Finding Inspiration

Inspiration for the brave railway modeller can be found in any place, we often find ourselves loosing hours if not days searching various outlets. In my case it can be Flickr I probably spend far too long looking at peoples photos on the that outlet. I also tend to rely heavily on books and magazines and the modellers guides that Rail Express modeller produced back in the day for me was a brilliant game changer and in my humble opinion worked wonders and helped many people out with what to put behind the loco of there choice.

As many know that sadly Rail Express Modeller is now not the publication that it once was! This I find really sad the standard of modelling published in those pages to me was outstanding and pushed the boundaries made the reader want to go that step further do that bit better push yourself and your limitations as the only thing that limits them is the person! Now Rail Express Modeller is now no better than the rest of the publications that are designed for the mainstream reader. A magazine full of small articles on how to fit a DCC Chip to this or fit sound to this……. It’s become very very vanilla!

There no escaping the fact that when REM (Rail Express Modeller) hit the shelf in the shops every month inside Rail Express Magazine. It had a very close relationship with the modelling group DEMU (Diesel and Electric Modellers United) and I think the creation of DEMU by a few like minded modellers has gone passed the asperations that those 1st members thought that was possible. REM Drew heavily on what the members of this group was creating individually and this saw some fantastic articles published in the magazine. One guy who was a regular contributor was a Mr Simon Bendall, having himself having a stint as editor at REM. Since then thanks to Key Publishing Mr Bendall has gone on to create a couple of specialist publications covering lesser modelled or hard to model trains.

Why hard to model? Well….. Lets look at a coal train a modern air braked version as we are modelling this era in early 1990s its pretty simple if its off to Power Station its a block of the same types of wagon (Nowt wrong with this I love my coal trains can’t wait for my Cavalex MGR’s to arrive!). Domestic coal train pretty much the same some HEA and MEA Box wagons and the FPA type box wagon or PFA box wagons.

One type of train that I have wanted to tackle for an age is some engineers traffic. With the Civil Engineers traffic you ave two types of trains. You have your possession trains that will be made up in a yard to the area civil engineers instructions and these train will take the right amount of wagons for the job that was required to be carried out. The other type was and still is the trunk service this might be ballast being moved from a quarry to nearest trunk yard or Local Distribution Center (LDC) as they become known in the late 1990’s. Or it could be track panels and sleepers and point work made up at a Pre Assembly Depot (PAD). Between the big engineering yards there was trunk services carrying empty and loaded wagons with different types of stuff in them a trunk train could carry ballast, track panels sleepers crippled wagons for repair and good order wagons off repair!

The Civil Engineer did not have the most modern of wagon fleets it got a lot of hand my downs from when revenue earning was passed the best during the 1980’s the Civil Engineer managed to rid its self of unfitted wagons and its fleet in 1992 was made up of a mixture of Vacuum Braked and Air Braked stock. This was a nightmare when it came to sourcing locomotives as they would have to have the vacuum brakes tested before they came off shed to work an engineers possession trains at a weekend. Also played up havoc with trunk services as most of these was timed to run at 60 mph soon as vacuum braked wagons got thrown in the mix straight away some funky shunting would have to be carried out have the wagons with the most common brake type next to the loco to provide the train with some force to enable to the speed to be reduced when the brakes are applied! This would also see the speed of the train reduced significantly!

The differing types wagon its self is very appealing with some grate ancient examples lasting well into the 1990’s one photo that illustrates the point beautifully

Sunday Engineers Train Near Hebden Bridge (Michael McNicholas)
47346 is seen near Hebbden Bridge with a number former 20 ton Ferry Vans and a Gresley Coach and a stone blower and more former Ferry Vans on the rear.
RST104-16
The 56 is a bit too modern livery wise but I hope you get the idea of mixed bag of what possession trains can look like when going to or coming from a possession site.

However, On West Halton I plan to go forward and have a crack at modelling a possession train that has been engaged on a mid week overnight or weekend possession on the branch that diverges off to South Ferriby Cement works. I want to get the mix of newish mixed in with very old seeing out the last days in traffic before withdrawal comes and they get ‘J’ Carded to booths of Rotherham.

So what am I going to choose??

I think I need to browse the pages of this publication and others like it a bit longer and when I decide what I want to do then I reckon another blog post will be due to advise you all in the meantime I will see if I can find some old ballast circulars to find some consist’s.

Bye for now.

James S

The Boy’s Mineral Wagon

Thomas’ first wooden mineral wagon.

This isn’t our usual era but it’s definitely worth sharing!

The wagon is the work of my eleven year old son, the first wooden mineral wagon he has done – I helped with couplings and spring buffers but the rest is all his work with my guidance, using a superb article by Martyn Welch on unpainted wagons in MRJ no. 262.

Nobody is born with the skills to build, paint and weather models, we all have to learn and practice.

Seize the day and give it a go!

Capturing the Mundane – Class 08s

Capturing the mundane – 08405.

Once class 08s were everywhere – every major station, depot, big yard, working trips between yards, shunting, moving coaching stock around, etc, etc… Now there are hardly any around but back in 1992 this was part of the everyday, mundane scene. But there’s something very appealing about this for enthusiasts and railway modellers.

A rear view of 08405, showing how filthy and faded it was.

Part of the appeal of 08405 was how faded and filthy it was! It was how many freight locos were at this time – what we’d give to go back for just a day.

I’ll leave it for you to decide if it captures the real thing but I’m quite pleased with this one.

08405’s driver can be glimpsed through open door.

The Missing Eric Tonks Volume?

The Missing Eric Tonks volume?

Some of my favourite books are those in The Ironstone Quarries of the Midlands series by Eric Tonks. An absolutely delightful collection on the subject and the ironstone workings are very relevant to West Halton, although we’ll depict the area after the ironstone mining has ceased.

The series is very comprehensive – very, very comprehensive! But North Lincolnshire seems to be conspicuous by its absence – it was a major centre for ironstone mining and quarrying until the early eighties, much later than most other ironstone workings in the UK.

So I’m always curious to know if Tonks ever intended to cover North Lincolnshire, Volume VIII covers South Lincolnshire and includes Nettleton Iron Mine, near Holton Le Moor, which is only a few miles south of some of Scunthorpe’s former opencast ironstone workings.

Who knows though, but wouldn’t it have been lovely if North Lincolnshire had had its own volume in the series?

Having a Brake

The CAR brake van, B955091, in all of its tatty, patch painted glory.

The first BR brake van is now finished!

I’m rather pleased with how it’s turned out – I like to think it hides its Airfix origins…

‘Air Piped’

Further Reading

Modelling BR Brake Vans Later in Life
BR Brake Vans – When Things Don’t go to Plan
Brake Van Progress
From the Ashes
Brake Van Resurrection!
More Brake Vans

Janus Progress – Fitting Wheels, Quartering and Brake Gear

The stage I’d reached previously with the loco, chassis primed and ready for its wheels and motor.

So we left the Janus here last time, all ready for wheels and transmission. The wheels were all ready to go on so out came my trusty GW Models wheel press which also quarters driving wheels – for building anything which requires quartered wheels, it’s indispensable.

The EM/P4 spacers aren’t quite the normal width we’d expect for a loco in P4 so I had to use Alan Gibson turned 1/8″ washers to take up the slack between the wheels and frames/bearings. I may look at tackling this when I build another.

GW Models quartering jig with a pair of wheels ready to go on the model.

The only problem I had is that with the models compact nature with brackets for sandboxes so close to the wheels, getting the press around the chassis wasn’t easy. I found spacers of 40 thou Plastikard were needed to go between the press sides and the wheels to allow the wheels to be pressed home. Even then you have to carefully position the chassis to avoid damaging any of the sticky out bits. It is worth the effort though as the wheels are quartered perfectly first time.

Chassis with wheels and motor/gearbox fitted.

The brake gear was tackled next. It’s relatively but much better proportioned than the Oxford/Golden Valley model’s though.

Brake Components

I’ve drilled out the hangers and brake blocks to 0.7mm to allow them to be pinned together – half etched dimples mark the positions for the holes. The rest of the components are relatively simple – a bit lacking in detail perhaps but the overall effect is quite pleasing.

Janus Details – Wheels and brake gear – notice also that the coupling rods have roller bearings. The lack of room between the wheels and frames can clearly be seen. Something to address on future models.

Only the outer pull rods to connect the back-to-back brake hangers are provided which is a shame. Next time I think I’d make the inner ones myself to add strength and make the ensemble more pleasing to the eye.

The brake gear is essentially four separate assemblies as the two ends on each side aren’t actually connected. It’s a tad fiddly to get everything lined up but once soldered it’s quite solid and robust.

The basic nature of the brake components can be seen – the prototype brake gear is quite complex compared with many other industrial types, a reflection of the type of working environments for which the Janus type was intended.

A full side of brake gear complete – the brakes are satisfyingly close to the wheels too.

Once everything is in place, it’s very pleasing in appearance – the closeness between wheels and brake shoes is particularly nice. From testing, there are now shorts which is even better!

Birchwood Casey Gun Blue was used to blacken the brake gear which dulls it down ready for weathering.

The rods are also in place – the roller bearings of the real thing make this bit more awkward but the instructions guide you through it well. I’ve used Gibson wheels but instead of the usual Gibson crankpin arrangement I used a washer in the rear with a Comet model crankpin bush inserted from the front which is soldered to the Gibson screw. Since the bearing covers will be soldered in place I didn’t want to risk the crankpins coming unscrewed! Hopefully it’ll prove to be a recent solution – testing so far looks to promise lovely running, the High Level Kits gearbox with the Mashima motor is a fantastic combination, especially with the 108:1 gearing.

With the chassis now substantially complete and working well attention will turn back to the body, cosmetics and the challenging handrails!

Normanby Park Signal Boxes

A disused Normanby Park North SB, date and photographer unknown.

The North Lindsey Light Railway was never, it seems, photographed that much – it was a bit out of the way for many enthusiasts I think. So when new photographs appears it’s always lovely to see them!

These two photos were passed to me with no details of dates or who the photographer was – it’s clearly after the boxes ceased to be used. If anyone knows any further details I’d love to hear.

The boxes featured stood at either end of the exchange sidings for Normanby Park Steelworks and provide a contrast in terms of construction. Views like this are very useful when it comes to modelling structures like these.

If you have any other views of signal boxes along the line, we’d be very interested to hear from you.

Normanby Park South SB is a state of disuse, date and photographer unknown.

Why you should buy Model Railway Journal

Model Railway Journal No. 282

Model Railway Journal is the only magazine I buy every issue, well model railway magazine as I get Railway Bylines too. I do read Railway Modeller too as my dad gets that, but MRJ is the only one I actually pay for myself!

I once got called elitist for saying online that MRJ is the only magazine I buy myself! Sadly inverted snobbery seems prevalent in some parts of our hobby – it’s such a shame as it puts people off exploring the hobby.

While certain magazines seem to regurgitate the same content all the time via their staff writers, MRJ is still has a wide range of authors and the topics range from more basic, core techniques to delightfully complex projects. Plus layouts of course! Not every issue will have things exactly in line with your interests but that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from articles. For example, the latest MRJ has an article on rewheeling and converting the new Bachmann J72 to EM Gauge – much if it can be applied to rewheeling diesels too. Not the obvious perhaps but an open mind and looking at all sorts of different eras and genres within our hobby is important I think. And this is exactly why I love MRJ. There’s no dumbing down either, MRJ treats the reader with respect.

Morfa Bank Sidings by Hywel Thomas.

The latest issue of MRJ is edited by Karl Crowther, whose work many of you will recognise from EM Gauge 70s. Hywel Thomas’ Morfa Bank Sidings features and it’s lovely! I’ve watched its progress on EM Gauge 70s and it’s delightful – a mix of BR and industrial which always appeals to me, especially the BSC locomotives. Absolutely delightful.

Karl Crowther’s new project, The Kentside Branch, features in this issue too – it’s based on the Furness Railway, which is a real interest of mine. It’s not the sort of article which the other magazines really do. It’s the sort of article which makes you think – I wonder how many people are now thinking if home based projects rather than exhibition layouts in the current climate?

Model Railway Journal is a magazine which makes you think, but most if all it’s one if the gems if our hobby and we should saviour it.

More on Janus

The main subassemblies.

More progress on the first Janus locomotive!

I’ve been quite happy with the progress I’ve made with this – it’s coming together quite nicely. Assembling the cab has given things a real impetus, it seems so much more advanced than it is.

It needed wheels before any more significant progress could be made though.

Prepping the wheels – they’re on the polythene bag in case the epoxy drips through so they don’t end up stick to the bench! You can guess how I discovered that this can happen!

The etched balance weights only have tags on the outer edge – other manufacturers should take note, since the curve on the outer edge is much easier to dress than the concave curves. The only issue with that the curve doesn’t match the inside of the tyre on the recommended Gibson wheels. I suspect they’re sized and shaped to fit Romford wheels.

It’s not a major issue, Milliput was used to fill the gap as wheel as building up behind the etch to give a more solid appearance. It’s a small detail but where balance weights are cast into the wheels it’s a nice little extra.

Using Milliput to finish off the balance weights

The wheels need to be yellow, not a colour to go on black plastic! So the tyres were first blackened then the wheel centres were primed by applying Halford’s white primer with a brush. Spray some into a small pot or even an old aerosol lid, and then brush it on. It’ll not cover as well as when sprayed but it’s good enough to apply the yellow over. Two coats of Humbrol Trainer Yellow, which is a good match for the yellow used by British Steel used, covered quite well.

Painting the wheels – at this stage they don’t look too pretty! This is after their first coat of yellow.

The chassis was sprayed with Clostermann black etch primer, lovely stuff that it is! A tiny amount of oil in the horn guides prevent things clogging up and I use short lengths of pipe cleaner threaded through the axle bearings to keep them clean. Light passes with the aerosol builds up a good, hard wearing finish.

The chassis after being sprayed with Clostermann black etch primer.

I turned attention back to the body again and what’s nice is that some details are starting to appear. The locos have distinctive handles on the bonnet panels and the tool boxes. I’ve used N gauge handrail knobs to represent these and the result is quite pleasing. I just need more to complete the bonnets now! The holes need opening up with a small broach, it might try your eyesight but the result is worth any squinting!

N gauge handrail knobs make very effective handles for the tool box!

I’m just waiting for axle washers to arrives. The ⅛” washers I have are too big and show behind the wheel centres unfortunately. But the main parts temporarily placed together give a hint of what’s to come.

The basic components in place and the chassis ready for wheels.