Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Trainspotting Live

What a bizarre yet thoroughly British idea for a television programme!

Peter Snow and Dr Hannah Fry

BBC Four's Trainspotting Live is exactly that. Trainspotting. Live. On telly! It's like Springwatch but with trains.


Perhaps one of the strangest parts of the show has been the 'guides' to spotting! All good fun though!

And it's great! It does remind me of Channel 4's Going Loco season from twenty or so years ago - they had a whole weekend devoted to railways and they featured all sorts of railway documentaries and films throughout the weekend. The VHS tapes we recorded most of the programmes on were certainly well used for a good few years afterwards!

It's almost too easy to mock people's interests - society often seems almost suspicious of people with passions but Trainspotting Live is celebrating people's enthusiasm for railways, and it's great to see it! My interest has provided me with some amazing experiences and set me off working in an amazing industry.

And Trainspotting Live isn't just about the enthusiasts, from speaking to Kenneth Grange about his design for the HST to getting an insight at York to the role of signallers and controllers.

Hannah Fry being shown round York ROC

The pre-recorded items were really good - it would have been nice to see some of them developed further into programmes in their own right. Who knows maybe it may pave the way for more programmes like these? It may look a lady has taken her eccentric great uncle for a day out round Didcot for a day out but somehow, it works really well!

The final one of the three programmes will beon BBC Four at 8:00pm tonight!

Further Reading

Trainspotting Live
Dr Hannah Fry
Tim Dunn

Sunday, 26 June 2016

A Yorkshire Terrier

A snatched shot, so not the sharpest or best quality, from the other day...

Full size version available on Flickr.

A Yorkshire Terrier had got on to the line at Gilberdyke - we're not allow to caution trains for animals of this size, however, the trains were both stoppers and when the train on the right, 2R98, stopped we saw the driver jump out, putting his vest on, to try and retrieve the dog! He was joined from by the guard from the train on the left, 2C26, to help catch it! The other guard and driver were also present!

The dog's owner is on the platform and had rung both Network Rail and the Police when she realised that her dog was on the railway - they were reunited just after this photo was taken - 2R98's driver is handing the dog to 2C26's guard! According to the driver of 2C26 the dog was "a vicious little bugger!"

All ended happily!

Monday, 13 June 2016

The Power of Models

Model making is a funny thing - for most model makers, it's a solitary pursuit. Most of us are amateurs and we do it for relaxation, maybe to stimulate memories and for our won enjoyment. In most forms of model making there are shows where people can show their work to like minded souls and preaching to the converted is always easy. But sometimes models can have a wider purpose, be educational and connect with 'normals' in a way that other media simply cannot.


We visited the Royal Armouries in Leeds a couple of weeks back. It's about eighteen or so years since I visited and Suzi hadn't been before - a bonus Saturday off saw us pick somewhere different for the day. On exhibit which I noticed (among many...) was the model of the Battle of Agincourt. You can view it up close but you can also view it from the balcony above which gives you a sense of scale and scope of the model, but it also allows you to take a step back and watch how people interact and view the diorama. Up close the standard of the modelling is good, although the trees are not as good as we might aim for with our own models but this doesn't matter - when you watch how people of all ages take time to look, observe and take in the scene from all angles you see how powerful a model can be. Information panels and artefacts all have their place in helping to tell a story such as this. It helps visitors understand what is being recounted. And people didn't look briefly either for the most part; people lingered, used the different little viewing windows and took time to really take it all in. The sheer number of figures gave visitors a sense of the vast numbers of real people who would be involved in a battle - the figures cease to be just models, but represent lives gone by and for many it depicts the last day of their lives.


To produce a model which can appeal to our emotions and cause us to take the time to absorb the scene is quite something - it shows how powerful model making can be. Now, our models and layouts don't show quite such dramatic scenes, but if we can begin to engage those viewing our models in quite the same way then our modelling can become more than a sum of parts and something much bigger and maybe more fulfilling ultimately?

A New Jig


Today I have made this! And it has saves me an awful lot of time, any ideas?

Friday, 10 June 2016

Hull Steel


DBS class 66, no. 66011, had to wait at Hessle Road Junction for its path before its return to Rotherham with 6J94 with empty steel wagons. It would head for Gilberdyke on the mainline before it took the branch towards Goole and then onward to South Yorkshire. In the photo the signal has cleared and 66011 is seen accelerating towards the junction.

See the full size version on Flickr.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Hornby Class 47 TTS - Sound on a Budget

It's all too easy to be critical of Lima models - as they come, they can appear crude and basic to our eyes these days. And they are basic, but at the time of their release they represented progress from older models. The standard of tooling was a world away from some of the models then on sale. Even today new manufacturers struggle to capture moulded detail with the same delicate and subtle touch of the Lima toolmakers. And it's this which leads me to persevere with a number of Lima types. My recently finished class 40 is an excellent example of the potential some of the Lima models still have. I'm also building a fleet of class 47s based on the Lima model for exactly the same reason! Which brings me neatly to the model in question here.

The outline is unmistakenly Lima - is this a winning combination of Lima's tool making with a better mechanism (and sound!) for much less than the more sophisticated alternatives?

Hornby acquired Lima and its range a number of years ago - I suspect it was mainly to Hornby a foothold in the European market but the range of British models also came with this. A select few have made their way into Hornby's budget range of 'Railroad' models. The former Lima class 47 has appeared in a number of guises under the Hornby label. This model, however, is one of the more notable versions.

The former Lima model has received an all new power bogie which runs quite nicely and is very quiet in operation - the model has all wheel pick and runs very confidently at low speed. The old Lima bogie tooling has been modified further to accommodate NEM coupling pockets and have lost the massive Lima style couplings! Of course this isn't the first release of the Railroad version of the class 47, but this is the first Railroad version I've had myself. Well, not strictly true, I've had a couple of Railroad bodies which I've bought second hand, but it's identical to the Lima version so it tells you very little! They both have the same lovely and subtle tooling around the roof but suffer from the same issues which I've covered elsewhere - in the main, it's the window surrounds which are the worst bit with more subtle problems with the shape and curvature of the 'nose' and the horn cowling. All issues which can easily be corrected. The only other thing is an odd one - for some reason Hornby have changed the buffers which are fitted to the model compared with the Lima ones - the latter's were a nice size and proportion, even if not that detailed at all whereas Hornby's are rather short stubby things which give the front of the loco a slightly odd, 'bunged up' look. Lots of potential for the 'real modeller'...!

Decoration is to a high standrad and the paint very well applied but I'm not convinced by the colours - it doesn't sit well with with either locos which have retained their Lima paintwork or have been resprayed using Pheonix paints. The lack of OLE flashes and the orange cantrail stripe are very obvious by their absence. Although I realise this is a budget model, leaving details like these seems a real shame - it does appear as penny pinching, regardless of what the financial implications for Hornby. If the windscreen wipers can be picked out in black, why not add add the cantrail stripe instead?

While the coupling would have been welcomed like a long lost relative twenty years ago, the funny short buffers really spoil things. The bright red tail lamps look wrong too - when the lamps are off, the have a much darker, crimson and . maroon appearance. Red looks rather toy like I feel.

The chassis is exactly the same as the Lima version with a lot of plastic where there should be daylight, the 'moulded gap'. It does give the model a rather dated appearance - although I'm happy to chop and modify Lima models, it's a different situation here. With the Lima ones I'm hacking at older models which I've bought cheaply or had for years, here we have a brand new model which needs the same treatment! Not a problem but some people may be apprehensive. But we need to remember that this is a budget model which is priced some considerable way below other RTR class 47s on the market. At £89.99 it's still not cheap but for what you get as a package, it's rather good. Of course the main attraction is the sound!

So for less than the cost of a sound decoder, we have a complete locomotive. But the main question is, is it any good? Hornby have been very keen to promote their Twin Track Sound (TTS) products. The price is, I think, the main selling point.

Much of it is subjective. For me sound is good up to a point but overly loud locos can dominate layouts and not be particularly pleasing. When a train passes the sound of the loco is only part of it - watch a freight pass and its the roar of the wagons which causes most noise. Few layouts really use sound effectively, Mark Tatlow's Portchullin is one where sound seems to be perfectly executed, subtle unlike many exhibition layouts running sound locos! So is sound part of our pursiut of realism or just a bit of fun? Well, that's up to the individual - I can see the fun my little boy had running the loco up and down a four foot test track!

And it's rather good - for the money, it's surprisingly good! It's not to the same quality as a top end set up, as you might expect, but still good from the test running I've done - I could have filmed it, but it would have looked like all of those video reviews on You Tube which also show you how to open the boxes... But this from Hornby will give you a good idea of the range of sounds -



My main issue is the severe lack of weight which affects the model's tractive effort significantly - Lima used the rather crude but effective method of sections of steel bar for weighting its British models, Hornby have used a die-cast weight in its place. There is a cut out to accommodate the speaker which reduces the weight even more. Once I get to work I'll address the weight issue - anyone who's converted Lima models will be used to this anyway! It should improve both haulage and slow speed running.

The roof is one of the best areas with this model - since we normally look down on a our models, this is no bad thing either. The subtlety of the Lima tool making is not always equalled by more recent releases.

As a package, I think the model works really well - you can argue that it lacks all sorts of things. These extras will cost money, and Bachmann provide a readily available alternative if you desire more factory applied details and a choice of liveries anyway. So a basic model which is well proportioned and sounds pretty good for this sort of money sits quite well with me. If you shop around you can get the TTS class 47 for just short of seventy quid too which makes it a very attractive proposition, especially as second hand prices on eBay and Facebook seem to verging on the ridiculous! Plus it provides an excellent base for further work. Spend a few quid on parts from Shawplan and along with a few other details and time you can easily build a model which can easily eclipse more expensive options. This is definitely an option which deserves consideration.

Link

Hornby Railroad Class 47 TTS

Friday, 13 May 2016

Evening Stars


Class 66, 66779 is the final member of its class to be built for the UK and European markets. Since 1998 the class 66 has been a key part of the railway scene all over Britain and this loco represents the end of this era of locomotive construction. GB Railfreight has decided to mark this by naming the loco Evening Star, the name which was given to the BR 9F, 92220, which was built at Swindon Works in 1960 and was the final mainline steam locomotive built for use in the UK. It was named at the National Railway Museum in York on 10th May 2016.


The plate below the name reads -

66779 BUILT IN MUNCIE, INDIANA USA
DECEMBER 2015

THE LAST CLASS 66 LOCOMOTIVE FOR BRITISH RAILWAYS
GB RAILFREIGHT
NAMED AT NRM YORK ON 10TH MAY 2016 BY
BILLY AINSWORTH
CHEIF EXECUTIVE OFFICIER PROGRESS RAIL SERVICES AND ELECTRO-MOTIVE DIESEL

This is in the style and sentiment of the plates below the nameplates on 92220 Evening Star, noting its significance and GBRF have said that when the loco is withdrawn it will be donated to the National Collection.

Links

GB Railfreight

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Penbits Class 37

Of all the recent innovations within the hobby, the easy availability of sprung diesel bogies must rate very highly indeed. Both Penbits, as here, and Rumney Models (I have a set of their Warship bogies to build soon) have established a range of bogies for a variety of classes.


For a while now I've been working on Penbits bogies for a class 47 and a class 37, the latter can be seen here. The kits are very well designed and the brake gear is superb - a bit fiddly in places due to the small size of components, but it all goes together rather well. The one disadvantage of modelling diesel locos is that there is a lot of brake gear and it can get repetitive. A little and often approach works very well!

The Penbits bogies all complete and working very nicely; over the last couple of days I've added the cosmetic frames with their separate brake cylinders and steps. The brake cylinders are the last of my stock of Hornby Class 50 ones. The steps are modified from the Bachmann originals with PH Designs step treads epoxied on. As they come the PHD etch for the steps have the two lower the steps mis-spaced. So, whilst the solution isn't perfect, the overall effect is relatively pleasing. But at five quid a set for the steps, just using the treads isn't very cost effective - I used them as I had them in stock and had intended to use them for the model before realising the issue with them.

So the model is mechanically complete now, all the remains is to add the remaining details, and there are a lot of them, especially around the underframe - it could take a while!

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Birchwood Casey Super Blue


After sixteen years my bottle of 'Birchwood Casey Super Blue' has finally run out! I bought my bottle from Martyn Welch when he was demonstrating at York MRS one year. I think I was about sixteen at the time. It's great stuff too - intended for re-bluing shot guns, it works well on nickel silver and brass too as well as the obvious steel, for which it is really intended. For chassis and running gear this is much better than painting, you loose any chance of paint gumming anything up. I have moved to 'painting' all my chassis with this, as it leaves a lovely dull metallic appearance which, once weathered, is just right for these part of a vehicle. As you can see, it worked very effectively on these Penbits bogies too.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Oxmardyke

Oxmardyke Gate Box on the Hull - Selby line. A lovely example of a North Eastern Railway S1 Cabin.

The box at Oxmardyke dates from 1901 and is a North Eastern Railway S1 type of cabin. It was originally a block post but was down graded to a gate box in the early twenties. At this time Staddlethorpe (now GIlberdyke) has three signal boxes in the space less than half a mile - all with a huge array of levers and with the abilities to regulate between fast and slow lines.Since the abolition of Staddlethorpe East SB, the gate box lies in the section between Staddlethorpe (now Gilberdyke) and Broomfleet boxes.

Once the frame filled the box but since 1956 when a reconditioned McKenzie and Holland frame was installed of just sixteen levers and now it fills a third of the box. It retains a lovely gate wheel for operating the barriers.


Repeater instruments in the block circuits provide information for the crossing keeper as to the whereabouts of trains, along with a repeater bell so they here the various bell signals being sent between Gilberdyke and Broomfleet. They are listening out for either Train Entering Section or Train Approaching Section (the latter for Down non stopping trains through Gilberdyke) as their cue to drop the barriers and pull off on the appropriate road.

For a grade 1 job, they really earn their money, doing just as much work as a signalman for less money!

The full set of photos can be found here, on Flickr.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Class 40 - A Whistler of Many Origins

The latest loco which I have finished is a hybrid Class 40.

D235 Apapa
I do like class 40s in their original livery - the green emphasising the enormous bulk. Whilst no longer than the steam locomotives they appeared alongside, that they were one unbroken piece must have made them seem enormous to enthusiasts in the late fifties.

The body is mostly Lima with Bachmann nose ends running on a lowered original class 40 Bachmann chassis which has been rewheeled for P4. The body has been covered in Shawplan parts - Brian Hanson's detailing parts are always a pleasure to use and his class 37/40 windscreens and their associated backing plates really do make the model I think. But also the small details of the step an inspection plates on the buffers (Hornby Class 50 spares) also help add to the final result.

It represents D235 Apapa as it was early on in its career in British Railways green with small yellow warning panels. The grey roof is my usual cheat of using Halford's grey primer as a base but keeping it for the roof colour! Why add more layers of paint than we really need? Especially when we want as little paint as possible around those beautifully fine etchings by Shawplan. The fan grille is a lovely piece in its own right and deserves careful finishing. The warning panel yellow is Humbrol's Trainer Yellow and the bufferbeams are Humbrol Matt Red Brown - a nice subdued red which doesn't over power like normal buffer beam reds would.

A good view of the vitually complete but unpainted body shell - the mix of parts in plastic, brass and stainless steel. Models at this stage always rather satisfying to look at, seeing how you've combined various elements to complete the model.

On top of this is a typical coat of dirt but with class 40 specific bits such as the leak around the cooling fan grille - very typical of the class when you begin looking.

I'll leave you to judge if the effort has been worth it.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Real Life Low Relief


We were wandering round Malton yesterday, as we have plenty of times before, but I'd not noticed this building before - well not properly! If you ever wanted a prototype for your low relief building, this is it!

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Corgi Rail Legends - The Missed Opportunity?

Corgi have a range which is half way between the railway and die-cast market, their Rail Legends range. A range of die-cast model locomotives in, what will be to many, an unusual scale. The range reflects Hornby's main range, clearly sharing research between the two teams - remember that Hornby own Corgi.

I've seen them in various places (the NRM shop has a decent selection of them as some of the range are of locos from the National Collection - I've often looked at them and thought they have potential - someone told me "they're TT you know" and having always thought that 3mm scale is a lovely scale and such a shame it never flourished as it really should have done. I gon to Warley with my good friend james and we both commented a couple of years back, whilst looking at a 'Blue Era' 3mm scale layout, what a nice size it was. It's size when compared with 4mm scale would really give advantages for modelling modern block trains. I also recall a couople of continental TT layouts being on the local exhibtion circuit in the nineties - European and US TT uses a smaller scale of 1:120, rather than the 1:101.6 used with our UK based scale of 3mm:ft. Bear this bit of trivia in mind...

Every so often I trawl through the 3mm Society's website and suppliers like 3mm Scale Model Railways mentally planning layouts as I read! And much like the more niche and specialised scales there are some beautiful modelling to be seen! Two which instantly spring to my mind are Everingham and Masham - they're both North Eastern Railway based so no wonder they appeal to me!

I even have a stock of Kitmaster 'TT-3' Mark 1 coaches in stock which I bought off eBay 'just in case'. It is one of these coaches which lead to this post...

The Corgi Rail Legends version of BR Britania 70013 Oliver Cromwell.

It's a very well proportioned and finished model and represents pretty good value. Twenty years ago we'd have gone mad for RTR which this much seperately applied detail!

My parents bought Thomas a model of 70013 Oliver Cromwell from Corgi's Rail Legends range for Easter. No I'm not sure why either - they never bought me Easter presents! He was quite taken by the model as it's very nicely done - for the price it's pretty good, perfectly proportion and more seperately applied detail than many ready to run locos of not that many years ago! Clearly smaller than the trains he's used to, but not as small as many he's seen at shows (N gauge). So we talked about the size/scale and that lead to me digging out a couple of the Kitmaster coaches, based on having previously been told "they're TT". I was rather surprised to see the coaches towering over the loco. A quick Google revealed Corgi had used a scale of 1:120... Not the British scale, but the continental scale. To me, as a railway modeller, it seemed rather odd. Of course they're really ornaments, aren't they, so to Corgi I guess the scale doesn't matter as long as the end result will be bought by the public. It did however write off my thoughts of using the LNER pacifics they offer as the basis for for an ECML themed layout - a serious thought too at one point!

A bit more digging found this article by Simon Kohler of Hornby. It's bascially about how he thought and considered that Hornby should reintroduce TT as a ready to run scale and range. What an interesting thought - however, there was one section which, to me, is one of the most arrogant pieces I've read concerning the model railway trade.

"I suppose the most radical decision I made when putting my initial thoughts together was to scale the UK ‘TT’ to match that of the European ‘TT’ which is 1:120. The old Tri-ang ‘TT’ was scaled to 3mm:1ft which equated to something like 1:101.6. according to Wikipedia. For me it was time for the days of UK bastard scales to come to an end and although I may not be keen on losing the UK£ to the €uro I had no such qualms over the new UK ‘TT’ being compatible with the rest of Europe even though it may not have suited everyone."

For 'radical' I think 'arrogant' is more appropriate. And saying "according to Wikipedia" does not really give you much confidence in his background knowledge of the hobby. And it seems a very sad "I am Hornby - you will do as I say" attitude. And why would UK TT need to be compatible with European TT? How often would he think that an A4 would be seen alongside German electrics? If someone decides to run their layout so, I would suggest that the mixing of scales bothers them very litte - they're just doing their own thing!

It also shows a horrible either disregard or complete ignorance of the 3mm Scale Society who have done an awful lot to maintain and support the scale nearly fifty years. Although the society, as with many other specialist scale societies, is not huge, it is worth noting that these societies and their members are very vocal when it comes to promoting their scale and activities. So, you have a captive audience who would be, I think, supportive of new generation RTR products in their chosen scale. Then there would be scope for articles in the mainstream and finescale model railway press too. And I always thought Mr Kolher was comercially savvy?

So maybe there is a connection between this and Corgi's choice of 1:120 for their Rail Legends series? We'll never know, but isn't it a shame they didn't choose our traditional and much loved 3mm scale?