Tag Archives: 2009

Editorial: November 2009

Alan O’Rourke

What is the ideal design for a model railway layout? I suspect that there are as many answers as there are modellers, both active and armchair, and that for most, design is constrained by available space. But what if we narrow the question down to general types, rather than down to the position of each point and siding? To adapt Dean Swift’s terminology, maybe we can divide modellers into two camps: the Endists and the Rounabouters. The first group tend to be the purists, championing end-to-end layouts, on the grounds that “real” trains go from somewhere to somewhere else, and disparaging the circuit as a glorified train-set oval. The second group can retort that most end-to-end lines provide very limited runs and operating potential. Both camps are of course subdivided, and although the classical Endist design is the terminus-fiddle yard, with the hidden sidings representing the other 99.9% of the prototype network, with more space one can develop refinements like intermediate stations or even an independent branch. Some modellers will favour a through station, with fiddle yards at each end, especially if they have a very long, thin space, such as the top of bookcases. However, at this stage some two thirds of the layout may be hidden behind back-scenes, and a neater solution may be for the “snake” to swallow its tail, producing a continuous line, with one set of hidden loops at the back. Indeed, this is a common exhibition layout, but rather than tail-chasing, most operate with a sequence of alternating clockwise and anti-clockwise services.

In the early model railway press, a fair amount of space was devoted to layout designs, and at one stage, I think the old Model Railway News offered its readers a guinea for any of their ideas it published. Three things strike you about these designs of fifty years or more ago.

First, they set out to invert the old Euclidean rule about a line being the shortest distance between two points, by deliberately devising the longest run in a restricted space, typically six or eight feet by four feet. The resulting “point to point” design was often a sort of spiral, with the two termini close, or even adjacent, but possibly on different levels, and the train completed a sort of two-twist cork screw to get between them. Other variants were the “out and back” where a reverse loop (assuming you knew how to wire such a device), or a line diagonally across the circuit, allowed a train to leave the terminus in one direction, and come back pointing the opposite way. Incidentally, although in full size practice true circuits are limited to such oddities as the Circle Line, there are a number of “out and back” loops, such as the Cathcart suburban line and the North Kent. Another common design, was a circuit with a junction and a terminus, possibly high level over the fiddle yard, or if space permitted two termini, with the junctions arranged do that a train could run from one to the other, with as many runs round the circuit as the operator desired, plus “short” working (on many of these designs very short workings) between terminal and junction stations. Similarly, the classic end-to-end scheme can be twisted unto L and U configurations to fit specific sites.

The second observation is that many of these schemes were quite complex, in terms of laying out curves, calculating gradients and building embankments and bridges, to carry one line over another. Edward Beal produced a very sophisticated design in the Railway Modeller for May 1950, which packed a 00 system, incorporating a terminus, medium sized locomotive depot, out-and-back circuit, reverse loop, passing station and intermediate sidings to a factory, into 12’ x 8’ folding baseboard. Which brings me to the final point: although occasionally the magazines might feature a layout of the month which was derived from an earlier published plan, these projects rarely progressed from paper to construction. I suspect that the designs, however sophisticated and tempting they might look in terms of operation, were just too daunting in civil engineering terms for most modellers who stuck to their orthodox terminus-fiddle yard or circuit layouts.

Alan O’Rourke

 

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Table of Contents: May 2009

May 2009


Contents:
 
Editorial – Alan O’Rourke
A Pair of CDR ‘Twins’ – Paul Titmuss
Some Irish Conversions – Denis Grimshaw
A Rake of Coaches… – John Mayne
Hints on Putting Together Etched Brass Coach Kits – Jeremy Fletcher

Converting the Murphy 141 Class Diesel to 21mm Gauge – Denis Bates
Something New; Something Old – David Malone
GNR Butter Van – Alan O’Rourke
Lineside Details: GSWR Mileposts – Alan O’Rourke
Norwich to… Cultra? – Steve Rafferty
Something a Bit Bigger…
The UTA’s Finest Train – Colm Flanagan
Building a Worsley Works CIE ‘G’ Class – Jeremy Fletcher
Locomotive Portrait
News & Views
Book & DVD Reviews
Wagon Portrait
Scale Drawings – Ballymena & Larne 2-6-0ST

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Editorial: May 2009

Alan O’Rourke

It is now ten years since I took over the post of editor of New Irish Lines, and I am rather aware that my little musings are usually of a retrospective nature, so it may be rather refreshing to have a future orientated editorial for a change. In short, the newsletter is joining the twenty-first century, maybe just a few years late, by going on-line. For some years, we have had a web-presence courtesy of Allen Worsley and Stephen Johnson, and these have brought many enquiries and quite a few confirmed subscriptions over the years. However, we now have our very own website, the url for which will appear on the cover from now on: https://newirishlines.org/

Most of the November 2008 issue is now up. I am very grateful to our member Patrick Conboy, who is the author of our web-pages and has spent a great deal of his time over the last few months developing the site. Please pay it a visit, look around and leave comments. As you will see, we have several add-on features, such as the chance to leave comments on specific articles and to start discussion threads.

However, to allay any fears, this does not mean that we are abandoning the printed version of the newsletter. While not wishing to create a two tier system of membership, there simply are some things that can be done on-line and which are impossible to achieve in a paper-based journal which only comes out every six-months, such as up to date press releases and notices of exhibitions. You may also note the option for paying by PayPal, which I hope to have running soon, which may solve the problem of paying in currencies other than Sterling or Euros. For this year, we will run the website along side the paper version. I will send on Patrick the text from this issue: please let me know if any of you who have kindly contributed material for this issue object to your work going on the website, and from now on, unless other wise informed, I will assume that all contributions can duly go on our website.  Just to be sure, I did check with all our authors for November 2008 before forwarding the material to Patrick! Also, in case anyone worries that we have broken the bank going on-line, the cost of registering the domain is less than £20 per annum, and not much more that the telephone expense of running the newsletter, in answering enquiries and chasing up articles.

However, as any of you who look at our annual balance sheet which appears in the November issue will know, some 90% of all the newsletter’s expenses go on just two items: postage and printing. The University Print Unit here in Sheffield has proved very competitive over the years and the cost of each issue has proved very stable. But, post is quite another matter: despite all the claims that the British economy is now entering a period of deflation, the Post Office has just increased most of its charges by about 8%. The revised subscription rates do allow us some leeway, but another substantial increase will probably require another rise in subscriptions to balance the books. But, since the main costs of the newsletter are on printing and stamps, if we move to a state where some members choose to download the newsletter from the website, we could offer a much lower subscription rate to such folk. This is not favouritism: it just recognises that we have by-passed the post-man and shifted the cost of printing to the subscriber. The other overheads for the newsletter are very modest. You will note that the website is not pass-word protected. Patrick and I discussed this, and we felt that using passwords might be un-necessarily complex; they can get shared and abused anyway. Moreover, I would like the website to be open to all, including the casual browser who may or may not want to become a regular subscriber. Again, since if at all possible I send enquirers a complementary specimen back number, access to an on-line copy will actually save me work and the newsletter postage. We do hope that most subscribers will be willing to make a small payment, either by the current means or via PayPal, to offset the annual fee for the web site and the other modest overhead for the newsletter.

So, for 2009 we will run paper and website along side. Please visit the website, explore and send comments to me or to Patrick at newirishlines@gmail.com. From 2010 onwards,we may be in a positon to offer alternative paper and web-based subscriptions, but rest assured that there are no plans to discontiue the “hard copy” for all members who prefer to continue to receive New Irish Lines in that format.

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