Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Hull Model Railway Exhibition

Some advanced notice of the Hull Miniature Railway Society's annual exhibition on 7th & 8th November 2009 at Costello Stadium, Hull. Full details of the venue, all exhibitors and how to get there by all forms of land transport can be found on the Society's website.

Layouts due to feature at the show are -

Cattybrook Road 4mm/ft, 00 by Jim Whitehead

Cressington Light Railway 4mm/ft, 009 by Peter Leadley

Devil's Creek 3.5mm/ft by Vanessa Howells & Mike Rimes

Hornby Vintage Tinplate Trains Classic 0 gauge by Doug Taylor

Hospital Gates 7mm/ft by Mally Baker, Neil Ripley & Colin Stark

Keyhaven 4mm/ft, 00 by Andy York

Lumpton Bank 2mm/ft, N by Peter & Daniel Fowler

Middlesea 4mm/ft, 00 by John Brien

Peffermill Road 4mm/ft, EM by Brian Sunman

St. Giles 4mm/ft, 00 by Dave Harrison

Sealane 7mm/ft by George Wilkinson

Sowood 7mm/ft by Norman & Nick Hughes

Tan-Yr-Allt & Dwffyr Uchaf 4mm/ft, 009 by Roger Christian & Stan Williams

Timpdon Lake Railway 16mm/ft, SM32 Live Steam by Chris MacKenzie

West London Parcels 4mm/ft, 00 by John Baggaley

Zorba's Mine 3.5mm/ft, 0n30 by Baz Ward

And last but not least -

Botanic Gardens 4mm/ft, P4 - Our little creation set in Hull circa 1913/14.

The show is well worth visiting; the standard is generally high but not intimidating! Even if it seems like it is a long trip for the show it might be worth remembering that a visit could easily be combined with a visit to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway or the National Railway Museum. Even all three if you make a weekend of it! Details of where to stay can be found here.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

The Ashes 2009

Not connected with railways I know, but I had to mention this! England have regained the Ashes after four years - fantastic!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Fast Lady

We had a trip to York today, for one reason; to see the Duchess.

I've always liked the class ever since Miles Kington covered it, and 46229 Duchess of Hamilton in particular, in one episode of his BBC series Steam Days, so to see it in its current stae was a must! Restreamling the Duchess has been comprehensively covered in the mainstream railway press but I wanted to show it here because it is still an wonderful achievement!

I could have stared at the loco all day; it is very imposing, far more than I thought it would be. It provides an interesting contrast with the LNER A4, of which 4468 Mallard 'lives' within the museum. I must have been an awesome sight in the 1930s to see machines like this bursting out of towns blackened by smoke and dirt from the industrial revolution and endless steam hauled trains passing by. It's shame the LMS Duchess and LNER A4 aren't standing alongside each other but hopefully this may happen at some point.

I really hope the 6229 can be restored to working order again. The sight of this on the mainline would be wonderful. I'd much rather see this than Flying Scotsman restored. Scotsman seems to be a millstone round the National Railway Museum's neck - it should have been cosmetically restored in the first instance so its appearance was accurate; either in BR green with its smoke deflectors and double chimney or back to an authentic LNER condition in apple green, not some hideous halfway house. It could even have been placed next to the museum's blue A4 to show two East Coast veterans together and allow the public excellent access to it.

If you are anywhere near York, go and see the streamlined Duchess, it is a very worthwhile trip!

Friday, 21 August 2009

It's Alive!

Well, not quite but allow me to explain...

Every route has an 'Engineers Line Reference' (ELR) which is usually a three letter code occasionally with a number afterwards on certain routes and is used to quickly and easily refer to routes. Bridges use the code along with their number, as the example in the photo above. An excellent guide to these code appears here.

I photographed a bridge just west of Market Weighton today which I hadn't visited before; it had merely been just a good intention! The ELR is proudly displayed on the bridge! 'YMW' stands for 'York - Market Weighton'. Despite being a closed route the structures are still looked after by the British Railways Board (BRB) so the route still officially exists, in other words it's alive!

The photos show the remains of the bridge; the eastern abutment is still complete as in the embankment leading up to it. However the wide view shows how most of the western abutment has been demolished and the embankment completely cleared. One of my ever faithful 620ti's would beneath the bridge rather than out in the open if the line was still open.

So is a case of not dead but just sleeping? Well I've covered this subject both last year and the year before so we'll see if anything ever happens, though local Train Operating Companies have shown the verbal support as one newspaper reported recently.

Finescale Railway Modeller's Workshop

Judging by the comments which occasionally get left on here I think my loyal band of followers share a number of my own modelling philosophies. As such a new modelling forum may well be of interest.

The Finescale Railway Modeller's Workshop has a rather nice atmosphere and is very much about encouraging everyone to improve their own modelling through sharing experiences on the forum - very much 'here's how I made it' rather than 'look at me, aren't I clever?!' I must say that it's an ethos which fits in with my own approach to modelling. The membership, although small, has a huge and wide knowledge base complete a wide range of interests which adds quite a nice quality as we all approach things differently.

It’s well worth a look even if only to read and comment about all the varied and diverse subjects contained within.

Click here to visit!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

A little bit of therapy

As you'll have seen from my last post I've been off work with 'suspected' swine flu - not the best of of situations really. The midwife panicing and saying I sshouldn't be anywhere near Suzi! But no chance of testing to see if I was 'contagious' either; so I spent a fair bit of time at my parents' house during the week. Anyway, all seems fine now; I'm something like what passes for 'normal' and Suzi and 'Squidge' (as our unborn child has been nicknamed) are doing fine with no symptoms of anything I may, or may not, have had!

As it was a case of just trying to build a bit of strength up, having spent much of the week asleep, a couple of afternoon workshop sessions were spent on this little project. It's destined for Botanic Gardens and this breed of loco was a feature of Hull's railways for many years with both the North Eastern Railway and the Hull & Barnsley Railway using 0-6-2t's. On the NER they were used extensively on trip workings across the city so BG will require, ultimately, a selection of them.

This one is a Class U and was the last of loco of this arrangement which the NER built; it featured smaller wheels than eariler types and was more suited to freight. The class became N10 under LNER ownership and lasted into the sixties with British Railways. The model is bing built using a Connoisseur Models' kit - it's a direct reduction of their 0 guage kit so some of the parts are quite small. An extra fret is included with some scale specific parts for building in 00 and EM. Sadly Connoisseur Models no longer supply kits in the smaller scale which is a real shame as they are excellent and were incredibly good value. This kit, complete aside from usual wheels, gears and motor, was only £42. Added to the fact that Jim McGeown's kits go together beautifully it represents amazing value. The only downside is that you must roll the boiler yourself but his instructions take you through that and it really isn't that bad!

It only took a couple of afternoons to get to this stage; it’s built mostly as it comes aside from changing and swapping some the frame spacers to allow clearance for the hornblocks. The advantage of it being a scaled down seven mil’ kit is that you get beautifully fine details for items such as the reversing lever (below). I’m replacing the supplied backhead with a slightly modified one from Alexander models which just looks better to my eye.

I find the best way to assemble etched kits, in this scale anyway, is to use a nice powerful soldering - sometimes soldering is seen as a black art but with the right iron it's really not that bad! My chosen iron is an Antex 660TCS soldering station which has a temperature controlled iron and I use this for everything! The iron supplied as standard is a 50 watt type. Many people use the Antex 25w iron which is a decent general purpose iron but thanks most electics being in the 660TCS's transformer you end up with a very light weight iron with real power behind it! After using this many normal irons just seem big and clumsy.

Kits like this one are a delight to work with; everything fitted without the need to modify anything. Whilst I don't think we should have eveything handed to us on a plate it is is good to have kits which are properly thought out.

And finally, just to show that we had some nice weather in East Yorkshire over the last few days, the neighbour's cat sunning himself in my Mum and Dad's garden!

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Mini Milk Bottles

Some time ago I explained how the sound which 'Dub-dees' made, which sounded remarkably like milk bottles and is a sound which my dad remembers from growing up in Hull when the Austerity 2-8-0 was a major part of the railway scene in the North East. They were also regular performers on the York - Beverley line.

I've had a fair bit off time off work this week; advised to stay at home with suspected swine flu. Unfortunately the midwife also advised that I shouldn't be around Suzi too much so I've spent a lot of time at my parents this week! So looking at a few things which have been in a rather long queue, this model caught my attention. It's a Bachmann Dub-dee which is being rebuilt to match those which had a Doncaster pattern firebox - a different internal arrangement meant the wash-out plugs are located differently which means the handrails had to be moved. This will eventually represent Hull, Dairycoates' 90695 which received this type of arrangement. It seems odd that Bachmann haven't produced this as a variation as it was quite common for BR examples later in life.

The Bachmann model has been around for about ten years now - this surprised me as it still seems like very good model with some nice refinements. It's a superb runner and seems to handle reasonable length trains perfectly well. The model, perhaps, lacks some of the refinements of much newer releases, such as some of the very fine details which Hornby now provide. From my point of view this isn't an issue - it works and looks right; all that I ask of a 'layout loco'! So I'm adding a few of the refinements we want for our use. And on a good base like this even the smallest additions can really 'lift' it. The AWS conduit along the driver's side running board is very noticeable on an engine with such plain lines as this, so it makes it very worthwhile to add it; once the other AWS bits are on it should look rather pleasing!

Next we need to order some parts from Dave Bradwell to really complete it! Once we have these in place it'll be numbering followed by weathering - going on the photos I have of 90695, that will be a rather fun task!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Teenage Kicks

While searching for a few bits at my parents’ house this morning I came across a model which I’d not seen for sometime. I must have been about fourteen or fifteen at the time I made this.

Just a little bit of background first; I intended (and still would like to) build a London based layout set in the ‘fifties. I did acquire various items for the layout; a few items were built, notably a number of locos but a couple of buildings along with various road vehicles. I also tried a couple of SMP plastic-base point kits. However these were rather small but it lead me to try a C&L turnout kit. The result was very pleasing and with jump leads attached things would even run through it without derailing! This was to lead to a bit of a slippery slope however as I thought that if I was going to build track maybe I should go all the way and try P4… Well, this thought combined with GCSEs then A Levels and working meant the layout didn’t ever progress beyond a couple of bare baseboards.

The model is a Dapol LNER N2 which has received a little bit of extra detail and weathering – nothing too special really but I do remember being rather pleased with the result when I’d done. Even though now the wheels look a little course to me back then I felt I’d disguised the ‘brightness’ of the metal chassis parts rather well. Perhaps what I find satisfying about it now is how the model looks very much one entity; it doesn’t look like the body and chassis were treated separately and all the weathering tones and colours tie nicely together too. Not a bad effort at all really; I’m still rather pleased with it! It’s just a shame it’ll probably never have a layout to run on.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Hornsea Town

Yesterday we popped across to Hornsea Freeport; it’s an outlet shopping kinda place better known by its old name, Hornsea Pottery. Now I must confess, things like this are not my cup of tea but I’m told they’re very good for bargains so despite my aversion to such places we went!

However I wasn’t just lost in shops carrying bags; we detoured via the station, well the disused station. It’s a lovely example of GT Andrew’s work. The large arches over the entrance are particularly pleasing and date from a time when the railway was quite happy show its prosperity. Since closure, after years of dereliction, the station buildings and station house are now converted into flats. Although for enthusiasts it is a shame to see buildings no longer fulfilling their original role it is pleasing that we haven’t lost these buildings forever.

I would have loved to have seen the line in operation; especially a summer Saturday when it played host to all sorts of excursions. Incidentally these trains would have passed through our own Botanic Gardens. The passengers from these trains would only have had a short walk from their train to the seafront and no doubt this would have been quite an attraction in itself. Recent work in connection with The Trans-Pennine Trail around the station has seen a nice link to its past appear -

I have a soft spot for Hornsea; I had a three month work placement in the town and I have to say the town wasn’t quite what I expected – previously I’d only seen it a handful of times before. Although the placement wasn’t a particularly happy time for me I did take solace in exploring parts of the town and what remained of the railway. This last point and reading about the history of railways in the vicinity of wherever I am or have been is a common theme for me – this is why recently I’ve delved into background to Rawcliffe station and other railways nearby as I have passed by the locations so many times. Making discoveries, even if only from books, can be a very satisfying pastime!

The suits for the wedding came from Hornsea once we discovered one well known company had a branch at Freeport – we figured it might be easier for everyone going there rather than into to Hull or York, how wrong we were! It could be a long story but one thing which beautifully illustrates the problems we had was one of my best friends only trying on his suit for the first time on the morning of the wedding!

Anyway, this process meant we often travelled between Hull, where Suzi’s parents live, and Hornsea. If you live in the Beverley area this route is not one you would often take. However, if you do, there are a few gems just waiting for you! One is Whitedale Station which was an intermittent station on the Hornsea line and will have lead a much quieter life than Hornsea Town did. That station is in very good condition and still looks very much like a station too! Sadly one building has disappeared now, I presume that it may have deteriorated significantly; the goods shed was a small wooden building with a slate roof and I’m very pleased I took photos of it last year though sadly only two. It still displayed its North Eastern Region blue and white paint, albeit it patchy and faded.

It just goes to show what you can quite easily find if you’re prepared to go off the beaten track, even if only slightly. Sometimes I think enthusiasts do get a little too obsessed with just locomotives – I think plenty of people are actually just ‘locomotive enthusiasts’ rather than ‘railway’ enthusiasts. Sadly these people will miss out some of the real gems that survive deep in the country or even down back streets in towns and cities.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Some Good News!

We have some news!

In January it will no longer be just Suzi and I!

We have our first child due in January. All is going well thankfully with only the odd little worry but all have proved unfounded.

I suspect we're about to see some absolutely enormous changes very soon!