Of Thumpers and Fleet Foxes

January 24, 2009

Kernow Models is working with Dapol to release a series of limited edition models of the Hampshire DEMU or Class 205 or 2H depending on your point of view. Liveries and prices are now available, as is pre-ordering for a spring 2010 delivery. Here’s the details:

Picture K2001 Dapol Class 205 2-H Unit 205 025 Network SouthEast
Picture K2002 Dapol Class 205 2-H Unit 205 012 Connex
Picture K2003 Dapol Class 205 2-H Unit 1108 BR Green
Picture K2004 Dapol Class 205 2-H Unit 1121 BR Green
Picture K2005 Dapol Class 205 2-H Unit 1120 BR Blue
Picture K2006 Dapol Class 205 2-H Unit 1119 BR Green

Be quick, like any eagerly anticipated limited edition, they won’t last! For more details and prices, visit http://www.kernowmodelrailcentre.com.

One of the proposed models, 205025 was a regular on the Uckfield-Oxted shuttles, often sharing the duty with 205012. I found that pair on the line many times and have been fortunate enough to get a few pictures of them both. Here’s a handful of winter shots of 205025 taken at Oxted on a chilly 30th January 2004 – four years’ ago! I have many more – I shall dig them out when I get the chance.




Fleet Foxes:
Discovery of 2009, musically speaking, is Fleet Foxes, an Alternative Rock genre band which has made a big impression on both Sarah and myself. Not since I was introduced to Porcupine Tree by a guy I respect very much for his DCC knowledge and taste in music have I found an album which deserves continual playing on the studio Hi-Fi. Fleet Foxes is a very haunting sound at times, with superb vocals and and depth to the music, many layers of intricate sound created on some interesting instruments as well as the usual guitar.

These guys can play their instruments, which is more than can be said for many today. Fleet Foxes uses small slices of silence as well as sound for a dramatic effect. The band clearly understands the importance of giving the music time to breath between vocals. Sometimes I wish some made-up,  pop stars and z-list celebrity types that win X-Factor (the producers of the kind of rubbish rammed down our throats by popular radio stations) would use silence – permanently.

So, Fleet Foxes’ album ‘Fleet Foxes’ and its EP, ‘Sun Giant’, rule the Hi-Fi at the moment.

But guess our surprise when Sarah and I looked the band up to see when its next album will become available. Fleet Foxes is from Seattle. One of my most favourite cities.  Sarah and I go there whenever we can afford it and use it as a launching off point for places like Sandpoint, Missoula, Yakima and Spokane when we are on our photting field trips. There’s a great model shop on Elliot Ave – the Seattle Train Centre, close to the railroad with easy access for safe photography. Pike Place Market is the place to go for local produce, sea food and breakfast. Top Pot Coffee for great coffee and fabulous donuts (what else –  Seattle is famous for its coffee houses) and of course, the Space Needle. Add the ‘Ducks’ to that list – a fun way to play tourist and the famous monorail. Sarah is into glass – there’s so much amazing glass-making in Seattle and down the coast to Tacoma… I could go on. We dug the pictures out once again: here’s more from our combined photo archives…

Seattle skyline from the Space Needle.


Another attraction – the Monorail.


The Monorail is one way of seeing the city – albeit pretty quickly.

Another way is to ride the ‘Ducks’, a seriously lacking in seriousness way to seeing Seattle. It’s fun, frantic and not to be missed. Ride the Ducks on your first day in Seattle – it will set you up for the rest of the visit! This picture is head first into Lake Union, a splosh which is part of the tour.  In a Duck (DUKW)http://www.ridetheducksofseattle.com


During our 2007 visit, these guys could be found everywhere around the city, dressed up in many different ways.  The event is called ‘Pigs on Parade’ and was held in 2007. Of course, there is a bronze pig at the main entrance of Pike Place Market called Rachel. Put some money in her – she’s a piggy bank for raising funds to support and restore the market. This particular little piggy is ‘Pigasso’.


‘Sounder’ trains at Seattle King Street station – an easy and accessible rail fan location. No one bothered me for the few hours I spent taking pictures. In fact everyone was very friendly. Note how clean they are…

The Empire Builder, or rather, half of it departing Seattle for Chicago in late afternoon. The other half starts at Portland and they join in Spokane.

Just looking through the pictures makes me want to return and soon, despite the low Pound against the Dollar. Thank you, Fleet Foxes,  for reminding us both of this great city.


DRS/Tesco/Stobart Rail Inverness service officially launched…

January 22, 2009

Eddie and James came to town!

Yes it’s true. The DRS Stobart Rail pair of Class 66/4s were both present for the official launch on Tuesday Jan 20th of the new Highland intermodal service on which has been featured here before. Notably, the solid use of Stobart boxes is now becoming mixed with the Tesco branded LessCO2 ones, introducing some variety. It appears the joint venture including Russells has settled down and Tesco is comfortable with the arrangements. The service will take around 17,000 lorries off the Highland A9.

Eddie the Engine (66 411) sits by the carriage cleaning depot awaiting its next move…in a rare flash of sunlight for what was a sleatly, snowy sort of day.


Side on of ‘Eddie’ showing all of the livery detail. Stands out a bit… Note the reach stacker in the back ground. For the record, 37 510 was also present.

That’s ‘James’ leading the south bound train with empty boxes, doubled up with ‘Eddie’. Unfortunately, departure was too late for a shot up on the Nairn viaduct at Culloden Moor. Dusk was beginning to fall and the weather closed in again.

There are a couple of livery differences between the two, including cab roof colour and markings. Anyway, despite the weather, some pictures were possible. Roll on the balmy weather of spring and photographing this train in better conditions.

Dragging myself away from the layout…

January 12, 2009

…but progress is being made. Unfortunately, stuff done over the New Year was largely confined to wiring which is about as interesting as watching someone wire up a model railroad layout. Oh well, at least the DCC power bus is in place on the second deck. Wiring for the Tortoise point machines operating the junction at West Missoula were also started, and a neat little local control panel under construction.

Whilst on the subject of joinery, the road bed on the second deck commenced, made from 3/4 inch ply and running from the helix, rising at 2.0% to a height of 2 inches over the joists. The section completed is the ‘hidden’ part of the line which runs along the back of the deck, to make a 180 degree turn at the end to enter the scenic side to run back east to west (left to right) along the scenic front. Actually, to help with access, the ‘hidden’ line will have scenery, hidden behind trees, rocks and ridges and only viewable for driving when the operator is standing on a low box.  I do not wish to have one train pass through the same scene twice, visually speaking. A siding (loop) will be included on this hidden section of line to represent Cyr MT as a holding point for trains entering or leaving the helix to clear the main for trains coming the other way.

To the front of the second deck will be Fish Creek trestle or bridge 165 of the 4th Sub which is 144 feet high above the creek, 576 feet in length and with a 3 degree right hand curve to the west on a falling grade of 0.2%. This makes it 10.5  inches, give or take, tall in N scale terms and it will fit perfectly above the turn back loop in the lower staging yard before the scenic break on that level. That will still leave room for operations on the lower level. At 576 feet long, the model should be 3.6 feet long over nine spans. I may have to compromise a bit there…

Anyway, my thanks to the members of the  MRL Yahoo Group  for help with the height of the deck of the trestle. When working on a model like this so far from the full-size railroad, help from those closer to the action than I is invaluable. It’s as good as a railroad historical society. You can find the group at http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/MRL/

The picture above shows work on the back or hidden stretch of line. An Atlas N scale SD35 provides an idea of scale. The old but unused (!!) hospital drape is an ideal protective cover for the track on the lower deck.

Working on the gradient from the helix – adjustments were being made to the risers to meet the 2% gradient line which was mathematically calculated rather than measured with an angle tool of some description. It was easy: 2 inches climb over 100 inches of track bed… The track bed is pushed as far back against the rear supports to provide as much room for the scenic line to the front as possible.

The pitch of the track bed is also checked with a torpedo spirit level. This needs some levelling…
Note the red and black wires of the DCC power bus, pre installed.

This technique keeps the ply track bed level whilst the joist positions are done. Any slight bowing of the ply is cancelled out making a level track bed or one with a consistent gradient easier to achieve. Sadly, obtaining cost effective but dead straight ply is not always possible and whilst the straightest sheets are chosen, long narrow sections of ply like this can take a slight bow after cutting.

Dapol’s newest 4mm scale wagon – the telescopic hood KIB:

Acquired for my British outline 4mm scale fleet, it’s a nicely finished model indeed. It seems to measure up quite well, although I still have some checks to do. It’s particularly interesting because I built three of these from scratch about 15 or more years’ ago. Phew! At the time, I did not have the correct bogies and they still run on stand-in O&K bogies which are a close but not exact match for the DB type used on the full-size wagons. I will switch in new ones and recover the O&K ones for some scratch building projects this year so both new ready to run and old scratch built models are a reasonable match.

My scratch built effort (to the front) lacks some finer detail. It, together with its two other companions may hit the work bench for some extra detailing and new bogies. In the meantime, it’s not such a bad job when compared to the Dapol model. Here’s some more shots of the Dapol wagon:
crw_4882_jfr2crw_4885_jfrcrw_4887_jfrNice job by Dapol. The steel coils are a bit strange but the rest of it passes muster as far as I am concerned.

By the way…

That damn spider turned up again…

I chased it into a corner with a piece of set track…don’t know where it’s lurking right now. Perhaps I should send one of the cats in to flush it out?