Dudley Heath OHLE update…

February 25, 2016
OHLE Class 350

The Graham Farish Class 350 is a particular favourite of mine and this model of an unbranded one (No. 350111) makes a training run every now and again during an operation session. This scene shows a main line scene with space for the models to be seen but in a layout which is only 260cm in length and 90cm wide.

A long term project to equip my N gauge ‘Dudley Heath’ (DH) with 1960s West Coast Main Line Mark-1 series OHLE is finally coming to a conclusion. It has been eight months since the project was started and the first portals were dropped into place in time for last years’ Perth show. Each portal has turned into a detailed model in its own right and a single portal can take several hours to complete depending on its complexity.

The long and complex portals over the double junction are nearing completion and those on the opposite scene to the one above are being further detailed (DH is a double-sided layout with scenes on both sides of its long axis).

OHLE Class 86 plus vans

A Dapol Class 86, No. 86 261 passes over the double junction which is one of the features of my Dudley Heath layout. The portal nearest the camera is still being constructed at the time this shot was taken. The Class 86 is set to become No. 86 401 in due course – a renumbering and partial repainting project.

The portal etchings for Mark 1-series OHLE are produced in N and OO gauge by N-Brass Locos which offers a wide range of portals, masts and fittings for this type of electrification. They can be built as they come or extensively modified as appropriate. The double junction above took a little working out and the portal shown remains to be detailed with the rest of the isolation gear for the diverging line. I used a lot of digital images to help me install the portals as level and upright as humanly possible. What the eye misses, the camera does not and a few of them turned out to need adjustment after pictures were closely examined.

OHLE spare Class 86

I love the Dapol Class 86 model and being able to operate them on DH at last is great – electrification is an added dimension to the layout. Once the OHLE portals are all fitted, some tidying up will be needed and some areas of the layout further detailed. Whilst I am keen not to crowd the layout with too much detail, a little more in the yard and in some other areas is needed. otherwise, I like the minimalist appearance of the layout where the emphasis is on operations.

Another project to start this spring involves the intermodal service as seen in the picture above. I wish to replace many of the stock Graham Farish 45-foot containers that came with the intermodal twin wagons and replace them with a mix of different boxes and tank-tainers to vary things up a little – with due regard to the era in which certain intermodal units were operated. I also have an MOD service in mind with KFA flats, VGA vans, C-Rail MOD containers and a couple of other wagons to make up something a little different.


I have a little work to do on the traction front including the renumbering of the Dapol Class 86 model of No. 86 261 to No. 86 401 together with weathering to match the condition of the full-size loco shown in 2002 condition in the picture above.

Electrification has opened up opportunities to model EMUs such as a Class 310 or 312 together with a more modern Class 322. They were signature trains of the West Midlands and operated local passenger services over the Grand Junction Railway, the line through the Black Country on which the DH layout theme is based.

Hopefully, some of these projects will be completed in time for the Glenrothes Model Railway Exhibition 2016 (14th and 15th May) to which DH has been invited. An invitation has also been received for the Falkirk MRC later in 2016. Lot’s to do!


Cover story – Maxwell Colliery Loading Point

February 12, 2016

Hornby mag March 2016 OMWB

Late last year, I photographed Max Fowler’s fascinating Maxwell Colliery Loading Point once again, this time for Hornby Magazine. The layout is set in the Ayrshire coal fields of Southwest Scotland and has been recently extended to include a further colliery branch and a connection with the main line – hence revisiting it once again.

I am delighted that the layout is the cover story of Hornby Magazine for March 2016 (HM105) and has been invited to The Great Electric Train Show this October.