The Great Dorset Steam Fair 2018

For those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a while you may remember a post I did in 2015 about the ‘Great Dorset Steam Fair’ (GDSF), also now known as the ‘The National Heritage Show’.  You can find the post here.

This year I paid the GDSF another visit, and not just because it’s a great show, but because they were celebrating their 50th anniversary and to mark the occasion they decided to attempt a Guinness World Record for the ‘the largest display of steam-powered vehicles’. And they did it; out of 522 full size steam engines present at the show, 472 were officially recognised as meeting the set criteria.  I’m not sure what the criteria were but they made for an impressive display and something which will probably not happen again for a long time.

As well as the 522 full size steam engines the show was full with everything from horse plowing to diggers and to try to get around to see them all in one day was simply not possible, so I’m going to share with you some of the highlights for me as well as some of the full size steam engines in the show.

Arriving very early helped as a lot of the engines, although parked up, were getting under steam and I was able to walk up and down the rows.  Several of the engines I’ve seen before but what also made this show more special was the GDSF had shipped in many from around the world.

Fowler Road locomotive ‘Atlas’.

Foden Road Locomotive ‘Earl of Dudley’.

This was one of several shipped in from New Zealand.  Foden Road Locomotive.

This unusual, to me anyway, engine ‘Peerless’  was made by Peerless, Geiser Mfg. Co., Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, USA.

This Ruston Proctor & Co. road engine came from Holland.

Fowler General Purpose Engine “Kinsale”.

This Ruston Proctor & Co. traction engine.

Fowler Road Locomotive ‘The Great North’.

This plowing engine, significant for its longer boiler to accommodate the winch wheel, was in need of restoration but I feel confident it will be back in steam at a future GDSF.

Of course seeing the engines up close is great but it’s not as good as seeing them working and the GDSF does just that.  There are several arenas across the show but the largest and my favorite by far is the heavy haulage ring, more commonly known by the fans as the ‘Play Pen’.  Here you can see engines of all sizes working up and down the hill, running light or towing trailers of varies sizes and weights.

This Irish road locomotive was getting some good exercise.

This German engine was heading into the ring for a good run.

Even better than one traction engine is two and in the video below you can see the 1906 Burrell Traction Engine (BP5913) “Validus” working with the Burrell Road Locomotive (TA615) “Semper Fidelis” to pull a load of chains up the hill.  I think the driver of “Semper Fidelis” is having a bit of fun as he’s allowing “Validus” to do all the work untill “Validus” realises what’s going on and calls for some more power.  Together they accelerate up the hill.

As well as traditional style engines I was pleased to see some things I’d never seen before. One of these was ‘Avery’.

This American design undermounted traction engine looks very much like a railway locomotive.  The crew, when interviewed over the PA system, said when driving you can’t see over the boiler, just like a train.  I believe they said they’d it brought over from Oklahoma.

The cab also had the same shape and feel as a railway locomotive.

The ‘Avery’ was build by Avery & Co, Peoria, Illinois, USA.

But the best bit, for me, about the ‘Avery’ was the wonderful American chime whistle which you can hear towards the end of the video below.

The ‘heavy haulage’ ring is also used for just that and Allelys brought one of their big tractor units and trailers with a BR standard class 5 locomotive on the back.

As well as demonstrating throughout the day how they load and unload the locomotive they also allowed the setup to be towed around the ring and below you can see three road locomotives doing a lap of the lower ring.  The modern tractor unit is simply providing air for the trailer brakes.

There is always a variety of different loads to tow in the ring; below is a large cylinder spanning between two trucks.

And a well trailer with a large transformer.

Below we have two road locomotives working a generator load up the hill.

Railway locomotives and traction engines, although evolving at the same time, normally took very different paths and I was surprised to see a traction engine railway locomotive.

‘The Blue Circle’ was built by Aveling & Porter in 1926 as was the very last one they built out of 130 and is believed to be the only one left.  It was originally purchased by Holborqugh Cement Co. Ltd of Kent which later became associated with Portland Cement.  It was used to shunt cement and coal trucks around the works.

The locomotive worked right up until 1962 when it was replaced with a more powerful locomotive.  In 1964 it was presented to the Blue Bell Railway for preservation and it was at this point it was named “The Blue Circle” after Portland’s popular cement products.  However due to its relatively low power, for a railway locomotive, and top speed of 6 miles an hour, it didn’t get returned to service.  But in 1988 it was sold to its present owner and returned to all of its glory.

‘The Blue Circle’ was giving wagon rides at the GDSF and I was really pleased to see it preserved and working.

As well as steam engines I also like a lot of the historic military and commercial vehicles but for me there’s one which sits at the top of the list, the Scammell Explorer.

“Chunky” here doesn’t have a broken axle, it’s just parked on a ramp showing off its amazing suspension.

These 6 by 6 tank recovery vehicles are right at home charging around the “Play Pen”.

Here’s one as it went up the hill.

There were, of course, lots of other commercial vehicles but this one stood out; I don’t know what it was but I think Mad Max might like it!

This is an Ex-Russian military heavy haulage truck.

As you can see, it’s a lot bigger than the Scammell Explorer which it was towing.

And just to show off, below you can see and hear it towing two Scammells up the hill.

Another unusual traction engine was this reversed boiler direct plowing engine.

This engine, named ‘Joker’ was built by Garrett ‘Suffolk Punch’ tractor in 1919.  As stated it was designed for direct plowing, which is basically towing a plow, and was geared to be faster than traditional traction engines. Traditionally plowing had been done with two engines, see the 2015 GDSF post to read more.  From what I understand this design was introduced about the same time as diesel tractors started to come out and the traction engines were seen as old technology so the design never took off.

Steam rollers are also a huge part of the GDSF and although they have their own areas where they where building roads, there were plenty in the ring.

These also provide a great service as the ground, although dry, still gets churned up by all the heavy equipment and the rollers simply smooth it all out.

Steam lorries can always been seen in the ring and this year was no exception.

But for me it was the steam Omnibus which stood out; a little different and one I’d not seen before.

A unsuall steam roller I managed to snap as it passed by me was this ex-Wirksworth Quarries chain-driven Dual-Roller.

On display alongside the full size steam engines there are lots and lots of miniature engines and here are few as they trundled by.

I think the dog is in charge of this one!

This miniature steam lorry fire engine was fun.

Leaving the heavy haulage ring for a minute over in the threshing section, which sadly I only had time to pass by once, was a Canadian engine working the thresher.

And if you wondering what a thresher looks like, here is one powered by an Allchin traction engine ‘Evedon Lad’ built in 1910.

If you’re wondering why I didn’t get a chance to look around the rest of the threshing area, here is a view of just part of the site taken from near the top of the plowing field.

This panoramic video is taken from the same spot and shows half of the GDSF site.  The rest is to the right of the hedge.

One of the big attractions, and always has been, is the Showmans’ engines.

This Showman’s from Ireland was looking striking in green.

‘The Forest Maiden’ which has been a regular visitor to the show over the years was previously red has now been repainted in glistening black with the name of the builder returned to the engine.

And given how many there were at the GDSF this year it wasn’t surprising to see some running in the ‘Play Pen’.

This Showman’s engine “The Iron Duke” was brought back from Germany where it had been powering an amusement park.

On the right side the German writing is translated to English and reads ‘the fascination of steam’.

As the evening draws in the Showman’s engines comes alive with electric light and demonstrate how they got their names – by powering the historic fairgrounds.

If you get a chance to visit the GDSF it’s very much worth staying on to see these engines come into their own in the evening; the lights, steam, smell, noise from the fairground and friendly crowds enjoying the atmosphere with a pint of real ale is an experience not to be missed.

As I said earlier there was just so much to see it was impossible to capture it all but here are some of the other engines doing what they do best.

One of my favorite parts of the show is when it starts to get dark but some engines are still running around the ‘Play Pen’ and this year we had a good sky and a full moon. You get a real sense of the enjoyment the drivers have at running these engines; the crowds have died down but they’re still making the most of having the space to let them run.

Here are some videos of engines running in the dark.

The GDSF is always a special event because a lot of the engines spend the event working as they were built to do and not just sitting as museum pieces. Next year’s show may not be as big but it’ll still be an impressive sight giving all the noises, smells and wonders of steam and I hope to be there; maybe I’ll see you at the heavy haulage ring!

The Great Central Railway Model Event 2018

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you will know I try to post every week.  However last Monday I was rather ill so I ended up missing my post.  But never fear because I’m back and ready to post.  And this week, as promises two weeks ago, will be about the Great Central Railway Model Event which I attend as an exhibitor with our club layout, Solent Summit.

Now, although I said I attended the event it was a very busy weekend and given the size of the layout we took and the number of staff we had it was very difficult to get away and see the other things.  Plus as the Great Central Railway had exhibits at different stations along the line, not having the time for a train trip, I was unable to see any of those.  But the real trains where running right out side our marquee and I was able to dive out and get some pictures and video to share with you.

We were based at Quorn & Woodhouse Station which has an island platform between the tracks.  Throughout out each day three steam haled services, a diesel top and tailed service and a DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) ran up and down the line.  And given that it’s a double main line this made for an intensive service.

On the Friday Class 20 D8098 worked on the South end of the diesel service with Class 37 37714 on the North end.

The Class 20 was built by English Electric/Robert Stephenson & Hawthorns Ltd in Darlington in 1961.  The Class 37 was also built in 1961 by English Electric.

The Woodhouse road crossed the North end of the station and from here I was able to capture the iconic sound of the class 37, which gave them the name ‘Growlers’, as it departed heading North.

Out of the three steam engines Standard 5 No. 73156 was the smallest, although don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s not a powerful locomotive. It has a BR (British Rail) power rating of 5MT (Mixed Traffic) and considering the scale only goes up to 9, that’s not bad.

This 4-6-0, built at Doncaster in 1956, had a fantastic exhaust note and I managed to run out and catch it as it pulled out of the station heading south.

As well as the big trains the DMU was also running up and down.  The train consisted of a three car set and I believe an additional fourth power car.  Sadly I didn’t see it again to get any more shots.

The second steam engine was 70013, Oliver Cromwell.

This 4-6-2 pacific class 7P (Passenger) express engine was a fantastic looking locomotive and, given that it has a main line ticket and is regally ruining main line steam specials at top speed, ran like a sewing machine.

From the other side if the line I was able to capture it coasting into the station heading North.

And again from the road bridge departing North.

The GCR does have turntables but as the line is only about 10 miles long and the locomotive are not running at speed they do the return journey in reverse.

Her is Oliver Cromwell departing the station heading South, tender first.

One the Friday night the GCR put on a special train for the exhibitors so I did get a ride and it was behind none other than Oliver Cromwell.

At the southern end of the line, Leicester North, I captured Oliver Cromwell running round its train.

On the Saturday the Class 20 was still on the diesel service but the 37 had been replaced with Class 45 D123.

This locomotive was in wonderful condition and despite the distinctive diesel growls I don’t think it needed to work very hard at all to pull its train.

The Class 45 or ‘Peak’ has been named ‘Leicestershire and Derbyshire Yeomanry’.  D123 was built at Crewe in 1961.

The last steam engine, and the one I most wanted to see was also was the most elusive however I did manage to catch it.  The huge (by British Standards) Class 9F 92214 ‘Leicester City’.  It was built at Swindon in October, 1959.

This 2-10-0 simply radiated power, not surprising as it was one of the most powerful steam locomotive types ever constructed in Britain, and I don’t think it even knew it had a train behind it.  Here it is departing the station heading South.

On its return it was adorned by a Bachmann name plate although I don’t think any on-board DCC sound decoder could sound that good!

On Sunday we had our last locomotive change for the diesel service.  The class 20 was replaced by Class 25 D5185 Named ‘Castell Dinas Bran’.  It was built at Darlington in 1963.

Here is the Class 25 and 45 departing the station heading South.

At the south end of Quorn and Woodhouse station is a turntable and parked on it out of the way for the weekend was part of the ‘Wind cutter’ mineral set.

The GCR has 36 of these wagons, 18 in service, and they are used to recreate fast main line freight trains. You can read more about the ‘Windcutter project’ here.

This also would have been a great spot to watch trains go by, if I had the time, but I did catch ‘Peak’ D123.

And of course what would a steam railway station be without a traction engine to hand.

But what about the model exhibition?  In the pictures below of Quorn and Woodhouse station you can see the huge marquees behind which housed the layouts.

The picture below was taken from one end of one of our marquee just after we packed up to give you some idea of the size of the event.

As I said before it was a busy weekend and although I did get to have a quick look around I sadly didn’t take any pictures of the other layouts, all 70 of them!

But, thanks to Paul Begg we do have lots of photos of our layout which can be found here.

He also made a great video which captured a lot of our trains including the 22′ RoadRailer train!

There are lots of great videos on YouTube covering the other layouts, one set which seems to cover most of them is listed below. (Solent Summit is in part 5).

The Great Central Railway Model Event 2018 – Part 1

The Great Central Railway Model Event 2018 – Part 2

The Great Central Railway Model Event 2018 – Part 3

The Great Central Railway Model Event 2018 – Part 4

The Great Central Railway Model Event 2018 – Part 5

The Great Central Railway Model Event 2018 – Part 6

This event was a lot of fun and it’s certainly one I would recommend going to next year.  I would like to say thanks to the Paul Begg for his photos and video, the Soar Valley Model Railway Club for organizing the exhibition and the Great Central Railway for hosting it all.  I will leave you with two more videos of Standard 5 No. 73156 and Oliver Cromwell powering out of Quorn and Woodhouse station.

Getting Ready for The Big Show

This week’s post will be nice and short.  Although I’ve been progressing with several of my current projects, as mentioned last week, this coming weekend I’ll be at the Great Central Railway’s model railway exhibition from the 15th to the 17th June 2018.

My fellow club members and I will have a large portion of our modular layout ‘Solent Summit’ on show at the Quorn station along with 70 other layouts in the exhibition.

What makes this exhibition different is it’s actually at the railway station and your entry ticket includes unlimited rides on the real trains running from Loughborough to Leicester North.

And for this weekend we are lucky to have three steam engines working the line:

BR Standard Class 7 – 70013 Oliver Cromwell (Photo by D Rawlings)

BR Standard Class 9F – 92214 Leicester City (Photo by

BR Standard 5 – 73156 which has just been returned to service. (Picture from GCR website)

73156

Plus diesel locomotives:

BR Class 20 – D8098 (on the Friday) (Picture from GCR website)

BR Class 37 – 37714 (on the Friday) (Picture from GCR website)

BR Class 45 – Peak D123 (On the Saturday and Sunday) (Photo by Paul Biggs)

There is also one more to be announced.

This three-day exhibition is shaping up to be a great event for model trains and real ones.  For those of you who can’t make it I’ll try to do a blog post about it when I get back.  For those who are interested in coming you can find more about it here.

Exhibition Preparation

This week’s post will simply be a quick note about what I have coming up as this is a very busy week for me; just as this week was last year!

The main reason why I’m so busy is this Sunday, the 5th of November, will be the Poole & District Model Railway Society’s annual exhibition held at Poole Grammar School on Gravel Hill.  And this is my second year as the Exhibition Manager.

Again this year we have fifteen exhibition layouts at the show plus P&DMRS’s own layout which is based on Poole. We also have several demos as well as the usual traders to fill all your modeling needs. The full list can be found on the P&DMRS’ website here.

Once all the preparation was done for last year the actual exhibition was great fun so this year I’m really looking forward to it!  So wish me well and I’ll see you on the other side!

A Few Upcoming Exhibitions and Events

This week’s post will be brief as I’m in the middle of the preparations for the Poole and District Model Railroad Society annual exhibition, which will be held on the 5th November 2017. This exhibition will be at the Poole Grammar School, Gravel Hill, Poole, Dorset BH17 9JU.  More information can be found here.

Also coming up on the radar is the NMRA (British Region) annual convention which I normally try and give a rundown of the fun stuff going on there, but sadly this year I’m not able to attend.  However, the convention is running from 27th to 29th October at the Derby Conference Center, London Road, Alvaston, Derby DE24 8UX and opens to the public on the 28th if you want to go and have look.

Also that weekend my N Scale group from the Gosport Model Railroad Club will be taking our layout, ‘Solent Summit’, to the Newbury Model Railway Exhibition hosted by the Newbury Model Railway Club.  The exhibition is at St Bartholomew’s School, Andover Rd, Newbury RG14 6JP and you can find out more here.

I do hope that if you’re able to make it, I’ll see you at the exhibition in November.

Bournemouth N Trak Convention – 2017

As promised in last week’s post, this week will be about the Bournemouth N Trak Convention which was held here in the UK last weekend.

For those who don’t know what N Trak is all about, have a look at my post covering this convention from 2014 which can be found here.  I gave a description and showed many shots of the N Trak layout, the same one we used this year.

As usual a real mix of rolling stock and locomotives run on the layouts over the three days as all the participants run their new acquisitions and their tried and tested favorites.  For example, below you can see a modern-day UP heritage locomotive and an 1880s 4-4-0 working the yard.

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Yosemite Valley Railroad 4-4-0 No.22 waits for a train as other locomotives go about their duties.

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Later in the day No. 22 moves some freight cars into the lumber mill.

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Although switching the industries is fun the main action on is on the three main lines and we had plenty to see.  Union Pacific had a big presence and not just in quantity.  Below is a video of a weathered Scale Trains 8500 Gas Turbine running through town.

Not to be outdone a brass 8500 GTEL made by Overland Models was also running the rails, again nicely weathered.

In fact we had several of the new Scale Trains 8500 GTELS on the layout. Here’s another one with a long train of ethanol tankers.  Hmm, large turbine exhausts and ethanol tankers, is that a good idea?!

But just as with the real 8500 Turbines, these were replaced and what could be better than the A-B-A set of C-855s from Alco?

But they were short-lived and now we have a pair of EMD SD9043MACs hauling a wind turbine train.

Plenty of other railroads had a good run as well.  Below is a Southern Pacific cab forward.

A pair of Santa Fe GP30s with a fast freight.

A pair of Santa Fe FP40s with the ‘Cat train’ delivering Caterpillar machinery.

And a brass set of Milwaukee Road Erie Builts with Hiawatha stream liner.

Switching carried on in the background as you can see by this Pennsylvania S2.

Again the Black Diamonds came with several modules from their large modular collection; this time it was a large grain facility.

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This allowed a lot of switching action while the main line remained busy with trains.

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A motel was situated at one end of the grain facility, ideal lodgings for rail fans.

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As usual the layout was topped and tailed with large looped yards.

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There were several other scenic boards in the setup, such as this rustic farmstead.

bournemouth-n-trak-2017-11  But my favorite section was the twin bridge across the river.

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This also added operational interest to the layout as everything else was a double track main line, except this bridge, so trains had to wait their turn to cross.

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And it was at this bridge where I managed to catch some trains on film.

A Western Pacific stream liner slows and runs across the river.

This Micro-Trains collectors’ set of State cars, locomotives and caboose looked very impressive.

My Southern Pacific overnight train made an appearance powered by an A-B-B-A set of F7s.

A lone Santa Fe FP45 pulls a long freight over the river.

An Arizona Eastern Railway trio of locos trundle over the bridge with a mixed freight.

And finally, do you remember that 1880s 4-4-0 from the beginning of the post?  Well here it is crossing the river with log, freight and passenger car train.

This convention, although small, is always great fun and I would like to thank the members of the N Trak, the Black Dimonds, Neil’s Engaging Trains and the N scale Architect for making the event happen.

Next week I’ll be back to 3D printing and will have some new couplings to share with you.