Friday, 30 March 2012

In Short Supply

Many 'modern' freight workings tend to be rather long affairs - thirty large bogie wagons is nothing out of the ordinary and really shows one of the major plus points of rail. That is, to move large amounts of 'stuff' with a minimum of fuss. These trains, however, are hard to accommodate for many modellers - especially in four mil' where trains could scale out to up twenty feet long very easily!

All is not lost though as some workings are short, such as 6J94 at the moment. Heading towards Hull with steel bound for the Docks on 30th March 2012 was 66084 with just three BYA coil wagons. A few days previously I noted the same working with just four BDA steel wagons. An excellent example of a 'space friendly' working which many modellers could accommodate, even on modest layouts.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Refining One's Chopper

This follows on from a previous post concerning class 20s. They'll form a key part of the motive power for West Halton on trip workings between West Halton Sidings and Scunthorpe. So I'm spending a little time refining the already good Bachmann product.

It provides a good basis for a model; it's well proportioned and looks 'right'. Some details are a little basic, but if you can address these the result should be quite pleasing. Certainly refining items such as cab front handrails and lamp irons make an instant impact to appearance. Replacing a number of small items will add up to a big difference!

I've also on this model, set to become a rather tatty 20104 in Red Stripe livery, Shawplan's louvre doors. In brass they do look good - two types are provided - but I think the difference will be less obvious once the loco is painted. However, it's a nice easy upgrade so one which I think I'll repeat. Which brings us up to date with this one; still plenty to do, but slowly getting there!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Tractor at Crabley

Every so often something will come along and add that little bit of variety to the usual procession of units and class 66s! Direct Rail Services class 37, 37612, on the 0Z43 route learning trip from York this morning passing Crabley Creek Signal Box.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

NER Brake Van Progress

The North Eastern brake van which I have been working on recently is now ready for painting! Steps are now in place, which are hopefully an improvement over the moulded originals - they should prove more robust too. I have fitted whatever brake gear can be seen, which is very little really - safety loops for the brake hangers will be fitted after painting I think as they will make removal of the wheels a little tricky.

The final parts required will be the two roof pieces for which I have 15 thou brass sheet ready and waiting!

How to Compromise?

Many parts of modelling are a compromise - even P4 is compromised to a certain degree. Much of this is all necessary so we can accommodate a layout or finish models in a reasonable amount of time. Sometimes we need to compromise between accuracy and the overall effect. It might be a strange thing to read here, especially given my 'P4 leanings' but bear with me...

This is a good example of what I mean. Bachmann's Class 20 has slight 'underfed' bogies. The same applies with their ealier Class 37s too. There's not quite enough depth to the frame. It's not to the extent where it looks completely wrong however, but enough for the more informed observor to question its appearance. With new (ex-Hornby Class 50 bogie) brake cylinders they certainly look fine. The lower 'bar' isn't wrong I hasten to add, but there were variations between locos which explains the presence of filler here. But compare with the 'chunkier' ones below -

These are spares from a Heljan Baby Deltic - available from Howes of Oxford. Now this is where the compromise comes in... Essentially the bogies are the same; same wheelbase, same shape, same basic design and structure. But there are detail differences. You'll notice, correctly, more bolt detail on the Bachmann moulding which the Baby Deltics lack and the pipe runs are in slightly different locations. So, these are essentially wrong for a class 20! But from a distance do they provide a more convincing appearance? Add new sand boxes (cut from the Bachmann originals), steps and brake cylinders and the they'll look pretty good but will still be wrong!

I'll leave for you to decide...

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Morning Mist

I suspect there are few places of work that could greet you in such a delightful way as this does early in the morning...

I consider myself to be rather fortunate!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Class 60 Return

The Class 60 made a welcome return to the Hull line today - it was the first train hauled by one of the class for some time (although one did run light engine on route learning duties recently).

DBS liveried 60091 headed the 6T62 1450 Brough - Doncaster Up Decoy Yard and ran about an hour and a half early. It's seen hear about to pass Crabley Creek Signal Box.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Shed No Tears

Frodingham Depot is well known by many enthusiasts, both as a steam shed than as a diesel depot (though no so well known as an OTM Depot as it is now) but just over the road was another motive power depot, which still stands, but it is very much overlooked. There shed still, in a sense, serves the local transport industry. There's also quite a good cafe in part of it now. It was a favourite with some of the P-Way staff at Scunthorpe Steelworks!

However, not all parts of it have fared quite so well. The water tower succumbed some time ago, its purpose having long disappeared. The branch itself closed in the 1980s when foreign ore, with its higher iron content and lower cost, became preferable to locally mined ironstone.

Ore Mining Branch No. 20 stands outside the OMB shed at Frodingham, Scunthorpe. The front of the shed can just be made out behind the rear of the locomotive.

Photo from AFRPS Photostream on Flickr

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Missing Exhibits?

I think yesterday was rather good! It may teach Suzi to give a two year free choice again though! She asked him what he'd like to do - "See big and small trains!" was his reply! In the world of our two year old, this really points to his desire to go to the National Railway Museum in York!

One thing I've noticed over the last few months when I visited is that many of the display cases which used to be present in various parts of the museum have disappeared. Many of these contained small exhibits, models and dioramas. There's still the Warehouse but the nature of this area is very different from models and dioramas displayed in their own right. In the photo above is a space which used to contain a large display case with a diorama which showed the end of Euston station which linked in rather well with the gates which are displayed on the adjacent wall. Now there's just an empty space...

Models, and some people don't realise this, do require maintenance to keep them looking presentable - even those in glass cases require care to prevent them fading and deteriorating. So you would expect some rotation of exhibits in this respect. But other areas have seen similar items removed. The top end of the 'Station Hall' seems bare without the long cases which used to display a whole host of smaller items. It seems that the Station Hall is rather 'dumbed down' compared with how it was not so long ago. Many items have moved round and there's a rather large proportion of the hall devoted to displaying vehicles from the Royal Train. It's a subject worthy of coverage but not at the expense of other areas. But what really, to me anyway, seems to be an upsetting sign is the information board next to the Museum's Class 87 locomotive - it doesn't actually mention what type of locomotive it is. It strikes me of trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator - in the case of a museum I don't see the point in this. People who make a conscious decision to go to a museum to enhance life and learn about things want the information there; those who go 'cos it's free' and let their children run riot don't care about the information boards, judging from my own observations of such families, and we've all seen them at all sorts of attractions!

I fully understand and appreciate the need to appeal to many types of people - it's healthy too. A museum just for enthusiasts could be horribly dull. Even the Wizard Week gets people in and, I would hope, financially benefits the museum. It better do as it was horrible to be there during the week. I visited to see the L&Y Signalling School layout in operation on the Saturday of that week and it was terribly busy and noisy!

So I hope the removal of certain smaller exhibits from the main areas isn't an indication in direction of the direction the NRM wishes to take - don't get me wrong either. I love the museum and feel privileged to have it so close at hand. but I just want to see it continue to offer a very high quality (in terms of exhibits and information on hand) for many years to come.

Thursday, 1 March 2012


Time goes by far too quickly - in life generally it does. Thomas isn't a baby any more he's a proper little person who can, in the literal sense, stand on his own two feet! But it only seems like a few months since he was a tiny premature baby.

This week I've been working on a brake van for Botanic Gardens in the quiet moments at work - and I was shocked when I was going through photographs and my blog to find the last time I did anything constructive with it was 2008! Though it has covered many scale miles on Botanic Gardens. So, just a little time has passed then - I could have sworn I'd last done anything in the summer! But finally this has found its way to the front of the queue - mainly because it required lots of little items to be fitted which can be fitted in between trains on Sunday and late on as the line quietens down for the night. During the day doing anything other than signalling trains is hard - even going for a wee requires careful timing at certain times!

Much of the work thus far had concerned bastardising the chassis to enable Bill Bedford W Irons to be fitted - the 3' 6" wheel versions were not as user friendly as his other ones, which had surprised me greatly. However the width of the units was not compatible with the thick moulded solebars of the Slater's kit. So I replaced the whole lot, salvaging the mould axle boxes and springs which are rather good. It did leave rather bare 20 thou plastic where the chunky wooden solebars should be. I'd intended to add an overlay to thicken this bit right up to where it should be and add bolt detail separately. However, adding lots of bolts individually is very time consuming and not always what you want to do when you only have the odd hour here and there to do your modelling. However, when you must remain somewhere and can't leave with decent length breaks, the opportunity arises... And one book came in very useful for this work - Ian Sadler's delightful book North Eastern Railway Brake Vans which contains a wealth of information as well as superb drawings and photographs. Perfect really until you realise that vans tended to be modified on an ad-hoc basis so few were anything like identical after a few years in service! But this is a 'typical' North Eastern Railway (NER) 'birdcage' without the later additions - no doubt the modified vans will follow at some point!

I thought I knew exactly what was needed, but the more I seemed to do the more I realised I didn't know! Not a new experience I guess but a little frustrating! The problem was how brake gear and was arranged - drawings showed V hangers mid-way along the underframe but photos didn't seem to show anything lurking where I thought they should be. I didn't want to doubt Mr Sadler's work as it seemed pretty comprehensive.

Fortunately just a few miles away is Hull's Streetlife museum and within their 'Railway Gallery' is a NER brake van, matching the diagram which Slaters chose all those years ago! The only problem is that the rather confined environment means photography isn't very easy but one side of the underframe is readily accessible.

So a visit by Thomas and myself found the solution to my curiosity. The V hangers are not attached to the solebars but the drawings do show them in the correct position - confused? Stick with my, my story gets better!

They actually sit on the lengths of timber which correct the heavy end stanchions which themselves are extended below the headstocks to form hanging buffers. This is not something which photos from normal angles will ever show clearly to any extent but first hand research like this is the best way to determine details like this.

I also got a couple of useful photos of the arrangement at the brake end, the arrangements under the 'birdcage' - though I suspect I'll leave this but as it'll be very hard to see behind the wheels. It also afforded an opportunity to see the rather neat combined spring and brake hanger. However, approach with caution...

Comparing this van with photos in the aforementioned book, it seems that the long footboards are plain on the preserved van whereas they are lipped in archive photos. As a aid it's invaluable must must be used in conjunction with information relating to the time you're modelling. Having looked at the drawing in Peter Tatlow's LNER Wagons covering NER wagons, it looks like V hanger itself could be on the inside of the timber mentioned. It's a small detail, but does demonstrate the need for careful research.

So this is how things currently stand - compared with the 'before' shot at the start of this little piece, I hope the number of additions is obvious. I've had to simplify the lamp irons slightly as replicating them exactly would, I felt, make them appear a little clumsy in model form. However, the hand rails have not been simplified, and those horizontal handrails on the van sides were very awkward indeed! Soldered butt joints at either end were never going to be simple were they?!

Not bad for a few hours very pleasant work - still a few bits to go. The roof will probably changed for 15 thou sheet brass as I'm using this on a couple of BR brake vans as this avoids sheet plastic warping of being damaged or caught during handling under exhibition conditions. Then it's just a simple matter of building at least another fifty wagons so we can marshal trains to put it on!