News from February 2024

Our News

As reported under Manufacturer News, last month, a T23 locomotive has arrived here. Jeco really has pulled out all the stops to make a nicely detailed locomotive, but there seems to be a T2x jinx in that like Heljan’s T21, it is over-worked and unreliable. So, we set to work on it (just to investigate in case there should be a need to return it). It has no slow-speed performance, which is disappointing given that it is a ‘large shunting loco’ with a top speed of 75 kmh. Turning the power up slowly, the directional lighting flickers, the cab light and engine-room light come on full brightness, and the loco struggles to crawl, growling as it does so. Then, when track voltage has reached about 8, the loco shoots off at nearly full speed. Turning the power back down, the loco will continue to run until about 6v; then it goes back to growling mode! After extensive running on a figure-of-eight test-track that we assembled using track components loaned to us (most of which are not really serviceable), it’s slow speed performance did get a little better, so running-in will continue—maybe with better track!
But, during our investigation, we took the body off and were dismayed. When a model loco is equipped for DCC, anyone not wanting this function can operate the model on analogue, with a so-called ‘blanking chip’ in the DCC socket. With this model, the so-called blanking chip has so many electronic components on, that it is not entirely compliant with its purpose, and this makes fixing digital-related problems almost impossible. (When our former IORE loco became faulty, we were able to hot-wire the track feeds to the motor cables and get the loco running again; even with working directional lights! This is not possible with the T23.) Getting the main circuit board off the model for investigation was made very difficult by one of the cables to the motor being too short to enable safe removal of its electrical coupling. With so much handling, if this had been a Heljan T21, we would have a workbench loaded with bits that had fallen off; with this loco, only one set of steps came off, and they were very easily fixed back into place and with the handrails correctly aligned. Since its first test in January, we’ve had no more issues with coupling rods coming loose; and we have insulated the touch-contacts for the cab light (really don’t like that) and put tape over the engine-room light (shouldn’t be there because there is no authentic interior)! We have, nevertheless, now decided against buying a second one even when funds permit.

Manufacturer News

HNoll’s B4 carriages have arrived into stores and now a complete 1980s train can be assembled! From our perspective, the B2 is still desired; and given that HNoll is having to pause production, due to the poor Swedish economy and people’s inability to buy the models, we expect it to be a while before they (or the UAF7) appear as models. Back to the B4R (which later became the BF4 to signify that it had a baggage compartment (the ‘F’ in the type-code)), it is up to HNoll’s usual high standard, and is a truly beautiful model. Correctly modelled, it even has the small telephone booth next to the train crew’s compartment; a feature that soon disappeared with the widescale introduction of mobile phones. The model is also available in more recent liveries, including the BF7, which is not really any different except that SJ wanted to give the refurbished ones a new designation (but SSRT’s refurbished ones are still BF4)!

PCX87 is advertising a model of the Saab 9000 in 1985 condition. We are aware of four different colours for this, black, white, grey and silver; but at least one supplier we know of has commissioned a dark red one also. 1985 is within our epoch of interest, so we are hopeful of acquiring a few.

Other News

Last month, we reported on the loss of the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition at the NEC, which usually takes place late November. It seems that in its place, there is to be The National Festival of Railway Modelling on November 23rd & 24th, at the NEC. As we understand it, this will be organised by Warners Group (same organisation that does the Alexandra Palace event among others), a commercial entity, rather than by volunteers. Regardless of whether commercial or not, we hope that it is a successful event and that it demonstrates that this hobby remains very much alive.

Behind the Scenes

Mini-Series about the new railway; 3: Trädgårdslinjen

One of the FLMJ’s defining factors was its outside location. We were determined (and advised) that in Sweden, we would move indoors due to the weather being more severe than it had been in the UK (even despite many open events in the UK getting rained off), and ‘minor damage caused by neighbouring cats’ being replaced by ‘major damage being caused by roaming elk and other wild animals’!
Nevertheless, there is consideration for a summer-only outdoor section, also operating between Rickbacken and Töjnan, but allowing trains to avoid the fiddle-yards. For simplicity and safety, there should be no stations along this route, but this has not been totally ruled out. A halt, with or without passing loop could be included to add interest to the line, and the location for this potential addition has already been chosen with very little difficulty, a large boulder in the garden which in scale terms, would be a small natural mountain! It has been given the name, Vävarberg; but no more has been decided about it. Furthermore, there would be no signals or overhead cabling; just good photo opportunities of trains running through the garden, again. Such an extension would be at ground level in the garden, but in the basement however, the railway will be about 1,3m up from floor level, giving ample storage underneath without being too high, but high enough also for access to the outlets to the garden for the Trädgårdslinjen. Swedish basements are rarely 100% below ground level, and they often have windows. Operationally, this would be a ‘preserved railway’, which within a heritage railway might seem a bit odd, but it gives the older outline stock (steam locos for example) a good excuse to be used. The name simply translates as “The Garden Line”.

Next Month: Stuverydsbäckens Järnväg.