The Ulpha Light Railway

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Armchair Modeller
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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Fri Aug 17, 2018 11:38 am

Just to (hopefully) tie up the origins of the Ulpha Light Railway, we should remember that the concept was conceived by the Norwood MRC way back around 1990. It was their idea to call the layout 'The Ulpha Light Railway'. They put their version of the history in print in issue 3 of Rail Model Digest. This specifically included the idea that the Light Railway Order was applied for in order to run passenger trains. They don't mention under what powers the original waggonway and later railway were constructed. I am very keen to keep the title of the layout, for sentimental reasons. Had they just called it 'Ulpha', for example, I would have had far more flexibility in filling in the gaps in its imaginary history.

Having considered the various alternatives, I think the wayleave/cooperative landowners idea fits best for the original line. When the status was changed to a Light Railway, access issues etc. would in all likelihood have been sorted out once and for all, as a matter of necessity.

If we examine the concept in microscopic detail, then I think other 'problems' loom far larger - most notably the location of a limestone quarry in the middle of a valley where there is no limestone. I have absolutely no answer at all to that one!

kelham
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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby kelham » Sat Aug 18, 2018 6:33 pm

Some early mineral railways were built under the terms of The Regulation of Railways Act, 1868 which didn't usually allow for the transport of passengers – hence the need for a Light Railway Order later. This is from memory – I would advise anyone thinking of invoking this to check it out first!


Richard

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Noel
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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Noel » Sat Aug 18, 2018 8:30 pm

kelham wrote:the terms of The Regulation of Railways Act, 1868 which didn't usually allow for the transport of passengers – hence the need for a Light Railway Order later. This is from memory – I would advise anyone thinking of invoking this to check it out first!


The original text of this Act is available here https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Vict/31-32/119/contents/enacted. I haven't gone through it in detail, but Section V - Light Railways has no restriction on passenger traffic; indeed para 28 refers specifically to carriages. The major difference from the 1896 Act in this context, so far as I know, is the 1896 Act avoided the need for an Act of Parliament, whereas the 1868 Act required the builders or operators to have the necessary legal authority to build or operate before applying to the BoT.
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Noel

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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Sat Aug 18, 2018 9:36 pm

1868 would be very late for the original waggonway and post-dates the conversion to a railway too, I am afraid. Many thanks for the suggestion all the same. :thumb

I have moved on to thinking about how to construct the wooden waggonway bridge and the layout of the yard around the existing mill building. For the bridge, I am reasonably convinced that balsa will do the job quite well, having done a couple of little experiments with the stuff. I will have a go at cutting the components to size tomorrow, hopefully.

Research into bobbin mills brought this book to my attention. It arrived today and is a fascinating read. The book includes detailed information of every aspect of the working of a bobbin mill, including site plans and how the coppice poles were stacked in the coppice barns. Combining this with the information I gleaned from my visit to Stott Park, I am beginning to get to grips with what exactly I need to finish off a model of a fully working bobbin mill.

The bobbin mill model built by John Birkett for Ulpha is at the smaller end of the spectrum. The closest in size that I could find much information about is the one at Howk Mill, Caldbeck. This is now just a shell, having closed in 1924. Unusually, there are several good images online from when it was still active, like this one, complete with its giant 42ft waterwheel...

Caldbeck Howk Hist-005.jpg
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Using Howk as a guide, I can size and arrange the other buildings around the yard - but not the waterwheel, which was more or less unique! The main additions required are several coppice barns - the sheds used to store and season the wood. Other essentials seem to include a weighbridge, a sawing shed and a blacksmith's shop. There was a very small wood store on the original model. What is evident from photos is that Ulpha needs much more.

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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Sun Aug 19, 2018 7:45 pm

The wet weather held off today, so I braved the outdoors and cut the wood for the jig for the new baseboards backs and assembled it.

A long time ago I explained that I thought a curved backscene would suit the layout better than the straight ones installed when the baseboards were built. The baseboards are set at a slight angle to each other, so the current backscene changes angle sharply at each baseboard joint. Curved backscenes could also be lighter and stronger - an important consideration when the baseboards are so heavy.

The jig is 'T' shaped, with a backbone of 2 pieces of curved 9mm ply, separated by 70mm timber offcuts. The face of the jig is 6mm ply, with a generous overhang at the top and bottom, so that I can clamp the layers of the baseboard back assemblies together whilst the glue sets. I am currently waiting 24 hours for the glue on the jig to dry. I shall then paint the jig to ensure that the baseboard backs don't stick to the jig.

Ulph058.jpg
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Terry Bendall
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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Terry Bendall » Mon Aug 20, 2018 6:56 am

Armchair Modeller wrote: I shall then paint the jig to ensure that the baseboard backs don't stick to the jig.


There are two ways to avoid this problem. One is to put sheets of newspaper between the curved face of the jig and the plywood. Some of it will probably stick either to the jig or the work but it can easily be sanded off. The alternative is to use a piece of polythene sheet. Even if painted there will still be a tendency for glue to stick to the jig.

Terry Bendall

CornCrake
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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby CornCrake » Mon Aug 20, 2018 9:55 am

I would second the use of polythene if you are using PVA woodworking glue.

Assuming that you are laminating a number of layers of thin plywood, you might like to try using atmospheric pressure instead of clamps.

In the past I have successfully used Clothes Storage Vacuum Bags to act as a "Bag" press.

You can get quite large bags that you just connect to a vacuum cleaner, and the clamping pressure is applied evenly across the surface.

The cheaper bags are made of thinner polythene and are prone to puncture so only good for a one tome use, whereas the more expensive ones tend to be made of thicker polythene and last a bit longer.

Use some lengths of crepe bandage to hold the glued sheet to your jig, including a longitudinal one. The crepe helps extracting the air evenly out of the bag.

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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Mon Aug 20, 2018 5:49 pm

Thanks both for the recommendations re laminating ply. I have a fair experience of laminating ply before, but never with a dedicated former. I shall certainly take on board the polythene sheet idea.

Absolute precision and perfection are not essential in this instance, as the structure will be at the back of the layout and far from prying eyes. I find the idea of vacuum bags fascinating, but maybe slightly OTT for my needs in this instance. Thanks anyway for the idea :thumb

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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Wed Aug 22, 2018 9:13 pm

I have now received the pack of Busch ferns and mushrooms. The ferns come as individual fronds. The idea is the drill holes in the ground and plant enough fronds to make each plant. As with the Noch paper ferns, I don't really think they look convincing. I am very tempted to find some of the fine moss Steve referred to in a previous post. Apart from the huge advantage of being free, they would hopefully show a little more variation in size and detail than the commercial products.

Ulph059.jpg
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I have finally put the curved baseboard jig to the test. Here is the first panel on the jig, awaiting the glue to fully set. I am afraid my clamp collection is very much at the lower end of people's aspirations, but they do seem to be doing the job!

Ulph060.jpg
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I had a go at the wooden waggonway bridge. The plan was to do an experimental test model first before building the proper one, as I had not played with balsa wood since I was a kid. The test model seems to be working out quite well though, so I may use it on Ulpha. So far I have made the deck and the two trestles. The ends of the bridge will be supported by masonry. The biggest challenge will be making the metal sockets holding the support struts. Still scratching my head over that one.

Ulph061.jpg
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I have received some of the new HUO hopper wagons. These will suit the BR period, as some were used for stone traffic. I am not an expert by any means, but these models really do look good. The wheels are very fine. I may try taking a tiny amount off the face and the back of the wheels, move them out to P4 gauge and see if they will run OK on the layout. Here they are, finely balanced on the P4 track with their OO wheels.

Ulph062.jpg
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The waggonway track in the foreground has been submerged in lightweight filler since the photo was taken.

John Palmer
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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby John Palmer » Thu Aug 23, 2018 8:31 am

I do hope that Steve Howe will post a picture of the moss he identified as a possible natural source of 4mm scale ferns. I anticipated having to make substantial numbers of ferns for my projected West Highland layout and blenched a bit at the prospect of buying multiple Scalelink etches.

The advantage of the Scalelink product was that it looked fairly easy to twist the main stem of each etch so that each 'opposed pair' of fronds could be set at 90 degrees to its neighbours above and below, which seemed to be a characteristic of many the ferns I observed during my journeying on West Highland lines. However, developing a substantial patch of such ferns looked like being a labour of love equal to representation of a roof with individual slates. A shortcut using a natural material has much to commend it.

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steve howe
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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby steve howe » Thu Aug 23, 2018 5:42 pm

Here's the stuff:

moss1.JPG
the moss as gathered


I'm not sure how widespread are its habitats although it seems to grow anywhere in damp and shady woodland here in the Westcountry. I think 'natural' materials are rather frowned upon in certain scenic circles these days as being too fragile, but I know for a fact that moss gathered in Wales by Roye England on a cycling holiday, for use on the Dartmoor layout has survived being washed and re-coloured at least once and should now be approaching 50 years old!

The stuff needs to be dried gently and then separated into useable fronds

moss2.JPG
individual frond


and then dipped or sprayed with either matt enamels or acrylics to strengthen and preserve it.

I wouldn't encourage anyone to go out stripping their woodlands wholesale, so a word of restraint about collecting from sensitive environments seems appropriate.

Steve

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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Thu Aug 23, 2018 9:12 pm

Thanks Steve. That does look interesting. I shall go walking to try and find some in Derbyshire this weekend. Many thanks.

John Palmer
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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby John Palmer » Fri Aug 24, 2018 12:09 am

Yes, thanks Steve, that mossy material does look promising. I have a nasty feeling I may have a source for it very close to hand, namely in my lawn! Following the recent rain the same lawn seems to have also just started sprouting a species of fern, unfortunately not to 4mm scale :(

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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Sun Aug 26, 2018 11:53 am

The new back has now been put on the middle scenic board. It includes a completely new recessed area for the narrow gauge trackwork on this board, which desperately needed replacing in its entirety, unfortunately.

This is what the back of the baseboard looked like when I inherited it...

Ulph063a.jpg
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...and the new back. I still have to shape the top to match the scenic features. I can then attach the hillside to it. The backscene will be a separate add-on to keep the weight of the main baseboard as low as possible.

Ulph063.jpg
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This next image shows the subterranean narrow gauge area. It also acts as a strengthener for the main baseboard. I added this to the new baseboard back before the combined sub-assembly was fixed to the baseboard. The new setup will allow longer trains on the narrow gauge and easier operations in the NG fiddle yard. It shows the gentle curve the new backscene will follow.

Ulph064.jpg
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I had to remove the scenery from this nearside left hand corner in order to remove the old trackbed and add the new one. This will all be replaced, with minor enhancements, in due course. Otherwise, no damage of any note was done to any of the scenery on this baseboard - just a few minor cracks in the plaster on the hillside to repair.

I am going to have to leave further major developments on Ulpha for the time being due to pressing needs elsewhere. I shall continue with developing the scenery on the first scenic board as time permits.

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Le Corbusier
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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Le Corbusier » Sun Aug 26, 2018 4:39 pm

But what am I going to do for my forum fix now if Ulpha is going off line for a period :( :? :cry:
Tim Lee

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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Sun Aug 26, 2018 5:03 pm

Le Corbusier wrote:But what am I going to do for my forum fix now if Ulpha is going off line for a period :( :? :cry:


Hi Tim

I didn't say it was going offline - just that I need to spend more time on other things. I am sure there will still be regular updates - just not such rapid progress as previously for a while.

Talking of forum fixes, whatever happened to Monsal Dale? :twisted:

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Le Corbusier
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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Le Corbusier » Sun Aug 26, 2018 9:45 pm

Armchair Modeller wrote:Hi Tim

I didn't say it was going offline - just that I need to spend more time on other things. I am sure there will still be regular updates - just not such rapid progress as previously for a while.

Talking of forum fixes, whatever happened to Monsal Dale? :twisted:


Autumn it is a coming .... so fingers crossed. Still hoping Neversay returns at some point :D
Tim Lee

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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Sun Aug 26, 2018 10:12 pm

Le Corbusier wrote:
Armchair Modeller wrote:Talking of forum fixes, whatever happened to Monsal Dale? :twisted:


Autumn it is a coming .... so fingers crossed. Still hoping Neversay returns at some point :D


Excellent!

As for Neversay, it is definitely on the back burner at the moment. I am struggling to fit in work on Neversay, Ulpha, Burghmire (2mm Finescale), stock building and everything else I do with my time. I try to lead a balanced life, rather than try and work solely on model railways. Burghmire is the priority in model railway terms, as it has to be finished for mid-2020. I have done nothing on it for 2 months because of the arrival of Ulpha. Fortunately Burghmire is only very small!

In 4mm terms, I really need to get Ulpha done before I do any more serious work on Neversay. I reckon Ulpha will take at least 12 months to bring up to an acceptable standard (ignoring stock) - and I usually grossly underestimate how long things like this will take!

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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby RobM » Mon Aug 27, 2018 6:59 am

Le Corbusier wrote:But what am I going to do for my forum fix now if Ulpha is going off line for a period :( :? :cry:


I was thinking along the same lines but pleased to hear that Richard will continue updating albeit less frequently.
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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Wed Aug 29, 2018 12:53 pm

For anyone already suffering withdrawal symptoms, here are a couple of maps to further define the route of the line - this has been brewing for several weeks.

Firstly, the overall route map. The black line represents the Light Railway, red line major differences between the route of the railway and the earlier waggonway, green line the route of the narrow gauge.

Ulpha-Light-Railway-Route-M.jpg


and here, a closeup of the Ulpha area.

Ulpha station had to be placed somewhere where the topography kind of fits, so it is well away from Ulpha church and bridge. I guess the railway would have seen it as a railhead serving a wide and dispersed community - but in reality its main purpose was to serve the quarries. The dotted red lines show former, abandoned waggonway routes, including inclined planes to quarries and mines up on the Fells.

Ulpha-Light-Railway-Route-U.jpg
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The narrow gauge meets the standard gauge on the level at Ulpha Bridge, then climbs rapidly to gain altitude twards the upper reaches of the valley. As well as a quarry feeder for the main line, it could have served the construction of the reservoir at Seathwaite Tarn (top right on the first map) - an extension later used for tourist trains. The latter is unlikely to be part of the model, but it does allow a wider range of locos and stock than might appear on a mere quarry feeder line.

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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Fri Sep 07, 2018 4:16 pm

Almost a fortnight on from my last progress report, a few more things have been done.

A new curved back has been installed on the first scenic board (the one with the mill building). I still have some tidying up to do, including re-attaching the scenery at the back, but here are a couple of photos anyway...

Ulph068.jpg
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Ulph069.jpg
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This neatly continues the curve from the middle scenic board. It eliminates the sudden changes in angle of the backdrop due to the original flat backs on the baseboards, as illustrated in this old picture.

Ulph065.jpg
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The new back is also much lighter than the old one. I still have the new back for the third board to do - the one with the quarry on it - but that can wait a while.

One of the urgent tasks I have started in over the last few weeks is installing some better storage for my railway items - books as well as model railway stuff. Inevitably, I have discovered things I had forgotten about, including a Hornby LSWR/Adams 4-4-2 tank loco. The design was very similar to some 4-4-0s built by Beyer Peacock for Spain and South America. I bought it on a whim, with a vague idea of somehow converting it into one of those for Neversay. By coincidence, I found a drawing and dimensions of a Spanish one a few weeks ago. The chassis dimensions are remarkably similar to the Hornby model. Beyer Peacock made a whole variety of this family of locos, with slightly different dimensions and detail variations - including 2 cylinder compounds, rectangular cab windows etc.

Ulph066a.jpg
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In a reckless moment, I sawed the back off the model, so it is now very definitely a 4-4-0, though as yet without a tender.

Ulph066.jpg
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Much to my relief, it runs very well. The chopped tail seems to have made very little difference to its performance, if any at all. The model is still OO gauge, of course. It should be a relatively simple re-wheeling job as compensation or springing are probably unnecessary. The bodywork will also require some attention. A long term project, rather than something to be done in a hurry. Just a bit of fun, really!

In a similar vein, I finally decided to finally make a start on building my double-articulated Sentinel railcar. Those of you with very long memories may vaguely remember me stating that I wanted to build one of these, more or less...

Ulph067a.jpg
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...but with the more usual 'LNER'-style side windows in place of the hot-weather version in the photo. The window style was a customer choice. The basis for the model will be parts from two of the Nu-Cast Sentinel Railcar kits. Having looked at the kits in detail, I reckon it won't be quite as difficult as I originally thought. The main issues are the end windows, which need re-positioning and the need to extend the body sides down over the underframes. I can adapt a chassis from a Model rail Sentinel to provide the power.

Ulph067.jpg
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It is really intended for Neversay. It would be nice to run on Ulpha in 1920s/30s mode though. It is probably another one of those projects I will do in fits and starts over a long period of time.

Finally, A photo of the signal box on Ulpha. Just a thought - its external dimensions are only about 6 ft square. Given that the door probably opens inwards, is there room for a lever frame and all the other paraphernalia in there, I wonder?

Ulph070.jpg
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Will L
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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Will L » Fri Sep 07, 2018 7:59 pm

Armchair Modeller wrote:...The basis for the model will be parts from two of the Nu-Cast Sentinel Railcar kits.


I've got one of those and it is, lets say, heavy. Its all white metal and the roof was particularly substantial. Hope the motor bogie assigned to propel two of them is man enough, and the layout is flat. Mine found and demonstrate all sorts or gradients we didn't realise were there.

Armchair Modeller
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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Sat Sep 08, 2018 11:16 pm

Will L wrote:
Armchair Modeller wrote:...The basis for the model will be parts from two of the Nu-Cast Sentinel Railcar kits.


I've got one of those and it is, lets say, heavy. Its all white metal and the roof was particularly substantial. Hope the motor bogie assigned to propel two of them is man enough, and the layout is flat. Mine found and demonstrate all sorts or gradients we didn't realise were there.


Thanks for your concerns Will, but I think the Model Rail chassis is pretty good, to be honest. With a rigid motor section in the middle and 2 articulated ends, the characteristics of my model will be very different to the kit as sold. As always, I shall experiment as I go along! If the motor chassis isn't up to the job, I am happy to scratchbuild.

Za-Sent-scan0003.jpg


Sorry to hear you had problems with yours.

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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Wed Oct 03, 2018 1:18 pm

A month or so on and there is not much to report on the layout, I am afraid. Decorating and other chores have filled much of my spare time.

RobM and his wife Jen paid me a visit to see the layout today. It was very nice to see them. This gave me an excuse to put the layout up in its entirety in the lounge for a few days. This is handy, as I need to trace the old standard gauge trackwork on the other 2 scenic boards, ready to work on the track plan in Templot. It is also quite a morale booster, seeing everything together again. It was nice to hear Rob's constructive opinions on various aspects of the layout. His comments have certainly given me food for thought.

I have been discussing the narrow gauge part of the layout on a Narrow Gauge Forum recently (NGRM). It is interesting that they have made far more comments about accuracy and realism than I have received on here. Not that I am complaining - it was all very constructive. Their main issue was the light construction of the trestle. Far too delicate to have been used by most locomotives, apparently. Several photos of prototype trestles were produced which suggest that a real trestle would have far more supports and bracing. Ideas about the locos I should be running on the narrow gauge have been very helpful too.

The danger is that even if I don't have much modelling time, I still have plenty of time for thinking! Continuing the saga of the signal cabin, I found a drawing of a Tweedy frame which would be appropriate for Ulpha. Tweedy were based in Carlisle. Even with the tightly-spaced Tweedy levers, it would be challenging to fit a 5 lever frame (plus a spare or two?) and all the other equipment into the tiny cabin provided on the layout (see photo in previous post)
.
Ulph071.jpg
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The cabin is also in an awkward place from an operating point of view. I am currently pondering whether to build a new signal cabin of better proportions and on a better site - or whether I should keep things as they are for sentimental reasons.

I am also having second (third really :shock: ) thoughts about the waggonway bridge. The balsa bridge I was constructing doesn't quite give me the right look. Difficult to explain why. Maybe the bridge is just not tall enough to get the effect I am looking for? Anyway, I accidentally found a photo of another bridge online from the Staffordshire Archives. This is of a former narrow gauge bridge between a quarry and the main line near Tutbury. (mirror image in my version below)

Ulph072.jpg
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It is less tall than the timber bridge I was previously basing my model on - more the kind of height I am looking for. I measured the bridge on an old OS map and worked out that it is exactly the right kind of length for the site on Ulpha. It has interesting features, like metal girders over the river and wooden beams at the ends, for example. I think it will make a more characterful model, but I won't know for sure until I build it.

The new back for the final baseboard has now been laminated to shape on my baseboard jig. Here is a photo after most of the clamps had been removed.

Ulph073.jpg
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On the loco front, I have bought another narrow gauge loco.

Ulph074.jpg


No, this is not a joke! It is a Bachmann Skarloey loco, which happens to be a scale version of Talyllyn No 1 - except for a few minor details*. Narrow Planet produce a conversion kit to complete the realism. This loco is very slightly smaller than the Baldwins, but still far too heavy for the trestle in real life, despite this photo...

Ulph075.jpg


I am off on holiday again soon and hope to make better progress again on my return. Long, dark nights and cold days ought to help!

EDIT

* The Talyllyn loco was built by Fletcher Jennings at Whitehaven - quite local for Ulpha

Here is a better view of the bridge, on the Staffordshire Past Track site

Image
Last edited by Armchair Modeller on Wed Oct 03, 2018 7:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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RobM
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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby RobM » Wed Oct 03, 2018 5:16 pm

Richard, really good to see Ulpha in the flesh and to see and discuss its various problems. You have certainly taken on a task to bring it back to life what with the under gauge standard gauge track work , the narrow gauge section, the lack of detailing consistency on the 2nd board. I like the way you have dealt with the repositioning of the mill and your various thoughts on the waggonway bridge.......artistically, have got to think of the 1/3 rule and then a lead for the eye to be pointed to an area of rest (board 2 ?)......and with your suggestion of the extension of the old tramway (?) this could be accomplished......still very much up in the air.........look forward to another visit albeit a couple of villages away
Rob
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