KPF Zeller track cleaners for routine track cleaning in OO/HO and N gauge.

July 26, 2017

My experiments with the KPF Zeller OO/HO and N gauge track cleaning cars sold by Ten Commandment Models showed that they are particularly effective at cleaning the rails of any model railway.

I have been taking an interest in track cleaning technologies for years and have played around with several different types of track cleaning device – from Relcos (don’t use such high frequency track cleaners with DCC systems) to the amazing but expensive US-outline based CMX Clean Machine (not suitable for layouts with equipment and platforms close to the running lines because of the cleaning pad clips). Another elegant and simple track cleaning system has come to light in the form of the KPF Zeller track cleaning cars which are available in the UK for both OO/HO gauge and N gauge. They are imported and sold by Ten Commandment Models – the cars being German made.

Simple friction-based track cleaning which works through the action of weighted arms and pads of cleaning material. The OO/HO car (shown) has NEM coupling pockets which will accept Kadees, traditional UK outline couplings or anything you like!

The underside of the OO/HO cleaning car. The wheels can be exchanged for finer ones if desired for finescale OO and EM gauge. No cleaning fluids are needed for effective track cleaning.

The design of the cars allows the modeller to build a wagon body onto them if desired. Also, the cars are built within the loading gauge of HO and N gauge making them suitable for all types of UK-outline and European layouts which will have platforms and other structures close to the running line. They will be invaluable to those modellers with large layouts too, including US-outline modellers with miles of track such as my Montana Rail Link 4th Sub project. The cars are not powered – so they will work on any layout with any power system: traditional DC or DCC – it matters not!

The weighted and pivoted arms fitted to the OO/HO model with cleaning pads visible. Any suitable cleaning pad material can be used and is attached with double-sided sticky tape. Simply run the car around the layout, collect the dirt and then throw the dirty pads away!

The N gauge version. Both cleaning cars are specially weighted for effective cleaning and good track holding properties.

The N gauge car is shown once again. Two separate pivoted arms and pads are used to avoid catching any detail in the centre of the track, or indeed any third rail or stud contact system. The simple hook coupling will engage with standard N gauge couplings.

So that’s it! Personally, I prefer to clean the track before an operating session using a track cleaning car. Clean pads are fitted and the car run first around the main line track several times before being removed from the layout and the pads inspected for dirt collection. The spent pads are removed, which is easy to do, and new ones fitted before repeating the exercise. The cars are easily propelled into platform bays, dead end sidings and over complex point work. Once the layout has been covered, the track cleaning car can be stored in the staging area of the layout until it is next needed.

Some modellers may use the cleaning car throughout the operating session. It can be included in the formation of an engineers train and run almost continuously – there are couplings fitted to both ends of the cars which will allow it to be run as part of a train. If you decide that this is your preferred method, remember that the cleaning pad material is designed to collect dirt and should be discarded after a while or they will become ineffective.

For more information visit Ten Commandment Models here, here and here and also take a look at the rolling roads too. KPF Zeller’s web site can be viewed here. My thanks to Matt of KPF Zeller together with Dave of Ten Commandment Models for their assistance and an elegantly simple but well-engineered solution to routine track cleaning.

 


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.

90033-carlisle-omwb

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.

90033-3

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.


Modelling Class 150/0 No. 150002

August 26, 2016

150002_3 copy

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.

 

150002_1 copy

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!

150002_10 copy

150002_2 copy

The portion of the body to the left is discarded.

 

150002 copy

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.

150002_8 copy

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.

150002_9 copy

Tidying up…

150002-20

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

150002_6 copy

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:

Centro Class 150 paint

In-progress picture of 150123, completed in 2014.

Class 150 complete 1

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

Class 310_1 copy

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.

Class 310 copy

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.

Class 310_2 copy

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.

 


Trans-Pennine Express Class 350/4 in N gauge.

March 28, 2016

Class 350-4-21

Fancy having a go at a really complex livery? How does the dazzling First Group colours as applied to the Trans-Pennine Express Class 350/4s (Siemens Desiro) grab you? Insane? You bet!

Class 350-4-20

I cheated a little – well, rather a lot when it came to it. Electra Railway Graphics produces great-looking printed self-adhesive vinyl overlays for many ready to run N gauge models. A set is available to redress the Bachmann Graham Farish Class 350/1 model into a TPE Class 350/4 and they do the job very nicely and with minimal repainting. None if you really don’t want to wield a paint brush, not even for the scantiest of touching up or underframe weathering.

Class 350-4-25

The base model is the fine-looking Graham Farish Class 350/1 as seen in the front of the picture above. The plain grey unbranded ‘Silverlink’ version is generally regarded as the best choice for this conversion. OO gauge modellers can complete the same conversion using Electra Railway Graphics overlays for the Bachmann Branchline Class 350/1 model.

Class 350-4-27

The overlays can be applied straight over the top of the model’s sides without having to remove glazing or make any other modifications – window glazing is part of the vinyls and intended to overlay the original glazing. However, putting a little extra effort into the project lifts it to another level. The glazing inserts were removed from the model and placed safely in a project box so not to loose any before starting the conversion. I spent some work bench time time painting the tumblehome on the underframe mouldings dark grey. The windows in the vinyl sides were cut in through the body shell after vinyl application.

Class 350-4-28

Once the side and end overlays were completed, they were touched in with dark grey and blue paint where necessary. The sides were sealed in place with Johnsons ‘Klear’ liquid floor wax. When the body shells were completely dry, they were coated with satin varnish to kill the vinyl shine.

Class 350-4-24

Weathering the underframes and replacing the Graham Farish pantograph with a Dapol version of the Brecknell Willis ‘pan’ completed the model. Having given the satin varnish a number of days to dry, the glazing was reinstated and secured with sparing amounts of liquid poly cement.

The finished model is numbered 350404, representing one of the ten-strong fleet of TPE units which work between Manchester Airport, Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley via the West Coast Main Line.

Class 350-4-22

In reality, as much as I like the units and enjoyed the conversion, TPE Class 350/4s are not suitable for Dudley Heath – they do not run through the West Midlands and also sit outside my operating timefrme. However, it was a livery conversion I wanted to attempt using the printed vinyl overlay technique – I frequently see the units on my rail fanning trips down to the Central Belt. In the meantime, the unmodified Class 350/1 featured in these pictures will continue to operate crew training runs and mileage accumulation diagrams on Dudley Heath representing the most up-to-date time that represented on the layout. It has a new ‘pan’ and modifications to the couplings to allow tight close coupling within the unit. Some detailing will follow, including adding couplings and other fittings to the front of the unit’s DMOS vehicles.

Now that 25kV AC OHLE is represented by portals and masts on the layout, what will be my next EMU project? Something more appropriate to the West Midlands circa year 2000. A clue: older style of Graham Farish Mark 2 coaches are being gathered together for the project…


Keeping it simple…control panels

March 13, 2016

control panel OMWB_3

Overly complicated layout controls are not my thing – I am more interested in train operation than trying to duplicate a signal box interior. The minimalist approach does not detract from the train driving experience, particularly on my large N scale Montana Rail Link layout where the use of wireless throttles allows engineers to follow their trains around the layout – hence the need for local panels.

With completion of track laying at Paradise East (Paradise MT) together with a running circuit on this second level of the bi-level layout, the time to consider control panels to operate the main line turnouts arose (the yard turnouts are manual). Even with my minimalist approach to layout design and construction, I was surprised how little work was needed to put in two local panels fed by a master control panel for this level of the layout.

control panel OMWB_2

Simplicity is very much thanks to DCC where there is no need for any section switches to separate locomotives from each other. All there is on each control panel is a Double-Pole, Double-Throw (DPDT) switch for each turnout motor and indicator LEDs (green for normal position and red for thrown). Using duplicate controls at the master panel means that indicator LEDs are a must as the switch position is no indication of the set of the turnouts.

control panel OMWB_1

Simple wiring too! This is the local panel fed from the master panel. A simple wooden frame, 80 thou styrene card top and some securing screws is all that is necessary to get this element of the layout working. The corners, edges etc. are smoothed down and rounded off to avoid snagging clothes or skin!

control panel OMWB

The local Paradise East panel in operation except for the switch on the left which remains to be wired up with the powered main line turnout at the west end of Paradise Yard. Some aircraft lining tape will be applied to show the track layout. Eventually, the styrene tops will be replaced with something more graphic. But in the mean time, to get an area of layout operations quickly for fine-tuning, de-snagging and adjustment, simple controls are all that is needed!