My enthusiasm for my Folkestone East layout has not been at a low ebb, but work being done to the layout is routine – little worthy of reporting. Refinement in some of the wiring together with a look at block occupancy detection for the main ‘Ashford’ staging yard has been the main activity together with working through piles of new equipment accumulated over the last few years.
One of those pieces of equipment is the Dapol Class 73 of which I finally bought in five to replace five old Lima models and a couple of Hornby ones. As soon as you buy new locos, there’s new projects to start and in this case, some reliability upgrades and repainting too. I must confess to not liking the Dapol model on sight – it was its poor livery colours, particularly the yeellow that did it for me initially. The roof colour on the model of No. 73138 is sort of okay when you see how Executive Dark grey faded over time, but not as uniformly as applied to the model.
However, underneath the otherwise very neatly applied but less than accurate paint colours is a pretty nice model with oodles of detail. I have bitten the bullet and started some repaints of the model as well as upgrading the not so reliable current collection system. When a painting ‘mojo’ strikes, and they rarely do, masking tape and painting supplies takes quite a hammering! Thankfully, the Dapol Class 73 is reasonably easy to dismantle and work on.
First up is discovering how the bogies and electrical pick-up are arranged – parts may fall off the cosmetic bogie frame when being removed – note the middle retaining clip! As you will see, it is possible to add simple wiper pick-ups with either nickel-silver wire or its phosphor-bronze equivalent.
Painting of two of the models in Intercity Executive livery is underway and has reached the touching in stage to tidy up lining and prepare for transfers. Whilst doing this, my trust old Bob Moore lining pen finally packed in after 30 years of reliable service, so I resorted to a bow pen for the thin orange lining – less than successful. A new lining pen is on its way which will see the lining tidied up a little.
Other reliability work on the Dapol model included going over the finely assembled bogies and under frame detail with Plastic Weld to secure the individually moulded detail parts before the fell off and became lost. Thankfully, they seem to be moulded from a plastic which can be glued together with sparing amounts of a powerful solvent adhesive!
A decoder with ‘Keep Alive’ circuits is also being installed in each model and indeed, to as much of my collection as possible. I value reliable running and flicker-free lighting more than digital sound. The space left for a speaker in this model will accommodate a pretty big Keep Alive unit!
One of the really great things about the Dapol Class 73 as far as EM gauge modellers are concerned is the wheels. They are fitted to split axles inserted in insulating drive gears with large bosses on either side. With the current collection via axle bush rings, the wheels can be easily regauged for EM track. Fortunately, the wheel profile runs through my track work allowing me to place out the box models into traffic as soon as there is a decoder fitted to the model.
Also worthy of note is the nicely arranged interior and simple electronics which allows for the hard wiring of decoders for simplicity together with space for Keep Alive units. I remove the circuit boars and hard wire decoders allowing me to arrange lighting to suit my needs – the cab light is isolated as a result. Access to the interior of the body for this work is also very simple – undo four screws and the body slides straight off – no clips or anything like that to catch you out. So there it is – the Dapol 73 is being introduced to my Folkestone East layout at last.