Well, what a weekend that was – after a manic couple of weeks building up to the show, surprising myself at how long it takes to do jobs you don’t think will take long, I finally finished the last couple of coke wagons at 18.10 on the Friday evening, allowing paint to dry while I loaded the car, and then got a text from Andy who was about an hour in front telling me traffic was terrible on the M25 – I eventually arrived at the venue at about 20.20, where the decision was made to quickly set the layout up, check it worked then do a runner for the curry house! Fortunately there were no problems encountered on that first run meaning stomachs could be lined safe in the knowledge all would be alright.
An early start on Saturday morning saw Andy giving the layout a good thorough shakedown, and learning the somewhat convoluted (temporary) point control setup while I finished off a few little bits and pieces. At 09.50 with everything done and us ready to go we had a chance to have a brief look at the other entries in the Cameo Competition, rapidly coming to the conclusion we wouldn’t want to have to judge a winner! Mark, in his wisdom, had decided turning up at 10.00 and learning the layout ‘on the fly’ was the best bet, only to also have a crap journey round the M25 and not turn up until gone 11.00!
Anyway, with Saturday’s operating team finally all in one place, things settled down into a pattern of operation that seemed fairly consistent, although Mark moaning was the most consistent thing by far. The layout got very busy at some points and it was actually quite hard to see the front on occasions!
The layout ran well for the weekend though, there were a few more problems encountered operationally than I would have liked, but these were down to us learning how things work and don’t work, rather than any physical issue with the layout itself. Despite having packed loads of spares, the servo point control seemed reliable (I’d convinced myself it would fail constantly after the problems setting it up) and no soldering irons were required all weekend. The main issues were learning a few items of stock didn’t work with one another around some of the curves, the best example being my class 37 epically buffer locking with a rake of Accurascale hoppers as it came onto the layout derailing everything at the very moment the competition judges were inspecting the layout!!
After saying goodbye to Andy, Mark and I tucked into another curry on Saturday night (this time in the company of Brian and Paul from Shawplan, and much piss taking) before heading to exhibitors social event for a pint before calling it a night.
Sunday was relatively trouble free operationally, the principle issue being Oly getting stuck on the M25 for ages and therefore not arriving until well into the afternoon, meaning Mark and myself were a bit worse for wear after 4 hours continuous operation! Oly did, however, bring the family and as such we were able to bring in Evie as our latest conscript/operator.
Taking down the layout went smoothly, although I got caught out by time and should have started packing stock away earlier than I did (there was quite a lot…). It does look like we will be ideally placed for a rapid getaway from shows in the future.
The layout got a lot of positive feedback and I was surprised by how many people knew the area and the stock very well. Personal highlights were some quite in depth chats with Charlie Petty (of DC kits but also Chairman of the EM2 society and pretty well versed on all things MSW), Alan Whitehouse (of Mini MSW fame and author of one of the books that got me going on Woodhead in the first place) and Mike Edge (who enjoyed the industrial loco fleet).
We are out again in October at Uckfield which I’m looking forward too, especially with a few modifications to the point controls which will simplify operation no end. What’s more, none of us need to travel round the M25 so we should have a full fleet of operators for the entire weekend!
I’ll leave you with a few shots I took of the layout over the weekend. Probably not the best (I’ll do a proper photo shoot at some point) but hopefully giving an impression of what was going on.