Monthly Archives: May 2016
In comparison to the coaches that I use on Portchullin, most coaches from the 1920s (my chosen period for Glenmutchkin) are shorter and in many cases, even without considering the six wheeled vehicles, a lot shorter. This was driven by the technology and in particular the materials available to the railways of the time. There were exceptions though, and my present build is dealing with one of these – an East Coast Joint Stock 12 wheeler.
In the early 1890’s, the journey north was all about speed and culminated in the Railway Races to the North where the rival east and west coast companies competed to get their services to Aberdeen first. This came to an abrupt end in July 1896 when a west coast train took curves too fast at Preston and left the rails. Although the loss of life was relatively limited (for the time), excessive speed as a result of the desire to “speed to the north” was firmly blamed. As a result, the competing companies agreed no longer to race each other and instead sought to compete on the basis of the quality of their service and the luxury of their trains.
A GNR small altlantic hauling an ECJS express at the turn of the 19th Century made up predominantly of 12 wheeled stock
One product of this competition were some really fine 12 wheel coaches built for the East Cost Joint Stock Company (which was a joint company with the GNR, NER & NB contributing to the cost for trans-company trains). Built from 1896 onwards, these were several different lengths (this particular example was 66’11″) but all were long, seeking to use length and mass to iron out any track irregularity. To support this length of coach, six wheeled bogies were used, although these were rather infant in their design and used big transverse leaf springs as bolsters. In addition to being really characteristic and obvious – so they need to be modelled – I suspect they gave a somewhat bouncy ride!
Barry Fleming’s scratchbuilt body and part completed roof
I have been given a big headstart on this build by virtue of being given a nearly complete body/roof for a luggage composite (diagram 6 for those in the know). This was scratchbuilt by the late Barry Fleming in the 1980s and is a class bit of modelling! Barry gave it to my father, along with a couple of other coaches, to complete but as he has not managed to get this particular one, he has passed it to me to have a bash!
My etchings back from PPD
One of the reasons that this model was put to the back of the queue previously was that almost none of the parts required to complete it – in particular the bogies – were available, so it was all going to be a scratchbuild. As I was pouring over the drawings and pictures in the bible on things ECJS it dawned on me that the missing parts would be best dealt with as an etch and given my developing skills in etch designing, I might was well have a go. This is the product, an underframe, some cosmetic bogie sidesand some underframe details fresh back from the etchers.
The basic underframe has fold up solebars and buffer beams. Each of these also has integral fold over layers to laminate on the cosmetic exterior. This just about worked for the solbars but definitely did not for the buffer beams which distorted due to their thinness. I will make these seperate pieces next time, but might use folding jigs.
Coaches of this era tended to have four truss rods, each with a pair of queen posts. Stealing an idea from Alistair Wright’s designs, I made the queen posts up by a long etch that has a half etch length to wrap around the wire used for the tie rod. By folding this over the wire and then laminating the two parts together, a robust and simple post can be created. As it is two layers soldered together, it has the strength to allow it to be filed to a round shape to create the appearance of the original.
Although originally gas lit, by the time I will be modelling this vehicle it was electrically lit. Whilst I probably could have bought cast batter boxes, I decided to include them in the etch and very pleased I am too – they have come out much more crisp than any of the castings I have seen and were really easy to both draw and make. The remainder of the fittings seen here were bought in castings though, typically from Comet Models (now distributed by Wizard Models).
And this is where the underframe has presently progressed to.
I will describe the building of the bogies in the next installment, they are not for the faint-hearted!
Over the last few weeks, I have been revisiting a number of model coaches that I have built in the past, typically quite some time in the past as most of these have been around since either my teens or twentys!
Over the years techniques have changed and I undoubtedly would not build most of them in the manner that I originally built them if I was confronted with doing them again. Having said this, on the whole my handiwork – especially in respect of the painting and lining was really quite good. I seem to have lost my lining mojo in particular, so I am not sure I could line as well as this now. This is something that I really must get to grips with this, as I still have a lot to do!
a pair of full brakes, the one to the left is a West Coast Joint Stock (from a London Road Models kit) and that to the right is straight LNWR (from a Microrail kit)
But the biggest area of difficulty with the coaches is that the bogies were generally formed around beam compensation units. These are OK for a couple of coaches behind a branch train but they impart far too much friction for a full main-line train as I aspire too. This is impossible to overcome whilst retaining the compensation units, the bar is the cause of the problem and it has to go!
To overcome this, Bill Bedford sprung boiges are being retro-fitting to all of my existing stock. These rely on separate hornblocks that secure a pin-point bearing in them – so rolling resistance is significantly reduced. The hornblocks are held in place by way of guitar wire and the effect is that they glide around the trackwork. They thus give the impression of weight and inertia that is much better than compensation (it is possible to get compensation that does not use the rocking beams that are the cause of the fritchion I am complaining about).
A Midland & North British luggage composite (from a PC Models kit) and a LMS (ex Midland) dining car (from a 5522 Models kit).
The Bill Bedford units are only an inner bogie and they still need to have some form of detailing on the outside. Some of these have entirely cosmetic outers, either of plastic or white metal but the two Midland coaches and the Highland TPO have something slightly different. On these, I utilised the original etched bogie sides and laminated them onto the Bill Bedford inners. This is very successful as it improves the Bill Bedfords notably by making them a lot stiffer and you get the crispness of the etching process.
This is one of my fathers, so I can’t claim credit for anything but the bogies. A Highland Railway TP (fully scratchbuilt). Obviously, no painting has as yet been done, so it does rather look like a ganster with gold teeth!
It is rather challenging to see how the Bed Bedford sprining unit sites inside the outer skins (from a Lochgorm kit) – so I will write up the process in a future blog – but this is what it looks like from the outside.
If, by the way you fancy some Fox Pressed Steel bogies that are neatly sprung and look the part – and almost all pre-group modellers ought to – keep watching the space. Subject to a test build or two, there will shortly be one available on the market.
To test them, I took them and a few other coaches to ExpoEM to use their test track. Here we see a Barney with eight on – albeit a rather od mix for the train and there is a fair amount of painting and lining still to be done.
And to prove that they really do work and also to allow you to see how they glide, a quick youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6D7a_cWwGhg&feature=youtu.be
In my last visit to the Highlands, I took my father up to almost the extremity or our island to Thurso. The purpose of doing so was to mooch around portions of the Highland Railway north of Dingwall but also to drop in on Richard Doake. Richard is a fellow follower of the Highland Railway and has a rather nice layout depicting a pair of the Far North line’s more interesting stations; Helmsdale and Thurso.
Although Richard has sought to use a large degree of ready to run stock, most of the infrastructure on his model has been scrachbuilt so that it captures the Highland flavour. This includes signal boxes, goods sheds, water tanks and the like – the combined effect works as this is one of the most authentic feeling Highland layouts I have seen.
An overall view of the main part of Thurso.
The train shed is a reduced liength version of the real thing (which is still there for those that don’t know). This view would have been a daily occurance in the late 1950s as a hiker concludes its long journey from Inverness with the Thurso portion of a Far North train.
The signal cabin at the station throat.
A small ben, Ben Wyvis, does some shunting in Thurso’s yard. This has been converted from a Hornby T9 with a replacement tender. The wheels are in reality 6 inchs to big and the boiler is consequently too high, but I bet the Highland fans that read this didn’t notice until I told you?
Brn Wyvis’ sister, Ben Clebrig acting as station pilot at Thurso.
The other station is Helmsdale and here we have the Hiker once again returning south. passing a typical Highland goods shed.
A Pickersgill on shed at Helmsdale, along with a pannier. A pair of panniers were regularly found at Helmsdale in 1962 as they worked the Dornoch branch at this time following the failure of the last operational Highland locomotives, some small tanks.
And here is an example of this tank – aptly named Passenger tanks as they specialised on lightly loaded trains on the short branchlines the Highland had a number of in their region.
Like on the Kyle line, van traffic was a big feature of the line and here we see a clan pull out northwards with a train of vans and non-passenger stock. The eagle eyed will notice that the clan is in BR livery where in reality they did not last long enough to carry this. Richard is quire relaxed about this as it enables him to include locos he fancies!
And a similar working heading south with the almost enivitable (for the real thing) black 5.
So thank you Richard for entertaining us and also for the use of your photographs – rather better than my own!