Real Life… Slow Progress

The one thing, that slow’s the pace of this project down is life it’s self!

Both myself and James are shift workers and they do take the toll on what can and what cannot be done and time that you have to do things can be really really limited. Especially when you have to other things with your wife and family or my case with my partner. For me it’s been a particularly busy year so far with me and my partner Anna buying a new build house. So we have had all the rigmarole of dealing with the builders. Having people come and value the current place we live survey’s visiting the solicitors getting certificates renewed and replaced at times the list of thing’s to do has been endless… It was only yesterday that we have  been given a moving date of the 2nd week in October! As for Mr Wells with two Children in tow and working shifts and trying not to be constantly tired I very surprised that he actually manages to produce what he does especially given what he produces is of high quality almost as fine as the finest art that a Dutch Master would produce.

That said we have had a few long discussions over the last few months and weeks. (Don’t worry the project is still going strong but at a slow pace!) We had some discussions on some of the trains that we want to model on the layout. Yes it will mostly be steel traffic in various forms. That said we want to throw a couple of little extra trains in that you did see all the time. Back in 1992 tho I doubt many people took that much notice of them unlike they do today. So the 1st thing we want to recreate is this:


The idea came to me when I was just looking through the 53a Models archive on flicker and Mr Turner had gone to Selby Street in Hull to capture a crew training run with a class 60 as they was about to be introduced on the flow of stone from Rylstone to Hull Dairycoates. Whilst waiting for the said crew training run 47972 came blasting out Hull with this working from the RTC. He did very well to capture 2 loco hauled trains at this location at the same time as its normally units only! We like how weathered the 47 is and the assortment of stock. These trains now unlike then have some sort of cult following now that 37 of some sort is bolted to the front of them. When the power was class 47 I feel these trains was somewhat overlooked.

The second Idea we had to model now that the base model is ready to run is this:


Not the worlds best photograph of it I know. 950001 Again I think I saw this unit more than I saw a loco hauled test trains! We want to model the 150 as it was this picture was taken at Crewe Gresty Lane in 1988 (Photographer Unknown). In 1992 I still think the unit had its light shade of blue as photographs of it circa 1994 show the light blue to be a dark shade of blue. That is unless you guy’s know different than if you do then please tell us as we want it to be correct or correct as we can get it. We think this as well as the RTC loco hauled set are just a nice and different break from the norm and they are trains that just used to rock up with out any knowledge unless you was in the know. Unlike now thanks to things like Real Time Trains where every man and his dog now know what is going to be running!


It’s a van! Yes it is and they are widely available from Bachman. West Halton will have  quite a few vans on it. As we are going to suggest one the flows from the Steel finishing plant was stainless or tin plated traffic and these left the site in various types of van. VAA, VDA, VBA, VCA, VGA and other Cargowaggon type vans. However, With this van for me its not about what the body of the van looks like its about the underneath! The van a former VDA now coded ZRA and in departmental stock when photographed. Has the experimental FAT 19 suspension or Taperlight suspension. This to me is brilliant as not all the vans will have the same under-frame arrangement they will be unique. A member of DEMU has already had a go at producing the suspension through 3D printing and it has been a success and now I am just waiting for the next run to be done and so that some of West Halton fleet of vans can get this treatment.

Livery Render

A new name in producing models came into fruition last year CavAlex Models. With the 1st product the PGA hopper already being brought to market and selling well the boys have turned to other projects to do. The BBA in my book is long overdue, the Cambrian Kit is a good kit but a little chunky in places not quite as fine as it could be in places but that said it is still a bloody good kit and I for one will not be binning mine off when this model hits the shops. I be buying these to run alongside my Cambrian BBA’s. I won’t lie I am excited by this project just for the fact that it is so long overdue and that in a way it sticks two fingers up to Dapol who announced that they would be doing a BBA in 2008! Also I had he pleasure of meeting the two men behind the project and through work. I took to them to a Yard to allow them to photograph a lot of BBA wagons within a inch of the lives for this project. So I am looking forward to these along with my Cambrian models moving trains of slab metal and blooms made from bits of plastercard!

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This project is a very long long way away… This will be for West Halton is finished and we have a go at modelling something on the right side of the Humber. The tank in this picture by Tony Buckton is a little bit too modern but it captures the TTA well. Coming from Hull and living besides the line to the Docks. The staple traffic on the branch for many many years was the Acid traffic coming out of BP Chemicals plant at Saltend. I was amazed to see a gent of the DEMU Forum who goes by the name of Rodders. Had produced one of these TTA tanks in 4mm by using a lot of plastic strip and ends from A1 models and a Hornby TTA tank barrel. The tank to be frank looked frikkin awsome! That then started my research and I have started to find that these tanks are bit like class 47s they are all unique when it comes whats under the tank barrel and running gear wise!! like I say this project will be a long long way off… We have finish a small section of North Lincolnshire in 1992 1st…

Please bear with us as the old saying goes Rome was not built in a day and bloody shift work ruins modelling time. As the nights draw in we are aiming to start making more progress.


Something to do on the long cold dark nights

With the exhibition circuit well and truly in flow. I have been thinking about some of the magnificent work that I have seen on the circuit and some of the not so great layouts as well.

It is great to locomotives and rolling stock looking fabulous either repainted or weathered to a high standard along with realistic looking back scenes with lots and lots going on.

The plans for West Halton are well advanced and the research is 100% complete. We have a very good Library of information to fall back on. I have built up a collection of Freight and Passenger Working Timetables from 1960 to when the last ones were published in 2007. Along with these I have trip working booklets and notices, these was issued to Drivers, Second men and Guards. These documents can often reveal nothing, but they can be a wealth of information and give instructions for how trains should be marshalled and at what locations traffic will be picked up and dropped off and what traction should be used. They can also just say such information like “Work to yard Supervisors instructions” Or “work as directed by the weekly coal plan”……… Cheers then!

I have also built up a diverse collection of old train plans and quite a few of them are for steel traffic from Scunthorpe! These like the Trip Notices are invaluable as they really are a snap shot of time. They show any extra services that are required or trains that would be cancelled or not ordered that week, they also show trains that require to be re timed owing to engineering works and any specific instructions like:

6J40 SX 12:34 Scunthorpe Ent ‘C’ – Tinsley N.Y. to run with a maximum of 50 SLU of traffic.

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I know that I am very privileged to have acquired this information and it really is worth its weight in gold at times. This information along with books and magazines from the period that you choose to model are invaluable! The pictures that you find can really help you and make you think…. Yeah ill have a crack at doing a kit of that wagon. I know it has done that to me and those obscure books and odd pictures you find in Rail Magazine when it was a decent read can really help you along. Even more so with the long dark nights in front of us for the next few months!

When I was kid two Authors got me hooked on the “Freight Railway” Dr M Rhodes and Paul Shannon. The “Freight Only” series of books along with the Freight Only Yearbooks and Freightfax books to me was just brilliant and truly inspiring and sadly today show just how much traffic has been lost from the railway.

All this waffling has got me kinda away from the point of the post and that is………….

If you want your layout to look like the real thing, then research the area the subject the locomotives that operated in the area. The traffic flows the consists or make up of the trains, so you get them as you want them to look. Also think of the operation think “How would this train run round move on the real life railway”. If you are happy with just watching the trains run around a loop of track then that’s fine too.

Knottingley Charity Open Day

Yesterday the local DB Cargo management for West Yorkshire and Humberside. Held a very small open day at Knottingley Depot the proceeds of witch have been donated to a Cancer charity. It took some moves but the was host to a small number of visiting locomotives. DB Cargo had 60015, 60066, 66082 67029 on display. The Deltic Preservation Society kindly sent 55009 & DC Rail sent 56303. 56303 When it carried a proper TOPS number was no stranger to Knottingley being part of the once 45 strong Aire Valley Coal Pool.

56303 60015 66082 and 67029 Knottingley Depot 2

56303, 60015, 66082 & 67029 Knottingley Depot.

After the crowds had gone a few members staff with far too many lights decided on a private night shoot of the locomotives. Some nifty shunting was done. This is the result! I think you will agree it is very similar to fabulous nights shots that the Roundal Design Group did for British Rail when they launched the Railfreight sectors 30 years ago.

Railfreight Sectors Launched 30 years ago today!!

Whilst watching the News yesterday and watching the story about the devistation caused by storm Ophelia it dawned on me that it has been 30 years since the Railfreight sub sectors had been launched.

Launched on the 17th October 1987 at the Ripple Lane Open Day. British Rail unveiled its new Railfreight Sectors. The event very nearly never happened thanks to the “Great Storm of 1987”. The hard work and dedication of the local staff ensured that the event did take place.

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The new sectors very striking and forceful made the mundane BR Blue and Railfreight Grey and Red Strip before it look very beige……. That is my view on it as seeing shiny class 37s and 47s and 56s in the new paintwork looked amazing even with dirty and weathered wagons behind them!

Each of the new sectors of Railfreight had its own head quarters its own allocation of staff, its own allocation of locomtoives and wagons and depots both for train crew and its locomotive fleet. More importantly each sector had responsibility over its own budget and along with its own set of targets to achieve. The ruling government a target that each sector needed to make a 8% profit on the flows that they operated.

When launched the sectors where as follows:

Railfreight General

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This sector was the sector for anything that didn’t fit into the other sub sectors that involved bulk movement. Railfreight General handled the “Speedlink” wagon load traffic and one off special moves and such like. This sector only lasted till 1989 when it was absorbed into the Railfrreight Distribution portfolio.

Railfreight Petroleum 

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This sector was responsible for the movement of Oil and some Chemical flows. Its main areas of operation was the in Essex moving vast tonnage from Oil Refineries at Thames Haven & Coryton, South Wales concentrating around Milford Haven and Robestone Oil Refineries, North West England moving traffic from Stanlow Oil Refinery, South Humberside moving vast tonnages from the two refineries at Lindsey and Humber along with other oil based products from the various tank farms and processing plants. Teesside with vast tonnages being moved from Haverton Hill and Seal Sands and North of the Boarder with vast tonnages from Grangemouth Oil Refinery. On top these flow Railfreight Petroleum moved healthy flows of crude oil around Hampshire and various types of Gasses from North Lincolnshire, Essex and South Wales and Hampshire.

Railfreight Coal 

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Railfreight Coal was by the biggest of the railfreight sectors it had the biggest locomotive fleet, largest fleet of wagons and largest amount of staff. Railfreight Coal moved a staggering 91 million tonnes of coal per year when the Railfreight Sectors came into force. The sector delivered coal from Collieries to Power Stations and to Coking plants. It moved smokeless fuels and it also had its own wagon load network for delivering coal for domestic and industrial use. The sector was also responsible for movement of Nuclear waste traffic from various sites in the UK to Sellafield for reprocessing.

Railfreight Metals and Automotive’s

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This sector was responsible for movement of all steel traffic within the UK. The sector was responsble for the movement of the raw products such as Iron Ore and Limestone and Coal. As well the finished and semi finished products through the UK. Its heavist areas of operations was in South Wales, The West Midlands, South Yorkshire, Northern Lincolnshire, Teesside and the Central Belt of Scotland. The sector also had the movement of components for the Automotive industry as well as finished Automotive’s the movement of Automotives was soon moved to Railfreight Distributions portfolio in 1989 when it also absorbed the Railfreight General Sector.

Railfreight Distribution

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This was the second biggest sector and from 1989 its Portfolio boasted traffic from single wagon loads of traffic through to sleek containerized goods and traffic going to and from mainland Europe. Railfreight Distribution area of operation really was UK wide and it boasted the most diverse fleet of locomotives out all the Railfreight Sectors.

Railfreight Construction

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The Construction Sector was responsible for moving raw materials from quarries to distribution centers block trainloads of Lime Stone, Granite, Sand and Shale was the main products moved. Railfreight Constructions main areas that generated vast tonnages was from the Mendip quarries at Merehead and Whatley, The Leicester area quarries and quarries found in the Derbyshire Peak District. The sector also moved products such as Cement and Bricks and gypsum. It also had the task of moving household waste from Inner city areas to Landfill sites the majority of witch had been quarries or clay pits before they had been worked out.



About…. A Little bit more


This is a little bit about what me James and James Wells would like to achieve in building West Halton Siding’s. A lot of people will know already that James Wells is a very accomplished modeller in P4. He has done a lot of commission work in the past and will still do the odd commission when time permits.

As for me James Skoyles well……. This is going to be a challenge! I do not possess the same level of craftsmanship like James Wells does and this is my 1st venture into modelling the finer scale of 4mm modelling. I am sure without a shadow of a doubt the pathway will not be easy it will be very hard in places. I am quite prepared for the struggles and hopefully the triumph in creating this exhibition standard layout and we both hope that we in time will be able to create other exhibition standard layouts in the fullness of time.

James has touched on why a small pocket of North East Lincolnshire in the very early 1990s! Why for me do I feel the same? To me the area had something special about it. I have been born and brought up in Hull all my life and in my formative spotting years the area did not have much going for it. The Chemical Plant at Saltend produced a small amount of rail traffic in the form of Acid Products and Imported Coal started to feature along with the long running “Tilcon” Road Stone train. A 20-minute journey over the Humber Bridge to Barnetby – Le – Wold and it was a different story altogether.

You had a constant precession of Iron Ore and Coal traffic feeding Scunthorpe Steel Works. Oil trains, Steel Trains heading to and from Immingham Docks and the Two Oil Refineries. The variety of traction used for a young kid wanting to underline loco numbers in his Platform 5 book was amazing! Class 20s, 31s, 37s, 47s, 56s, 58s, and the then new class 60s it was utopia! For someone living in Hull watching the class 20s in the twilight years and the new form of heavy freight loco.

20214 and 20121 pass Barnetby on the evening of July 7th 1992 with steel empties from Grimsby.


The infrastructure as well was outdated it had not then being swept away. The signalling was still mechanical and the line speeds low and 60ft jointed track in places. The sound signals clanking to the “Off” position and wires and point rodding being moved it was all so very magical and very much real! Along with the sounds of pairs of class 37s on 2,000tonne Iron Ore trains doing battle with Santon Bank after seeing the train disappear around the corner at Wrawby Junction some 10 minutes previous. Also hearing the empties return in the same fashion, and watching the Barnetby Pilot whistle to itself making up engineers traffic in the down sidings just magic!

I was very lucky enough to befriend a local Signalman in the area who was a resident Signalman in Barnetby East. I spent more time than I care to remember in the box and this was where my interest in Signalling and Railway Operations really started to grow. Virtually every Saturday I had questions on some element of the Signalling rule book it was never a dull Saturday or Sunday! I also saw 1st hand how a signalman in a busy box works the box. These men can take multi-tasking to another level. I have seen the signalman write entries in his Train Register whilst on the omnibus circuit phone discussing what traffic is coming and what order they will be going in, as soon as he puts his pen down whilst still on the phone discussing the order of trains he is clearing his signals and working the block instruments and bells. Watching this spurred me on to get a job on the Railway and I did this. Sadly not working in the Immingham or Scunthopre are but heavily involved with Freight traffic in the area as well as the rest of the UK.

This scan of 56108 arriving at Scunthorpe Turn Back Sidings with an MGR from Immingham on the morning of October 13th 1992 is one my limited photographs of Red Stripe liveried loco's, and despite being scanned from a poor quality negative, has been included for nostalgic value.The short lived 'Railfreight Grey' and 'Red Stripe' era coincided with my electrical engineering apprenticeship, and it wasn't until I started working shifts following qualification that my photography gathered pace again - by which time most examples had been repainted, with 56108 being a late survivor.

My interest in Freight traffic has lead me to collect lots of Working Timetables and Local Area Trip Notices and Sectional Appendices and Special Operating Instructions and Working Manuals and we both hope to run the layout as accurate as possible as we both see fantastic layouts on the circuit. The stock and locomotives the scenery are all fantastic everything looks right, However, The operation is not and I don’t know if it is us being professional railwaymen being over critical but it lets a layout down slightly.

Anyway, enough of me waffling on thank you for stopping by.