The Ulpha Light Railway

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Armchair Modeller
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The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:06 pm

The Ulpha Light Railway is a standard gauge (P4) and narrow gauge layout set in the Duddon Valley, north of Foxfield (Cumbria). The River Duddon was once the border between Lancashire and Cumberland. The layout was constructed around 1990 by the Norwood MRC. I do not know the earliest exhibition date, but it certainly appeared at the Mitcham Show in October 1991. Judging by the plaques with the layout, it subsequently appeared at a minimum of 17 other exhibitions, including Scaleforum in 2001 and the NEC in 1999. The final plaque with the layout is for Wimbledon in 2004. It also appeared in a comprehensive article in Rail Model Digest No3. Quite an ambassador for the Scalefour Society and P4 modelling in general! It resided in Somerset for a while before coming into the custody of Paul Willis. Paul was keen to donate it to a good home. In the absence of better prospects, it arrived into my care yesterday.

I remember seeing the layout at least twice in its exhibition years - certainly at the NEC and at one other unremembered location. I was immediately struck by the spectacular scenery, including a lovely limestone quarry, a long timber gantry supporting the narrow gauge railway and some very nice buildings. It was really atmospheric. Here are a couple of photos, courtesy of Paul Willis.

Ulph001.jpg


Ulph002.jpg


I have no real plans as yet, other than a general objective to get the layout up and running again - reliably. Philosophically, a light railway concept fits in perfectly with the kind of P4 stock I wish to build and run. I also find narrow gauge attractive. Ulpha has survived very well, despite many miles in vans, 17+ exhibitions and 3 owners. There are a few very minor repairs required to the scenery, but nothing serious. The layout does require a more or less complete rewire though. Some wires are loose or missing and there is no wiring diagram. In any case, DCC may be the way to go, rather than good old DC. A quick inspection suggests that one or two of the narrow gauge turnouts are disconnected or broken. The narrow gauge is OO9, by the way. The overwhelming impression though, is just how heavily engineered everything is under the surface. The baseboards are mainly made of very thick plywood. Even the backscene is made of large sheets of 9mm ply from the very bottom of the baseboards to the top of the sky - almost literally backbreaking!

With pedantic mode on, we might justifiably argue that a limestone quarry could never exist in the Duddon Valley. Nowadays, we have detailed geological information online that would never have been available to the people who conceived and created the layout. We can easily discover that the Duddon Valley and surrounding hills consist entirely of the remains of huge lava flows and the sedimentary rocks that formed as this wore down. The quarries that did exist were high up on the Fells - largely for slate, which was used for roofing and paving.

My feeling at the moment though, is that if the architects of the layout decided to create The Ulpha Light Railway, located it in the Duddon Valley and modelled a limestone quarry, then it should stay that way. I have no timescale in mind. Let's just see how things develop... :?

kelham
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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby kelham » Fri Jun 22, 2018 11:54 pm

Norwood MRC was my club when I lived in London though I left just as the Ulpha layout was being planned – I moved to Norfolk and it seemed a bit far to travel for a club night. Norwood was one of the earliest clubs in London being founded in 1946. The remnants of the club have been working on a P4 layout based on the old Blackfriars station (the one south of the Thames) set in the 1880s. It will be magnificent if they pull it off!

It's good to see the old layout is still around, and in good hands.


Richard

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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Sat Jun 23, 2018 7:54 am

kelham wrote:Norwood MRC was my club when I lived in London though I left just as the Ulpha layout was being planned – I moved to Norfolk and it seemed a bit far to travel for a club night. Norwood was one of the earliest clubs in London being founded in 1946. The remnants of the club have been working on a P4 layout based on the old Blackfriars station (the one south of the Thames) set in the 1880s. It will be magnificent if they pull it off!

It's good to see the old layout is still around, and in good hands.


Richard


Blackfriars looks to be a really amazing project. I do sincerely hope they pull it off!

Many thanks for the faith you show in me, Richard. Only time will tell! ;)

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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Sun Jun 24, 2018 12:14 pm

I did a rather nice 32 mile walk to the Ashover area and back yesterday. This was a great opportunity to clarify my thoughts on what needs to be done to the layout to bring it back to its best. I will record them here, as comments are always welcome!

The article in Model Rail Digest No3 has shed light on a number of things that were puzzling me about the layout. Amongst little snippets of information, it was mentioned that the layout originally had a sector plate in the fiddle yard. Now, it uses cassettes. There is also an explanation for the use of Peco OO9 trackwork on the narrow gauge section and the sophisticated electronics.

1. Recording The Present

Paul Willis has done a thorough job of recording the layout as it now is. He very kindly gave me a load of images to keep for future reference. The only thing I could usefully add is a bird's eye view. I can use this to create an accurate plan of the layout. I can put each board on its side, photograph them individually and then stitch the images together in Photoshop. A nice, easy job for today, whilst I recover from yesterday's walk. I can then draw the track layout in Templot using the stitched image as a background - useful for making a professional-looking track diagram for the Internet and publications.

2. Electrics

The old DC electrics are a real treat to see. The wiring was largely done using ribbon cables of the computer variety. The whole thing looks incredibly neat. There is also a computer-style power pack, complete with electric cooling fan. Unfortunately there is no wiring diagram, as far as I am aware. That makes fault finding and the replacement of failed or damaged parts challenging. In any case, the wiring has already been stripped from one of the boards.

The layout was intended to be operated largely from the front. There is a small control panel, complete with track diagram and switches to control the standard gauge. The narrow gauge had to be worked from the back. Points, trap points and the solitary signal are operated by a mixture of H&M, Tenshodo and Tortoise point motors. Magnets are hidden in the track for uncoupling.

Rather than try and restore the existing system, I think it would be wise to completely rewire the layout. The wiring is after all completely invisible to spectators. A major change won't affect the look and feel of the layout. Modern, easy to replace components would hopefully assure the layout many more years of active life. My preference is for DCC - at least for train operation. This will offer greater operating flexibility and simplify the wiring. Not a feature of the original layout, but an acceptable enhancement, I feel.

I may also replace the point motors. There are currently 3 different types in use. From a reliability point of view, it makes sense to standardise on one type. This makes it easier to provide for possible failures in the future.

3. Standard Gauge Trackwork

I need to check the trackwork very carefully to ensure a high level of reliability. A quick cursory inspection suggests that there will be a number of problems to address. Several point blades are adrift of the tie bars, but that is easy to sort out. More disconcerting is the variable gauge of the track. I did a quick, random check with an Exactoscale track gauge. The plain track was built using Alan Gibson track bases (now C&L). I know from buying a few sections several years ago and from comments on the Forum that this is slightly under gauge. There is quite a bit of variation though. In a few places, the track gauge sits comfortably between the rails. At the other extreme, at least one short length is currently very seriously under gauge. In fact, a triangular EM track gauge fits comfortably on it. A few pieces of rail are quite loose in their chairs. One or two sections of track have lifted slightly where they cross baseboard edges. I am not sure how to deal with all of this at the moment. Thing is, the track and ballasting look really superb. Digging bits up and replacing them to the same standard would be a major task. The track is laid on a cork bed, which seems to be OK, as far as I can tell.

4. Weight

The baseboards are incredibly heavy. So heavy, that I find it extremely difficult to lift one on my own. I shall need to look at the baseboards and see if I can reduce the weight to some degree. Fairly obviously, without damaging the scenery, or sacrificing rigidity.

4. The Narrow Gauge

The trackwork is currently OO9 Peco track, apart from the track on the trestle, which is hand built. I did briefly consider the idea of converting to scale track based on 2FS standards. According to Scalefour standards, this would be more prototypical for sub-2ft 6in gauge lines. In this case, I think that would be a step too far (hair shirts etc!). The narrow gauge is right at the back of the layout and wheel flanges on many current OO9 models are really not too bad. Also, there are some rather nice OO9 locos on the way that would be entirely appropriate for this line. The Bachmann Baldwin, for example, looks simply amazing. I doubt that trying to convert to finer standards would be worthwhile, for the effort and risk involved. In any case, the original owners were quite happy to use OO9 standards, so I probably shouldn't change the standards used. Otherwise, one of the turnouts probably needs replacing, as the tie bar is broken in a very awkward way.

4. Scenery

Not much to say here, as the scenery has survived very largely intact. Excellent!

The most obvious issue to fix is the river. The 'water' was made of layers of varnish. Unfortunately, some of this has lifted badly from the bed of the river. One section has cracked and fallen off completely. Otherwise, very little is required in the way of repairs - just minor chips to touch up. There is also a tree to replant, a short section of fencing to replace and a few people to stick back in place, for example - very minor things that will take little time to do.

Conclusion

So then, that is a statement of where things are and an idea of what needs to be done. Good news that the scenery looks in remarkably fine condition. Potentially bad news about the track - but I may just be fearing the worst.

Stripping the electrics will be the first major task, followed by a thorough check of the trackwork. If the problems with the track are fairly superficial then I may be able to get things up and running reasonably quickly.

dal-t
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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby dal-t » Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:10 pm

Based on many years swearing and cursing at narrow/mixed gauge layouts with 00-9, 12mm and 14mm track, I would say by all means keep any Peco 9mm plain track, if you can stand the 'crazy' sleepers (I think they do a 'mainline' version now, but assume yours is the original), but ditch any Peco turnouts without delay (even again assuming they are the original larger radius rather than the more recent industrial ones). Mine gave me endless trouble until I replaced them with handbuilt. In fact the only proprietary turnout I ever found that would pass 00-9 stock reliably was a Fleischmann N gauge 3-way. It looked awful but did what it said on the box, left, right, or straight ahead (also now horrendously expensive, at least in the self-motorised version I had, so I'm definitely not recommending it as a solution - get the track cutters and solding iron out, the consolation is that NG turnouts need significantly less rail than SG ones.)
David L-T

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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Sun Jun 24, 2018 3:00 pm

dal-t wrote:Based on many years swearing and cursing at narrow/mixed gauge layouts with 00-9, 12mm and 14mm track, I would say by all means keep any Peco 9mm plain track, if you can stand the 'crazy' sleepers (I think they do a 'mainline' version now, but assume yours is the original), but ditch any Peco turnouts without delay (even again assuming they are the original larger radius rather than the more recent industrial ones). Mine gave me endless trouble until I replaced them with handbuilt. In fact the only proprietary turnout I ever found that would pass 00-9 stock reliably was a Fleischmann N gauge 3-way. It looked awful but did what it said on the box, left, right, or straight ahead (also now horrendously expensive, at least in the self-motorised version I had, so I'm definitely not recommending it as a solution - get the track cutters and solding iron out, the consolation is that NG turnouts need significantly less rail than SG ones.)


Many thanks for the advice. Amusingly, the builders of this layout came to the opposite conclusion! In reality, there have been several generations of Peco OO9 turnouts. The latest are actually pretty good from what I have heard, although the original Crazy Pointwork was definitely pretty awful.

Onwards and upwards, I now have a few more photos...

Here is the old power pack, just removed from the middle board. This was deliberately designed to be detached quickly and easily. Apparently, there was a spare at one time, in case of failure.

Ulph004.jpg
Ulph004.jpg (101.6 KiB) Viewed 1085 times


Here is the narrow gauge fiddle yard, which is a kind of sliding shelf arrangement. Siding space is somewhat limited!

Ulph003.jpg


...and here is a poor attempt at photographing the layout from the top - a bird's eye view. Achieved by snapping each baseboard individually and joining them together in Photoshop.

Ulph005.jpg

Tony Wilkins
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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Tony Wilkins » Sun Jun 24, 2018 10:08 pm

Hi Armchair modeller.
I tried the same trick with a layout that NAG purchased second hand some years back as the original Templot track plan had been lost when the original designers laptop had crashed. Although it seemed like an easy solution, unfortunately the lens of most cameras does not seem to produce a linear enough result and various distortions soon make themselves known when trying to link the sections together. This may not matter too much for your intended use for outline track plans or wiring diagrams, but trying to reverse engineer an existing Temploted layout accurately, I have found that using X-Y co-ordinates and counting sleeper / timbers the most reliable method.
Regards
Tony.

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Martin Wynne
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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Martin Wynne » Sun Jun 24, 2018 11:16 pm

Tony Wilkins wrote:but trying to reverse engineer an existing Temploted layout accurately, I have found that using X-Y co-ordinates and counting sleeper / timbers the most reliable method.

Hi Tony,

If you have a scanner, try taking a series of A4 rubbings from the rails, and scanning them:

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com ... L9SdLL.jpg

You can scan directly into Templot's background picture shapes. If you know the dpi resolution at which your scanner is working (easily found with a bit of trial and error on a scan of known dimensions), Templot can resize them automatically to your model scale.

The important part is to make sure the paper is square to the baseboard edge (or some other known straight line) before making the rubbing. If you have to cut the paper to fit between buildings, draw a line on it parallel to the baseboard edge. Some strategic lumps of Blu-Tak can be used to keep the paper in place and level with the rail tops while making the rubbing.

If you temporarily set the next rubbing transparent, you can easily align it over the previous one. When all done, use the crop/combine function to create a single background picture shape (or a small number of them, if it is a large layout).

cheers,

Martin.
39 years developing Templot. And counting ...

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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:37 am

Thanks Tony, Martin

I agree completely that what I did will not provide a good enough image for a totally accurate Templot version of the layout. The intention was largely to provide a complete photographic record of the layout as it now exists - and to to generate an approximate Templot 'Diagram Mode' version of the track plan. These look far more professional than a rough, hand-drawn sketch, which is all that exists at present. Even if not completely accurate, the proportions should be close enough to give other people a good idea of what the layout actually looks like.

If I do need to replace any of the track, then Martin's idea of using a tracing seems to me to be the only sensible way. I remember a similar technique being used on a 2mm group layout I was associated with 20-30 years ago. Good ideas never die, hopefully!

In other news, I stripped the remaining wiring and other electrics from the baseboards yesterday afternoon and evening. I was multi-tasking by watching the World Cup at the same time. I also removed the narrow gauge fiddle yard, as it didn't seem to align very well with the running line. It was also very stiff to operate. There is plenty of room under the hills to provide a more robust and capacious solution in due course.

Tony Wilkins
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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Tony Wilkins » Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:59 pm

Martin Wynne wrote:
Tony Wilkins wrote:but trying to reverse engineer an existing Temploted layout accurately, I have found that using X-Y co-ordinates and counting sleeper / timbers the most reliable method.

Hi Tony,

If you have a scanner, try taking a series of A4 rubbings from the rails, and scanning them:

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com ... L9SdLL.jpg

You can scan directly into Templot's background picture shapes.
cheers,

Martin.

Hi Martin.
Yes, I have used that method myself with varying degrees of success, although in my case using somewhat larger sheets of paper and a soft lead carpenter's pencil. Often lining paper to do a baseboard at a time. I then drew a grid on it to enable the various scanned A4 size scans to be aligned accurately in Photoshop. It is at times like that when I wish I had a A3 or larger scanner as it can be difficult to keep the paper square on to the scanner bed.
The particular problem I had with the NAG layout was that some of the turnouts proved to be non standard, so didn't quite fit until I sussed that by counting the timbers in the lead.
I must admit that I had forgotten that approach and how useful it can be.
Regards
Tony.

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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Mon Jun 25, 2018 10:25 pm

Fortunately, the trackwork on Ulpha is not particularly complicated. The only track that would have to be completely true to the original would be the length along the platform edge and the bit that goes under the narrow gauge trestle. It is probably bad practice to check the existing track too closely for problems in the current heatwave though. Instead, I shall investigate 'safe' ways of reducing the weight of the baseboards over the next few days.

One elementary mistake in my original birds eye view was to match the boards up square. In reality, each board is angled slightly to its neighbours. Here is a better version.

Ulph006.jpg


and a quick track plan via Templot (not quite to scale)

Ulph007.jpg

Armchair Modeller
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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:13 pm

The layout has just one signal at present. I am wondering if it ought to have more - or if there is anything fundamentally wrong with the track layout. It is an independent light railway, so BR and predecessors' policies may well not apply - just the opinions of the Railway Inspectorate.

Here is the diagram. CP stands for catch point (they don't otherwise show up very well on the diagram). Everything greyed out is off-scene and therefore imaginary. GF is the signal cabin.

Ulpha-Signalling-Diagram-1.jpg


Edited to replace 'Ground Frame' with 'Signal Cabin'
Last edited by Armchair Modeller on Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Le Corbusier
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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Le Corbusier » Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:49 pm

Armchair Modeller wrote: It also appeared in a comprehensive article in Rail Model Digest No3. Quite an ambassador for the Scalefour Society and P4 modelling in general!


You wouldn't have a scan of the article you could post :?: enjoying this study so far.

Tim
Tim Lee

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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Wed Jun 27, 2018 9:15 am

Le Corbusier wrote:
Armchair Modeller wrote: It also appeared in a comprehensive article in Rail Model Digest No3. Quite an ambassador for the Scalefour Society and P4 modelling in general!


You wouldn't have a scan of the article you could post :?: enjoying this study so far.

Tim


I am worried that there might be copyright issues, otherwise I would. Rail Model Digest is just like any other publication. It is a fascinating article though - not just about the layout, but the stock too. A private copy (purely for research purposes) might be more acceptable? Maybe someone with a legal perspective could comment?

Glad to hear you are enjoying the topic. There may be some stomach-churning stuff ahead though, so do beware! ;)

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Noel
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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Noel » Wed Jun 27, 2018 9:30 am

Armchair Modeller wrote: It is an independent light railway, so BR and predecessors' policies may well not apply


No reason why they would.

Armchair Modeller wrote: just the opinions of the Railway Inspectorate.


The BoT would only be interested because of the passenger service; if that ceased then so would the need to meet their requirements. The existence of a ground frame, which is not a block post, and therefore cannot accept or refuse trains, means that the BoT would require a legal declaration from the operating company that only one engine in steam, or two coupled together, would be permitted in the section [in which case the signals are not obligatory], usually implying a single staff for the section. Alternatively, the signals are the minimum required for a block post, assuming a [probably fixed] distant, in which case it isn't a ground frame, and there would be some means of controlling access to the single line from both ends, and a staff and ticket or token system, so more than one engine and train could be present. The presence of the signal suggests that the latter may have been the intention, although it would require posts for telephone/telegraph wires. Either way, movements within the station area could be controlled by hand signals and discussion, and the catch points would be necessary to protect the passenger line.
Noel

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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:05 am

Noel wrote:
Armchair Modeller wrote: It is an independent light railway, so BR and predecessors' policies may well not apply


No reason why they would.

Armchair Modeller wrote: just the opinions of the Railway Inspectorate.


The BoT would only be interested because of the passenger service; if that ceased then so would the need to meet their requirements. The existence of a ground frame, which is not a block post, and therefore cannot accept or refuse trains, means that the BoT would require a legal declaration from the operating company that only one engine in steam, or two coupled together, would be permitted in the section [in which case the signals are not obligatory], usually implying a single staff for the section. Alternatively, the signals are the minimum required for a block post, assuming a [probably fixed] distant, in which case it isn't a ground frame, and there would be some means of controlling access to the single line from both ends, and a staff and ticket or token system, so more than one engine and train could be present. The presence of the signal suggests that the latter may have been the intention, although it would require posts for telephone/telegraph wires. Either way, movements within the station area could be controlled by hand signals and discussion, and the catch points would be necessary to protect the passenger line.


Sorry Noel. My ignorance over railway nomenclature may be muddying the issue. Instead of ground frame, please read signal cabin.

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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:11 am

I have put a similar query up on RMweb about the track and signalling. Here is a track plan with the points lettered for ease of reference

Ulpha-Signalling-Diagram-2.jpg


One query I have, in particular is whether a catch point should be located between point D (hand operated) and point E. Also, as Noel suggested, should there be signals off the sidings to protect the passenger line? If so, where should they be?

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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Wed Jun 27, 2018 4:28 pm

I got a very quick and comprehensive reply from user 'becasse' on RMweb that the signalling etc is fine as is. Here is his comprehensive reply...

"I suspect that it would have been built as a light railway under the relevant (three) clauses of the 1868 Regulation of Railways Act, rather than under the provisions of the 1896 Act.

The "signalling" is correct as presently laid out, although there would probably have been no need to provide signals at all (and certainly the starting signal towards the fiddle yard), there definitely wouldn't if the line had been built before 1873, but the provision of the two signals, although necessary, wouldn't have been either wrong or unlikely.

Given that the line carried passengers, ultimately* subsequent to 1889 RoR Act points A and B would have acquired facing point locks (possibly economicals), probably with locking bars. It is possible (probable?) that there would not have been any interlocking if the line predated 1873, but this would have been installed post-1889 and would have required points A, B and E to lie normal before either signal could be cleared. The running line would have been considered as running to the buffer stops beyond point D, but it would have been quite acceptable for point D, as access to the run round, to be hand-worked - there were many examples of this on the "big" railway even where the relevant point lay alongside the platform. As this was considered as running line and not a siding no trap point would have been needed (or provided) - the line would have had to be kept clear and never used for stabling stock other than during a run round.

Given that there was a home signal, there would have been no need for the ground frame to unlocked by the staff.

The position of the starting signal isn't wrong, although I think that a lower-height starting signal at the end of the platform/toe of point A would have been more likely - or even no starting signal at all (the possession of the staff being sufficient authority).

* Typically it would probably have been almost the mid-1890s before anything actually happened to conform with the 1889 Act."

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grovenor-2685
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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby grovenor-2685 » Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:53 pm

I agree with all that, if you assume operation by staff and ticket, that would give you a reason for the starter signal and also allow for two trains to be present at the same time, which I seem to remember happening when it was exhibited. A signalbox as such is not needed, the block instruments could be in a hut on the platform. Operation of the CPs would be as crossovers linked to points A and E respectively. Points B & C could be a crossover but it may be more flexible to leave C as a handpoint along with D and F. Either way you need a 5 lever ground frame if you assume economical FPLs.
Regards

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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Wed Jun 27, 2018 7:08 pm

Thanks, that is very helpful too, Keith. it might just about be possible to squeeze 5 levers into the existing small cabin modelled on the layout, though I think it would be a very tight squeeze. C is actually modelled as being operated from the cabin. D & F are the only hand points.

The pointwork has some wonderful detail, including Colin Waite rodding and facing point locking bars, but not the facing point locks themselves.

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Noel
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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Noel » Wed Jun 27, 2018 7:22 pm

Armchair Modeller wrote:Also, as Noel suggested, should there be signals off the sidings to protect the passenger line? If so, where should they be?

Actually I didn't suggest this, quite the contrary:
Noel wrote:Either way, movements within the station area could be controlled by hand signals and discussion, and the catch points would be necessary to protect the passenger line.


becasse is quite right that the date of building and the timeframe of the model matter [I assumed the post-1889 situation, possibly wrongly]. Basically, pre-1889 "lock, block and brake" are not legally required on passenger lines, afterwards they are. Officially no leeway was given but in practice the BoT accepted that it couldn't be changed overnight; amongst other reasons the manufacturers could not produce the necessary equipment that fast. However, the BoT did require returns on progress and explanations of why companies were non-compliant and what they were doing about it. In practice, many companies were compliant, or nearly so, before the Act.

So far as light railways were concerned, my understanding is that the provisions of the 1868 Act saw little use, as the conditions were seen as too restrictive and impractical. It applied an 8 ton axle load for all vehicles, which may have been OK at the time, with 6 or 8 ton loads, and tare weights of the order of 4-5 tons, but a 10T wagon would have a tare around 5-6tons and an 0-4-0T couldn't weigh more than 16tons, less if the loading wasn't the same on both axles, so your railway would probably find this provision very limiting... The 1896 Act was largely a financial Act, although the individual Act for the railway could authorise some changes to normal requirements. The 1889 Act still applied in all respects.

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Vict/31-32/119/crossheading/vlight-railways/enacted - Section V of the 1868 Act
https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Vict/59-60/48/contents/enacted - The 1896 Act

So far as starting signals are concerned, the BoT really did not like their absence, particularly after the accident at Menheniot in 1873 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menheniot_railway_station.
Noel

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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Wed Jun 27, 2018 8:13 pm

Sorry Noel. Apologies if I misread your post. Thanks for the additional information.

Just to clear up the period of the layout, I am aiming to run things 1950s-style for the foreseeable future.

The Rail Model Digest article describes how the layout was originally conceived by the Norwood MRC as an early mineral railway, later adapted for passenger use under the 1896 Light Railway Act. They ran it in c1900 style, with a very ancient and eclectic collection of locomotives.

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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Hardwicke » Fri Jun 29, 2018 10:37 am

Regarding the waterfall, I used pva for Forge Mill. It has a weir and the River Leen. Over the years it has been remarkably stable except the time I drove to Waterlooville in the rain and found the van hire company had holes in the van roof stuffed with clay which had fallen out. The river went liquid and white ! By the morning it had dried clear again.

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Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Fri Jun 29, 2018 11:47 am

Unusually for me, I now have a plan of action - kind of!

My overall aim is to restore the look and feel of the layout, not to change it. In order to make the restoration worthwhile though, I think the finished item must work reliably.

There may be a few places where the availability of modern techniques, outlook and materials might make a worthwhile improvement. These would only be introduced with great care to preserve the atmosphere of the original. DCC is a case in point, where I can improve operational flexibility without compromising the appearance of the layout in any way.

Weight

After a week of struggling with the baseboards, I decided I really must figure out how to reduce the baseboard weight, as a matter of urgency. I shall soon be 64, so am unlikely to get any stronger. I can only assume that the people who built the layout belong to a race of supermen. I will certainly try never, ever to get into an argument with anyone from the Norwood area of London, just in case! ;)

Firstly, I reckon I can comfortably cut 1" off the bottom of the boards without affecting structural integrity. I very bravely and carefully had a go with a circular saw on one of the boards yesterday - thankfully with complete success. I removed any screws and other hindrances before doing this. I protected the scenery with a large polythene sheet. The scenery is well attached to the boards. Apart from a bit of green flock falling from the trees, nothing was even slightly damaged, apart from my nerves. Phew! The trimming still allows plenty of room under the trackbed for point motors etc. so I don't feel we have lost anything - other than weight.

I also intend to replace the backscene boards with something lighter. (see below) I plan to cut a few holes in the sides of the framework too. These will save a bit more weight and double as hand holds, to make carrying the boards just a little bit easier.

A completely new, lightweight fiddle yard board is needed to replace the current, very heavy one. The layout uses cassettes, so nothing very elaborate is required.

As an aside, there are lots of round headed screws around the exterior of the boards, which will be replaced by countersunk ones.

Backscenes

These are currently made of huge sheets of 5/16" plywood, 18" tall. I suspect they make up most of the weight of the boards. They are covered with thin card, painted pale blue to represent the sky. Some of the card is coming away from the plywood, so repairs would be necessary anyway. The boards are angled at around 10 degrees to each other, forming a kind of curve. The backscene boards are flat though, so there is a noticeable change in the angle of the backscene at each baseboard joint.

I need something much lighter and maybe even detachable. I suspect a curved backscene would be part of the answer. Curved ply is much more rigid than flat ply, weight for weight, so I could use much thinner material. A subsidiary benefit would be that it would also make the baseboard joints less noticeable. I am currently thinking out how best to achieve this.

Bracing

The baseboards twist quite noticeably, despite their robust construction. I shall carefully replace the lateral bracing with some diagonal bracing to make the boards more rigid.

Trackwork

I have checked the track gauge very thoroughly now. Unfortunately, the gauge is tight on most of the layout - and very tight in a few places. If I were doing the restoration just for the short term, I might just make one or two minor alterations, just to keep things running. Trying to make adjustments would be difficult in many places, without risking damaging the scenery though. To make the restoration worthwhile, I need to think about the long term. That (unfortunately!) means replacing the track with something that is truly accurate to gauge. I had hoped, at the very least, to save the pointwork, but even here there are problems. Fortunately, track building is something I really enjoy, so that will lessen the burden. A real shame though that it has to be done.

One Board at a Time!

I shall only work on one board at a time. That way, whatever happens, most of the layout should remain in a presentable state - and no worse than it is currently.

...Starting With Board One

At last, a picture to relieve the boredom...

Ulph007.jpg


I shall start work on this board first. There is far less track to rebuild here than on any other, but more scenic repairs to do. The main challenge on this board is the river. Here, the varnish finish has come away from the riverbed and has cracked in places. The whole river really needs remodelling from scratch. I have never modelled a river before, so this could be interesting! I guess a start would be to look at real rivers and see what they look like. Sounds like an excuse for a few more nice, long walks in the Peak District!

That apart, there really is not much else to do. There is some very minor damage to the mill building, which is easily repairable. The disused waggonway bridge (back right on the photo) is also slightly damaged. This appears to have a thin plaster coating, which has cracked slightly and is coming away from whatever is underneath. In any case, I may have to remove it temporarily to remake the river. Otherwise, just a tiny bit of retouching here and there and a dusting is all that is required.

By the way, if you wonder where I am finding the time for all of this, well it is just too hot to do anything much outdoors at present.

Health Warning ;)

It is important to state that none of my comments or changes are intended in any way to be a criticism of the layout design or its builders. It is incredible that the layout has survived so well and still looks so good by modern standards - a real tribute to the people who made it. It is clear from comments here and elsewhere that it is still much admired. Long may the layout survive!

Comments, as always, are welcome!

Armchair Modeller
Posts: 1012
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 7:34 pm

Re: The Ulpha Light Railway

Postby Armchair Modeller » Fri Jun 29, 2018 11:55 am

Hardwicke wrote:Regarding the waterfall, I used pva for Forge Mill. It has a weir and the River Leen. Over the years it has been remarkably stable except the time I drove to Waterlooville in the rain and found the van hire company had holes in the van roof stuffed with clay which had fallen out. The river went liquid and white ! By the morning it had dried clear again.


Thanks Michael. Living close to the River Leen for much of my childhood, I don't ever remember it being very clear - or white for that matter. :D

PVA is certainly something to consider.


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