This is the classic that has been overlooked; here is Chris Krupa's opening post relating to the Expometrique show in November 2005. Layout was built earlier that year.
Having just returned from a weekend in Paris exhibiting my Gn15 layout Matthews Corner, I thought that I'd write a little about my experiences. However first a little background.
For some ten years or so now we, the Greenwich and District Narrow Gauge Society have been participating in Expometrique which is organised by a French club, Gemme. For many of those years, I have been taking layouts, mostly a different one each time. These have become very popular and I hope that I am not being immodest in saying that they (and other GDNGRS layouts) have influenced the direction of French modelling considerably. This has been aided by the enthusiasm of the staff of the main French narrow gauge modelling magazine, Voie Libre and its parent Loco Revue.
This year's contribution was Matthews Corner, my first Gn15 layout. Measuring about 30 inches by 9 inches and depicting the horticultural department of a large country estate, this has been built over about the last year. Nevertheless, trains ran for the first time only last Wednesday morning (and we were leaving on Wednesday evening!). A great deal of midnight, not to mention pre-dawn morning, oil was burnt in the ten days leading up to our departure. It is not surprising therefore that a number of gremlins made the trip to Paris with me.
The first one showed up when I tried to run a train just before opening. Despite clean wheels and track, running was jerky and control was poor. Most of my stock uses new Tenshodo Spuds and a bit more track and wheel cleaning didn't seem to help. Luckily the party included three (count 'em) professional electrical engineers. The problem was soon diagnosed -- smoothed DC was being produced by the old Mainline transformer unit I had brought with me. Feedback controllers like AC or at least unsmoothed DC. In no time at all the top of the transformer was removed, the offending circuit board consigned to scrap and the leads resoldered directly to the output of the transformer (don't do this unless you know what you are doing. Mains voltages ain't pleasant in the wrong hands). The first gremlin capitulated.
With the first one vanquished, the second gremlin made itself known. The only point on the layout is a resleepered small radius Peco Set Track item. Things started to fall off, particularly when going around the curved section. The problem, this time diagnosed by the club's most experienced trackwork man, was the back to back dimensions. Set Track points are meant for coarse scale train set stock and the finer flanges on Spuds and Steve Bennett's wagonry were causing derailments because of the over-generous flange ways. The solution was to glue strips of 20 thou plastic (we used Evergreen) into the check rail flange ways. The second gremlin then went away to bother someone else leaving the field clear for the third one.
This one started to have fun with my 11/15HP Simplex (again Spud powered). Sometimes it wouldn't run at all. At other times it was jerky, stalled at unexpected places and lacked power. The nemesis of this gremlin was brought about by Kay Butler of Wrightlines who had the neighouring stand. The answer was a split gear. Kay had a replacement and vast experience of dismantling Spuds (bits fly in all directions when I try it). With the aid of the club's loco engineers, the offending gear was drifted off the axle and replaced. It ran perfectly after that. It is lucky that one of the contributions the club makes to Expometrique is modelling demonstrations so a full consignment of workshop equipment and expertise is available.
With the consignment of British gremlins vanquished in the first hour or so of the show, the layout settled down to a happy and successful exhibition. I knew that the operational capabilities of the layout would be limited but they were enough to demonstrate to enthusiasts who then wanted to ask questions and discuss ideas, whilst members of the public had seen enough after I shifted a couple of wagons around and brought all the locos out. There was much peering into the open doors of my sheds which have fully detailed interiors and many remarks along the line of "c'est superb".
Overall, I am happy with the performance of my Spuds and with the use of Steve's chassis for most of my stock. I have learned a great deal about modelling in this large scale.
The public and enthusiasts at French shows do not demand operation all day every day, being happy to appreciate the artistic quality of the modelling. This is in contrast to many British exhibition goers (including some enthusiasts), who don't care how much work you put into something as long as it moves. They are also often not respectful about prodding and poking (I prefer the French approach myself.)
French exhibitions therefore provide opportunities for the operator to take a break without the need to find a substitute to keep things moving and to keep fingers away. There is much pleasure to be had from just talking to people, enthusiasts or not, who have come to look at and appreciate the modelling and not make demands (and go off in a huff making derogatory remarks when they aren't provided).
The French model railway press likes my layouts and many pictures were taken. You will find them in Le Train and Voie Libre eventually (in January probably) as well as on the internet in PtitTrain and the Gemme site. There were lots of cameras around so there will almost certainly be other sites with pictures (try googling Frederick Delaitre as well).
So where to with Matthews Corner now? I don't have any more exhibition dates for it although it will as a matter of course probably appear at the March (Cambridgeshire) show eventually. It won't be next year though, when I will be taking something else. It is transportable on trains or buses so if your local show is thus served, doesn't require a long walk from the station or bus stop and you would like to see it let me know.
I'm going to add a few more details and I have plans for more locos and stock. I won't be extending it although it may eventually be able to be attached to the next Gn15 layout I have in mind (don't hold your breath though).
If anyone has questions or comments do ask.
Chris didn't have the capability to post photos.
Last edited by Gerry Bullock
on Sun Sep 01, 2013 8:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.