Dapol Class 73s…into traffic!

March 28, 2017

No. 73 108 in late condition, photographed at Eastleigh in 2002.
Faded, dirty but still doing its stuff on the SE TPO.

No. 73 108 is one of the locomotives I have chosen to model using one of the two new Dapol models to recently arrive on Folkestone East. Conversion to EM turned out to be the simple, involving the regauging of the split axle wheel sets which have a good profile on them – good enough to run smoothly through my hand built track.

There are many well-thought out technical features of this model. The body lifts straight off after releasing the retaining screws – no pesky clips to fight. Don’t loose the screws though or you will be scr*wed when it comes to putting the body back. There is a good space for both decoder (nearest) and a sound speaker. A 21-pin socket ensures all lighting features have power.

The circuit board makes contact with circuits in the body by means of a row of sprung contact pins which eliminates linking wires and plug and sockets. However, I did not want the cab lights illuminated and was looking to fit a decoder with ‘stay-alive’ (‘keep-alive’) . The only one I had to hand was a wired LaisDCC one which works well with this mechanism. 21-pin versions with stay-alive are also available. I also wished to work the head code lights independently using red LEDs, so decided to remove the circuit board and hard wire a LaisDCC decoder in place with its stay-alive capacitor. The lighting connections to the circuit board are easy to locate and desolder, so this hard wire DCC conversion is easily reversed – the circuit board being stored away safely.

The image above shows the hard wire installation, with the head light LEDs wired with 5k Ohm resistors to reduce the fierce light to something a little more realistic. Connections will be made with the head code box LEDs too.

A stay-alive unit is seen in this image. It was not quite powerful enough to power the Dapol Class 73 when it lost contact through those pick-up bearing rings. In the end, I built a new stay-alive unit with some higher Farad rated capacitors with great success. The higher rated unit was still connected to the same LaisDCC decoder. It is worth mentioning that even the smallest capacity stay alive unit will prevent light flicker in the most reliable models even if there’s not enough juice to deal with a serious stall. In many instances, the flywheels fitted to modern mechanisms will carry a loco over a minute dirty spot without interruption,. The only hint of a problem will be a flickering of LED head and tail lights. Stay alive units also smooth the operation of locomotives that otherwise seem to run well.

A final look at the DCC installation. It may seem strange to remove the convenient 21-pin DCC interface. However, wired decoders offer so much more flexibility in terms of organising lighting effects and this installation turned out to be quick and effective. The model is numbered 73 108 with an address of 3108 and is now hauling trains on Folkestone East. It is at this point I must admit to keeping two Lima EDs, stripped of drives and in the process of being reworked with Dapol detailing parts. One is No. 73 129 ‘City of Winchester’ which is used as a trailing unit in the SE TPO so the train can be top and tailed. Two Dapol EDs on this train is overkill. The second loco was also a regular on the SE TPO: No. 73 131 which will eventually be refinished in EWS livery.

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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!

 


Nairnshire Modelling Supplies – O gauge wheel sets…

October 5, 2016

o-gauge-coach-disc-wheel

The possibility of stocking O gauge wheel sets as part of our small but growing range of Nairnshire Modelling Supplies 7mm scale O gauge turned brass/turned metal components is being seriously considered. We have the chance to have these 3ft.-6ins. coach disc wheels produced together with a 3ft.-1in disc wagon wheel set too. However, the cash outlay at the start is not to be taken lightly…we have to be sure there’s a market for them. They will be supplied with the appropriate bearings.

O gauge coach and wagon axle bearings.

O gauge coach and wagon axle bearings.

Also added to the 7mm scale O gauge range this year:

 

Short hand rail knobs.

Short hand rail knobs – 2.5mm in length, 1.5mm diameter round head and with a nominal 1.3mm diameter stem for mounting.

Medium length hand rail knobs - 3.5mm long.

Medium length hand rail knobs – 3.6mm in length, 1.5mm diameter round head and with a nominal 1.3mm diameter stem for mounting.

Long hand rail knobs - 4.5mm in length, 1.5mm diameter round head and with a nominal 1.3mm diameter stem for mounting.

Long hand rail knobs – 4.5mm in length, 1.5mm diameter round head and with a nominal 1.3mm diameter stem for mounting.

O gauge smokebox darts copy

Universal smoke box door handle sets – darts if you like!

3/16th inch inner diameter loco main frame bushes.

3/16th inch inner diameter loco main frame bushes.

http://www.nairnshire-modelling-supplies.co.uk

 

 


Loch Dhu Distillery progress pictures

September 14, 2016

image-layout1-omwb

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.

image-r57557-omwb

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.

image-layout-omwb-2
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!


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.

 


New O gauge/7mm scale turned brass loco parts.

June 11, 2016
O gauge smokebox darts copy

Universal smoke box door handles (darts) in O gauge. Supplied as two handles and the middle spigot. The parts are trimmed to the desired length after fitting.

I have just added a small number of new 7mm scale, O gauge turned brass items to the Nairnshire Modelling Supplies range. This is a departure from our normal OO/HO scale area as a test to see how well they sell. If all goes well, there are other O gauge items I can obtain to expand this area of the business. The items have been listed in our Ebay shop at http://stores.ebay.co.uk/nairnshiremodellingsupplies

 

O gauge long HRK copy

Long hand rail knobs in O gauge. 4.5mm long with a 1.2mm diameter head drilled to accept 0.7mm brass wire.

Medium length hand rail knobs - 3.5mm long.

Medium length hand rail knobs – 3.5mm long.

O gauge short HRK copy

Short hand rail knobs – 2.6mm long.

3/16th inch inner diameter loco main frame bushes.

3/16th inch (4.8mm) inner diameter loco main frame bushes. The outer body diameter is 6.2mm and the flange diameter is 9.5mm. The bushes are 5mm wide.

If all goes well, I will be looking at rolling stock bearings, frame spacers and a couple of other items too.


First artwork proof of sheet NMS-5 – BR Scottish Region transfers.

October 26, 2015
NMS-5_proof

NMS-5 BR Blue ScotRail loco renumbering and detailing transfers – first proof. There’s some work to do yet!

The first artwork proof of Nairnshire Modelling Supplies OO gauge transfers for BR blue ScotRail locos has arrived for inspection and correction. Overall, I am pleased with progress on what is the first sheet we have done in a few years. I know I have been promising this one for a while, but finding reliable information to size the depot logos correctly has been challenging!

Some changes with colours and sizing of the depot logos will be required before we go to print – we are aware of that straightaway. The sheet follows our renumbering pack approach by offering as much as possible on a single sheet for those who wish to renumber and embellish ready to run locos without having to do any repainting. The Highland Rail logos are black on a transparent back ground for application on warning panel yellow. If to be used over other paint colours, they should be applied over a suitably sized and shaped patch of yellow. Missing out one colour (yellow in this instance) from the sheet saves a great deal of set-up and print cost and helps keep the price per sheet as low as possible.

The sheet is set up primarily for BR blue era locos based in Scotland (but some of the elements will suit other sector liveries too) with double arrows and the larger 8 inch TOPS number sets applied to many ScR allocated locos. The anticipated price will be around £4.75-£4.95 because the cost of printing and developing such transfers has risen over the last few years. However, given the large number of elements on the sheet, it will still represent great value for money.

Sheet NMS-5 will sit alongside our existing range of numbering packs which includes NMS-1 BR Blue TOPS numbers; NMS-2 BR Sector loco numbers; NMS-3 BR Coaching stock and EMU/DMU number sets and details together with NMS-4 BR Large Logo livery numbers and details – pictures below.

Sheet NMS-1

Sheet NMS-1

Sheet NMS-2.

Sheet NMS-2.

Sheet NMS-3.

Sheet NMS-3.

Sheet NMS-4

Sheet NMS-4