Author Archives: highlandmiscellany
My working life involves visiting a fair amount of buildings across the UK. Typically these are fairly ordinary office blocks or distribution centres but sometimes something a bit more exotic comes along. I have just returned from the most exotic inspection that my career has yet presented – Colombo in Sri Lanka.
And obviously, if I am going to go to such a distant destination, it would be rude not to explore the country’s railways; especially as I was well aware that Sri Lanka’s railways are fabulous………….
Sri Lanka is not a small country; it has an area a touch less than Ireland’s but a population of nearly 22 million. Colombo is the largest city on the island by a margin but the remainder of the population is rather more dispersed than most countries; which means communications around the island are of some important. The bulk of the railways are centred on Colombo and originate from Colombo Fort; not perhaps as exotic as many Indian sub-continent’s stations but it was definitely a very bustling place!
As befits the principal station, most of the country’s locomotives and multiple unit sets can be seen at Colombo Fort. These have been accumulated from a variety of sources; these originate from 1968 (but have been rebuilt) from Henschel and is a diesel hydraulic.
These are much more recent, being built in 2000 by Alstom.
More short distance services were generally formed of multiple units, such as these Hyundai units from 1991.
And these class S10 from CSR in China.
My first journey was down the coast to Galle and then Matara. Portions of the trip were absolutely next to the Indian Ocean and one of the thrills of trains on the sub-continent for us in the the safety cossetted west is that there are a rather wider number of places to take in the view…………..
The rest of the journey is a short distance in from the coast through the jungle and fields.
Galle is a terminus station and as most of the trains proceed onwards, they have to tun around and reverse their direction; in this case behind a class M10 which are relatively recent being built in 2012 by the Diesel Locomotive Works in the USA.
There are local services (although the expresses stopped at the majority of the services, so the concept is relative!), here one is being prepared by a class Y shunter from Hunslet in the UK and then in the bay behind a class M7.
The present end of the line is at Matara, but the Sri Lankan government are in the process of extending the line a further 70km to Hambantota – maybe I’ll have to come back!
And to conclude this post, here are a couple of videos from this part of the trip. The first is of the train departing Aluthgama:
And the second one is the departure of the same train from Galle:
…………and the best bit of the journey was still to come……….
There is a well known phrase in this hobby which points out that if you want to make a small fortune out of model railways, it pays to start with a large one………. As I doubt that many proprietors of model shops even start with a large fortune, it is perhaps not all that surprising, in this modern era of the internet, that model shops are becoming more rare in most places.
For many years in my home town, Guildford in Surrey, there was an independent model shop. A fair amount of my money passed over this counter and I dare say the odd birthday or Christmas present idea germinated within its walls. Even after I left the area for the fleshpots of university and then the big smog to start my career, the model shop continued to operate even it was taken over by one of the chains. However, it must been almost twenty years since this closed down and quite a big area was left bereft of somewhere to buy bits or the latest ready to run offerings.
I was thus pleased to pick up from Graham Muz’s blog that in at least this location, there is to be a reversal of this trend. A well known and vigorous model shop – Kernow Model Rail Centre – is venturing forward to open their second branch in Guildford. Although I no longer live in close proximity, Guildford is only 45 minutes away and I will definitely seek to offer my support and get a tad of retail therapy before long after they open.
In a further twist to make this news even more personal to me, the shop will open in what is presently Guildford’s independent bicycle shop – Pedal Pushers. My other principal hobby when I lived in Guildford was cycling and this was my shop of choice; so many more pennies crossed this counter. Whilst I think this means that the bike shop is closing, there is a certain symmetry to Kernow’s taking on of the shop.
I wish them well and I do hope that it proves successful for them.
The pages of this blog have charted the development of a proposed kit to build the Highland Railways dia 51 full brake; well finally it is finished and we get to see them in the flesh and painted up.
The kit can produce, with a bit of modification, two variants of door and I have now build both of them. First up the cupboard door version painted in crimson lake and minus full footboards.
Second we have the sliding door version, this being modelled with full step boards and in Highland Olive green.
Apologies that the technicolor photos are a bit short on gloriousness; it is fair p*ssing down today and this is the most light that I could get to take any photos!
If you want to recap on the earlier blogs that show the development of the proposed kit, you can find them here:
I do now have a batch of these back from the etchers and I aim to conclude the instructions on Monday/Tuesday. I will then make a notification that they are available but at present I cannot provide the castings and those to the bogie are rather important. If you can scavenge from a Lochgorm kit some Iracier axleboes/springs, you will be able to complete the kit; if not then I am seeking to either source some of these castings or produce my own. So watch this space.
Most of the progress has been on the buildings including the centre piece which is the train shed and station building. As you can see, this is a pretty big structure as it consumes two full length coaches.
The view inside the trainshed is particularly impressive; I think you can smell the diesel fumes and sea air!
The builder in a characteristic pose, talking…………….
Although the layout is based on one of the proposed schemes to open up the north west of Scotland (of which there were a number) it is also firmly inspired by Oban as you can probably see, plus chunks of Kyle of Lochalsh including the goods shed and a bit Fort William with the train engine coming beyond the station and idling on the station approach.
Over the last few years I have acquired a few coaches painted by Larry Goddard. As you can seen below, these are beautifully painted and, particularly, lined coaches. Although he is not really building much any more, Larry’s work comes up from time to time on ebay and I have been nabbing a few of these. They are not particularly cheap, but then there is a fair amount of work in building an etched coach and in reality the price I am paying for them is hardly a fair reflection of this time.
Whilst I have been able to line fairly well in the dim distant past of my teenage years, I don’t think my lining was as good as this and, more importantly, I have misplaced my lining mojo. Although I have plans to try and rediscover the mojo, these coaches do provide a means to get a few very nice coaches to get the layout moving.
This particular coach is to the LMS’s diagram 1778 and originate from 1925 – 28. They were the first standard design for the LMS and will have been found throughout their system, including on the Highland section. My intent for the layout is to have a pair of through trains to Edinburgh/Glasgow with through coaches to London – this will form part of this.
Whilst the basic building and painting/lining of the coach is top notch, there are some issues that I have sought to deal with. First of these is that the bogies are fairly clunky and being assembled from components they are unlikely to be truly square. Thus, I have disassembled these and used them as cosmetic sides to some Bill Bedford sprung bogies.
The coach as built comes with some paper concertina corridor connections – all very 1970s in they look and as they are stretching, they look rather rubbish so off they came. In their place, I have built some of my etched ones – these are a spin off from the dia 51 full brake kit that I am working on. This shows them part built and I will be looking to do a posting on these in their own right once I am fully happy with them.
If mucking about and making the coaches for P4 is not sufficient to undermine the resale value of the coach, the final task to weather down the very glossy paintwork will. These were obviously predominantly aimed at collectors and are finished to showroom standards. The railways of the steam age were amazingly dirty places and a loco or coach in an ex-works condition would be pretty mucky by the end of its first run, let alone its first year.
Thus, it can not stay as clean and glossy as this, no matter how beautiful it looks. I have a weathering day planned for a couple of weeks time, and attacking this will be one of the tasks…………..
I am sure I am not alone in having in mind a list of modelling jobs to do over the Christmas break and to find that the bulk of the list remains uncompleted when it is time to go back to work!!
One item on my list was to finish a North Eastern Railway autocoach that I have had underway for a while and that at least has got itself off the list!
The bulk of this is from a D&S etched kit which I have seriously devalued by opening the box!! I have replaced the fixed bogies with some test build sprung bogies that I have had under development for rather too long now (they are finished, but for the castings which I need now to produce following the demise of Lochgorm Models for at least the time being).
I also replaced the roof with some metal sheet rolled to the curves. This proved a real challenge and took more than one attempt as I found you could not roll the section with the holes for the clerestory already cut as the bend all occurred at this weakened point. I also took the effort to put on the gas lines with fine wire as I think these add so much to a model of this era.
I think they are very attractive coaches but there is a problem with them – they tended to go in pairs so I have another to build! Just not quite yet! Fortunately, the BPT is not down to me, but I think you may find yourself under pressure soon John!!!!
Portchullin is a cover girl again, as it features on the front cover of the DVD supplement that accompanies the just available (perversely February 2019) British Railway Modelling.
It features me blathering on about the inspiration for the layout, the origins of the real line and the prompting of its building. I even managed to remember to thank Peter for building the signal cabins this time, so hopefully he will not cold shoulder me for six months this time……………..
This DVD is only available with the subscription copy or if you take it in a digital format, so you can not rush down to WHSmiths to get it – I dare say that this is the publishers of BRM seeking to encourage you to take out a subscription!
In addition to this (and probably partially as a result), Portchullin has also got itself nominated into the BRM/RMweb’s 2018 British Railway Model Awards – click the banner at the head of their website here. It would be great to see the layout do well in the poll, so if anyone fancies doing a bit of voting, all contributions would be gratefully received!!
If you wish to see Portchullin in the flesh, its next outing is in May at ExpoEm in Bracknell. Look forward to seeing you there.
Although I try to model at a good standard, I do try and keep it in perspective and it does frustrate me when others don’t. You particularly see this on the forums but the converse of this is that I have picked up many good tips from these same forums and, occasionally, they make me chuckle.
Whilst watching a film over the Christmas break, I was a reminded of one of these, a wonderful send up of those that can’t quite see that we are only, ultimately, playing with toy trains! So as a little reminder not to take ourselves too seriously, I thought I would share it – click here,
There will be some followers of this blog that are not close enough to the specifics to understand the references in this video. So for those that don’t P4 is the true scale version of 4mm modelling and EM is a compromise to make it a little easier to model. The Model Railway Journal is the magazine of choice for the finescale modeller and in this particular issue there is an article (by a follower of this blog) about using the compromise on the true scale gauge. This should give you enough to understand the video.
Happy modelling all in 2019 (and the tiny bit of 2018 that is left!) and something more serious to follow soon!
A long time ago, I showed that I had conceived a design for a pretty unusual vehicle in the Highland’s fleet, a cradle bolster. They gave this diagram no 25 and it has a square cradle that sits on the top of a fairly simple body. The cradle had four bolsters protruding from its corners and I anticipate it was used in conjunction with another bolster with the cradle rotating to allow the load to twist on curves. I presume it was conceived to support long but more flexible loads such as thin sheet steel/iron than a traditional bolster wagons could cater for.
As this was my first attempt at designing vehicles, it is fair to say it went through a fair few iterations (or was that irritations!) which does largely explain why it has taken so long to complete from the first build – but it is now done and it looks pretty smart I reckon! It is really small in reality – being dwarfed by other even relative moderate wagons!
The second main complication has been as a result of the need to source castings for the axlebox/springs. I have used the Highland Railway Society’s but these do not come with attached springs (by design, so that they can be combined with differing springs to suit different situations). They are also not conceived to accommodate bearings sliding up and down within them and need to be ground out from the rear to make a slot for this. This makes them a bu**er to attach and therefore I am in the process of sorting out my own masters to overcome this problem. Once these are complete and I have got some castings done, I will produce a run of these for sale. So watch this space! I am also taking a look at the realities of scaling this up to 7mm, so also watch this space (but probably for longer before you will see anything!).
The error that I have had pointed out to me is that the bolsters ought to be tapered and now that I know this they do jar somewhat, so the next one will need to have this sorted out. As they lasted into well into the LMS days, there will be a second one and the one shown here will appear from time to time on Benfieldside jostling amongst the NER stuff!
When I first embarked on this build, I thought that this was such an unusual subject that I was going to be building the first model example ever. A rather foolish notion that was upset by a visit to visit Buckingham a couple of years back where I see Peter Denny had modelled one (it is believed he was friends with Hutchinson, who had measured one up in the 1930/40s) – as you can see below. I have subsequently found out at least two others who have scratch built their own, so clearly I will need to search harder for originality!