Return of The Royal Scotsman.

April 28, 2009

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At last, the Royal Scotsman season kicks off with the first tour of the year, a ‘Classic’ tour of five days’ duration which takes in the Aberdeen-Inverness line, a run to Kyle of Lochalsh and down the Highland line too.  West Coast Railways has the contract for haulage and crews once again, offering 47 787 Windsor Castle as traction for the first run. It should be another excellent year with Class 47s regularly diagrammed for the Kyle line once again!

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Dull weather greeted the train’s arrival in Nairn this morning (not normally this dull as the sun always shines in Nairn – honest!).

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A brief pause to surrender the Forres – Nairn single line token before continuing west to Inverness and kyle of Lochalsh. The Class 158 on the other line formed the 11.15hrs Nairn – Aberdeen service which started in Inverness.

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Of DMUs and scenery.

April 27, 2009

crw_6381_jfrA problem with Firefox crashing repeatedly on my PC (have Mozilla done one upgrade too far?) has prevented an update for the last few weeks. But you don’t want to read about that. The MRL N scale project has taken a back seat recently in favour of some UK outline modelling including further work on Dudley Heath Yard and a brace of more traditional multiple units. I completed a model of DMU No. M55006, a conversion based on a Hornby Class 121 bubble car, converting it to a Midland Region allocated Gloucester Class 122 (above) using a Craftsman detailing kit and saving time by retaining as much of the factory applied colours as possible. Sorting out the roof of the model and taking unwanted detail from the cabs was the main areas of work. Only those parts were repainted.crw_6383_jfrThe second unit is also a single, scratching an itch to build a DPU. As some og you  may know, I have a particular liking for parcels and mail stock. I built my first DPU kit using a Craftsman conversion pack in 1985. This re-run of the project takes me back to my university days, struggling to find spare cash to buy modelling materials for such a project! It’s not perfect by any means but I like it and it seems to capture the character of the Class 128s quite well. Sadly they are no longer with us as none were preserved.

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Here is the DPU in the context of a layout scene, albeit an unfinished scene on Dudley Heath Yard (DHY). Models always look better on a layout rather than the sterile environment of the photo stage.

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The Class 122 poses on the lower level on Dudley Heath Yard. Both units, when fitted with Ultrascale wheels, will find use on DHY which has seen some progress too. I admit that both models have compromises, effectively being body conversions (the Class 122 has a couple of Class 121 features remaining which could not be removed without destroying the BR Blue and Grey livery) with some detailing to the underframe and a couple of mods too to better match the full-size trains. Some dry brushing around the buffer beams of the Class 122 will complete the cosmetic work.

DHY progress:
I have had fun experimenting with a Noch Grassmaster 2 and realising that mixing grass fibres of different colours will look better than using just one single colour. To make matters more complicated, I am experimenting with the creation of late winter colours.

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Woodland Scenics light green static grass fibre was used over some winter grass and ground foam to create some relief. However, the colour is too uniform for late winter grass when used on its own and needs some dead grass colour mixed in the applicator to create hughlights. I have some Silflor Autumn and winter static fibres on their way to experiment further. This repeat of a photograph I posted here some months ago shows the progress so far. Static grass is great but for 4mm scale, not on its own!

Here’s some more pics of the layout showing progress. Ballasting of the lower level is complete and scenery has commenced. Work on the retaining walls to further disguise the Wills heritage is being undertaken too. Weathering is with a couple of washes of the dirty thinners I use to give paint brushes an initial clean to prevent them from going hard. The holes in the back scene visible on the upper level are also being covered now work on the track is complete and access from the rear of the layout is no longer required. They will still allow access to the hidden parts of the layout.

So, with all this progress, the layout will make a suitable back drop for photographing the wagons being featured in my second wagon book. It’s progressing well, and is intended as a companion book to the one on ready to run wagon modelling, featuring kit construction techniques.

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