A new challenge – Rail Express Magazine.

October 17, 2018

The modelling bit…


Well, there was a surprise was in store for me (and I suspect will be for many others) for the latter part of 2018. Not my new hobby which I am yet to mentioned here (and may surprise a few), but being appointed as the new co-ordinator of the modelling pages of ‘Rail Express’ magazine or ‘Rail Express Modeller’. The first issue of REM I will be responsible for will be No. 176 in Rail Express No. 271, the December-dated issue. Paul Bickerdyke will remain Rail Express editor.

Owing to the circumstances behind the editorial change, I will be starting at ‘Ground Zero’ with virtually nothing in the files. However, from the start, I am planning more step-by-step modelling features with emphasis on modelling technique as well as the prototype itself. I am cooking up a new compact layout project too, one for later next year depending on how things go.

One thing I will be seeking is news items relevant to modelling the UK and Irish railway traction scene. Furthermore, I will be looking for good contributors too, in time. For now, the plan is to get my feet well and truly under the editorial desk and make a start. One thing this will do is get me to pull a finger out and get both the Folkestone East rework underway and to finish Dudley Heath! Both layouts will have a role to play from time to time.


So, from now on, Rail Express Modeller will be coming from my small but comprehensively equipped studio on the Moray Firth, two miles east of Nairn in the beautiful Scottish Highlands. A land of big skies, great beer, Aurora Borealis, woods, mountains, fabulous beaches, ScotRail 7-Cities HSTs and The Royal Scotsman. REM will share space with Folkestone East, Loch Dhu Distillery, Wheal Annah and of course the NSB project. It’s going to be a pile of fun!

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A little reworking.

October 14, 2018


A little reworking of areas of a layout is not a bad idea to correct features that do not look quite right. Photography helps to identify these spots on what might be considered to be a completed layout. My OO gauge Loch Dhu Distillery micro-layout has a few visual weaknesses identified through the study of digital images. One of them was the over-bridge which carries a lane over the mainline by the exchange siding. It seemed to have span that looked a tad too narrow and one of the support columns was not quite vertical or as well made as the other. As the picture above shows, a little reworking was undertaken to remake the bridge, using as much of the original stonework sections as possible.

The opportunity was taken to make some detail changes to the bridge structure too. The guard railings were lengthened to suit the wide span and now comes the challenge of painting in the stone work to match the unmodified structures.

Having to rework parts of a layout is not a sign of failure but can become a necessity through the emergence of new information, an improved product or idea and of course, as one’s modelling skills develop. Overall, the 10 hours put into this rework has been well worthwhile!


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!


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!

 


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!