Europorte GBRf Class 66.

January 27, 2012

The second of the current issue of Dapol N gauge Class 66s is right up to date as a ‘Europorte’ liveried example. Presented as 66 729 ‘Derby County’ and complete with separately etched nameplates. It will be working on Dudley Heath at The British Festival of Railway Modelling next month. Following the fitting of a 6-pin decoder, light lubrication and an hour of running in on the layout, it’s ready to go!



The Brighton Line’s finest…

January 25, 2012

In OO gauge (1:76 scale) from Hornby – it’s a definite improvement over the 4-Vep! Here’s a peek at the BR blue and grey model.

First impressions are very good, including the three centre trailers which are equally well finished. There’s a lot of attention to detail and thankfully, as an EM gauge modeller (amongst other scale interests), the wheel sets have proper pinpoint axles and not such deep flanges for those using finescale OO gauge track – no running on the rail fixings unlike the 4-VEP. Don’t forget to visit the 5-Bel restoration project web site here.

Time to knuckle down to it…

January 22, 2012

The Festival of British Railway Modelling is but a few weeks’ away…time to stop playing with the trains and knuckle down to it. Before I do, here’s a bright container to clash with that Dapol Class 66…a new release from Bachmann under the Graham Farish label…

Observers will note the lack of ballast around the junction at Dudley Heath. I have painted (most of) the rail sides…some will need touching up later.

Some final platform clearance tests (excuse to play with more trains). Seriously though, preparing stock is as much an important part of the run up to an exhibition as anything else. Note that mast bases and cable troughs are in place and painted.

Most of the platform structure is also in place ready for fencing, structures detailing and weathering…

I cannot delay any longer. It is a good idea to fit as many track structures as you can before ballasting: equipment bases, troughs, OHLE mast bases and so on. Mix a variety of concrete coloured paints to create different shades of colour to represent new and old covers for the cable troughs to introduce some variety. All of the ballast (Woodland Scenics fine grey) is glued in place with Scenic Cement and left to dry for a good few days. It can then be weathered with a wash of thinned paint or dry brushing the surface of the ballast, my preferred method.

‘Day and Night’ Class 66

January 18, 2012

Wow! That’s some printing job in N gauge. It’s a Dapol Class 66 finished as GBRf 66 720 with it’s special ‘Day and Night’ graphics applied to the sides – the result of a competition for children of GB Railfreight staff.The dark side of the model. In other words, the ‘Night’ graphic showing moon and stars – pretty bright in reality.On the lighter side: the ‘Day’ graphic with hills, rainbow colours and birds.

Apart from the locomotive body sides, the rest of the locomotive is finished in GB Railfreight colours with orange cabs, blue roof and the new company logos. On a model, it is strangely attractive!

I guess the idea of the design is to show that GB Railfreight operates both day and night. Some die-hard enthusiasts may find such colourful graphics a little startling and not to their taste; however it is a one-off and who knows how long the locomotive will wear these graphics? In the meantime, Dapol has really done a great job of them, recreating the vibrant colours on both sides of its low emission Class 66 version of its model with sharp printing over the fluted sides of the locomotive. The model itself has the usual features including 6-pin DCC connection, full lighting and a slow control motor. Will it make it onto Dudley Heath, I wonder?

Progress on Dudley Heath

The N gauge layout will be heading to The Festival of British Railway Modelling exhibition in February, warts and all. The event is held at the Doncaster Racecourse and is only a few weeks’ away. I had to pull my finger out and make some progress on some important features including the station platforms at Dudley Heath which are now complete following some messy work with Hydrocal and pigments.

It’s great fun doing this sort of structure modelling. The appearance of the layout is transformed pretty quickly by the addition of structures and civil engineering features. Ballasting is complete now the platforms are in place and other engineering features built in, including cable ducting troughs and equipment box bases.

Atlas bridge job.

January 1, 2012

Alas offers a very useful plate girder bridge in both single track and double track styles together with extensions and bridge track. Perfect for one location of my Montana Rail Link layout.

A small section of baseboard top was removed and the pre-assembled bridge dropped in after some preparation. All of the parts were painted and weathered before assembly, a useful technique knowing that spray painting scenic features when in place can be tricky and messy to boot!

The kit is comprehensive and clips together in the main; the final assembly being completed with four screws.

All of the mouldings are neat and fit together well, including the bridge track panels.

This picture shows the bridge components painted grimy black over dark grey and weathered with Pheonix Precision Paints ‘rusty rails’ colour. A dusting of brake dust and under frame dirt from the same paint range was applied to the deck and track panels.

Assembly complete and ready to drop into place.

Here’s where it is to be located. The baseboards were already cut for the project when the tops were fitted at the start of the project.

The existing track is removed and trimmed to length to accommodate the bridge track panels. Accurate measurements are needed at this point.

Tracks one and two of the MRL 4th Sub main line are truly severed at this point. By the way, the bridge is being located on the double track section between Missoula West and DesMet. DesMet is where the 10th Sub diverges from the 4th Sub water level route.

I do not like having the layout out of action for too long, so the new bridge was dropped in place pretty quickly.


Everything is reconnected, the bridge track rails provided with power feeds from the bus and trains run once again. The next job is to complete the abutments and build the road. In the meantime, ballasting at the west end of Missoula Yard is ongoing and enough track to start work on the second deck of the layout has now been obtained. Anyone working with Atlas code 55 N scale track will know it has been in short supply in the US over the last couple of years, so finding it for a project in the UK has been nearly impossible – until recently.

Another change undertaken the dark and impossible Christmas to New Year period involved the relocation of an internal light switch in the layout cabin along with a few other electrical things. To enable a better staging yard arrangement for the N scale MRL to be built, I changed the choice of entrance door from the side to the front of the building quite some time ago – Sarah’s idea. With that change came the need to locate the main light switch – something I stupidly failed do at the time! The resulting stumbling around in the dark at this time of the year to find it on a wall far remote from the doorway when entering the cabin (and when leaving it too), became intolerable and the relocation of the switch is a sensible move and enables further improvements to the N scale MRL layout. It clears the way for the second staging yard.

The first staging yard representing the east end of the layout (lower deck) was built along the wall and across the old entrance door without the need to move any electrics. By blocking off the old door, a yard long enough for 12ft trains was possible (longer but that would be a waste of track because the maximum train length is 12 ft). The picture below shows the narrow shelf accommodating 5 long staging tracks. An identical one needs to be built above it for the west end of the layout and guess what…that hitherto mentioned light switch was in the way!