Polly on the Tracks

Polly has arrived – doesn’t it look great.


The Club’s Polly  arrived at Ashton Court today.  It is intended to have it boiler tested at the Fun Day on Sunday 6th October.  Following this members will be allowed to drive it with great care and provided they clean it and put it away when they have finished.  No doubt the queue to drive it will be very long – much longer than the queue to clean it!


Our Polly has been erected and painted by Mike Keighley with much help and assistance, especially in the painting, repainting and re-repainting, from Arthur Clark.  With the experience Arthur has gained on this project I suggest if you want a model painted ask Arthur but stand well back.

Bream Steamers

The events are coming thick and fast at Ashton Court.  Last week the Polly Rally, this week the Bream steamers.   This is a group of enthusiasts who each year spend a week visiting the local societies and running their locomotives.  This year we had an excellent turnout with nine locomotives  and they were treated to Joan’s culinary hospitality and a good session on the track.  Because we caused some slight interruption to the building of  the new workshop they also had to work moving the roof trusses across the track – their efforts were much appreciated and a great day was had by all.  Don’t forget if you want to count the rivets you can click on a photo to see it in greater detail.



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Bob’s Blog 28th Aug

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Three stalwarts of the club spotted taking a well earned rest at our exhibition.   Each is an excellent model engineer and the club owes much to these gentlemen for the enormous contribution they have made over the years.

Running Day – Bank Holiday Monday

A lovely sunny day produced a splendid turn out of members, public and locomotives.

With three steamers on the ground level and three steamers on the raised rack there was plenty of choice for the public.  The steamers were supported by Thomas Telford and Pegasus on ground level  and so many battery locos on the raised track that running was rationed to 1 1/2 hour spells to allow all a fair run.  Yes it is Graham Hawkins taking the tickets.  He spent Sunday driving his loco then turned up on Monday to help on the station – that’s dedication.    Don’t forget you can click on the picture to get a better view.





The New Workshop

Work is due to start shortly so I thought I would take a picture of the space as it is before we start.  Members were busy on Friday clearing the site.  Follow the progress on the Blog.



Bob’s Blog 25th July

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Cluedo Day


This annual event has been running for 26 years and came about following a conversation between a member of the church in Gordano, who run the Cluedo club, and his neighbour Arthur Howard who was a very active club member many will remember.   The club runs an event for children for a week each summer with most activities taking place at Gordano school.  The highlight of their week is when coaches turn up and they travel to the railway at Ashton Court for a fun afternoon.  This year a fleet of coaches turned up with nearly 300 children and helpers.

With six trains on the ground level track and five on the raised track they were quickly loaded and dispatched.   Because there are no tickets to take and children are very sprightly and quick, loading is rapidly carried out and the drivers get very little time to draw breath.  With full loads each time a lot a hard work and concentration is required to keep things moving but everybody has a great time and we even had sunshine to celebrate.

The Chairman of North Somerset Council, Alan Mcmuuray came along with his wife together with two District Councillors and the Head of Planning from Long Ashton.  With the help of the Societies ladies we were able to entertain them in true BSMEE fashion and introduce them to the railway, it’s activities and facilities.   They had a busy time talking to Society members and the organisers of the Cluedo Group who do such a splendid job each year looking after their flock.

Kill or Cure


I am not encouraged to carry out model engineering activities in the kitchen or use any domestic appliances for engineering purposes.  However having just painted my smoke box and chimney with high temperature resistant paint I needed to cure this at a high temperature for 60 mins.    As my wife was going out on Tuesday I thought this a good opportunity and the curing process was duly carried out in the oven.   However when I later came to turn the cooker on it had “blown up” – no lights, no fans, no heat, etc.  A simple check found that the supply to the cooker was ok, so nothing for it but take the cooker  out of it’s housing.  Then the front door opened.  I leave the rest to your imagination.

The good news was that I later managed to mend the cooker but my wife had to help me  put it back.

EGM  7:30pm on Wednesday 31st July at Ashton Court

Please try and get along on Wednesday to give your views.  We need at least 30 members present for a quorum.

Bob’s Blog 19 July

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Just a little job for  Frank


Frank Gribben is one the unsung heroes of the Society.    When something needs tidying up with a bit of woodwork we give it to the ever willing Frank.   As in the case of the signal box some of these little jobs turn into a big job and Frank has been working hard over the last few weeks, often staying behind when everybody else has left, to do the woodwork following the raising of the signal box.   The door has been a particular challenge as the old  one had to be removed and replaced with a new door and frame whilst maintaing security between working sessions.   He has also tidied up the inside of the signal box fitting a neat cover over the wiring and cabling as you can see below.  Well done Frank.



Simplex Superheater

Can anybody help Andy Nicholls who is replacing the burnt out superheater on the clubs Simplex locomotive. In order to improve the heat transfer Andy has designed a new superheater which requires  a piece of 7/16″ diameter 24 gauge stainless steel tube approximately 18″ long.   If anybody can help please contact Andy on 0117 944 6276.

In the meantime he is considering replacing it with a conventional spear type superheater as we need to get the locomotive in operation for the use of members.

Bob’s Blog 16 July

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Life in the Signal Box

It was a hot day on Sunday but we still had quite few passengers and lots of engines on the raised track.

Views from the Signal Box  – Click on picture or wait 10 secs


As you will know if you have tried it, life in the signal box can be hard work. You need an alert mind and nimble fingers to keep up with the demand.   Which track to put the next train on the loop or the main, now the bell rings to tell you that a train has just left the platform and you must lower a signal to call on the next train then reset it when the train has passed.  Then you get three bells and having made sure nobody has gone past the box you put the traverser signal to danger to allow operation of the traverser, now two bells to say the traverser is clear so off with the traverser signal, by now another train is approaching on the ground level track and so it goes on.

Mike Keighley found himself in the box all day and it was very hot

The funny thing was the trains seemed to continue running – no one had the heart to wake him up.

Hope you like the new format  for the web site which has been introduced by Harrison Fletcher.




Bob’s Blog 5th July



On a sunny but chilly  Wednesday evening, members gathered at Ashton Court.  Quite a good turn out of members but unfortunately this was not matched by locomotives.  Only Gordon Cackett brought along his engine and he also allowed Pete Goodman to have a go and see what he could do.  Both drivers had great problems with wheel spin which they put down to an oil leak which occurred on the last running day. Gordon struggled round with himself, and three passengers whilst Pete started with the same number of passengers but soon found he had to drop David Harding and continue with two.   The provisional result , subject to final analyse and scrutiny was a win for Gordon with 0.9% and Pete coming second with 0.6%.   Shame there were not more engines but there was a lot of chatting and much  tea drunk.  Unfortunately the club loco was out of action with a broken grate,  We must make sure it is available next year so we can have a full test of drivers if not of locos.

Gordon Cackett with Pete on board “learning the road”


Pete Goodman – making good time down the back straight.



The long walk home for David Harding.   IMG_0494




Tuesday Steam – Can you identify  the Headless Driver?


As often happens these days a few members turned out on Tuesday to run assorted trams and steam engines and enjoy a cup of coffee and natter.  A new member turned up and enjoyed some laps of the track.  Dennis is re-building a Polly 4 and looking forward to his retirement when he can spend more time at the track.    He is keen to learn more about using a lathe and milling machine he has recently purchased and has offered to help at the exhibition.  Mike Keighley spent the morning clearing ants nests.

Clue to headless driver – he has recently been castigated for the shocking state of his car!


Bob’s Blog 28th June


Happy Faces

Normally we share our locomotives and trains to the delight of the younger generation but on Tuesday we had the pleasure of giving rides to some older people who were equally excited and showed a great deal of pleasure.  These were a group of disabled who were brought along by DCF Premier Workshop, which is a charity in Bristol looking after some 50 people during the week.  It does a tremendous job and aims to provide them with an interesting experience with activities in the workshop and on outings.   I have to say the pleasure on the faces of these folk who struggled to get on the carriages and then enjoyed lap after lap round the track was a pleasure to behold.  We all have great fun with our hobby and it is a treat to share it and see others also get so much enjoyment.  Thanks to all the members who turned out to assist on such a very rewarding day.IMG_0478






5000 Laps 1550 Miles



Yes that is correct.  On Sunday the Western Britstolian Class 52 locomotive completed 5,000 laps and nearly 1,600 actual miles.  That is the distance from John O’Groats to Lands End and back – can you picture it running all that way alongside the M6.

The loco was purchased from Phoenix and first took to the track in May 2007 so has been working away for some 6 years.  Initially it was somewhat lacking in power for club use, hauling passengers, and this was overcome by fitting new motors with a new controller.  Following the upgrade it has given excellent and reliable service and can be seen being driven by Martin Mortimer-Fox on most running days.   You can see from the photograph that with the excellent care given to it by Mike Keighley and others it has kept in remarkably good condition and is a splendid asset in the service of the club.

PS   Alan Church has asked me to point out that the rubbish disposed of by our chairman does not include his Irish loco.

Bob’s Blog 21st June


The Workshop in Action


Daniel Hamilton came with his dad Donald to the auction on Wednesday evening at Ashton Court and asked if he could come along on Friday to do some work on a Go-Kart he is building.  This is Daniel at work on one of the stub axles under the watchful eye of workshopmanager Phil Bridgeway.  Daniel had already done some lathe work at school but no doubt learnt a lot from Phil who introduced him to turning between centres.   It is  delight to see the machinery being put to such good use and Daniel will be back next week to make some more parts.   The go-kart will be powered by a Honda look-a-like engine and Daniel has already completed the front end.   We look forward to seeing the kart in action.

 Alan Church with 3 1/2 F

IMG_0455Alan Church brought along his scratch built Gauge 1 engine and tender.  It was intended to be a 4F but Alan got the dome in the wrong place so now it is a 3 1/2F or as Alan puts it an “Irish” engine.  Wheels came from our sale last year and the rest from Alan’s scrap box –  he must have a IMG_0456big scrap box.   Based on “the project” it has single cylinder with slip eccentric, water pump and is exquisitely made to a total cost of £30.  We have got some clever b’s in our Society.   Not sure what contribution our chairman was making but it is good to see him at the track because he takes a lot of rubbish away.

  Mike Keithley and a Polly Tender


Mike Keithley brought along the tender of the club’s Polly  – yet another smashing piece of work – spoilt with things to photograph this week.   He and his team have been working hard , particularly on the paint work and this made it quite difficult to photograph with the bright sun reflecting on the highly polished service.   Looks too good to me for the members to use, I think we will have to get Frank Gibbens to make a glass case for it! .


More Action


There was a lot more action with a very good turn out of members enjoying the sunny day. David Giles was working on the paved area around the new lift and a boiler awaits test.  The tailstock die holder and dies were purchased at the auction on Wednesday night for the club workshop.  We are building up quite a collection of tools to go with the machinery.

It is about time I had a holiday so I am away for the next threeFridays but will try and get some news to you.

Clicking on the pictures should blow them up – it does and gives a black screen!!  Back to the experts.




Bob’s Blog 14th June



Signals  -Tuesday update with Pictures – It WORKS!!


Busy day at the track Friday and Tuesday.  Now the ground level track has been re-layed leaving the station through to the bridge we no longer have metal ties joining the rails and we can have track detection to see if the  track is occupied.  The detector can then be used to operate a signal at the station which will inform the driver when it is safe to pull away.  Two purposes, firstly the vision is obscured by the hedge at this point and it is not easy to see if the track is clear and secondly it adds to the railway “atmosphere” and gives something more for passenger  to watch – they seem quite taken by the various signals.


Work started early this year when I designed the system and brought the components.  These are mainly sourced on ebay which provides plenty of choice and good reliable service.  You have to wait a bit if the part comes from Hong Kong so you need to start early.  Having got all the bit these were put together into  a cabinet, the circuits tested and the cabinet bolted onto the wall in the station.  At the same time Mark Phillips was getting the bits and building the signals.  We will eventually be installing two systems, one for the ground level and one for the raised track but at the moment concentrating on the ground level.




Once the track was in place Terry Phelps set to work welding electrical contact straps onto the rails with silver soldered bolts in the straps.  These are then joined together with wire loops to maintain the circuit across the fishplates. Roger Sykes, Derek Todman and I then pulled in the cables and today we completed the wiring to the signal which Mark had mounted under the bridge and also to the beginning of the new track where Mark and Terry had fitted isolating fish plates.


With me so far – I seem to be going on  a bit but there is quite a bit of work to be done.









On Tuesday, Mark and  I hope to get the signal working so next time you are down on a Running Day have a look – We did except Mark was at the dentists.

Why no pictures on Friday Well shortly after lunch three members from Stockport ME turned up. The are driving an old Lagonda from Lands End to John O”Grouts and as they were passing, called in on the off chance.  So, by the time we had chatted, given them a ride on Telford and had a cup of tea the afternoon had gone andI  had to rush and pack up.