Saturday, 31 July 2010

Lionsmeet 2010

Intense activity around the Steaming Bays at the Kinver track

The 2010 'Lionsmeet' was held on Saturday, 31st July at the Kinver and West Midlands Society of Model Engineer's track at Kinver.

I understand that the track at Kinver dates back over 40 years and the Society itself, through various changes and amalgamations, traces its origins back over 100 years!

The elevated 3.5-inch and 5-inch gauge track gives a continuous run of around 2,200 feet. It's in the form of a 'folded dumb-bell' The one end of the dumb bell encircles a bowling green. The bowling green wasn't in use that day but a footbridge is provided so as to give access to the bowling green when the railway is running. If the railway isn't running, there's a moveable bridge giving ground level access to the bowling green at the expense of interrupting the railway. The other end of the dumb-bell encircles a circle of 7.25-in gauge track.

The 7.25-in gauge track makes a triangular connection to a single line branch ending in a turntable opposite the 3.5-inch and 5-inch gauge steaming bays. There is an 'inspection pit' for 7.25-inch gauge with a moveable traverser.

This was of more than academic interest, because John Dalton of Chelmsford club attended with his 7.25-in gauge Lion which was in steam and giving demonstrations for most of the day. John had brought an open wagon and GWR 'Toad' brake van to run with his locomotive. These were fibreglass-bodied and nicely-detailed. The open wagon had a seat to act as a driving trolley.

But lifting the seat revealed the 'works' of a functional vacuum brake system. The wagon body had a sealed lead-acid battery to power a proprietary vacuum pump. This, with the ancillary components, controlled the brake on the wagon and (through a flexible vacuum hose connection) any other vacuum-fitted vehicles in the train. The brake was controlled by a small control panel fitted to the end of the wagon.

In addition, Harrye Frowen was there with his magnificent 7.25-in gauge 'Lion'. He steamed his locomotive but, unfortunately, a mechanical failure prevented him from running. Members will be aware that Harrye's model has been based on John Hawley's series of drawings of the prototype so it is dimensionally more accurate than most 'Lion' models. But there are places where, to get enough strength into parts under load, some liberties have to be taken and this process has not quite been completed. We were all disappointed not to have the opportunity of seeing Harrye's 'Lion' running.

John Brandrick, the Chairman had sent apologies but Alan Bibby was on hand, with Peter Dawson, Chairman of the host club, to ensure that matters ran smoothly. Since the last 'Lionsmeet', OLCO stalwart Bill Stubbs has passed away and Alan made a tribute to this "Gentleman of the Tracks". This year, there were four competitors on three 'Lion' models. By convention, the previous year's winner (Jon Swindlehurst) runs first. Young Sophie from the host club then drew names to determine the order of the remaining contestants (David Neish, Andrew Neish, John Mills).

Kinver Dynamometer Car with the seat removed to reveal the 'works'

This year, it had been decided to use the host club's Dynamometer Car. The design features an electronic counter accumulating pulses from a sensor detecting slots in a photo-etched disk. The disk is rotated by the road wheels but, when there is no drawbar pull, the sensor is held clear of the slots and no pulses are seen. At minimum drawbar pull, the sensor arm is pivoted so as to 'see' the longest slots, counting just four pulses per disc revolution. As drawbar pull increases, the sensor detects additional (shorter) slots and the number of pulses per disc revolution increases. The total number of pulses is thus proportional to distance run and drawbar pull applied - that is, work done. However, there was some doubt about converting the 'number of pulses' into a credible 'foot pounds' figure. Alan Bibby determined that, for this contest, the prize would be awarded on the unconverted 'number of pulses' figure. Once again, Jan was 'volunteered' as Observer, riding the Dynamometer Car which was attached to a small driving trolley for the competitor, with the competing 'Lion' at the front. Each competitor was allowed an untimed lap to determine what load he wished to carry behind the dynamometer car, followed by ten minutes to try to produce the maximum work done. Competitors were subject to the 8 m.p.h. Line Speed imposed by the host club so a good run could expect to complete about three laps during the ten minutes of competition running.

Jon Swindlehurst ran first. He elected to attach one bogie coach with three passengers. He made a good start and ran hard until his third lap when he suffered a problem which slowed him somewhat.

David Neish ran second, attaching two coaches with two passengers. Unfortunately, a rain shower made starting on the wet rail very difficult. The time lost getting away meant that, even with consistent running to follow, he could not equal Jon's performance.

Andrew Neish ran next, with two coaches and three passengers. Conditions at the railhead were much improved and Andrew was able to run hard.

Finally, John Mills ran, with the same load as Jon Swindlehurst. He had a very successful run, producing almost exactly the same 'pulse count' figure as Jon.

The performances are summarised below:-

Name Pulse count Position
Jon Swindlehurst 21267 2
David Neish 13436 4
Andrew Neish 23871 1
John Mills 21167 3

Everybody had put up a good performance but it was Andrew Neish who received the cup from Peter Dawson, Chairman of the host club.

Jan's pictures of the event are here.

Additional material added 18-Sep-2010