Heljan Class 07 visits…

December 6, 2018

Taking a turn at Loch Dhu Siding – a Heljan ‘OO’ gauge Class 07. A little testing and running in before renumbering and some detail changes to match a currently operational Class 07 shunter.


A heavy Class 25/3.

November 18, 2018

Heljan’s new ‘O’ gauge Class 25/3 is based on the very last build of 80 Class 25 locomotives and is a fine-looking model. A heavy one too, at 2100g.It looks the part, with all the character of these popular Type 2 locomotives. They feature twin motor drive, a powered cooling fan, etched grilles, detailed cab interiors and flush glazing.Directional lighting and a screw terminal DCC interface are part of the electronics. It’s a powerful runner too and should handle a long Summer Saturday train with ease. It is detailed as a no-heat locomotive which did not have a steam heating boiler or associated water tank.

The BR blue version with domino head code dots is shown – no number is applied leaving it to the modeller to select their own choice of running number.If you need additional BR blue loco number sets, NMS does an ‘O’ gauge number set which suits BR blue locomotives such as the Class 25/3.

Large scale visitor

November 13, 2018

A rare visitor to the studio here in Nairn (from where Rail Express Modeller is now edited) is the new Heljan ‘O’ gauge ‘Large Prairie’ or GWR/BR 61XX Class 2-6-2T tank locomotive – the featured model is painted in pristine BR lined green as No. 6132. It’s a bit of a monster compared to a lot of models that visit here for magazine reviews, weighing in at over 1.6Kg making handing a little more challenging than an N gauge model of equivalent size.

It was fun testing it and admiring its lovely lines as it sat on the photo stage. Afterwards, once photography and testing for the review was complete, it sat on my desk for a while – a lovely piece of modelling which I was reluctant to put straight back into its box.I thought to share a handful of pictures that did make the cut with you – even if GWR suburban tank engines are not your thing, the model can be enjoyed for its own sake.Anyway, it will be here for another week or so before being hauled down to the NEC so I can return it in person to Heljan to save the risk of damage by a careless courier. Will it re-emerge from its box for another airing before it makes the long journey south?

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!

New addition to the Class 47 fleet…

August 7, 2018

Bachmann’s model of No. 47 209 ‘Herbert Austin’ (31-663) is a very useful model for renumbering to other Class 47s in the Railfreight Distribution fleet, featuring a common underframe tank, cab head code box light and boiler port arrangement. Strangely enough, there is a spare Bachmann model of No. 47 365 ‘Diamond Jubilee’ in the collection which has the correct underframe tank and other detail combination to model No. 47 209 in life extended condition, leaving me to renumber and weather the featured No. 47 209 (31-663) to another Class 47 in mid-life condition whilst retaining the nicely applied RfD livery. Both will go into service on my Folkestone East layout. The rolling road seen in the first picture is an excellent KPF Zeller product distributed in the UK by Ten Commandments Models.

37 049 ‘Imperial’.

August 7, 2018

A touch of Trainload Freight Coal colour is due soon from Bachmann in the form of Class 37/0 No. 37 049 ‘Imperial’ (32-790) as it ran in Scotland in the late 1980s, having been allocated to Motherwell in the mid 1980s after a long spell on the Eastern Region. The real loco worked trains relating to the coal and iron ore flows to Ravenscraig steel works, at one time being renumbered in the special pool where Class 37s carried 37 3xx numbers. The approximate date for this model is 1988-89 with red backed nameplates and round instead of oval buffers.The model is an interesting one, with split head code boxes and modelled end door detail.It was not long before the real loco’s appearance was changed with black headcode box covers, black backed nameplate, Motherwell depot plaques and round buffers. It did not run for long in any variation of Trainload Coal livery before its allocation to Immingham and repainting in Engineers yellow grey livery.


New O gauge transfers.

July 25, 2018

A new waterslide transfer sheet for Nairnshire Modelling Supplies has been in development recently: sheet NMS-6 which is an O gauge (7mm scale) version of the OO gauge NMS-1 (BR blue diesels plus engineers ‘Dutch’ livery). It is intended as a renumbering pack for ready to run O gauge diesels, but has enough elements on it for those repainting their models too. To keep the price down to offer a fair deal to modellers, not everything is included and the loco data panels are simplified. If this new sheet is a success, sheet NMS-7 will be developed quickly which will be an O gauge version of the NMS-5 Scottish Region BR blue version complete with depot emblems. It looks as if sheet NMS-7 and the planned NMS-8 (large logo) will be on sheets larger than the one above to accommodate all of the required livery elements. This allow some smaller OO gauge and new N gauge part-sheets to be completed too. The range is about to expand!

The picture above is a snapshot of the latest proof which has been checked carefully for dimensions and colour. Note the small black numerals for loco end numbers if using the sheet for engineers ‘Dutch’ livery. Some of the number typefaces are different for up-to-date end numbering too. The correct method is to replace all of the printed loco number on a model, not just the numerals which need to be changed, because every manufacturer prints livery elements in a slightly different manner. Sometimes, factory applied printing can be slightly over-size or slightly too heavy. To match manufacturers lettering is impossible to do with one universal transfer sheet – it can change slightly from model to model. In all, this is a comprehensive sheet crammed with as much as we can get in in the space and at a reasonable price too! It has been approved for printing at this time.

Also, in conjunction with this project, I am developing some etched products too, primarily scenery items. It’s been a sharp learning curve to get to grips with a drawing programme in the meantime – the principles are entirely different from working in PhotoShop! I completed my first etched sheet recently which was for simple phosphor-bronze pick-up strip which allowed me to test the etching concept and gain a very useful modelling product from the work at the same time. It did work, much to my surprise, resulting in a nicely sharp etch. More on new etching developments soon.