Remastered: Graham Farish N gauge Class 40

October 7, 2017

Graham Farish is due to release its brand new Class 40 this Autumn (2017). Here’s a preview of the model, featuring No. D211 ‘Mauretania’ in plain BR green (371-180) which is being released alongside three other models including No. 40 141 in BR blue and with digital sound. The models feature the new NEXT18 decoder socket, provision to install digital sound and working lights. Included in the model’s specification is a coreless motor with flywheel (not suitable for address zero operations on a DCC layout without a decoder) and NEM coupling pockets. Even though the buffer beams appear detailed, there’s more add-on details provided in a special pack. So here it is – a good-looking Class 40 in N gauge!



Modern Class 20…

July 22, 2017

Due for imminent release in N gauge by Graham Farish is a modern version of the Class 20 as No. 20 205. The full size locomotive has seen use on the main line in recent times, sometimes paired with No. 20 189 (rail blue) or No. 20 227 in LU livery which will also be offered in N gauge (371-036).  Graham Farish uses its head code version of the Class 20 which is finished in heritage rail blue livery with West Highland Terrier motif (also observed with an Eastfield depot plaque) to represent No. 20 205. The safety markings and other livery features which have been well researched and applied to the model all point to a locomotive in regular use on today’s main line as well as the heritage scene.

One detail that the discerning modeller may wish to add is a square framed headlight to both ends of the locomotive.The model will make a pleasing change to a diet of Class 66s usually found on most up-to-date layouts. There is a trend towards releasing models in ‘heritage’ condition and this brings a much welcomed dimension to British outline modelling in both N and OO gauge.

Graham Farish Class 20 in pristine heritage BR rail blue livery.
Catalogue number: 371-037.
NEM coupling pockets and 6-pin DCC interface socket.
Working running lights.
Accessory pack included with detailing parts.
Associated model is 371-036 No. 20 227 in LU livery.



Project update: 150002 and 90 033.

October 3, 2016

90033-1Having completed the OHLE gantries on Dudley Heath, the push to prepare more electric stock has started with a Class 310 (AM10) No. 310106 and a Class 90. The Class 90, based on the venerable Graham Farish model has reached the paint shop already and may be completed in time for the Aberdeen Model Railway Club exhibition at the end of the month. It is to be finished as 90 033 in June 2004 condition wearing Railfreight Distribution international livery as seen below.


Note the lack of a fairing at the pantograph end of the loco (nearest the camera). The model will have full detailing of the buffer beam at the end equipped with the fairing and a coupling at the non-fairing end.

Next up: Class 150/0 No. 150002…

150002-2150002-1I very much doubt that the second of the prototype Class 150/0s will be finished in time for the Aberdeen show. Vehicles No.s 55201 and 55301 are now equipped with the former Class 154 roof mounted air-con vents, a feature which was not applied to the centre car. The driving cab doors have been changed from inward slam doors to a representation of power doors. The hand rail recess es are now filled and finished with wet and dry paper. Note that the original roof vents have been removed.

15002-3Remedial work on the centre car No. 55401 has been completed. After the cut and shut stage of the project, the body was undercoated in rail grey to reveal any faults in the area where the two body sections had been joined. As always, some further work was required (see above) to make the join as seamless as humanly possible – not easy with all those roof ribs! It has since returned to the paint booth for a second undercoat of rail grey and the additional finishing appears to be much better. Once that undercoat has fully dried in the next couple of days, the first livery colour will be applied.


In the meantime, No. 90 033 has passed through the paint booth for warning panel yellow. RfD international blue and slate grey are next! More on the Class 310 soon.

Paint shop progress on Class 150s

March 16, 2015

Class 950 roofShowing pictures of part completed work lays your soul, or at least your painting one, bare for all to see. Rough edges and the lack of transfers and touching up is apparent in this pair of work-in-progress shots of the OO gauge Class 950 project.

Class 950 roof paintingThis particular project is a long-running saga of problems with some of the parts and making the Bachmann Class 150/1 to Class 950 conversion kit by PH Design Model Railway Products work satisfactorily. The primer stage involved a great deal of rubbing down and filling to blend in the door infill panels as can be seen in the image below. Care was taken not to remove excess plastic from the body shells when rubbing down with wet and dry paper so not to distort its appearance. Now the bulk of the paint work is complete, an end to this project is finally in sight after many weeks of work!

Class 950 primer stageWhilst on the subject of Class 150s, another one is making its way through the paint shop. Awaiting lining and some touch-up of the masked lines is this N gauge Graham Farish model to become No. 150123 in an earlier version of Centro livery.

Centro Class 150 paintThere’s no conversion work involved, only a strip down and repaint. It has to be my favourite livery as applied to favourite Sprinters. It should be ready in time for its debut at the Perth show in June where Dudley Heath will be making its first outing to a Scottish show other than Inverness! More on this one soon.


Graham Farish Polybulk (and its big brother)

January 30, 2015

GF polybulk34333‘Wheal Annah’, a compact N gauge layout based on a Cornish china clay theme, is being prepared for the Model Rail Scotland exhibition where it will be displayed on the Hornby Magazine stand. Whilst it is primarily based in the 1970s, I plan to collect together some stock to allow a few trains of the 1980s to be run for a little more variety.

GF polybulk34334The new Graham Farish Polybulk wagon is one addition to the fleet and one I can also use on my other N gauge display layout ‘Dudley Heath’. It’s an amazing-looking model, albeit relatively costly to collect more than a couple at any one time. Masses of separate details, NEM coupling pockets, metal buffers and a an excellent representation of the complex shape of the hopper body make this one of the top British N gauge freight stock models around.

GF polybulk23991Three versions are available in N gauge including the early one above; a weathered version with the simplified Polybulk “Traffic Services” livery and a pristine one with intermediate ‘Traffic Services’ markings. List prices at the time of writing come in around £39-£42.

The N gauge version follows the OO gauge model which was released about 12months before the Graham Farish model. I picked one up before the list price rocketed to nearly £60 for a weathered version. When you look at the level of detail on the OO gauge model and the time it probably takes to assemble one, the price tag of £50-60 comes as no surprise.

OO Polybulk OMWB-2OO Polybulk OMWBOO Polybulk OMWB - 3

Putting a rake of these together is going to be a challenge to the modelling budget! The time to look at quality rather than quantity when a planning layout theme is definitely upon us.


Atlas code 55 N scale track.

October 31, 2008

As the placing of track continues apace on my N scale MRL layout, it occurred to me how modellers in the US appear to make life easier for themselves in many aspects of the hobby, from baseboard (bench work) to wiring techniques. This includes their expectation of the products they buy. Take the turnouts from the Atlas code 55 trackage range, for example. The crossing vee (frog) is cast metal and insulated from the rest of the rails. It is very nicely done too, with a metal connector from the vee to a solder point by one of the sleepers which means it can be easily wired to a polarity change switch, say like one of those incorporated in a Tortoise point motor.

The stretcher bar extends to both sides of the switch offering the modeller the choice of left or right hand throw position to suit the track formation – the unwanted one is carefully trimmed off.  Also, the stock rail and switch rails are bonded so there is no need for electrical power routing via metal tags on the switch rails. Much more reliable that way.

The electrical characterisitcs of the turnouts became apparent when I first applied power to the first track formations I laid on the layout. With an insulated crossing vee AND reliable electrical connections beyond the vee between the diverging rails, any amount of complex track geometry could be powered from one point. As a bonus, and completely against the grain of everything I have done before – my big US diesels nicely bridged that crossing vee without a hiccup – do I need to power the frogs? I should really, just for good practice.

As I state in my DCC book, good wiring practice is good wiring practice, no matter what power source you use, be it analogue or DCC. Nonetheless, using turnouts straight from the packaging without having to do a Peco ‘Electrofrog’ reliability upgrade for reliable power supply is a huge relief. I don’t like the term DCC-friendly turnouts because there’s no such thing, but the Atlas code 55 ones are pretty perfect in this regard.

It should be remembered that nickel silver rail has a relatively high current resistance compared to copper wire and rail joiners can fail or cause unwanted voltage drop together with degradation of the digital signal. The ability of the DCC booster to detect short circuits depends on good contacts and current supply, so don’t rely on the rail to carry the current for long distances. I am now in the process of adding power dropper wires to each rail for as reliable power supply as can be achieved. This is good practice for both analogue and DCC control systems.

British outline and Atlas code 55 track:
It’s worth noting that wheel back-to-back measurements on British N gauge models is slightly different to that of US outline stock. It is slightly less which means that it will find the flange ways through Atlas code 55 track a little tight. Bearing in mind that this track is designed for US prototypes together with the correct sleeper spacing and scaled for 1:160 proportion, UK outline N gauge models still look quite good on it. Only modern Graham Farish will cope with the fine rail section without running on the rail clips (spikes).

I ease the back to back measurements on my UK outline models out slightly and they run through the track perfectly as a result. This does not affect their ability to negotiate Peco N gauge track at all. To help things along, I took a British N gauge back-to-back gauge and added a piece of 10thou styrene to it to obtain a slightly wider measurement. It has been successful and the electrical power features of this track makes it all worth while.

Now do I power the crossing vees or take the chance that they will be okay?

Useful additions to the collection.

September 22, 2008

As an investment goes, this is a fairly meaty one at over £70 but a track cleaning car offers dramatic returns in the way of saved time and this is perhaps the best one you can buy. The decision to buy this CMX Clean Machine was based on a small matter of 205ft of mainline to clean in the future and if anyone thinks it’s better to do that with an alcohol soaked cloth on the end of a finger – wow – madness! This is a better solution and it works too.

This is the N scale version which made its début at this weekend’s Inverness exhibition, cleaning the track on the large helix on the club’s N scale layout. One clean was all that was required for smooth operation.

This helix is part of the Inverness and District MRC N scale layout and is very different to my helix. I must confess that the building and operation of this layout has given me much experience of how N scale models perform and what they will tolerate in terms of curvature, minimum radii and inclines. This helix is relatively steep but the performance of Atlas 6-axle diesels on it was amazing; an SD35 and SD60 managing 26 Bethgon coal cars of varying origins up and down without bucking, slipping or needing assistance.

The SD35 was a late substitution for a second SD60M, two of which are the usual power for coal drags on this layout. It had a fast and late decoder swap using one I happened to have to hand. That turned out to be a poor match in terms of speed curves and would not run well with the first SD60. It ended up working with the LMX Dash8-39B (seen above) on a 22 car mixed train which also tackled the helix without a problem. This bodes well for power to train length ratios on my own layout and it appears that two large 6-axle locos should handle the coal drags without too much trouble. Three units on 30 cars would be a better ratio from a power and appearance standpoint; I shall have to think about that.

After several requests, here’s a couple of close ups of the new Bachmann Farish Class 57 and 66 seen earlier testing my helix. They run superbly and the up to date chassis design lends them to a different approach to DCC including decoder fitting solder points. There is now a direct contact between the lighting board and motor terminals (no direct contact between motor and split frame chassis) which means direct lighting board replacement decoders with 4-functions and independent control of the lighting could easily be developed. Any takers?