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.

 


Dapol Class 73s in OO gauge.

March 27, 2017

A long term plan to replace my Lima Class 73s (EDs) with the new Dapol one is finally getting underway with the acquisition of two brand new models, both labelled as No. 73 138. One will be renumbered No. 73 107 and the other No. 73 108. Once in traffic (one is being run-in on the layout at this time) they will be supplemented with two more, to become 73 107 in plain grey  and 73 131 in EWS livery.

There is much to commend this model, despite the mixed reception it has received. It does look like an ED, even though I have some slight reservations about those front cab windows. I think the deep set head code panel actually causes the optical illusion that there is something not quite right when in fact they are probably pretty close. Some people have commented on the strange cab lighting arrangement, something I dislike and will isolate as part of the commissioning work.

Comment has been passed on the poor paint colours, particularly the rail blue versions, even though livery application in its self is pretty smooth. The yellow on my models is slightly the wrong shade (probably faded yellow) and who decided to colour match a sun faded roof? If you are modelling these locos in 2000s condition, that roof colour is not at all bad. However, for one in early to mid 1990s, the faded yellow and roof grey are no right at all – the grey should be executive dark grey. Also, by the time 73 107, 108 and  others reached  that stage of sun fading, they were pretty grubby!

My assessment of the models is not to give a critical review, but to look at them with regard to their use on Folkestone East. Tests with the first model to be commissioned (to become No. 73 108) shows that one will manage the South East or Dover-Manchester TPO single handed without any difficulty, even on the 1% incline up out of Martello Tunnel. Two Lima ones in multiple could not manage even the short 6-coach SE TPO on that short climb on the layout. The Dapol models are not particularly heavy, but demonstrate some excellent tractive effort and are very sure-footed on the track. They will make few demands on my hand built track formations.

The etched grille work and fine details are superb. Just superb. The overall shape is very good too, except perhaps the slightly over emphasised cab roof sagging (seen to vary slightly from loco to loco and depending on the angle and lighting of any photographs). No matter, the shape is more than fine with me.

Yes, it looks like an ED. Now, I have to get it running on EM gauge track like an ED before starting cosmetic work on the livery. When opening up the bogies, I discovered split axles with ring bearing bushes used to collect current through the inner section of the axles, so a stub-axle design with bogie frame mounted contacts was not used – to my advantage as it turned out.

Axle bush current collection is not a great design because such bearings also have to be lubricated and even so-called conductive lube can collect dirt which eventually prevents current from being conducted through to the internal circuits. However, the big boon, and I really mean this, is that the assembly of the split axles to large final drive gears with big and durable bosses allows easy regauging to EM gauge and that is where the lack of stub axles was very helpful. Once regauged, the axles still gripped the gear moulding well and the wheels are of such a nice profile as to run through EM track smoothly without any harsh clicking.

Adding Dapol EDs to the fleet has been both easy (wheels) and difficult (pick-ups). I decided to adopt stay-alive technology and a rigid wheel and bearing cleaning programme to avoid having to fit cumbersome wiper pick-ups to see if that would do the trick. When it came to fitting a decoder, I was really impressed with the ease of removing the body. Undo the screws and the body simply lifted off – no struggle, no clips to mess about with, no connecting wiring. There’s bags of room for a decoder and a special location for a digital sound speaker. I must admit, where some modellers see room for a speaker, I see room for stay-alive! More on DCC installation soon!

 


Work restarts on Folkestone East

March 26, 2017


After mothballing the layout for 18 months whilst I worked on other projects, I have finally flung the dust covers off the layout and started to deal with some problems with it (I admit to making a pig’s ear of some aspects of the layout, ears which now need to be rectified). Operating wrinkles also needed to be ironed out too.

The first job involves the original laser cut turnouts which made up the curved cross-over at the Ashford end of the layout. This junction, which provides access to the harbour branch turn-back roads and yard, is the most critical on the layout. Using laser-cut turnout bases and glued chairs is a good technique and looks great too except for one thing: they are not durable enough for a heavy duty main line hosting a frequent train frequency. As a facing pair of turnouts on the main line, they were becoming badly damaged by the heaviest locos in the fleet, namely my Heljan Class 47s. At nearly 750g each, they were knocking six shades of hell out of that cross-over to the point they no longer worked properly and repairs were impracticable. New ones of more durable soldered construction (see above) were built at the work bench and installed in January.

A plan to remodel the unsuccessful western end of the layout was in mind anyway, so turnout replacement fitted well with the building of some flats based loosely on Lawrence Court just off the Dover Road together with remodelling the scenery and modifying the back drop to make room for the partial low relief buildings.

During the 18 month period of storage, further information regarding a row of brown-brick buildings (predominantly hidden behind weed trees on the line side) became available, buildings which turned out to be the Lawrence Court flats. Winter-time images with trees bare of leaves revealed how dominant these low-rise flats actually are at this location. Whilst the real main line on which this layout is inspired is dead straight in this location, I have to live with a curve as it is located at the end of the room! There’s no extending the layout through the wall and into my neighbour’s field without objections from the sheep and other practical difficulties! The flats were nearly complete by the time I found the time to write this blog entry. They fit on the curve of the layout quite well, being partial low-relief buildings. Ideally, they should be set a little further back from the line, but the curve in the track makes placing the buildings tricky. Once the landscaping around and to the rear of the flats is complete, trees will be added to the line side once again partially concealing them.

The Up platform will be reinstated and track work reballasted and fitted with conductor rails once again. As part of this project, the signal box project has made a giant leap forward. Some adjustment to the back drop by moving it back by 3 inches and changing its shape a little has provided more room for the signal box (as well as the flats) which is moved east a little further to better position it in relation to the prototype location. Oh, yes, I must mot mention the retiring of the faithful Heljan 47s in favour of Bachmann ones (less damaging to the track) and the introduction of Dapol Class 73s (one picture above) which are gradually replacing my venerable Lima ones. More of the signal box, remodelling and the commissioning of the Class 73s later!


Mid-life crisis…? Well, after 2016…

January 6, 2017

autocoach-omwb-1

Um, no, you are not seeing things… I have the opportunity to look over the forthcoming Bachmann Hawksworth OO gauge auto-trailer (2017 release) and have enjoyed looking into 64xx ‘Pannier Tanks’ too. An interesting class of locomotive. There’s one that has attracted my attention: No. 6403, and that is due to my interest in the railways of the Black Country. The loco concerned was ‘shedded’ (to use a steam era term) at Stourbridge Junction in the last few years of its life and the Bachmann model above, according to my records and research, could relatively easily morph into No. 6403, more or less.

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39-578 as W234.

The auto-trailer shown in these pictures is yet to be released by Bachmann (39-578) at the time of writing. It looks pretty good to me on first inspection and with reference to ADW150375 and other images, I think the shape is pretty good (ADW150375 did see extensive modifications for its departmental role, something I have to consider when making comparisons). Anyway, here’s a few images of the model to give a flavour of what is on its way. Also to be released soon is a plain unlined BR maroon version (which will be very attractive for its ordinary every day appearance) and one finished as a preserved vehicle in chocolate and cream livery. And, no, this ensemble will not be appearing on Folkestone East…

autocoach-4-omwbautocoach-5-omwbautocoach-3-omwbFor the record, the Bachmann Hawksworth auto-trailer was first released in late 2015: 39-575 in 1951 BR crimson and cream as W231 (larger numbers); 39-576 BR lined maroon as W228W and 39-577 in BR crimson as W237W.

To come is the featured 39-578 BR carmine and cream as W234 together with 39-579 unlined BR maroon as W236 and 39-580 heritage railway chocolate and cream as W231W.


Network SouthEast 30th anniversary train pack.

December 2, 2016

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To mark the thirtieth anniversary of Network Southeast (NSE), Bachmann has released ‘Capital Commuter’ train packs, one of which features a 2-car Class 416 2EPB unit, a resin and etched metal station building together with platform units and some NSE related paperwork to represent the role of the third rail network. The whole package is presented in a stout box with nicely illustrated inserts depicting some of Edward Pond’s work. Edward Pond (or Eddie Pond as he was known in standard class) was the artist responsible for the interior murals applied to the inner bulkheads and partitions of NSE trains. They depicted scenes from the route on which the trains were allocated and that was extended to route branding applied to the exterior of some stock.

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The outer lid of the NSE train pack (30-430).

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The interior inserts feature artwork from Edward Pond, the artist who that created the route related interior murals for NSE rolling stock.

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A station building and platform unit finishes off the presentation box set.

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2EPB No. 6414 is represented, finished in the last version of NSE livery.

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Note the Kent Link route branding which was applied to 2EPB and 4EPB units together with displaced 4-Cap sets allocated to the North Kent lines.

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The 2EPB model is Bachmann’s highly acclaimed standard OO gauge model with interior lighting, 5-pole motor, DCC socket and associated electronics. Close coupling cams are used to couple the cars together. A 2-Hap model is soon to join the Bachmann third rail stable which also includes 4-Cep and MLV models.