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Author Topic: Upperton - Restoring to Exhibit  (Read 687 times)

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Offline Upperton

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Upperton - Restoring to Exhibit
« on: April 28, 2018, 07:53:21 pm »
I little introduction into a restoration project I'm currently 3/4 way through with the aim to exhibit once again.

Originally constructed during the late 1980's, Upperton served as the main exhibition layout for the Eastbourne Model Railway Society for over 20 years. It was designed to maximise operational capacity, 4 movements at any one time to keep a constant flow of traffic and was a generally a good crowd puller wherever it was exhibited. It was loosely set south west of Salisbury on the mainline to the west country, which allowed a fair variety of rolling stock.

The front of the layout did not change a great deal, and the track plan remained the same. An additional fiddle yard was constructed in 1995, though did not increase the foot size of the layout as it was kept within the end board dimensions. A good operating team could sequence the original fiddle yards in under 15 minutes, so with over twice the capacity for each loop, an operating session was more interesting for the operator and allowed a greater variation of formations to the public. Also an additional control panel was constructed for the depot and rear carriage sidings, allowing a 5th movement to take place at a time. This allowed coach rakes to be shunted and formed in the sidings, then moved to a platform and united with a loco from the depot ready for an onward journey,

I joined the club as 13 yr old in 1993, specifically to play on it. I'd never seen a 20ft plus N gauge layout before and enjoyed watching full length rakes run in and out of the station and watching the expresses hurl through the station and up through the cutting. I enjoyed exhibiting it until 1997, I can't recall every show we during that time, but we went to East Grinstead, Uckfield, Folkestone, several Brighton Model Worlds and our own show at the local town hall every year. It was designed to run in several era's, with a few changes of buildings, but we mainly ran modern image, which at the time was late BR. We weren't very strict what we ran despite the South West setting - 14 car Eurostar's passing each other at speed through the station through roads was a crowd pleaser, with only the occasional anorak asking if they were lost? The only notable punter I can remember talking too from behind the layout was the late Bob Symes, who commented it was nice to see a young man enjoying playing trains. 

Uppertons exhibition life came to an abrupt end in 2012 when the four main centre boards, packed up after a recent exhibition and due to go out again the next weekend, were stolen from the club house during a break in. What remained were two end boards, the additional fiddle yard, the 2 control panels and the lighting rig – which is what I found when I got back into the hobby and joined the club again in 2015.

In August 2017, by chance, three of the four missing boards were discovered by local chap who was working on a house being cleared. Being a railway modeller, he happened to noticed them on a low loader just about to be whisked off to the local tip and asked the driver if he could have them, who was not fussed. After assessing them he decided he didn't have the time to do anything with them and took them to our local model shop. The owner of the shop (Sebastian @ Train Times), who knew that the club was missing some boards for an N gauge layout, was switched on enough to forward some pictures to me via What's App on the off chance and within 45 minutes we had most of the layout re-united back home. I've restored cars in similar condition which have gone to shows, so why not an railway layout which was always great fun to play with!?

The boards were not in a good state, but the majority of the track was in place, as was the basic wiring and point motors. Connecting sections up to a controller showed everything seems to be working, albeit after some hefty cleaning of track and points. The scenery needed a complete over haul, but was probably in need of updating regardless of the theft, as the standards of exhibition modelling 25 years ago aren't what they are today. The big challenge will be getting the wiring all sorted again, luckily the control panels work but may be a long boring task of mating feeds to switches and point motors. A late family friend, who was a Technical Illustrator for Saab, rewired the control panels during one summer in the mid 90s (DC Cab Control) and he labelled most of the main circuits, so while it does look like a mass of wiring, it is logically laid out. The points switches were changed from push button to stud and probe, featuring some funky diode matrix's and the chap that did the conversion is still with us and has offered to help if required. The outer loop control panel had some wiring gnawed away while stored at the old club house, but will be easy to rectify.


The current EMRS club room isn't big enough to erect the entire layout (track diagram below) so I started on a board by board basis on my kitchen worktop. We've put in a few cameo's on the layout – Upperton's Model Railway Society has it's club hut above the line and there will be a couple of crafty fellow's loading some layout boards into a van having just half inched from the club house. There is a branch of Train Times (Eastbourne's local model shop) in Upperton and the Church has been renamed St. Sebastian's, who without his divine intervention, Upperton would of been lost forever.

Once the 3 recovered boards were scenically refreshed half the layout was reunited so the missing board could be contracted and track work lined up. This missing board contained the left hand station throat plus the point work into the carriage sidings and at the back the exit point work for the inner loop fiddle yard.

The right hand half of the layout went up this week. Most of the wiring seemed intact, the boards to the panel are connected via several 25pin serial connections. Being brave, I plugged in board by board and there were signs of life. A couple of wires needed soldering, track and points cleaned, a couple of pins tweaked in the serial sockets but the inner loop seems to be working on this half. Trains can now come from either the through road, platform 3 or 4 all the way into the fiddle yard and I hadn't done that since the last hour of Brighton Model World 97'. There is one point motor that may need replacing in that section but not bad considering the neglect and near fatal outcome it was close to becoming.

The layout should be united within the next few months, my parents are donating their 2nd reception room/ dining room so we can achieve full 22 foot erection.

I've included some pictures of its originally construction, a few we have from its early exhibition days, the boards that returned to us and its current state.

Era will be mid to late 1960's, with a spread of steam, green diesel and a of splash blue/grey (reverse blue/grey too once the Western Pullman arrives)



Track plan of the layout with the extra fiddle yard which was added later on. Most of the main scenic features remain in the restoration but the Castle by the Depot was been demolished to make way for more buildings and facilities for the Depot. The Mansion on the far left of the layout above the tunnel has made way for a windmill.



Some Polaroid scans soon after its original completion.


"Mac, "Warden" and Jim behind the layout during construction. Jim owned Scale Rail at the time, which was located in the "Upperton" area of Eastbourne where the layout got it's name.




A 16 years old me (blue Oasis t-shirt, hand on hip) working the outer loop and my friend Charles behind the controls during the annual EMRS Exhibition at Eastbourne Town Hall 1996.



We believe this picture was taken at Leatherhead 2007/08.


Same angle as above taken August 23rd 2017 having been stolen, stored and recovered.



Boards lined up to see what was left. Almost a clean sheet to start from, great fun ahead!






Backscene board added, re-bicked the access road, and added a retaining wall at the back. I.D Backscene added, area which was the Castle used for depot storage sheds, water tower and diesel tanks. Added 2 Farish depots, used to be the grey Peco modern types. There is some final detailing too add later on, but this took about a month to get to this stage.










The next board along was the station. The original station building was on a road bridge with steps down going under canopy and this configuration was replicated. Retaining wall the length of the board (4ft) built at the back, platform stairs using Metcalfe stairs/Scalescene brick work. Ratio platforms canopy's, Metcalfe station building, Peco plate girder sides for the bridge sides, Farish low relief Terraces and Tenement's for the town scene at the back. Around 6 weeks work, and like the depot will need detailing at a later date.







To make a nice change from brick and mortar, the cutting and Golf Course was the next on the list. The original road was painted cork with visible track pins to keep in place. This was removed and re-tarmacked with some Scalescene. The road bridge was rebuilt, vegetation and fencing reapplied to the cutting sides, tree's placed at the back, gold course car park re-designed and I chose a Faller kit as the 19th hole of Upperton Golf Club. The original was more of a Tudor design, which was scratch built. I've used off the shelf buildings to aid with speeding up the process. Scratch built buildings can be made and placed in years to come. This board took about 3 weeks over the Christmas/New year period.










The next stage was to put up the left hand end board, the restored station board and bridge the missing gap. I'm not the chap waving in the picture, that's Richard, the club chippy after knocking up the new baseboard.
Having the track plan to hand and being able to mate the track to the other boards, laying out the track was a simple process. Having the control panel too, allowed us to workout where the original feeds would of been located, through we have added some additional ones just in case. The original track board joins were done via copper board. On the new board we've used copper screws under the track ends, which allow for some height adjustment to align old to new with some precision. Once the track was in place I started some scenic work to try and make it a little more complete. The retaining wall continues along the length of this board too, so another 4ft section was built up. The main road into the town crosses over the track on the original design and this has been replicated too. A town shop scene has been added into the back, with terrace's and housing heading up towards the village scene on the end board, though this hasn't been finalised yet. Some dwellings have been added on the near side of the road, and the gardeners have been in the last few week. Train Times has been given a prime position on the main road into town. Upperton Model Railway Society's club house (a Peedie Model kit) is located on the left hand side of the board.





And the final pictures of the right hand side of the layout that was put up this week. I've had the inner loop running from the station into the fiddle under the control panel power, which was a nice to see.

I'm not a great one for using forums or social media, but will try and update on here fairly regularly. One of our hip younger members keeps progress update on twitter and there are some videos on there too

https://twitter.com/EastbourneModel
 























 



« Last Edit: June 03, 2018, 10:22:52 am by Upperton »

Offline Innovationgame

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Re: Upperton - Restoring to Exhibit
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2018, 08:02:10 pm »
That looks like a very big task.  I hope there is plenty of help at hand.
With kind regards
Laurence
My personal website is a bit of a mish mash
www.innovationgame.com

Offline ntpntpntp

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Re: Upperton - Restoring to Exhibit
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2018, 08:05:11 pm »
A fascinating history, makes you wonder whether it was stolen to order for it to actually survive somewhere at all and turn up in a house clearance, and what happened to the other lost board during that time?

I probably saw it at Folkestone, being my former club's show and an event I still go to every year.
Nick.   2016 celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!

Offline Dancess

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Re: Upperton - Restoring to Exhibit
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2018, 08:12:50 pm »
Pleased that all is back on track. Hope all works out well for you.

Enjoy
Building layout in attic - at last!!

Offline RailGooner

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Re: Upperton - Restoring to Exhibit
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2018, 08:59:44 pm »
Amazing story and a brilliant layout.

 :thankyousign: :greatpicturessign: :greatwork: :superblayout:
Per Ardua ad Astra | Mens Agitat Molem | Victoria Concordia Crescit

I'm supporting Project Railway Honour

Offline Upperton

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Re: Upperton - Restoring to Exhibit
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2018, 09:15:58 pm »
A fascinating history, makes you wonder whether it was stolen to order for it to actually survive somewhere at all and turn up in a house clearance, and what happened to the other lost board during that time?

It's quite remarkable it's returned at all really, and sometimes pause when I'm working on it in disbelief. I wasn't part of the club at the time, but assume all wasn't well. The club house was located in a park in a quiet part of town so if the whole layout was wanted, it wouldn't of taken many more minutes to whisk the rest away as it was all packed/boxed up from a show (I think in East Grinstead) from the previous weekend. I'm just glad most of it was recovered relatively intact. No idea what happened to the missing board, maybe it went down the tip in the load beforehand. It's been fun making it all fit again though  :smiley-laughing:

I probably saw it at Folkestone, being my former club's show and an event I still go to every year.

I think I went with it in 95 or 96. I don't remember much, but the I think the venue was by the seafront and the hall where we were was below road level. We were asked by CJM (I think), who had a stand  there, if we could run a Load Haul Class 60 on the layout which we were more than happy too. I was unhappy it would cost me 5 times the price of my Farish 56 and it was probably time to get a Saturday job.

« Last Edit: April 28, 2018, 09:19:36 pm by Upperton »

Offline Newportnobby

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Re: Upperton - Restoring to Exhibit
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2018, 09:19:38 pm »
Welcome to the forum :wave:
What a comprehensive and heartwarming tale as a first post. The layout is looking great thanks to your hard work, and I really like the idea of a model on the model of Train Times and St.Sebastians to honour the saviours.

Offline DaveGlew

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Re: Upperton - Restoring to Exhibit
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2018, 06:51:10 am »
A real "Phoenix" project to raise it from the ashes.  :thankyousign:
If it looks right, it probably is right.

Offline The Q

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Re: Upperton - Restoring to Exhibit
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2018, 08:26:36 am »
Restoration of a layout is an interesting compromise, trying to be faithfull to the orginal idea, but trying to improve to the latest standards. It also has the problem of trying to reach over a built layout to work on stuff without destroying what is nearer to you...

It looks like the restoration is going well, it looks good...

PS
With it being a house clearance it's unlikely there is anyone to prosecute, But do the club have any idea of the recipient, and was he connected with the club in anyway?


Offline Upperton

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Re: Upperton - Restoring to Exhibit
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2018, 07:28:24 pm »
I'm a long time lurker, first time poster so thank you all for your kind comments. We wanted somewhere the history of the layout could be written out and stored. We use Twitter as a rolling update, but it's not good for a few paragraphs which turned into an essay in my original post! We have a record of the layout in polaroid form, old track plans, a few in printed film but this place seemed the perfect place to have a record in digital form to last the ages.

Restoration of a layout is an interesting compromise, trying to be faithful to the original idea, but trying to improve to the latest standards. It also has the problem of trying to reach over a built layout to work on stuff without destroying what is nearer to you...

It looks like the restoration is going well, it looks good...

PS
With it being a house clearance it's unlikely there is anyone to prosecute, But do the club have any idea of the recipient, and was he connected with the club in anyway?

With the state I started from it felt like starting from a clean sheet scenery wise, which is only 1.5 deep and I wasn't intending to modify the track plan so there wasn't much room to change much. The most difficult section was the station, steps and canopy but that was the design rather than restoring anything as there wasn't much in the way of station left!

Of course some have questioned restoring it at all, but it was enjoyable layout to operate and it's been a fun project so far. We've contacted several clubs in the South East regarding taking it out again and feedback as generally been positive in that goal. It wouldn't of been a well known layout out of that area – it never featured in a magazine and didn't go north of the Thames. The closest would of been the 70th anniversary show of Wimbledon MRC in 1994, which the layout wears a plaque from.

Regarding a prosecution, my mother in law is an officer in the local force. Generally with these types of thefts, unless there is solid eyewitness accounts, there is a pattern of similar thefts, the items are quickly found or someone comes forward then little resources are allocated to them. The club got a crime number, and one lead after the story was written in the local paper but nothing came of it and gave up hope. Of course the club had suspicions but nothing could be proved. The boards weren't the only items removed, some 00 stock locked away in the kitchen were also removed, nothing else in the kitchen was touched, so make of that what you will.

Anyway, enough about the past for now.

In the last week we've investigated the state of the outer control panel. This one had been got at by vermin in storage, though it's nothing more than the serial connectors to the boards being chewed off. All the wires are easy to trace back to switches, points and earths, so shouldn't be as tricky as I feared. Plugging it in showed the power distribution and CDU lights come on.



Connecting some switches to the feeds from the new board showed all was well, were able to power a loco and able to switch between both controllers on the panel. The transformers are all Gaugemaster, one still has its £10.50 price sticker on it and they still ensure some nice smooth running.

And lastly some videos of some movement;


This was taken back in February and was the first train in from the mainline into the station for 7 years. A trusty old Hammant and Morgan was used to guide the Pullman in.

These next two were from this weekend and this is the right hand portion of the layout. The inner loop control panel was tested a few months back and was in far better condition. All the connectors were still intact on the boards too, so this section was plug and play.


Pullman departing from the platform is came into a few months back.


And at speed, snaking it's way through the cutting and on towards Bristol

« Last Edit: April 30, 2018, 07:55:11 pm by Upperton »

Offline Newportnobby

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Re: Upperton - Restoring to Exhibit
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2018, 08:24:05 pm »
Some very satisfying clicking over track and board joints.
@Bealman is just going to lurve those clips

Offline DaveGlew

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Re: Upperton - Restoring to Exhibit
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2018, 08:29:20 pm »
Love that panel (I like such things a lot)
If it looks right, it probably is right.

Offline Upperton

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Re: Upperton - Restoring to Exhibit
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2018, 07:56:14 am »
The pheonix has carried on rising since the last update. The scenics have been put on hold and we concentrated on getting the electrics sorted on the replacement board, and getting the boards either side working. As the control boards were of interest I've taken some more snaps of one.



The is the panel for the inner loop, which we are hoping to get a lap out of this week. It's standard cab control, with two controllers that can can be switched to power any section of the loop. General practice is the operator on the right empities the fiddle yard and fills the station, operator on the left empties the station and fills the fiddle yard. A good team will ensure almost constant movement, coupled with the same setup on the outer loop there is always something moving.






Power is fed by a kettle lead into the silver box on the left. This distrubutes power too the two Gaugemaster transformers which send the power back to the silver box, where 3 plugs, 2 x 12v and 1 x 16v send power out to the controllers and CDU. The CDU must be a fairly large unit as it has no problems shifting a sequence of 4 points, the immeditaley moving another 4.

When is was originally built the points were switched via push buttons, but after a few years of exhibtion use these started to suffer arcing problems and it was decided to convert to stud and probe. This panel also orginally controlled the depot and the back road to the carridge sidings but the wiring was moved to a small panel constructed over the fiddle yard dedicated only for those movements.

The last few months Upperton has been setup in two halfs, at two spereate locations. A major milestone this week was met and we linked it all together. This is this first time it's been setup as a whole since it was taken down at the end of East Grinstead MRC's show in 2012. Most of the original build team are now operating the great layout in the sky, but we know of two old members still with us. Sadly one suffers with dementia, and while it's been menioned to him the layout had been found and being restored it passed over him :(. The other is Alan, who is still a keen N gauge modeller and still exhibits his own Dutch  layout "Valls". I invited him up for the occasion and he was delighted to see it all back intact again and approved of the work that has been going on. He also pulled out some wiring diagrams for the layout, which he remembered he had and brought with him.










After spending the winter months doing the boards one by one, it was nice to see it all linking together. The sccenics are some way off yet, and there are a few things to sort out around board joins to blend it in better but that was always going to be the case but finishing the final details is my favorite part of modelling on a layout.




An over view of the fiddle yard, and a operators view. The outer loop fiddle yard isn't in postion at the moment. Each fiddle yard has around 70 foot of track space, so certainly swallows up a fair collection of rolling stock. The wiring poking out in the fiddle yard is for the depot and sidings. That control panel didn't survive and will be another small project later on.

A small team of us are working on it this weekend, we only have to mate up the new board and left tunnel board ot the control panel and we'll be able to get a full lap on the inner loop. Our young member who runs our twitter feed https://twitter.com/EastbourneModel is running a poll to decided which train shall mark the occasion which will be at our club night on Tuesday!

The target for getting Upperton operational and pretty much scenically restored is March 2019, where we are pencilled in for exhibiting it back with East Grinstead MRC at thier show, which was also the last exhibition Upperton did before it wondered off. It will also mark 25 years since I first operated the layout, which was at thier show in 1994.

Offline Newportnobby

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Re: Upperton - Restoring to Exhibit
« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2018, 08:42:31 am »
More gratuitous pics of scary wiring to upset poor Nobby :goggleeyes:
Glad progress is being made and look forward to maybe a vid of the inaugural run on the inner loop

Offline Upperton

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Re: Upperton - Restoring to Exhibit
« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2018, 09:30:42 pm »
More gratuitous pics of scary wiring to upset poor Nobby :goggleeyes:

That's looking nice and tidy for a photo. This is what it looks like cutting off the zip ties and trying to mate each feed to it's partner somewhere under the board via the D-Sub  :)



Luckily, most of the switches are labelled and the track and point feeds are marked in pen underneath the boards. There have been a few headaches but we made good progress today. I shall make sure whatever video gets put on twitter is replicated on here  :thumbsup:




 

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