

The annual exhibition at Alexandra Palace in London is always a worth looking forward to. With many models and suppliers to explore, it’s also an occasion to see friends and make new ones. Whilst it can be said that therewas not a huge amount of road or rail steam in the sizes that most of us in theclub play with, there was still a few gems to be found within the selectionpresent. I’m sorry to say that due to my inadequate photography skills and the iffy light in the exhibition hall, I was unable to get many photographs.

A 5” gauge Bulleid “Pacific”under construction was displayed on a very neat revolving stand. This allowed us to view underneath the loco to examine much fine a fiddly work. This model is fitted with outside and inside Walchaerts valve gear, with a set of gear for each cylinder. Fine gland construction and springs were noted. The pony truck as shown from beneath revealed just how much work goes into this part of the loco alone.

Adjacent to this loco was a very nice 5” gauge BR Class 7 “Oliver Cromwell”. A mighty beast indeed. Staying with rail steam, the Gauge 1 boys were once again putting on a great display. These diminutive meths-fired locos looked great pulling scale coaches and wagons. A Stanier rebuilt LMS Royal Scot looked and sounded very nice as it effortlessly steamed around the track.

Even smaller than Gauge 1, the OO gauge live steamers showed their miniscule yet impressive locos, with an A4 and an A3 chuffing around the layout in a manner that I’m sure Gresley would have been astounded at!

On the other end of the spectrum of gauges was the 10 ¼” gauge Society’s stand. The loco on display this year was a model of a GER G15 tram as supplied to the Wisbech & Upwell tramway, as well as docks around the east coast of the Anglia region. Although powered by electric motors and not prototypical steam, it was a very attractive rendition of these little trams.

There was not a large road steam contingent present, although there was a selection of engines there. A 4” scale Burrell Scenic showman’s made to the STW kits was finely turned out, as were a couple of 4 ½” Burrell agriculturals. A 3” scale Foden tractor was resplendent in its Great Eastern blue and sign writing.

The Tamiya Trucks whilst not on the radar for many model engineers were very well laid out and were happily entertaining the younger visitors…as well as the old! A 360 excavator was seen loading a six-wheel Mercedes lorry with soil. This seemed to captivate many bystanders, including a few that could be described as dyed-in-the-wool model engineers. It just shows that we’re all just keen on toys, no matter what they are!

Many model boats were on display, from exquisite model steam launches to battleships and tugs. The hydroplane stand was once again showing videos of their craft in action; all terrifyingly fast!

Of the club stands present, one of the best must have been from the St Albans club. A refreshing diversity of exhibits form standard and narrow gauge locos (one of the best probably being a model of “Locomotion”) to stationary engines driven by hot air, internal combustion as well as steam. A very impressive display indeed.

Other things to be seen were several 3-D printers at work. A fascinating technology and one that I’ sure we will see more of in the near future. Ornamental turning and engraving was also on display. One piece of brilliant whimsy was a machine created to solve real Rubik’s Cubes. The machine itself was made of Meccano and was driven by a computer and camera combination. Wonderful stuff!

Once again it was a pleasure to see these lovely models and chat with the exhibitors and fellow visitors alike.

Kev B – 2016

Model Railway Exhibition – Wales

Model Railway Exhibition - Wales

National Slate Museum, Llanberis, Wales

“What has a railway event in North Wales got to do with our club here in sunny Suffolk?” I hear you cry. Well, over many years now I and other club members have attended and exhibited at this exhibition. Locos of various gauges have been displayed and used here including steam, petrol and electric. I exhibited both my model Burrell Scenic showman’s and my Burrell agricultural engine at shows here in the past. One of our club coaches even had its test run here about twelve years ago!

Hosted by the National Slate Museum at Gilfach Ddu near Llanberis, between the Snowdon and Elidir mountains, it coincides with the half-term holidays. This is indeed a majestic setting. The museum is housed in the workshop buildings of the old Dinorwig slate quarry, and it is a fascinating place to visit. The quarry closed in 1969 and the museum was established soon after. Much of the original equipment is still in its original location. This includes the machine shop, pattern shop, forge and foundry. Power for the machinery came from a 50’ waterwheel made in Caernarfon by De Winton & Co (of vertical boilered loco fame!) and a lot of line shafting! The big waterwheel was made redundant when a smaller but more efficient Pelton waterwheel was installed. The De Winton wheel is still in situ, it still turns and you can walk around it; very impressive! Everything for the quarry was made here. Even the window frames had their patterns made here and were cast here, too. A brilliant place to visit if you’re in the area.

The railway exhibition this year included some lovely scenic layouts in OO gauge, a great 16mm layout with many narrow gauge steam and battery electric locos running, and a 5” gauge railway giving rides outside.

The museum itself owns a collection of very nice model locos, including a 5” gauge Quarry Hunslet. This model is based on a class of engine similar to the museum’s full size Quarry Hunslet “Una” of 1905. Many engines similar to “Una” were to be seen working here at Dinorwig during the quarry’s working days, chugging about up on the galleries of the mountain itself. What a sight they must’ve made! “Una” was in steam during the model exhibition and looked just right in her industrial setting. A few years ago I had a ride on the new section of the neighbouring Llanberis Lake Railway on the footplate of this great little engine; brilliant fun!

The event was accompanied by some typical Welsh weather so it was difficult to get many photos of the goings-on outside. However the damp conditions did make it very atmospheric! We all had a great time here, talking to the visitors and enjoying the company of the museum staff, many of whom are ex-quarry workers. Demonstrations of slate dressing and splitting were seen and I’m always impressed with the skills on show. It’s incredible to think of the thousands and thousands of slates a man would’ve split in his working life.

My thanks to Paul and all those who made this such an enjoyable event.

Peter Ba – April 2016

Stradsett Park Vintage Rally

Stradsett Park Vintage Rally

Now that we are caravan owners, please try to keep the sniggers to a minimum! we have decided to visit more local rallies/gatherings with our 3” Traction engine “Scallywag” one that came to mind was the Stradsett Rally, held on the first bank holiday weekend in May. So back in darkest January we sent off the downloaded form, which was obtained from the clubs excellent website ( and sometime later an entry pass and guidance paperwork dully arrived in the post. Indecently they also provide an excellent hog roast on the Sunday night for a minimal cost, pre-booking is essential for this, it’s extremely popular! The rally field is a lovely area of parkland attached to Stradsett Hall, if you know the area it’s behind the Foldgate Pub on the junction of the A1122 and the A134, a terrible junction and well known accident waiting to happen, and it did over the weekend…..

Unusually the rally runs from Sunday to the bank holiday Monday, this is ideal as we could take the caravan down on the Saturday morning set everything up and nip home to retrieve the engine later on in the day, yes I am stuck with the dreaded “Double Hauling” one day we will get it sorted out. The great advantage for the Stradsett rally is it’s only about twenty five minutes away from home, making multiple trips not such a chore.

First impressions were that while it’s not quite as big as Weeting, more the size of Strumpshaw, there is a huge range of exhibits present from Stationary engines, tractors/farm machinery to steam engines, vintage cars/bikes just about everything you would expect to see on the rally field. Steam is one of the smaller sections with only about 10-12 engines on show, interestingly there was a blue Pickfords tractor, Mick with his blue 4.5” Burrell and us with the blue 3”Minnie meaning that blue was the most common colour! Now that doesn’t happen often, Norman S and Steven came along as well, giving the bailer some exercise often attracting a large crowd of onlookers. Interestingly miniature steam was allowed to roam pretty much freely, whereas everything else was strictly tethered to the “Peg” unless on the way to the ring.

I used to work in Kings Lynn and it was lovely to bump into old friends, some I haven’t seen in fifteen odd years! So it was good on that front as well. The rally has a reputation for being extremely friendly and this was born out by the stewards who couldn’t do enough to help, I was asked several times if everything’s OK? Do you need a hand? Etc. While loading up the engine in the rain, Sharron and I were struggling getting it back on the trailer, a passer-by asked if he could help and in no time it was lashed down and ready for the road! At most rallies it seems to be everyman for himself, at the end of the day, doubly so if it’s raining! Really impressed to have some impromptu help!

It seems that getting on to the site this year was somewhat of a problem Hugh said he and the misses had queued for an hour and a half to get in the gate and about the same amount of time to get off again, it really was a popular show. The dreaded Foldgate pub junction kept to its side of the bargain and I gather there was a coming together of shiny paintwork, which neatly removed the front wheel and suspension from a passing BMW! I understand no one was hurt!

Would I go again? A definite YES. The weather held until the end of Monday, we awoke to a glorious sunny and frosty Sunday, with the wife moaning she was cold! Had to turn the central heating on! Now you don’t get that in a tent, I am warming to this caravaning lark, I must be getting old?

CMH – June 2016

Written by Steamfly

Friends & Families Invite Day May

Friends & Family Invite Day - May

With the country experiencing some of the hottest weather of the year in early May, we had high hopes that the weather gods would smile favourably on us for our Invite Day. As it happened, the aforementioned meteorological deities must’ve had the day off, as the day proved to be a bit on the windy and chilly side, with only a rare appearance on the sun. But, no matter, as we saw many engines and visitors come along to enjoy this day.

The road steam department was well attended, and was complimented by Geoff B’s lovely model Ford Model T van that was seen running around the site.

Andy has now officially named his 4 ½” Burrell agricultural “Little Robert”, and it was seen sporting it’s new nameplate that Andy made himself. The rubber strakes to the hind wheels improve driving comfort on the road whilst maintaining it’s agricultural appearance; really smart!

Alan was seen preparing wife Marian’s 4 ½” Burrell agricultural for her arrival. I’m assured that everything was present and correct when she arrived, with plenty of steam, fire, and water. Fingers crossed he’ll get his steam apprentice ticket signed soon! The engine was then enjoyed by the whole family throughout the day.

Norman and Colin had brought along the splendid 4” Foster agricultural, which was soon in steam and chuffing about.

Chris was busy steaming his 3” Minnie “Scallywag”. With its balanced crank and fine work it really does run well.

Mike H’s nephew (I’m sorry, I never got his name!) came along with his 3” Burrell agricultural and covered quite a distance on it throughout the day.

Ray also had his steam car running about; always nice to see.

On the track we had a grand selection of locos; some steam and some electric. The steaming bays were gratifyingly full!

Pete from the Fenland Light Railway and the Peterborough club is one of our regular visitors and has been for many years. He had brought along his 5” battery electric Y6 tram engine, as well as a few friends. I hope you all had fun.

Mick W had his 3 ½” A1 “Great Northern” on static display. Mick acquired this engine part-built and has made a splendid job of finishing it off.

Myles had his 7 ¼” 2-6-0 tender loco “Baloo” also on static display, showing the progress he is making in re-commissioning this cracking engine. The new copper boiler is in the process of being fitted, together with the associated fittings etc. The ashpan is set to be the next hurdle to overcome, but with the help of club members I’m certain this little job will be tackled with confidence. We can’t wait to see it in steam.

Mick W had also brought his 5” battery electric 08 shunter out for a play, together with newly acquired Klaxon hooter. We’ll certainly hear you coming now!

Fresh from the paintshop was Don’s new creation, an 0-4-0 7 ¼” battery electric shunter. Not quite finished, it was nice to see it on the track.

Hugh was seen running his 5” loco-boilered Sweet Pea. Very nicely made, this engine purrs around the track effortlessly.

It was something of a momentous day for Geoff E as he was running his 7 ¼” Porter Marie Estelle for the first time on the track. Geoff purchased the engine last year and has been working on it since. Firstly I must say that the engine looks superb with it’s new paintwork and shining brightwork; a real treat for the eye. Secondly, it runs very sweetly indeed, with evenly pronounced chuffs. The attractive lamp on the smokebox is a fine addition (every engine needs it’s lamps!) and is complete with a fully working paraffin burner inside. Very smart indeed! Geoff’s family came along as well, with Geoff’s granddaughter trying her hand at driving. In fact I think she drove it more than Geoff! It looked great running around the track with the family on board. It’s fair to say that it was a successful steaming and enjoyed by all.

Unable to bring an engine along to play with, Kev brought the driving truck for his new project, a 7 ¼” gauge Y6 steam tram. The wagon was put to use behind Geoff’s Porter and used to convey the family.

The club loco was giving rides to members and their families, with some of the youngsters having a drive, and very competent they were too.

A very fine miniature internal combustion engine was also being run by Chris. This is one of the many engines he has made over the years, and despite his protestations, it is certainly not the work of the “village idiot”! He even made the spark plug! It ran really well and entertained quite a large crowd. To control such a crowd perhaps the next running of this engine should be a ticket-only affair; be sure to get your tickets asap!!

I apologise that I never managed to photograph the lovely model boats that were on the pond. Many people commented on how nice it was to see them.

An excellent BBQ was provided, as well as teas, coffees and cakes, so I’m sure that no one went hungry or thirsty. Many thanks to those who provided cakes and nibbles, and special thanks to those who cooked the BBQ and help to present the catering department so beautifully. A raffle was drawn, and soon after, people started thinking about packing away and heading home after another really friendly and pleasant day.

Kev B – May 2016

Friends & Families Invite Day Sept

Friends & Family Invite Day - September

The small tent was erected within the railway field and used throughout the day as the base for the refreshments area, and to provide cover for any rain showers. The refreshments were superbly laid-out, with a large selection of drinks available allowing people to help themselves during the day. Our traditional lunchtime barbecue was ably driven by Stuart and a selection of willing helpers. Once again this was a welcome addition to the day and we thank them for putting the time into making sure everyone was fed and watered. Our afternoon refreshment of cakes and biscuits was also well provisioned and our thanks go to those who provided these splendid goodies. 

Andy and Finn were seen steaming Andy’s 4 ½” Burrell agricultural around the site. A recent task of Andy’s is to get the Pickering governors working. This is not an easy job as there are many elements to contend with; the gland needs to be just loose enough but must not leak, the springs on which the weights are fixed must be not too light or too strong, and the spring on the adjuster needs to be strong enough to bring the valve down when the speed drops. He has got it working, with only the tiniest amount of adjustment required to get it governing. We look forward to perhaps seeing this perform on a sawbench or bailer.

Norman’s 4” Foster agricultural was in steam and chugging about. Having been lucky enough to have a go, this really is a lovely engine to drive; docile, responsive, and powerful. 

Geoff B had brought along his recently painted 3” scale Burrell agricultural. Finished in Burrell green with lake wheels, and together with the fine lining it looks fantastic. There is lots of clean brightwork on this engine including polished motion, levers and other parts, as well as polished eccentric straps. Consequently, with this “show finish”, I believe this engine would have been fit for displaying on Burrell’s sales stand at the local agricultural show! Geoff has also made a 3” scale traction wagon from which to drive his engine. This is a very nice addition to a very nice engine. A well-made and detailed 3” water cart makes up this very attractive set. A beautiful collection. The engine runs well, too!

Mick had his 5” gauge 08 shunter on the track, with at least one of the youngsters having a go at driving it.

Having not been able to bring it to the May invite day, Kev had brought his 5” gauge Beyer-Garratt “Shere Khan” out for a play. It is a bit time consuming to have to assemble the bits and pieces of this engine on the steaming bay, but it ensures that you can get an engine nearly 6’ long into a small car, albeit in bits! This time spent is well worth it, and the engine ran well throughout the day, with Myles having a spell at the regulator for a good deal of the afternoon. 

Chris H had left his traction engine at home, instead bringing one of his aeroplanes for a fly.

Other radio controlled items included a couple of fine model boats that were seen sailing on the pond. 

One of our newest members had brought a beautiful clock he had made. I sadly never got a chance to look at this but those who did see it said it was very impressive!

It is an understatement to say that Myles’ dad is something of an engineer, and he had on display a couple of compressed air engines he had built. Methods such as wire eroding and CNC were used and the results are very smart indeed.

“Boiler” John had the large stationary steam engines in steam which always makes for a very impressive sight, and allows for the rare opportunity to get up close and personal with them.

Resident standard gauge loco Andrew Barclay 0-4-0 “Little Barford” was in steam and chugging up and down its track. Thanks to those who were up early on a Saturday morning to get it in steam!

The raffle was drawn mid-afternoon, and we are grateful for the many prizes donated.

Once again we must thank the catering department for their great efforts in keeping appetites satisfied, and to all those who helped to make it a very enjoyable day.

Written by Kev B

Photos by John M – Sept 2016

Charles Burrell Museum Closing Event

Charles Burrell Closing Event

The following photos give a feeling for what happend at the closing event last year. We have been asked to bring engines the opening event this Easter Sunday the 16th of April 10 oclock until 3pm, it’s a very informal event and anyone can come (your engine does not need to be a Burrell!) Please make an effort to come it’s a great start to the season, around lunchtime we can have a quick run down to the “Dads Army” museum, about half a mile away mostly not on the roads.

Written by John M & Chris H – April 2016

Charles Burrell Museum Opening Event

Charles Burrell Museum Opening Event

Easter usually marks the opening of museums and attractions around the country, and the Charles Burrell Museum in Thetford is no exception. Dedicated to telling the story of the St Nicholas Works where nearly every Burrell engine was built, the museum occupies the former paint shop of this world-renowned engine maker.

The adjacent car park saw many full size and miniature engines in steam. Chris H had been instrumental in the organising of the miniature traction engine contingent, and his efforts were duly rewarded with a good array of engines turning up. Club members’ engines included Peter G’s 3” Aveling & Porter tractor, Derek’s 4” Burrell DCC, Andy’s 4 ½” Burrell agricultural, and of course Chris’s 3” Minnie “Scallywag”. Roy was also exhibiting his latest creation, a 6” scale single chain Burrell steam wagon. It was the first time I’d seen this wagon in steam and together with its matching Gold Medal traction wagon it made a very impressive sight.

Other miniature engines included a 4” Burrell Scenic showman’s road loco, a 4” Garrett agricultural, and a pair of 6” Foden wagons. One of the Fodens had been modelled with a brewers dray body; a rare and splendid thing to see. The other Foden had been recently completed and was carrying the livery of Fred Darby of Sutton, the sand, gravel and engine dealers. It ran beautifully and looked stunning with its well-executed sign writing.

The full size engines comprised the whole Burrell museum engine fleet of showman’s RL “Queen Mary”, 7nhp single crank compound traction engine, and rare DCC roller. These engines were joined by two of Richard’s Burrell traction engines, namely “Century” the oldest working Burrell in the world, and “Princess Royal”. Garrett showman’s tractor “Little Billy” from the Saunders Collection had also come along to mark the opening of the museum.

Inside the museum were displays of model railways, some wonderful prints and paintings of traction and showman’s engines, and the whole array of the museum’s own collection. Also on show was a model of the Burrell-Boydell steam tractor. This was a very interesting exhibit as it shows the complex system the “Patented Endless Railway System” of the wheels. The idea never really caught on, but we must all be grateful that someone is researching and building a miniature version of this unusual machine.

At around 12:30pm some of the miniature engines gathered outside the museum in preparation for a road run through Thetford, just as the weather took a nasty turn and the rain started; typical! The museum’s roller also went along for the run, with “Little Billy and the Foden dray also taking to the road. With most of the engines out on the run we thought we would head for home. We can only hope that those who went out on the run got back safely, enjoyed themselves, and managed to dry out quickly! (See note below).

A great opening event for the Charles Burrell Museum, with many members of the public admiring the engines, taking photos, and chatting with the engine crews. Many thanks to all those who helped to make it happen.

Kev B

Note: The road run wasn’t a huge success in that the rain came down in buckets damping enthusiasm somewhat! The route could have been planned a bit better as well, but on the whole it was a laugh, I guess that’s the main thing and best of all no one was crushed by a twenty ton lorry! It will be better next time, the last week in October, one for the diary.

CMH – April 2016