Back to the work bench…

February 5, 2010


Is it a kit bash? Or a conversion? Possibly a kit bashed conversion. A new project for completion this year is a Class 114 parcels unit which uses an old Lima Class 117 as a base model to which a Craftsman Models Class 114 conversion kit is applied. Except…I have converted the conversion kit by cutting chunks out of the brass sides to accommodate roller shutter doors.

One of the two Class 117 vehicles being used for this project is a centre car. The conversion kit provides a ‘Derby’ cab etch together with a cast roof section which has to be grafted onto one end of a centre car. This conversion is going to take some time and I am only as far as fitting the doors and window plating…but it’s fun to do and will make an interesting addition to my mail and parcels stock collection.

Class 156:

The Class 156 I converted and detailed with a Hurst Models conversion pack is back on sale. I listed it on Ebay a few weeks ago and realised I had peaked too soon: some important class-specific detail relating to 156484 was missing and therefore it was withdrawn until this work could be completed OMWB. The front gangway doors are now correct and some other small items were added too. I was also unhappy with the snow plough fitting and they have been removed, tidied up and fitted correctly with the brackets on the outside of the head stocks. A lot of hours have gone into this project!

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Adjusting the fleet…

December 24, 2009

With 2009 drawing to a close, and work on the Top Deck layout, my Kent Coast theme, progressing once again, time has come to complete a clear out of unwanted models which are, nonetheless, very interesting. I will be selling off my NSE Class 165 and 166 units from Platform 4a & 4b as that layout is to be dismantled in the New Year to make room for new projects. Also to go is a Freightliner Class 66, 66 610. I am not sure why I bought it now and even though it’s been nicely weathered, rewired for better DCC control of the tail lights, it’s never really found a niche. Now, it’s being pushed out by more Class 33s!


It is equipped with a basic decoder and can be operated on an analogue layout too.  Kadees are fitted but set for shallow curves, so owners of layouts with sharp curves will have to change them for No.36 couplers.

Another model built to use up a Hurst Models detailing pack is this Northern Rail Class 156 by Hornby:

New and barely used, I fitted a Hurst Models underframe detailing pack to it along with other details and new gangways that meet correctly.

The roof of each car has been detailed and repainted too.


A lot of work has gone into the under frames…note the separate engines, transmissions, exhaust silencers, electrical equipment boxes and isolator cabinet, fuel tanks and various suspension air tanks.


Side views showing how much better the underframes appear with separate components.


A combination of Kadee couplings and A1 Models gangways closes up the inner end gap but will enable the train to traverse curves. In all, a lot of work has gone into this model!

If you are interested in eith of these models, they are listed on Ebay. The Class 156 is item number 270505903931 and the Class 66 is item 270505900800. I am yet to list the Class 165 and 166 Thames turbo units. They are not as straight forward as they are both in EM gauge and fitted with decoders for operation of head, tail and door warning lights. I am loath to sell them, but my Top Deck layout Kent Coast theme has no place for them – sadly.

Anyway, it remains for me to wish all of my readers a peaceful but fun Christmas. May Santa bring you the Bachmann 4-CEP et. al. that you have been wishing for. Me? I have a new cycling jacket from Sarah to unwrap tomorrow :-))


Northern Class 156 in ‘N’.

November 19, 2009

Dapol’s latest Class 156 release is decorated in the attractive Northern Spirit colours (Pre Northern Rail) of turquoise and green. The powered version (I am assuming there will be an un-powered one to go with it) is numbered 156498. Here’s some piccies of this attractive looking model.

Technical specification remains the same: Close coupled gangway options, a representation of a working BSI coupling at the front (actually a working Scharfenburg), running lights, 6-pin decoder socket and a clear view through the flush passenger compartment windows in the powered car to mention a few. In all, a very lovely looking model with good proportions and shape.


Dapol Class 153s – launched at Warley.

November 12, 2009

153-11Colour and character are two of the features of the very soon to be released Dapol N gauge Class 153 model – cute to say the least. Yet, they are no nonsense models in every respect with a high level of technical specification. Here’s a selection of pictures to whet the appetite – I think these will fly off the shop shelves. A full review with more detailed pictures will feature soon in British Railway Modelling.

153-9153334 is dressed in London Midland City livery – one that really suits the model very well. Features include all-wheel drive, creep control motor and a 6-pin DCC interface socket. This view (above) shows the rebuilt cab end with plated over windows and exhaust port.

153-10The original Class 155 cab as modelled on 153334. Note the separate footsteps for access to the door at this end of the model.

153-3Central Trains operated a fleet of Class 153s on routes such as Wolverhampton to Walsall, Lincoln to Cleethorpes together with Stafford to Stoke-on-Trent services, to mention a few. This model is a powered version and numbered 153333. The model has working running lights which have separate switches on the underside of the model. A light bar connection is also included for interior lighting.153-2Liveries are nicely applied and compare well with published photographs. 153302 is presented in East Midlands Trains’ colours.

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Working couplings fitted to a cam mechanism are applied to both ends of the Class 153 model. Running a Dapol Class 156 and 153 together is simple. A dummy Class 156 model could be easily powered by a Class 153 whilst a powered Class 156 would handle a dummy Class 153 with ease.153-7

The use of dummy and powered versions of Class 153s and 156s together with a neat and compatible coupling system makes multiple working flexible and enjoyable on a layout!CRW_0012_JFR153-5Dummy and powered Class 153s coupled together. The ploughs are supplied as separate detailing parts and easily fitted to mounting holes in the underside of the model. The dummy CT model is numbered 153383.153-8The roof pops off easily to gain access to the interior for fitting a decoder and interior lighting bar.

CRW_0031_JFRDapol has hidden the drive mechanism and motor under the interior seating unit, leaving the windows clear of obstructions – a neat feature introduced with the Class 156.

153-1A neat livery finish, nicely defined details and an overall good shape makes the means the Dapol Class 153 meets the expectations set by the Class 156. Good technical details including working running lights, a DCC interface socket and interior detailing makes this a sure winner – i am sure you will agree! If you have notplaced a reservation on one by now, do so as soon as you can – they won’t last long!

I would like to thank David Jones of Dapol for the opportunity to look over and photograph the Class 153 models.


Colourful Class 156s from the Midlands…

September 27, 2009

Image 19917Dapol is keeping up its end very nicely keeping N gauge modellers well supplied with models and livery variations. The latest pair of Class 156s I have had the chance to look at are the East Midlands Trains version pictured above and the CT version shown below: very contemporary and colourful too.

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One of my favourite liveries is Central Trains colours, now obsolete. It is a bright colour scheme and suited these units very well. Dapol has made a good job of it, not too garish an interpretation, which was always a risk with this one in model form.

CRW_9467_JFRWorking couplings at the outer ends enable manual coupling of units, one of the many features of this remarkable model. The outer and inner end couplings are designed for close coupling with a choice of gangways for use on sharp or shallow radii curves.

CRW_9472_JFRThat’s close…yet the vehicles coupled like this will go round my 16 inch minimum radius curvature on my US outline layout without the gangways catching.

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Each coupling is fitted with a cam mechanism enabling the coupling gap between the gangways to open on curves as seen above…

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Each model has one driven car with all-wheel drive and the mechanism hidden below the window line enabling much of the interior to be modelled. Flush glazed too!

New-Out997_996Working light and 6-pin DCC socket in both powered and unpowered vehicles (accessible through a removable roof) and no light leakage into the cab from the LEDs all adds up to an impressive package. Oh yes, don’t forget the lighting bar connection inside for interior lighting. It’s model with much going for it and I like the fact it has ‘presence’ too, something that Dapol seems to be good at capturing. My thanks to David Jones of Dapol for allowing me to photograph and feature these models. They should be in model shops soon!


Dapol’s finest in N.

May 12, 2009

New-Out999_997There’s some great looking N gauge models coming from Dapol at the moment and I could not resist offering a sneak look at the Class 156 and Mk.3 coaches, all of which will be hitting the shops pretty soon; if they have not already done so.  The models featured here will be examined and written up for BRM. But in the meantime, the technical specs are really good, with pick-ups in the coaches for lighting bars, 6-pin DCC interface sockets, wheel sets so close to NMRA standards that virtually all the stock ran through my Atlas code 55 track without a hitch. The pick-ups are through the pinpoint axles on the DVT, Mk.3s and the Class 156. Oh, yes, and etched brake discs too…

The Class 156 features close coupling options, working lights, a motor and drive fitted to the underfloor area so you can see into the passenger compartment and a lovely finish. Anyway, here’s the pics…
CRW_6824_JFRCRW_6826_JFRCRW_6831_JFRCRW_6829_JFRCRW_6832_JFRCRW_6834_JFRIt’s enough to make me seriously consider switching to British outline N gauge…I am preparing a book: “Making a Start in N gauge” for The Crowood Press and so I have to get to grips with this growing and hugely improving scale as far as British outline is concerned. As for the US stuff, I am well down the line with that, although the MRL project awaits a couple of big trestle kits to be delivered so progress on the mainline can resume.

In the meantime, there’s been a couple of scratch build projects OMWB recently, including this KEA (inner) in 4mm scale. The end platform handrails are a compromise; I used an A1 Models product intended for the Hornby PGA; anything for an easy life. Scratchbuilding always has some compromise and pragmatism for the sake of getting the model completed in a reasonable time span and for sanity’s sake!CRW_6843_JFR