Thursday, 28 January 2021

It's All On-Line In Manchester (1)

But First, Kathy's Story

This is Kathy, now aged 81. She worked for many years "in service" at Osborne House ...
... and now has a flat in Arthur Cottage, once part of the Osborne House Estate.
It used to have quite a grand entrance next to the lodge on the main road into East Cowes.
You can just espy her pad through the trees from the now barred entrance.
Today's way in is much less regal!
She is a feisty lady as can be gleaned from her escapade on the day she retired from her work. Playing the innocent and sweet old lady, she had conned the security officer to show her how to unlock access to one of Osborne's distinctive towers.
On her last day, she gained access and flew her uniform from the flagpole for all and sundry to see; much to the consternation of the Osborne House Authorities and the delight of the local press!

Every year Kathy has joined the Charity walk across the Island accompanied by Bonzo.
Kathy has had a few health problems over recent months which necessitated a visit to the Island Across the Water for a "scan" at Southampton Hospital.

Kathy, like many "mature" Islanders, has no need, normally, to travel overseas, apart from a few walking holidays (ambling holidays) by coach. So a solo trip to Southampton would be a big and scary adventure.

Now here fbb should say that Kathy is a simple soul; she has no "televisor" and would not know anything about computers, internet and the like. The fbb's have known her through Church for many many years, and the old man oft teases her by asking whether they have installed the electric yet at Arthur Cottage and, in similar vein, how she is managing taking her washing down to the river Medina and bashing it with big stones!

She loves a joke and gives as good as she gets - if not better.

First problem.; what time is the ferry? The only information she could find was for services up to the end of December, possibly the Christmas service list. But she was going in January! So, ask fbb to look on his "thing", which confirmed a suitable sailing, out and back.
Next, off goes Kathy to buy her ticket from the East Cowes booking office ...
... which was completely deserted. Customers were directed to Red Funnel's super wizzo self-service ticket machines - no human being was visible anywhere in the terminal.
Kathy was not at all happy.  "I didn't have any idea what to do with all them buttons," she said with some vehemence. So she shouted at the top of her voice.

"Is anybody there?"

A man appeared from behind a door. He was, as it turned out, a  very nice man and a very helpful man.

He arranged to meet Kathy in the booking office on the next day, her day of travel, and "work the buttons for her". Which he did.

Well done Red Funnel? But would a less feisty old lady have achieved a response? Probably not.

Whatever the "unprecedented circumstances", to deprive a potential passenger of all human interface is simply NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Kathy forced the system to supply that human interface, but most 81 year olds would have gone away unserved, possibly missing a ferry and a hospital appointment.

It takes guts to get someone to serve you!
Kathy rode from Southampton ferry terminal to the vast Hospital complex by taxi, in good time for her appointment and all went smoothly on the return journey. It took Katthy a whole day!

But she did report feeling a sense of achievement at beating the unfriendly system thanks to the very nice man who answered her well vocalised plea for assistance.

And So To Manchester.
fbb has a reasonable general knowledge of  public transport in Manchester and the geography of the PTE area. But his specific detailed knowledge is shaky.

When the Twittersphere revealed the "new" hand-me-down buses for Go North West's route 41, fbb decided to explore further.
Everywhere on the timetable was reasonably familiar except for Bank House Chapel Lane; so fbb wondered how easily someone from "Bank House" might find their way to, say, the Manchester Royal Infirmary, in theory for an appointment like Kathy's. Currently there is a half hourly service and the journey would takes a smidgen over one hour.

The first problem to solve is the location of "Bank House" somewhere between Middleton bus station ...
... and North Manchester General Hospital, seen here in pre-Go Ahead days.
It looks as if this might be a bit of a challenge ...
... even after zooming in!
More to follow soonest.

And So To Aberdeen
Today is the first day in service. More tomorrow.

 Next Manchester / Aberdeen blog : Friday 29th January 

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

That's The Way To Do It (2)

 But First ...


... confirmation that the |Go North West livery "tease" is indeed for service 41. Also confirmed is that the buses were previously branded Crusader with Go North East.

Snow ...

... at Derby above and on the Kyle of Lochalsh line below.

Whoops ...

The above picture appeared on line and in Kent local papers. It shows a car abandoned on the electrified railway line "near Stone Crossing station". No one was injured and a man was subsequently arrested and charged.

No one has explained how the car got on the line. The old gated crossing on Church Hill ...
... which was the access to the platforms, has been barred completely.
Entry/exit for the platforms is via a ramped access footbridge ...
... of substantial proportions.
All other roads nearby are either over- or under-bridged.

The newspaper articles don't say how he got there or how far along the track he had driven before realising that he was trapped.

The press suggest, helpfully, that doing something like this is not a good idea.

Stone Crossing (near the Dartford Bridge cum Tunnel) ...
... is not the most lavishly equipped of stations.
It does, however, have (still?) the most ridiculously quaint ticket office.
Stone Crossing enjoys a train every 15 minutes, two of them being the Thameslink half hourly service to Rainham. The other two are South Eastern services from Charing Cross to Gravesend.
Well worth a visit as part of a Kent exploration, but not the way chummy did it last Saturday night!

That's The Way To Do It - Livery
We have already learned (there will be a test next week) that fbb's fake pre-war tank wagon was never based on anything the ran on the big-train tracks. Wagons carrying petrol were required to be painted buff with a broad red stripe.
Wagons carrying less volatile fuels were supposed to be painted a terra cotta color, which explains this preserved Royal Daylight wagon ...
... and the Peco model. 
It seems that this was never fully enforced, but Hornby Dublo interpreted this as bright red for the kiddies.
It would seem that, for the less dangerous products, more latitude was allowed so that companies could advertise their wares by using company colours. 

Immediately pre- and post-WW2 the light, dangerous fuel tankers became aluminium or grey ...
... while vehicles for the "heavy" oils were black.
This was a sensible decision as spills and dribbles meant that any bright colour would soon become a sort of mud grey-brown and less than ideal for advertising purposes.

So, fbb's black Royal Daylight wagon in black ...
... probably represents a later model. To confuse the issue still further, all tank wagons were taken under state control "for the duration" and painted mud-grey to offer an element of camouflage.
Although there were thousands of grey "Pool" petrol wagons, and they hung around for years after the war, there have been very few models. This was a short-run product similar to the real wagon above, from Bachmann.
Note that the real wagon is saddle mounted, the model has its lengthwise cradle. fbb could own that model for £21,95 plus postage, but he won't as he already has that type in another livery.

It was not long, however, before keeping tank wagons clean went to the bottom of the list. Within a few months of delivery they all became very mucky.
Of course, you can buy your models ready sullied!
It must be fun to sort out all the possible combinations if you are trying to build a model railway for a particular set of dates.

And a word about price. In 1939 the Hornby Dublo tank wagon cost  2/6 ...
... which is twelve and a half pence in modern money. £1 in 1939 would be approx £69 today. So multiply pence in 1939 by 69 and you get the equivalent Hornby Dublo price for today. Answer £8.63!

The Oxford wagon examined yesterday sells for £18.95!
It is somewhat more detailed but it wouldn't last long if played with on the carpet.

The dis-assembling of a Hornby Dublo tank wagon is postponed.

 Next It's All On-Line blog : Thursday 28th January 

Tuesday, 26 January 2021

That's The Way To Do It (1)

 Risk Of Explosion

It is amazing where ostensibly simply projects lead you. fbb has, for a couple of years, been assembling a collection of OO gauge tank wagons with the aim of understanding the history of  4mm to the foot model manufacture in the UK. The story is far too complex to cover in blogs, and probably too tedious for most of our readers. But it is fascinating!

 With the help of his recently purchased book ...
... fbb has begun to get a feel for the task in hand, starting with Trix UK sales in 1938 and Hornby Dublo a year later.

By the time these toy makers started their businesses, real full-size tank wagons had been in operation for at least 50 years. Indeed, the book has a picture of the very first tank wagon ever made in the UK, built in 1881.
The D shaped tank sat, unfixed, on a standard wooden wagon chassis; held front and back by vertical stanchions braced with metal rods which sat on both sides of the filler cap atop the tank. The tank was held down by two metal straps, bolted to the wagon solebars but not fixed to the tank itself.

By 1887, tank wagons were beginning to look more like OO gauge models!
Note that the front and back stanchions are now braced diagonally to the solebars and the two straps are augmented by wire ropes wrapped over the tank. The chassis is wooden.

The finest model tank wagon is that produced last year by Oxford Rail.
In this case the chassis is "metal", but, obviously, moulded in plastic! The tank sits (unfixed in reality but well glued in the model) on four beams laying across the width of the chassis. This construction is the "saddle" as illustrated at the head of this blog. In fact, there are two main saddles shown very clearly in this shot from above.
The end "saddles" are part of the stanchions and just provide a teensy but of extra support for the very end of the tanks. The brakes are simple hand operated shoes applying on the inner tread of the wheels.
Generally, there was no outlet at the bottom of a tank for "white" fuels, those more likely to burn or even explode (like petrol); the only way in and out (by pump or syphon) was via the top.
Likewise there were no fixings from tank to chassis; in order to prevent leakage and thus possible danger.
Restrictions also applied to the way in which such tanks were marshalled, "barrier" empty wagons had to be placed between tankers and locomotive and between tankers and guards van. Speeds were sternly controlled but, if your wagon passed its tests it might be allowed to roll at a spanking 35mph, in which case a star was painted on the side.
In very simple terms this design (or its derivatives) remained constant until after WW2

Sometimes tanks were "cradle" mounted. In this design two hefty wooden beams ran from front to back and the tank sat on those. Other fixings tended to be the same. This Bachmann model shows the cradle very clearly.
The four blocks each side support that bracing for the end stanchions and the fitments for the two straps. But all the pictures in fbb's new tank wagon book do not show such lumpy projections.
Only the cradle is visible. Did Bachmann get it wrong? It is difficult to pass judgement as there was, pre-war and immediately post-war, a huge, huge variety of wagons made by different builders. Quite possibly Bachmann's model is based on a real wagon, but one which has not found it into "the book".

Also note that there is a little wheel next to the filler cap.
Turning this opened a valve in the bottom of the tank to allow emptying from below. Thuis tank is in its later color scheme which was aluminium for lighter (explosive) fuels and black for the more gooey stuff or things like paraffin or diesel which don't blow up quite so easily.

Just to confuse us all, the Bachmann tank wagon shown above was retailed by a Swindon company called Replica Railways and not by Bachmann.
Confusing, innit?

Finally in this little sequence we have the anchor fitment, In this case the tank was bolted or riveted to solid metal brackets which were in turn bolted to the metal chassis; so no need for stanchions, stays and straps!
A picture from "the book" shows that this model is "right" ...
... but reveals a more complex structure than in the model. No doubt the anchors did vary.

One thing is for certain. A keen modeller, intent on accuracy, will have a fine time sorting all this out; and that is before you look at liveries!

Thankfully for his sanity, fbb is only interested in the different types of models actually manufactured. Whether they are an accurate representation of reality is, for fbb, only an interesting side issue.

But maybe a further look at livery, both model and real, will be in order?

By way of a couple of PSs (PSes?), note the exquisite modelling of the hooks and rope tension thingeys on the Oxford wagon.
No maker has ever attempted that before! Also, in this engineering sample ...
... it implies that the strapping (coloured gold) is separately applied to the tank body. Imagine what a mess-up fbb could create trying to do that with his stubby fingers are a tube of polystyrene cement!

Of course, today's tank wagons are significantly more expensive (taking inflation into account) than those on offer in the late 1930s. And we thought that Hornby Dublo was pricey when we were kids!

The latest and helpful craze. Free vaccination "shuttles" in Harrogate, above and Gateshead below
And a livery tease from Go Ahead North West.
Looks like their service 41 ...
... part of a grand and unfulfilled scheme to have far more buses running across the centre of Manchester. Remember First's 41 and 42?
Confirmation, if we needed it, that some First Kernow open top services will retain the Atlantic Coaster name.

Amongst other things, tomorrow fbb, without the aid of a safety net, intends to deconstruct a Hornby Dublo tank wagon. Such excitement.

That is IF fbb can recover from today's all-nite partying in celebration of Mrs fbb's Birthday. The number, is of course unmentionable - but we all remember the trombones!
Video discovered by No 3 Son on-line!

 Next That's The Way To Do It blog : Wednesday 27th January