The locos for Wheal Annah’s early 1970s period have finally arrived thanks to help from Andy Forty of Dapol in locating suitable examples. First up is a beast which is fairly alien to me – a ‘Western’ or Class 52, No. D1072 “Western Glory”. The headcode panels will have to be changed and in keeping with the later life of these locos, some weathering will be applied. Westerns did operate on china clay branches from time to time as well as being regulars on the Staffordshire ‘Clayliner’ service.
Class 22 No D6318 is the second Dapol loco to arrive for duty and is typical of china clay country. I have reviewed this model in the past and the example acquired for Wheal Annah is an excellent runner. Class 22s became horribly dirty in their later days of service, a feature which will be applied to No. D6318.
One of the objectives of building Wheal Annah is to use the layout as a performance test bed for modern standard N gauge locomotives and stock. Both a 6-axle and 4-axle loco from the Dapol range were required to work alongside an example of each from Bachmann Graham Farish models, hence the Class 52. It has turned out to be a smooth runner and it looks the part too. The 1970s era was determined by the needs of Hornby magazine where this layout is being featured as a short series. My personal preference would have been to model stock from the BR Sector period.
Initial testing of the layout has gone well using the equipment in standard condition without any changes to couplings or the stock itself. I will look at a variety of coupling types and will see how the lax N gauge tolerances will affect the ability to use automated uncoupling methods.
I was taken aback at how large china clay works buildings work out to be in model form. Even after careful measurement and extrapolation using good references of the full size buildings, they look pretty big. I found myself checking the size of rolling stock against buildings in reference photographs on numerous occasions to see if the scale was working out correctly and I was not making some fundamental error. Older china clay driers were often built into the side of hills to facilitate the drying and processing of clay, hence the apparent large size of the buildings. This small coal fired dries is only a part building and is missing about 2/3rds of its depth and length together with the hillside it would be built into.
With the locos in hand together with a Bachmann Graham Farish Class 37 (the new Class 25 is not due for a few months yet) a suitable comparison of similar loco types can be done. The layout has now been thoroughly tested and is ready for smaller detail structures – pipeline, industrial fittings and so on. Scenery is also in hand including the blending of the structures into the landscape (what there is of it) to remove the gap at the base of the works buildings. My thanks goes to Andy Forty of Dapol for his kind assistance with this project.