BOOK REVIEW: ‘Early Railways: A Guide for the Modeller’

102. MODELLING EARLY RAILWAYS

Reviewer: Michael Keith

Title: Early Railways: A Guide for the Modeller

Author: Peter Chatham, Stephen Weston

Total Number of Printed Pages: 120

Rating Scale (1: Very Poor, 10: Excellent): 9

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When writing in this volume’s Introduction, the author states that ‘The aim of this book is to promote and assist the modelling of that formative period of railway history from the very earliest steam railways back to the reign of King George III, up to about 1880 or so, a period which, for modellers in Britain at least, has been covered scarcely, if at all, in book form’. As a precis of what to follow, it is excellent.

Within the book itself, an Acknowledgements section placed behind the Contents page thanks those individuals and organisations which contributed to its content. This is followed by the previously-noted Introduction. The Introduction is in itself a multi-facetted beast, as aside from précising the contents of the volume, it also explains in great detail, such aspects of its subject as railway and social history, signalling, materials, sources and paints, the three latter written specifically with railway modellers in mind. Internet sources are given where appropriate. It is, in summary, very comprehensive. The six Chapters which comprise the main part of the volume now appear. As evidenced by its title (Mike Sharman – a Pioneer Modeller of Early Railways), the first pays tribute to a specific individual ‘… Who modelled the very early railways’ and ‘…Tells the story of how he set about modelling and promoting the early days [of railways]’. Included within this section are track plans and photographs of a variety of subjects relevant to the narrative. Curiously, the Chapter concludes with a ‘Mini Bibliography’ (titled Further Reading) which lists relevant literature specific to it subject. It is a detail not found anywhere else within the volume. Chapter 2 (Infrastructure) now appears and is followed in turn by three others. Their titles: Locomotives (Chapter 3), Carriages (Chapter 4) and Wagons (Chapter 5) are indicative of their content. As will be evident from its title (Layouts and Models), Chapter 6 is devoted to models of appropriate period locomotives and rolling stock and, by use of photographs shows how the previously-provided information can be recreated in model form in a variety of scales. The models and layouts are a delight and are accompanied by informative notes relevant to the specific items on display. A two-page Appendix follows. Titled Sources of supply for modellers, its content is self-evident, and is described as being a ‘…List of prominent manufacturers’ of period equipment from whom such items may be obtained. Notably (and in addition to the expected O and OO gauges), these include several who have equipment in the larger (‘Gauge 3’) and smaller (‘N’) gauges; thus widening the potential audience for this volume. A Bibliography follows.  While, as expected, this lists the printed texts alluded-to within the volume, its authors have added title-appropriate notes below each entry to assist modellers in search of specific information; an unusual and appreciated touch. A two-page Index completes the volume.  Although largely British-focussed, the book also contains references to both contemporary Continental European and American practices. It contains numerous monochrome and colour photographs and lithographs, as well as relevant locomotive, carriage and wagon plans. A layout diagram (that of one of Mike Sharman’s efforts) also appears, and where relevant to the narrative, technical diagrams showing the evolution of railway track are included. All are captioned and, with a small number of exceptions, contain appropriate citations indicating their sources.

While this reviewer could find little to fault with this volume, he did have issues with the book’s Index. Random searching found several entries within the book that were not supported by Index entries. Of these (and in view of its prominence on page 85 (Carriages), somewhat surprisingly), he could find no Index entries for PLM (Compagnie des Chermins de Fer de Paris `a Lyon et `a la Mediterranėe) under either PLM or the full company name. There were other, similar, ommissions; a small matter perhaps, but enough to raise questions about what else might also be missing.

That detail notwithstanding, it is very evident that this volume has been a labour of love for the authors. It is comprehensive, very informative and very well written. It is likely to appeal both to railway modellers who have a specific interest in its subject, and to those of a similar ilk who are just interested in ‘early’ railways, but with no inclination towards actually modelling the era. Transport Historians with an interest in early British, Continental and American railways may also find it of interest, while Social Historians seeking depictions and descriptions of early Nineteenth Century Britain may also find it worthy of their perusal.

On a Rating Scale where 1: Very Poor, 10: Excellent), I have given this volume a 9.

It is well deserved.

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BOOK REVIEW: ‘Early Railways: A Guide for the Modeller’

FIDERO RESOURCES (NO LIABILITY)

As any reader who has been following this blog for a while will be aware, I have a certain interest in model railways and underground ‘Hard rock’ gold mining, and that at times these interests have a way of combining. What follows is the latest iteration of this interest; a small 1:43 / 7 mm: 1 ft scale model railway layout which I have christened Fidero Resources (No Liability).

The layout represents a departure from my previous modelling efforts in that it is in a larger scale (‘O’ scale; 1:43 ; 7mm: 1 ft) as opposed to my previous, long-held, enthusiasm for ‘N’ scale (1:148 ; 2 mm: 2 ft), with the latter-scale having reached the limits of its possibilities.

As with the other layouts that have appeared on this blog, it is again set in New Zealand and, once again, located in that  part of that country known as the Coromandel Peninsula, specifically ‘Somewhere North of Karangahake, Somewhere South of Port Charles’, and deep within the remote ranges of that part of New Zealand.

The layout is in the early stages of its development and it is hoped that as it evolves and develops over time,  this particular Blog will be updated.

However, by way of background, what follows is an introduction:

Back Story

It is 2018 and Fidero Resources (N.L.) is a small Auckland-based gold mining company employing 20 men and extracting profitable ore from several small reefs (lodes).

The Mine is located at the upper end of a valley and a small, 18 inch (457 mm) gauge tramway (aka ‘Tram’) is used to convey the extracted ore to the processing plant located some distance away. To do this battery-electic locomotives (Both built by PastaeSpghiti SPA of Bologne,Italy c/n’s 002 and 003) are used, and they perform their humble tasks efficiently.and reliably.

The tram itself has little to distinguish it from others of its ilk, with the only feature of note being a centre-rail brake installed on the line immediately after it leaves the mine. The severity of the gradient necessitated such an installation and it works well and without any problems.

Locomotives

Currently two are owned by the company. Both are battery-electrics.

No.1 (also by PastaeSpghiti SPA of Bologne,Italy c/n 002) has recently returned from a rebuild, and while leaving No.2 to do the majority of the work, is being ‘tweaked’ prior to re-entering service. .

Rolling stock

The tram’s rolling stock is exclusively of the 4-wheeled side-dump type, with the locomotive (aka a ‘Trammer’) taking empty wagons underground to the working faces then, after they are loaded, taking them back outside and along the tramway to the processing plant.

Utilising the wagons in this manner avoids double-handling and enables an increased volume of ore to be worked.It is also quite prototypical.

The Reality

The layout baseboard was constructed to operating stage by Bonjing Valley Group (P. Smith Prop.) on my commission; woodworking and wiring not being part of my skillset. It was received into my care on 27 January 2019 and I have had the pleasure of creating the scenery, locomotive/s etc. which appear in the images.

 

Scenery

This has been the most interesting aspect of this layout; my use (for the first time ever) of pre-formed plastic vegetation specifically intended to replicate local fauna and flora. The ‘plants’ are made by a local organisation and although nominally OO/HO scale (1:87) in scale, seem to be ideally suited for my purposes. Although it is in fact possible to purchase the key items separately, as used on Fidero, the vegetation has come in ‘mat’ form, needing only to be cut to fit. As such it has proven very useful, and as it takes acrylic paint well, has proved suitable for its task.

Vehicles

Because it is set in the Twenty-first Century, motor vehicles form an integral part of the layout. As a result several Landrover 4-wheel drive vehicles have made their appearance as support vehicles for the operation. They can be seen in various places.

Staff 

The Company has ben fortunate in being able to acquire and retain the services of ‘Bill’ a very amiable and competent Large Lizard (aka ‘Dinosaur).  He holds the position of ‘Curator in Residence’ and closely and carefully supervises what is being done by the layout’s  builders. He is not averse to Landrover rides…

Structures

As with all my models, these are mainly constructed from discarded Picture Matte Board (aka Picture Framing Card ) and are layout specific. As the layout is evolving,  at the time of writing they are at best ‘temporary’, and may change as more information comes to hand.

 

Technical Details

Title:  FIDERO RESOURCES (NO. LIABILITY.)

 

Type: Gold-mining tramway (light railway)

Location :Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand

Scale: On18 (1:148 / 7mm= 1 ft)
Track gauge: 18 inches (457 mm)

Dimensions:

Length: 42 in (1066 mm)
Width: 23.5 in (596 mm)

Track Geometry:

Distorted oval rising at both ends.

AS RECEIVED 27 JANUARY 2019

FIDERO RESOURCES (NO LIABILITY)

Baseboard as received 27 January 2019

H. 24 March 2019

FIDERO RESOURCES (NO LIABILITY)

As at 25 March 2019

 

20190216_120311

FIDERO RESOURCES (NO LIABILITY)

Trammer No.2 descending the Centre-rail section. Locomotive shed on left.

TRAMMER (2)

FIDERO RESOURCES (NO LIABILITY)

Trammer No.2 ascending the embankment to the processing plant

Part of cyanide plant visible in background

(vegetation has since been added to this area; see next image)

TRAMMER 2 ASCENDING GRADE TO MILL 24 MARCH 2019

FIDERO RESOURCES (NO LIABILITY)

General view of Tramway and Processing Plant. Trammer No.2 is on gradient

Note vegetation, including Gorse (‘Furze’) in bloom.

20190307_075510 (2)

FIDERO RESOURCES (NO LIABILITY)

Image showing Company  Landrover (Series I), Managing Director (in front of vehicle) and Curator in Residence (to right of image). 

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FIDERO RESOURCES (NO LIABILITY)