Collage showing new track a new loco and a 3D printer

Quick 5 year update

I’m going to try to get back to blogging on here with a new approach.

Apart from the stock boxes post last August (which had actually be sitting in drafts for almost three years) I haven’t posted on here since my last update on Konrad’s cab in August 2018. And while I haven’t actually done much on the cab since then (though I did fit R/C and a whistle) I’ve made lots of progress in other areas, and this is part of the problem: I want to thoroughly document it all chronologically. But I’m never going to get round to doing that, so here’s the new plan…

  • I’m going to use this post to give a very brief overview of major changes
  • I’ll fill in some of the gaps in future posts
  • I’ll post briefly but more often from now on

I’d got stuck on the idea of giving a blow by blow account of major (and minor) developments, setting their significance in context, and generally filling in every detail from the last 5 years. But if I give an overview of changes, that opens the possibility of giving a brief update that relies on those changes for context. So sometimes I might post a single image or video as an update.

I’m also doing to pull in some updates I posted elsewhere, so this blog becomes the most complete account of the development of Moel Rhos and my garden railway modelling activities. Doing a bit of reposting should get me into the habit of posting more frequently too – but apologies if I post stuff you’ve already read over on the Garden Railway forum or our the virtual meet-ups of a couple of our Wales area groups.

Anyway, that just leaves giving the headlines from the last 5 years, which I’m going to break down into three areas: the permanent way, the rolling stock, and the workshop.

The Permanant Way

Two key developments here since I posted about the 3rd tunnel over 5 years ago…

  • I reached the shed. Originally described as phase 2 in (gulp) 2016 this incorporates a hybrid form of shelving and cassette fiddleyard which I will describe in a future post.
  • I laid the passing loop for a new station. There’s nothing more than trackbed as yet (buildings and landscaping still to do) but this is part of creating a much larger circuit of track (originally conceived as my phase 3)

I’ve also be renewing some of the trackbed of the original loop and extension. My original thinking about trackbed was… let’s say a learning opportunity. More on that later.

A loco heading for a hole in the wall of the shed

Rolling Stock

Quite a lot has happened in this department, so I’m going to confine the major updates here to motive power acquisition. Expect future posts on both freight and passenger stock though.

  • No. 5 is a Mamod Boulton. This is a steel-bodied battery powered freelance diesel-outline loco on an Essel-design chassis. I bought this early in lockdown when I panicked about not having functioning rolling stock to play with when stranded at home with my railway (what a terrible waste that would have been). I was able to get one of the last models without sound or radio control, which made it quite a bargain, and I have fitted a Deltang radio control receiver to it. I plan to add details but haven’t got round to any of that yet (yes, I know it’s been over 3 years!) It is a powerful loco easily capable of retrieving my Roundhouse Millie when it runs out of gas.
  • No. 6 is model of the Kerr-Stuart diesel 4415. The original was an experimental loco trialled on the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway, I’ve always fancied one, and my model was designed and printed by a friend after I suggested it as prototype. I have assembled the parts, fitted radio control and test run it several times. It’s currently in the process of being painted and finished.
  • No 9 is a Regner Paul tram loco. There were several reasons for buying this, the main one being a desire the build Wisbech and Upwell (aka ‘Toby’) style tram loco, and one of these came up second hand at a good price. I don’t actually need another project right now, but I love the running quality of my Regner Konrad and its one drawback is that it won’t self-start because it has only a single cylinder. The Paul has the same ‘Easy-Line’ parts but with twin cylinders it self-starts with no difficulty. For now I’m using it with its original body – although two modifications I hope to make quite soon are swapping the supplied radio control for Deltang, and fitting a whistle.

Sharp-eyed readers will have noted that locos number 7 & 8 are missing from the list… I’ll come to those in the next section.

3D printed Kerr Stuart 4415

The Workshop

The main headline here is that I have bought a 3D printer. Well, in fact two. So the workshop has been particularly busy turning out printed models. Initially a lot of these were of 3D drawings from Thingiverse, and then drawings generously shared by members of the Garden Railway forum. But of course alongside these I have been drawing my own, and in the process learning to use to pieces of software in particular: Tinkercad and OpenSCAD. I’ve got much more to write about this, and some drawings to share too, in future posts.

The printers are a Flashforge Adventure 3 which I bought in December 2020, and a Nova3D Whale 2 which I bought in November 2022. This first is a filament printer (or FDM – fused deposition modelling printer) and the second a resin printer. I’m not going to go into to the differences here beyond that resin provides much crisper detail at the cost of producing far more mess and chemical hazards, and I’m having a tough time bending it to my will. More in future posts. I think I have the measure of the filament printer, partly because I chose the same model of printer my friend who printed the Kerr-Stuart 4415 has so I could shamelessly learn from his experience, and maybe because I’ve had it about 3 times as long. (I’ve printed quite a lot of stuff on it!)

Another significant acquisition is a small lathe, that I bought from the estate of an old friend from my old model club in Brighton. But I haven’t used it much yet, other than for centring 3D printed wheels… But it is relevant to the missing locos from the list above: not no. 7 which is simply a set of parts I 3D printed from a drawing of a loco that was shared online (I haven’t assembled them yet…), but no. 8 which is to be a 3D printed live steam loco, designed by the same friend who printed 4415, and is a model of Kerr Stuart’s 4420. This is an odd-looking loco with a water-tube boiler, he has already got his working and he is sharing his drawings with me. I have only got as far as the chassis, but while that and the body are 3D printed, the boiler, gas tank and steam motor will involve metalwork, and that’s where the lathe comes in. I will post updates on my progress with this here too.

A pot-bellied stove from Thingiverse, printed in resin

So those are what I consider the key developments of the past 5 years. There’s plenty more to write about – including visits to other garden railways, and filling in on the details. But if you’ve read this far (sorry it wasn’t that quick an update after all!) I’m grateful for your perseverance, and if there’s anything you particularly want me to follow up on right now, let me know in the comments!

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Simon Wood

Lecturer in medical education, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See for more...

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