A very good turn out by members heard guest speaker Richard Crane from the Bedford to Bletchley Rail Users’ Association tell of the main lines and branch lines through and near Bedford beginning with the 16.5 mile line to Bletchley which opened in November 1846.
Richard detailed many of the branch line stations with photos, many showing steam engines on the lines. He pointed out that although the Midland, East and West Coast main lines were to thrive, the remaining rural railways suffered declining traffic after the second world war, in common with similar routes throughout the country. During discussions, John West pointed out that the Station Master at Shefford used to be a member of our club!
At the present, many lines have now been modernised and run fast trains for commuters. The sad state of our roads leading to hold ups and greater congestion every day may just be the catalist to drive more investment in railways.
The first topic was ‘did you hear SAQ?’ Some did and some didn’t. Victor, G3JNB used his Spectrum VLF up converter and could hear at about S2 or so. Ian, G3ORG used a general coverage receiver that could tune 17.2 kHz without a converter and with his 500ft longwire could copy at RST 589! Various other methods were tried, Bryan, M0BIK used the SDR programme suggested on the SAQ website with an indoor wire and I tried the online SDR provided at www.websdr.org but neither could hear a signal. Victor provided a recording of the transmitted message and Ian described the giant Alexanderson alternator, one of many around the world, however this is the only working model. More details can be found at: http://www.grimeton.info/world_heritage_grimeton.html
Richard, G3NII then described the problems associated with high powered pumps driven at variable speeds and the large current spikes, as large as 400 Amps, which causes interference in the control circuitry. The problem was cured by using better screening on the cables. We didn’t get around to a Talk out of a Hat, which we will do another time.
An evening organized by Bryan, M0BIK where members participated in a survey to find what rigs had been used over the years and which seemed to be the most successful in fulfilling members needs.
Most recent transceivers discussed were from the major three manufacturers, but surprisingly a few old radios caused quite a stir of nostalgia. The first in use from 1979 to 1999 was the Drake TR7, followed by an even older favourite, the Eddystone 888A which was in use in 1972, but now in storage. Another member told of his first radio which was his 10th birthday present. That was the R1155.