Combwich's first outing in 6 years finally took place at Wycrail in High Wycombe on Saturday 6th November at what is rapidly becoming 'the' quality one day show in the SE.
On Friday night Combwich was crammed into a hired Ford Transit for it's 35 mile journey first thing the following day. After an easy 45 minute ride pretending to be a yob in a van from Guildford to High Wycombe, I managed with a little help from Ian Redgate who'd come all the way down from Mansfield the evening before, to get the layout set up in about 40 mins. This is surprising, because Combwich was never designed to go on the road, with baseboards varying from 5ft 3 to just 18 inches long as the layout has evolved in length and width over its 30 or so years existance.
With everything looking good, the power lever was cranked on like firing up the Frankenstein Monster for the first time. Everything appeared to work as it should until I set the road running parallel to the platform, then everything went dead, deader than Nunhead Cemetery on Boxing Day, and not what one wants with just 45 minutes before the doors open! Fault finding wasn't helped by the fact that I had temporarily lost my reading glasses! After 25 mins of much cussing under the layout I tracked down (more a lucky break as the result of random prodding and shaking) a couple of wires that had crossed and the problem was resolved much to my relief. I then found my glasses hanging safely off the backscene - duh!
At 10am sharp, the eager punters started to wander forth in all shapes and sizes. As you no doubt know, model railway buffs are a mixed bunch from the darn right weird to elequent and intelligent upstanding members of society who are real pleasure to chat too, and as usual I got to meet all of them. There were by all accounts a few smelly ones too, but luckely I didn't have a pleasure of meeting any of these, but Combwich is quite wide with a high backscene, so distance may have masked me from the smellier of the smelly brigade who've converted their bathrooms into somewhere to play Thomas and keep their dead mother's stuffed head.
The highlight of the day and something mooted over a year in advance of the show, was to attempt run trains between Tim Maddocks' superb Bleakhouse Road and Combwich, and this we did via a bespoke cassette that could carry an entire train between fiddle yards and then allow it to continue its journey via the respective layout to its destination and then return. Much fun was had making up the oddest train formations to try to flumox the crew of the opposing layout. I imagine because of this there'll be several letters of complaint in the next issue of the Model Hornblock Journal with the usual miserable set getting hot under the collar about us having the occasional bit of fun.
Operationally the layout considering its hasn't been let out for 6 years worked reasonably well, but was occasionally spoilt by the odd derailment due to a sloppy locking mechanism on the station throat point. Looking to the future, and with this in mind, and with some of the other points starting play up as the day went on I've decided to remove all the old Peco units and replace them with something a little more positive in action before the layout's next outing at RAILEX at the end of May 2011. After chatting to several people about this, it would appear that something called COBALT is the way to go.
Oh yes, before I vanish back to the real world, Wycrail is the only show so far where exhibitors were served delicious homemade cake actually served at the layout - now that has to be a first! Roll on next year!
For a section of happy snaps from the show, CLICK HERE!
Blogger Phil Parker also went to Wycrail, read his REPORT!