Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Great Western

D1001 is the second of the two locomotives that we recently had weathered by Alex at Mikron Models in Taunton.
This Heljan model of Western Pathfinder looks fantastic now that she is a little grubbier and she also sounds good too with Howes sound fitted.
She is one of two diesel hydraulics that we have in our fleet of locomotives, the other being the even dirtier Class 42 D812 'Royal Naval Reserve'.
The real Western Pathfinder, which was the second of the class to be built, entered service in February 1962 and was, sadly, withdrawn in October 1976. It was scrapped ten months later by BREL of Swindon.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Looking GrEight!

Here we see our Class 08 shunter, D3105, posing beneath the girder bridge on the line that leads to the diesel servicing depot.
This locomotive is primarily used for shunting wagons in the brewery but does occasionally venture further afield. 
She has recently returned from Mikron Models having been lightly weathered by Alex and, once again, he has done a terrific job.
She joined our fleet a few months ago and came with sound factory-fitted by Hornby. This sound, however, we felt was totally unsatisfactory and so she was soon on her way to be reblown at Howes.
As for the prototype, D3105 became 08 080 but was actually withdrawn quite early in November 1980.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Service Lines

We managed to get quite a bit done to the diesel depot this weekend having spent a couple of sessions working on the layout.
The top two pictures show progress after the first session wherein most of the track had been laid and some of the buildings and structures temporarily placed into position.
The bottom two pictures, meanwhile, were taken after our second spell down the shed by which time we had finished the initial landscaping of the embankment and old trackbed, painted some of the track serving the depot, put scatter under the bridge and placed said bridge into position.
Due to both the skewed angle of the track in relation to the bridge and the limited space that we have available for the depot, it did make clearing the bridge walls a bit tight. However, after much testing, we finally got it so there was enough clearance for the longest of our locos and with Hornby Digital Electric Point Clips (R8232) inserted into all of the points, we managed to do a quick test of the track within the yard. This track will of course be wired to the Bus in due course.
With the ever-growing nature of the layout, we are also fast coming to the decision that we will need to boost the power supply to the track at some stage in the near future. For this we will probably use the Bachmann E-Z Command 5A Power Booster, Catalogue Nº 36-520.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Diesel Day

D1967 and D6986 approaching Bath Road Shed, Bristol. 
22 November 1965

D6896 and D6877 depart Swindon the 19:00 Paddington to Swansea.
2 June 1966
D824 'Highflyer' between Bruton and Castle Cary with a down express.
29 August 1964
D39 leaves the main line and heads for Bath Road Shed, Bristol
22 November 1965
Because we went to Taunton last weekend, there is not much to report with regards to the layout. So I thought I would post some more of John Day's excellent photographs and, this time, I am featuring some of his diesel shots.
The four pictures that I have included here depict Classes 37, 42, 45 and 47 at various locations in the West Country during the mid 1960s.
D1967 became 47 267 and, then, 47 603 and was withdrawn in April 2000.
D6986 became 37 286 and was withdrawn in February 1999.
D6896 became 37 196 and was withdrawn in October 2000.
D6877 became 37 177 and was withdrawn in April 2002.
D39 became 45 033 and was unofficially named Sirius. It was scrapped at MC Metals of Glasgow in February 1992.
Finally D824, which was a Class 42, was withdrawn in December 1972 and, interestingly, its worksplate was sold at auction in May 2009 for £420.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Making Tracks

This last weekend saw us continue work on the Diesel Depot or, rather, the embankment that runs alongside it and which carries a disused and dismantled railway line.
There is now a wall on the depot side of the embankment and support walls have also been added to each side of the bridge. All of these were constructed using grey card faced with Metcalfe brick sheets - Engineers Blue Brick (M0053) for the wall and Dressed Gritstone (M0052) for the bridge supports.
The embankment has also been partially landscaped although there is still quite a bit more to do here, particularly where we have filled in between the wall and the embankment. 
We also laid cork to the rest of the table to form a level surface for the track and buildings and this cork was then given a coat of brown paint. We did this because, as with prototype depots, brown will be the predominant colour of the land and track ballast here.
Fortunately, the markings showing the track layout in the depot can still be seen through the paint and, hopefully, track laying can begin in earnest in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Templecombe Then and Now

The two photographs here show how the spur from the S&D main line up to the Templecombe Upper station has changed over the years.
The top photo, I think, dates from the early 1940s while the bottom picture was taken much more recently - and a little further back than the first one.
There have been many obvious changes made during the intervening years, not least the disappearance of the trees in the distance, many of them English elms, to be replaced by a housing estate.
The road in the foreground leads to the Thales Underwater Systems, Throop Road site. The company, then known as Plessey Marine, purchased the site of the old S&D shed a couple of years after the line closed in 1966.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pondering the Future

In the top picture, an elderly couple and their two dogs sit beside the formal pond in the ornamental gardens situated in front of the Craft Centre .
While, below, a young man sits on the rocks surrounding the less formal pond to the side of the Craft Centre.
No-one knows what might be going through all of their minds as they relax by the water and ponder the future. Perhaps they are thinking about what they could buy in the shops or, maybe, what time train they need to catch at Petersfield station.
As for us, we are thinking ahead to finishing the diesel depot in the more immediate future and then, next year, beginning the make-over of the northern half of the layout.
This work will eradicate the crawl-through between the two halves of the layout and will mean the re-location of the terminus at Davemoor. It should also allow us to extend the Lake End branch line and create an area that is more akin to the Lakeland scenery that the layout is supposed to represent. 
It will clearly mean a lot of work and, also, the cessation of train operations north of Gunnmere for some time. But it will be worth it and we are really looking forward to making a start.

Service Area

At the weekend we at last began work in earnest on the Diesel Servicing Depot, as can be seen from the photos above.
Our first job was to create the embankment that will become a disused railway line and this we constructed using polystyrene tiles, land form plaster and a covering of polyfilla. This now forms a useful divide between the depot and the town as well as providing us with another cutting.
The scenario is that this line closed a few years ago and the embankment that carried it has since been truncated - at one end to allow the road to be built and, at the other end, to facilitate the extension of the diesel depot.
The bridge across the depot entrance will have to be weathered and the trackbed suitably overgrown although we do still want it to look like an old railway line rather than just another embankment.
Actually, our first thoughts were to make this into a road but we felt that a disused railway line would be a much better idea and, anyway, it is something that we had always wanted to include in the layout.
We have already laid cork on most of the board but had to extend the board a little to better accommodate the track layout. We will cover this bit with cork as well and then paint the whole area brown prior to laying the track.
Ballast will be kept to a minimum here, as would be the case at such a location, and be predominantly dark brown in colour while the track inside the depot itself will be set in 'concrete' using plasticard.
The pieces of grey card that you can see in the photos depict where where various buildings and depot items such as crane, washer and fuel tanks will be situated. All of these items, so far, being from the Bachmann Scenecraft range - see below:
Modern Servicing Depot
Diesel Fuelling Point
Depot Crane
Fuel Storage Tanks
Modern Washing Plant
Depot Water Tower

Carriage Shed Walkways

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cole for Bruton

Cole station name board : 26 February 1966
BR 2-6-4T 80081 departs Cole with the 13:10 Bath to Templecombe : 17 April 1965
General view of Cole station, looking towards Bath : 3 June 1962

An S&D 'Do Not Trespass' sign : 26 February 1966
Whilst having a sort out the other day, I came across some boxes of old black and white photographs that I acquired about 30 years ago from a former work colleague of mine called John Day. 
John, was (and probably still is) an excellent photographer who also happened to be interested in trains. As such he amassed quite a selection of railway photographs that he took in the 1960s and he has even had some of them published.
To be honest, I had forgotten that I had so many of his prints but, now that I have rediscovered them, I plan to include the best of them on this blog so that others may enjoy his work. 
I am sure that John will not object to me showing his work here and I will begin with some photographs that he took at Cole, on The Somerset and Dorset.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

... and Sevens

D2994 on the Avon Valley Railway.
Kevin Cotterell
D2991 at Eastleigh Works in 1986.
D2991 now preserved by the 71A Loco Group at Eastleigh.
Preserved 07 013 in 1960s BR blue livery.
The 14 strong fleet of Class 07 diesel electric shunters had an off-centre cab, similar to the Class 14, and were primarily used in Southampton Docks. Later, some of the class received the TOPS numbering and were also fitted with high-level air brake pipes to enable them to move Southern Region EMUs nd three of them were also used at Bournemouth EMU depot for a short while.

There was a tendency for their axle boxes to run hot when travelling at high speed and this meant that the locos made most long distance journeys by road rather than by rail.

For a shunter they were quite fast and it had been envisaged that they might be used for local journeys, to and from Southampton Dock.
However, the axle box problem precluded this and, effectively, prevented the class from working too far from their Southampton or Eastleigh homes.
Numbers 2988, 2992 and 2998 were all withdrawn before receiving a TOPS number and 2991, although allocated 07 007, was also withdrawn before receiving its TOPS number. The first three locos were all cut up in the early to mid 1970s, however, 2991 remained in use at Eastleigh Works.

This loco subsequently passed into preservation at Knights Rail Services Ltd at Eastleigh Works. The other members of the class that have been preserved are as follows:

07 001 : Owned by HNRC at Barrow Hill
07 005 : Great Central Railway
07 010 : Avon Valley Railway
07 011 : Privately owned at St Leonards-on-Sea
07 012 : Preserved at Barrow Hill.
07 013 : Preserved by Heritage SHunters Trust at Peak Rail.

The rest of the class (bar one) were all withdrawn and cut up during the late 1970s and 1980s. The one exception being 07 009 which was exported to Italy.

As far as I am aware no models of a Class 07 have ever been produced. However, with the current spate of prototype and lesser known classes appearing in model form, the possibility that one might appear in the future can never be ruled out.
The full Class 07 specification is shown below:

At Sixes ...

06 009 at Dunfermline Townhill Wagon Repair Works.
This facility closed in the early 1980's.
Mark Harrington
97 804 (ex 06 003) at Reading in June 1985.
06 003 possibly at Barrow Hill.
Rich Mackin
06 010 at Glasgow Polmadie.
The Class 06 diesel mechanical shunters were built by Andrew Barclay between 1958 and 1960 and they were used exclusively on the Scottish Region.
They were originally numbered D2410 - D2444 and, of the original 35 locos built, ten of them survived long enough to be renumbered under the TOPS scheme.
Final withdrawals took place in October 1960 with 06 005 and 06 008 being the last two to be taken out of service.
Only one of the class was preserved, Nº 06 003, and she is currently owned by the Heritage Shunters Trust.
As far as models of the Class 06 are concerned, I believe that Hornby are the only manufacturers to produce one at present, as part of their Railroad range. A few years ago, they also issued one to people joining or rejoining the Hornby Collector's Club.
The full Class 06 specification is shown below:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Train Rec

This weekend finally saw us finish landscaping the town and, so, begin work on the diesel depot.
We had to abandon the idea of a crazy golf course in the triangle of land that we had left since the area did prove to be too small. We will, therefore, now include this in the northern half of the layout when we start work rebuilding that next year.
So, instead of a golf course, we made this into a recreational area for children which includes, amongst other things: swings, a slide, a roundabout and a sand pit.
With the need to keep the kids amused at all times, we also placed a play train and a see-saw on to the lawns of the the tea rooms as there was not enough space for these to be included in the playground. Whether these items will stay where they are we are not too sure but, for now, we are happy with them there.
Obviously there is still much more to be done in the town before it is considered complete - people, lighting, cars, road signs and, most importantly, water in the lake and river, all need to be added!
However, these things can be done gradually over the ensuing weeks because, for now, we want to get as much work done on the depot as possible before we take our annual break over Christmas and the New Year.
In the lower photograph you can see that we have temporarily laid the track and placed cardboard templates where buildings will be. Unfortunately, space constraints mean that the track layout is not exactly as we would have wanted but we are happy with what we can do here and it will certainly add another area of interest to the layout.
You will note that we have also started building the bridge that crosses the line that feeds into the depot, and which acts to separate the depot from the rest of the layout. 
We plan to continue building this bridge and creating the embankment on either side of same at the weekend so I should have more to report on this next week.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Beauty and a Beast

Here, at last, is the third of the three locomotives that we had weathered recently by Alex at Mikron Models in Taunton.
I think he has done an excellent job too and, unlike some of our locos, we decided not to have 'St Paddy' too heavily weathered as we felt that it would not be right to have the top loco in our fleet looking too grubby.  
Actually she is, quite literally, Numero Uno since her running number is, of course, 55001.
Interestingly, she is one of the few locos that has retained their factory-fitted sound, in this case Bachmann, as supplied by South West Digital. 
In fact, at first, we thought that the sound was rather poor and seriously considered changing it. Although we could not (and still cannot) use Howes since Brian refuses to produce a Deltic sound file until such time as he can properly replicate the full range of sounds produced by these mighty beasts.
So, what we did was to return it to South West Digital who moved the speaker from inside the body of the loco into the fuel tank and, I must admit, this did vastly improve the sound quality.
Unfortunately, they left the front of the speak exposed to the elements or, in our case, the dust and grit and debris to be found around the layout. However, Alex kindly resolved this by placing a piece mesh over the speaker so that it is fully protected.
Now our Deltic looks and sounds quite beautiful and almost as good as the powerful Type 5 prototype she represents.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Vac to Vac

Just for a change I thought that I would post a video on the blog rather than photos and, furthermore, a video of a real train instead of a model!
The video features 50031 'Hood' and 50049 'Defiance' departing Bristol Parkway on March 25th 2006 at the end of the Pathfinder Tours 'Redmire Rambler' from Cardiff to Redmire and back.
These two powerful Type 4s certainly shatter the peace and quiet of the night as they apply 5,400 BHP to haul their train away and into the darkness.
This clip is actually the closing minute or so of a longer video that I made of the trip and it has got me thinking that it is high time we treated ourselves to another of these excellent rail tours!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

First Late Western

We went to Taunton the other day, to take a couple more locos to Alex at Mikron Models for weathering.
As usual we went by train, catching the 10:17 First Great Western service from Castle Cary, which is the 08:18 from London Paddington to Exeter. However, because of some problems in the Reading area, the train was running some 20 or more minutes late.
FGW is renowned for its poor time-keeping and this is borne out by our own experiences in travelling between Castle Cary and Taunton where the trains are commonly around 5 minutes behind schedule.
They do suffer in comparison to South West Trains who operate the Waterloo to Salisbury and Exeter services and upon which we often travel.
SWT do indeed run a tight service as far as time-keeping is concerned. The problem is that space is also tight on their Class 159s, especially when compared to the much older yet far more spacious (and a lot more comfortable) Class 43 HST sets as used by FGW.
Mind you, not all of the trains operated by FGW are so roomy or so comfy. The Class 153's, as used on their Cheltenham / Gloucester and Bristol to Weymouth services, can become rather cramped, especially at busy times when there is only a two-coach train in operation. The top photo shows the 7:13 from Cheltenham (08:41 off Bristol) to Weymouth arriving at Castle Cary. This is due to arrive here at 09:53 and, amazingly, it was more or less on time too! 
Later, whilst at Taunton station waiting for our return train, which again was running a few minutes late, we saw the Cross Country 06:01 service from Glasgow to Plymouth arrive and depart. The train is due to arrive at Taunton at 14:15 and was only a couple of minutes down.
The bottom photo included here shows the Voyager departing westwards to its next stop at Exeter while the centre photo shows our much delayed Paddington to Exeter service crawling shamefully into Castle Cary station.

Monday, October 3, 2011


After failing to publish an update for a week or so I thought I had better report on the progress made on the layout up until now.
As you can see from the photos above this corner of the town area  is almost finished and work on the diesel depot is expected to commence in the next week or two.
We are very pleased with the look of this whole area and the Craft Centre is much more visible here than it was in its previous location. It also looks good surrounded, as it is, by a selection of trees and both an ornamental and less formal pond. 
The trees are by Bachmann Scenecraft and Woodland Scenics while the ornamental pond and garden feature was purchased in a model railway shop in Sâo Paulo. The other pond is by Harburn Hamlets.
All of the shops in the Craft Centre have been stuck in place since there are no plans to have lights inside any of them. Of course this might change but, because we have placed pictures in each of the windows depicting internal details, putting lights inside would mean removing these and this, at the moment, is something that we would prefer not to do. 
The river and lake still have to be completed and these will be worked on over the next few weeks.
The only bit that is then left to do is the grey, triangular section between the river and the tea rooms. At the moment the idea is to make it into a Crazy Golf Course but this really depends on how much space we have. If it proves to be too small for a decent sized 9-hole course then we might rethink this and make room for a Crazy Golf Course in the reworked Northern half of the layout.
The area here could then, maybe, become a slightly enlarged play area for children since the piece of ground we have dedicated for this at the moment is too small for the amount of playground equipment that we have.