Monday, 2 October 2017

West Halton Sidings - The New Blog!

For various reasons I haven't really updated this site very much over the last year or too, but with a new project coming up we decided a blog to document it would be very worthwhile and provide a nice record of progress. So if you have chance please do pop by -

It's over on Wordpress this time, it will allow a bit more freedom to develop the site. Hopefully we will see you across there!

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Smoke & Steam

This is well worth a look - it certainly takes the idea of DCC sound to another level!

There's more about the model in this thread.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Happy Christmas!

I'd like to wish you all a merry Christmas!

May the day bring you many train shaped gifts and hopefully all those annoying relations won't bother you too much!

Saturday, 3 December 2016

A Danish Quickie

I haven't posted on here for a little while, but things have been ticking over. The latest item to be finished is this, based on a Heljan Class 47

It uses Alan Gibson wheels with new pick ups from 0,33mm handrail wire - the original pick up strips didn't line up with the tyres so were cut back and the new pick up wires soldered to what remained. The result seems, at least I hope, to provide a reliable solution. It certainly moves rather nice up and down my test track! As it was a quick conversion the work one the underframe was kept to a minimum - 'moulded gaps' between the battery boxes were removed a couple of obvious pipe runs and fire extinguisher points were added to fill the gaps a bit. A very simple job which made quite a difference was adding a piece of 20 thou of packing behind the each bufferbeam which corrected the front end rather nice and ensured the valance stood slight proud of the cab front.

The body is basically pure Heljan with just a few changes - the most obvious one is the replacement of the roof grilles with Shawplan Extreme Etchings version which are delightfully fine. A more subtle change was to replace the handrails on the cab fronts with my favoured 0,33mm nickel silver wire from Eileen's along with a centre lamp iron folded up from a double thickness of 5 thou brass strip. It's amazing the difference that new handrails make to the appearance of the whole model!

Repainting was confined to the roof and warning panels - Precision paint for the roof and Humbrol Trainer Yellow for the warning panels and transfers were reinstated as necessary using Fox products. The final job before weathering was to add glazing using a Laserglaze pack from Shawplan along with their wipers.

The final result, once it was weathered, certainly captures the look of the prototype despite the Heljan model being a tad over width.

I'll leave it for you decide...

Monday, 26 September 2016

Legbourne Railway Museum

For a few years in the nineteen nineties there was a lovely little railway museum in Lincolnshire. At the former station at Legbourne Road on the line which once ran between Grimsby and Boston in deepest Lincolnshire a small railway museum had been established.

There was a brief mention of the museum in an early issue of British Railway Modelling - 'Legbourne near Louth'. As a child we occasionally visited a relative who lived in a care home in Louth so we would be very close at time. It had many items of local interest but it was the signal box on the former platform which captivated me as a child and helped my interest in signalling and signal boxes grow.

There was a brief mention of the musuem in an early issue of British Railway Modelling - 'Legbourne near Louth'. As a child we occasionally visited a relative who lived in a care home in Louth so we would be very close at time.

The box, Tramway Crossing, came from near Sutton-on-Sea on the Mablethorpe Loop line. The tramway referred to in the box's name was the short lived Alford & Sutton Tramway which ran for just a few years in the 1890s. The name of the box survived as a reminder long after the tramway was all but a distant memory.

I know now there were some inaccuracies in the placing of the equipment in the box itself - the token machine isn't needed, the non pegging instruments are missing and the levers don't relate to the diagram above the block shelf but for me at the time it didn't matter.

The museum closed in 1998, an auction of many of the exhibits followed not long afterwards - a brief and retively unknown venture but a lovely little spot.

Further Reading

Legbourne Road Railway Station - Disused Stations
Alford & Sutton Tramway

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Taking Pictures

Haworth on the Keighley in the early nineties and a photo of me taking a photo of the preserved J27.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Tractor progress

I've not posted for a little while...

however this is what I'm currently up to - it's all coming together now!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Trainspotting Live

What a bizarre yet thoroughly British idea for a television programme!

Peter Snow and Dr Hannah Fry

BBC Four's Trainspotting Live is exactly that. Trainspotting. Live. On telly! It's like Springwatch but with trains.

Perhaps one of the strangest parts of the show has been the 'guides' to spotting! All good fun though!

And it's great! It does remind me of Channel 4's Going Loco season from twenty or so years ago - they had a whole weekend devoted to railways and they featured all sorts of railway documentaries and films throughout the weekend. The VHS tapes we recorded most of the programmes on were certainly well used for a good few years afterwards!

It's almost too easy to mock people's interests - society often seems almost suspicious of people with passions but Trainspotting Live is celebrating people's enthusiasm for railways, and it's great to see it! My interest has provided me with some amazing experiences and set me off working in an amazing industry.

And Trainspotting Live isn't just about the enthusiasts, from speaking to Kenneth Grange about his design for the HST to getting an insight at York to the role of signallers and controllers.

Hannah Fry being shown round York ROC

The pre-recorded items were really good - it would have been nice to see some of them developed further into programmes in their own right. Who knows maybe it may pave the way for more programmes like these? It may look a lady has taken her eccentric great uncle for a day out round Didcot for a day out but somehow, it works really well!

The final one of the three programmes will beon BBC Four at 8:00pm tonight!

Further Reading

Trainspotting Live
Dr Hannah Fry
Tim Dunn

Sunday, 26 June 2016

A Yorkshire Terrier

A snatched shot, so not the sharpest or best quality, from the other day...

Full size version available on Flickr.

A Yorkshire Terrier had got on to the line at Gilberdyke - we're not allow to caution trains for animals of this size, however, the trains were both stoppers and when the train on the right, 2R98, stopped we saw the driver jump out, putting his vest on, to try and retrieve the dog! He was joined from by the guard from the train on the left, 2C26, to help catch it! The other guard and driver were also present!

The dog's owner is on the platform and had rung both Network Rail and the Police when she realised that her dog was on the railway - they were reunited just after this photo was taken - 2R98's driver is handing the dog to 2C26's guard! According to the driver of 2C26 the dog was "a vicious little bugger!"

All ended happily!

Monday, 13 June 2016

The Power of Models

Model making is a funny thing - for most model makers, it's a solitary pursuit. Most of us are amateurs and we do it for relaxation, maybe to stimulate memories and for our won enjoyment. In most forms of model making there are shows where people can show their work to like minded souls and preaching to the converted is always easy. But sometimes models can have a wider purpose, be educational and connect with 'normals' in a way that other media simply cannot.

We visited the Royal Armouries in Leeds a couple of weeks back. It's about eighteen or so years since I visited and Suzi hadn't been before - a bonus Saturday off saw us pick somewhere different for the day. On exhibit which I noticed (among many...) was the model of the Battle of Agincourt. You can view it up close but you can also view it from the balcony above which gives you a sense of scale and scope of the model, but it also allows you to take a step back and watch how people interact and view the diorama. Up close the standard of the modelling is good, although the trees are not as good as we might aim for with our own models but this doesn't matter - when you watch how people of all ages take time to look, observe and take in the scene from all angles you see how powerful a model can be. Information panels and artefacts all have their place in helping to tell a story such as this. It helps visitors understand what is being recounted. And people didn't look briefly either for the most part; people lingered, used the different little viewing windows and took time to really take it all in. The sheer number of figures gave visitors a sense of the vast numbers of real people who would be involved in a battle - the figures cease to be just models, but represent lives gone by and for many it depicts the last day of their lives.

To produce a model which can appeal to our emotions and cause us to take the time to absorb the scene is quite something - it shows how powerful model making can be. Now, our models and layouts don't show quite such dramatic scenes, but if we can begin to engage those viewing our models in quite the same way then our modelling can become more than a sum of parts and something much bigger and maybe more fulfilling ultimately?

A New Jig

Today I have made this! And it has saves me an awful lot of time, any ideas?

Friday, 10 June 2016

Hull Steel

DBS class 66, no. 66011, had to wait at Hessle Road Junction for its path before its return to Rotherham with 6J94 with empty steel wagons. It would head for Gilberdyke on the mainline before it took the branch towards Goole and then onward to South Yorkshire. In the photo the signal has cleared and 66011 is seen accelerating towards the junction.

See the full size version on Flickr.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Hornby Class 47 TTS - Sound on a Budget

It's all too easy to be critical of Lima models - as they come, they can appear crude and basic to our eyes these days. And they are basic, but at the time of their release they represented progress from older models. The standard of tooling was a world away from some of the models then on sale. Even today new manufacturers struggle to capture moulded detail with the same delicate and subtle touch of the Lima toolmakers. And it's this which leads me to persevere with a number of Lima types. My recently finished class 40 is an excellent example of the potential some of the Lima models still have. I'm also building a fleet of class 47s based on the Lima model for exactly the same reason! Which brings me neatly to the model in question here.

The outline is unmistakenly Lima - is this a winning combination of Lima's tool making with a better mechanism (and sound!) for much less than the more sophisticated alternatives?

Hornby acquired Lima and its range a number of years ago - I suspect it was mainly to Hornby a foothold in the European market but the range of British models also came with this. A select few have made their way into Hornby's budget range of 'Railroad' models. The former Lima class 47 has appeared in a number of guises under the Hornby label. This model, however, is one of the more notable versions.

The former Lima model has received an all new power bogie which runs quite nicely and is very quiet in operation - the model has all wheel pick and runs very confidently at low speed. The old Lima bogie tooling has been modified further to accommodate NEM coupling pockets and have lost the massive Lima style couplings! Of course this isn't the first release of the Railroad version of the class 47, but this is the first Railroad version I've had myself. Well, not strictly true, I've had a couple of Railroad bodies which I've bought second hand, but it's identical to the Lima version so it tells you very little! They both have the same lovely and subtle tooling around the roof but suffer from the same issues which I've covered elsewhere - in the main, it's the window surrounds which are the worst bit with more subtle problems with the shape and curvature of the 'nose' and the horn cowling. All issues which can easily be corrected. The only other thing is an odd one - for some reason Hornby have changed the buffers which are fitted to the model compared with the Lima ones - the latter's were a nice size and proportion, even if not that detailed at all whereas Hornby's are rather short stubby things which give the front of the loco a slightly odd, 'bunged up' look. Lots of potential for the 'real modeller'...!

Decoration is to a high standrad and the paint very well applied but I'm not convinced by the colours - it doesn't sit well with with either locos which have retained their Lima paintwork or have been resprayed using Pheonix paints. The lack of OLE flashes and the orange cantrail stripe are very obvious by their absence. Although I realise this is a budget model, leaving details like these seems a real shame - it does appear as penny pinching, regardless of what the financial implications for Hornby. If the windscreen wipers can be picked out in black, why not add add the cantrail stripe instead?

While the coupling would have been welcomed like a long lost relative twenty years ago, the funny short buffers really spoil things. The bright red tail lamps look wrong too - when the lamps are off, the have a much darker, crimson and . maroon appearance. Red looks rather toy like I feel.

The chassis is exactly the same as the Lima version with a lot of plastic where there should be daylight, the 'moulded gap'. It does give the model a rather dated appearance - although I'm happy to chop and modify Lima models, it's a different situation here. With the Lima ones I'm hacking at older models which I've bought cheaply or had for years, here we have a brand new model which needs the same treatment! Not a problem but some people may be apprehensive. But we need to remember that this is a budget model which is priced some considerable way below other RTR class 47s on the market. At £89.99 it's still not cheap but for what you get as a package, it's rather good. Of course the main attraction is the sound!

So for less than the cost of a sound decoder, we have a complete locomotive. But the main question is, is it any good? Hornby have been very keen to promote their Twin Track Sound (TTS) products. The price is, I think, the main selling point.

Much of it is subjective. For me sound is good up to a point but overly loud locos can dominate layouts and not be particularly pleasing. When a train passes the sound of the loco is only part of it - watch a freight pass and its the roar of the wagons which causes most noise. Few layouts really use sound effectively, Mark Tatlow's Portchullin is one where sound seems to be perfectly executed, subtle unlike many exhibition layouts running sound locos! So is sound part of our pursiut of realism or just a bit of fun? Well, that's up to the individual - I can see the fun my little boy had running the loco up and down a four foot test track!

And it's rather good - for the money, it's surprisingly good! It's not to the same quality as a top end set up, as you might expect, but still good from the test running I've done - I could have filmed it, but it would have looked like all of those video reviews on You Tube which also show you how to open the boxes... But this from Hornby will give you a good idea of the range of sounds -

My main issue is the severe lack of weight which affects the model's tractive effort significantly - Lima used the rather crude but effective method of sections of steel bar for weighting its British models, Hornby have used a die-cast weight in its place. There is a cut out to accommodate the speaker which reduces the weight even more. Once I get to work I'll address the weight issue - anyone who's converted Lima models will be used to this anyway! It should improve both haulage and slow speed running.

The roof is one of the best areas with this model - since we normally look down on a our models, this is no bad thing either. The subtlety of the Lima tool making is not always equalled by more recent releases.

As a package, I think the model works really well - you can argue that it lacks all sorts of things. These extras will cost money, and Bachmann provide a readily available alternative if you desire more factory applied details and a choice of liveries anyway. So a basic model which is well proportioned and sounds pretty good for this sort of money sits quite well with me. If you shop around you can get the TTS class 47 for just short of seventy quid too which makes it a very attractive proposition, especially as second hand prices on eBay and Facebook seem to verging on the ridiculous! Plus it provides an excellent base for further work. Spend a few quid on parts from Shawplan and along with a few other details and time you can easily build a model which can easily eclipse more expensive options. This is definitely an option which deserves consideration.


Hornby Railroad Class 47 TTS