A Political Journey (Saying Sorry)

April 20, 2017

This wonderfully honest story by Elizabeth encapsulates the political journey that many are making in Scotland – things have changed so much for so many since September 2014. I feel sorry for voters in England who seek an alternative to the mainstream parties but find they have no real choice. In Scotland, we do.

Fig and Pen

Here’s a confession: I used to really dislike the SNP.  I’d go so far as to say I actively disliked them. Were my reasons valid? I’m not sure. I voted against Scottish independence in 2014 because I didn’t find the SNP’s case to be credible, and I believed Scotland would be out of the EU if we left the UK. 

From my perspective, the 2014 referendum was exhausting. For those of us on the No side, there were no marches, no gatherings, no messages of togetherness or hope. For us there was nothing but negative news (‘project fear’) and a really uneasy feeling in the gut that we were voting against fear instead of voting for hope.

As I’ve said many times, there was no joy in saying no, and I felt low for months afterwards – which is part of what caused me to dislike the SNP. I held them responsible for my…

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A change of pace – the DJ Models WD Austerity 0-6-0ST (J94).

April 16, 2017

Another small shunting locomotive for my Loch Dhu project? Perhaps! The DJ Models 0-6-0ST WD Austerity (aka J94) is a lovely model and with many refinements too. It proves my theory that most workaday locomotives often make the most attractive models.

So here’s a selection of pictures of two of the locomotives released in recent times: BR No. 68023 with extended coal bunker and one of the first batch to be released which included a number of private-owner industrial locomotives in various attractive liveries together with LNER No. 8023 which is one of the second batch of models to be issued as a general release model.

I have always liked industrial shunting engines and the WD Austerity proved to be a rugged design perfect for industrial railway uses, often becoming neglected and dirty in daily use at collieries and other heavy industrial locations. The weathering enthusiasts will have fun with this one. I doubt the BR and LNER versions fared much better in their workaday shunting and short trip working existences.

The model (both industrial and J94 versions) has a fully detailed cab interior, separately fitted wire hand rails and follows modern development practices with the use of many separately moulded and applied fittings.

Locomotive-specific details are included in the tooling to allow both the conventional and extended bunker versions to be offered with the J94 version of the model.

The model is as rugged and the real locomotives, with excellent haulage capacity to match. Internally, there is a smooth running core-less motor capable of very fine control and electronics which include a 6-pin DCC interface socket. You do not have to remove the body to get to the decoder socket – simply push the smoke box moulding aside with a thumb – gently so not to break the smoke box door darts. Tucked away inside is the DCC interface socket. How easy is that? A fine model indeed and versatile too: perfect for an industrial layout theme, working a BR or LNER themed layout or even a heritage railway based layout.

My thanks goes to David Jones of DJ Models for his help with supplying models to feature in Railway Magazine Modeller, both of which are included here as a shortie review!


First Bachmann 4-Cep conversion.

April 11, 2017

The Bachmann 4-Cep in original condition as supplied out of the box. A conversion is more of a long project than anything of extreme complexity. Until you have to repaint it!

A long overdue project for my EM gauge Folkestone East project is to convert several OO gauge Bachmann Class 411 4-Cep units to represent the Swindon refurbished units; work undertaken to upgrade the fleet in the early 1980s. The model, as it is supplied, is a four-car set in original ‘as built’ condition with typical Mark 1 coach features. The refurbished 4-Cep conversion involves a long-winded removal of the glazing units and moulded window frames; relocating the guards compartments to the CK and fitting of new glazing units and hopper window frames. The moulded window frames were pared away and smoothed down ready for the new etched ones which are fitted once all painting is complete. The stainless steel colour will be a good representation of the unpainted bare metal of those fitted to refurbished 4-Ceps. This was done using a stainless steel etch designed by another Southern Region modeller called David Crow (see below) and kindly made freely available.

The guards compartment was relocated to a middle trailer during refurbishment work. The original guards compartments in the outer DMBSO vehicles was removed to provide an additional seating bay.

The conversion will involve several other detail changes including swapping the bogies for Commonwealth types and double checking the type of roof ventilator fitted to your chosen unit – they did vary with ridge dome, scallop dome and shell vents all featuring in the 4-Cep fleet. I started work by converting the corridor composite trailer into a composite brake – the two guards compartments in the outer DMBSO trailers being located to bring the 4-Ceps in line with other express stock such as the 4-Cig, 4-Big and 4-Vep units.

Filing plastic away to fit the etched overlay section flush with the rest of the coach sides.

With the guards compartment relocated, the DMBSOs are converted to remove the guards compartments from those vehicles and cut in new windows for an additional seating bay. The etched window frames are used as a guide.

Once positioned as near as can be, the window in the original double doors is sealed up and the new windows cut in on both sides of the trailer.

The door line, door handle and hinges are removed too to create a smooth surface. Some filling is required to complete this work.

A final rub down in the kitchen sink with fine wet and dry paper and the model is ready for the paint shop – models rarely look well after this much work. The first coat of paint will quickly reveal flaws in the body work that need further attention. Rub down again, fill where necessary and re-coat before progressing to more complex parts of the livery! This model is to become No. 1562 finished in Network South-East livery (see below). The full size unit survived until around 2004.


Remodelling and upgrading of the Folkestone East layout continues.

April 10, 2017

Thumpers take a spin over the layout. It is run as the real location would be run in both the BR Sectorisation and post-privatisation eras. It is also home to my EMU and DEMU fleet, whether they are suitable for the location being modelled or not!

Remodelling of my EM gauge Folkestone East is making progress, having reached that ‘nothing looks finished’ chaotic stage. To recap, the work commenced with rebuilding the key cross-over from the down line to the yard and branch turn-back sidings. This required the removal of the Up staff halt platform and signalling to allow room to work on the new track and to allow for the slight remodelling of the track at that location. No.6 curved turnouts were replaced with longer No. 8 turnouts making the track run in a smoother arc in the curves and through the turnouts. The new track can be seen in the image below.


The flats which can be seen at the Ashford end of the real location have been built and in the process of detailing – fitting windows etc. The buildings are loose fitted to the layout and will be removable once the scenery is complete to suit particular date and time stamps, so to speak. Furthermore, they will be partially screened by weed trees growing on the embankment. The actual structures are slightly smaller than scale  – the real ones being set a little further back from the lineside.


Two of the most challenging structures to build include Folkestone East signal box (above) and the electricity sub station (which will be located more or less opposite this scene). The box might appear to be of a simple design. However, there are elements of it that are quite challenging to work out, including the sun shields. The interior has been left clear to allow me to model the panel.

The box is situated on the old demolished Down platform of Folkestone East station. A short length of platform survives as a staff halt as it does on the Up side as mentioned above. Note how the box is set into the demolished platform with a low retaining wall.

 

The back drop has been pushed back about three inches to make room for some more low relief buildings including the end of the terrace houses on the street leading to the signal box. The end of an small industrial building is to be added too. Yes, the layout is seeing quite some remodelling, but I hope the extra effort will be worth it. The new cross-over track has already brought much benefit in improved running over what is already a pretty reliable layout. The signal box is reaching the painting and detailing stage. Already, I am eyeing up the construction of baseboards for the harbour branch.