Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Hull Paragon

Yesterday I briefly went to Hull Paragon - picking up tickets for today's trip to Manchester - I'm currently on the train home from there!

Hull Paragon is a rather intriguing station - although its surroundings are typical 'big city' surroundings the station itself has an altogether different air in places. The station buildings are a mix of ages, ranging from the original 1840 structure to the new canopy which has replaced the rather ugly office block at the front of the station. The train shed is an elegant structure and hasn't been disfigured by electrification - although not all of it is still rail served, closures during the 'sixties reduced the amount of capacity required.

The old excursion platforms now provide an area for stabling Tampers and other on track machines (OTM) - they sit in a quiet corner of the station and provide a contrast with the sometimes bustling areas in the station.

I often think this would make a nice feature on a model, complementing an otherwise busy urban setting. The different and old types of track present would look impressive with weeds and grass slowly taking over the ballast. Would certainly be good fun modelling such a scene!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Duff Nostalgia

A loco discussed previously has made a little progress. Won't say which loco it will be, but some of you may be able to guess from the recent work on the number two end.

Although current opinion seems to be that the new Vi Trains Class 47 ('Duff') is the best RTR class 47, in terms of the overall look, I still think my Lima conversions have their place in my future fleet and needs, plus they seem a nice cheap way of modelling locos from the class.

Are we making progress everywhere?

Many aspects of diesel and electric modelling seem to have come on in leaps and bounds over the last two or three years. Just look at the Hornby Class 60 for example. Despite the odd hiccup here and there, now is a pretty good time for the D&E modeller.

One area which is always discussed by finescale modellers is that of wheels. Obviously if you model in P4 like I do, then new wheels are a necessity for any converted diesel. However, even if the model remains 00 then new wheels can drastically improve the appearance - remember the first time you fitted, or saw, a Lima loco with Ultrascale wheels? If you do, you will know just what I mean! I mentioned this when discussing the options for my Class 24.

On the whole Bachmann provide decent wheels for their steam locomotives, however I'm never convinced by the wheels used on their diesels, the Class 08/09 excepted. They have a strange dished profile which spoils the appearance of models I find. In their favour, they are truly concentric and ensure pretty good quality running.

Wheelsets compared - left to right, Ultrascale drop-in replacement, Bachmann and Lima.
The above photo shows how much better proper 'scale' wheels can look - left, Ultrascale. I say 'scale' as they aren't to scale as they are an EM profile which allows a slightly wider tyre width than scale as well as a more generous flange, but the look is still very good. On the right is an old set of Lima wheels, with their deep, pizza-cutter flange and wide tyre. They don't look pretty at all! Bachmann's wheels, from their class 37 in this case, are in the middle. I didn't think they're much of an improvement over the Lima wheels. being painted makes them less offensive to the eye but otherwise, I'm not sure. It's the 'dishedness' which really puts me off. I can't help thinking that, with decent prototypical wheels for their steam locomotives that they've missed a trick here. You only have to look at the wheels which come as standard with Heljan's Western to see what's possible and how much better locos look for it.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Class 60

A second unexpected day produced a nice little surprise for me.

Stored in the workshop is my model of 60 093 Jack Stirk which is based on a Lima and I must have finished it at least six years ago - that's a worrying thought. I think it may have been my first finished diesel in P4! I used Tim Shackleton's articles in MRJ as a basis for my own model but didn't go the whole hog with the mechanism.

I tried the loco on my test track to see if it would still work - it was previously a wonderfully smooth loco, despite retaining a completely standard Lima motor bogie. I didn't do anything to it other than rewheel and properly lubricate it. Much to my surprise, the model still ran very well, up and down the metre long test track, perhaps a little noisier than before though this can be forgiven after such a long period of inactivity.

Since the introduction of the Hornby model I had wondered about selling '093 but keeping and making full use of older models is something I have mentioned here before. I do think that the Lima Class 60 looks right, despite lacking in fine detail when compared with Hornby's newer version. The mechanism is very old fashioned compared with the newer version but this one, at least, is still very usable.

In time I want to fit a DCC decoder and new lights - the lights fitted are by Express Models but are their 'Lightstore' version which isn't compatible at all with DCC though pretty good for DC operation. This would bring the model into line with more recent models with the minimum of work. It wouldn't be able to take the heaviest trains which one may expect a sixty to handle but the period of the layout where it will end up will be such that the sixties had moved on to some more menial tasks by this point, so it should fit in rather well and will make full use of a model which was a real milestone for me at the time.

Monday, 16 February 2009

An Unexpected Day Off

With my car needing a new clutch, I had an unexpected day off!

I was very keen to make the most of this - part of the day was spent on items for Botanic Gardens, I'll update these separately, or you always come and see us at Scalefour North in April!

One model which I had a good look at today was my attempt at modelling 37 065, which has been a long term resident of the workshop. I haven't done much to it recently - the most recent work has centred around the fuel/water tanks, work which I could undertake at home, away from the workshop.

What I'm trying to work out is if this is worth the effort - in the context of a layout this work may not be noticeable and if this was the case is it a worth while exercise? Comparing the result with my model of 37 677, the resultant depth achieved is much better - however, this is consciously comparing the two.

From 'normal viewing angles' I think the difference is small. The hardest part of all of this is balancing the time invested with the end result. I'm wondering if the ideal compromise maybe to leave the Bachmann tanks as they come and merely enhance and add detail to the ends and recesses. However, the solution must be one that I will be happy with in the long term - if I leave this detail, will I then wish I had taken the extra time?!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Operation 24

The Class 24 is a favourite loco of mine - the original locos with the 'bald' cab roofs give them a delightfully old fashioned look, despite them representing a new technology when they appeared originally. They're a loco of which I have early memories, despite their withdrawal before I was born! They have a long association with the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and I remember seeing them when I was quite young - not crystal clear memories, but a feeling of familiarity whenever I see them - much like my memories of blue Peaks at York by National Railway Museum! Anyway, before I go off on a tangent...

This liking for the Class 24 meant that when I found out that one, D5096, spent a week when it was brand new working passenger trains on the York - Beverley line, I jumped at that the chance to model it! About ten years ago I converted a Hornby Class 25 into a Class 24 using the Craftsman kit, following an article in an old copy of Model Railways by Tony Geary - I've always enjoyed his articles, those on loco building in the early copies of British Railway Modelling were a huge inspiration for me. The end result wasn't that bad, I even managed to re-wheel it (in 00) using Gibson coach wheels! In the end I wasn't completely satisfied with it, so it quietly fell out of use.

The want and need for a twenty-four for Eastmoor has remained ever since. About four years ago (see none of my modelling is ever quick!) I bought a Bachmann Class 24 in original BR green, sans warning panels. Initially I intended to just renumber the loco before weathering and detailing. However, the green just isn't right to my eyes - a common problem with many ready-to-run locomotives in BR green - so it was left for a rainy day some time.

Now I wondering what to do with the loco. I'm not convinced by the profile and shape of the roof and cab windows. It can look OK with some liveries, but the white band at cantrail height just emphasises the 'flatness' of the curve of the roof. What are the options?

Firstly I could live with it. Hmmm... not sure with that, not meddling isn't my style! There are two options that have come to mind - either modify the existing cabs or fit modified Hornby Class 25 cabs. Trevor Hale has tried the former and the result was very promising. I wonder, however, if using the Hornby cabs would allow for easier consistency over a series of locos. It needs careful thought, especially before cutting large chunks out!

Other work is minimal really - normal detailing but also some remedial work around the roof. One key part is to re-wheel despite it remaining 00. Gibson produce some rather nice wheels for this type, complete with the multiple lightening holes! I will keep you all updated as ever!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Western Brakegear - The Final Conclusion

A little while ago you may remember that I was messing about with a Heljan Western and Brassmasters' brake gear, well this is the end result.

The Heljan model has come in for some quite strong criticism when it first came out - the now defunct Modern Railway Modelling gave it quite a damning review in fact. There are some issues with the cab roof, but I find I can live with them. The Bachmann Class 40 has issues too but I just cannot live them though the chassis is very useful - this was too subjected to similar reviews as the Western. Somehow the Western still seems an acceptable model and with the fine brake gear added it seems to take the model to a whole new level.