Monday, October 17, 2016

And Then There Was Four

The latest edition to our locomotive fleet is the Bachmann BR Standard Class 4MT 2-6-4 Tank Nº 80120, Catalogue Nº 32-354A, seen in the two photographs above. She is a late crested version and has been factory weathered and I think she looks very nice!
I picked her up, second-hand, at a recent toy and train fair and, although she is not sound fitted, she has already been fitted with a DCC decoder so that we can run her - and she does run extremely well!
In the first photograph she is seen at Carswater, at the head of a local train, while, in the second photograph, we see her standing below the long footbridge at at Manxton.
This now brings to four the number of steam locomotives that we have in our fleet - all of which are members of classes that were regular performers on the Somerset and Dorset Railway.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

A Hoppy Event

Here we see Class 56, 56082, at the head of a rake of empty seacow hopper wagons, after departing Gunnmere and heading north towards the ballast yard at Carswater.
We now see the train passing Mankston, with the branch line to Anchwood running above, and in parallel with, the main line.

Having reached Carswater, the train reverses around the curve, through the cutting ....

.... over a level crossing and into the ballast yard.

The train brings traffic to a standstill while it shunts its rake of hoppers into the yard.

Now for a view from the rear of the train as the hoppers are squeezed into the yard between rock face and buildings.

A close-up of the Grid as she stands at the head of her train.

Next we see 56082 passing through Carswater with her hoppers now fully loaded.

Before she then passes through the high-sided cutting, just beyond the station, in this final view of the train.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Somerset and Dorset Steam Special

We do not run many steam locos on the layout as it is set in BR Blue Diesel era.
However, living where I do, I obviously have a great love of the Somerset and Dorset Railway and, therefore, we do have a few S&D related items in the collection, some of which are shown in the photographs above.
Our prize possession is the Limited Edition, Bachmann Fowler Class 7F 2-8-0 Nº 88 in Prussian Blue. This in Catalogue Nº 20-2012 and was released, as the number suggests, in 2012.
We have fitted her with a sound decoder by Howes, albeit a generic one, and have run it occasionally.
In the first four photos it is seen travelling along the branch line to Anchwood, stopping at High Bridge, en route.
In the penultimate photo, we see it back on the main line, emerging from the tunnel on its way to Carswater.
Finally, the 7F is joined by a couple of other recently acquired Hornby S&DJR locomotives, namely:

Fowler Class 2P 4-4-0 Nº 25 - Catalogue Nº: R3029.
Class 3F 0-6-0 'Jinty' Nº 24 - Catalogue Nº: R2882
The Prussian Blue colouring is a bit too light on these locos, to be honest, especially on the 3F but this one is from the Railroad range.
The 2P can be seen on the branch, hauling a rake of non-prototypical S&D coaches by Dapol. These are also limited editions (150, I believe) and are based on old Airfix coaches. They are not brilliant but do look good behind a blue S&D loco!
The 2-8-0, meanwhile, is hauling a rake of maroon coaches, reminiscent of the Pines Express that these locos were often called upon to haul over the Mendips.
Finally the Jinty can be seen emerging from the tunnel at the head of a rake of coal wagons. This again recalls the days when these locos were often to be seen hauling similar coal wagons in and around the collieries of Radstock and Midsomer Norton.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Locomotives Old and New

Here are some photographs of various locomotives at different locations around the layout.
The top photograph shows two grubby Bachmann Class 37s (37251 and 37057) being refuelled at the diesel depot while a couple of employees appear to be putting the world to rights.
In the middle picture we see the latest loco to join our fleet, a Heljan Class 35 'Hymek', D7035, just leaving Petersfield at the head of a milk train. This loco was a 'mint condition, never been used', second-hand bargain and has been quickly fitted with a DC Kits sound decoder. 
She will doubtless become a firm favourite amongst our drivers and feature quite extensively in forthcoming videos.
Finally in the bottom photo we see another recent addition in the form of a Bachmann Class 40 Nº: 40141. Here she is pausing at Carswater, at the other end of the layout, with a rake of Mk 1 coaches, heading south. 
This lovely loco was actually acquired some time ago but has only recently been fitted with a sound decoder - again from DC Kits.
She has already appeared, briefly, in a recent video and will do so again, for sure, before very long!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Five Prototypes: DP1, DP2, Kestrel, Falcon and Lion

Lining up for the camera at Sueston station are five of the prototype diesels that were constructed during the 1950s and 1960s.
While a lot of the BR diesel classes were ordered direct from the drawing board, there were some that were built as prototypes and the locomotives we see above were but five of these.
From left to right we have:
Diesel Prototype (DP) 1 Deltic.
This loco was built by English Electric in 1955. She was fitted with two Napier 18.25 engines developing 3,300 bhp, with a top speed of 90 mph. The loco was originally allocated the running number DP1 and given the name Enterprise, however, when she emerged from works in 1955, the name Deltic was applied. She was initially allocated to Edge Hill Shed in Liverpool from where she hauled various express passenger services. At the beginning of 1959 the loco was transferred to Hornsey Shed and, in June of that year, she crossed the border via the Waverley Route where five days of trials were carried out. From the middle of June she commenced restricted duties between King's Cross and Leeds and Doncaster. The end came for the locomotive after a serious failure occurred at Doncaster in March 1961 after which she was returned to the English Electric Works at
Newton-le-Willows for assessment. However, after some 12 months, it was decided not to repair her but to, instead, present her to the Science Museum in London.

The model we see here was made by Bachmann in 2007 for the National Railway Museum. She was only acquired at the weekend and, therefore, has not been detailed and has not yet been fitted with a sound decoder. She will then be put to use hauling express passenger services.

Diesel Prototype 2

DP2 was also built by English Electric in 1962, this loco had an EE16CSVT diesel engine fitted, developing 2,700 bhp and a maximum speed of 90 mph. These engines were subsequently fitted to the Class 50 fleet of locomotives. DP2 was, probably, the most successful prototype diesel ever built and she clocked up an extremely high mileage with something in excess of 151,000 miles being gained in less than 12 months. Euston to Carlisle expresses were her main duties but she would also be seen in charge of Euston to Blackpool services. In June 1962 DP2 was transferred to Finsbury Park Shed where she was slotted into the Deltic diagrams. In May 1965 she was recalled for a classified repair by which time her mileage had reached the 365,000 mark! Between 1965 and 1967 DP2 was put in charge of services between London, Leeds and Edinburgh as well as on the Cambridge line and on services to York and Newcastle. DP2's sad demise came on 31
July 1967 when she collided with derailed cement wagons near Thirsk. She was removed to York Shed at first and, then, to its maker's works where it was decided not to effect repairs and she was duly broken up during 1968.

The model above is by Heljan with a Howes sound decoder fitted. She has also been lightly weathered and is used predominantly on express passenger duties.

HS4000 Kestrel

Kestrel was built by Brush in 1968 and was fitted with a Sulzer 16LVA24 engine, developing 4000 bhp, giving her a top speed of 125 mph. Unfortunately Kestrel was never used to her full potential by BR because, at 133 tons, she was far in excess of the existing axel limitations. She was primarily used to haul 1600 ton coal trains between Shirebrook and March (Whitemoor Yard) and, during August 1968, a special test train of 2,028 tons was formed by 32 ton open hopper wagons in order to put Kestrel through her paces. She hauled this train between Mansfield and Lincoln and it was announced at the time as being the heaviest train ever to operate on BR. She is also reported to have hauled 20 standard Mk1 coaches, weighing in excess of 665 tons, up Shap Bank, topping the summit at a staggering 46 mph!
From October 1969 she took up the Deltic diagram of the 07:55 King's Cross to Newcastle and 16:45 return service. Passenger train running was superb, with an 89% availability and virtually 100% timekeeping being recorded. From JUne 1970 Kestrel was employed on hauling one of the heaviest freightliner trains between London and the north before being returned, following an engine overhaul, to her Shirebrook to Whitemoor Yard coal train duties. In 1971 Kestrel was sold to Russia whereupon very little was seen or heard of her. However, it is believed that, by the early 1980s, the loco had been scrapped.

Our model is, of course, by Heljan and she has been duly weathered to reflect her, mainly coal train duties. She has also been fitted with a Howes sound decoder.

D0280 (D1200) Falcon

Falcon was another prototype locomotive built by Brush and she was introduced in 1961. She was fitted with two MD655 engines, developing 2,800 bhp, with a top speed of 100 mph. She was initially put to use on the Midland and Eastern regions before being transferred to the Western Region where, on one of her first road trials, she hauled a trailing load of 628 tons up the Lickey incline, unassisted and from a standing start. This was indeed no mean feat! In April 1962 Falcon was allocated to Sheffield Darnall Shed from where she often operated the Sheffield Pullman. At the end of 1963 the loco was returned to the Brush Works where it stayed until early 1965. When she finally emerged, in standard BR two-tone green livery, she was allocated to the Western Region again where she would remain for the rest of her serviceable life. She was eventually purchased by BR in 1971 at which point she became the only member of Class 53, was painted in BR standard blue livery and was fitted with train air brakes only. She was also given the running number D1200. From this moment onwards the loco was used exclusively on freight traffic and, between 1973 and 1975, she saw less and less work until she was finally withdrawn in October 1975 and broken up five months later.

Our model is by Heljan and depicts her in her BR days. She has, therefore, been weathered to suit her mostly freight traffic duties and has also been fitted with a Howes sound decoder.

D0260 Lion

Lion was built in 1962 by a consortium of three major traction companies: The Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company (BRCW), Sulzer Brothers and Associated Electrical Industries (AEI). It could be argued that she was one of the most handsome diesel locomotives ever built, with her gold-lined white livery, however impractical this might be for a diesel locomotive. She was fitted with a 12LDA28A engine developing 2,750 bhp and giving her a top speed of 100 mph. She was initially allocated to Swindon and operated trains between Paddington and Cheltenham. In 1963 she was allocated to Finsbury Park from where she spent much of her time on local trains with the occasional duty on the Master Cutler and Yorkshire Pullman. Lion suffered several major mechanical problems at a time when the BRCW company was falling into deep financial trouble. She was, therefore, taken to the BR workshops at Doncaster for evaluation in 1963 but, following only a short stay there and after only a year in traffic, she was taken to the BRCW works at Smethwick where she was broken up and all of the major components returned to their relevant makers for possible re-use.

The model above is by Heljan and she has been lightly weathered to tone down the whiteness a little bit. She is used on occasional special passnger trains and has also been fitted with a Howes Sound decoder.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Outlines of Power - Nº 7 : Class 52 'Western Diesel Hydraulic'

I think it is high time for the seventh 'Outlines of Power' article by Mike Turner, that the magazine 'Rail Enthusiast' ran during the early 1980s
This time we have the Class 52 'Western' diesel hydraulic with a wonderful portrait of D1007 'Western Talisman' resplendent in maroon livery with small yellow warning panels.
The accompanying annotation reads as follows:
Arguably the cleanest-looking diesel express passenger design ever built for British Railways, the diesel-hydraulic "Western" C-Cs had an all-too-brief period of glory on the former Great Western main lines out of Paddington. Introduced in 1961, the 2,700 bhp Class 52s had started to disappear by 1973, and had all been withdrawn by 1977 after a final glorious burst of "Western Mania" in which enthusiasts from all over the country followed the dwindling examples in their final years. The hydraulic, rather than electric transmission of the class - a move favoured uniquely by the Western Region when the switch from steam to diesel power was made, was a major factor in the early demise of these 108-ton locomotives.
Transmission was by two Voith-North British L630 rV transmissions, each with three torque converters, and the Class 52's twin Maybach engines made a beautifully smooth and busy noise, especially under hard acceleration, when the locomotives' maximum tractive effort of 72,600lb made for amazingly rapid getaways. Happily for today's generation, several fine examples have been preserved. Mike Turner's painting shows D1007 'Western Talisman' in the striking maroon livery of the early years when "Westerns" were in their prime. The accompanying technical drawings are by Russell Carter.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

End To End - Part 1: Sueston

I thought it might be a good idea to take you for a trip around the railway during the next few weeks, so that you can see each station, feature and location and, hopefully, get a better idea of the layout.
So, to begin our journey, we start at Sueston, the southern terminus of the line.
This station was constructed during July and August 2008, exactly a year after we started work on the layout. 
The reason for the delay was because access to this half of the shed was not possible at first and it was only when this area became available that we could extend the layout to its current size.
Sueston was constructed using two or three Metcalfe Stone Platform kits (P0235) together with the Mainline Station Building kit (P0230) and two of the Parcels Office and Waiting Room kits (P0231) - both of these latter items, I believe, are now discontinued.
The aerial photographs, above, show the station as it was soon after construction, in August 2008. As you can see there are four platforms, a pattern that is followed at all three of our major stations. I don't know why that is but it seems to suit!
Platform 1, next to the wall, is used by local services and parcels trains while Platforms 2 and 3 are the main departure and arrival platforms, respectively. 
Unfortunately, Platform 2 had to negotiate a pillar and this has made it quite narrow at this point - it has also given us a bit of a headache as to how best to disguise it!
Platform 3 has been extended since the photos above were taken, as per the chalk outline on the baseboard. This allows both of these platforms to accommodate eight coach trains although most of our expresses consist of only six coaches, with an occasional seven coach train thrown in for good measure. 
Taking our cue from Bath Green Park station, on our beloved S&D, the arrivals platform has a runaround for the release of locomotives and it is also used for the storage of locos waiting their next turn of duty.
Finally there is Platform 4, next to the edge of the baseboard, and this is also used by local services as well as being the starting point for the branch line to Saggy Bottom Halt, which disappears into the tunnel at the far end of the platform. More of this, though, in a future posting.
The next three photographs, above, show the station as it is today, almost eight years later, and looking very different and quite busy, too, judging by the amount of trains populating the various platforms and sidings.
The first photo was taken from beside the tunnel entrance, mentioned previously, while the other two were taken from the buffer stop end. 
A parcels train, headed by a Heljan Class 23 is seen standing at Platform 1 while, at Platform 2, is an express for the north comprising Lima Mk1 coaches hauled by a Bachmann Class 47.
The middle road is occupied by a Heljan Class 33 while, at Platform 4 is a Hornby Class 121 waiting to depart for the branch.
Coloured light signals control train movements from Sueston and all of these are by Traintronics with a mix of double aspect and double aspect with feather. The platforms also have lights fitted as well as nameboards, platform numbers and seats.
We have long mulled over how best to hide the blue wall and have eventually decided on Peco stone walling sheets (LK-40). These have recently replaced Metcalfe Red Brick Walling Sheets and do look much better, to be honest. Eventually we plan to put a photographic back scene of London above the wall but we are still scratching our heads as to how best to incorporate that damned pillar!
The walling between Platform 4 and the road is several sections of Hornby Straight Walls, sold in packs of three, (R8744), which we then covered in the aforementioned Metcalfe Red Brick Sheets (M0054) in order to hide the joins!
Below there is one final photograph of the station entrance (the Metcalfe Mainline Station Building) with a few people and adornments added to effect some realism.
Finally, all of the rolling stock seen above was expertly weathered by Alex Housego, whilst he was working at Mikron Model Railways in Taunton and we were extremely sad when this excellent shop was forced to close in August 2014. Since then Alex has been able to do a few more weathering jobs for us but might not be able to continue now due to other issues taking up his time.
Therefore, I just wanted to thank him for all of his advice, guidance and efforts because, without it, this rather large model railway project would not be as interesting nor as realistic as it is today - as I hope to show you, during the next few weeks, while we travel along its tracks.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Devon Belle

On Saturday April 2nd, UK Railtours ran The Devon Belle from London Waterloo to Exeter St Davids, via Basingstoke, Salisbury and Yeovil Junction, returning to London Victoria, later in the day, via Taunton, Frome and Reading.
The train was headed by LNER Class A1 4-6-2 Nº 60163 'Tornado' hauling a rake of 13 coaches.
She departed Waterloo at 08:00 and was due to arrive at Exeter at 13:34, which, indeed, she did having performed magnificently.
We see her, in the top photograph, just about to pass Templecombe on the outward journey. She was due here at 11:05 and was pretty much to time.
The second photograph was taken at 17:45, as the train was passing Bruton - and at great speed too, on the return trip. 
The difference in the weather conditions between the two photographs is quite evident here. The morning was bright and sunny and clear while the evening was overcast and and rather dull.
The train was due to depart Exeter St Davids at 16:31 and arrive Victoria at 22:12. I am not sure if she was on time at Victoria but, judging by the way she was performing as she raced past us at Bruton, I would say she probably was, no problem!
The headcode/reporting number 'M8Y', by the way, is in tribute to Raymond 'Ray' Towell of the National Railway Museum, who sadly passed away last month. 
Apparently he would always refer to people as 'matey'.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Carswater Comings & Goings

Following on from my previous posting, and staying in the same area of the layout, here we see some north and south-bound trains calling at Carswater.
The first is a semi-fast south-bound train headed by 24081.
Next up is a north-bound semi-fast with Class 23, D5909, in charge and posing quite nicely beneath the ornate footbridge.
Finally we see a south-bound stopper hauled by the diminutive Class 22, D6319.
In the final photograph we see this same train departing Carswater and passing beneath the little footbridge seen in the previous posting.
The line diverging to the right leads to the ballast yard, also seen in my preceding entry.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Stone Me!

With no updates since September you could be forgiven for thinking that work on the layout had ceased.
However, nothing could be further from the truth although we have not done that much during the last few weeks, I will be admit.
Much of what we have been doing has involved getting the ballast yard to completion, something that took a lot longer than we had anticipated. We have also been refreshing the scenery at various locations on the layout, applying new grass, trees and bushes, and I will feature all of these in future postings during the coming weeks.
To begin with let us take a look at the aforementioned ballast yard and the arrival of a Class 47 at the head of a rake of Yeoman hopper wagons.
In the first photo we see it reversing its train out of Carswater, through the small cutting and into the yard. Its passage is being observed by a walker on the little footbridge that crosses the line at this point.
In the next photograph we see the train leaving the main line and entering the ballast yard and, as it does so, it holds up traffic at the level crossing that is situated at the entrance to the yard.
Finally we see the 47 squeezed between the yard's buildings and its rock face, with other hoppers occupying the other lines.
In the distance, the a Sentinel shunter can just be seen standing outside of its little shelter.
The buildings in the distance are actually Knightwing's 'Mine Top Buildings' kit (PM113) while the signal box in the foreground is from the Hornby Skaledale range (R8534), which we picked up second-hand. It is a bit worn and grubby but perfect for a ballast yard!