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scenario is that, as with the prototype locomotive, this particular Clayton passed into private ownership after being withdrawn by BR.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, NÂș 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.