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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A pair of critters! One Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST and a Baldwin…

April 16, 2018

Modelling is becoming ever more interesting with some fascinating locomotives appearing during the Spring of 2018. Following on from Hatton’s Model Railways  SE&CR P Class comes its brand new model of the Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST industrial loco in 14- and 16-inch formats. The Baldwin OO9 gauge model which is set for imminent release by Bachmann (at the time of writing) is a further sign of things to come – it’s fun having both on the photo stand to draw some comparisons. Livery application on models has certainly become quite advanced…

The Andrew Barclay will join the small fleet of industrial locos that are inhabiting my Loch Dhu Distillery project – the nameplates are already to hand for its renaming. The ALR Baldwin…well, I am not so sure how that will fit in! Time will tell…


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!

 


Tinkering with the Dapol Class 73

April 5, 2018

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.

Pick up arrange on the Dapol Class 73 after the bogie frame has been unclipped.

Drill two holes clear of the bogie frame clip and on both sides of the frame to accept 0.4 to 0.45mm diameter pick-up wire.

Cutting a length of pick-up wire to the length of the bogie which after bending to shape, will be the ideal length.

The wire is bent like this and fed through the holes drilled through the inner bogie frame. Repeat for the opposite side and the second bogie.

Bend the wires so they will act on the back of the wheels as pick-ups.

Solder (very carefully) the wires to the existing connecting strips to complete the circuit. Adjust the pick-ups once the wheels have been refitted.

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.

 

 

 


And more modelling!!

December 31, 2017

It’s becoming a little too serious at the moment – I have to be careful not to become too involved! However, I really want to get this micro-layout finished and soon! Scenery in the form of shrubs, bushes and weeds has been added with a touch of Autumn colour. ‘Loch Dhu No.2’ has also received its nameplates together with a spot of touching up. Time to do some weathering of the stock ans the pug too.


I think the Autumn colours, representing early Autumn when leaves just begin to turn on small trees and bushes after the first frost in the glens. There’s more to do to this scene including some long dry grasses in places, a touch of yellow to the autumn colour and more matting down to kill the shine in the scenery material. Acrylic glues, which are perfect for scenery application, also tend to hold a dull shine which looks unrealistic. More soon!


Matting down…

December 30, 2017


After adding some debris in the distillery yard such as cask staves and rusty loops, matting down of all the surfaces was needed to remove the dull shine from acrylic paints before scenery could be completed. For that, I use Testors ‘Dullcote’ which removes 95% of the sheen. Some more stubborn areas need a little help with Tamiya matt varnish. After several very thin applications, the rails are carefully cleaned of varnish.

The same is dome to the hard pavements in the distillery itself, with the buildings removed. Once dry, the two low relief buildings such as the one at the end of the layout may be semi-permanently fitted in place with glue and the gap between the base of the building and pavement concealed with scenery material. Further weed planting and placing the pile of casks I have previously prepared will finish the scene.

Loch Dhu Distillery is nearing some state of completion apart from small details which may be added over time. Work on the rolling stock, to fit smaller ‘Spratt & Winkle’ couplings (TT gauge ones) and weathering will be completed over the next few months.  I can finalise a couple of simple modifications to the exchange siding side of the layout at the same time (prompted by the acquisition of a rail bus) and that will be it for a while whilst I turn my attention back to my EM gauge Folkestone East layout.

Folkestone East is undergoing a little bit of a revolution where I am ridding myself of all EWS, EW&S and GBRf equipment and related stock to concentrate on the mid 1990s period where there was a significant transition period involving sectors, TOCs and of course the overlap between the opening of the Channel Tunnel and closure of the Dover train ferry service. This will provide a tighter focus on what stock I buy and build for the layout. 2018 will be a year of tighter focus for my modelling!