BLOG: Challenge complete

Photo: D1000 Western Enterprise departs with an express as a Class 122 waits to enter the station.


Tonight is a special night for railway modelling as Channel 5s new Great Model Railway Challenge is set to air at 8pm this evening. It pits teams of modellers against each other to build working model railways for this brand new television show.

Regular readers will be well aware that the Hornby Magazine team is always up for a challenge. We’ve built several layouts against the clock and our latest – the extension of Grosvenor Square which featured in HM136 – will be making its debut at the Great Electric Train Show on October 13/14 next weekend.

As I type there are now just seven days until the opening of the Great Electric Train Show at 10am on Saturday October 13 and as you might expect we’ve been busy behind the scenes preparing for the show. Not only that, we’ve also got a list of finishing touches to make to Grosvenor Square to make it fully exhibition ready for the event. Even though we completed it scenically and electrically (almost), our challenge isn’t quite complete yet and it is going to be down to the wire to get it fully prepared.

An overview of the depot scene looking across the turntable.

The 24hr challenge projects we have tackled for the magazine have been highly enjoyable and rewarding too and Grosvenor Square’s extension includes the first of our challenge projects from HM105 too – the roundhouse scene. This is now fully integrated into the main layout and provides part of the backdrop to the main lines as they depart the station area while also forming part of a larger motive power depot scene.

So what’s left to do? There are a couple of wiring connections to tidy up for the point motors, addressing of the Cobalt IP digital motors, updating of the track plan in RailMaster, fascia boards for the front, a little bit of paint touching up and I’d really like to see passengers on the platforms – a missing feature from the grand terminus. There’s also a marathon cleaning session to undertake while one of the final jobs in any of our builds is making sure that the new baseboards are all fit to travel on packing boards to keep them safe during transit.

Typically our workshop is full and bursting at the moment as we are also in the throws of completing the scenic section of the West Coast Main Line layout which will feature in Hornby Magazine Yearbook No. 11 and on our stand at Warley, so the plan is to have a big move around next week so that we can make the final preparations. As I said, it will be down to the wire!

The extension adds 8ft to the length of Grosvenor Square.

The new extension fits between the original end of the scenic area and the storage yard.

In between all of this the motive power fleet is also being prepared and checked over to ensure that the original locomotives and those which are new to it all perform as we want them too. The latest additions on the Western Region fleet include a second GWR ‘King’ 4-6-0 which will be demonstrating Locoman Sounds’ new decoder – full review coming up in HM137 – together with a Heljan GWR ’47XX’ 2-8-0 with a Zimo decoder and Digtrains sound file (full installation coming up in Hornby Magazine Yearbook No. 11), Brown Boveri gas turbine 18000 (without sound) and, potentially, an Oxford Rail ‘Dean Goods’ 0-6-0. There will be a couple of non-Western Region additions too to operate the incoming trains from the Midland Region comprising Hornby Stanier ‘Duchess’ and ‘Princess’ 4-6-2s. All of these have been equipped with Kadee couplings to comply with the rolling stock used on the layout.

There are also models to consider from the existing fleet. The ’57XX’ 0-6-0PTs need a thorough clean and running session while the ’45XX’ and ‘4575’ 2-6-2Ts will need the same. One of the ‘Western’ hydraulics has been upgraded with a new speaker – and it sounds really rather good – while if there is time I hope to be able to weather a few more of the fleet in time for the show.

There might be a lot to do, but that is all par for the course for an exhibition appearance and we enjoy it just as much as seeing the finished result in action. We will get there and we’re looking forward to throwing the doors open in a few days time. See you at the show!

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