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5 Feb 2016

Online renewals

2016-10-12T13:53:40+00:00 February 5th, 2016|Shed Notices|Comments Off on Online renewals

The annual online renewal process is scheduled to start next week. Subscription rates have not changed for 2016 and remain at their 2015 (and 2014) levels, which I trust will be welcomed by all members.

You will as usual receive a personalised email inviting you to renew. Please read it carefully because the process is quite different to previous years, partly because we’re using a web site provided by Warner Group Publications as part of their management of subscriptions, and partly because this makes new functionality available to members. We are using Warners standard infrastructure, so those who renew a subscription online to a Warners managed magazine may be familiar with some of what I outline.

This site is designed for renewals and for new member subscriptions. You will be asked to select the Renewal option, after which you’ll need to validate with the site. The data needed to do this will be provided in the email which you receive. You may find it easiest to copy and paste the three data items concerned from the email to the web site when you validate.

This site will allow you to manage your subscription and, in the future, elements of your membership data, both on a secure basis. You will therefore need to create a unique user ID and password for the site. The email address stored in your membership record will be pre-filled as your user ID. The site will validate the password you enter and advise you as to how strong it is. You should record your user ID and password securely for future use. If you forget your password then a reset facility exists elsewhere on the site.

Once you have registered, you will need to select the Subscription Offer you wish to renew. This will enable you to change subscription if necessary, e.g. from Junior to UK – Full if you were a Junior member and are no longer in full time education. You can also change from one class of membership to another if you have moved countries, by changing your Delivery Options. Both of these situations affect a number of members each year. Selecting the subscription adds it to your shopping cart, at which time you view it and check out.

You will be given the opportunity to review the delivery address for your magazines. Clicking Set to billing address to use the address currently held on file, or amend it if needed. Again, some members notify me of address changes during the renewal process – now this can be handled securely online as part of the renewal.

The remaining steps of the renewal process follow a standard online check out process. Payment is collected via SagePay, a worldwide market leader in secure online payment collection. After you’ve made your payment, you’ll receive an email acknowledging this. Your subscription will then be renewed for a further year and you can ignore any renewal notice that you receive with February’s issue of ’16mm Today’. Your current membership card does not carry an expiry date and will remain valid if your annual subscription has been paid.

If you don’t wish to renew online, you can renew over the phone by calling 01778 392016 (outside the UK call 00 44 1778 392016). Telephone lines are open 8 am – 6pm Monday to Friday and 9am – 5pm on Saturdays and Bank Holidays, excluding Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day. Alternatively, you can wait until you receive the printed renewal notice with the February issue of ’16mm Today’ and make your payment by cheque or money order.

I am sure that some members will contrast the number of clicks they need to make with this process with the fewer clicks needed with the prior process, particularly for members who had a PayPal account. This process applies your renewal to your membership record as it is made and sends you an email within moments of the renewal. The prior process required me to download and review PayPal payments each morning, load them to the Association database, verify that the subscription had been updated and finally send an email to each person who had renewed to confirm renewal. The new process avoids all of that, so please view the additional clicks on your part in that light.

I will make a further announcement and will post a document with screen shots to help members as the renewal process opens.

Alan Regan, Chairman & Membership Secretary

29 Dec 2015

16mm Association Heritage

2016-10-12T13:53:40+00:00 December 29th, 2015|Shed Notices|Comments Off on 16mm Association Heritage

The Association of 16mm Narrow gauge Modellers is, without putting too fine a point on it – knocking on a bit! Certainly we have grown massively in the past thirty odd years, but no one has, to date, built a database of photographs, drawing and scans of catalogues etc. We are starting from scratch and it will take a while as my commercial publishing activities run down. While a history of the Association is in course of preparation, we need both information and digitised photographs to be held as an association resource. The idea is that this resource will be held in the cloud by not only myself, but by other Association Officers as well – just in case I get flattened by a number 17 bus, I run off to Brazil with the vicar’s wife and Church funds, or some other problem arises. This way, whatever happens, the resource will remain with the Association for the benefit of members.

The idea is that we may all contribute 300dpi scans of photographs (or they can be sent to me to be digitised then returned), be it of early events, the first commercial locomotives or rolling stock, members that have contributed to the association who are no longer with us, scans of early catalogues and advertisements and indeed, anything else that you consider may well be of interest. The copyright of the photographs will of course remain with the contributor and, if used in SMT or an association publication, the copyright holder will be acknowledged. Ian Pearse of Accucraft UK has very kindly handed over the Merlin archive, which I am currently digitising and he has asked that, if the photographs are used in a commercial publication such as a book or magazine, then a receipt for a donation to the user’s favourite heritage railway be passed to the Heritage Officer. The copyright must also be acknowledged in this case. This seems an eminently suitable way of proceeding for an association such as ours, and this is what I intend to do with any of the archive material that we collect.

I have a very large digital collection (and an equally large collection of slides) that I am working my way through currently, but it is a long slow job. I hope eventually to have a low-res watermarked on-line catalogue for members use, but meanwhile, email and hunt will be the modus operandi.

I may be contacted by telephone via the members list, email with any of mine that you have to hand, or directly via heritage@16mm.org.uk. Your contributions will be very welcome and you will be helping to build Association history…

Tag Gorton, Heritage Officer

3 Dec 2015

We need your video footage for the 2016 Association DVD

2016-10-12T13:53:40+00:00 December 3rd, 2015|Shed Notices|Comments Off on We need your video footage for the 2016 Association DVD

Contributions for the 2016 Association DVD are now being sought from Members. If you have any footage that you think would be suitable we can accept it in any digital format. Either edited or raw footage is fine, but please no music unless you are able to supply written copyright permission for us to use it.

We would like to see video of anything 16mm related, it could be a video of your railway, an area garden meet, a guide to constructing something, footage of the garden railway show, or anything else you think might interest members. Zach Bond has produced this guide, “On Filming”, to help you in your planning and filming.

In the UK and elsewhere, please forward your video content on a CD or DVD by post to Zach Bond – the address can be found on page 49 of the November “Bulletin”.

You can alternatively submit your contributions on SDHC, Micro SD, or USB memory stick. Please enclose a stamped addressed envelope and sufficient return postage, if you wish your media returned to you.

Please try to mail in your contributions before the UK Christmas postal rush.

NB. Anything received after Christmas is unlikely to make it on to the DVD. This is due to time constraints in compiling, editing, mastering, submitting for duplication, verifying the mastered DVD, and then final duplicating and distribution in time for the February mailing.

1 Dec 2015

16mm Association signs up 4,500th member at Warley Show

2016-10-12T13:53:40+00:00 December 1st, 2015|Shed Notices|Comments Off on 16mm Association signs up 4,500th member at Warley Show

Exhibiting at the Warley National Model Railway Show for the second year running the Association of 16mm Narrow Gauge Modellers has been delighted with the response to its stand and the interest in the Association from modellers in all scales.

The appeal of live steam trains in your own garden has proved increasingly attractive over recent years and along with a highly professional approach to its publications, membership services and events, has seen the Association grow to be probably the largest garden railway organisation in the world as the current membership topped 4,500 at the Warley show.

The Membership Secretary and current Chairman returned from exploring the exhibition just in time to welcome the 4500th members.

The Membership Secretary and current Chairman returned from exploring the exhibition just in time to welcome the 4500th members.

“Having 4,500 current members is another milestone in the development of the 16mm Association” said Membership Secretary and current Chairman Alan Regan “It can be quite a challenge for a small group of volunteers to manage what is in effect a worldwide business with a multi-thousand pound annual turnover, but one of the advantages of our continued growth in membership is that it has allowed us to keep the actual cost of membership down”.

One of the benefits to members over the last few years has been additional publications. This year there has been not only a 90 minute DVD, but also the latest in an occasional series of modellers guides, the topic this time being the early years of the Festiniog Railway.

It is expected that the addition of these to the 2015 membership package will see a further boost in membership, since the guide alone has a retail price (where sold) of £10 making annual personal membership in the UK at £17.00 a bargain, and family membership at just £18.00 even more so!

25 Nov 2015

Greeting message on Association’s dedicated telephone subscription phone number

2016-10-12T13:53:40+00:00 November 25th, 2015|Shed Notices|Comments Off on Greeting message on Association’s dedicated telephone subscription phone number

I was alerted earlier today to the fact that the greeting message on the Association’s dedicated phone number was incorrect. This has now been corrected. Thanks go to the member who took the time to alert me and to the team at Warners for their rapid intervention.

Alan Regan, Chairman & Membership Secretary

15 Nov 2015

SMT and Bulletin printing

2016-10-12T13:53:43+00:00 November 15th, 2015|Shed Notices|Comments Off on SMT and Bulletin printing

In the letter I sent to all members on the back of the address carrier sheet used to send out the Festiniog Guide, I referred to changes that we were making to printing and distribution of SMT & Bulletin. These swung into action on Thursday afternoon 12th November, after Warners’ Group Publications Subscription department created the address carrier sheets used to send out the November editions of SMT & Bulletin, and Warners Midlands plc (a sister company on the same site in Bourne, Lincs, UK), printed and later distributed the package. Warners Midlands was setup in 1926 and Group Publications was setup in the 80’s. Technical Director Mark Rennie and I were present to see the first pages of SMT roll off the press. Here’s the press which was used – what you’re looking at is where the finished sheets are stacked. Note the 12700 top right in the picture – it was at full speed when this was taken.

Warners1

I’d seen during an earlier visit how the individual pages of SMT or Bulletin are transferred to the plates used to print pages in multiple, in our case the front and back of eight pages of SMT on a single sheet of gloss paper. Eight plates are needed, two per printed side of each set of pages being printed, times four for each colour. This supports the four colour offset printing process used for our magazines. The pictures below shows a used plate carrying traces of yellow ink, about to be replaced by the clean new plate behind and above it.

Warners2

Mark has a print background so understood how the rest of the process works, but even he was impressed with how quickly some parts could be completed compared with the environment in which he formerly worked. And the speed was impressive. The sheet fed press was running at 12,700 cut sheets per hour at full speed, meaning that the first set of 16 pages (4,700 cut sheets in total) ran off in next to no time, the plates were changed for the next set of 16 pages and off it went again. Below is a short video showing sheets rolling off the press which gives a good idea of what the press looks like at speed.

The press monitors output constantly to ensure that pages are printed to the same close tolerance. Nevertheless, sheets are removed periodically for inspection by the press Minder/operator with the human eye – this show Mark and me looking at one such sheet with the press in the background.

Warners3

Printed sheets are stacked and as the ink is still wet when the sheet emerges from the press, a controlled amount of fine (20 micron granules) Spray Powder is blown on each sheet to separate it from its neighbour. They are then left for a couple of hours to dry completely before being moved to binding elsewhere in the building. This picture shows the first such stack of sheets – eight double sided pages of SMT.

Warners4

One final point – the press prints both sides of each sheet of paper, which is cut off a huge reel as it enters the press. Each sheet is then turned upside down half way through its travel down the press (by something called a perfector drum – we were shown a video to explain how it is used), so that the opposite side can be printed. All this as 12,700 sheets per hour – amazing.

The binding and packaging processes, which include uniting the magazines with the carrier sheet, took on Friday morning 13th followed by collection by Royal Mail later the same day. Mark and I weren’t able to be there to watch this so the team at Warners took a couple of additional pictures which show the binding process, where the individual pages of the magazine come together in order and are stitched with staples. Most UK addresses have already received the package and overseas mailings are on their way by Air Mail.

Adding the individual sheets to SMT

Adding the individual sheets to SMT

The finished article

The finished article

Moving printing and distribution to Warners wasn’t and isn’t part of subscription management, but it’s highly convenient to have three requirements satisfied in one place and we have reduced the Association’s costs by doing this, especially printing cost, where the reduction is substantial. Royal Mail is about to increase UK postage costs and we don’t yet know whether we can contain these within the current membership fees, but if postage hadn’t increased then we’re almost certain that the changing the way we manage subscriptions and at the same time print and distribute SMT & Bulletin would have been cost neutral for the Association.

Finally, I’d like to thank Collette Smith (subscriptions) and Paul Evans (print & distribution) and their teams for helping us with this change. Mark and I have been impressed with the knowledge and professionalism, flexibility and friendliness of everyone we’ve met or worked with. Warners are two businesses with over 420 people working in both companies, where it seems as though everyone knows everyone else. It feels like we’ve made the right choices for the Association.

Alan Regan, Chairman & Membership Secretary

7 Nov 2015

SMT and Bulletin

2016-05-28T17:04:17+00:00 November 7th, 2015|Shed Notices|Comments Off on SMT and Bulletin

Preparations for publication of November SMT and Bulletin through Warners are almost complete. Printing and distribution are scheduled for the end of next week, meaning that members will start receiving their magazines from W/C 16th November onwards. As usual, the reverse side of the address carrier sheet used to mail the package will provide you with an opportunity to review your data. The format is the same as in previous years, but with the move of subscription management to Warner Group Publications, the place that you supply changes to has changed, so please follow the instructions on the form. Great care has gone into migration and subsequent review of the data, but I nevertheless strongly recommend that you review it to confirm accuracy and completeness.

Please also note that a Direct Debit mandate is included for UK residents wishing to renew their membership for another year in 2016. If you choose to use this facility, please note that the payment will not be requested from your bank account until the start of the new subscription year, i.e. 1st March 2016. Also, like any Direct Debit, it can be cancelled by you at any time. I hope that many of you will find this new facility convenient and useful.

Alan Regan, Chairman & Membership Secretary

27 Oct 2015

Subscription Management Frequently Asked Questions

2016-05-28T17:03:41+00:00 October 27th, 2015|Shed Notices|Comments Off on Subscription Management Frequently Asked Questions

The list of Frequently Asked Questions about the changes to subscription management, as mentioned on the address carrier sheet with your copy of the Modellers’ Guide to the Festiniog Railway, is now available. It will also be included in the November Bulletin.

Click here to download the FAQ.

23 Oct 2015

Modellers’ Guide to the Festiniog Railway

2016-10-12T13:53:43+00:00 October 23rd, 2015|Shed Notices|Comments Off on Modellers’ Guide to the Festiniog Railway

FR1I am pleased to advise that the Modellers’ Guide to the Festiniog Railway plus the Help and Advice DVD, as one package, are scheduled for collection by Royal Mail from our mailing house today. Those being delivered to UK addresses will as usual be sent first class and those going to non-UK addresses will be sent by air mail. UK residents can expect to start receiving their packages from tomorrow onwards, but overseas deliveries will take longer and vary by country.

There is an important message for all members concerning changes to subscription management on the back of the address carrier sheet used to deliver the package. Your attention is drawn to this letter using what we hope is an unmistakable red banner containing bold white text on the front cover of the carrier sheet, just below the mailing address. I ask all members please to spend time reading and digesting the letter and its contents.

You will see that the final paragraph of the letter commits to a frequently asked questions list being made available on our web site and in November Bulletin. I unfortunately am experiencing a severe eye infection which is limiting my ability to type, so whilst I have started writing this, it will be a few days before this appears on our web site. I very much hope that this will be available during next week, subject to sufficient improvement to my vision. My ability to read and respond to emails is also limited, so please bear with me pending a return to what I hope will be normal operation.

Alan Regan, Chairman & Membership Secretary

12 Oct 2015

Modellers’ Guide to the Festiniog Railway

2016-05-28T17:01:13+00:00 October 12th, 2015|Shed Notices|Comments Off on Modellers’ Guide to the Festiniog Railway

I’m very pleased to announce that after a long wait, the Modellers’ Guide to the Festiniog Railway, which focuses on its early years, goes to print today. It’s taken longer than anyone wanted, volunteer editor Andrew Charman especially, to get this out, but I’m sure that this 84 page guide will be greatly appreciated when it arrives and that we’ll again be singing his praises for a high quality publication. The printing and distribution cycle generally takes a couple of weeks, so UK members should expect to start receiving it from the end of next week and overseas members will start receiving it from the week after (W/C 25th).

I’m equally pleased to advise that our membership count has reached the same level as that where we ended 2014, namely 4,425 full and affiliate members. We are therefore poised once again to report net growth for the year, which will be at least the 7th year running that we have achieved this. We reached this milestone over the weekend, when two new members joined and three lapsed members rejoined. Members who join or rejoin the Association before the end of the year will also receive the Festiniog Guide, which we hope will support continued strong recruitment for the rest of this year.

A member phoned me over the weekend and asked how the Association was. My reply was “in rude health”. I hope you agree.

Alan Regan, Chairman & Membership Secretary