Digging out ‘Dudley Heath’.

June 14, 2018

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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NSE livery on 4-Ceps and its variations.

April 9, 2018


It’s easy to think that the final version of Network South-east (NSE) livery was standard until reference pictures are examined for setting up a model for painting. I have some Bachmann 4-Cep models working their way across the work bench to convert them to post 80s refurbished type with hopper windows and relocated guards van. As shown above, although No. 1101 is a 3-Cep with the TSO removed.

4-Cep No. 1525 stabled at Dover Priory. In both pictures, note how wide the up-swept the red band is across the cab side window…

4-Bep No. 2305 at London Waterloo, part of the same family of units. The red band across the cab-side window is also wide.

No. 1554 has a different width of line across the cab side window. Not as wide…

No. 1542 is the same…enough to catch the unwary modeller out. My first refurbished 4-Cep for Folkestone East is nearing completion – I have the window glazing and window frames to fit. The model will be No. 1520 (below)…photographed on the Sheppey branch. Steelworks in the background is now history. Always a fascinating selection of wagons there.

So, that’s just one variation on NSE liveried 4-Ceps and related units. The same can be noted on 4EPBs too. That’s before you start counting different roof vents on different Cep vehicles within one unit…

 


A little idea with a Hornby 4-Vep and…

April 6, 2018

Hornby released its BR (SR) 4-Vep in numerous liveries a few years’ ago and in the main, it is not a bad model – easier to work on than trying to build one from Mark 1 coaches and brass sides. It has its difficulties, namely a poor drive system (which can be replaced relatively easily); under size roof vents and end gangway corridor connection mouldings which are not accurate. The cab windows are slightly under-size too – all issues to be addressed on my models.

Livery colours applied to the  Network South-east (NSE) face-lifted version of the model are pretty good except for the application of an orange line along the rain gutter at cantrail level and not an NSE red one. Some serious modellers commented on the poor representation of the corridor compartments in both of the DTC vehicles. I have been upgrading my pair of Hornby 4-Vep models with new dome roof vents of the correct size, EM gauge wheels to run on Folkestone East and adjustments to the livery. The roofs are not painted with Railmatch ‘roof dirt’ to weather them in a little. Although black is the correct colour for NSE, the roofs were either never painted or became dirty very quickly.

Roof work on the Hornby 4-Vep vehicles.

Recently, the Bachmann/Kernow Model Rail Centre 4TC set was released. Here’s one DTS vehicle…

Both the full-size 4-Vep and 4TC sets shared the same cab design. It is interesting to compare the two models.

4-Vep DTC is on the right.

4TC DTS is on the left.

So what is the connection between the two models as far as my layout fleet plans are concerned?A good question and it is one that a good friend of mine and I have been exploring. Here is the answer:
A Vep/4TC hybrid was formed in April 1992 when 4TC DTS No. S76725, late of a 6-Rep reform, was added to face-lifted 4-Vep No. 3473, both painted in NSE livery. This reformation was temporary and S76725 was placed in unface-lifted 4-Vep No. 3169 (above) making a very nice hybrid set which ran around until the unit was face-lifted in early 1995. Emerging from the works as No. 3582, the unit was painted in Connex livery and lasted, with the 4TC DTS, almost until the end of slam-door unit operation. S76275 was never face-lifted internally and is now preserved – a remarkable survivor.

So there you are – I plan to add the Bachmann/Kernow 4TC DTS vehicle, leftover from one of my friends departmental train projects, to a Hornby 4-Vep set. I could renumber it as No. 3473, but that unit was short-lived in Hybrid form. Alternatively, I could rebuild a face-lifted MBSO from the Hornby NSE model and add the DTS vehicle to the train in lieu of a DTC to create No. 3169. Rebuilding the remaining 4- Vep DTC cab front, gangway door together with renumbering of the vehicles and changing end numbers will be required. Now that would be so much more fun than a straight 4-Vep!

 


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.


An hour at Drumchapel.

November 1, 2016

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A recent trip to East Dunbartonshire to photograph a layout for BRM offered the chance of an hour or two of photography at Bowling station – a favourite location of mine. Located on the North Clyde route to Helensburgh, the station sees a fair procession of electric trains on various services – or would have done on this particular Saturday (22.10.16) if someone had not dug up the track with some dirty great yellow machines.

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Hornby R600 straights left beside the platforms. Now, where are the rail joiners?

Okay, an hour to kill before my next assignment and no trains between Helensburgh, Balloch and Dalmuir…where next?

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I relocated to Drumchapel station on the Dalmuir – Anniesland loop to find a steady procession of Class 318s and Class 320 EMUs running singly and in pairs between Dalmuir and Airdrie/Larkhall. On good days, freight bound for Glen Douglas and Fort William will also use this line, together with service trains for the West Highland line.

It was unlikely that I would see anything as exotic as an MoD working on this visit. Nonetheless, I find suburban railways fascinating and the North Clyde lines are among my favourite suburban railways. In the hour at Drumchapel, I photographed a goodly number of the ScotRail Class 320 fleet together with the odd Class 318 – enough to keep me occupied.

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Trans-Pennine Express Class 350/4 in N gauge.

March 28, 2016

Class 350-4-21

Fancy having a go at a really complex livery? How does the dazzling First Group colours as applied to the Trans-Pennine Express Class 350/4s (Siemens Desiro) grab you? Insane? You bet!

Class 350-4-20

I cheated a little – well, rather a lot when it came to it. Electra Railway Graphics produces great-looking printed self-adhesive vinyl overlays for many ready to run N gauge models. A set is available to redress the Bachmann Graham Farish Class 350/1 model into a TPE Class 350/4 and they do the job very nicely and with minimal repainting. None if you really don’t want to wield a paint brush, not even for the scantiest of touching up or underframe weathering.

Class 350-4-25

The base model is the fine-looking Graham Farish Class 350/1 as seen in the front of the picture above. The plain grey unbranded ‘Silverlink’ version is generally regarded as the best choice for this conversion. OO gauge modellers can complete the same conversion using Electra Railway Graphics overlays for the Bachmann Branchline Class 350/1 model.

Class 350-4-27

The overlays can be applied straight over the top of the model’s sides without having to remove glazing or make any other modifications – window glazing is part of the vinyls and intended to overlay the original glazing. However, putting a little extra effort into the project lifts it to another level. The glazing inserts were removed from the model and placed safely in a project box so not to loose any before starting the conversion. I spent some work bench time time painting the tumblehome on the underframe mouldings dark grey. The windows in the vinyl sides were cut in through the body shell after vinyl application.

Class 350-4-28

Once the side and end overlays were completed, they were touched in with dark grey and blue paint where necessary. The sides were sealed in place with Johnsons ‘Klear’ liquid floor wax. When the body shells were completely dry, they were coated with satin varnish to kill the vinyl shine.

Class 350-4-24

Weathering the underframes and replacing the Graham Farish pantograph with a Dapol version of the Brecknell Willis ‘pan’ completed the model. Having given the satin varnish a number of days to dry, the glazing was reinstated and secured with sparing amounts of liquid poly cement.

The finished model is numbered 350404, representing one of the ten-strong fleet of TPE units which work between Manchester Airport, Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley via the West Coast Main Line.

Class 350-4-22

In reality, as much as I like the units and enjoyed the conversion, TPE Class 350/4s are not suitable for Dudley Heath – they do not run through the West Midlands and also sit outside my operating timefrme. However, it was a livery conversion I wanted to attempt using the printed vinyl overlay technique – I frequently see the units on my rail fanning trips down to the Central Belt. In the meantime, the unmodified Class 350/1 featured in these pictures will continue to operate crew training runs and mileage accumulation diagrams on Dudley Heath representing the most up-to-date time that represented on the layout. It has a new ‘pan’ and modifications to the couplings to allow tight close coupling within the unit. Some detailing will follow, including adding couplings and other fittings to the front of the unit’s DMOS vehicles.

Now that 25kV AC OHLE is represented by portals and masts on the layout, what will be my next EMU project? Something more appropriate to the West Midlands circa year 2000. A clue: older style of Graham Farish Mark 2 coaches are being gathered together for the project…


Cleared for Printing: The third renumber pack transfer sheet from NMS.

July 23, 2010


It has taken a little research and development to produce this sheet of OO gauge (4mm scale) renumbering transfers which will become NMS-3: BR era coaching stock and multiple units. It has finally gone for printing, is expected any day now and will be of the same high quality as the first two sheets which are proving to be very popular. It is intended to help those modellers who wish to renumber models with otherwise great paint finishes such as the Bachmann Mk.1 and Mk.2 coaches for example; but can also be used by repainting enthusiasts and those building and finishing kits. The number style is BR Rail Alphabet which will suit BR blue era and many ‘sectorisation’ and privately operated vehicles. Small black numbers are provided for EMU front end numbers too. Note the ample supply of prefix letters and a ‘number jumble’ from which groups of numbers can be taken to simplify the task of applying vehicle numbers. This is our most ambitious sheet to date and offers a great deal of options. At £3.95 per sheet, it’s great value for money, as always from Nairnshire Modelling Supplies.

The fourth sheet is now being type set which will be a renumbering pack for BR Large Logo BR blue locomotives including Class 37, 47, 50, 56 and 73.