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!



Second proof of new sheet NMS-5 BR Blue Scottish Region locomotives

November 1, 2015


I have just received the second artwork proof for Sheet NMS-5: BR Blue Scottish Region locomotive numbers and logos (OO gauge) which has the ‘8-inch’ number sets applied to many Scottish locomotives. Sizes and colours of various logos have been corrected and the balance of the numbers themselves makes much more sense! I will do a final inspection of the proof tomorrow as a last check before going to print. I am still awaiting the artwork charge from the designer, so cannot calculate the precise retail price per sheet until then – hopefully less than £5 plus postage.

Bachmann Class 70 Graces The Work Bench

January 15, 2011

Yeah, it’s an ugly brute. But there’s something about these GE Class 70s that Freightliner has acquired.

Love them or hate them, it translates in an amazing-looking model in 4mm scale.
Let’s be honest – there’s not a jot of design to them, they are purely functional. However, think back to the BR standard steam locos which also were functional. And pretty ugly compared to some of the graceful steam locomotives that operated until the end of steam. Nowadays, they have a huge following amongst both steam enthusiasts and BR steam era modellers.

There’s something strangely compelling about an ugly freight engine and this one will make a real change from Class 66s!Bachmann has done a nice job of the model – it’s one of the general release ones numbered 70 006. PowerHaul 70 001 has been offered as a special edition model which is now lists on Ebay for silly money from time to time. Here’s my pictures and strangely enough, as ugly usually does, it makes a great looking model.

Concurrent projects.

March 7, 2010

Colas Rail Class 47s are popular with modellers and that point was highlighted by one of those work bench co-incidences. I acquired ViTrains Class 47 for a detail and weathering project, the first time I have tackled a simple (minimalist) makeover of this model. My choice was , 47 739 ‘Robin of Templecombe; although I could have chosen one of the limited edition packs representing two of the other Colas Rail Class 47s. Whilst working on this model, my friend Matt Wassell, of Norwood Park layout fame was contemplating the same project, unbeknown to me. He is located in Ashford, I am in Nairn, hundreds of miles apart.

Anyway, here’s my attempt at making something of what is a very good model despite the variously awkward detailing parts and a somewhat plasticity appearance from the box. This link here goes to Matt’s site which shows his Colas Rail 47s under development, starting with 47 749. Both project are based on retaining the original livery, yet both models will look quite different based on the different materials and techniques used. I attempted to use as many of the supplied parts as possible whilst Matt has hybridised his model with parts from Heljan Class 47s and sprung buffers by Markits.Apart from the bogie detailing parts which eventually gave up the fight to stay separate from the model thanks to Zap Poly glue; the ViTrains Class 47 is pretty straightforward to work on, the body is easy to remove from the chassis and everything went back together again with ease. Perhaps I should look more closely at this model…

New Ready-to-Run Wagon Modelling Book

March 15, 2009

I have been busy again and my latest book is about detailing and enhancing modern ready-to-run wagons in OO gauge or 4mm scale:


It’s now available for £11.99 for 185 pages of full colour illustrations and detailed copy.

It can be bought from the Nairnshire Modelling Supplies on-line modelling materials and components shop at http://www.nairnshire-modelling-supplies.co.uk/more.php?prodID=Book-1

It consists of 10 chapters together with the usual preambles and references. There’s lots of modelling technique including weathering, painting, transfers and use of modelling materials. it is supported by lots of prototype photographs clearly showing details of full size wagons. The primary market is the newcomer to the hobby together with those wanting to get down to some quick and relatively straightforward modelling projects which will enhance their layouts.

At £11.99, for all those pages, hundreds of colour photographs and step by step construction illustrations, it’s brilliant value for money. At least, I think so, but then I am a little biased! The book will be launched at the forthcoming Ally Pally show and will be on sale there. Unfortunately, I will not be attending this year for the first time in many years even though it is the official launch of this new publication.