The weather is improving so it's time to start thinking garden railway. Handily, the Large Scale show is just around the corner from me so along we go to see what's new in the world of big trains.
If I'm honest, the last few events haven't impressed me much. Were the event further than the ten minute drive away, I might not bother. The 16mm Association event in Peterborough is far larger and so if it were a distance I'd chose to do that one instead.
However, this year that would have been a mistake. For a start, I'd not have seen the Hambleden Valley Railway.
Actually, I would because it's at Peterborough this year but here I got it without crowds.
Basically, we have a very normal model railway. A branch line terminus with a loop and some sidings. In this respect the trackplan is very similar to Melbridge Dock. The big difference is that it's worked by radio controlled steam. And worked properly.
Shunting is aided by Accurcaft couplings converted to automatic operation by the addition of some metallic bits hanging from the back. Magnets under in the track operate them - I have a similar setup on Ruston Quays and it's brilliant and simple. This is the first time I've seen anything like this used in G scale however.
The End of the Line is another layout right up my street. Build by Giles Flavel, it's now owned by my friend Tim Crockford and I'm a little jealous.
A narrow gauge line feeds a standard gauge one with coal. The little skips are dragged out and automatically tipped into the larger wagons. It's nicely modelled and weathered. Even without the operating features, you'd be impressed.
Of course, those who know the layout normally talk about the radio controlled lorry rather than the trains. Very well done, the vehicle operates at a realistic speed and can reverse under a conveyor belt for loading before being driven off scene.
All this takes place in a space around 10 feet long. Rather longer is the Charnwood Forest Branch.
A cracking O gauge model over 30 feet in length and U shaped so you have around 70 feet of track. There's two stations and two shunting yards - plenty to occupy the operators. If I'm being pedantic, the buildings look a bit orange to me BUT the modelling is of a consistent high standard so this really isn't a problem.
Finally, the bad news is that Accucraft are after my wallet. On the stand was the first of next years Isle of Man models:
Mona in electric form will be around £1300. I might go and buy a lottery ticket as it looks lovely in Ailsa Green. Add in a few of the nice looking M wagons and I could spend more than my last car cost me...
And best of all, the first ice cream of the year from the van parked outside!
Photos on Flickr from the show.