Today we’re going to Saint-Etienne to we will pay a visit to the Model-Rail association, a model railway club that has organized several exhibitions that I told you about in various reports. This association is changing, we’ll talk about it today with some of its members. Welcome to Aiguillages! Saint-Etienne is in the Loire department. It is the only city in France in which tram traffic has never been interrupted. As a result, and even if it has been significantly modernized, the tramway network of the city uses a metric track. Other cities that once had a tram before removing its rails and then rebuilding the network a few decades later now use a normal gauge. Obviously here, the size is narrower than the one we are used to, but it couldn’t have been otherwise as in some places the radius is particularly tight and trams must operate in very narrow streets of the city. The Model-Rail association’s premises are located just a few tens of meters from the terminus of one of the lines of the tramway network of Saint-Etienne. Surprisingly, Model-Rail is one of the very few clubs to have a display window for their creations. We will be welcomed by its new president, Wandrille Lefevre, who was elected earlier this year, we’ll talk over a cup of coffee served on a low table of his design. Wandrille will tell us about this original realization in an upcoming episode issue of Aiguillages, and he’ll talk about the news of the club in this one while Hervé Jourdan introduces us to the ShamoNi layout. This N scale model was designed for the Train Mania exhibition that took place last year in Lille, to take up a challenge launched by the Afan (Association Française des Amis du N). The ShamoNi layout, made by the Model-Rail association, won the contest. In this report, I’ll show images of this model to you, as the fixed layout of the club was dismantled recently to be rebuilt in a different form. As I was telling you, Model-Rail is at a new turning point in its existence, after a first one that happened 15 years ago. Originally, the association was created to preserve rolling stock, well before becoming a model railway club. Hence, it has not always been called ‘Model-Rail’. Originally, the club was called ASMFA, Association de Sauvegarde de Matériel Ferroviaire Ancien, at one point it was supposed to be called TGV 26 on the occasion of the inauguration of TGV number 26 with the emblem of Saint-Etienne and in the end they kept ASMFA as a name because at the time it had real railway equipment, a 2D2, a Picasso … They had to get rid of them and it allowed us to buy our premises at that time, meanwhile exhibitions were organized by the ASMFA starting 2009 and they decided to call it “Model’Rail artisans et réseaux” and the name “Model’Rail” stayed. I told you about these exhibitions in other episodes of Aiguillages. They were held in various locations in Saint-Etienne in 2009, 2012 and 2014. Model-Rail is fortunate to be the owner of its premises, which is not the case for many model railroad clubs that thus find themselves in sometimes precarious conditions or forced to leave the place they were in. The association is also lucky to be on the ground floor, so they can display their creations in windows. It’s rather rare as usually, layouts are in depots or houses and can’t be seen by the public whereas we could not be more visible than this! It’s also interesting because we have to renew our creations regularly to show what we do and we can see people passing by, some stop to take a look, others enter… It’s very pleasant and this way we can share our passion. It is also the case for this man passing by right now! I think it’s a good thing, most of the time we see models during exhibitions in a muted atmosphere, with model-makers only, it’s very rare to get a different public so I think we should really… why would this be reserved to certain people? Whereas if we show it, we’re communicating and sharing. Currently, the ShamoNi layout is being displayed, it is the latest creation of the club’s members who are also dismantling their fixed Ho scale layout. Here’s our little story: we used to have a layout called Loriassac, some say they knew it as they saw it in Loco-Revue at that time, this layout used to be set up around this room we’re in now. Last year we decided to make it modular and we only kept the station, we dismantled it entirely, which allowed us to improve on our premises and arrange the space, so we’re only keeping the station and we added 2 extensions: a village part over there and a wood/mountain part that we’ll use as a reverse loop. The idea is to remake it more or less identical to what it used to be or a bit better by adding small things that weren’t there before and then we’ll sell it to start something new but in a whole new way even as we’re creating modules. The end goal is to rebuild this layout to sell it if possible. They’d like to build another layout right after, they’re still thinking about which theme to choose and about the track plan. They’re almost certain they’re going to choose the Ho scale. Meanwhile, the association’s members are working on creating a smaller layout. They’d like to exhibit this module but before that, it could be displayed in the window of a downtown business, to get the club better known in its city, which is one of the priorities set by Wandrille. However, there probably won’t be any other exhibition in Saint-Etienne within the next few years. These events are very complicated to prepare. Thus, the model-makers of Model-Rail often take part in exhibitions organized by others. Last year, they were at Train-Mania in Lille, where they displayed this layout that started as a challenge. The AFAN organized a contest. Model-makers had to use one or two kits made by Mini-Trix to create an industrial layout within a limit of 90 cm by 1.30 meters. Model-Rail’s members chose to represent a quarry situated in an alpine environment. Appart from the railway, they had to create a road and a river, and the layout had to be built on 3 levels. They quickly gave up the idea of creating a reverse loop as electrifying it would have been quite complex as it is a single track. Moreover, the 3 creators of this layout, Wandrille Lefebvre, Alain Debize and Hervé Jourdan were more interested in watching trains maneuver as opposed to watching them running in circles. The 3 friends decided to use a technique that they didn’t invent but that is quite rare. They operate the switches with a device made of motorcycle brake cables. That’s because switches are very small and so we have to electrify them externally and this does not look good, so instead we made small covers on them, it’s a lot prettier and we still won the first prize. We used homemade tools inspired by those that are used in model aircraft making, they operate rods that vary in length depending on the track plan. Hervé thinks this mechanism is as interesting to observe as the layout itself. This is why a small hatch was added on one side of the layout and lights were set up inside. The brake cable that is used was made by Shimano, which is a brand that cyclists and bikers know well. By calling this layout ShamoNi, spelled this way, model makers salute it and remind us that its scenery is alpine-inspired. Reliefs were created with a proven technique: wire fence covered with Polyurethane foam that is usually used in the area of thermal insulation. The good thing about this material is that it is easy to work with before it solidifies. Electricity is supplied to the track by a transformer provided by one of the starting kits. A control panel was built to allow many maneuvers. 10 stop sections were set up on the track, so 2 or 3 machines can operate simultaneously and so several people can play with the layout at the same time. Controls were all gathered in one panel thanks to an electrical conduit. The 10 stop sections are represented in yellow, S1/S2 are written to indicate sections and the 2 switches on my right are used for lights: one for the lights under the layout for us to see the system, and one for the buildings and platforms. We edited our plan on SCARM, which is a free and very practical software, we reduced it and printed it to use it as a control panel, to spot various switches and stop sections. As I was saying, there are 10 stop sections so we can do whatever we want and two can play, even though we only have one supply but we can operate 2 to 3 machines. They can also choose to move this control panel all around the layout. They’re both electrically connected by a cable and operators can easily move around while carrying it. This way, they’re still available to talk with the public while controlling maneuvers. The AFAN jury at Train-Mania assessed compliance with the specifications they had given, the scenery and the technical design before awarding the first prize to this layout made by the Model-Rail club. If you want to meet with the members of the Model-Rail association, know that they’re organizing an event on April 22nd in Saint-Jean de Bonnefonds which is near Saint-Etienne and Saint-Chamond. The ShamoNi layout will be displayed there, for more information go to the agenda tab at www.aiguillages.eu or to that of Model-Rail, at modelrailsaintetienne.blogspot.fr. Next week in Aiguillages, we’ll visit the Railroaders Museum of Lorraine, in Rettel. Until then, know that you can join other First Class members by deciding to support Aiguillages: for whatever price you like, you’ll get an add-free version of all episodes of Aiguillages and you’ll be able to download them easily in high definition.