Little Trains in Big Places

You may have noticed my posts have been a bit short recently, and not really about my normal 3D printing projects, and this one will be no exception.  This is not because I haven’t been doing anything; rather I have been very busy traveling.  In this post I will bring you a bit of steam railway history from Iceland.

Does Iceland have a railway?  Well not right now but did, in fact it has had three.  The first was built in 1913 and was used to construct the quay and breakwaters now shielding the Reykjavík harbour.  The railway was called the Reykjavík Harbor Railway and operated until 1928.  It was a 900 mm (2 ft 11 716 in) narrow gauge line and ran to two quarries around Reykjavík as well as along the water front.  You can see the extent of the railway on the map below which was created by By N. P. Kirk.Map_of_Reykjavík_Harbour_Railway

The railway had just two locomotives, Minør and Pioner, which were built by the Jung engine company of Germany in 1890.  From new, they did a sort stay in Denmark before being shipped to Iceland in 1913.  The engines both have 0-4-0 wheel configurations and have standard out side cylinders.   Although there is now nothing left of the railway, luckily both engines have been preserved. Minør sits proudly on Reykjavík dock side.

Reykjavík Harbor Railway 1 Reykjavík Harbor Railway 2 Reykjavík Harbor Railway 3 Reykjavík Harbor Railway 4 Naturally I had to have a go!

Reykjavík Harbor Railway 6

The only rolling stock used on the line were the open sided flat cars as you can see in the photo below.  None of these are believed to have survived.

Reykjavík Harbor Railway 5

The other locomotive, Pioner, is on display at the Icelandic Folk Museum at Arbær, Árbær Museum.  The photo below is courtesy of Timothy Titus.


The second railway in Iceland was built in the 1930s and was the Korpúlfsstaðir Farm Railway.  It ran around an industrial farm on a 600 mm (1 ft 11 58 in) narrow gauge track.  It had no locomotives so all the four-wheel skip wagons were pushed by hand.  Nothing of this railway now exists.

The third Iceland railway was built just after 2000 to transport materials and workers to build the Kárahnjúkar Hydropower Plant.  The Kárahnjúkar Light Railway was powered by three diesel locomotives which ran around the clock.  The railway was removed once the facility was completed and, as with the second railway, nothing now exists.

There have been plans to build a standard gauge railways in Iceland dating back to 1906 but the roads always won the battle.  The most recent was for a railway between Reykjavík and Keflavík International Airport however a new dual carriage way road was built in 2008 allowing the trip to be done in fifty minutes by coach, but I am led to believe the scheme is still being considered.

And that is my brief history of the railways of Iceland.

Next week I will be at the Andover Model Railway exhibition so hopefully I will have something to share with you from there.

Upcoming Shows

This week’s post will be a short one and as promised in last week’s post I’ll be sharing with you some of the shows coming up which I’ll be attending.

The first show is the Andover Model Railway Exibition on the 3rd & 4th of September.  I’ll be there with my club’s layout ‘Solent Summit’ all weekend.

The next show is the Swindon Railway Festival on 10th and 11th of September. Although I won’t be attending with one of my clubs layouts I will be there on the Sunday with ‘Horfield’. This very large OO Scale model of the GWR four track main line through Horfield station is as realistic as they come and recreates 1955 to 1961.  A lot of the rolling stock was scratch built to ensure the correct trains are passing through.

The next show is Fareham Railex on 1st and 2nd of October and this year my club will be demonstrating how to  build and assemble scenic modules for club layouts.

The 28th to the 30th of October is the NMRA(BR) convention in Meriden and we will have a few of the ‘Solent Summit’ modules on display as a switching layout.

The 6th of November is the Poole And Districts Model Railway Society’s annual exhibition and my group will be taking ‘Solent Summit’ there as well.

The 10th and 11th of November is the Hampton Court Model Railway Societies Tolworth Show and again ‘Solent Summit’ will be there.

That’s it for my current layout commitments for the next few months.  If you’re planning to go to any of these please come and say hello.

On Board with a Really Big Steam Engine

Although most of my posts are model railway related I also have the odd post about real trains; see last month’s post about the Dean Forest Railway.  Also I have the odd post about other steam equipment such as traction engines; see last year’s post about the Great Dorset Steam Fair! By the way this year’s GDSF is less than two weeks away for anybody who’s thinking of going.   But this post is a little different; it’s still about a steam engine, but not on dry land.

The ‘Steamship Shieldhall’, which is the largest working steamship in Britain, was steamed up and ready to meet me at Southampton Dock. And I went for a nice cruise down to the Solent and back.

Shieldhall 15

The Solent is the body of water between Isle of Wight and the mainland at the Southern Coast of England.  It’s in this area where most of my fellow modellers building American railroad layouts live, hence why our layout is called ‘Solent Summit’.

The ‘Shieldhall’ was built in 1955 as a sludge tanker, not the most glamorous of duties.

Shieldhall 13

She was one of seven ships which worked out of Glasgow between 1900 and 2000.

Unlike her predecessor, the boilers on this ship are oil-fired, making it a much nicer ship to work on.  The engine room is located at the rear of the ship under the main funnel and looking down from the main deck level all you see are the cylinders.  There are two steam engines, each with three cylinders.  In the picture below you are looking towards the front of the ship, the smallest cylinder is the first and is a high pressure cylinder,  followed by a medium and low pressure.

Shieldhall 10

Here is what they had to say about their engines and boilers.

Shieldhall 33

The term ‘triple expansion’ means the same steam is used in all three cylinders: as it exits the first cylinder it goes into the second and then into the third.  As a steam engine works by the expanding force of the steam in a cylinder each cylinder has to get bigger to give the same amount of power as the previous.  Hence why there are 15″, 25″ and 40″ cylinders in one engine.  When the steam comes out of the last cylinder it has almost used up all of its expanding power and is condensed back into water.  This is then put back into the boiler.  Unlike railroad locomotives and traction engines, ships can only use the water they carry as anything other than fresh water will damage the boiler.  Therefore the condensing of steam to water is essential, and that is also why you don’t see lots of steam blasting out of the funnel in the same way you do with railroad locomotives and traction engines.

Below is a quick video of the cylinders. It was extremely hot at this level but surprisingly clean.  All the action is on the deck below.

Heading down the second ladder puts you right next to the motion as you can see in the video below.  The wind you can hear is from the cold air being pumped in behind me, which was very welcome.

The engines were running slow, or idling, at this point.  Although we were still tied to the dock both engines were turning to warm up.  As the engines are permanently connected to the propellers one was in reverse as not to create too much driving force.

Below is a video of the other engine, looking down the pistons.

Once we got under way the engines were turning much faster, and both in the same direction.

In the video below when it pans up you can see the crank slides and the oil way pattern used to evenly distribute oil for lubrication.

Each engine has its own regulator and reverser, and they are very similar to railway and traction engines.  All the controls are right next to the engines and instructions are sent to the engine room by these.

Shieldhall 17

There is one for each engine and a corresponding pair on the bridge.  The red arrow states what the bridge wants the engines to do and the gold arrow is an acknowledgment from the engine room.

The drive shafts are exposed as they run out from the engines at the back of the ship, as you can see below.

The four boilers, being oil-fired, are very self-contained and although they need to be managed they don’t need to be worked as you do with a coal-fired boiler.

Shieldhall 4

Getting photos was tricky as they are fairly big and the working space behind them was not.

Shieldhall 5

The fuel oil was a fairly medium viscosity and is sprayed into the burner.  The actual nozzles receive the oil from the side under pressure which causes it to spin within the nozzle, giving a decent spread of oil for an even burn.

As with the fuel oil used on the UP Gas Turbine locomotives, this oil needs to be heated before it can be injected and that is done by the apparatus you can see on the left in the above photo.

The walls of the ship either side of the engine room are the fuel tanks and as you can see from the gage below, she had recently been topped up.

Shieldhall 6

And I don’t think I would like the bill from that fuel stop!

Shieldhall 14

One of the smaller steam engines is the Forced Draught Fan.

Shieldhall 2

It was this that was causing the cool air to blow into the engine room you could hear on the previous videos.  It’s not as exciting as the main engines but in this video below you can hear it pumping away, driving the fan on the right.

This draught, as well as cooling the engine room, is also the main draw for the burners and in the picture below taken from the boiler room looking up, you can see the air ducts from the fan running to the boiler tops.  And you can just about make out the little green steam engine.

Shieldhall 19

Shieldhall 1

The ships funnel also has the ships whistle mounted to the front as you can see below.

Shieldhall 11

And this came with a warning!

Shieldhall 12

Several times I was caught standing near it and they weren’t kidding.  In the video below we were passing a large cruise ship coming out of Southampton heading for Copenhagen.  The cruise ship got in first with its fantastic horn but the ‘Shieldhall’ answered with the siren and then whistle.

The trip on ‘Shieldhall’ was great fun and the visit to the engine room was fantastic. It was a privilege to see it working although I am pleased it’s now a pleasure cruise ship and not still a sludge hauler.

Before I wrap up this post I wanted to let you know that Shapeways have free worldwide shipping on all orders over $25 untill August 21, 2016 at 11:59PM PDT.

Next week I’ll be updating you about my club’s upcoming shows.

A Tip to Avoid DCC Bus Wiring Headaches

In this post I have a simple tip that I always use when wiring up a layout which can save you hours of head-scratching and frustration.

Although DCC wiring can become complicated, the basic principle that all rail feeder wires are joined together applies. Well, all the left rails together and all the right rails together.  Even if you have sections separated with electronics like a Digitrax PM42 Quad Power Manager or different boosters, you’ll still have areas with lots of feeders joining to a common point or bus.  The frustration starts when you finish connecting all the feeders and you have a short where something is connecting the left and right rails.  The headache starts when you slowly start un-soldering wires or cutting feeders to find the short. It’s guaranteed to be the last one!

To avoid this I use a multi-meter as I work.  Just about all multi-meters have a setting for continuity.  Some even come with a buzzer which sounds when the probes touch.  In the image below you can see I have set my multi-meter to continuity.

Continuity Check

I always check the bus for continuity before I start and after I join each wire, or group of wires.  If I am working in an area with lots of feeders I sometimes clip the multi-meter to the rails or bus.  Then if a feeder with a problem, or the wrong feeder is touched to the bus, it will sound the alarm.

This simple tip has saved me hours of searching and re-working areas.

Some of the common causes of shorts when you’re building a layout are:

Shorts in the frog section of an Electrofrog point/turnout due to no insulating rail joiners being installed.

Shorts in the frog of a modified Electrofrog point/turnout because the jumper wires have not been removed.  See my post here regarding how to modify your points for better operation.

Copper strips used to hold the track in place when rails cross base boards joints.  If these are not cut in the middle they will short the rails.

And the biggest cause, believe it or not, are tools lying across the track.

Hopefully this will help you have a trouble-free time when wiring up your DCC bus.

A Small Fix for the N Scale Alco C-855B

My most recent locomotive shell is the N scale Alco C-855B, the companion locomotive to the C-855 released a little bit earlier.  The C-855B is almost the same as the C-855 with the exception of the missing cab.  Along the sides of the locomotive are the iconic sandboxes and it’s with one of these that I’ve picked up an error in my model.  In this post I will show you what that error was and how it can be fixed.

The front end of the shell, as shown below, where the cab would normally be has a similar setout to the rear end.  The walkways, sandboxes and railings are the same and simply mirror the details already drawn.  However, the front sandboxes on the C-855 are different and also have a different fitting location.

Alco C-855B Sand Box Fix 1

When I drew the C-855B I took the model of the C-855 and modified it.  I did the front right-hand side first, followed by the left.  And it was at this point that I forgot to adjust the sandbox fixing.  In the image above it looks like there’s nothing wrong but in the image below you can see the long slot for the sandbox locating pin and the frame sticking down.  This slot should have been further to the left and a bit shorter.  Also the frame should have been pushed back all the way to where the walkway steps out.

Alco C-855B Sand Box Fix 2

To show this below is a screen shot of the rear of the C-855B with the correct detail.

Alco C-855B Sand Box Fix 3

So how is this solved.? Well, fixing the 3D model is easy and that has already been done.  The C-855B that’s available on Shapeways is correct and all the sandboxes fit.

If you already have a C-855 then there are three choices.  Firstly, you can cut or sand the locating nub off of the back of one of the sandboxes.  Then trim back the lower section by 3.5mm (1/8th inch) as shown below and it will fit.

Alco C-855B Sand Box Fix 5

Secondly, if you don’t fancy cutting the 3D printed material, I have made a replacement sandbox available on Shapeways, which will be a perfect fit.  In the image below you can see it on the right compared to the original on the left.  The locating nub has been moved over to fit into the hole in the shell and the lower section has been cut back to make way for the frame.

Alco C-855B Sand Box Fix 4

This replacement part can be found here.

The third option is to replace the shell and as with the C-855 I have made the C-855B shell available on its own with no other parts, which can be found here.  This is a bit extreme but if you have had an accident with your shell this is cheaper than buying the whole kit.

Hopefully those who have already purchased a C-855B can make the existing sandbox work without too much trouble.  However, I am happy to help so please feel free to get in contact me and ask any questions.

I know some of you are still waiting for the dummy chassis for this locomotive and I am hoping to have something to share with you very soon.