Network SouthEast 30th anniversary train pack.

December 2, 2016

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To mark the thirtieth anniversary of network Southeast, Bachmann has released its ‘Capital Commuter’ train pack which contains a 2-car Class 416 2EPB unit, a resin station building together with platform units and some related paperwork. The whole package is presented in a stout box with nicely illustrated inserts depicting some of Edward Pond’s work. Edward Pond (or Eddie Pond as he was known in standard class) was the artist responsible for the interior murals applied to the inner bulkheads and partitions of NSE trains. They depicted scenes from the route on which the trains were allocated and that was extended to route branding applied to the exterior of some stock.

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The outer lid of the NSE train pack (30-430).

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The interior inserts feature artwork from Edward Pond, the artist who that created the route related interior murals for NSE rolling stock.

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A station building and platform unit finishes off the presentation box set.

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2EPB No. 6414 is represented, finished in the last version of NSE livery.

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Note the Kent Link route branding which was applied to 2EPB and 4EPB units together with displaced 4-Cap sets allocated to the North Kent lines.

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Kelpies at night.

November 29, 2016

Pictures – nothing more needs to be said…

http://www.thehelix.co.uk/things-to-do/the-kelpies/

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Test running the Class 310/1.

November 23, 2016

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The tricky business of converting old Graham Farish Mark 2 coaches into a Class 310 EMU has reached the testing stage. The model is being built using Electra Railway Graphics self-adhesive overlays onto heavily modified clear-sided Mark 2 coach bodies. The result, I hope, will be a respectable representation of a 3-car Regional Railways Class 310/1 (No. 310106) which was a common sight in the West Midlands at one time and a signature model for the layout.

The conversion is not the easiest one I have done in N gauge so far – the 3D printed cabs being far from satisfactory and having a distinctly grainy texture to them which is not simple to remove. In fact, the printed material is so hard, wet and dry paper struggled to smooth the grittiness down to any degree. On reflection, scratch building from styrene card may have produced a better result. Weeks after completing the main part of the conversion, the unit is finally being tested on the layout with bar couplings and new gangways designed to close up the gap between the coaches. As you can see, I was far from happy with the join between the cab roof and the main roof moulding. Considerably more finishing work (and patience) was put into making this area of the model as satisfactory as possible together with a final coat of dark grey paint for the roof.

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Class 310 copy

Having filed the cab ends to more or less the right shape, re-profiled the cab windows and removed the bowed ends from the Mark 2 coach body moulding, replacing them with a flat suburban stock end with the gangway extension unique to Class 310 and Class 312 EMUs, the model was relatively simple to finish with the vinyl sides. The centre coach has  pantograph well cut in it, fitted with insulators cut from 10BA brass screws and a Dapol ‘pan’. Cab painting was made awkward by the coarse printed texture, making smooth clean lines difficult to achieve.

The model will be more or less complete for an outing to the Falkirk exhibition this weekend, together with the Class 90 I have been working on recently. No. 90 033 requires a little more finishing to the roof, pantograph well and to disguise that Digitrax DZ126 decoder which can be seen through the cab windows! Despite the challenges and sometimes frustrations of working on older N gauge models, both are a welcome additions to the 25kV fleet. A Class 323 is the next EMU project – also a signature EMU for the West Midlands area.

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Dudley Heath will be attending the Falkirk MRC model railway exhibition this weekend (26th and 27th November 2016) being held at the Forth Valley College in Falkirk. Electric stock will be featured including Dapol Class 86s.

The Falkirk exhibition is the last major show in the Scottish exhibition circuit calendar and is held annually at the Forth Valley College in Grangemouth Road, Falkirk, FK2 9AD. It’s usually quite an event; much more laid back than a certain other model railway show being staged this weekend at the NEC and a lot of fun.

 


An hour at Drumchapel.

November 1, 2016

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A recent trip to East Dunbartonshire to photograph a layout for BRM offered the chance of an hour or two of photography at Bowling station – a favourite location of mine. Located on the North Clyde route to Helensburgh, the station sees a fair procession of electric trains on various services – or would have done on this particular Saturday (22.10.16) if someone had not dug up the track with some dirty great yellow machines.

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Hornby R600 straights left beside the platforms. Now, where are the rail joiners?

Okay, an hour to kill before my next assignment and no trains between Helensburgh, Balloch and Dalmuir…where next?

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I relocated to Drumchapel station on the Dalmuir – Anniesland loop to find a steady procession of Class 318s and Class 320 EMUs running singly and in pairs between Dalmuir and Airdrie/Larkhall. On good days, freight bound for Glen Douglas and Fort William will also use this line, together with service trains for the West Highland line.

It was unlikely that I would see anything as exotic as an MoD working on this visit. Nonetheless, I find suburban railways fascinating and the North Clyde lines are among my favourite suburban railways. In the hour at Drumchapel, I photographed a goodly number of the ScotRail Class 320 fleet together with the odd Class 318 – enough to keep me occupied.

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Sgùrr nan Each, Sgùrr nan Clach Geala, Meall a’ Chrasgaidh and Sgùrr Mòr (again)

October 11, 2016
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Allt Breabaig looking south up the pass.

A desire to hit the mountain trails reached crisis point this weekend past as a period of calm Autumn weather settled over the Scottish Highlands, presenting reasonably clear air and a good chance of cloud-free Munros. Back to the Fannaichs (Fannichs) to tackle a trio of tops which form a second arm of the mountain range with a north-south axis from Sgùrr Mòr towards Loch Fannich. The walk started at Loch a’ Bhracin near the A832 with a gentle ramble south up Allt Breabaig to a pass or bealach.

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The saddle between Sgùrr nan Each and Sgùrr nan Clach Geala looking back down towards the top of the pass.

 

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Mountains and more mountains – a long walk plus altitude equals happiness.

Upon reaching the top of the bealach, I turned east and climbed the saddle between Sgùrr nan Each and Sgùrr nan Clach Geala. Sgùrr nan Each is the most southerly Munro of this arm of the Fannichs and rises to 922 metres.

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Sgùrr nan Each 360 degree panorama with Sgùrr nan Clach Geala to the left of centre of the picture.

From Sgùrr nan Each, I turned north to retrace my steps back down the saddle of the mountains which was followed by the long climb up Sgùrr nan Clach Geala (1093 metres).

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Looking town the crags of Sgùrr nan Clach Geala with a rocky top called Càrn na Chriche in the back ground.

 

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360 degree panorama from Sgùrr nan Clach Geala. Summit cairn (south) to the extreme left of the shot. Centre of the image looks east with Sgùrr Mòr to the right.

Timing on this walk was important if Sgùrr Mòr was to be climbed again. I had to leave the summit of Sgùrr nan Clach Geala no later than 13.30 hrs to be sure to fit in all four Munros within the planned walking time. I have walked up Sgùrr Mòr before, in poor conditions which made good photography impossible. On this expedition, I approached the mountain from the opposite flank, starting with a good scramble down the loose rocks on the north side of Sgùrr nan Clach Geala, over the rocky top of Càrn na Chriche and a long clamber over the boulders of the north west flank of Sgùrr Mòr. Last time, I approached the mountain from the south east after climbing Beinn Liath Mhòr Fannaich.

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Last time!

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Second visit and a cloud-free summit!

 

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The 360 degree panorama impossible to obtain on my last visit to Sgùrr Mòr with some fellow walkers enjoying the views.

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From there. I retraced my steps back down the north west flank and back over Càrn na Chriche to reach the last Munro of the day: Meall a’ Chrasgaidh (934 metres). Nothing spectacular: a rounded summit with a cairn and shelter. The ground between Meall a’ Chrasgaidh and Càrn na Chriche presented some of the easiest walking of the day allowing some time to be made up by running part of it.

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Approaching Meall a’ Chrasgaidh as a brisk walk with Sgùrr nan Clach Geala in the back ground.

 

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360 degree panorama from Meall a’ Chrasgaidh allowing a view of Beinn Liath Mhòr Fannaich for the first time that day. Sgùrr Mòr is centre with Beinn Liath Mhòr Fannaich behind left and Sgùrr nan Clach Geala right of centre.

 

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A five-minute break to admire the view and pay due respect to the four Munros of the day before heading back to the car.

 

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Allt Breabaig on the walk out towards Loch a’ Bhracin.

 

 


Mountain time again.

October 10, 2016
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Early morning at Loch a’ Bhracin in the Fannaichs.

Out and about Munro-bagging in the Fannaichs once again – more later!


Xenophobia has no place in Scotland.

October 7, 2016

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To all those who have chosen Scotland to be their home – I am truly sorry for all that is now happening – overseas-born child/school registrations, worker registrations, naming and shaming of companies and the demonisation of overseas-born citizens (I hate the word ‘foreign’). I particularly feel for EU citizens that came to the UK to live, having spent so much of my childhood living in Europe where I was made welcome. I am personally embarrassed and upset by the populist xenophobia and bigotry that has emerged in main stream UK politics in place of serious policy debate.

Scotland wants no part in it as you can see statement by Nicola Sturgeon FM above. I want no part in it. I am pro-European and wish the EU would do more to help Scotland emerge from this extreme right-wing and dangerous political situation and take its place in the European family of nations as a full member state. It’s time the Saltire flew alongside the other European member state flags outside the EU institution buildings.

Saor Alba.

#WeAreScotland

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