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

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Wordless Wednesday - Fog

Direct Rail Services' class 20s, 20302 and 20303, power 3S14 from York on its way to Bridlington is truly dismal conditions at Gilberdyke.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

5 Railway Days Out for Half Term

Half term is here!

So just a few ideas for railway days out perfect for families!

1. National Railway Museum

For many the National Railway Museum in York is one of the places to visit for anyone with even just a passing interest in railways. It's also a great family day out for all ages - for the first time visitor, the shear number of exhibits can easily fill a full day and if you return, you'll be amazed just how much you missed first time round!

National Railway Museum, York

The big appeal for most people is the collection of locomotives in York but beyond this there's a huge number of smaller exhibits throughout and especially in the Warehouse. The collection is incredibly comprehensive with items from all parts of the railways

Catering is not the best, although very well presented the standard and choice is not what it should be - children's food is only available in the Mallard Cafe in the Great Hall. The restaurant in the Station Hall ceased to provide food specifically for children after it was refurbished. The decor is very nice indeed with a mix of stylised carriage compartments and wooden railway containers, but the level of pretension displayed with the approach to the menu is very inappropriate for a museum which should be catering (figuratively and literally) for all. Those with special dietary needs would be wise to plan ahead.

In The Great Hall

My only reservation is how the NRM has dumbed down over the years - once highly informative information boards stood by exhibits but now, many tell you very, very little about the items. It's a real shame I think.

TIP Join the Friends of the NRM before you visit! For just £20 you'll be able to park for £2 instead of £9, receive a discount of 10% in the shops and a massive discount of 35% in both the restuarant and the Mallard cafe! If a family visit, you'll more than make you money back on parking and food alone at the same time as a supporting a very good cause.


National Railway Musuem
Visit York

2. North Yorkshire Moors Railway

The North Yorkshire Moors Railway is one of the premier heritage lines in the UK. The journey it offers is quite unique, especially with the last leg to Whitby running over the national network once north of Grosmont (pronounced 'Grow-Mont' incidentally). To travel along the full length does take quite a while for the distance covered, but what was once a disadvantage for travellers is now a major appeal for present day visitors - with over an hour and a half on a steam hauled train through a lovely part of Yorkshire on the way to the seaside, it's no wonder so many people visit.

Goathland Railway Station

The railway is one which really can provide a full day out, starting at Pickering you could travel all the way to Whitby and spend the day there (and vice versa), or travel the length of the line stopping off at the different stations as you go. The first station after Pickering is Levisham which is a good couple of miles from the village of Levisham, which despite bing a lovely little village itself, most passengers would probably find the walk a little too much! The station itself is perhaps the most basic along the line - there are still facilities for food though, but in the form of a kiosk. the station is also home to the country’s "only professional Artist in Residence on a heritage railway". In summer it's a delightful spot, but in winter, it's rather bracing!

Goathland is an obvious and very popular spot as a result of ITV's series Heartbeat being filmed there - signs proclaim 'Aidensfields' in the village and you can buy sixties themed souvenirs should you want to. The railway station in the village featured heavily during the show's run but it will be known to many younger visitors thanks to its Harry Potter connection. Beyond its media roles, the station is a lovely attraction in itself - a cafe in the old goods shed provides simple lunches and in summer just eating outside watching the trains goes by can be destination enough!


North Yorkshire Moors Railway

3. East Lancs Railway

The East Lancashire Railway runs from Heywood to Rawtenstall via Bury - urban Bury providing a contrast with the scenery of the Irwell Valley.

Ex-LMS 'Crab' climbing the 'sky jump' on the approach to Bury Bolton Street - this is the view from the Bury Premier Inn!

Few heritage railways provide a glimpse of how many urban stations used to be when steam still ruled on our railways, but Bury can. Bolton Street Station may be not be the prettiest with its fifties facade, but it has a unique atmosphere and provides the facilities you would expect for a family day. The line links market towns and villages and its character changes completely.

Bury Bolton Street Station

The larger stations at Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall both have good facilities for families - the building will appear old to the casual visitor but both main station buildings at Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall are relatively new as the originals were demolished by British Rail, the attention to detail and dedication is a reflection of the railway as a whole. Heywood's facilities are rather basic, but it does have easy parking and is just a mile off the M62.

Deltic, D9009, at Rawtenstall Railway Station

The trains themselves are well presented and clean and a very good selection of former mainline locomotives draw the crowds. This is aided and abetted by friendly and helpful staff and volunteers. The whole experience is very good indeed.

And if you choose to stay, the Premier Inn in Bury is a short distance from the railway, many of the rooms over look the line to Heywood - perfect for train mad children!


East Lancashire Railway
Premier Inn, Bury

4. Wensleydale

Bedale Railway Station

Wensleydale is perhaps as famous for its cheese as it is for its scenery. And once, a railway ran right through the whole dale.

A rainy day at Leyburn.

The line today starts at Northallerton West and ends at Redmire within sight of Castle Bolton running via the delightful market towns of Bedale and Leyburn. Plans are in hand for an extension towards Aysgarth - from the station on a still day you can hear the water at the Falls! Until then, the line can easily occupy a whole day if you use it to travel between the towns and explore each one in turn. The best scenery is between Leyburn and Redmire, just as the hills begin to get bigger and the weather more changeable!

For many years the railway ran right along the Dale, leaving the East Coast Mainline at Northallerton and joining the Settle and Carlisle line at Garsdale (or Hawes Junction as it was) and travelling through some loveliest countryside which England has to offer. However, the through service ended in 1954 and the all passenger services ceased ten years later, after which the truncated line quietly existed carrying stone traffic. This itself came to an end in the nineties and the future looked uncertain. The Wensleydale Railway Association had been formed in 1990 with the aim of restoring passenger services and ten years later secured a lease of the line and began running trains in 2003.

Crakehall Level Crossing - very much off the beaten track!

The railway itself is relatively unusual as most trains are diesel hauled/powered with steam reserved for only a few days a year. Don't let that put you off though. The staff are always friendly and helpful and the trains are very well presented. The main stations on the line have good facilities for families, the smaller stations are just platforms really, but if you plan to alight at these, you're probably prepared for a lack of creature comforts!

A delightful line, with a very rural character.

Aysgarth - the next stop.


Wensleydale Railway

5. Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway

The Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway is a real gem of a railway. La'al Ratty, as the line is known, has its origins in a 3' gauge railway which ran from Ravenglass to a terminus at Boot in the valley of Eskdale. The original company was declared bankrupt as long ago as 1897 but kept going, somehow, until 1913 when it ran its last train. This wasn't the end, the line was chosen as a site for a 15" gauge miniature railway, the line rebuilt between 1915 and 1917. As such, it predates the rest of Britain's heritage railways and is historically significant for a variety of reasons.

Northern Rock stands at Ravenglass station.

The line runs through beautiful scenery, delicately picking its way through the national park. The lower end of the line is in the delightful village of Ravenglass on th Cumbrian coast and station has an extensive museum about the railway and its history. At the end of the line at Dalegarth you can walk to the local attractions of Eskdale Mill, Stanley Ghyll Force and St Catherine’s Church. With decent facilities at both ends of the line, families are catered for very well - intermediate stations don't have many facilities, but then, that's not what these stations are for. What they do do is provide excellent access for walkers to the National Park.

Approaching Dalegarth station

For a family with younger children, the size of the trains is perfect - they don't intimidate but are spacious enough to be comfortable and adults don't feel like they're going to topple off like they may do with smaller miniature railways!

Rain's not a problem in Eskdale! It seems to make all the colours brighter and richer - open coaches are not so popular in the rain though!

The experience is very friendly with excellent staff and facilities.


Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway
Seven Acres Park
Visit Cumbria

Monday, 12 October 2015



Autumn is here - the Railhead Treatment Trains are out in force all over the country. 'Leaves on the Line' always sounds like one of those silly excuses, but it is a very serious issue for the railway. The effect on trains is much like the effect of cars on an icy road - braking and grip become enormously reduced making stopping much more difficult. The mainstream media are very ignorant of the subject, perpetuating it as a nonsense, but the railway goes to great lengths to minimise the problem. The RHTTs use water cannons of incredicly high pressures to clean the railhead, as well as other methods, to help ensure that things continue with a minimum of fuss.

The short clip is 3S23 leaving Gilberdyke on Sunday 11th October this year heading for York, having reversed in the station. The locos are Direct Rail Services class 20s, nos. 20302 and 20303.

Thursday, 1 October 2015


66135 gingerly feels its way through the fog at Gilberdyke Junction with 6D94 bound for Hull Docks. Thick fog is a very common occurrence on the Hull mainline, being right next to the River Humber, it seems to be very susceptible.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Little and Large

Don't worry, this isn't about the former British 'comic' duo, but instead a contrast in sizes of current workbench residents.

The larger of the two is only partly scene - the Playmobil loco which has appeared a couple of times now on my blog. It was very much 'played with' when it arrived with us, and still needs a clean to remove the dust which has gathered from being stored. There's nothing wrong with signs of 'play', they are toys after all, but it needed a couple of little bits sorting. The main ones being the missing crank pins - German eBay provided a source of spares thankfully. Not surprisingly, Playmobil seems to have its greatest following in its homeland and the shear amount of Playmobil sets, parts and bits listed there reflects this.

In front, the 'little', is progress so far with a set of Penbits sprung bogies for a Bachmann based class 37 for West Halton. Just as with the class 25, the kit is superb and things fit as they should. I don't want to say it's easy, as that might undermine the product, but it is very straight forward and a great project to raise spiritis after a rather down week or so.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Model Railway Journal 241

I'm in MRJ!

Well, not as you might imagine... One of my locos is in the Scalefour Society's advert for this year's Scaleforum.

It's a model of 37501 in its unique light blue livery and it resides on Model Rail Express' editor, Si Bendall's layout Ravenscroft Sidings. It was made using of the the then brand new revised Bachmann class 37s in 2008. It was on my blog here. Until today, I hadn't realised how long it is since I built it!

Completed with Brian Hanson's then brand new parts - I'll stick with what I said in my original post that Brian's parts are revolutionised D&E modelling! 

Friday, 11 September 2015

Trying Not to get Carried Away

I get carried away with ideas and layout planning very easily! I think night shifts and quiet times when your mind is free to wander fuel this sort of thing. One night while engineering work carried on outside the signal box I managed to conjure up a scheme, inspired by the Forest of Dean, for a 5" gauge layout which could have fitted in my parents' garden! I knew about the ease with which you could get wagons for 5" guage, but I also found all you could need for the track (scale bullhead in fact!) along with the motive power - class 14s to which you could easily add radio control to really have an enormous model railway. Of course with this would come an enormous cost, well beyond most people's hobby budget. Getting carried away, you see what I mean?

So this may count as getting carried away...

It's a possibility, isn't it? Trains and railways in the garden seem quite civilised I think and Playmobil is very durable, even in the hands of young children. We'll have to wait and see if it can happen...

My last post hinted at what we had acquired recently. It's for Thomas, and the idea was we could have it outside on the lawn in summer. Playmobil is very durable and, if you buy carefully, very reasonable second hand. Providing you leave their colllectable side well alone - mint boxed locos can go for more than what we once paid for a car! Seriously.

The set we managed to get off eBay isn't perfect - it shows signs of having been played with (not a problem), just the odd buffer to replace... Incidentally searching eBay for the buffers, I have discovered that the french for buffer is 'Tampon'. You learn something new everyday. Of course, if it proved a success, a more permanent right of way could established. Thomas has said he would like a railway in the garden - he does need to remember that the August edition of Railway Modeller is not a catalogue though. As a way to get children outside it could be very effective, and better than them always being inside when we're at home in summer.

So a few lengths of track were place by the edge of the lawn (the curves even following the line of the flower bed perfectly - must be meant to be, surely?) just to see how it would look. And the household authorities didn't say no!

Thursday, 3 September 2015


New Project - always wanted Playmobil's trains when I was little but they were very, very expensive! 

Something completely different!

Not for me (well, a little bit perhaps!) but should be fun!

Hybrid Class 40

One of my longer term projects has been this class 40 - D235 Apapa as she was during the sixties whilst working on the WCML.

The source is a mix of Bachmann and Lima with a big helping of Shawplan parts. The chassis is Bachmann and most of the body is Lima, but with Bachmann nose ends with the Lima bonnet reduced in height to match. This then gives the correct room, or there abouts, for the new windscreens from Shawplan. The result? Well hopefully a class 40 that looks like a class 40 and not obviously a particular model manufacturer's version of the class.

I hope that doesn't sound snobbish, but the satisfaction of building or making something that looks right and captures the original is immense. And after many set backs which have affected my modelling this year it feels rather good.

Sadly it has a new home to go to soon - I'm quite sure it'll be appreciated!

Further Reading

Diesels in Depth: Class 40s by David Clarke

Friday, 21 August 2015

A Horrible, Selfish Man

We called in at Embsay on our way home from a holiday and saw there was a train about to leave. My son, Thomas, was very excited and got his camera from my bag ready to take a photo. Despite the guy in the photo seeing Thomas waiting patiently with his camera, he continued to stand there, waiting with his iPad - not taking photos but, as it turned out, waiting to film it as it departed.

He actually moved just as the train was about to depart so Thomas did get his picture, but he only moved when he wanted to to get his footage - a horrible, selfish man. Sometimes at heritage railways, you can't expect to get a clear view because railways often have hoards of people and passengers! But here, well, you can probably tell my opinion of this man..

Fortunately Thomas did get his photo and a couple of treats from the shop, but still there's never an excuse for selfishness like this when a child affected.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Looking Like a Class 47 Now!

Compared with the original Lima model, my model of 47380 is look much more like a class 47 now - thanks enormously to the fantastic Shawplan etchings.

There's a lot to be said of projects like this even these days. Back to basics stuff where modellers of all abilities can hone their skills and try new things in a way they might never do with new ready to run or expensive kits.

So, go on, switch the internet off and go and do some modelling!