Colourful Class 156s from the Midlands…

September 27, 2009

Image 19917Dapol is keeping up its end very nicely keeping N gauge modellers well supplied with models and livery variations. The latest pair of Class 156s I have had the chance to look at are the East Midlands Trains version pictured above and the CT version shown below: very contemporary and colourful too.


One of my favourite liveries is Central Trains colours, now obsolete. It is a bright colour scheme and suited these units very well. Dapol has made a good job of it, not too garish an interpretation, which was always a risk with this one in model form.

CRW_9467_JFRWorking couplings at the outer ends enable manual coupling of units, one of the many features of this remarkable model. The outer and inner end couplings are designed for close coupling with a choice of gangways for use on sharp or shallow radii curves.

CRW_9472_JFRThat’s close…yet the vehicles coupled like this will go round my 16 inch minimum radius curvature on my US outline layout without the gangways catching.

Each coupling is fitted with a cam mechanism enabling the coupling gap between the gangways to open on curves as seen above…

Each model has one driven car with all-wheel drive and the mechanism hidden below the window line enabling much of the interior to be modelled. Flush glazed too!

New-Out997_996Working light and 6-pin DCC socket in both powered and unpowered vehicles (accessible through a removable roof) and no light leakage into the cab from the LEDs all adds up to an impressive package. Oh yes, don’t forget the lighting bar connection inside for interior lighting. It’s model with much going for it and I like the fact it has ‘presence’ too, something that Dapol seems to be good at capturing. My thanks to David Jones of Dapol for allowing me to photograph and feature these models. They should be in model shops soon!


DRS fights back…with Class 37s on the Highland line.

September 24, 2009

DRS has started operating a new intermodal service to and from Inverness, probably in response to the loss of the Tesco traffic to rail freight operator, DB Schenker. Currently being run as a trial for Russells, the service made its first run yesterday. It was photographed at Moy with 37 038 in charge shortly after its 09.22 departure from Inverness.

Following a short recess in the loop at Moy, the train was caught on camera at Tomatin. Weather: changeable, but some brightness allowed for some reasonable photography.

I also took the opportunity to take update my library with shots of the north bound sleeper (Culloden Moor)) and the London bound Highland Chieftain (Feabuie):

Whilst we all hope that DB Schenker will reverse the fortunes of EWS by becoming more aggressive in winning freight contracts, we also hope that they would target road bound flows to increase rail freight’s market share, not work to take traffic from other operators, especially those that did work to secure business from road haulage. Sadly, in the case of the Tesco train from Grangemouth to Inverness, that is not the case. This scene of blue DRS Class 66s on the Tesco train on the Highland line will soon cease to be from November. As enthusiasts, we must never take anything forgranted on this railway of today! Things change so quickly, so photograph it as and when you can.


Top deck progress on the layout.

September 18, 2009

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Building effort on the layout project has focussed on the top deck and the British Outline EM gauge theme. Two fiddle or staging yards are now in place with a cross-over between the Up and Down lines linking the two. Wired up and running, the yards are being tested with a variety of different stock. Track laying on the scenic area of the layout remains to be started. Working on a defined layout theme definitely brings two realisations:

  1. It concentrates the mind on specific stock suitable for that theme. Suddenly, I seem to have a lot of stuff not appropriate to the layout theme! Will those models ever get to see a running session? Or does Ebay beckon?
  2. You soon find the weaknesses in your models, particularly with respect to couplings, wheels and traction. I will have some serious work bench time to put in, with upgrading to do, not to mention repairs. I really wonder how stuff stored in stock boxes actually manages to become damaged?

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I have a weakness for mail trains. Here’s one set of stock being tested on the layout – the vehicles will be used to make up my South East Travelling Post Office set when operations start in earnest on the top deck layout. In the meantime, the stock runs along the off stage area of the layout in testing mode. It has had to have couplings adjusted and A1 Models close coupling gangways fitted – starting with the Super BG coaches at either end of the set. I do such work one vehicle at a time before checking performance and moving on to the next.

So I admit that my lack of posts recently has been due to this layout building activity and some heavy writing deadlines too. Whilst it’s great to have stuff out of the boxes and on a layout, I can only notice how much remedial work is needed: from fixing the odd piece of glazing back in place, to checking wheel back-to-back measurements. It’s all good fun, though!