Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Photo by Chris Newman
With no real work having been done on the layout for about three weeks now, due to the bad weather, work commitments and preparations for Christmas, we are definitely suffering from withdrawal symptoms!
Still, with more than a week off work during the Christmas and New Year period, I daresay we will be able to find some time to do a bit down The Shed. 
In the meantime, I would just like to wish everyone a very happy and relaxing Christmas and I trust Santa will bring you lots of useful things to use on your layout. For me, I am hoping for a static grass applicator but, as they are quite expensive, I daresay I will have to buy one myself in the new year.
The snowy photo above is of Shepton Mallet, Charlton Road station during the winter of 1963. It was not taken by me but is by Chris Newman and I think it is a lovely phoo of the old S&D station blanketed in snow!

Of course, as you don't need me to tell you, we have had a lot of snow here recently, with a particularly heavy fall last Monday morning, the day I was due to go and see Shakira at the O2 Arena. 

Actually, I was beginning to think that getting to London was going to be almost impossible with the amount of snow that fell but, fortunately, South West Trains were running a service, albeit to a revised timetable, and I did manage to get there.

I have never been to the O2 before and it is an amazing venue and Shakira was fantastic - yes, she could shake her hips for me any day!
It was a lovely ride up to the capital too with virtually everything covered in a white blanket - very pretty. Unfortunately, though, in the rush to get to the station I forgot my camera - GRRRRR!.  

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Baby Talk

Another in a veritable rash of new OO gauge locomotives that are due out in the near or very near future is Heljan's model of a Class 23. This model, I believe, was due for release in November of this year but has been delayed slightly. However, its arrival on the shelves is, I believe, imminent.
Just ten of this short-lived class of diesel were built by the English Electric Company in 1959. It was fitted a Napier Deltic T9-29, 9-cylinder engine of 1,100 bhp (820 kW), driving an EE generator which, in turn, powered the four traction motors. They were numbered from D5900 to D5909.
The T9-29 diesel engine was a single, half-sized version of the ones used in the Class 55 Deltics  and this, together with the similar overall design and external appearance of the Class 23 to that of the Class 55 led to their nickname of Baby Deltic.
The locos entered service between April and June 1959 and were primarily used to haul suburban services around Kings Cross.
Unfortunately, reliability problems plagued the fleet such that, in the early to mid 1960s, a programme of refurbishment and modification took place which improved reliability enormously - apart from, that is, continuing problems with the coolant system.
However, in the late 1960's, BR introduced its "National Traction Plan" in which the idea was to rationalize the types of diesel locomotives in traffic and, in so doing, reduce servicing costs. From this it was clear that a fleet of only ten locomotives, and problematic ones at that, would be a definite candidate for an early demise and so it was that, between 1968 and 1971, the entire fleet was withdrawn from traffic.
Sadly none of the fleet was saved for preservation and all were duly scrapped, the last (D5901) being cut up in 1977.
Fortunately, though, that is not the end of the story because the engine and generator from D5901 was saved and is with the Deltic Preservation Society who installed it into Class 37 37372. Then, in September of this year, the Baby Deltic Project announced that they intended to recreate a replica Class 23 by rebuilding the body of 37372 and mounting it on a set of bogies from a  Class 20.
So let us hope that the Class 23 will soon live again and we can once again be hauled by a Baby Deltic!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

So Swift and Definitely Delightful!

Class 7F 2-8-0 53806 BR Black Early Emblem
Class 7F 2-8-0 53809 BR Black Late Crest
Class 7F 2-8-0 53810 BR Black Late Crest (Weathered)
At long, long last - a ready to run OO gauge model of the Somerset and Dorset 7F 2-8-0 is now available.

I have been waiting for a 7F to be produced for ages now and, finally, Bachmann have done the business. So, yes, we will definitely be acquiring one of these fine and powerful locomotives to join the Black 5 (another S&D loco) in running steam specials on our layout.
Living, as I have done for much of my life, on or near the route of the S&D, the line has always had a special significance for me. As a child I travelled many a mile along its length, usually down to Bournemouth or up to Bath. Occasionally, though, we would travel much further afield to visit relatives in Yorkshire which, as I recall, usually entailed long waits at either Bath or Birmingham - or both.
Therefore, as you can imagine, I was more than a little pleased when Bachmann announced earlier this year that they were going to produce a model of this iconic locomotive and, finally, they have hit the shelves and I will be adding one to our fleet in the very near future.
The locos were designed to haul heavy freight trains over the S&D which, as many of you probably know, was steeply graded on its northern section between Evercreech Junction and Radstock. However, they were not confined to freight trains since they were regularly to be seen on many express passenger trains as well, including the famous Pines Express.
Designed by Henry Fowler, six 7Fs were initially built at Derby in 1914 and were numbered 80 to 85 - later 53800 to 53805. An additional five locos were then built at Darlington in 1925 and numbered 86 to 90 (53806 to 53810). These later locomotives were initially fitted with a larger boiler than the original six but gradually acquired the smaller boiler during overhauls in the 1950s.
The last 2-8-0 was withdrawn from service in 1964 by which time the Pines Express had been diverted from the S&D and most of the freight had gone too. Fortunately two of them made it into preservation (53808 and 53809) and often haul mainline steam specials - just like ours will!
As to which one we will get, I think it will have to be 53809 since this is one of the two that were preserved and, in 2006, its latest overhaul was completed after which it emerged in BR black livery with late crest, as per Bachmann's model.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

In The Beginning ...

... was the wood and the wood was with ... well, was with very little else to be honest!
Yes, due to the recent bad weather, together with all of the preparations for Christmas, very little work has taken place on the railway these past couple of weeks and we are beginning to get withdrawal symptoms! Mind you, the enforced break is probably a good thing since, when we do get back to work, it will be with a renewed interest and a definite keenness to make further progress.
Anyway, since there are no new updates, I thought I would turn back the clock to August 2007 and to the first photograph that I took of the project.
This, therefore, is the initial P-shaped layout that was merely going to consist of a twin track loop with a terminus plus a branch line that would start at the terminus and then rise up to travel around to the top right-hand corner of the layout.
A couple of weeks prior to this we had dragged my old train set down from the loft (stored, as it was, in two large aluminum boxes) purely to see what there was and what state it was in with a view to, possibly, selling it on eBay.
As such, we duly set it up on the floor of this room, a former playroom and, as you can imagine, this was not such a good idea since it meant that most of the fairly old track was uneven. Subsequently, we had little success in running any trains but did succeed in getting very sore knees! It was then that the notion of selling it all was being given serious consideration; at least that was until my brother in law suggested that we could run the track around the room on boards.
Well, since then we have not looked back and the railway has slowly grown and developed into what we have today - a somewhat large layout that has taken over both the entire room and our lives ... but we love it!
I go into more detail of the layout's development on my website so, for now, I just thought that it would be interesting to see how it all looked in those early and innocent days.
In those days, too, we knew very little about how to build a large layout and the techniques needed for constructing good scenery. As such this original half of the railway certainly reflects that, especially when compared to what we have done in the other half of, what we now call The Shed. In mitigation I would say that it was never supposed to become such a leviathan and it really has just developed over the previous three years into something that we would never have imagined all those months ago. As I mentioned in a previous posting, we already have plans to revisit this northern section in order to get rid of the crawl-through and, also, to make it as interesting and realistic as the southern section.
It is certainly an eye-opener for us to look back and see how it all began and it does leave us wondering if and when it will ever be finished!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ribble Rouser

Here, now, is the second of our two most recent locomotives to be weathered and, since D8568 will be working the coal depot following her withdrawal from BR, she just had to have a suitable coating of coal dust.
We wanted to convey the impression that her new owners are taking care of her but, because she is working in such a dirty environment, she is always going to look at least a little bit grubby.
Of course, this particular Clayton is the only one of the entire class of 117 to be preserved so it is fitting that we have chosen her to live out a similar scenario in model form. I had thought of changing her name to better reflect her new role and might still do this but I am not sure what to call her.
She, like all of our other diesel locos, does have a sound decoder fitted. However, the only Class 17 sound currently available is from Olivias Trains and this is of the Rolls Royce variety of engine which was, in fact, only fitted to two of the class - and neither of those was this one!
Clearly we will change this whenever a proper Paxman sound file is produced and, apparently, Howes plan to do one as soon as the preserved prototype is no longer in bits.
I would say that fitting sound into these models is not the easiest of tasks since there is very limited space into which a speaker can be fitted. This job is made even more fiddly by the fact that the buffers have to be removed to gain access to the chassis and these are held in place by tiny clips, which can easily get lost!
Anyway, due to this lack of room, we have fitted a smaller speaker than we would normally use and this is installed in the cab space. Subsequently, the sound is not quite as punchy as we would like but it is not too bad. 
Actually, when she is running on her own, she does sound quite acceptable. It is only when we have a larger loco running as well that her sound can get a little swamped.
I have to admit here that I do rather like the Class 17s although I realize that they were a total failure and most definitely one of the least successful of the Type 1's produced. Maybe it is because of their short working life and because of their quirky looks that I like them and this particular one was an obvious choice to raise the dust a bit in the coal depot and for trundling up to the tipper and back.
Of course, as you probably know, there were problems with the initial batch of these models when Heljan first introduced them and, unfortunately, ours was one of those duds - talk about art echoing life! That is why our model has a black chassis rather than a green one since, after waiting almost a year for a replacement, some black ones eventually became available. So we decided to have one of those rather than wait any longer for a green one. Not that is really mattered about the colour since it was going to be hauling coal so black would probably be more suitable!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Look Behind To The Future ...

Now here's a view you don't see too often!
Yes, this a photograph taken from the rear of the London Loop, nicely showing the track and point-work at this particular location. It also allows us a rare glimpse of the line up to the Tipper, which is normally hidden from view.
Unfortunately, due to the lack of available room here, the points at this junction had to be a lot closer than we would have liked, thus resulting in a tighter curve than we really wanted. However, since trains do not normally traverse this loop more than once (although they can and do, quite happily) we did not think that the tightness of this curve would matter too much. 
Anyway, despite this junction not being quite what we had envisaged, we are still very pleased with how this part of the layout has developed and it has produced some interesting features, such as the Brewery, Coal Depot and Fuel Terminal.
In fact so happy are we with it that, once this 'southern' end of the layout is complete, we plan to construct a similar loop at the 'northern' end. The reasons for this being two-fold:
Firstly, we want to make that part of the layout more interesting because, from knowing almost nothing when we started, we have learned quite a lot during the past three years. As such we now feel that this original part of the layout compares somewhat unfavourably with the newer bit. 
Secondly, it will have the added benefit of allowing us to get rid of the crawl-through, which has to be negotiated each time we want to go from one end of the railway to the other - please see below:
We now realize the mistake in having this but, when we commenced our little project, it wasn't envisaged that this obstacle would present  too much of a problem, especially as the layout was, then, confined to that half of the room only. There was never a thought given, at the time, to the possibility of any future expansion. Therefore, once we had crawled through at the start of a constructing or operating session, there was no real need to repeat the exercise until said session was finished. 
Now, though, with the railway having grown to take over both the room and our lives, this hole is a bit of a nuisance since we must dive underneath the darned thing several times during a session in The Shed. On top of that, some of the older members of the family, together with any elderly visitors that we get, find it difficult or near impossible to negotiate it. This means that this part of the layout is out of bounds to some people, which is a pity.
Of course, those of us who are not (quite) so old, also appreciate that it is surely only a matter of time before we, too, find it difficult, as opposed to simply annoying, to have to continually get down on our hands and knees!
So hopefully, come next spring, we should see the start of a major rework of that half of the layout that will not only mark the end of the crawl-through but will, also, result in a much more interesting and realistic 'northern' section as well.
Watch this space...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

At Its Peak

Here, as promised, is a look at the first of our two recently weathered locomotives - namely the Class 45 (45053). She is certainly looking much better in her new grubbier condition and I do think that she is absolutely lovely. 
Yes, once again, Alex at Mikron Models has done a superb job with our Bachmann 45 and, now, she looks and sounds just as I remember these locos whilst riding behind many of their class back in the 70s and 80s.
She is unusual amongst our fleet in that we have, so far at least, retained the factory-installed sounds and not had her reblown since I think the sound on this loco is really very good. However, I must confess, I have not listened to any of the other Peak sounds that are available and, maybe when I do, I might well change my mind.
For now, though, she keeps both her original sound and her Bachmann-fitted TOPS number since we also decided not to change that whilst she was away being weathered.
There were 127 of these Sulzer Type 4s built in the early 1960s and, together with the 10 Class 44s and 56 Class 46s, they were the primary motive power on the Midland mainline during the 60s and 70s.
Fortunately 12 of the Class 45s were preserved although, sadly, not ours, which was scrapped in November 1983.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Coal Essence

One of our Class 50s: 50007 'Sir Edward Elgar', is seen emerging from the short tunnel beside the small Coal Depot. This area is now practically complete, as the presence of human activity would indicate.
As I mentioned in an earlier posting, this depot exists almost solely in order to justify the addition of the Operating Tipper and Conveyor Belt to the layout but it has all come together quite nicely and has resulted in an interesting and busy feature in this corner of the layout, as well as providing us with yet another location to send and shunt trains. 
Our Class 17 will be based here since the scenario is that, as with the prototype locomotive, this particular Clayton passed into private ownership after being withdrawn by BR.
It will, therefore, be put to good work here shunting coal trucks and, also, running them up and down the Tipper spur. 
Actually this loco has just returned from Mikron Models where it has been weathered with a suitable layer of coal dust and, I must say, she does look rather superb now. 
Whilst we were at it we also had our Class 45 (45053) weathered as well and so I will probably feature these two locos in postings next week.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Now We're Smokin'

I thought I would post a picture of the town area today or, at least, that part of the town which we have more or less finished, so that you can see how it is looking at the moment.
I suppose there is still around a third of it to be completed and this will be tackled once we have finished the area between the Fuel Terminal and Sueston.
We are very pleased with how this is looking, although there is still all the detailing to be added - such as people, cars etc. There is also the thought that lighting will be added at some stage and this remains a distinct possibility.
Well, judging by the smoke emanating from the Gunness Brewery chimney, it would appear that brewing has commenced. This 'smoke' is actually a length of fuse wire supporting a teased out wad of cotton wool and it looks quite effective. This was our first attempt and I am sure we can get it looking even more realistic given a bit more time.
One tricky job that we still have to tackle is that of road markings. So, if anyone out there knows of an effective and easy way of doing this so that, when they are done, they have at least a semblance of the real thing, it would be very much appreciated. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The One To Run

Introducing the latest locomotive to be added to our layout - a Hornby Class 121 Driving Motor Brake, to give it its full title. 
Although, I suppose, it is as much a complete train as a single locomotive and, indeed, is the train that will run the Sueston to Saggy Bottom service. 
It is seen here standing at Saggy Bottom Halt, in the shadow of the viaduct, and although it is in pristine condition at the moment, it is earmarked for weathering in due course.
Sadly it has no lights and lacks much of the detail of more recent model locos but I do think that Hornby have improved on the Lima original and have produced a nice looking locomotive or train or whatever you want to call it!
Actually I really do like it and it is just what we wanted for this branch line - and it is in the right livery too. 
We have, however, removed the couplings, since it is never going to form part of another train, and added some buffer beam detail although I am not too sure if this is absolutely correct. Not that I am too bothered if it is not since it does look much better than it did before and that is all that matters - to us.
We had to have a single car DMU to work this branch-line since the station here, which is Bachmann's Hampton Market Halt, is only big enough for one coach. Besides, this line is never going to be that busy - except, perhaps, at the height of summer.
The train is fitted with Howes sound although this was actually purchased for our Class 108. Unfortunately, though, the 108 has never worked properly so we decided to transfer the decoder and speaker into the 121 while we sorted out the 108. I'm sure all of these DMU's sound much the same anyway although, I am also sure,  the more serious Gricers out there will doubtless be able to tell the difference.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tunnel Vision

After spending the best part of a couple of days working on the layout last weekend we have made quite a bit of progress with both the Fuel Terminal and the approach to Sueston.
We decided to work on this part of the layout, before returning to the town area, since we were getting rather fed up of seeing nothing but bare wood and baseboard in this particular corner. It is certainly true that is has been neglected for some time now while we concentrated on making a start on the town.
So, this weekend, we treated the base of the Fuel Terminal with some scatter material and then painted it to give it a concrete look and then we started to erect Bachmann security fencing alongside the railway - before we ran out of fence panels that is! More are on order and these should arrive this week.
You will note that we have also covered the sides of the road bridge across the railway with Metcalfe Stone card and started work on the tunnel through which plunges the branch line to Saggy Bottom Halt. 
Hopefully this coming weekend should see a road laid on the bridge and tunnel and, maybe, the side of the tunnel made to look more like the rock face seen at the rear of the layout rather than the flat wooden side we have here at the moment.
The tunnel on the back wall was going to be over a disused railway but this became a road leading into the Fuel Terminal.  We felt that we had to do this since there was no other obvious way for a road access into the terminal and, besides, our layout is set in an age when people realized the value of the railway. So, for sure, there would never be any closures, would there?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Does The Jacobite ...

Awaiting Departure from Fort William
Crossing Glenfinnan Viaduct
... yes, but only when he's hungry!
Okay, I hope that you will please forgive the terrible pun, especially my mate Jacko (sorry Pete) but I simply could not resist that one.
Anyway, more apologies are in order now for the lack of activity last week due to being on holiday - alas nowhere exotic but we did manage to spend a bit of time over the weekend working on the layout, of which more later in the week.

So, yes, we did indeed 'Do The Jacobite' on what was a very special day for us all during our Scottish holiday last August - crikey, already it seems so long ago!
These steam specials, between Fort William and Mallaig, are run every day from May to October and are operated by West Coast Railways for whom we have nothing but the highest praise. This is because, due to an unfortunate mix-up with our booking, we were allocated second class seats when, in fact, we had booked and paid for first class. Furthermore, by the time the mistake was realized, all of the first class seats were taken, thus threatening to ruin what we hoped would be the highlight of our holiday.
Well, WCR responded in a manner that I can only describe as being way beyond the call of duty in that they refunded all of our money, allocated our party of eight people two first class compartments (as used by Harry Potter himself apparently) and, also, gave us two complimentary bottles of champagne plus free tea and coffee. 
Well, as you can imagine, we were totally overwhelmed by this treatment and were made to feel like royalty for the day by Florence (the Guard) and the rest of the train staff. It certainly made what was already going to be a fantastic journey even more memorable and I have to also thank Michael at Carnforth for arranging all of this once he was aware of their mistake.
The train departed Fort William at 10:20 for the two-hour trip to Mallaig and I must admit that, for much of the outward journey, most of us had our heads stuck out of various windows as we took in the breath-taking scenery on what must be one of the greatest railway journeys in the world. I managed to capture a lot of it on video, a couple of stills from which you see above. The quality is not great, I know, but I hardly took any photographs, preferring to record most of the journey on video so that we can sit and relive the journey again as often as we like.
The locomotive that day was ex-LNER K1 No 62005 'The Great Marquess', and she was one of three they used during last summer for this trip - the others being ex-LMS ‘Black 5’ No 45231, ‘The Sherwood Forester’ and ex-LMS ‘Black 5’ No 45407 ‘The Lancashire Fusilier’ .
Unfortunately the weather closed in a little for the return journey but it failed to dampen our enjoyment and the whole day is one that we will never forget. 
I urge anyone who has not travelled this line to do so and, preferably, on The Jacobite. It is well worth it even if, unlike us, you do have to pay!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fuel's Paradise

Last week saw us begin work on the Fuel Unloading Terminal, which is situated in the south west corner of the layout - on the approach to Sueston Station. It will be somewhat hidden by bridges and embankments but will provide us with yet another interesting destination to which we can send our trains - in this instance oil tankers of course.
Using a mixture of thick grey card and cork tiles, covered in Metcalfe Tarmac, we have embedded the track in a similar fashion to the Brewery siding and this "tarmac' may then be given a coating of scatter to make it look a little less smooth.
The wall surrounding the terminal is Metcalfe Stone Walling, as used elsewhere on some of our our bridges, and it has enclosed this area quite nicely.
We plan to continue working on this location at the weekend so, hopefully, this will soon be another part of the layout that is complete.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Reserve Power

Introducing another recent addition to our locomotive fleet in the shape of Bachmann's Class 42 Warship diesel hydraulic, Nº D812 "Royal Naval Reserve".
Now I realize that, once again, this particular loco, together with all the other members of the various diesel hydraulic classes, was unlikely ever to be seen working trains between London and the North West. They were, after all, firmly rooted to the lines of the former Western Region. However, as with the Class 33, I have lots of happy recollections of hydraulic haulage, especially behind the Class 52 Westerns, so I really would like to see (and hear) one or two hydraulics running on our layout as well.
Besides which, since we have based our layout in the heyday of BR blue livery, during which period there were many and varied first generation diesel locos to be seen on our railways, I feel it is wholly possible that the odd diesel hydraulic might well find themselves straying onto foreign tracks.
However, we will have 812 heavily weathered in due course in order to, at least, depict her as eking out the last of her days before final withdrawal.
As with the majority of our locos, she is fitted with a Howes decoder and she does produce a very realistic and powerful sound.
Ah yes, hydraulic heaven indeed!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Brewing Nicely

I thought it might be a good idea to take a look at the current state of the brewery and, although it is not yet finished, it is coming along quite nicely. We still have to add more detail to the grounds and we also want to install some lighting in the near future but we are very pleased with its progress so far.
This is, as many of you probably know, Bachmann's Oakhill Brewery and the buildings are all based on an actual brewery in Somerset. It was just what we wanted for the layout, providing our town with a great feature to which we could also run a short siding that would provide us with yet another location to send trains.
The warehouse building (in the foreground) has a loading bay which can be road or rail served and, naturally enough, ours is the latter. However, there is room for only one wagon on the platform that is supplied so we are in the process of extending this to accommodate two wagons, as seen here. These wagons will usually arrive at Petersfield behind a longer goods train and then be shunted into the brewery by our recently acquired Hornby Class 08.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dirty Three

Along with the Class 24, featured below, we also had our Heljan Class 33 (33025 "Sultan") weathered recently and, again, had but the lightest of touches applied. This is because, apparently, this particular Crompton was something of a pet to the guys at Eastleigh Works and, as such, she was kept in a fairly clean condition.
We felt, therefore, that we should respect this fact and, hence, she is not quite as grubby as some of our other locomotives.  
She is fitted, like the majority of our fleet, with the Howes sound and I think that, once again, they have captured it very well indeed bringing, to our layout, sounds that were once heard across the railways of southern England for over forty years. 
So yes, you are right, this is another loco that, strictly speaking, would not have been seen in the region on which we have modelled our layout; it being a definite Southern Region class. However, we have many fond memories of travelling behind these Type 3's, mainly on the Exeter to Waterloo route, before the introduction of the Class 50s, as well as between Dorchester South and Bournemouth where they were in charge of four and eight car TC sets prior to electrification of this stretch of line.
Therefore, with so many happy hours spent riding behind these great little workhorses, it seems only right and proper that we honour them by borrowing a member of the class to run on our railway, just so long as we promise to give it back to the Southern Region ... eventually!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

24 Heaven

This Bachmann Class 24 locomotive was the first DCC sound fitted locomotive that we acquired, almost two years ago now, so she occupies rather a special place amongst our growing fleet.
Originally she was numbered 24035 and came with Bachmann's own sound which, actually, was quite good. 
However, she has recently undergone a complete make-over such that she has been lightly weathered, renumbered and reblown with the Howes Class 24 sound.
As far as the weathering is concerned, in this instance, we wanted it to be only lightly applied since, being our introduction to the world of DCC sound, we wish to convey the impression that she is being well looked after - which she is of course! Therefore, only the subtlest of weathering was applied recently by Mikron Models of Taunton.
We also wanted to make her unique to us and, as there must be many 24035's in existence now,  we decided to renumber her 24037. 
Lastly although, as I say, the Bachmann sound in this loco was quite good, I think that the Howes sound is better and that is why she went away last week to be reblown and, I must say, we are very impressed with both Howes she sounds and how she looks.
As for the prototype locos, there were 151 of these Sulzer Type 2's built between 1958 and 1961 at Crewe, Derby and Darlington and they later formed the basis for the development of the Class 25.
The last surviving member of the class, 24081, was withdrawn in 1980 and is now in preservation along with sister locos 24032, 54 and 61.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Coaled Snap!

Here is a snap-shot on the progress of the Coal Depot that occupies the north-west corner of the layout. This really only came about as a result of us wanting to include the Operating Tipper and Conveyor Belt in order to provide us with another location to send our trains. However, it has now become, together with the adjacent Coneyvale Halt, a nice feature and is progressing well especially since, at the weekend, we added a new section of rock walling, seen to the right of the photograph.
This we made by shaping a piece of corrugated cardboard and then forming, on top of that, the rock face by using small pieces of screwed up newspaper covered with landform. Finally this was coated in a layer of polyfilla.

Once this had dried we landscaped it with various paints and scatters etc and let that dry before attaching it to the wall. 
We then keyed it in to the baseboard using more newspaper and landform so that it tapers down nicely to the road behind the station. This is just out of shot in the picture above but I will feature it in a posting next week when, hopefully, this area should be virtually complete.
The Coal Depot itself is not quite finished yet since all the buildings and vehicles have just been placed there for now. We may decide not to have so many as are shown here and we will probably position them differently too. 
It also needs some human activity which we will also be adding this weekend.
The Class 17 (D8568 "Ribble Cement") is the locomotive that will work the Coal Depot sidings and it will also be used to push the coal trucks up the incline to the operating tipper and conveyor. 
These items, I am sure, will be frowned upon by all serious railway modellers but the incline up to the tipper has certainly made an interesting feature and it also provides us with an excellent backdrop at this end of the layout. It does also give us added operational interest and adds to the fun of running the railway which is, surely, what it's all about.

Monday, October 25, 2010

She's Grrrr8!

This Hornby Class 08 is a recent addition to our fleet of locomotives. We wanted a shunter to work the Brewery Siding and had initially planned to use one of the excellent Bachmann Class 03's. However, these locos are too small to install sound without the addition of a permanently coupled wagon in which to house the speaker. 
So we plumped, instead, for this beautiful Hornby Class 08 and she really is a lovely loco, in fact she is perfect for what we were looking for. Unfortunately, though, we were very unhappy with the Hornby-installed sound so we almost immediately sent her off to Howes to have her reblown with their excellent sound file.
Now she looks and sounds just great!
Looking ahead, we will probably get her weathered in time but, as she is supposed to be owned by the Brewery, she will only be lightly weathered since we just know that the Brewery will be making sure that they look after her.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Beast From Montreal

The Tri-ang Transcontinental 4-6-2 Pacific locomotive, TR2335, was based on the large,  powerful Canadian Class G3 mixed traffic locos built by the Montreal Locomotive Works.
The model measures almost 12 inches long and has a working headlight and some even had smoke. It also came in various liveries, based on Australian and Canadian outline railways.
Sadly my model here is a little the worse for wear with much of the white lining missing and a slightly bent tender. However, despite this and in spite of its great age, it is still an excellent runner with great pulling power.
The model was sold individually as well as part of both passenger and freight train sets and was in production from 1955 until 1970 and, from 1962 until 1970, it carried the name 'Hiawatha'.
Throughout this time though it carried the same catalogue numbers: R.54 for the locomotive and R.32 for the eight-wheeled tender.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hard at Work!

Last weekend saw us complete the scenery in this corner of the layout and, to celebrate the fact, we actually started to populate the area. As such, policemen (and policewomen of course) can now be found in and around the police station and a permanent way crew has also arrived track-side and are busy installing some AWS boxes by the looks of it.
It is amazing how placing people onto the layout brings it to life and these Bachmann figures are excellent and so life-like. However, they are not permanent fixtures (no pun intended) and, indeed, may well not be fixed in place at all since we will probably move people and cars around the layout to try and vary the scenes a little.
Like the workmen in the photograph we have been quite busy ourselves this week in that we also progressed the coal yard beneath the operating tipper and conveyor and this area should be finished this weekend so I will feature that in a future posting.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


The Tri-ang Hornby Freightliner train set (top photograph) was available for just three years - 1968, 1969 and 1971. It contained a Class 35 'Hymek' Diesel Hydraulic locomotive (D7063) plus three Freightliner wagons, each with three standard 20ft containers with opening doors.
This set came without any track and I suppose it was, what would now be called, a train pack. Its catalogue number was R.645.
Tri-ang Hornby then introduced the operating Freightliner Depot Crane (middle photograph) in 1969 and the instructions on how to install and operate it are shown in the bottom photograph. The idea being to facilitate the transfer of containers from one freightliner wagon to another or from a wagon to a lorry.
This had a catalogue number of R.675 and but I am not sure for how long this particular set was produced although I am guessing it would have only been for a couple of years.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Paving The Way

This last weekend saw continued progress in the corner of the town around the bus depot and police station. The latter has now acquired a nicely paved base, courtesy of Metcalfe's Self Adhesive Paving (PO210). These paving slabs were quite fiddly to lay as there was a lot of cutting and shaping to do around the edges but the result looks very good and is a lot better than the scatter that we had used previously. The slabs were stuck to a piece of grey card and, as the name suggests, they are self-adhesive but to make sure they stuck properly I spread some PVA glue on the card first.
At the front of the Police Station we have created a semi-circular flower bed around which police cars can drive back on to the main road after dropping off various  apprehended ne'er-do-wells and villains - not that a nice, law-abiding town like ours will have too many such miscreants, I'm sure!
The recently relaid track has now had its sleepers painted and will be ballasted this week and the area between the pick-up hook and embankment will also be landscaped. That will mean this part of the layout is practically finished which will mean that we can to move on to the next area.
Please note that the petrol station has acquired a recycling centre which may be a little modern for a layout that is set in the mid to late 1970s but, hey-ho, we like to do our bit for the environment and clearly this railway was somewhat ahead of its time in trying to go green.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Tri-ang's Diesel Switcher was another item that was produced for the Canadian and Australian markets. It was based on the RS-2 Class (North America) and Victorian Railways T Class (Australia) locomotives. 
I believe that the US company ALCO built 374 of the RS-2 Class between 1948 and 1950, with a further 9 being built in Canada by MLW Subsidiary, while Clyde Engineering of New South Wales built 95 of the T Class.
The model locomotive was produced between 1958 and 1967 had a working headlight and came in various liveries that were all based on Canadian and Australian outline. Originally they were produced in Yellow, Maroon and Green liveries but, latterly they seem to have been produced in yellow only.
Initially they all carried the Running Number 5007 although, in later models, this was switched 7005.
Most of them had TRI-ANG RAILWAYS printed on both sides of the loco but the ones for Australia carried TRANSAUSTRALIAN RAILWAYS instead. 
The locos were sold both individually (as R.155) and also as part of the Diesel Freight and Transcontinental Freight train sets.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Getting Hooked

Well, I think that it is high time for an update on the progress of the layout and, as you can see from the photograph, the area around the bus depot and police station has come on a little since my last posting and this part of the town is nearing completion. Now we are keen to get this bit finished so that we can start work on the other side of town.
The TPO Receiving Bin, Pick-up Hook and associated ramps are all now in place and we just need to reballast the track, which should be done during the next week or so.
As always Pete has done a fantastic job in landscaping the embankments and we hope to complete the section between the embankment and the signal box this coming weekend.
We have put up some of the Bachmann Security Fence (44-505) behind the signal box and may continue with this up to the Pick-up Hook.
There is actually no easy way to erect this fencing though and no clue given with the instructions so we inserted short, thin pieces of wire into the baseboard and stuck the fencing to these and to the board.  If anyone has any other ideas as to how we can hold this fencing in place, please let me know.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pulling The Ladies

George Mortimer Pullman (1831 – 1897) was an American industrialist who introduced the Pullman Sleeping Car or "Palace Car" in 1864. When one of these sleepers was used to convey the body of Abraham Lincoln on the Funeral Train from Washington to Springfield in April and May of 1865 it brought Pullman widespread national attention and, as a result, orders for his sleeping cars came flooding in. 
The sleeping cars, which were marketed as "luxury for the middle class", therefore proved very successful, despite the fact that they cost in excess of five times the price of a regular railway car.
Great Britain introduced Pullman Cars in 1874 and these Tri-ang Hornby models are based on cars from the 1920s - during what has become affectionately known as the Golden Age of Steam!
Tri-ang first introduced these handsome models in 1958 and they then continued in production until 1973 when they were finally phased out.
As far as I am aware there were just the four different 1st Class Cars in this original styling, namely: Anne, Jane, Mary and Ruth. Then, in 1960, Tri-ang introduced a Brake / 2nd Class Car, simply called Car Nº 79.
Did you know that George Pullman also created his own company town called, not surprisingly, Pullman, which was later absorbed by, and is now a neighbourhood of, Chicago.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bed Time

This weekend saw us progressing the area between the bus station and the road bridge, as well as forming the bed of the stream that will run through the south-east corner of the town.
The course of this stream has had to be diverted from its original route, and shortened a bit too, but I think it will still make an interesting feature - as will the ornamental lake into which the stream will flow in to and out of. 
We have also now abandoned the planned roundabout that we had marked out in this area in favour of road junctions, again due to lack of space, and there will be a hump-back bridge going over the stream for vehicular access to a probable church and bowling green in this corner of the layout. We had originally planned to have a cricket pitch here but there is just not enough room.
You will see that the Operating Mail Receiving Bin and Pick-up Hook are now in-situ, on either side of the tracks although not fixed down yet. This should be done next time and, hopefully, the landscaping of the area in and around the bus station and police station should also commence in earnest.
We have now decided that we will, eventually, extend the layout by a few feet on the other side of the the small embankment, just out of shot to the left of the photograph. The plan, then, is to build a diesel depot since there is certainly enough room and the layout could really benefit from one. This will also allow us to make the embankment somewhat larger so that it better matches the embankment on the opposite side of the tracks.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bold As Brass

No, we are not converting our layout to O Gauge, well, not just yet anyway.
I just thought that it would be nice to feature this lovely O Gauge model of a Fowler 4F 0-6-0 locomotive that I currently have in my possession.
It was made by Bachmann Brassworks and has a Catalogue Nº: BW015.
The Brassworks range consists of many, fine, ready to run steam and diesel locomotives in both O Gauge and Gauge 1 and they are available in either a brass finish, as here, or ready painted in a plain base colour, without lining or decals.
Being made of brass these locos are quite heavy, this one weighs in at around 1700g, so it's pulling power is excellent and it runs beautifully too.
The Midland 4F was attributed to Henry Fowler although much of the design work was supervised by the Chief Locomotive Draughtsman, James Anderson. Apparently it was Midland Region policy to build prototypes so that they could prove the design. As such, building of these locos commenced with just two examples in 1911. The testing period was then extended due to the First World War and was followed by a concerted building programme between 1917 and 1922 whereupon, when the Midland Railway became the LMS, there were 192 in service.
The LMS adopted the design as standard in 1924 and by 1941, when the final two were built at Derby, the final total stood at a very impressive 772 locomotives.
Today, just one of the Midland-built 4Fs survives (43924) together with three of the LMS 4Fs (44027, 44123, 44422) with 44422 being, as far as I am aware, the only one that is operational and currently running on the Nene Valley Railway.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

It Carries Cars Well

The Tri-ang Hornby BR Cartic Articulated Car Carrier was produced from 1969 until 1973. It was usually supplied with a selection of 12 Minix cars, although only seven are shown above. These  cars were introduced in 1964 and were available until 1972.

The range, obviously, reflected the makes of cars that were available at the time and, compared to today's standards, were a bit basic and toy-like.

There were, I believe, 18 vehicles in total:
  1. Ford Anglia
  2. Morris 1100
  3. Vauxhall Viva
  4. Triumph 2000
  5. Austin A60
  6. Ford Corsair
  7. Sunbeam Alpine
  8. Hillman Minx
  9. Simca 1300
  10. Hillman Imp
  11. Vauxhall Victor 101
  12. Austin 1800
  13. Ford Thames Van
  14. AEC Strachans Bus
  15. Vauxhall Cresta Estate
  16. Caravan
  17. Rambler Classic
  18. Trailer
The cars came in a variety of colours including: black, white, blue, red, dark yellow, pale yellow, dark green, emerald green, lime green, maroon and vermillion. It seems that the rarest colours were black, maroon and lime green.

As for the Car Carrier itself, a label with the Inter-City Logo and the word Motorail was attached to each of the four sides. However, the one in my photograph does not have these although you can probably see where two of the labels should be.
For its day, this was an excellent model that could be attached to the rear of any suitable passenger or sleeper train to recreate the Motorail services that began in the UK in 1955 but which, sadly, ended in September 2005. 
The final Motorail service being that of the Night Riviera from Paddington to Penzance. Fortunately The Night Riviera service does still operate but it no longer transports cars.
The Catalogue Number for the Car Carrier is R.666 and the model is still highly sought after by collectors today.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Going Round The Bend!

This week we finally got around to creating the rest of the embankments on either side of the road bridge and, in so doing, formed a cutting which nicely matches the cutting on the other side of the gap - albeit somewhat smaller. Please see previous post entitled 'Valley Good Work'.
However, just like Topsy, it somehow grew and became rather longer than we had originally intended inasmuch as we decided to continue the embankment around the top of the loop so that it would connect with the retaining wall on the other side. 
There is not much space, at this point, between the track and the edge of the baseboard, so we had to make the embankment here somewhat lower and narrower but it should look okay especially when a backdrop is finally put into place behind it.
Actually, we were uncertain as to whether a cutting was the right way forward here before we started but, now that it is in place, I think we all felt that it was the correct decision and it should look very good when fully landscaped.
You can also see where I have replaced the two Hornby crossover points, that lead to Platform 3 and the Brewery Siding, with ones by Peco which are much superior. Surely it is high time that Hornby improved their track, especially their points and diamond crossings, to make it more compatible with the fine-scale wheels that are found on today's rolling stock.
You might also notice that we have made provision for an Operating Mail Coach Receiving Bin on the up line, between the end of the embankment and the points. A Pick-up Hook is going to be installed on the down line, opposite, so that we will then have one of each accessory at either end of the layout. The intention will then be to run an overnight sleeper service in each direction with an operating mail coach coupled to the rear of each train. This can then collect / drop off the mail bags whilst the train conveys its slumbering passengers between Sueston and Davemoor.
Okay, so this might be nothing more than a toy something that, I am sure, many a serious railway modeller will not even contemplate using. However, the whole objective of this layout is to have as much fun as possible and to make it interesting to operate as well. That is why we have several such operating accessories at various locations around the layout; they all provide our trains with a reason for running and give us a lot of pleasure into the bargain.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Giraffe Car

Suppose you had to transport a giraffe by rail, how would you do it? 
So stated Tri-ang in their introduction to the Giraffe Car which first appeared in the 1963 catalogue.
Well, I have to say that not too many giraffes do get transported on the Lakeland Railway and, indeed, this is the first and, probably, the only time that such an animal will travel on the line - there being no zoos along our route.
This was definitely an original and amusing operating accessory although, I believe, it was actually based on an idea by Lionel Trains of America.
The car came in a variety of liveries, based on Canadian and Australian outline railways, since it was clearly designed for sale in these countries. It was predominantly sold as an individual item but it did also appear as part of the Pacific Steam Freight Set of 1967 for the Canadian market.
Below is a reproduction of an advertisement for the Giraffe Car that appeared in the model railway press during 1966. The words to the left of the advert read as follows:
"Exactly three things can be said for being a giraffe. 1. No school. 2. The best bits off treetops where other animals can't reach. 3: A view for miles. Giraffes, in fact, have it made. But life has trials, too. Like being eaten by lions. And travel. England built Africa's railways and they're fine for humans. Some are anyway. But giraffes? Nobody thought of them at the time. So, later, they had to cut holes in coach roofs. SUCCESS story, now they can nod to one another all down the train, needn't worry about "No Smoking" signs, can still see for miles. Though there are DANGERS. They still remember poor Fred. On the Up train from Nairobi. So bemused by scenery (he composed light verse) he forgot to duck at low bridge. No Fred. If only they had had this Tri-ang trackside tell-tale he would still be with us. Our giraffes get a gentle tap on the head whenever a low bridge or other obstruction is near. They then gracefully duck and NEVER come up again until the danger is past. Your giraffes would appreciate the simple fitting of this set to their layout!"
The only problem that I can see here is that if you had more than one low bridge or other obstruction you would need more than one tell-tale otherwise your giraffe might then suffer the same fate as poor Fred!
The Giraffe Car had a Catalogue Number of R.348 and a Running number of TR937 and was last produced in 1971.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Valley Good Work

This weekend we managed to get a few jobs done as we continued working at this end of the layout.
To begin with we grassed over of the extension to the cutting on the up side of the line between Gunnmere station and the valley beneath the Nigglehead Viaduct and I think that this looks much better than what was there before. 
It still needs the addition of some trees and bushes and we might even put in a small bridge between the two embankments to enable walkers and animals to cross the line. Provision has also been made for a small pond at the foot of this new incline but we have yet to  make up our minds whether to go ahead with this idea or not.
So, this part of the layout is very much close to completion now and, hopefully, we can soon add some people to the scene. At the moment there are very few figures anywhere on the layout mainly because we do not like to add them until all else is finished and we are happy with the landscaping etc.
A second job that we did was to replace a couple of Hornby points with some Peco ones which, we believe, are vastly superior. When we began building the layout we, rather naively, thought that Hornby turnouts were best or, at least, on a par with Peco. Hence most of the points used on the original part of the layout were Hornby and it is these that we are slowly replacing.
Finally this week, we did some long-overdue wiring, wherein we connected a section of the London Loop to the main wiring bus that travels around the layout under the base boards. Up until now this section has relied on the Hornby Point Clips to deliver the power and they have worked rather well too although, unsurprisingly, there was a slight but definite drop in power. Anyway, this week we finally got the solering iron out and the improvement in performance was quite noticeable.
Actually, I intend to make wiring of the layout the subject of a future blog posting or two so stay tuned!

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Cloudy Skye

A two-car Class 158
Kyle of Lochalsh Station
The Skye Bridge
En route to Broadford
We took our first ride along the railway line between Inverness and the Kyle of Lochalsh during our Scottish holiday and, although the day was probably the worst of the holiday, in terms of the weather, it was still a fantastic journey - albeit on a cramped Class 158.
Now maybe it was the less than clement weather but, I have to say, I thought the station at Kyle, together with its immediate environs, was mildly depressing and a bit of a disappointment after such a spectacular train ride to get there. It all looked somewhat untidy and rather run down which, for the destination at the end of what is, reputedly, one of the best railway journeys in the world, was a bit of a let down. 
Maybe if the sun had been shining and we weren't being chilled by a cold wind directly off the Sea of the Hebrides we might have felt a little different.
Anyway, with no car and only a few hours to kill before the return journey, we took a bus ride across the new bridge as far as Broadford where we had our lunch and paid a visit to the Skye Serpentarium, a small but excellent place to visit. 
The star attraction for us being Chico the iguana, a real cool guy who looked totally chilled otu and relaxed. Yes I think he and I would have gotten along very well indeed! I wanted to take his picture but, sadly, photography was not permitted.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Well That's All White!

Bridge That Gap!
After two weeks of doing nothing to the layout, due to our holiday, we got right back into it again this week. However, instead of continuing with work in the town (as we probably should have done), we diverted our attention to the cutting between Gunnmere Station and Nigglehead Viaduct.
Now, I must confess, we have never been entirely happy with how this looked when compared to the rest of the landscaping around the viaduct and Saggy Bottom Halt area. It just did not follow on from the rest of the scenery, at least that is what Pete, our 'artistic director' felt and I had to agree with him! In fact the top photograph shows how it looked previously so you can judge for yourselves.
Therefore, before we went on holiday, Dave, our 'chief craftsman', constructed a curved wooden base that nicely linked the bottom of the viaduct with the car park at Gunnmere, just visible in the bottom picture.  This car park has also been made bigger as a result of Dave's handiwork so we can now extend the car park a little as well.
Then, at the weekend, we set to and constructed what, we hope, will be a realistic looking embankment that follows on much more neatly from the valley bottom and, also, better matches the embankment on the other side of the railway.
To build it we used lots of screwed up pieces of newspaper with plaster impregnated bandages (a cheaper version of Peco Landform) on top of that. All of this was then covered with polyfilla and allowed to dry during the week before we start landscaping it next weekend.
The long bridge that spans the gap between the two road over bridges (see bottom photograph) was removed while construction took place. This bridge should sit neatly on top of the landform in front of the road bridge in the middle photograph whilst, on the baseboard in front of the landform, we have marked where a road will lead up to the soon-to-be-expanded car park at Gunnmere station.
Obviously I will be following the progress of this work in future postings.  

Thursday, August 12, 2010

More Newtonmore

As there is nothing to report on the modelling front this week I thought I would post another railway-related article following our holiday in Scotland last week.
This time I am focusing on the Caledonian Sleeper which stops at Newtonmore twice during the day - in the London direction at 21:45 and on its way to Inverness at 07:11. This is one of two sleeper services that ScotRail run from London Euston to Scotland - this one being the Caledonian Highland Sleeper while the other is, naturally enough, the Caledonian Lowland Sleeper.
The Highland Sleeper service departs Euston at 21:15 behind a Class 90 and runs, as one train, to Edinburgh. This is, at around 15 carriages, possibly the lengthiest regular passenger train running in the UK and is at the longest permitted length for the platforms at Euston Station. 
Anyway, I digress a little. Upon arrival at Edinburgh, where passengers are not allowed to disembark, the train divides into three portions and these then head off in different directions to Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William. As there are no overhead wires on any of these routes all three trains have to be diesel hauled and, where once this would have been allocated to a Class 37, a pool of Class 67s are now dedicated to the task.
The Lowland Sleeper service, meanwhile, departs London Euston at 23:30 and heads for Carstairs where the train divides into two; one portion being bound for Edinburgh while the second portion proceeds to Motherwell and Glasgow.
The sleeper service runs every night of the week, except Saturday, and has both First Class cabins (with a single berth) and Second Class cabins (with twin berths) as well as two lounge cars and seated accommodation, for those who do not mind sleeping while seated.
Only one other sleeper service now operates in the UK and that is The Night Riviera from London Paddington to Penzance in Cornwall.
This service was under threat of withdrawal recently but, thankfully, the powers that be eventually saw sense and saved it.
If there is anyone who has not yet travelled on a sleeper train I can whole-heartedly recommend it; okay, you may not get too much sleep but it is a thrilling and magical experience.