Riding the pick up goods……….

       The old layout has been somewhat neglected of late, and a few question marks have been hanging over its future. So earlier this week I dusted everything down, cleaned the track, had a brief operating session and ran a critical eye over the whole layout. From an operating viewpoint I was more than satisfied, 4678 was the branch engine for the day and didn’t let me down. I did have a few issues with the uncoupling magnets, which was mainly due to their markers having been disturbed. But in truth I’m drifting away from using magnets of any kind for uncoupling, and find myself using the hand in the sky more and more. This might seem to be taking a backward step, but on a layout that never leaves home and with very little shunting taking place it doesn’t bother me one jot.



The hand in the sky, the uncoupling device comprises an old scalpel handle and a piece of brass wire. The curved piece of the wire rests upon the ballast, and with the remainder of the wire aligned with the coupling hooks the handle is gently tilted forward to depress the  coupling hooks. So much for my current thoughts on uncoupling, which might come as a shock to some, and dismay others.

Another thing that I’m not entirely happy with is the trees, I feel that I’m slowly getting there but can certainly improve. I rather like what Paul Marshall-Potter is doing in that department and am sure a little experimentation of my own won’t go amiss. On a slightly different note I have finally made a decision on the Llanbister Rd. shed water tower. In short it had to go, so I’ve been looking for another location for it and came up with the idea of using it at Llangunllo.


Trains travelling to Presteign from Titley Junction faced some severe gradients, and had the line been extended to Llangunllo they would have faced even more.  No watering facilities were provided at Presteign, so why not provide some at Llangunllo? I’m sure the chance to top up the tanks would have been welcomed, if not necessary after such a steep climb up the valley. I used the old Ratio GWR water tower kit as a starting point, but rather than model the conical version I cut the tank down, as I find that design to be more attractive. I also felt that with it being shorter it would  sit better and blend more easily into the background.

P1160497 (3)

Early days, the tower is far from complete and will be built on a sub base, as the etched ladder and other fine detail is rather delicate and prone to damage. The whole base  will then be blended into the surrounding ground. The mirror has been adjusted slightly to give the impression of a gradient, the line dropping away towards Presteign.  It is also capturing the reflection of the road bridge, thus adding to the illusion of the line carrying on into the distance.


Having taken on some water 4678 draws forwards prior to shunting the yard…..


Shunting complete the pick up goods heads for Llanbister Road.



17 thoughts on “Riding the pick up goods……….

  1. Morning Geoff.

    I rather like the hand of God approach. I use the very same on my more modest layouts and am very satisfied with doing so.



    1. Good morning to you as well Rob, It is good to know that I’m in good company and that you aren’t sheepish about owning up to doing the same 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Funnily enough, talking to a friend about something completely different, I drew on my memory of my school report for woodworking back in 1976. “Simon makes many mistakes, but being Simon, learns from them”. Frankly you can throw all my other qualifications in the sea: I’ll settle for that report any time! Thanks, Mr. Babbs!


    1. On the subject of school reports the one that sticks in my mind was from our fearsome maths teacher Mr Jones, or Jonah as we called him behind his back. It went like this, “Geoffrey must make a determined effort to stop the rot”! I was shall we say, a late developer as far as maths was concerned and certainly learned from my mistakes as pieces of chalk whizzed past my head:-) That would have been in 1963 or thereabouts, imagine that happening today if you can!


  3. At the risk of getting shot down in flames, I’m not a great fan of the water tower in that location.
    There are two reasons for this, the first being it’s location!
    Putting a water crane on a goods only loop does mean that any passenger locos needing a quick drink cannot get to the water tower without quite a bit of jiggery pokery by the signalman.

    Secondly, it does rather smack of a loco shed location rather than a rural station. Having sculled around my collection of Welsh station pictures, the vast majority of illustrations have come up with a standard water crane, fed by a remote tank………..accessible from the running line and not the loop!

    The only example of a tower in a remote locations that I can find (so far) was at Glogue. Here there was the luxury of a stone built water tank at the west end of the station with water pipe, whilst at the east end of the station, at the platform end, was a water tower similar to yours.

    But critically, they both served the running line and not the loop.

    as far as couplings are concerned, the large scale stuff in the garden is all link and pin, so a pair of long nosed pliers suffices, I struggle with 7mm 3 links, and in 4mm there is no way. However, a shunters pole type device to uncouple supposedly auto couplers is a great idea.

    Always one to come up with terrible suggestions, if you went down this route, and not requiring a delayed action magnetic un-coupler, have you considered Lincs couplers as they would be even less obtrusive than the S&W you currently use?




    1. I have no intention of shooting you down or firing a broadside Richard, I will instead be using that well known excuse of there being a prototype for everything as regards the water tower, in fact I am sure that I have a photo somewhere:-) I did consider all the points that you raise but seeing as most passenger trains convey milk tanks which have to be detached from the train and left in the loop, then locos have the opportunity to take a drink before going on their way. The passenger coach being left protected on the mainline whilst the manoeuvre is carried out shades of ‘Felin Fach’.

      I also happen to think that the water tower when viewed from beyond the bridge gives the impression of more going on in the distance. All sorts of scenarios can be imagined and as Simon pointed out in an earlier comment, it draws the eye away from the backscene.

      Couplings, well having tried practically everything with various rates of success I always return to the S&W, yes it could be more discreet but I hardly notice them once blackened. They are easy to install, set up and do the job, its just the electromagnets that have fallen out of favour and were I to use a coupling without a delayed action then I would need more of the blighters!



  4. I wholly agree with the hand of God on home layouts. Having been charged with sorting out the electromagnets on the big trainset, Burntisland, I am fed up with the hassle as different operators want different markers. Well done again, loverly evocation of peace.



    1. Thank you for taking the time to post your comment James, sorry for the delay in approving it and replying but we’ve been away on holiday. I must say that I wouldn’t care to have your job sorting out all those electromagnets on Burntisland!


  5. Really good to see progress on Llangunlo again Geoff, the water tower will be another lovely feature when finished! I have to say that I’m neither shocked or dismayed about your pragmatism with un-coupling! I was actually rather interested to see your method, because if the ‘layout in my head’ were ever to become more than that, I’d want to use something similar!



    1. Thank you Keith, glad you found my method of uncoupling interesting. I have always uncoupled my stock offstage in that manner, so I suppose it was only a matter of time before I did the same on the layout.



    1. Thank you Simon,

      I was rather lucky with the mirror, it was one of those things that just happened to work more by accident than design, the same can be said of the water tower! 🙂



      1. Morning Geoff,

        Nothing wrong with a bit of serendipity now and again and lucky accidents only happen to those who try things out. There’s a lesson there: the person who never made a mistake, never made anything, including a lucky discovery!


        Liked by 1 person

      2. Apologies for my late reply Simon, as I explained to James we’ve been on holiday. I agree wholeheartedly with what you say, modelling for me has been a journey of discovery and experimentation. Geoff


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