Saturday, 28 February 2015

Hornby's Early British Class 56


A lot of childhood days out with my Dad had class 56s in them. We used to go to Doncaster and Barnetby in the mid-nineties (trips across the Pennines were a couple of years away!) and the scream of their turbo chargers as they accelerated. Considering how much of a part of the railway they were, it seems odd how they no longer an everyday sight. Around this time, I can remember the class 56 my Dad came home with (over twenty years ago!) from the local model shop; a Dapol model, repainted by its previous owner in Railfreight Construction livery. While the repaint might not stand up today, it had a real impact with the ten year old me. The triple grey colours were exactly what I was seeing when we went out watching trains.

Class 56, no. 56067, passing through Barnetby around 1993 I think. Taken on a Fuji 35mm 'point and shoot' camera with a very short preset lens in fading light. Not great quality but as it was a ten year me who took it, it seems very appropriate here.

I'm not exactly old at thirty one, but I am now modelling the railways “of my youth”. With that I do sound old... West Halton is is firmly set in the early nineties – it'll always be summer and the my nine year old self would have been oblivious to the issues the line and its staff would be suffering. The railways were not in the best shape then after years of under investment; the branch to West Halton, and the steelworks it served, would struggle to last a few more years. While West Halton Sidings is, of course, fictitious this story was true of a good number of freight only lines. During these times, the clean and bright appearance of many of the 'triple grey' locos really made them stand out.


Whilst I may have over romanticised this a bit, although they looked clean, the railway's always been a filthy place! But it does lead me neatly to the latest loco to join the West Halton fleet, an early British built class 56 from Hornby. As R3052 comes, it's in Trainload Construction livery which upon opening the box did stir memories of the original 56 which my Dad brought home. The colours look pretty good to me, though they are towards the darker end of things compared with those similarly liveried models from Bachmann or Lima, or those sprayed using either Railmatch or Precision paints, but it's still quite acceptable. Certainly I daylight it does look 'right'. The livery was quite prone to fading so variations in colours is not a problem. The print is excellent, the data panel is very, very sharp; OLE warning markings are similarly reproduced.

Beyond the colours, the loco itself is good too. It's not the first of the 'new' class 56s I've had from Hornby, I've got sitting on a shelf one of the original releases in EWS livery with the revised cantrail grilles. Worryingly the post about it is over seven years old now! When I changed eras, the later style loco (thanks to the correctly revised grilles) just wasn't suitable for the early nineties. I really should do something with it... But it does make an interesting comparison with the earlier style of loco. The difference between the cabs on the Rumanian and early British machine when compared with the later locos is significant yet very subtle. On the older Dapol model you could make this change by carefully 'rounding off' the moulding. The early cabs were of aluminium and did have a 'softer' look than the later steel fabricated cabs. Capturing this is difficult, even when you take care – Hornby have captured the face of the loco well I think. The multiple working equipment is quite reasonable and is a key feature of the 'face' of the loco – the model features revised high intensity headlamps which certain locos acquired over time, more so towards the end of their working lives. Although the moulding is pretty nice, it doesn't make it a little more awkward to renumber the loco to match other class members – a bit of work and the original style can, I hope, be retro fitted. As with Hornby's other current generation diesel models, the cab interiors are superbly modelled. The glazing is slightly prismatic but clear enough to allow a good glimpse at the detail within. You feel you should be able to see the driver's snap and copy of that day's paper.

The standard of tooling on the roof is excellent - there's a real delicacy to it which really places the model towards the top end of things. 

Moving away from the cabs the loco is very pleasing. The cantrail grilles are very delicately reproduced, as it much of the roof detail. The fan grilles, however, are just as I originally found and are a bit disappointing. The thickness of the body moulding is all too obvious – some years ago Hornby did much better with their class 50. However, Shawplan's 'Extreme' etchings come to the rescue here. They also help with the covers for the jacking points, which Hornby have oddly missed. However, a couple of minor easily sorted details don't really detract too much. The roof, fan grilles aside, is very good indeed it has the delicacy which we used to associate with Lima's tool makers. Although we tend to look at the real thing from ground level, we view most models from above. Even with a high baseboard/tack level, we still look down slightly, so this area is very important. Fifteen years ago most of us began by detailing diesels by fitting new roof fan grilles to help matters on older models!

The real strength of this model lies a little lower than the roof...

One of the best parts of the class 56 is the underframe! It's an area where Hornby seem to really go to town. The parts are delicate and vulnerable to rough handling, but surely we can cope with this, can't we? If other manufacturers could follow Hornby's league (and they've being doing this sort of thing for nearly ten years!) I would be very happy!

The underframe has some superb details which really is at the top end of RTR models – even seven years after the model's introduction it still stands up. Much like Hornby's class class 60, the fuel tank area is awash with separately applied details which are a world away from what went before. I spent hours rebuilding the underframe on my class 25 but the standard here is probably better than that! Is this depressing? Well, probably not but it's a good indication of the standard here! The bogies are nice too – photos don't really do them justice in their naked plastic state. The separate pipework for the brake actuators is a very satisfying touch and the cab steps are nicely rendered too. The bufferbeam suffers slighty as the chassis casting is to suit all three variations of the type, so there's room for added detail beneath the one part of the buffer beam fairing which the early British built machines had – only the Rumanian built locos and 56031/2 had the full class 47 style fairing. The side detail cast into the chassis makes up for this and, being honest, from 'normal viewing angles' it's not really a problem – that and most people aren't as awkward as I am! Buffers are not perfect – they look a little underfed to me. Modified Hornby class 50 buffers would probably be worthwhile.

The bogies are very nice - photos don't really do them justice. Separate brake gear is mostly hidden behind the sideframes (although once repositioned for P4 I think they'll be easier to see) but careful weathering will really bring this area to life.

Running, naturally, doesn't disappoint – all wheel drive and pick up is pretty much par for the course these and the fifty-six is a very classy mover. Still not sure that the rubber band between the flywheel and drive shaft for the fans helps things – a pair of side cutters can sort this though! Axles are 2mm which makes rewheeling easy for those of us who want to run the model in EM or P4 – only the brake gear will need modification to allow this. The lighting is not to my taste – white LEDs don't really suit the diesels of this age and era. In daylight the marker lights can barely seen on older types, but white LEDs don't really help us replicate this – tinting them with paint may help. We'll see...

The overall appearance is very good - the delicacy of the body and finesse of the underframe really do make the model.

Looking back I do wonder if I have appeared rather critical of the model - and I think I was probably overly critical of the original model I described back in 2007. I think it is more a reflection of the standard which we have come to expect of RTR models from the likes of Hornby. I'm also coming from the point of view of someone who likes to take out of the box models and improve them – I want to to not be, in this case, a Hornby class 56, but my model of a class 56. Small difference but quite significant. However, to make it a worthwhile proposition the starting point needs to be good in the first place. Hornby's class 56 is a pretty good starting point. For most modellers, as it comes it is very acceptable; despite the list of of extras and new parts I have in mind the model could easily be at home hauling a long rake of HAA hoppers and really look the part. As a 'layout loco' it works perfectly. And a base for a full on finescale conversion, it's a very good place to start!

Metals sector 56044 "Cardiff Canton" at Hasland with a short train of bogie bolster steel carriers - September 1992. Photo reproduced by kind permission of John Turner.

So I'm very happy with West Halton's new addition – it's stirred childhood memories and will form a great basis for 56044! One of Cardiff Canton's finest and was regularly seen in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire on flows from South Wales.

Useful Link

Hornby.com

Sunday, 22 February 2015

30 Shades of Grey


Given the film which has featured a lot in the news over the last couple of weeks I wanted to share this inspired piece from Humbrol which they first shared a couple of years back when the books on which the film is based were all the rage!

Thursday, 12 February 2015

'Abbie'


Abigail Marie Wells, born 11th February 2015 at 1529hrs weighing 7lbs 3oz.

Mum and baby both doing really well - a very straight forward birth after a very difficult pregnancy! We both very happy and very relieved! We also have a very excited little who is looking forward to being a big brother. I suspect he's going to be very protective...

And girls can like trains, can't they?!

Friday, 6 February 2015

Gypsum Returns

Gypsum Returns

After a little bit of an absence GBRf's gypsum workings returned today to the Hull line. A very clean 66755 was in charge of 4D94 this morning. Sadly it was expected to be a class 47 working the train today but it wasn't to be. However, hopefully we'll see regular 'duffs' on the trains again soon. Much like 47812 (running with its old number D1916) joining the mainline at Gilberdyke last year when the trains were diverted due to the blockade at Selby during the swingbridge repairs.

Duff via Goole

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

A Sprung Class 37

The beginnings - Bachmann loco and Penbits conversion kit.

It's quite odd sometimes how you can be so up for doing something, so enthused and raring to go up until the point at which you sit down, things waiting in front of you and then you just seem have absolutely no will to do any of it. I don't know why others have similar 'modellers` block' but with me this mind set but I know with me it can be much further reaching than simply not be arsed with modelling! How enthused I am with things like this, is certainly reflected with my general mood. So with a bit of a lull over the last couple of weeks, I really wanted to crack on with something. Anything. The long running brake vans came out their box and with sod all progress made during a full evening, they went back again.

The  exquisite brake gear etchings - this is top end stuff!

I'd been saving my next Penbits conversion for some time - I'm not sure why really. Maybe I wanted to try and give it the time I felt needed and deserved. Maybe it's a bit like building up to watching a DVD of a film you've been told is really great and you want to watch it without disturbances. However, you can end up setting things up to be quite a disappointment if you're not too careful! Not that Penbit's products disappoint in any shape or form! But it has given me a nice bit of enthusiasm now that I've finally started it - hopefully this can build on the success of my class 25.

The bearing carriers - these are really at the heart of the system. They're fabricated from turned bearings and etched parts. With care, they go together very nicely and they work very well indeed.

Today saw a decent start made with the bearing carriers - a neat little etch for each one, combined with a turned bearing. Sorted with very little fuss. Follow the instructions and the result should be spot on. And the class 37 etchings are just as good as those I had for the class 25 - there are just a lot more bits! And this is the only problem with diesel modelling - there's a fair bit of repetition to cater for to identical ends of the loco.

The 'bogie subframe' around which the suspension is based around. The similarity with a conventional etched steam loco chassis maybe noted. So if you're used to building, or have built, something similar then you really should have no problems with this.

The choice of loco will retain the Bachmann identity - it fits in well with West Halton and avoids having to touch the paintwork too much!

Friday, 23 January 2015

Winter at Gilberdyke Junction

Winter BioMass

The snow is disappointingly thin for photos really, but it was still a pain to get to work. It's not even snow by this point, it had started to thaw and is now just thick ice making life hard for p-way who were out packing the junction between trains. And while they wait, DBS 66088 tears through Gilberdyke with 4D88 bound for Hull Docks with empty bio-mass wagons. These trains are very long and make quite a sight when they run at the maximum speed of 75mph!

The full size image can be found on Flickr.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

In These Times of Austerity

A very long term resident of the my workbench is this model of a Hull based WD ('Dub-Dee') no. 90695 - and it is very much a long term project as my first post was in 2009 and another in 2011!

WD No. 90695 - You will have to excuse the background of my parents' kitchen!

The model is based around Bachmann's excellent model, refined with Dave Bradwell castings. I say 'refined' rather than detailed as what's there in the first place is pretty good. It's also been converted to the Doncaster pattern firebox which many of the class received later in life.


Other than not working on it over the last year or so, I'm really not sure why it has waited so long for its turn to be finished. It has been waiting for its filthiness to be applied for a long time now and, I hope, it looks like a typical Dub-Dee from the Hull area. Hull locos never seemed to suffer from excessive priming or stark lime streaking like those in other parts of the county did. There are a number of subtle streaks showing signs of heavy use all adding to the dirt.

To emphasise the lack of cleaning I haven't bothered adding any insignia to the tender. Sometimes even the best and thinnest transfers will appear rasied when complettely covered by dirt and all it achieves is making it look very model like. If you can see the detail of badges or lining then it can look great peeping through the dirt but here, no. However, the absence isn't noticed as such - we see what we want to see in many situations and here, the brain tells us that it must be there but we can't see it for the dirt, which is exactly the result I want. I can't claim credit for this idea though... Tim Shackleton uses the same ruse with his 9F in MRJ 90 and 91. Tim was very helpful with advice on finishing off my Dub-Dee!

Just a little finishing off, couplings and crew and it'll be ready after six years on the bench!

Thursday, 8 January 2015

While the World Sleeps

While the World Sleeps

While most people are in bed, VolkerRail's ballast regulater, DR77802, waits at Gilberdyke for a T3 possession to be granted. The possession is to the other side of Goole and cannot be granted until the last passenger train has left Goole station. Until then, the crew and machine have to wait patiently.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Class 25 All Done!


As my last post mentioned, I've not completed much this year. However, this is the main result of my modelling for the year! All the other posts about the model can be found here.


I did finish one other loco this year, a model of 'Devious Diesel' for Thomas - I think he was pleased with it!

Friday, 26 December 2014

How to be a Good Son in Law


My attempt to ensure I remain the number one son in law!

As both a Christmas present and as a thank you for all the work which my Mother in Law's partner has been doing on our house, this is seemed ideal. His layout is Cornish with china clay workings, 8702 was a St Blazey engine, and matched the Bachmann varient of the 57xx, so seemed to be an ideal choice.


It's a detailed Bachmann 57XX - the model itself is very good. The tooling for the body dates back to Mainline days, although Bachmann have updated the tools to allow for different cab variants to be produced around the main moulding. The shape and proportions are very good indeed. Only the chunky handrails date the body, and even these aren't too bad.

The work centred around new handrails, which do make a huge difference. This combined with thinning the visible edges of the cab really take the body to the next level. Mainly Trains' etch for the rear windows was very useful and improved the rear of the cab no end with very little effort. I removed the moulded coal which allowed me to use the cast eight within the bunker as the base for the replacement coal. I also thinned the edges of the bunker as much as I could to help the appearance. New lamp irons all round complemented the handrails and along with new Gibson couplings and buffers, with larger MJT heads, the result is much better than out of the box. I also added RT Models' rather nice etch for the sandbox operating linkage, and moved the sandbox lids back to their correct position. I used Gibson 'shoulderless' handrail knobs and 0,45mm wire for smoke box door handles. Gibson include them in the s/box dart sets, so the real cost in the main turning. If you can save the circular boss on the smoke door when you remove any handles, this works really well.

The chassis had its brake rods replaced with new parts cut from 10 thou brass sheet, with Plastikard bolt detail but this concluded the detailing. A few changes result is a huge change to the finesse of the model. The 247 Development numberplates finished the repainting and the model was weathered using photos of locos working in the St Blazey and Fowey area using techniques stolen from various other modellers, mainly Martyn Welch and Tim Shackleton.


I hope the result is pleasing - it's certainly gone to a good home. This is only the third loco I've completed this year for various reasons and it's been a very satisfying and enjoyable project which I hope has enthused me for a bit more modelling in 2015.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Happy Christmas!


I'd like to wish you all a great Christmas and a happy new year! May the day bring you all many train shaped gifts!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Still Here, Still Alive

The title says a lot - and it's not a flippant one in the slightest. Over the last year (maybe longer?) I've not been well. And it's not something people talk about enough - it's not a physical condition, which makes it harder for many to understand. Depression and anxiety are subjects which many people feel embarrassed talking about, either as someone who is going through it or those who are around sufferers. Many people dismiss them, either through ignorance or small mindedness. Of course if you've never experienced these yourself, or haven't (knowingly) known someone who has experienced them, it's something which may be difficult to comprehend.


Some friends and family have turned out to be even more supportive and amazing than I could have hoped for! However some have been less impressive... You have thought I was contagious!

Hopefully there will be a few updates on here soon - I've done very little modelling over the last year really. I've had very little enthusiasm for many things sadly, but hopefully these things, as well as my own health, are improving.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Over the Ouse

Refurbished class 60, 60001, passes over the River Ouse via Goole Bridge.


There haven't been many updates recently, but normal service should resume soon.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

A Morning in East Yorkshire


This is a nice civilised way to spend a morning - in good company, sat out int he sun by a railway line waiting for trains to go by!


I went out with my friend James for a few hours on Monday morning waiting in the sun for freight trains! Very civilised!


Click on the images to see the full size versions over on Flickr!