Boston Frodsham

Presented by Mike Knowles

We’d like to record our thanks to Andy York of BRM/RMweb for letting us use the video of the interview with Mike that he recorded at the Festival of British Railway Modelling when the layout was exhibited there last February.

Boston Frodsham is my own 4mm scale P4 gauge layout set in 1975-1985 (ish) and is part based on the swing bridge at the entrance to Boston Docks and also the wharf at Frodsham in Cheshire.

Inspiration for modelling the swing bridge was from a supplement issued with Traction magazine back in 2005, whilst a number of pictures of the wharf at Frodsham showing an RB22 crane gave me the urge to model this.

Operation of the layout assumes that trains approach the docks via a branch line off the main line (all off scene) and enter one of three reception/departure sidings which are partially modelled on the layout. As main line locos are too heavy to cross the swing bridge they uncouple and move off to the stabling point. The 03 & 08 shunters then move the wagons, a few at a time, over the swing bridge and into the dockside area, returning with other wagons for dispatch. Ultimately the main line loco runs around to enable it to depart with the outgoing train. See separately attached trackplan.

Trackwork uses Exactoscale rail and chairs on ply sleepers. Operation is via a Lenz DCC system and all the locos are fitted with sound decoders. Points are activated by Tortoise slow motion motors controlled from a lever frame which has been built from a Scalefour Society kit. All buildings are scratchbuilt and based on those found in the Boston and Frodsham area, of particular note is the octagonal control building for the swing bridge. A working replica of the somersault signal found adjacent to the swing bridge is Included as is a working flashing navigation beacon.

The layout has its own full LED lighting rig.

Overall view of the scenic section taken from either end, There is a fiddle yard at each end of the layout using cassettes to handle the trains.

Overall view of the scenic section taken from either end, There is a fiddle yard at each end of the layout using cassettes to handle the trains.
The riverside wharf based on the one at Frodsham in Cheshire. The RB22 crane is built from a kit by Langley Models.
The swing bridge and timber fendering based on the example at Boston.
The swing bridge and timber fendering based on the example at Boston.
The octagonal bridge control building and somersault signal also based on the examples at Boston but relocated to the other side of the bridge to suit the space on the layout.
The rail loading bay at the warehouse.
The main warehouse building. This is a shortened version of the one which used to be at Boston though now sadly demolished. The loading bay in photo 7 is fictional but built in the same architectural style.
Drainage being installed as part of the remediation works adjacent to the warehouses. The Hymac 580 excavator is built from a kit by Rosencombe Replicas.
The Limmer & Trinidad warehouse and loading conveyor. Fictional items to act as a scenic break, the ubiquitous tunnel mouth not being appropriate here! Limmer & Trinidad were originally formed as the Trinidad Lake Asphalt Company back in the late 19th century and were eventually taken over by Tarmac PLC who I worked for for about 20 years. Just thought it was a great name for a company.
03112 & 08704. The prototypes of these worked at Boston docks at various times, sometimes singly but sometimes as a pair. For the layout they run permanently coupled together. The 03 is based on an original Bachmann (formerly Mainline) bodyshell which has been detailed with wire handrails etc and additional equipment fitted to convert it to dual brake operation. It runs on a High Level Kits chassis and contains the motor and pickups. The 08 is a Bachmann model fitted with Brassmasters coupling rods and which has had the motor and gears removed to make space for a standard sized decoder and base reflex speaker. Electrical connections between the two locos are via micro plugs and sockets fitted under the buffer beams to allow the locos to be separated for maintenance. The sound decoder is a Zimo item which Paul Chetter loaded with both 03 and the 08 sound files and changing the value of CV265 allows either one to be played. The accompanying video was recorded back in February before the 08 bodyshell had been detailed and painted. This has now been done, emerging in faded blue livery with superb etched “Port of Boston” nameplates (as carried by the prototype) courtesy of Narrow Planet.
25278. The bodyshell is a hybrid of Bachmann and Silver Fox parts as described by Jim Smith Wright in Scalefour News sometime ago. The Silver Fox cab front goes a long way to overcoming the too flat curve over the tops of the windscreens in the Bachmann model. The cosmetic part of the chassis has also been modified as per the same article also to correct the errors in the Bachmann model.. The loco runs on Penbits sprung bogies and along with all the other locos is fitted with the excellent Laserglaze from Shawplan. I would like to record my thanks to Jim and also James Wells for information they have published with regard to improving the Class 25 and Class 31 locos plus the OAA wagons as detailed further on
31252.This features a Lima bodyshell on a Hornby chassis. Although it’s difficult to say exactly why, the Lima body just seems to capture the shape of the 31 better than the Hornby one. All the moulded on handrails have been replaced with wire and the cooling fan and grille replaced with the Extreme Etchings version. At the moment it runs on the standard Hornby bogies fitted with Alan Gibson replacement wheelsets. However I have built up the sprung bogies from Rumney Models and having now received the required wheelsets from Ultrascale this is the next job on the to do list.
A selection of vacuum braked 12 tonne vans. These feature either Bachmann or Parkside bodyshells fitted with either Rumney Models sprung chassis or Bill Bedford sprung W irons and brake gear. Cosmetic springs, axleboxes and buffers are generally from Wizard Models.
16 tonne mineral wagons. Basically made up as described above for the vans
TTA tank wagons. Bachmann model fitted with Bill Bedford Sprung W irons, etched walkways, brake levers and yokes plus cast Brunninghaus springs from Stenson Models and etched ladders, axleboxes and buffers from MSE/Wizard Models.
OAA wagons. Hornby body on completely new chassis using the spare solebars included in the Cambrian Models SPA wagon. Fitted with Bill Bedford sprung W irons and etched brakegear from Colin Craig. The leaf springs were scratchbuilt by laminating lengths of microstrip as I couldn’t find any suitable ones from the usual suppliers.
PBA Clay Tiger wagon. Built from the kit made by S Kits. It has recently been refurbished with a fresh coat of paint and new transfers from Railtech plus it has been fitted with sprung bogies from Stenson Models. It’s just awaiting a visit to the weathering shop.
PRA China Clay wagon. RTR model from Kernow Models. Apart from a change of wheelsets and couplings they are currently straight out of the box, though they are so good, that apart from weathering I’m struggling to find any worthwhile improvements I can make to them.
PGA hopper wagons. In the article in Traction Magazine which sparked off the idea of modelling the Boston Dock area, one of the main photos showed the 03 and 08 shunters propelling the Redland Self Discharge train over the swing bridge. This photo is an attempt to partially replicate it. The wagons are the RTR items from Cavalex Models, again at the moment just fitted with replacement wheelsets and couplings. Again an extremely good model though the plastic ladders and walkways on the ends are proving to be a little fragile under exhibition conditions so I may look at making up replacements in brass.