Wednesday, 31 July 2013

That's Better!

After the problems with this one the other day, I think I've managed to bring it back round...

The paint was rubbed down to give the new paint better adherance and resprayed on a slightly cooler and less humid day than previously and looks much better for it! Next the body requires lining. This isn't my favourite task but once it's done, locos do look very nice!

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Signal Box Evolution

Over the last couple of years a lot has been written about the plan to ultimately close all the railway's signal boxes and concentrate signalling operations from just a handful of large Railway Operating Centres ('ROCs' as they're now known). This has been even more the case over the last week with articles covering the 26 boxes which have been added to the list of listed signal boxes.

The funny thing to me seems that over the 'net there are enthusiasts up in arms that boxes are going to be demolished en masse, yet hardly any seem bothered about those who work in them! The buildings are only a part of it, sadly there are many enthusiasts who cannot see this.

And this is only part of the evolution of the signal box - thousands of mechanical signal boxes have already disappeared since the turn of the 20th century as methods of control have evolved. And in some existing boxes the process of evolution can seen at the one location. Selby West Signal Box is one such place. The box was originally on of several boxes in the town, with a lever frame within. Now it's the only signal box (though there's still the Swingbridge and a Gate Box at Barlby) and controls the whole of the town's railways, though the have been cut back in recent times, including the loss of the ECML following the Selby Diversion. It has an 'NX' Panel which was once in Selby South SB and if you look carefully you can see where the indications for the through roads in the station and other long gone sections once were. Each set of CCTV crossing equipment represents a signal box whose duties have been taken over by Selby West too - all part of the continuous evolution of the signal box.

Friday, 19 July 2013


I really should know better! It's been far too warm painting, well spraying. And I ended up with a very slight 'orange peel' effect in places. All it not lost! Using a fibre glass pencil or Garryflex abrasive blocks, you can lightly smooth the surface of the paint once it's hardened for two or three days, then you polish the result (which will be covered in lots of small scratches) with a cotton bud and T-Cut.

What you mustn't do it continue to polish the paint for too long because you've become too engrossed with Test Match Special! If you do, this will be the result, you'll go through the paint and reveal the primer beneath!

I think we'll need another coat of black paint!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Rails to the Sands

Summer has arrived in the UK! We've had temperatures approaching 30ÂșC and it's been lovely!

View over the sands towards Scalby Mills.

Suzi and I don't work 'normal' hours - this means we have far more time at home than most couples do. And with a pet human not yet at school, it means that while many others sit chained to their desks we can be sitting on the beach at Scarborough!

So while office workers looked longingly out of the window we headed to Scarborough which is a lovely seaside town on the Yorkshire coast. It's survived quite well and has avoided turning into a cheap, down-at-heal place which some seaside resorts have done. This is perhaps as whilst tourism is still a major source of income, other industries still provide much of the area's employment. The split between the North and South Bays provides tow contrasting areas; the South Bay tends to be busier, with shops and amusements right by the beach whereas the North Bay is much quieter with barely any shops by the beach.

Half Fare

Linking Peasholm Park with Scalby Mills, right at the tip of the North Bay is the North Bay Railway, which just scrapes in as 'miniature' with its rather generous 20" gauge. Despite the wide gauge the line is very much miniature in character. It runs through Northstead Manor Gardens which were once the grounds of a medieval manor house, other parts of the grounds became Peasholm Park.

The railway's original two locomotives were supplied by Hudswell-Clarke of Leeds; despite appearances, they're actually diesel hydraulics. Their styling is clearly based upon that of the LNER's pacifics, which were then very modern. The railway aped the glamour of the main line railway, and what was once a very 'modern' appearance now seems, perhaps, a 'classic' railway style to our 2013 eyes.

Since the line has been privatised much work has gone into brightening up the line and generally refreshing it. The original two locos are still owned by the Council but are leased to the operator (so still aping 'modern' practice!) as well as two additional locos, both contemporaries of the resident locos and also Hudswell-Clarke products. In fact the whole area has seen a lot of work to renovate the gardens, the centrepiece being the reopened Open Air Theatre.

The northern end of the line has quite a different character from the lower end, much more open with lovely views across the North Bay. The station at Scalby Mills mimics a mainline terminus with its three roads and large 'signal box'.

Scalby Mills 'Signal Box', which actually masks a vent from the sewerage works below!

We actually started at Scalby Mills and travelled to Peasholm before walking the short distance to the beach! A really lovely day out, especially for a train mad little boy who got a ride on a train to the beach, with ice cream before a ride back before going home!

Further Reading

North Bay Railway

Saturday, 6 July 2013

The Great Gathering

The six surviving LNER A4s in the Great Hall at the NRM.

After months (years?) of planning, the six surviving LNER class A4s came together at the National Railway Museum at the launch of the Mallard 75 celebrations. I think this is a sight which most enthusiasts would quite willingly have agreed would never happen, but somehow it has! A lot of work has gone into making the two exiles presentable and the result, combined with the three working example of the class is rather impressive.

4464 Bittern, fresh from its 90 mph exploits, completed the line up of three garter blue locos complete with their valances. I wonder when the last time three locos in this condition were seen together?

As well as all the goings on in The Great Hall, the Museum's Art Gallery features a new exhibition focusing on speed in railway advertisments; there also some appropriate models within including a very suitable one for Mallard 75.

The Great Gathering is well worth visiting; it's very busy and you won't get people-less photos (but plenty of those who pay extra for the closed photos sessions will no doubt share theirs on flickr! But this isn't the point really - once the two North American residents head back to their retirement homes, it's very, very unlikely you'll ever be able to see this line up again.

If you try hard you can just fit all six in a photo!