The First Annual Halloween Run 2017

The First Annual Halloween Run

A desire to have a go at playing trains and traction engines in the dark prompted this event to take place. With the track now in good fettle it is getting more and more use, so a run at night had been on the cards for a while.

We were lucky with the weather as it was a dry and relatively mild evening that saw many members turn up with or without toys. Some were suitably dressed in Halloween costumes. I happened to congratulate someone on the scary-ness of their mask, only to be told that they weren’t wearing one! Whoops!!

A number of our healthy “crop” of Sweet Peas were present, with Geoff E and Mick W bringing theirs along for a run in the spooky gloom. These 5” gauge Peas were accompanied by not only Andy’s 7 ¼” gauge version, but also Kev’s 3 ½” gauge version “Violet”, an engine that was built by Life Member Eric S. This was the engine’s first run in many years, and ran suitably well to haul Kev and his Dad around the track without fuss. No doubt a bit of tinkering will have this engine in tip-top form.

Paul B brought along his Simplex which he has recently finished and has just started steaming.

Ken had brought along what could only be described as the spookiest thing on rails! Yes, we had a proper ghost train!

Road steam was well represented, with Terry’s 6” Garrett tractor, Chris H’s “Scallywag”, and Geoff B’s 3” Burrell “Albert”. Geoff really came prepared for his night time run, and with his lights shining, took the engine for a long drive around the site, past the timber yard, down past the standard gauge railway, up the roadway and back to inside our track. Fantastic!

It was great to see the family of our late Chairman Peter N arrive, complete with one of Peter’s engines, a 3 ½” “Lilla”. With some assistance the engine was steamed to allow the family to take it in turns driving it around the track. All systems worked fine and the whole family seemed really pleased to have driven it. A very poignant and emotive moment for all concerned.

Stationary steam was well represented, and while Boiler John had the big boilers in steam adjacent to the timber yard, Peter Ba has his recently-acquired miniature steam plant running near the picnic table. This is another engine that Eric had made, and some of those present on Saturday reminisced of the numerous times Eric used to steam it at Weeting. It runs beautifully and it was great to see it in steam again.

Chris had brought one of his r/c aircraft for a fly. It was suitably bedecked with numerous coloured lights, and looked quite the picture as it zoomed around the sky. We also saw a couple of lovely r/c boats on the pond, with at least one whose on-board lights shone up very well in the evening dark.  

Fresh from it’s appearance at the Burrell Museum’s End Of Season Steam Up, Richard’s Burrell crane engine “Lord Derby” trundled down to the track to see us. This engine had covered some miles during the day having roaded from Weeting to Thetford and back again. Quite a task with a two-speed engine with no springs!

Fish and chips were organised by Mick W, and liquid refreshment was as usual in the capable hands of John. We thank both of these members for playing their parts to keep us fed and watered.

Engines were in steam and running until well after dark, and everyone present seemed to have a great time. There was a great atmosphere, especially with the evening air turning the engines’ exhausts into billowing clouds of steam.

We must mention our newest member, “Barry”, and his dog “Boneo”. We hope they enjoyed themselves. I’m also hoping that they managed to eat their fish and chip suppers, as by the looks of them they could both do with a good meal!

Many thanks to everyone that organised, supported and came along to make this club event a great success and a night to remember. I’m already looking forward to next year’s Halloween Run!

Kev B Oct 2017

Live Steam Club, Riba Roja de Turia, Spain

Live Steam Club, Riba Roja de Turia, Spain

On a recent holiday to see our daughter Paula and her husband Ian who live in Valencia, Spain she arranged for us to visit a live steam club in Riba Rojo.  We were greeted by Esteban who spoke odd words of English but Paula was able to translate for us . Esteban showed us the warehouse/ workshop which was very impressive not only for the range of machinery but also the cleanliness and storage for members and club locos. The riding trollies  were very colourful and had been built in such a way that they could be stacked for storage.

I was  then introduced  to Fidelio who was pleased to be able to practise his English skills. He was working on the electronics of a model diesel/electric loco, it was powered by a petrol engine driving an alternator which fed to a large transformer and then rectified through a diode bank and then

controlled by a pulse width modulator unit to control the speed of the loco. After spending about 20 minutes with Fidelio we were then introduced to the president of the club, Fernando who was able to tell us  about the set-up of the club which is run as a charity and is in a small park and funded by the local municipal (council), it has approx. 650-700 metres of track running through trees and passing 2 large ponds. The trains circulate in both directions so there is a communication system between the 6 stations with a set of LED signals at various points along the track and guards at every crossing for safety. There were many ladies present helping run the station, drive loco’s as well as helping with maintenance of the engines and riding trollies. 

Fernando then offered us a coffee in their club room which also has a fully fitted kitchen with fridge freezer and cooking facilities. We were then asked if we would like a ride on a steam loco which was owned by Juan and took him 3 years to build. While waiting for the loco to come back into the station we counted 4 electric locos with 8 riding trollies each being loaded with passengers plus there were 2 more locos driving around the track. The riding trollies carry 2 adults or  2 children  and I adult; Children are not allowed to ride on their own. The trip around the track was very smooth because of the concrete foundation strip that the track was on; the track was made of the same material as ours all welded construction. Juan spoke no English and I spoke no Spanish but we understood what each was saying about the locomotive which was a 2-10-0  tender coal fired steam (vaporista)  and had a steam operated water pump which he had made and was very proud of. See photo below.

The trains only run on Sundays between 11a.m. and 1.30p.m. and the local Mayor has asked for more running time , but the members have refused as it is manned by volunteers. During 2016 they carried approx. 40,000 passengers at  2 Euros for adults and 1 Euro for children.

We had a very enjoyable afternoon and have an open invitation to return next year with an offer of driving a steam loco which Paula will be arranging for us.

Centro Ferroviario Vaporista de Riba-roja de Turia (CFVRT)

Friends & Families Invite Day Sept

Friends & Families Invite Day Sept

Fabulous sunshine emerged from the earlier mist to grace our invite day with perfect weather. It was certainly very welcome!

As today was one of our dedicated days when we can get together and play engines, it was hoped to have a goodly contingent of engines and toys of various types, as well as a varied collection of drivers. Today’s turnout did not disappoint, as we saw railway locos of many methods of propulsion, road steam, as well as a small flotilla of boats on the pond. We also saw many people trying their hands at engine driving for the first time and thoroughly enjoying themselves. We were even lucky enough to have a few visitors from neighbouring clubs join us with their engines. The resident standard gauge loco “Little Barford” was also in steam, chugging up and down its track with its wagon. The skies above us also buzzed to the presence of model aircraft. In summary, a good selection of toys, that is best shown in photos than described in words.

The catering department really went to town and provided us with a splendid spread. Roast pork rolls, baked potatoes, coleslaw and all the trimmings made for a very impressive and civilised al fresco lunch. Cake soon followed, and I’m sure I speak for all when I say that the food was excellent, and we heartily thank all those that helped to provide this glorious repast. Outstanding!

Among the engines present were a few rarities. Not only did we have a good selection of club members’ engines, we had among the visitors a 7 ¼” gauge GER T26 and a 4” scale Dodman single crank compound traction engine.

The T26 was a very beautiful engine to behold, ably demonstrating the style of locomotives made at the very end of the Victorian period. I was lucky enough to have a drive of this delightful engine and I can report that it runs like a Swiss watch, with, as LBSC would say, “good even puffs”.

Dodmans only constructed one traction engine using their design of single crank compound engine. This engine does not survive, so we must seek out the rarely seen model versions to get an idea of what they were like. It wasn’t just Burrell’s of Thetford that came up with a design to link the two pistons of a compound cylinder block to a single connecting rod and thus only a single crank on the crankshaft. However it was Burrell’s that filed for the patent, and they sufficiently “leant” on Dodmans so that Dodmans never built more than their original engine. Consequently it was great to have this model to look at and enjoy.

I think it’s fair to say that we all had a fun day, enjoying watching the engines going by, a great lunch, the glorious weather, and a jolly good chinwag! Many thanks to all who made it possible.

Thanks to Kev B for this write up – below is some of his pictures.

The Fun day  started early  Mike S and MickW with  Stuart F arriving  at the track about 7.45am. We had one gas barbeques, one spare gas cylinder, 10kilos of Pork Shoulder , about 60 gigantic potatoes, the same amount of sweet corn, 6 pints of milk and a few other things like butter, sauces and the like , We set up Mike S barbeque first to get the 10kilos of Shoulder started, by we were up to temperature and the meat was cooking.

Next the Marque was loaded  on the trailer and the marque was up, Dave M had arrived Ralph R Geoff E and Geoff B had also arrived. Still much to be done, StuartF and I left to pick up my barbeque from home to cook the potatoes, all these had to be oiled and wrapped in silver foil, at this time we realised that  we had no room for the corn on the cob, so Ralph R went home to get his Barbeque, John C was brewing up it was about 10am, it felt like 2pm. Many more people were arriving and first electric loco’s started rolling, soon the steam loco’s were also running, we had several Traction Engines running and the weather had turned from early mist and fog to a really superb late summers day.

More food arrived and the tables were set up. in and around the marque, Raffle prizes  were shown on a separate table , we even had a few flowers dotted around on the tables.

By this time the smell from the barbies was such that there was some expectation. It just needs me to say, Thank you Mike S, a superb roast, Thank you Gill F for the salad and

coleslaw,  Thank you Stuart F for the slicing of the meat, Thank you to the two young ladies who did the raffle tickets, a superb effort.

And thank you also to every one who made this event a very special occasion.

Visitors from Cambridge MES bought a Class 90, Two people from Halesworth MES had arrived and were all greeted by Mike H who was there on hand to guild them through what had been done at the track since they were last here. We had a superb engine from Ipswich MES  a GER T26 and this chap was very willing to allow everyone who wanted to drive it drive it, a very large 7 1/4 locomotive in very nice GER blue with red lining.

At stages there were many engines going round, even some young drivers.

Ray R steam car was running , Little Barford was giving rides and it had to be said every one had a very pleasant day.

This newsletters ditty:

As a vegan, I think people who sell meat are disgusting.

But apparently people who sell vegetable’s are grocer.

Four pictures above show what a diverse club we are , all from our fun day.

We are continuing to stock the garden plot on the right hand side of the track near the gantry Here is Geoff B in his other role planting some 50 or so Daffodil and Tulip bulbs. This should give us an early splash of colour next year.

View more pictures from the day in out Gallery below.

A Tale of a Burrell 4.5″ Traction Engine

A Tale of a Burrell 4.5" Traction Engine


As a boy, as we all no doubt did, I had the normal Mecanno, Lego, Airfix and Mamod to play with. It all faded into history until later. Having joined the RAF in 1975 I felt I had time on my hands and turned to radio control to pass the evenings and built several cars and planes, some of which were more successful than others. Marriage claimed me at the tender age of 25 and all time for models was lost. Time past until my eye was caught by a car. A kit car. 6 years of toil and saving and very dirty hands ended with a Shelby Cobra replica which went like the wind and I was happy.

It was, thinking back, the early 80’s when a work colleague asked if I would like to attend the Model Engineering Exhibition with him and I thought ‘it’s a day out’. My interest in steam began during this visit. I had money in my pocket and I wasn’t going home empty handed so the lot was blown on a set of Stuart Turner 10V castings. Upon getting home and admiring my purchase I did wonder how I was going to do this with a claw hammer, a set of wood chisels and a tenon saw? It took 2 years, with the aid of a second hand Unimat, to finish – and it worked, I was chuffed. 
Time moved on and the Cobra was sold in deference to an MGC which was built and fettled to hillclimb and sprint. But during this period several more trips to model shows ensued and a set of Stuart Turner half beam castings seemed to have crept into the house (they must have followed me home). Ah. That won’t fit on a Unimat! Under the bench it went for 3-4 years until we moved into a property that had been the house of an architect. Said architect worked from home and so had an office attached to the garage – I had a workshop at last. No time was wasted in the purchase of a Chester 3 in 1 machine and the beam engine was started and, a year later, finished to my satisfaction.
Due to work commitments my modelling was put on hold. It was further hampered by my ‘domestic engineer’ deciding that she would like another car – yes, I was on the kit car trail again…………..
The next year was spent in the garage producing for her a Porsche 365 Speedster from the Chesil Company. Being VW Beetle based it was a little easier than the first time round and so completed in a fraction of the time, AND I’d earned significant brownie points into the bargain…..with these brownie points in the bank my thoughts turned to modelling again when I started going to steam rallies as well as model exhibitions. Rather liking the idea of a little traction engine I started looking and finally deciding, for my first attempt, on a Durham and North Yorks in 2” scale as this could be machined on the Chester Model B. Plans were purchased and avidly perused. I then took my wife to a steam rally and she liked the little engines but when I showed her the one I was going to build she was not very impressed with it, saying ‘I thought it was that size’, pointing to a 4”. Nough said. I was going to cash in my aforementioned brownie points. 2” drawings sold on fleaBay,
Plans for new workshop drawn up and approved, and new workshop built. All I had to do now was fill it with the required items of machinery and look at the several 4” scale engines on offer. The workshop slowly filled with big bits of ‘stuff’ as she called them. Right, the Plastow 4 ½” Burrell it is. Seemed to be a proven design and looked reasonably easy to build (well, on the drawings it did). I was ready to start ‘the big build’ until my eye caught an ad in a copy of Old Glory for a 4” Burrell SCC. A full set of castings, wheel rims, spokes, set of drawings and a boiler, it was all there. It was a good price so I went down south to have a look and returned home with a very heavily laden, suspension-less, Volvo estate car. I was on my way to heaven (or was it hell?). It’s been about 10 years since I embarked on this project now with a few hiccups along the way it’s looking like an engine rather than a pile of bits. One thing I did not reckon with though was the purchase of a new boiler. The one supplied did not come up to scratch. Having been a bit worried with its appearance in general I sought the advice of a professional inspector who realised my worst nightmare – ‘not fit for purpose’ in his opinion. Bugger………….. AJB supplied a new boiler and I was sort of back on track.
So basically, apart from a few bespoke engines scratch built from various drawings in magazines and books, this will be my third attempt at a ‘proper’ model and I hope it works when I’m done.
Written by Steve – Jan 2017

London MEX at Alexander Palace

London MEX at Alexandra Palace

The following pictures were taken by Kev B ay the Latest London ME show.

1) Three views of a 3 ½” gauge US Challenger, an enormous engine in full-size so it makes an enormous model this gauge.
 i) The valves on the steam fountain are worked by radio control servos; clever!
 ii) A very long tender with many many wheels!
iii) Side view of the loco; note the length and shallowness of the fire box.
2) 5” gauge standard gauge Beyer-Garratt similar to the full-size version “William Francis” that is in Bressingham museum.
3) A beautiful 2” scale Fowler Z7S ploughing engine as seen on the excellent Chelmsford club stand. These were the largest of the Fowler ploughers made by this famous firm form Leeds. The “S” stands for superheated. Superheating was very rarely used on overtype road steam vehicles. The model was displayed with some of the patterns made for the cylinder block.
Written by Kev B – Feb 2017