Remodelling and upgrading of the Folkestone East layout continues.

April 10, 2017

Thumpers take a spin over the layout. It is run as the real location would be run in both the BR Sectorisation and post-privatisation eras. It is also home to my EMU and DEMU fleet, whether they are suitable for the location being modelled or not!

Remodelling of my EM gauge Folkestone East is making progress, having reached that ‘nothing looks finished’ chaotic stage. To recap, the work commenced with rebuilding the key cross-over from the down line to the yard and branch turn-back sidings. This required the removal of the Up staff halt platform and signalling to allow room to work on the new track and to allow for the slight remodelling of the track at that location. No.6 curved turnouts were replaced with longer No. 8 turnouts making the track run in a smoother arc in the curves and through the turnouts. The new track can be seen in the image below.


The flats which can be seen at the Ashford end of the real location have been built and in the process of detailing – fitting windows etc. The buildings are loose fitted to the layout and will be removable once the scenery is complete to suit particular date and time stamps, so to speak. Furthermore, they will be partially screened by weed trees growing on the embankment. The actual structures are slightly smaller than scale  – the real ones being set a little further back from the lineside.


Two of the most challenging structures to build include Folkestone East signal box (above) and the electricity sub station (which will be located more or less opposite this scene). The box might appear to be of a simple design. However, there are elements of it that are quite challenging to work out, including the sun shields. The interior has been left clear to allow me to model the panel.

The box is situated on the old demolished Down platform of Folkestone East station. A short length of platform survives as a staff halt as it does on the Up side as mentioned above. Note how the box is set into the demolished platform with a low retaining wall.

 

The back drop has been pushed back about three inches to make room for some more low relief buildings including the end of the terrace houses on the street leading to the signal box. The end of an small industrial building is to be added too. Yes, the layout is seeing quite some remodelling, but I hope the extra effort will be worth it. The new cross-over track has already brought much benefit in improved running over what is already a pretty reliable layout. The signal box is reaching the painting and detailing stage. Already, I am eyeing up the construction of baseboards for the harbour branch.

 


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!

 


Work restarts on Folkestone East

March 26, 2017


After mothballing the layout for 18 months whilst I worked on other projects, I have finally flung the dust covers off the layout and started to deal with some problems with it (I admit to making a pig’s ear of some aspects of the layout, ears which now need to be rectified). Operating wrinkles also needed to be ironed out too.

The first job involves the original laser cut turnouts which made up the curved cross-over at the Ashford end of the layout. This junction, which provides access to the harbour branch turn-back roads and yard, is the most critical on the layout. Using laser-cut turnout bases and glued chairs is a good technique and looks great too except for one thing: they are not durable enough for a heavy duty main line hosting a frequent train frequency. As a facing pair of turnouts on the main line, they were becoming badly damaged by the heaviest locos in the fleet, namely my Heljan Class 47s. At nearly 750g each, they were knocking six shades of hell out of that cross-over to the point they no longer worked properly and repairs were impracticable. New ones of more durable soldered construction (see above) were built at the work bench and installed in January.

A plan to remodel the unsuccessful western end of the layout was in mind anyway, so turnout replacement fitted well with the building of some flats based loosely on Lawrence Court just off the Dover Road together with remodelling the scenery and modifying the back drop to make room for the partial low relief buildings.

During the 18 month period of storage, further information regarding a row of brown-brick buildings (predominantly hidden behind weed trees on the line side) became available, buildings which turned out to be the Lawrence Court flats. Winter-time images with trees bare of leaves revealed how dominant these low-rise flats actually are at this location. Whilst the real main line on which this layout is inspired is dead straight in this location, I have to live with a curve as it is located at the end of the room! There’s no extending the layout through the wall and into my neighbour’s field without objections from the sheep and other practical difficulties! The flats were nearly complete by the time I found the time to write this blog entry. They fit on the curve of the layout quite well, being partial low-relief buildings. Ideally, they should be set a little further back from the line, but the curve in the track makes placing the buildings tricky. Once the landscaping around and to the rear of the flats is complete, trees will be added to the line side once again partially concealing them.

The Up platform will be reinstated and track work reballasted and fitted with conductor rails once again. As part of this project, the signal box project has made a giant leap forward. Some adjustment to the back drop by moving it back by 3 inches and changing its shape a little has provided more room for the signal box (as well as the flats) which is moved east a little further to better position it in relation to the prototype location. Oh, yes, I must mot mention the retiring of the faithful Heljan 47s in favour of Bachmann ones (less damaging to the track) and the introduction of Dapol Class 73s (one picture above) which are gradually replacing my venerable Lima ones. More of the signal box, remodelling and the commissioning of the Class 73s later!


Peckett appreciation…Loch Dhu’s newest locomotive.

January 3, 2017

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Despite my best intentions, the new Hornby ‘Peckett’ 0-4-0ST locomotive proved to be totally irresistible! I chose the plainest one offered by Hornby for Loch Dhu Distillery which was supplied by Crafty Hobbies of Barrow-in-Furness – my thanks to Shelagh for her help in securing the model. It will be simple to add etched nameplates and new works plates to transform the loco into ‘Loch Dhu No.2’.

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Whilst I organise some new etched plates for the model, it has been undergoing a little testing on my OO gauge Loch Dhu layout and after a short running-in period, it told me of some over enthusiastic grasses on the siding and a slightly misaligned rail joiner. otherwise, running was impeccable.

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Track weeds were trimmed back a little to clear the low slung chassis of the loco. It is a beautifully built model with smooth valve gear action and good shunting capability. When a decoder is fitted, it will be adjusted for a low maximum speed appropriate to an industrial loco.

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Fun with some Bachmann wagons. I am in agreement with many that this loco could turn out to be a big seller for Hornby.

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A lovely little model and the second 0-4-0ST to be acquired by Loch Dhu Distillery (from the Manchester Ship Canal Co. and Esso Petroleum) for shunting duties. It will work alongside an Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST once its identity has been changed. Apparently, negotiations are underway to acquire a third locomotive for the distillery: another Andrew Barclay – this time a smaller 9-inch version in late pre-war condition. Rumour has it that the distillery has its eyes on Dailuaine No. 1…

Dailuaine No.1: disgracefully stuffed and mounted at a distillery it never worked and with which it has no association. Time it was removed and restored in fully working condition. This loco is an important part of Speyside line history. It was allowed to work the main line between Carron and the Dailuaine Siding to serve the Imperial Distillery as well as Dailuaine itself.

Dailuaine No.1, an Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST. it is disgracefully stuffed and mounted at a distillery it never worked and with which it has no association. Time it was removed and restored in fully working condition. This loco is an important part of Speyside line history. It was allowed to work the main line between Carron and the Dailuaine Siding to serve the Imperial Distillery as well as Dailuaine itself.


Loch Dhu Distillery progress pictures

September 14, 2016

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Landscaping, scenery and detailing of the Loch Dhu Siding side of my double-sided OO gauge micro-layout (the distillery is on the opposite side of the backdrop) has been completed (more or less) in recent weeks. A few things remain to be added at this time including the addition of a handful of small details, a road vehicle and a tidying up of the back drop area. Some grass tufts remain to be planted in one or two areas.

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Whilst working on this scene, I have managed to get my hands on another ARC Models kit, this time for the smaller version of the Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST locomotive and in pre-war condition. No need to do any back-dating as was done to the larger version I built previously as a freelance distillery pug, named Loch Dhu No.1. This second distillery ‘Pug’ loco will be modelled as Dailuaine No.1 in 1968 condition.

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The layout is operational, but only has the two locos so far: the Bachmann Class 20 and the Pug as seen above. The layout awaits the Bachmann Class 24/1 model which is some time away as yet. A Class 27 is a possibility as is one of the Heljan rail buses – maybe – perhaps. Also, I plan to build a Ruston 48DS for the distillery branch – just for the hell of it! It will be a challenge to fit it out for DCC. – the Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST was interesting enough. Hard to believe that there is a TCS decoder together with a TCS ‘Keep Alive’ device in the saddle tank of that loco!


Modelling Class 150/0 No. 150002

August 26, 2016

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Dudley Heath, the N gauge portable layout I built a couple of years’ ago (and still working on) needs a number of ‘signature’ trains to help reinforce the look and feel of a West Midlands location. Class 150s (Graham Farish) are part of a programme of stock construction/conversion which will include further Class 150s of various kinds in Centro livery, at least one Class 323 and a Class 310, a project which has was started last month.

The layout has two exhibitions to attend later this year: Aberdeen on October 29/30 and Falkirk on November 26/27. For that, I hope to complete the aforementioned Class 310 and two more Class 150s: 150002 (to go along side my current model of prototype Class 150/0 No. 150001) together with 150012, a Class 150/1 and 150/2 hybrid unit.

A Class 150/0 unit was introduced to the layout in mid 2014. The centre car was built from two spare bodies and one unpowered underframe using cut and shut modelling technique.

A model of one of the two prototype Class 150/0 units, No. 150001, was introduced to the layout in mid 2014. The centre car was built from two spare bodies and one unpowered underframe using cut and shut modelling techniques.

One of the challenges of modelling the second of the two prototype Class 150s is determining the size and position of the air-con units fitted to the roof of this unit when it was temporarily converted to a Class 154 – the test bed for the Class 158 programme.

 

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The centre car of No. 150002 which was not externally modified, unlike the two driving cars. The spare body shell I acquired for this project had already been stripped by its previous owner.

Work starts on the cut and shut conversion of the centre car which can be completed using a second Graham Farish Class 150/1 – the un-needed toilet compartment must be converted to a normal passenger bay if using two Class 150 models as a basis for the conversion and remember, one of them has to be a Class 150/1! I was fortunate enough to find a spare body shell from a Class 150/1 without the toilet compartment making the centre car conversion easier than last time.

The join between the two body sections is made along the door line of one of the passenger entry door ways. There are several ways of cutting out the cab section of the donor vehicles to make the centre car. However, I prefer a straight cut across the body, just outside the cut line and file back to make the join. It is not as scary as it first appears!

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The portion of the body to the left is discarded.

 

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The join between the two inner end sections has to be filed back and carefully joined with the minimum of filler.

Filing the cut line so the body sections make a clean join takes time and care. When undertaking cut and shut conversions, the join must be totally square and true all round to avoid a new body shell. It is a three-dimensional object with the potential for a problem along three planes: a kink along its length which will show when viewed along the roof ribs; a twist at the join where the two sections are twisted relative to each other or a bow when viewed from the side. Any of these faults will prevent the underframe from fitting the model neatly.

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Careful filing is needed for a clean join. Unlike my last Class 150/0 project, I had sufficient spare bodies to use two non-toilet compartment cars for the conversion, saving a great deal of time in not having to cut a new large window and removal of the toilet compartment roof hatch detail.

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Tidying up…

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Test formation of 150002 with the converted centre car. The outer vehicles are as yet unmodified Graham Farish Class 150/1 model.

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Cab doors are changed from inward slam doors as fitted to Class 150/1s to a representation of the sliding power doors as fitted to Class 150/2s and the two prototypes.

With the roof vents fitted to the two outer driving cars, the body shells were cleaned up ready for a trip to the paint shop. Centro livery is one that I have painted before on two Class 150s already operational on the layout:

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In-progress picture of 150123, completed in 2014.

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150001 during a test run on ‘Wheal Annah’ after being assembled following painting and finishing.

I know some modellers will say that I could use a centre car from a new Graham Farish Class 319 (shares same multiple unit body shell profile) for the Class 150/0 centre car when the 4-car dual voltage EMU is released at some point in the future. However, the likely cost of that model together with the difficulty of using the remaining trailers makes Class 150 cut and shut conversion with two Class 150 sets more economical. Also, one of the centre cars of the Class 319 will be a pantograph vehicle with an unusable roof as far as Class 150s are concerned. In the meantime, it’s a trip to the paint shop for No. 150002!

Notes:

Class 150/0 prototype units (1984): 150001 and 150002.

Class 150/1 2-car production units (1985-6): 150101 – 150150.

Class 150/2 cab-gangwayed production units (1986-7): 150201 – 150285.

Class 150/0 hybrid 3-car sets made up of a Class 150/1 and a single Class 150/2 vehicle as a centre car: 150010-017.

Class 154: The temporary conversion of 150002 as a test bed for Class 158 development in 1986.


New project: N gauge Class 310.

August 8, 2016

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I have a new project! With OHLE complete on my N gauge Dudley Heath layout, there’s every excuse to build some 25kV ac EMUs for the layout and one that fits the bill is the three-car Regional Railways Class 310. A handful survived for quite some time in the privatisation era, operated by Central Trains in Regional Railways colours as seen above. They rarely saw use except in peak periods and to cover for failed Class 323s. Class 310s were originally operated as four car sets and date back to the mid 1960s. They were an iconic EMU of the southern end of the West Coast main line until displaced by Class 321s (themselves latterly displaced by Class 350s). They were also commonly used on West Midlands suburban services alongside Class 304s.

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It has to be the three-car Regional Railways version for Dudley Heath, representing the earliest end of the time era chosen for the layout. The vinyl overlays are by Electra Railway Graphics and some old Graham Farish Mark 2 coaches will provide the base models for what is an interesting conversion.

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Old Poole-made Graham Farish Mark 2 air-con coaches have clear printed sides which makes this conversion very effective. The printing is removed to allow the sides to be added, eliminating a great deal of complex livery painting. Prior to that, the mechanism from a Class 150 is to be installed, the roof of three coaches modified with ventilators and a pantograph well. Cabs by N-Train are also to be used to build up the driving trailers, whilst the inner ends of the coaches will be modified with different gangway and end panel detail. Based on the success of the Trans-Pennine Express Class 350/4, this should be an interesting conversion to complete.

In the meantime, a Class 323 is also on the cards for Dudley Heath using Electra Railway Graphics overlays applied to a Graham Farish Class 158. Whilst the conversion is sound in principle, the lack of a cast or 3D-printed cab for Class 323s holds the project back at this time. Oh yes, in case you are wondering what will happen to the spare Class 150 bodies and parts…a Class 150/0 as 150002 together with one of the Class 150/1 and 150/2 hybrids will be the result.