We had our own mountain drama during the hot weather, when fire broke out on a nearby mountain and spread quickly toward houses nestled just below the fire; quickly a helicopter was called in by the Fire Service and tons of water were showered down onto the fire, thus halting the fire spreading toward houses. In the top picture a lone Fire Officer stands upon the edge of the advancing fire, and shortly afterward the helicopter with loud beating rotor blades arrives on the scene; the helicopter flew many times back and forth, returning with the next deluge to deposit onto the flames, which were quickly suppressed. Olympus E10; Shutter 250; f4.8
My wife was diagnosed with Grade 3 cancer in March this year, and has undergone urgent major surgery followed by weeks of convalescence at home; she is now making a very good recovery and becoming mobile again; during this period I have not been posting any new advertisements in the model railway press, and the only advertisements that did appear were already commissioned and paid for, and my time has almost wholly been involved in looking after my wife. We are now just starting to get going again with life, and over the next few weeks hope to return to more normal and productive use of our time. For those of you who have suffered delays with your commissioned models I thank you for your understanding and patience during what has been a difficult time for us, and thank you also to those who being in the know during this period have sent your well-wishes to my wife and to me also, these messages and emails have been warmly received. Thank you all.
If anyone has been trying to contact me this week I've been ill with Norovirus since Tuesday night; my wife is still ill in bed with the virus, and my son has gone down with it today and taken to his bed. I am just starting to recover; it really is an unpleasant illness, very painful stomach cramps, nausea, headache, terrible pains in the limbs, and the other symptoms I won't mention on here. In the end I just had to get up and fight it, have a long hot shower, change all my clothes, then try and do a bit of workshop activity to help get myself functioning. Not well enough to tackle paint spraying just yet, but I should be back in the studio in a day or two; if you are telephoning me do please leave a voicemail when the answer service cuts in so that I know who you are, and also leave a brief explanation of why you are calling. If you leave a voicemail message I will get back to you. Just seen the weather report for Easter Monday: more snow!
My interest in O gauge extends beyond electric two-rail and three-rail into the earlier days of clockwork mechanisms for propulsion, and one of the problems with restoration of elderly clockwork locomotives is that often they have become separated from their key; thus finding a suitable key is essential.
Research suggests that original Hornby keys are not so difficult to find, but the situation is more difficult when looking for an elderly Bing or Bassett-Lowke original key, and to this end my research led to clock keys which often originated from a similar period in history to clockwork locomotives; however, size is important after all, and getting the right female key for the right male locomotive can be a puzzle if you don't understand the key sizes available from clock makers and their suppliers, or keys available on the second-hand market.
As a stop gap until you find an original key of the pedigree you are seeking, a steel or more usually brass clock key may well suffice to get things moving, provided the shaft length and outer diameter of the shaft is compatible with the locomotive orifice; whilst the internal square drive of the key will need to be measured according to the following chart:
Conversion Chart for Clockwork Keys
Conversion table: mm into standard Clock key sizes suitable for O gauge clockwork Hornby; Bassett-Lowke; and Bing, etc.
ie, Clockwork locomotive has 4.5mm shaft = needs Number 9 key.
Measure square shaft width and match with key number.
The sun is shining, the snow has melted, apart from the mountain tops where some snow still glints distantly white in the sunlight, the wellingtons and snow shovel are back in the shed, the tarps are hanging to dry, and the chuttering sound of the airbrush compressor adds to the birdsong. Spring looks like it might stay this time. I'm looking forward to butterflies in the garden, and this year I'm planning on sowing loads of wild flower seeds because I want everywhere to look like the meadows of my youth; my garden's pretty wild.
It's the wrong type of snow, or rather, it's blowing in the wrong direction: from the East, and my studio extraction vent faces East, so as I found yesterday evening, attempting to use the spray extraction booth results in cold air and fine powdered snow being blown up the extraction tube rather than blowing paint fumes out; this has the effect within the spraying area that cold damp air arrives, air temperature and humidity are therefore no good for spraying paint. So paint spraying is on stop until the weather allows me to resume; in the meantime I'll be getting on with some soldering that needs doing, at least it's warm.
So Boris Siberia is back tonight and over the weekend. I've sheeted over the 4x4 with a tarp, as it's far easier to clear the snow off with a tarp than messing about with window scrapers and de-icer. The wind is starting to howl down the chimney and the barometer is dropping down the glass again; will it be like the the start of March again I wonder, or will it be less so: there is no Storm Emma this time; but Boris is still sweeping in from Siberia. So far I have shovelled two-tons of coal since the start of December, which means coal (actually smokeless Stove Nuts the size of your fist) is getting a bit low in the tender, so I reckon I'll be breaking up sizeable chunks of felled tree with my axe on Saturday, and maybe chain-sawing some of the longer lengths down to a manageable size for the axe. Many would consider that I live an old-fashioned life here, I suppose, but it's what I grew up with in Buckinghamshire in the late fifties and sixties, so I'm rather comfortable with it; an Ideal boiler in those days in the kitchen and doing toast on a long fork before the open fire. Winter warmth. Homely.
I have always loved teak coaches, and having been born within sight and sound of the GW & GC Joint Line in Buckinghamshire the operational mix over that line has been a life-long interest; needless to say, the SVR rake of teak coaches is my firm favourite, so having received the Spring issue of Severn Valley Railway News, a regular and welcome gift from a client, it is with sadness that one reads of the vandalism enacted on Boxing Day at Kidderminster to Gresley-era Great Northern 2701 and Great Western third 1146; both coaches being dreadfully defaced before £10,000 was raised in short time to carry out a six-week restoration of the coaches, together with much help, advice, and support from companies with special products. To all those involved with the restoration effort I doff my cap to you.
I can only reiterate what I have posted upon my Contact Page:
Please note that whilst I endeavour to reply to enquiries within twenty-fours hours, the recent increase in calls and enquiries has impacted upon my ability to multi-task the multi-tasking and in the interests of maintaining sufficient studio time to service client orders, I may take a bit longer to get back to you either by email (preferred) or by telephone. Rest assured I will get back to you. Thank you for your patience.
I have said this in the interest of keeping up the pace with the studio work that clients have paid for, an approach which I am sure will be understood by you all, and I will attend to enquiries maybe just a bit later as I now have to allocate my time and activities very carefully...what used to be called 'Time Management' in the trendy days when I was teaching.
Well, I'm still shovelling snow; it's been varying between two to three feet on the front path, but at least the postman can get in again, when I see him; and the refuse collection - when I see them again! I've dug out the drive so that my wife can get in and out when she wants to venture out; the road up the mountain is clear again, so gradually returning to normal, except for the loss of bird life which seems noticeably depleted, having put out wild bird feed but having hardly any callers; I guess rather a lot of birds did not survive the blizzards and minus 10 to 15 wind chill figures up here. I saw the 01.10 late-weather news in the wee small hours and the forecast is remaining unsettled, with wind and still the risk of more snow; my barometer is in the bottom of the stormy glass on 948 millibars (about 28 inches) so it's wait and see whether I'll need my shovel again anytime soon....
Graeme Simmonds. Artist, Writer, Tutor.