Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Last Saturday we travelled by train from Templecombe to London and spent a very pleasant day in the capital city. 
Templecombe is on the Waterloo - Exeter line where trains are operated by South West Trains who run, mostly, three car Class 159s between Salisbury and Exeter St Davids and these are doubled to six cars between Salisbury and Waterloo. However, having said that, our train on Saturday morning (the 7:07 off Templecombe) remained a three car unit all the way to Waterloo.
The Class 159s replaced locomotive hauled trains in the mid 1990s and, I must admit, I do still miss the sight and sound of the Class 50s and Class 47s and, before these, the Class 33s. Their rakes of, usually, eight Mk1 and, latterly, Mk2 coaches also had a lot more space than is available on these newer DMUs.
Many of you will of course know that Templecombe used to be the junction between the Southern Railway and the Somerset and Dorset Joint line and, as such, was a far larger and more important station than the small village of Templecombe actually justified. However, the station closed along with the S&D in March 1966 and, for many years after that, it lay derelict and the line itself went through a period of decline with much of it singled. Indeed, closure seemed a distinct possibility during the 1970s.
Thankfully, though, common sense eventually prevailed and, in 1983, the station re-opened thanks in no small way to pressure from the local community. Since then it has gone from strength to strength and is now a well-used little station serving the surrounding villages and the nearby town of Wincanton which lost its own station when the S&D closed.
Whilst we were in London we visited the Model Zone store in High Holburn but, to be honest, we found their range of model railway items to be rather disappointing. Admittedly they do sell more than just model railways so space for railways is always limited and we did come away with one or two things although not what we were specifically looking for. 
Fortunately Model Zone do give a 10% discount for members of the Hornby Collectors Club, providing you can show them a current Collector's Club Card.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Garden Variety

Last weekend saw us progressing the gardens behind the row of terraced houses. We tried to give them a bit of a variety despite the fact that they are rather on the small size and, although they are not completely finished yet, they have already transformed this area.
Unfortunately the walls had to be cut / trimmed to fit as they are not really the correct walls for these particular houses, however, I think they fit in very well and have now been stuck in place. We have not stick down the houses as yet since these still need to have lights / curtains fitted.
We also progressed the fencing around the large house and we are thinking of including a single garage to the left of the house, if there is sufficient room between house and fence.
A couple more sessions here should see this bit finished, apart from the embellishments such as people, signs and markings, and then we can turn our attention to the other side of the stream.
As you can see in the lower photograph, we have extended the Peco tarmac scatter up to the bridge over the railway as well as up to and around the fire station. This has made the whole road system within the town look a lot neater although it might well give us a headache when we come to do the road markings!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Introducing the latest locomotive to be added to our ever-expanding fleet - Heljan's maroon liveried Class 52 - D1001 'Western Patfinder'.
As with the majority of our DCC sound locos, she has a Howes decoder fitted with a 40 mm x 20 mm speaker attached to the underside of the roof.
We have also fitted all of the buffer beam detailing to the Nº 1 end but left the Nº 2 end free so that it would not snag the NEM coupling.
She was actually purchased a few months ago but has only just had her decoder inserted. We ran her in at the weekend and she does run very well and the Howes sound is fantastic.
This means that we now have two diesel hydraulic locomotives although, unlike the Warship, D1001 will only be lightly weathered since it will become one of our celebrity locos. Despite this it will still be expected to perform a variety of duties and haul anything from express passenger to heavy goods.
This, of course, does not mean that the railway is slowly becoming a GWR layout - far from it, in fact, as I am really not a Western Region fan especially since it was they who orchestrated the demise of the Somerset and Dorset Railway. This is something that, one day, will hopefully be reversed.
With the imminent release of Dapol's Class 52, in both N and OO Gauges, it will be interesting to see how it compares to Heljan's version, which does have some issues in the looks department. 
The Westerns are, arguably, the most popular of all the diesel classes and, despite its problems, the Heljan model has always proved to be similarly popular. This is probably because, until now, they have been the only OO models currently available.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Old Duffer

The second of the three locos that we recently had weathered by Alex at Mikron Models is our green Class 47, D1746. 
This was one of the earliest DCC sound fitted locos that we acquired and it still has the original Bachmann, factory-fitted sound. Some people have said that they do not like this sound because it is a little too generic but, to us, it still sounds like a Duff and is different to our other Class 47. So, for the time being at least, it will retain the sound that it has.
Actually, despite its nickname, it has proved to be a very reliable loco and rarely stalls or gives problems and it is used on a variety of trains from heavy freight to express passenger.
The weathering applied here is only light since we are assuming that this is a celebrity loco that has been repainted in two-tone green livery and is kept fairly clean as a result.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bottled In

Here are three views of the town area with most of the road now resurfaced in Peco black, tarmac scatter. The paved areas beneath the shops are also practically finished and we have added some fencing to the edge of the pavement  underneath the four shops in the centre. This is rather higher than the pavement opposite so we felt, for health and safety reasons, a fence might be a good idea.
Unfortunately this fencing is not visible in any of the photographs that I have here so I will take another one and add it later.
The bottles that can be seen in the photos are there to contain the white fence that we have partially erected around the large house. This area is somewhat curved and the bottles are there to hold the fence in place until the glue sets. Next time we hope to progress the areas underneath this house as well as under the row of terraced houses opposite.
Hopefully we will soon finish working on this side of the river and can then cross over to work on the craft centre, pub and tea rooms etc. Of course there are lots of finishing touches still to be added to the town but these can be done in slow time once the major work is complete.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lion Tamer

Having not done any work on the layout for a week or two, due to holidays etc, we did finally manage to return to the Engine Shed at the weekend and continued working in the town area but there will be more on this in my next posting.
What we have done during the past couple of weeks is to have three more of our locos lightly weathered by Alex at Mikron Models. 
These locos were: 
Lion (pictured here),
D1746 (the green Class 47)
55001 'St Paddy'.
As I think I mentioned when we acquired Lion, we were delighted with the overall look of the model but had reservations about certain aspects, not least the plasticky-looking bogies. Well, I must say, now that the loco has been weathered, with the request made to tame the bogies and underframe, I think she looks superb! 
In fact I would say that the weathering has actually highlighted the detail and made it stand out much more clearly.
We put her to work again on the layout at the weekend and, now, she looks and sounds just great! 
The plan is to upload a video to YouTube next weekend which will feature the newly-weathered trio plus the latest addition to our fleet, of which, again, more later!