Friday, March 29, 2024

Easter engineering works

Easter engineering works completed between showers. It is something of a bodge job, but splicing in replacement board can often be so. Fresh ballast hides a multitude of sins. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Spring repairs and updates

Last year saw some relatively minor (if awkward) repairs under Birkenhof station while the General Manager continued to ignore the subsidence further along the line. This year, that will be addressed, and some materials have already arrived with more in the supply chain pipeline.

Already, the green edges to the long viaduct have been removed. One particular decking board is suffering from extensive rot, but while I'm in there I shall probably replace the lot and drive in at least one new support as one has rotted away.

There are sundry smaller areas of rotting timber, of which this is probably the most serious. The decayed timber has now been removed, and will be replaced with plastic in the near future.

Trains do, though, continue to run.

Saturday, January 06, 2024

Winter operations

Last year was a poor year for running trains on the H&DLR. During the autumn and early part of the winter, predations by the blackbirds (mainly) have uprooted four platform benches, broken two lamps, demolished a building at Holzapfel, dislodged the scenic items in the loco siding at Birkenhof and thrown all the accumulated moss all over the track, and scraped all the earth down the bank onto the track. There's no immediate prospect of trains running all the way round. Apart from that, everything is hunky dory...

There was definitely another building and a platform bench here last year.

Well, the lamp at least still works.

Moss liberally strewn around the railway.
I don't think this lamp will work again, which is a shame because it's a very nice lamp (and it wasn't a cheap one, either).
There's a railway under there somewhere.

The most frequently operated train on 2023 was again the first one out in 2024.

Although a short inspection train did get as far as Birkenhof.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Summer running

Well, this report starts with yet more track repairs to try and improve connectivity through a key set of points.

399.03 has been out and about.

The substantial rebuild that saw an LGB motor block fitted under the tender seems to have worked out well as the loco sees more use than ever before.

The Stainz have been running on the Steiermärkische Landesbahn set...

And for the first time in a couple of years, Pearse Europa class live steamer "Camusterrach Pier" came out to play.

And no, neither "Camusterrach Pier" nor the Stainz were running as fast as these photos suggest!

Saturday, July 15, 2023

A slow summer...

It seems to have been a slow summer with few running sessions. Urgent repairs haven't helped, and indeed the repairs described in the previous post were only fully completed a week ago. Some little wedges intended, I think, for use laying tiles have been repurposed to level the track along the outer loop at Birkenhof.

At the same time, the wiring to a key platform lamp was also repaired. The lamp in question illuminates the "Kurzzug" or "short train" stopping point and is vital for evening operations when the operator cannot see how far the train has got at the station!

It's likely that I'll need to lift the points at one end of the station as the blades on one set (at least) don't seem to be conducting much electricity. I'd quite like to replace a very old LGB set with some TrainLine 45 ones, but they're not available in the UK and, post Brexit, what were my usual suppliers won't ship to the UK.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Urgent track works

Visitors to the H&DLR have noticed that the main running lines through Birkenhof station are not the level playing field they once were. The base is four parallel pieces of decking board, with a cross piece at the (staggered) butt joins to provide both support and a level join. Of late, a number have failed, and an attempt to bodge it only made matters worse. So much so that the cross piece then simply fell off. Slightly to my surprise, in general the problem isn't that the tanalised decking pieces have rotted. It is, I think, that the screws holding the cross pieces have rusted and no longer hold the assembly together firmly, allowing the decking boards over time to have dropped or twisted slightly. By yesterday, the situation on two of the lines - the main running lines - had deteriorated to the extent that trains really could not run.

Action was required... I was never really able to work comfortably under the boards, and 16 years later that's even less true. Anyway, some considerable effort later and we're nearly there.

Not perfect, the left hand most line still needs some attention, but that's (probably) long standing and all three lines are once again open to traffic.  

Still can't work out what's happened on the long viaduct, though. A video survey(!) of the underside shows no broken joints, and although on the top edges of the board there's extensive rot, the underside is in good condition. But it's definitely dropped, as you can see, and the green edging has broken fairly recently in a couple of places as well.

Sunday, April 02, 2023

Spring is in the air...

For the first time in nearly 6 months, a train finally went all the way round the H&DLR again.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

New year, new loco...

Probably the longest period ever on the H&DLR with neither a post nor indeed any trains moving. It seems to have been a long winter; normally that doesn't stop the trains, but this time it has. In better news, track cleaning and repairs have started.

Blackbirds and no doubt other creatures have been scraping back the earth on the bank in search of food, with the consequence that the track has literally disappeared in some places.

But in an encouragement to press forwards, a locomotive ordered 15 months ago has finally arrived.

It's a model of the East German V 10C locomotive, built in large numbers for industrial railways in a variety of gauges. Märklin have just released the outside frame version, in the blue livery of the Mansfelder Bergwerksbahn.

More to follow when trains can actually get all the way round the track again!

Saturday, July 23, 2022

The VIIk arrives...

A little later than planned, an LGB model of the Saxon "VIIk" or, to be more accurate, class 99.73-76 2-10-2 steam locomotive has arrived on the H&DLR.

In common with other Saxon narrow gauge models on the H&DLR, it will shortly receive etched nickel silver number plates and associated shed and operator plates.

Friday, May 13, 2022

New phone, new pictures...

A new phone with a better camera and more features means one thing - more pictures!

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Easter running day

A few photos from a running day on Easter Monday.

Tuesday, February 08, 2022

French narrow gauge

Continuing the French narrow gauge theme, a tramway locomotive recently arrived on the H&DLR. Now these have a simple 0-4-0 chassis, with pickup skates, which is similar to the Stainz chassis. Experience suggests that on the H&DLR's track, short wheelbase locomotives can struggle to maintain pickup, especially through the older LGB R3 pointwork.

As the locomotive has a lighting connection on the rear, this can be used to feed power in, for example from a pickup van. A number of pickup vans already exist on the railway, but one suited to the operation of the Tramways des Deux Sèvres train seemed in order.

The newly arrived Côtes du Nord van has been modified with pickup wheels and a socket to provide this for the tram.

The general hope is that it looks something like a Blanc Misseron tramway engine, a type that were in widespread use on the minor secondary railways of the Deux Sèvres and Vienne départements.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Down another rabbit hole...

This time, French metre gauge railways. The H&DLR has owned a Corpet-Louvet 0-6-0 for some 20 years, and over that time it has been a useful engine. Latterly, being battery powered, it has tended only to come out in winter when the track is too grimy to run track powered trains. During a recent battery powered operating session, the lack of genuinely appropriate rolling stock became rather too apparent.

But with Christmas on the horizon, and some relatively recent LGB models of French prototypes still available, this was soon rectified.

Sunday, December 05, 2021

Winter services

Trains run year round on the H&DLR, and quite a bit of effort is expended on keeping the track clear and clean enough to do this.

The battery fleet is a backup for those days when the track is too wet and/or dirty for track power to run. 

However, previous cleaning activities meant that once some of the lineside vegetation had been cleared, track powered trains were able to run.

The last train of the day always calls at all stations, and is often the railbus. It's seen here pausing at Holzapfel for the final customers of the day.