Saturday, 11 April 2015

Learning New Skills

Let There be Light!
The University of the Third Age (U3A) movement is a unique and exciting organisation which provides, through its U3As, life-enhancing and life-changing opportunities. Retired and semi-retired people come together and learn together, not for qualifications but for its own reward: the sheer joy of discovery!

Perhaps fbb should join? This model railway lark involves a huge learning curve; remembering old skills and learning new ones.

LEDs, for example. They didn't exist when fbb was a lad but now they are everywhere.

Appearing as practical electronic components in 1962, the earliest LEDs emitted low-intensity infrared light. Infrared LEDs are still frequently used as transmitting elements in remote-control circuits, such as those in TV control "zappers".. The first visible-light LEDs were also of low intensity, and limited to red. Modern LEDs are available across the visible, ultraviolet, and infrared wavelengths, with very high brightness.

Front and rear lights for motor vehicles and trains ...
... saloon lights for coaches/buses ...
... railway signals ...
... and even streetlights ...
... not to mention "super bright" LED torches.
The claim is that they are cheaper, last longer, use less power and don't make heat; in fact the best thing since sliced bread. fbb, being old, feels that their light outpit is not as good as old fashioned bulbs. Outside fbb's former pad on the Isle of Wight, the new streetlights seem to give pools of brightness without the "spread" of, say, their predecessors' orange "sodium vapour" installation.

A light-emitting diode (LED) is a two-lead semiconductor light source. It is a pn-junction diode, which emits light when activated. When a suitable voltage is applied to the leads, electrons are able to recombine with electron holes within the device, releasing energy in the form of photons. This effect is called electroluminescence, and the colour of the light (corresponding to the energy of the photon) is determined by the energy band gap of the semiconductor.

So now you know!

And, as you might expect, they now form an essential part of any model railway worth its salt! Signals ...
... streetlights ...
... and even a flashing blue LED atop a model ambulance.
Then there are fairground rides, glowing brassieres braziers for a night watchman and miniature Christmas tree lights.
The mind boggles!

But it does get a tad pricey.  A strip of LEDs to stick in your model coach costs £20.
But it does come with a motion sensor so the lights only come on when the train is moving; whereas fbb's Pullman Car takes the power for its dinky table lamps from the track; but with the same deficiency, namely blackout in stations and when the train conks out.
And as for signals ... Back in antediluvian days, the looked like this ...
... and were operated by the finger of God. But, alas, such simplicity is simply not up to sniff.

A new company has started advertising. They will sell you all sorts of made-to-order OO gauge signals like these ...
... which will cost you up to £110 each. OUCH!

fbb feels that his ever supportive lady wife might just object to such profligacy, especially as your aged blogger promised only "pocket money" expenditure.

So it is back to basics; buy LEDs and install them in buildings and railway coaches; Maybe even make your own colour-light signals.

Easy? We shall see ...
     Brand Awareness & Promotion     

Stagecoach Gold (route "gold" from Torquay) on non-Gold X46 from Exeter.

Stagecoach Gold (S3 from Oxford) on non-gold 31 at Wantage.

Stagecoach Gold (X46/X47 from Northampton) on non gold town service 22.
All photographed in the last three weeks.

Shouldn't happen, should it?
 Next bus / model blog : Sunday 12th April 


  1. The heinous crime is not putting out the premium-brand bus out on the non-premium route, but the other way round! So none of the examples are unacceptable, from that point of view.

    Incidentally, I understand that the Devon X46 is the usual home of the Gold buses displaced from the withdrawal of the Totnes-Dartmouth section of the route from Torbay; while Northampton's X46/X47 has similarly been pruned at its eastern end, presumably creating at least 1 spare bus in the process.

  2. re stagecoach gold - I must agree with the other anon. As a resident of Oxford, who used to commute in on one of the gold routes, It's really very rare for non-gold buses to turn up on those routes, whereas there are regular (and thus I presume scheduled) journeys operated by gold buses on numerous non-gold routes - the services to Wantage, the 11 that runs round the villages to Witney, the 233 further out in West Oxon, and on some town routes in Oxford too.

    In terms of raising the profile of Stagecoach's premium product (in an area in which Oxford Bus Co and Arriva also have premium branding on certain routes) - what is wrong with this? No complaints ensue when a Gold bus turns up in Wantage or in Burford, quite the reverse....

  3. There are rumours that the Exeter - Torquay service is going Gold later in the year when the route between the two is less of a road construction site.

  4. The biggest problem with gold service especially when first introduced to an area is the appalling lack of clarity for the stagecoach fleetname on the front of the bus

    The number of people at bus stops especially after dark, who stood back as they were waiting for. Stagecoach X17 was surprising. The fleetname on the front needs to be more noticable, edge it in white perhaps ?

    1. I think the "Gold" is more important than the Stagecoach... and if it's going your way, are you really going to sit and wait for a logo?

    2. The Stagecoach name is irrelevant, strange as it might seem. I did some market research, completely unintentionally, a couple of years back with my Explorer Scout Unit (14-18 year olds).
      We were looking at Mission Statements and I collected a number which related to their daily lives (schools, the BBC etc), and one was from Stagecoach. A number of the Explorers use Stagecoach West’s 55 for their daily commute to and from school, and most of the others use it for leisure travel, yet when they looked at the relevant mission statement they asked “who are Stagecoach?” The local route is heavily promoted and route branded and known to everyone as “the 55”. Sure it gets unbranded buses, even Gold ones, but the brand is very definitely “55”. Stagecoach means nothing to that particular market.

  5. Ah the joys of what I term 'cross route promotion' where the branding advertises the service to those who don't use it :)

  6. Indeed, comment writer Ian, I have also heard such a rumour.

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