John's Jottings

As overheard at a model railway club, somewhere in Cheshire, and jotted down by John Millington. The names and locations have been changed, but these stories are based on true conversations.

Archived editions (1-77, see nav-bar at the top of the page) were originally published via the Cheshire Railway Modellers website, but from December 2012, issue 78, the Jottings can be found here in blog form.

John Millington is a nom de plume. The author's true identity is disguised to enable him to continue collecting material for the articles.

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171. The Perfect Model Railway - September 2020

Posted on August 31, 2020 at 2:00 PM

A few years ago we’d met an excited chap who had spent a small fortune having an extension built to his house in which to house his long-dreamt-of Perfect Model Railway Project. Construction was to the highest specification - far superior to that required by the latest Building Regulations, with double insulated walls and roof, triple-glazed windows, under-floor heating, recessed LED down-lighters above where the base boards were to be, and numerous power points at skirting board leve...

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170 Sky High - August 2020

Posted on July 31, 2020 at 2:55 AM

During July, we’ve been meeting of an evening, every two weeks, six at a time, under Adrian’s carport, to talk trains and model railways. Our chairman has arranged a rota so all who want to attend can do so at least once. He tries to get a different combination of members each time, so as to maintain the coherence of the club. After each session he circulates a report on the main subjects discussed, and photos of what has been displayed.

Last week Felicity b...

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169. Diversions - July 2020

Posted on June 30, 2020 at 5:10 AM

By early June, the Covid-19 lockdown was finally getting at Bill. He felt deprived of his weekly model railway fix. Life wasn’t the same without it. Withdrawal symptoms were setting in. He wanted meetings to restart. The chairman sent out an e-mail asking if anybody was interested. The replies came back fairly quickly: We were. The chairman contacted the caretaker.

“You can’t yet meet at the clubroom,” the good fellow told us. “We’...

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168. It is Surface Deep - June 2020

Posted on May 31, 2020 at 1:45 AM

Under the club’s arrangements for keeping in touch during Corona Lockdown, it was Fred’s turn to remind us of a past incident. In his send-to all e-mail he recounted how over lunch at a previous Whirtleborough show, he and our chairman had got into a discussion with members of several clubs as to the best material for constructing locomotives, wagons and coaches.

“It’s got to be scratch building out of metal,” the Salchester member insisted. &...

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167. This is Impossible - May 2020

Posted on April 30, 2020 at 4:15 AM

In an e-mail, Fred recalled that there was a tram layout at the Merry Hill show a couple of years ago. It included a tight turn at the end of a gentler curved section. If the trams had carried on straight they would have smashed through a pair of barriers painted with large chevrons like those used on roads. They were to serve the same purpose: to remind drivers to slow down before the bend.

“Totally unprototypical,” one visitor was heard to say, laughing at th...

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166. UFOs or UVOs - April 2020

Posted on March 31, 2020 at 4:45 AM

The COVID-19 pandemic has put paid to our club meetings in their normal format. Older members are following medical advice and staying at home to keep themselves safe. However, all is not lost.

Early on in March, we’d planned to open up the club room for as long as the landlord and the government permitted. Those who wanted to could come along. However, we only managed a couple of meetings before the government’s advice changed. Now we won’t be meeting...

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165 - The Dab Hand - March 2020

Posted on March 31, 2020 at 4:35 AM

The other week we heard of a member of another club who was a dab hand at lettering, applying livery, and weathering wagons. He kindly provided his specially-finished wagons to raffle off at the club’s annual shows, and at other events

The open wagons were lettered up for the fictitious coal merchant on the club’s flagship exhibition layout. The others were a replica of a box van used by a genuine local business. Each one bore a different fleet number, so what ...

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164. Wavy Lines - February 2020

Posted on February 1, 2020 at 4:45 AM

There was a chap at the Kettlesford show who was bursting with pride that his model had been invited to that venue for its debut outing. The novice builder was even more proud that his line was at the same exhibition as the layout that had inspired his creation when he first saw it a couple of years earlier.

This was a narrow-gauge system, itself inspired by the slate railways of North Wales. The scene depicted the side of a valley, so there was quite some difference in he...

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163. Trains versus Scenery - January 2020

Posted on January 1, 2020 at 1:25 PM

At the Highsteads show we saw a layout that was just track on bare boards. But it had catch points, full and correct working signals, all properly interlocked. Steam outline trains were being run prototypically.

“This’ll be an excellent layout when it’s finished,” one self-appointed expert commented to the lead operator. “How long do you expect it to take?”

“But it is complete,” was the insistent reply.

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162. Model Railways for All - December 2019

Posted on November 30, 2019 at 4:05 AM

So pleased were they with the atmosphere last year that Fred and Jane returned to the family-friendly pre-Christmas show. But this time they were there as exhibitors. As previously, there was the G-scale layout on its large carpet, with kiddies driving the trains, loading and unloading animals from the open wagons at either the loop or the siding. They were all very well behaved, most following the instruction to walk round the outside of the carpet rather than walk across it. And even tho...

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