Friday, 25 December 2015
I would like to wish all those who come here to read the varied things which I post on my blog a very happy Christmas! I hope that you have a restful and relaxing Christmas and don't suffer too much from annoying relations and rubbish presents.
May the day bring you all many train shaped gifts!
Wednesday, 23 December 2015
|North Lincolnshire Sunset|
On Christmas Eve 2015 North Lincolnshire will be resignalled and the traditional signalling will disappear and ninety signalmen will see their jobs go.
The North Lincolnshire mainline has been a mecca for enthusiasts with its frequent freight trains and back drop of ex-Great Central signal boxes and semaphore signals. My Dad and I used to visit when I was younger - it was just over twenty miles from us. I visited most of the boxes a couple of months ago but I felt like I wanted to go and see Barnetby station one last time. I didn't really enjoy it though. It was full of people also seeing things for a final time, but for many it was a 'jolly'. It was as if they didn't understand or could comprehend that jobs are at stake here, far more than just the signals. I felt like a voyeur. Almost unsavory. I think I would have been annoyed with myself had I not have made the effort to visit.
The industry is going through many changes at the moment, and often it is those on the frontline who really feel the impact of schemes like this. Signal boxes are closing at a similar rate through resignalling schemes as they have over the last thirty years or so, but with fewer boxes left, a scheme like the North Lincs one have a greater impact than they might have previously done.
Some enthusiasts will lament the semaphores as merely a backdrop for their photos, but this traditional way of working has been established for years and for many of the staff, this will be a very hard time indeed. Fortunately there are no compulsory redundancies this time round.
|60059 comes off the Lincoln line at Wrawby Junction whilst an unidentified class 66 waits on the Down Goods with a loaded Bio-Mass working.|
I would liek to wish all the staff involved all the best in whatever they do, either on the railway or beyond.
Tuesday, 22 December 2015
Sunday, 20 December 2015
|'Testing' the Playmobil - that's 'testing' not 'playing'!|
After carefully buying bits and pieces of Playmobil we finally had everything together last night!
We did actually buy a few pieces of new LGB track (LGB supplied the original track to Playmobil for thier range) from Garden Railway Specialists whose service was excellent and very prompt - ordered at lunchtime and arriving the next morning just days before Christmas is very good indeed!
This might have been the loco's first decent run in years! Since we bought it, it has only run up and down a very short test track to check it before and after a service. It was very impressive just how well it ran, especially on track which has been stored for clearly a long time with heavily tarnished rails. Despite this, it was flawless. Not bad for a model which is at least twenty years old and had been stored for a long period.
Testing probably continued for longer than it needed to, but it was rather nice seeing the loco and its new stock pottering around the lounge! I think I regressed a good few years in the process too!
Now it's all wrapped up and hopefully a little boy will be pleased and surprised when he sees it.
Wednesday, 16 December 2015
For years we've heard people bang on and on about "getting young people interested" and while this does make some sense, it is very much flawed. Firstly, children lack the buying power to actually have any real influence on the hobby as far as I can see.
The newcomers who have the money to spend which can make a difference are, I think, the thirty and forty some-things, who are either returning to the hobby or are making a start with it. They have the time and money to properly enjoy things. The increasing standard of ready made stock has no doubt done a lot to draw them in along with the massive leaps forward with the hobby in terms of control systems and scenic materials. No doubt the internet has helped things too - it is so easy to browse pretty much anything.
Despite this key group, we still hear people saying we need to get children interested. On one level this is true, as many people are those returning to the hobby after years of cars, jobs/careers, families, etc. In order to return you must have been somewhere in the first place! Children will find the hobby a struggle on pocket money - those who are heavily or actively involved tend to be those like me, with a parent or close relation interested. So you help them, and they help fund your hobby! In essence anyway!
But to really grab a child's interest, are clubs and exhibitions getting it wrong?
Plenty of shows have a 'Thomas layout', and for the most part, they're terrible. Creations rushed in clubrooms so "there's something for the kids" - from personal observations many are frustrating as the trains are not very controllable. They set off like performance cars and have no degree of control beyond very fast and stop. Little more than toys - and how many adults think that this crap will draw a child into a long term hobby?
My little boy, Thomas, loves trains. He loves running things on 'grandpa's layout' - at home there are trains and books and the same is true at both sets of grandparents' houses! He comes to shows with us and he has really enjoyed having a go with things like the Lego layout which appears at many northern shows (very good and far better than the Thomas layouts I've mentioned!). But one thing has stood out for me. It's when he's had a turn operating a 'proper' layout.
|Thomas operating Colinton at Scalefour North earlier this year.|
This picture was taken at Scalefour North earlier this year. Not an obvious show for a child I admit, but this was repeated at Manchester a couple of weeks ago. He has been invited to have a go with a couple of layouts at shows - there was a delightful 3mm layout, Newfields Wharf, and Thomas saw an older boy, maybe eight or nine, shunting from the viewing side. So he said "I'd like a go!" I told him to ask the man if he could. So he politely asked and spent about fifteen minutes shunting! He got far more from this than the Thomas layout elsewhere in the show. Similarly at Warley a week before he had had a go with the Shelfie, Paul Marshall-Potter's lovely minimalist layout. Experiences like this are great!
Also at Manchester I was talking to a very nice and helpful man on the MERG stand about their DCC system. As Thomas is bound to operate and help with my layout, I asked if it was OK if he tried it on their demonstration layout. Kindly they obliged and he managed it very well. Now I will admit that not every child would react like Thomas and be as careful, but I think when a child takes an interest, you can tell they're not going to be destructive...
The key to these examples is that they were proper layouts which worked well and were built to a high standard with stock which worked very well. They were not collections of cast off track and equipment hurriedly assembled in a damp club room. Thomas, and any other child given the same opportunity, can see just how satisfying the hobby can be. I could see how much satisfaction he got from the experiences.
We want to sell our amazing hobby as one which can be taken seriously and be satisfying, entertaining and sociable all at the same time. We owe it to the hobby to take new entrants of all ages seriously and not dumb down based on age and experience.
Tuesday, 15 December 2015
|Hertsmonceux by Andy Jones. It's a lovely layout, very well executed and worked flawlessly!|
Photo courtesy of Andy Jones
This year saw the return of the Manchester MRS' annual show as a their traditional, Christmas model railway exhibtion! And it must be about the last which is still a traditional city centre show. It moved out of the centre a few years back and we stopped going to it - it had moved from it pre-Christmas time already. I think it's been a tradition for many modellers and families to go to it at this time of year, so it's great for it to return!
|New Hey by Andy Cooper. This was the layout's last appearance - quite a fitting end for it to be seen at a local show I think.|
The venue, The Barnes Wallis building, worked very well and was just a short walk from Manchester Piccadilly Station - it meant we could very conveniently get the train across the Pennines, just like we used to! Though the 'we' had changed as we included the third generation Wells!
|Tollesbury Quay - what a delightful model! The colouring was spot on and it had a real sense of space, despite its quite modest size.|
As an added attraction - the tide would come in and out every couple of hours too!
Overall, what a cracking show! If you didn't go this year, make a point of visiting next year!
Albion Yard - Home of the Shelfie
Sunday, 29 November 2015
Fifty years ago today the last trains ran on the York - Beverley line. Reminders of the line still remain - some more obvious than others. In Market Weighton, moved well away from its former home, an ex-NER bench now rests by the road out of the town.
Fifty years before, it was witnessing scenes like this on the line's final day.
Minsters Rail Campaign
Wednesday, 25 November 2015
|Hornby posted a link on their official Facebook page for their 'Black Friday' deals, but nothing, apparently for the "real modeller"!|
The "real modeller"?!
What is a "real modeller"? The "real modeller" can happily make use of some of the Railroad range. A Comet or High Level chassis under the Jinty body could be a good start in the world of finescale modelling. The former Lima class 31 makes an excellent basis for a model of the type too. Both these two examples were being offered when I wrote this post on Hornby's website.
I wonder if I've missed the point entirely - surely a "real modeller" can happily use even the most basic of RTR and kits as a basis for a model? They may carefully choose their starting point, after all one who doesn't mind taking their time with a model is quite likely to think and plan projects carefully in order to make the best of the parts available I think. Or is this just me? I do despair a little if this is a commonly held view - that the "real modeller" wants everything top spec with nothing left for them to do. It would be a sad state for the hobby if this was the case. I freely admit that the RTR releases of the last ten or so years has improved enormously compared with ten years before that which can allow time to be freed up to concentrate on other parts of a layout, for example. But...
Am I not a "real modeller" if I am quite happy to make use of a basic starting point for a model I would like to build?
Wednesday, 18 November 2015
A real day of progress today - one of those rare days where a good few hours of uninterrupted modelling could take place! Actually, aside from the opportunity to actually make a bit of progress, it's amazing how refreshing and satisfying it was - it reaffirms my belief that our hobbies are a very good form of therapy.
The Lima model has been transformed by Shawplan's etches around the cab and the windscreens and windows - hopefully when anyone looks at the model it won't be obviosu that it has a Lima model at its heart.
And quite a momentous day, two locos in primer and ready to be painted!
Monday, 9 November 2015
It's not easy program to watch as it's a difficult subject but it is something which, as a society, we need to be able talk and be open about.
Professor Green: Suicide and Me - Full programe on iPlayer
Wednesday, 4 November 2015
Saturday, 24 October 2015
Half term is here!
So just a few ideas for railway days out perfect for families!
1. National Railway Museum
For many the National Railway Museum in York is one of the places to visit for anyone with even just a passing interest in railways. It's also a great family day out for all ages - for the first time visitor, the shear number of exhibits can easily fill a full day and if you return, you'll be amazed just how much you missed first time round!
|National Railway Museum, York|
The big appeal for most people is the collection of locomotives in York but beyond this there's a huge number of smaller exhibits throughout and especially in the Warehouse. The collection is incredibly comprehensive with items from all parts of the railways
Catering is not the best, although very well presented the standard and choice is not what it should be - children's food is only available in the Mallard Cafe in the Great Hall. The restaurant in the Station Hall ceased to provide food specifically for children after it was refurbished. The decor is very nice indeed with a mix of stylised carriage compartments and wooden railway containers, but the level of pretension displayed with the approach to the menu is very inappropriate for a museum which should be catering (figuratively and literally) for all. Those with special dietary needs would be wise to plan ahead.
|In The Great Hall|
It represents one of the best railway days out in the UK!
TIP Join the Friends of the NRM before you visit! For just £20 you'll be able to park for £2 instead of £9, receive a discount of 10% in the shops and a massive discount of 35% in both the restuarant and the Mallard cafe! If a family visit, you'll more than make you money back on parking and food alone at the same time as a supporting a very good cause.
National Railway Musuem
2. North Yorkshire Moors Railway
The North Yorkshire Moors Railway is one of the premier heritage lines in the UK. The journey it offers is quite unique, especially with the last leg to Whitby running over the national network once north of Grosmont (pronounced 'Grow-Mont' incidentally). To travel along the full length does take quite a while for the distance covered, but what was once a disadvantage for travellers is now a major appeal for present day visitors - with over an hour and a half on a steam hauled train through a lovely part of Yorkshire on the way to the seaside, it's no wonder so many people visit.
|Goathland Railway Station|
The railway is one which really can provide a full day out, starting at Pickering you could travel all the way to Whitby and spend the day there (and vice versa), or travel the length of the line stopping off at the different stations as you go. The first station after Pickering is Levisham which is a good couple of miles from the village of Levisham, which despite bing a lovely little village itself, most passengers would probably find the walk a little too much! The station itself is perhaps the most basic along the line - there are still facilities for food though, but in the form of a kiosk. the station is also home to the country’s "only professional Artist in Residence on a heritage railway". In summer it's a delightful spot, but in winter, it's rather bracing!
Goathland is an obvious and very popular spot as a result of ITV's series Heartbeat being filmed there - signs proclaim 'Aidensfields' in the village and you can buy sixties themed souvenirs should you want to. The railway station in the village featured heavily during the show's run but it will be known to many younger visitors thanks to its Harry Potter connection. Beyond its media roles, the station is a lovely attraction in itself - a cafe in the old goods shed provides simple lunches and in summer just eating outside watching the trains goes by can be destination enough!
North Yorkshire Moors Railway
3. East Lancs Railway
The East Lancashire Railway runs from Heywood to Rawtenstall via Bury - urban Bury providing a contrast with the scenery of the Irwell Valley.
|Ex-LMS 'Crab' climbing the 'sky jump' on the approach to Bury Bolton Street - this is the view from the Bury Premier Inn!|
Few heritage railways provide a glimpse of how many urban stations used to be when steam still ruled on our railways, but Bury can. Bolton Street Station may be not be the prettiest with its fifties facade, but it has a unique atmosphere and provides the facilities you would expect for a family day. The line links market towns and villages and its character changes completely.
|Bury Bolton Street Station|
The larger stations at Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall both have good facilities for families - the building will appear old to the casual visitor but both main station buildings at Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall are relatively new as the originals were demolished by British Rail, the attention to detail and dedication is a reflection of the railway as a whole. Heywood's facilities are rather basic, but it does have easy parking and is just a mile off the M62.
|Deltic, D9009, at Rawtenstall Railway Station|
The trains themselves are well presented and clean and a very good selection of former mainline locomotives draw the crowds. This is aided and abetted by friendly and helpful staff and volunteers. The whole experience is very good indeed.
And if you choose to stay, the Premier Inn in Bury is a short distance from the railway, many of the rooms over look the line to Heywood - perfect for train mad children!
East Lancashire Railway
Premier Inn, Bury
|Bedale Railway Station|
Wensleydale is perhaps as famous for its cheese as it is for its scenery. And once, a railway ran right through the whole dale.
|A rainy day at Leyburn.|
The line today starts at Northallerton West and ends at Redmire within sight of Castle Bolton running via the delightful market towns of Bedale and Leyburn. Plans are in hand for an extension towards Aysgarth - from the station on a still day you can hear the water at the Falls! Until then, the line can easily occupy a whole day if you use it to travel between the towns and explore each one in turn. The best scenery is between Leyburn and Redmire, just as the hills begin to get bigger and the weather more changeable!
For many years the railway ran right along the Dale, leaving the East Coast Mainline at Northallerton and joining the Settle and Carlisle line at Garsdale (or Hawes Junction as it was) and travelling through some loveliest countryside which England has to offer. However, the through service ended in 1954 and the all passenger services ceased ten years later, after which the truncated line quietly existed carrying stone traffic. This itself came to an end in the nineties and the future looked uncertain. The Wensleydale Railway Association had been formed in 1990 with the aim of restoring passenger services and ten years later secured a lease of the line and began running trains in 2003.
|Crakehall Level Crossing - very much off the beaten track!|
The railway itself is relatively unusual as most trains are diesel hauled/powered with steam reserved for only a few days a year. Don't let that put you off though. The staff are always friendly and helpful and the trains are very well presented. The main stations on the line have good facilities for families, the smaller stations are just platforms really, but if you plan to alight at these, you're probably prepared for a lack of creature comforts!
A delightful line, with a very rural character.
|Aysgarth - the next stop.|
5. Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway
The Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway is a real gem of a railway. La'al Ratty, as the line is known, has its origins in a 3' gauge railway which ran from Ravenglass to a terminus at Boot in the valley of Eskdale. The original company was declared bankrupt as long ago as 1897 but kept going, somehow, until 1913 when it ran its last train. This wasn't the end, the line was chosen as a site for a 15" gauge miniature railway, the line rebuilt between 1915 and 1917. As such, it predates the rest of Britain's heritage railways and is historically significant for a variety of reasons.
|Northern Rock stands at Ravenglass station.|
The line runs through beautiful scenery, delicately picking its way through the national park. The lower end of the line is in the delightful village of Ravenglass on th Cumbrian coast and station has an extensive museum about the railway and its history. At the end of the line at Dalegarth you can walk to the local attractions of Eskdale Mill, Stanley Ghyll Force and St Catherine’s Church. With decent facilities at both ends of the line, families are catered for very well - intermediate stations don't have many facilities, but then, that's not what these stations are for. What they do do is provide excellent access for walkers to the National Park.
|Approaching Dalegarth station|
For a family with younger children, the size of the trains is perfect - they don't intimidate but are spacious enough to be comfortable and adults don't feel like they're going to topple off like they may do with smaller miniature railways!
|Rain's not a problem in Eskdale! It seems to make all the colours brighter and richer - open coaches are not so popular in the rain though!|
The experience is very friendly with excellent staff and facilities.
Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway
Seven Acres Park
Monday, 12 October 2015
Autumn is here - the Railhead Treatment Trains are out in force all over the country. 'Leaves on the Line' always sounds like one of those silly excuses, but it is a very serious issue for the railway. The effect on trains is much like the effect of cars on an icy road - braking and grip become enormously reduced making stopping much more difficult. The mainstream media are very ignorant of the subject, perpetuating it as a nonsense, but the railway goes to great lengths to minimise the problem. The RHTTs use water cannons of incredicly high pressures to clean the railhead, as well as other methods, to help ensure that things continue with a minimum of fuss.
The short clip is 3S23 leaving Gilberdyke on Sunday 11th October this year heading for York, having reversed in the station. The locos are Direct Rail Services class 20s, nos. 20302 and 20303.
Thursday, 1 October 2015
|66135 gingerly feels its way through the fog at Gilberdyke Junction with 6D94 bound for Hull Docks. Thick fog is a very common occurrence on the Hull mainline, being right next to the River Humber, it seems to be very susceptible.|
Wednesday, 30 September 2015
The larger of the two is only partly scene - the Playmobil loco which has appeared a couple of times now on my blog. It was very much 'played with' when it arrived with us, and still needs a clean to remove the dust which has gathered from being stored. There's nothing wrong with signs of 'play', they are toys after all, but it needed a couple of little bits sorting. The main ones being the missing crank pins - German eBay provided a source of spares thankfully. Not surprisingly, Playmobil seems to have its greatest following in its homeland and the shear amount of Playmobil sets, parts and bits listed there reflects this.
In front, the 'little', is progress so far with a set of Penbits sprung bogies for a Bachmann based class 37 for West Halton. Just as with the class 25, the kit is superb and things fit as they should. I don't want to say it's easy, as that might undermine the product, but it is very straight forward and a great project to raise spiritis after a rather down week or so.
Sunday, 13 September 2015
I'm in MRJ!
Well, not as you might imagine... One of my locos is in the Scalefour Society's advert for this year's Scaleforum.
It's a model of 37501 in its unique light blue livery and it resides on Model Rail Express' editor, Si Bendall's layout Ravenscroft Sidings. It was made using of the the then brand new revised Bachmann class 37s in 2008. It was on my blog here. Until today, I hadn't realised how long it is since I built it!
|Completed with Brian Hanson's then brand new parts - I'll stick with what I said in my original post that Brian's parts are revolutionised D&E modelling!|
Friday, 11 September 2015
So this may count as getting carried away...
|It's a possibility, isn't it? Trains and railways in the garden seem quite civilised I think and Playmobil is very durable, even in the hands of young children. We'll have to wait and see if it can happen...|
My last post hinted at what we had acquired recently. It's for Thomas, and the idea was we could have it outside on the lawn in summer. Playmobil is very durable and, if you buy carefully, very reasonable second hand. Providing you leave their colllectable side well alone - mint boxed locos can go for more than what we once paid for a car! Seriously.
The set we managed to get off eBay isn't perfect - it shows signs of having been played with (not a problem), just the odd buffer to replace... Incidentally searching eBay for the buffers, I have discovered that the french for buffer is 'Tampon'. You learn something new everyday. Of course, if it proved a success, a more permanent right of way could established. Thomas has said he would like a railway in the garden - he does need to remember that the August edition of Railway Modeller is not a catalogue though. As a way to get children outside it could be very effective, and better than them always being inside when we're at home in summer.
So a few lengths of track were place by the edge of the lawn (the curves even following the line of the flower bed perfectly - must be meant to be, surely?) just to see how it would look. And the household authorities didn't say no!
Thursday, 3 September 2015
|New Project - always wanted Playmobil's trains when I was little but they were very, very expensive!|
Something completely different!
Not for me (well, a little bit perhaps!) but should be fun!
One of my longer term projects has been this class 40 - D235 Apapa as she was during the sixties whilst working on the WCML.
The source is a mix of Bachmann and Lima with a big helping of Shawplan parts. The chassis is Bachmann and most of the body is Lima, but with Bachmann nose ends with the Lima bonnet reduced in height to match. This then gives the correct room, or there abouts, for the new windscreens from Shawplan. The result? Well hopefully a class 40 that looks like a class 40 and not obviously a particular model manufacturer's version of the class.
I hope that doesn't sound snobbish, but the satisfaction of building or making something that looks right and captures the original is immense. And after many set backs which have affected my modelling this year it feels rather good.
Sadly it has a new home to go to soon - I'm quite sure it'll be appreciated!
Diesels in Depth: Class 40s by David Clarke
Friday, 21 August 2015
We called in at Embsay on our way home from a holiday and saw there was a train about to leave. My son, Thomas, was very excited and got his camera from my bag ready to take a photo. Despite the guy in the photo seeing Thomas waiting patiently with his camera, he continued to stand there, waiting with his iPad - not taking photos but, as it turned out, waiting to film it as it departed.
He actually moved just as the train was about to depart so Thomas did get his picture, but he only moved when he wanted to to get his footage - a horrible, selfish man. Sometimes at heritage railways, you can't expect to get a clear view because railways often have hoards of people and passengers! But here, well, you can probably tell my opinion of this man..
Fortunately Thomas did get his photo and a couple of treats from the shop, but still there's never an excuse for selfishness like this when a child affected.
Wednesday, 19 August 2015
Wednesday, 5 August 2015
Compared with the original Lima model, my model of 47380 is look much more like a class 47 now - thanks enormously to the fantastic Shawplan etchings.
There's a lot to be said of projects like this even these days. Back to basics stuff where modellers of all abilities can hone their skills and try new things in a way they might never do with new ready to run or expensive kits.
So, go on, switch the internet off and go and do some modelling!
Wednesday, 29 July 2015
Wednesday, 22 July 2015
Thursday, 16 July 2015
In the grounds of the village hall at Gilling East is a 7¼" and 5" gauge railway - it's not he longest you'll see by any means, but it probably the smallest main line railway you could visit. A double track mainline runs round the edge of the grounds and features two marshalling yards, a decent sized passenger station, a four road engine shed and two signal boxes which supervise the fully signalled railway and work the signals and points by miniature McKenzie & Holland lever frames.
|The yards can be seen, complete with the scale stock stabled in the nearer of the two - this is probably what the Gilling railway is best known for among railway enthusiast.|
The railway is perhaps best known for its mainline galas when no human sized passengers are carried and the railway is taken over by scale 5" inch gauge stock. And this scale sized rolling stock is very accurate and each one is worth considering in its own right as a model but the sight of a whole gathering of them is incredibly impressive. However, our visit was a summer Sunday when people form the main traffic.
The setting gives the railway a lovely feel - very family friendly with room for picnics and climbing frames for children to use any excess energy!
Sometimes places which encourage families aren't necessarily the sort of places many people want to go though! But the atmosphere is so nice and laid back with people free to move around as they please (with people respecting the railway and not 'trespassing') with the Society's clubhouse providing refreshments and toilets, complete with baby changing facilities, all great stuff and beyond what you might expect for a society of model engineers! This does seem quite in keeping with the whole place.
The society members I spoke to were very friendly and very keen to engage in conversation with their visitors. This isn't a customer service type spiel but is very genuine and makes you feel very welcome. It would be all too easy to make visitors feel like they were getting in the way of the members playing trains (some standard gauge heritage railways are guilty of this!) but nothing of the sort. It makes us want to return - we can sit and enjoy a picnic while watching the trains go by and also have a few rides too!
|Gilling East Village Hall|
From my own personal point of view, the way the railway can be operated is great! It works with a type of Track Circuit Block with automatic sections on part of the line. Two signal boxes control movements on the railway - one controls the station and engine shed access while the other looks after access to the two yards. Communication between the two boxes is by bell. The care and attention which the signalling has clearly had is very impressive. The signals, too, are to a very high standard - all are North Eastern Railway slotted post pattern - they're probably in better condition than some of my signals! When we drove up I think it was a lovely bracket signal which gave Thomas an idea of what sort of place we were going to visit!
|The perfectly scaled down McKenzie & Holland lever frames which feature in both of the boxes - click here for a view of Gilberdyke SB's M&H frame to see how good the miniature version is!|
It's just a lovely place where you're made to feel very welcome indeed.
Well worth a visit!
Ryedale Society of Model Engineers
The Ground Level 5 Inch Gauge Main Line Association