Digging out ‘Dudley Heath’.

It’s been a while since I last took a look at my N gauge ‘Dudley Heath’ layout which has been in storage since its last exhibition. The layout is inspired by the Grand Junction Railway route (circa 1998-2004) through the Black Country and primarily hosts suburban trains associated with that area operated by Class 150s, Class 310s and eventually a Class 322 (when I get round to building one). Freight is predominantly steel, intermodal and china clay together with some general freight traffic. I plan to start expanding the freight stock roster once again – there’s some interesting stuff on the horizon.

Today, I dug the layout out from under the main layout at home and set it up for a bit of a look. The layout has not been worked on in that time and the only project undertaken at the work bench has been an N gauge Class 310/1 based on Electra Railway Graphics vinyl overlays. My photo session today shows the layout in the condition it arrived home from its last show 18 months’ ago!

The newly completed Class 310/1 set is less than satisfactory due to the 3D printed cab mouldings which are pretty rough and do not match the profile of the roofs of the Graham Farish Mark 2 stock used in the conversion. There were no alternatives to the mouldings which at least allowed the project to be completed. The model will have a little more adjustment before it next goes out with the layout to a show. The trailers need raising by about half a millimetre or so.

Class 150s in various forms make up the local passenger services together with the Class 310/1. No. 150123 runs past a short engineers train.

One of the Class 150s on the layout is a 3-car Class 150/0 as No. 150001 finished in Centro livery. The model represents one of the two prototype units which worked Centro routes in the West Midland and Black Country for many years. Class 150s no longer work in large numbers in the area and are missed by many enthusiasts.


Freight traffic with a Dapol Class 58 on the front and Class 150/1 No. 150123 on the main line in the background.

A project to be finished off is the second of the prototype Class 150s in the form of Class 150/0 No. 150002 which has the roof details left over from its days as an evaluation unit (Class 154) for Class 158 development. It sits on the layout above in an undercoat of Regional Railways silver grey – it will be finished in Centro livery in die course. I am unhappy with the finish of the centre car which is built up as a cut and shut with parts from two cars. It will be reworked for a better fit of the details. Parts for two more Class 150s are to hand – three cars for a hybrid Class 150/ with Class 150/2 centre car together with the Class 950 Ultrasonic Test unit. All good fun!
In the meantime, the layout will be checked over for damage and OHLE masts and portals examined and adjusted – they are quite delicate and prone to slight damage during the course of a show. I am also evaluating some new scenery materials and new acrylic paints which I plan to use to rework most of the scenery to represent late summer or early Autumn rather than the stark greens of early summer. Work to develop the layout will start again in the Autumn, even though the layout has no exhibition bookings at this time. Some scenic features remain to be finished and others need tidying up – photographs always reveal where those things are and processing today’s images has already pointed a few things out!

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