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.




Hornby Magazine cover story: Rannoch Moor

September 8, 2016

Mark Darragh’s lovely OO gauge ‘Rannoch Moor’ layout made it onto the cover of Hornby Magazine as the cover story for this month (Issue 112, October 2016). I photographed the layout earlier in the summer with some lovely results – a great layout – so I would have to be in truly glaikit form to make a mess of such fine work. It’s beautifully modelled with just the right level of detail and neutral space making it appear larger than it really is. The layout is based on the West Highland line in 2006 or thereabouts.

Here’s a selection of pictures that did not make the magazine cut:





Very fine work from Mark Darragh. I am always searching for quality home or exhibition layouts to feature in magazine work. They have to be based in Scotland and N gauge is particularly in demand. As you can see from the pictures above, I aim to achieve the best possible image quality. A photo-shoot typically takes four to five hours and does not need the whole layout to be assembled at once – they can be photographed in sections. I need to see some simple images of the layout before proposing it to a magazine editor. I do the images, you write the article. Simple!

Dudley Heath OHLE update…

February 25, 2016
OHLE Class 350

The Graham Farish Class 350 is a particular favourite of mine and this model of an unbranded one (No. 350111) makes a training run every now and again during an operation session. This scene shows a main line scene with space for the models to be seen but in a layout which is only 260cm in length and 90cm wide.

A long term project to equip my N gauge ‘Dudley Heath’ (DH) with 1960s West Coast Main Line Mark-1 series OHLE is finally coming to a conclusion. It has been eight months since the project was started and the first portals were dropped into place in time for last years’ Perth show. Each portal has turned into a detailed model in its own right and a single portal can take several hours to complete depending on its complexity.

The long and complex portals over the double junction are nearing completion and those on the opposite scene to the one above are being further detailed (DH is a double-sided layout with scenes on both sides of its long axis).

OHLE Class 86 plus vans

A Dapol Class 86, No. 86 261 passes over the double junction which is one of the features of my Dudley Heath layout. The portal nearest the camera is still being constructed at the time this shot was taken. The Class 86 is set to become No. 86 401 in due course – a renumbering and partial repainting project.

The portal etchings for Mark 1-series OHLE are produced in N and OO gauge by N-Brass Locos which offers a wide range of portals, masts and fittings for this type of electrification. They can be built as they come or extensively modified as appropriate. The double junction above took a little working out and the portal shown remains to be detailed with the rest of the isolation gear for the diverging line. I used a lot of digital images to help me install the portals as level and upright as humanly possible. What the eye misses, the camera does not and a few of them turned out to need adjustment after pictures were closely examined.

OHLE spare Class 86

I love the Dapol Class 86 model and being able to operate them on DH at last is great – electrification is an added dimension to the layout. Once the OHLE portals are all fitted, some tidying up will be needed and some areas of the layout further detailed. Whilst I am keen not to crowd the layout with too much detail, a little more in the yard and in some other areas is needed. otherwise, I like the minimalist appearance of the layout where the emphasis is on operations.

Another project to start this spring involves the intermodal service as seen in the picture above. I wish to replace many of the stock Graham Farish 45-foot containers that came with the intermodal twin wagons and replace them with a mix of different boxes and tank-tainers to vary things up a little – with due regard to the era in which certain intermodal units were operated. I also have an MOD service in mind with KFA flats, VGA vans, C-Rail MOD containers and a couple of other wagons to make up something a little different.


I have a little work to do on the traction front including the renumbering of the Dapol Class 86 model of No. 86 261 to No. 86 401 together with weathering to match the condition of the full-size loco shown in 2002 condition in the picture above.

Electrification has opened up opportunities to model EMUs such as a Class 310 or 312 together with a more modern Class 322. They were signature trains of the West Midlands and operated local passenger services over the Grand Junction Railway, the line through the Black Country on which the DH layout theme is based.

Hopefully, some of these projects will be completed in time for the Glenrothes Model Railway Exhibition 2016 (14th and 15th May) to which DH has been invited. An invitation has also been received for the Falkirk MRC later in 2016. Lot’s to do!

OHLE for Dudley Heath

July 29, 2015


The push is now on to complete the OHLE portals currently being installed on my N gauge ‘Dudley Heath’ layout. It has taken some time to complete the planning and find the money to make this part of the project a reality, as is the nature of these things. The total cost of the basic portal kits and fittings came to around £120.00 for both sides of the layout, a total of 22 portals and eight single masts, so the outlay was not insignificant. The time needed to fold and solder the portals together with the register arm assemblies was another factor for the slow progress.


The OHLE portals represent the heavyweight 1950s Mark 1 WCML OHLE and are produced as flat brass kits by N Brass Locomotives which are folded to shape with the aid of brass folding bars and completed with various fittings for register arms, insulators and so on. The result is a basic portal (there are various lengths available) which can be primed, painted and installed as it is or detailed further with additional fittings. They certainly look the part in a West Midlands setting.


The project was completed in part as preparation for exhibiting the layout at the Perth show in June this year, including painting and finishing of the portals except two over the junction on the opposite side of the layout to these pictures (it takes some time to assemble 22 portals). Bases and some additional details are being prepared to complete the portals and various other masts which will then allow me to use a handful of Dapol Class 86s on the layout. Some remedial work to scenery and other features will then follow together with completion of a number of structures.

And before you ask: I will not be modelling the contact and support wires – certainly not straightaway. They could prove to be too heavy in appearance in N gauge and too delicate for a portable layout which is dismantled for storage. I am not sure that the considerable time needed to put wires together convincingly could not be better used to rework some other areas of the layout with a better result, or indeed detailing the masts and portals to further reinforce the WCML Birmingham loop lines and Grand Junction lines atmosphere.

What’s a cookin’?

July 28, 2015

Class20TC-3-wordpressHmm – I have been quiet of late. Computers or my work bench? I know I prefer the latter, but the arrival of the first new (and I mean brand new) OO gauge model for my collection in a very long time deserves a little attention.

And no, it’s not another product of English Electric for the Southern region. It’s EE alright, but there’s something amiss with my traction choice of late. The Bachmann Class 20 above is going to more at home on ScR pick-up goods circa 1965 than the former Southern Region. Numbered D8028, the model (32-044) is one of the latest Class 20 releases from Bachmann which includes the unusual green Class 20, No. 20141, a real hold out loco which survived in BR green into the early 1980s (32-034A).Class 20TC-2-wordpressClass20TC-1-wordpress
The tablet catcher equipment is a bit of a giveaway as to the origins of this locomotive model. Not destined for Folkestone East; it is the first arrival for a new OO gauge layout project which has been slowly taking shape this year. The model itself is neatly finished in early condition. It will be renumbered D8032 and given a suitably grimy finish. The model does not come equipped with lighting, so that will make an interesting DCC project.
Class20TC-4-wordpressClass20TC-5-wordpress copyHere’s another clue as to my current layout planning ideas:


Covhop-1-wordpressOne of my rare Ebay auction wins and for a reasonable price too. Two ‘Whisky’ covhops, origin Trix Trains/Liliput and latterly Bachmann. They are more recent models and cost relatively little to buy. I am now searching around for some 16t mineral wagons, 13t steel sided wagons and some shock wagons, not to mention a handful of vans. The project will not need a lot of wagons, being compact in design.

This does not mean that I have been dormant on my other projects. The OHLE is finally in place on Dudley Heath and anyone who saw the layout at the Perth show last month will have seen it in its state of interim installation.

The Montana Rail Link layout has seen considerably more activity – almost a complete redesign now I have decided to bridge the layout room door way – something I have resisted for some time. The result is a simplified layout design and a longer main line run.

Folkestone East is mothballed currently and has been so since my return from a long trip to Norway. The stock is yet to be placed back on the layout and remains in secure storage. Dust sheets rule there!

Tronheim copy
Finally, I am surprised how little equipment there is for modelling current NSB operations. The shot above was grabbed at Trondheim on the 28th May of this year. The stock from the Bodø-Trondheim sleeper is moved ECS to the berthing sidings after its arrival from the Arctic. I would take considerably more interest in modelling the railways of one of my favourite countries if there was more equipment available either in HO or N gauge.

News from Nairnshire Modeling Supplies: Sheet NMS-2 back in stock.

March 6, 2015
Nairnshire Modelling Supplies sheet NMS-2 has been reprinted and is now available once again.

Nairnshire Modelling Supplies sheet NMS-2 has been reprinted and is now available once again.

After a long delay, OO gauge (4mm scale) renumbering sheet NMS-2 has been reprinted and is back in stock. The livery elements cover the renumbering of many BR sector liveries including Railfreight and has details applicable right up to present day. It is available together with three others at Nairnshire Modelling Supplies. A fifth sheet is currently in preparation which will cover BR blue Scottish Region diesels.

Graham Farish Polybulk (and its big brother)

January 30, 2015

GF polybulk34333‘Wheal Annah’, a compact N gauge layout based on a Cornish china clay theme, is being prepared for the Model Rail Scotland exhibition where it will be displayed on the Hornby Magazine stand. Whilst it is primarily based in the 1970s, I plan to collect together some stock to allow a few trains of the 1980s to be run for a little more variety.

GF polybulk34334The new Graham Farish Polybulk wagon is one addition to the fleet and one I can also use on my other N gauge display layout ‘Dudley Heath’. It’s an amazing-looking model, albeit relatively costly to collect more than a couple at any one time. Masses of separate details, NEM coupling pockets, metal buffers and a an excellent representation of the complex shape of the hopper body make this one of the top British N gauge freight stock models around.

GF polybulk23991Three versions are available in N gauge including the early one above; a weathered version with the simplified Polybulk “Traffic Services” livery and a pristine one with intermediate ‘Traffic Services’ markings. List prices at the time of writing come in around £39-£42.

The N gauge version follows the OO gauge model which was released about 12months before the Graham Farish model. I picked one up before the list price rocketed to nearly £60 for a weathered version. When you look at the level of detail on the OO gauge model and the time it probably takes to assemble one, the price tag of £50-60 comes as no surprise.

OO Polybulk OMWB-2OO Polybulk OMWBOO Polybulk OMWB - 3

Putting a rake of these together is going to be a challenge to the modelling budget! The time to look at quality rather than quantity when a planning layout theme is definitely upon us.