Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ground Work

Quite a bit of progress was made last weekend as we finally laid the groundwork for the remainder of the town area. 
We decided to raise the level up a bit in order to give us a slightly deeper stream and this was achieved by, first, laying down some polystyrene ceiling tiles on top of which we placed some 1250 micron grey board.
The tiles were stuck down with ordinary tile cement while, for the grey board, we used some double-sided sticky tape and this was very effective indeed. Someone had suggested that we might try using double-sided carpet tape which, I am sure, would do the job perfectly but as we did not have any of this, we used a suitable alternative and this proved much more efficient and quicker bonding than using any form of adhesive.
Now, we had planned to remove the church from its current location, in the northern half of the layout, and putting it in the area where, in the first two photos, there stands a memorial cross. 
However, we might instead move the craft centre (see bottom picture) to here thereby creating a pleasant location adjacent to the stream and lake, with a pub, tea rooms, car park and small shopping area,
The craft centre currently stands on that part of the layout that bridges the crawl-through between the north and the south but, as this is going to have to go anyway when we remodel the northern section of the layout, we might just as well move it now.

Friday, May 20, 2011

An Old Banger

A boxed example, in good condition, can command a high price
Photo courtesy of the Tri-ang Railways website
Picture taken from the 1963 Tri-ang Catalogue
As part of Tri-ang's NATO Battlespace range, the Bomb Transporter was first released in 1962 and then continued in production until 1965.
As far as I am aware, it was only ever issued individually and never as part of a train set although there were several other NATO Battlespace wagons produced at this time, including a Tank Transporter, Helicopter Car and Rocket Launcher.
The bomb load was removable and could be charged with caps so that, when hand-launched, it would 'explode' upon hitting the ground or any other hard surface.
Like all of the items in the Battlespace range, this model can fetch quite a high price these days, especially if it is boxed and in a good condition.
The Bomb Transporter's Running Nº was TR7190 and the Catalogue Nº was R.239.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Injury Time

Photo courtesy of the Tri-ang Model Railways website
In 1963 Tri-ang introduced a model of the Royal Army Medical Corp (RAMC) Ambulance Car, which was designed for treating the sick and the injured whilst on the rails.
Actually the model was, in reality, a Second Series Transcontinental Baggage Car that Tri-ang simply repainted and adorned with a few red cross symbols. The cross on the roof of the car was made of paper and this would invariably come unstuck and go missing.
The model continued in production, in much the same guise, until 1971 and it was sold both individually and, also, as part of a couple of train sets, these were:
Rocky Mountain Avalanche Train Set - Catalogue Nº: CTS.4
Snow Rescue Train Set - Catalogue Nº: RS.38
Actually, both of these sets were the same, with the former being for the Canadian market only.
As well as the Ambulance Car, the sets also included an 0-4-0 Dock Shunter, an operating Helicopter Car and a Snow Plough.
I am not sure if this set was based on any form of prototype but I would think that such a train would not have been used too often in the UK, even in Scotland.
The Snow Rescue Train Set was available from 1963 until 1967, although it was not produced in 1966, whilst the Canadian version was available in 1965 only.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Washing The Trains

I just thought that I would include a couple of photographs of a little scene that we created at the weekend near Gunnmere Station - as seen in the top two pictures.
In the foreground we can see the edge of a garden and, in a reversal to what is normally expected, it looks as if it is the husband, with his dog by his side, who is having a natter to someone across the garden fence. Is the man he is chatting to a friend or just a passing stranger?
That is something, I guess, we will never know.
The wife, meanwhile, is hanging out her washing as a taxi enters the station car park, ready to meet the next arrival no doubt.
Another man is descending the steps of the bridge and is probably going to catch the same train - one of those two in the bottom photo, perhaps!
Please note that the rock-face in the background of the top picture has been added by me, electronically, because I wanted to see what it would look like.
Currently this is a blue wall and we have long deliberated over how best to hide it. Originally it was going to be a photograph but I do think the rocks look quite effective.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Time For Two

A nice side view of D2852

CJM Collection
Front and rear views showing verandah at cab end

and buffer beam detail of coupling and vacuum brake

CJM Collection
D2854 hauling a passenger train
on the Middleton Railway in 1994

A M Hurrell
D2860 at the National Railway Museum
Steven Barker
So, following on from my posting on the Class 01, it is now time to take a look at the Class 02 diesel-hydraulic shunter.
This 20-strong class of locomotive was built by the Yorkshire Engine Company of Sheffield with the first ten being produced in 1960 and a further ten being built in 1961.
Like the Class 01 shunter, the Class 02's were built for locations where there were track restrictions, such as a limited loading gauge or tight curvature and were allocated to the Midland Region for much of their working life.
Unusual amongst BR locomotives, although not amongst those built by the Yorkshire Engine Co., was the fact that the entrance to the Class 02's cab was via a verandah at the rear of the loco.
Unfortunately, with the closing of many of the locations and facilities in which the Class 02 worked the locos became increasingly surplus to requirements. As such, it was in December 1969, only eight years after the last locos were built, that the first five were withdrawn.
During 1970 ten more were removed from traffic with another being withdrawn in April 1971 and one more in October 1973.
This meant that just three of their number survived with BR long enough to enter the TOPS scheme, these being: D2851 (02 001), D2853 (02 003) and D2856 (02 004). D2852 was to have been 02 002 but this was the loco withdrawn towards the end of 1973.
The final three locos then survived until June 1975 when they too were finally withdrawn.
Due to the fact that they were not very old when they were taken out of service, six of the 02's (as far as I can ascertain) have passed into private ownership and these are as follows:
D2854: Heritage Shunters Trust
D2858: Midland Railway, Butterley
D2860: National Railway Museum, York (for moving large exhibits)
D2866: Heritage Shunters Trust
D2867: Battlefield Line Railway
D2868: Heritage Shunters Trust
The loco specification is given in the table below:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Franchise Goes West

We took a trip down to Taunton on Saturday to take some more of our locos to Mikron Models for weathering by Alex. However, more of that in a future posting.
Of course we went by train, taking a First Great Western HST from Castle Cary, and this in the wake of FGW's announcement earlier this week that it intends to give up its franchise in March 2013 when its initial 7-year contract comes to an end. 
They did have the option to extend this contract until 2016 but have decided not to proceed with this.
Their reason for this announcement is that the current economic climate has meant the Company is not generating as much money as it had forecast to be able to pay the Government for the right to operate the franchise. Under the terms of the agreement, FGW would have had to pay in the region of £1 billion to the Government for the extra 36 months which, they say, they could not afford.
Looking at the latest figures they do show that FGW’s operating profit fell from £364.2m in 2009 - 2010 to £309.3m this year.
Meanwhile, annual passenger numbers have actually increased from 76 million to 90 million since 2006 but, according to FGW, fewer people are paying for first class peak fares than was predicted. Well, when you see how much this can cost, it is hardly surprising quite frankly.
I doubt many people will mourn the loss of FGW since they are far from being the most popular train operating company and are in fact widely known by the derogatory nickname of Worst Great Western, an epithet with which I have a modicum of sympathy.
Some people might even argue (me included) that FGW should be prevented from bidding as a punishment for walking away from the franchise. However, since they are simply not exercising their option to take up the extra three years, they are not, strictly speaking, backing out early and so I daresay they will be allowed to bid.
Indeed, when the franchise is put out to tender by the Government, FGW have already said that it would bid for a longer-term contract - with a reduced premium payment to the Department for Transport.
Of course whoever bids will not be bidding to pay the £1bn that FGW would have paid for those three extra years between 2013 and 2016 so it will doubtless be the tax payer who foots that bill.
I ask you, what a Flamin'' Good Way to run a railway!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

First in Class

11506 at Stratford Docks in its original black livery
The lion & wheel logo was carried by 001 and 002 until the end

J Shipman
01 002 (with 01 001 behind) at Holyhead in 1980
01 002 on Holyhead Breakwater in 1974
Peter Brabham

D2953 at the Heritage Shunters Trust in BR green livery
Having said in my last posting that I would take a look at all of the classes of BR diesels, I thought that I would waste no time and make a start today with, of course, the Class 01.
British Rail's Class 01 diesel locomotive was a short wheelbase, diesel mechanical shunter built in 1956 by Andrew Barclay Sons and Co of Kilmarnock in Scotland.
Four of these locos were built initially and were allocated to Stratford for use at Stratford Docks. They were originally numbered 11503 - 11506 and, in 1948, they were renumbered D2953 - D2956 Two of the four locos survived long enough to enter the TOPS numbering scheme and became 01 001 (D2954) and 01 002 (D2955). 
In 1958 a fifth loco was built for departmental maintenance work and this was initially numbered 81. However, it was renumbered D2956 in mid 1967 when the original D2956 was withdrawn from traffic.
01 001 and 01 002 survived because they were needed at Holyhead breakwater being, as they were, the only locomotives light enough to run on the track there. After 1973 only 01 002 was in use with her sister loco being used to supply her with spares to keep her in service. 01 001 was then withdrawn in 1979 with 01 002 following two years later after a service life of 25 years.
Both locos were cut up on site still sporting the BR Lion Logo and, indeed, were the last locomotives in BR service to do so.
Two of the Class 01s have survived into preservation, these are:
D2953 is owned by the Heritage Shunters Trust.
D2956 is at the East Lancashire Railway.
Because these little 0-4-0 dock shunters were not equipped with train brakes they were unable to haul more than a couple of wagons. That said, however, their small size meant that they were able to work in areas where there were tight curves and limited clearance.
The full loco specification is given in the table below:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What's In A Number?

Over the next few weeks I thought that it might be fun to take a more detailed look at each class of diesel locomotive, as allocated under the TOPS classification.
So, beginning with Class 01, I intend to give a brief history of each loco class, its technical specification and numbers built etc.
However, before I do that I thought it would be a good idea to take a brief look back at the history of diesel locomotive numbering since it can be a little confusing. 
It was in 1957 that the then British Transport Commission announced a new numbering system for diesel locomotives and this involved the use of the prefix letter "D" (for Diesel) followed by a number. This number would not only identify the locomotive but would also indicate its power range.
At the same time the power of main-line locomotives was also to be indicated by Type numbers and these would be in the following ranges:
Type 1:   Up to 1,000 bhp
Type 2:   1,000 - 1,499 bhp
Type 3:   1,500 - 1,999 bhp
Type 4:   2,000 - 2,999 bhp
Type 5:   3,000 bhp and above
The table below shows the relationship between the number range of the locomotive, its type and engine power:  
Subsequent to this, however, new batches of locos were delivered that were numbered outside of the original groups for its type with the result being that it soon became difficult to ascertain the power of a locomotive solely by its number.
With the withdrawal of standard gauge steam locos in 1968, the "D" prefix was discontinued and then, from 1973, BR applied a new numbering system to both their diesel locomotives and multiple units. 
This classification was known as the Total Operations Processing System or TOPS for short and the numbers were in the format 'xxx zzz' where 'xxx' is the class number and 'zzz' is the unique locomotive identifier, for example 33 025 and 45 053
The table below, therefore, shows the relationship between this class numbering system, the type number, the power range and the original "D" numbering system.

Under the TOPS scheme, all locomotives (with a few exceptions) had a unique number in the form xx001 with the majority of locomotives retaining the final two digits of their "D" numbering. As such, D411 became 50 011 and so on.
One exception to this rule was with the first loco in each class, which had usually been numbered "Dxx00". The problem being that TOPS could not cope with numbers ending in 000 and that is the reason why there has never been a 37 000 or a 47 000. In these instances the locomotive concerned would either be renumbered and moved to the end of the class, hence "D400" became 50 050, or it would take the number of a loco that had been withdrawn from service.
Of course this is a very simplistic look at diesel numbering and I appreciate that I have not covered multiple units nor locomotive sub classes but I promise to cover these in a separate posting.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rain Stopped Play

So, after making regular statements recently saying that we were soon to begin work on the unfinished part of the town, I can finally confirm that we actually made a start at the weekend - hooray!
Now, I have to be honest at this point and say that no work was due to take place since we had long since made plans to take a trip down to the Swanage Railway who were holding their annual Diesel Gala Weekend. The idea was to video and photograph (and ride behind too, of course) an assortment of diesels, which included: Class 73, 56, 55, 52, 37 and 33 - hmm, what fun! However, since the weather chose this same weekend to bring a spectacular end to our long, dry spell, we decided instead to stay home and work on the layout.
We commenced by laying the foundation for the paved area beneath the row of shops in the middle of the town. This was achieved using grey board topped off with cork tiling but it will only be paved when all of the other messy work is completed.
We then used some more of the very useful grey board to link the road that runs through the town to the bridge that takes it over the railway line. For the road surface itself, when we get around to doing it, we will probably use some of the Noch Asphalt Road on a Roll since it did look quite effective when we experimented with it at the weekend.
Another job that we did was to raise the embankment to the stream and lake so that we could make these slightly deeper and, thereby, create more of a waterfall at the inlet.
The outlet of the lake will disappear into a culvert and, then, under the embankment, bridge and railway.
The area of white that you can see as being marked as a future car park will probably be a lot smaller than this since the plan now is to develop this corner into a church yard. 
For this, St Andrew's church will be relocated to here from where it is at the moment - in the northern half of the layout.
With that half being earmarked for a future rebuild, the church (together with much else of what is there) would anyway either be moved or disappear altogether. Besides, it is better to have the church in the town rather than where it is at the moment, which is somewhat isolated.
As for the Diesel Gala at Swanage, I believe that it was a great success and photos of the event can be seen here
Ah well, there is always next year!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Service Area

Having finally managed to get hold of the, now discontinued, Bachmann Modern Servicing Depot together with a Diesel Fueling Point, we looked again at how the track layout might look in our Diesel Depot, when we eventually get around to creating it.
This is by no means set in stone and it may well change when we do start work. However, I think this is pretty close to how the track will be since lack of space means that we cannot expand much beyond what we have here.
If you look closely you might, just, be able to make out the chalk scribblings on the base board which mark out where further buildings etc might be situated, once we have acquired them.
So far we have the space for a site office, some carriage walkways, a depot crane, water tower, fuel storage tanks and a washing plant; all of which should add quite a bit of interest to this particular location.
So, now, we cannot wait to get started but, in the meantime, we have to finish the town area and this will be progressed during the next few weeks.
In fact, if you look even more closely, you might just see a part of Pete (our artistic director) landscaping the embankment that we created a couple of weeks ago. 
Of course I could have asked him to move while I took this photograph but I have long-since learned that you should never interrupt an artist when he is engrossed in his work - well, not this artist anyway!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Lion's Roar!

Due to other commitments, we have not done much work on the layout during the past couple of weeks, although we did do a bit this past weekend; however, more of that in a later posting.
For now I just want to introduce you to the latest addition to our ever-growing fleet of locomotives, namely Heljan's newest prototype diesel Nº: D0260 'Lion'.
She is fitted with a sound decoder which has an Olivias Trains, Class 47 sound file installed. Obviously, with Lion being withdrawn in the early 1960s, no sound recording exists of this striking locomotive. However, since her engine was supplied by Sulzer which, upon Lion's dismantling, was then installed into an unknown Class 47, it seems reasonable enough to assume that she would have sounded something like a Duff.
The model is terrific and captures the essence of the original very well. My only gripes being that the bogies look a little plasticky, when compared to the rest of the loco, and the route indicator panel is slightly recessed whereas, on the original, this was actually flush with the front of the loco.
Well, I won't get too upset over the route indicator panel and, as we will probably get her lightly weathered in time, this should help to improve the look of the bogies.
The locomotive comes supplied with all buffer beam detailing factory-fitted so we will have to trim this at the Nº 2 End to allow a coupling to be fitted.
Clearly, for our purposes, Lion was saved from the cutter's torch in 1963 and survived to be restored to her pristine condition and will, now, run the occasional special.
At the weekend we ran her, light engine, for a while just to run her in so that, next week, should see her hauling her first train and, judging by her weight and excellent running, she should prove to be a sure-footed and consummate performer.