Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Tatty Twenty

It's been a long time since I posted about class 20s on here but this is the progress so far with one of them - a very tatty class 20, 20104! My Dad's photo of the real thing at Frodingham, Scunthorpe in 1992 shows how much of a state the loco was in. It's very faded and its previous livery of BR blue showing through in many places.

The transfers are from Railtec (aside from the BR arrows which are Fox) and I can ehartily recommend Railtec's transfers - very, very impressed! It almost seemed a shame to cut away most of the 'Railfreight' logos to match the prototype!

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Nearly Milford

A couple of years I came up with this plan for a friend while he was thinking whether to go 4mm or N gauge - in a space of 13' x 6' a full blown mainline firmly set in the 1990s. For part of the nineties, he was signalman at Gascoigne Wood Signal Box, when it was a very busy job with large numbers of coal trains in and out of the loading facility at Gascoigne Wood on the Selby Coalfield. It couldn't be more different these days - though the box at 'Gas Wood' is the only older box in the York OM area to have air conditioning as the dust from the gypsum workings gets everywhere and they can't have the windows open! Anyway, that's digressing, just a bit!

'Nearly Milford'

I just hope you can all read my writing!

So with the area in mind, a scheme inspired by the general workings seemed appropriate - it's not Gas Wood, it's more like South Milford, but it certainly has hints of it. The photo below shows the huge extent of sidings and facilities at South Milford.

The key features, I think, centre around the ability to send trains in and out of the sidings between gaps on the 'mainline'. The sidings would be, I think, where trains from the local pit would wait to join the mainline. There's also a small capacity for wagon repairs too. You could justify an 08 or 09 shunter as a pilot. Even an 09 on a trip to Knottingly with crippled wagons along the mainline would be entirely appropriate. Even in 2016, Knottingly depot still uses a class 09 for local trip workings. Has to be an 09 though, the 08 is too slow! Other motive power could be 31s, 47s and 60s on oil trains; 37s, 56s, 58s and 60s on coal workings; 37s, 47s, 56s and 60s on steel trains and later on pretty much anything on Enterprise trains! I personally would make room for National Power class 59/2s - they were a real feature of railway operations in this part of the country and the moved trains in such a quiet, graceful manner. Local passengers would be in the hands of Pacers, 150s, 156s and 158s and you could have the odd Cross Country service with either an HST or a 47 and loco hauled stock. All of this would really exploit some of the excellent stock which is now available in this scale.

Scenically a couple of things help I think - the dummy junction with its single line hints at a larger and more complex appropriate for the area (and could literally lead somewhere if you had enough room) and one end of the fiddle yard has been left open to appear to be another junction, more scenic space and it gives the impression of the trains really going somewhere. I would certainly develop the fiddle yard a litte more to allow more flexibility in the operation but other than that I was pretty pleased with it. With enough room, it would be an amazing P4 project!

The Real Milford - South Milford in 1997 with one of National Power's class 59/2s just setting out on to the mainline. Photo - J Wells

Friday, 1 January 2016

Friday, 25 December 2015

Happy Christmas!

I would like to wish all those who come here to read the varied things which I post on my blog a very happy Christmas! I hope that you have a restful and relaxing Christmas and don't suffer too much from annoying relations and rubbish presents.

May the day bring you all many train shaped gifts!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

North Lincolnshire Sunset

North Lincolnshire Sunset

On Christmas Eve 2015 North Lincolnshire will be resignalled and the traditional signalling will disappear and ninety signalmen will see their jobs go.

The North Lincolnshire mainline has been a mecca for enthusiasts with its frequent freight trains and back drop of ex-Great Central signal boxes and semaphore signals. My Dad and I used to visit when I was younger - it was just over twenty miles from us. I visited most of the boxes a couple of months ago but I felt like I wanted to go and see Barnetby station one last time. I didn't really enjoy it though. It was full of people also seeing things for a final time, but for many it was a 'jolly'. It was as if they didn't understand or could comprehend that jobs are at stake here, far more than just the signals. I felt like a voyeur. Almost unsavory. I think I would have been annoyed with myself had I not have made the effort to visit.

Some time in 2000, an ex-works 56115, later named 'Barry Needham', passes though Barnetby Station with an empty MGR train bound for Immingham. Everything in this photo will soon have changed forever - the class 56s have gone, as have the HAA style MGR hoppers. On Christmas Eve 2015 North Lincolnshire will be resignalled and the traditional signalling and 90 signalmen will too disappear.

The industry is going through many changes at the moment, and often it is those on the frontline who really feel the impact of schemes like this. Signal boxes are closing at a similar rate through resignalling schemes as they have over the last thirty years or so, but with fewer boxes left, a scheme like the North Lincs one have a greater impact than they might have previously done.

Some enthusiasts will lament the semaphores as merely a backdrop for their photos, but this traditional way of working has been established for years and for many of the staff, this will be a very hard time indeed. Fortunately there are no compulsory redundancies this time round.

60059 comes off the Lincoln line at Wrawby Junction whilst an unidentified class 66 waits on the Down Goods with a loaded Bio-Mass working.

I would liek to wish all the staff involved all the best in whatever they do, either on the railway or beyond.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Working for You This Christmas

While many of you at home with your friends and families this Christmas, remember there will be thousands of railway staff hard at work on maintenance and upgrades all over the country.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Playmobil Testing

'Testing' the Playmobil - that's 'testing' not 'playing'!

After carefully buying bits and pieces of Playmobil we finally had everything together last night!

We did actually buy a few pieces of new LGB track (LGB supplied the original track to Playmobil for thier range) from Garden Railway Specialists whose service was excellent and very prompt - ordered at lunchtime and arriving the next morning just days before Christmas is very good indeed!

This might have been the loco's first decent run in years! Since we bought it, it has only run up and down a very short test track to check it before and after a service. It was very impressive just how well it ran, especially on track which has been stored for clearly a long time with heavily tarnished rails. Despite this, it was flawless. Not bad for a model which is at least twenty years old and had been stored for a long period.

Testing probably continued for longer than it needed to, but it was rather nice seeing the loco and its new stock pottering around the lounge! I think I regressed a good few years in the process too!

Now it's all wrapped up and hopefully a little boy will be pleased and surprised when he sees it.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

'Getting Them Young' - Are We Doing it Wrong?

For any hobby to survive, it needs new people coming in. But is the hobby as a whole missing something?

For years we've heard people bang on and on about "getting young people interested" and while this does make some sense, it is very much flawed. Firstly, children lack the buying power to actually have any real influence on the hobby as far as I can see.

The newcomers who have the money to spend which can make a difference are, I think, the thirty and forty some-things, who are either returning to the hobby or are making a start with it. They have the time and money to properly enjoy things. The increasing standard of ready made stock has no doubt done a lot to draw them in along with the massive leaps forward with the hobby in terms of control systems and scenic materials. No doubt the internet has helped things too - it is so easy to browse pretty much anything.

Despite this key group, we still hear people saying we need to get children interested. On one level this is true, as many people are those returning to the hobby after years of cars, jobs/careers, families, etc. In order to return you must have been somewhere in the first place! Children will find the hobby a struggle on pocket money - those who are heavily or actively involved tend to be those like me, with a parent or close relation interested. So you help them, and they help fund your hobby! In essence anyway!

But to really grab a child's interest, are clubs and exhibitions getting it wrong?

Plenty of shows have a 'Thomas layout', and for the most part, they're terrible. Creations rushed in clubrooms so "there's something for the kids" - from personal observations many are frustrating as the trains are not very controllable. They set off like performance cars and have no degree of control beyond very fast and stop. Little more than toys - and how many adults think that this crap will draw a child into a long term hobby?

My little boy, Thomas, loves trains. He loves running things on 'grandpa's layout' - at home there are trains and books and the same is true at both sets of grandparents' houses! He comes to shows with us and he has really enjoyed having a go with things like the Lego layout which appears at many northern shows (very good and far better than the Thomas layouts I've mentioned!). But one thing has stood out for me. It's when he's had a turn operating a 'proper' layout.

Thomas operating Colinton at Scalefour North earlier this year.

This picture was taken at Scalefour North earlier this year. Not an obvious show for a child I admit, but this was repeated at Manchester a couple of weeks ago. He has been invited to have a go with a couple of layouts at shows - there was a delightful 3mm layout, Newfields Wharf, and Thomas saw an older boy, maybe eight or nine, shunting from the viewing side. So he said "I'd like a go!" I told him to ask the man if he could. So he politely asked and spent about fifteen minutes shunting! He got far more from this than the Thomas layout elsewhere in the show. Similarly at Warley a week before he had had a go with the Shelfie, Paul Marshall-Potter's lovely minimalist layout. Experiences like this are great!

Also at Manchester I was talking to a very nice and helpful man on the MERG stand about their DCC system. As Thomas is bound to operate and help with my layout, I asked if it was OK if he tried it on their demonstration layout. Kindly they obliged and he managed it very well. Now I will admit that not every child would react like Thomas and be as careful, but I think when a child takes an interest, you can tell they're not going to be destructive...

The key to these examples is that they were proper layouts which worked well and were built to a high standard with stock which worked very well. They were not collections of cast off track and equipment hurriedly assembled in a damp club room. Thomas, and any other child given the same opportunity, can see just how satisfying the hobby can be. I could see how much satisfaction he got from the experiences.

We want to sell our amazing hobby as one which can be taken seriously and be satisfying, entertaining and sociable all at the same time. We owe it to the hobby to take new entrants of all ages seriously and not dumb down based on age and experience.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

The Christmas Model Railway Exhibtion

Hertsmonceux by Andy Jones. It's a lovely layout, very well executed and worked flawlessly!
Photo courtesy of Andy Jones

This year saw the return of the Manchester MRS' annual show as a their traditional, Christmas model railway exhibtion! And it must be about the last which is still a traditional city centre show. It moved out of the centre a few years back and we stopped going to it - it had moved from it pre-Christmas time already. I think it's been a tradition for many modellers and families to go to it at this time of year, so it's great for it to return!

New Hey by Andy Cooper. This was the layout's last appearance - quite a fitting end for it to be seen at a local show I think.

The venue, The Barnes Wallis building, worked very well and was just a short walk from Manchester Piccadilly Station - it meant we could very conveniently get the train across the Pennines, just like we used to! Though the 'we' had changed as we included the third generation Wells!

Tollesbury Quay - what a delightful model! The colouring was spot on and it had a real sense of space, despite its quite modest size.

As an added attraction - the tide would come in and out every couple of hours too!

Overall, what a cracking show! If you didn't go this year, make a point of visiting next year!

Further Reading

Albion Yard - Home of the Shelfie
New Hey
Manchester MRS

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Fifty Years On

Fifty years ago today the last trains ran on the York - Beverley line. Reminders of the line still remain - some more obvious than others. In Market Weighton, moved well away from its former home, an ex-NER bench now rests by the road out of the town.

Fifty years before, it was witnessing scenes like this on the line's final day.

Further Reading

Minsters Rail Campaign

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

What is a "Real Modeller"?!

Hornby posted a link on their official Facebook page for their 'Black Friday' deals, but nothing, apparently for the "real modeller"!

The "real modeller"?!

What is a "real modeller"? The "real modeller" can happily make use of some of the Railroad range. A Comet or High Level chassis under the Jinty body could be a good start in the world of finescale modelling. The former Lima class 31 makes an excellent basis for a model of the type too. Both these two examples were being offered when I wrote this post on Hornby's website.

I wonder if I've missed the point entirely - surely a "real modeller" can happily use even the most basic of RTR and kits as a basis for a model? They may carefully choose their starting point, after all one who doesn't mind taking their time with a model is quite likely to think and plan projects carefully in order to make the best of the parts available I think. Or is this just me? I do despair a little if this is a commonly held view - that the "real modeller" wants everything top spec with nothing left for them to do. It would be a sad state for the hobby if this was the case. I freely admit that the RTR releases of the last ten or so years has improved enormously compared with ten years before that which can allow time to be freed up to concentrate on other parts of a layout, for example. But...

Am I not a "real modeller" if I am quite happy to make use of a basic starting point for a model I would like to build?

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Class 47 Progress

A real day of progress today - one of those rare days where a good few hours of uninterrupted modelling could take place! Actually, aside from the opportunity to actually make a bit of progress, it's amazing how refreshing and satisfying it was - it reaffirms my belief that our hobbies are a very good form of therapy.

The Lima model has been transformed by Shawplan's etches around the cab and the windscreens and windows - hopefully when anyone looks at the model it won't be obviosu that it has a Lima model at its heart.

And quite a momentous day, two locos in primer and ready to be painted!

Monday, 9 November 2015

Professor Green: Suicide and Me

This has nothing to do with railways, but it really is something you watch. Professor Green, real name Stephen Manderson, takes an intensely personal journey to uncover the truth behind the suicide of his father seven years ago. It gives an insight into all sides of suicide and shows how complex it can be and that it's not a selfish act as many perceive it, incorrectly, to be.

It's not easy program to watch as it's a difficult subject but it is something which, as a society, we need to be able talk and be open about.


Professor Green: Suicide and Me - Full programe on iPlayer