A little bit like buses, you wait for a long time for some interesting articles on the Highland Railway and all of a sudden we get two or three come along in the same issue – in this case the July edition of the Railway Modeller. It is a veritable Highland-fest and is well worth buying as a result (no apologies for bias offered!).
First up the layout of the month is Howard Geddes’ Blair Atholl and Druimuachdar. His layout is a representation of Blair Atholl station along with its approach from the south and the line over the big hill (Druimuachdar as Howard describes it or present day Drumochter). It is liberally illustrated with photographs of the layout and numerous Highland locos – these cover many of the Highland’s locos and also those of the LMS era. Howard has written notes for each of the photographs to illustrate the historical context of the train, the loco of the scene to make this a bit more interesting than the average article in the model railway press.
So to emulate Howard, I can tell you that this is a Loch Class, number 127 Loch Garry taking water in front of Blair Atholl’s shed. When built, these were the front line express engines but on the building of later locomotives, they were relegated to slightly less important tasks. So this may well have come off a Blair Atholl local (the all stations stopping services from Perth terminated at Blair) or has just returned from piloting a train up the hill.
The other article of interest for the modeller of the Highland was by Peter Fletcher and was a review of his locomotive fleet for his EM gauge layout Croich (which is based on Tain shed). As he says himself, the layout is really a vehicle to show off his loco fleet and it is fair to say it is fairly extensive and covers the majority of the Highland types in existence in 1920. The article also includes a reprint of a drawing for the small ben class of loco; hopefully a few people may be provoked into
Perhaps the most pleasant part of the two articles is how all but a couple of the locomotives have actually been built! Oh that we see a bit more of this in the mainstream model railway press!
I don’t have any pictures of Peter’s layout so you will need to refer to July’s edition of the Railway Modeller or the March 2018 for the whole layout. Howard has however provided me with a number of photographs of Blair Atholl that weren’t in the magazine to act as a tempter………..
Wee Ben, no 14413, Ben Alligan crossing Howard’s model of Altnaslanach Viaduct (from just north of Moy, and still there albeit in structural terms now merely decoration to a steel replacement that is inserted within it). It is the Highland’s locos in the LMS first livery that float my boat, so this is as good as it gets for me!
HR’s no 99 Glentromie, one of David Jones’ Strath class with some sheep and cattle wagons at the head of a mix freight train.
The premier locomotives on the Highland mainline between 1928 and the arrival of the Black 5s in 1934 were the Hughes Crab class – a locomotive that I find the brutishness of which very appealing (I have a couple in progress). Here we have them hauling a freight train through the Druimuachdar portion of Howard’s layout – representing the summit of the line going through the wildness of the Grampian Mountains. I was looking down on the scene only a fortnight ago from one of the adjacent munros looking at the really short HST sets now in use on the mainline!
The Hughes crabs again on a more normal passenger travelling in the opposite (northwards) direction.
A vista across the MPD area of Blair Atholl with Loch Garry now taking a breather waiting for its next roster.
The final of the three buses is the announcement of the release of a Highland signal cabin by Peco, as per my previous post.
Followers of this blog will have noted that various test builds of my artwork coming together and I am now able to offer a number of these for sale under the name of Miscellany Models.
First up is a Highland Railway/LMS/BR diagram 51 full brake – priced at £48.00 for a 4mm and is suitable for OO, EM or P4. These were the last generation of full brake produced by the Highland, built with both cupboard doors and sliding doors as well as alternative forms of guards duckets (all of these are included in the kit). The kit inclusive of fully sprung Fox bogies (see below), roof, corridor connections (also see below) but all castings and buffers will need to be sourced separately. The castings for the bogies are proposed, but are not presently available.
As was common with many pre-grouping coaches these vehicles utilised Fox Bogies (£16.00) and these are being made separately to the remainder of the kit, These bogies have been developed in conjunction with Justin at Rumney Models and are fully sprung, with both the axleboxes and the bolsters sprung. They really do glide across track and look as if they weigh many tons rather than a few grams! They need castings for your favoured axleboxes/springs and bolsters but do include the foot steps and all of the bogies sides, brakes and details. Suitable for oo, EM and P4.
The second coach kit is for a MR/LMS/BR: Dia 530 Passenger Brake – priced at £36.00 in 4mm scale (suitable for OO, EM and P4). This prototype was built in some numbers and by the 1920s they were spread extensively across the LMS system. The kit is for full etches covering the roof, body, underframe and footboards plus parts for the sliding central axle included. It needs axlebox/springs (available from Branchlines or Coopercraft), gas lamps, buffers, brake and gas cylinders.
On the wagon front, there is an etch to detail the NER/LNER/BR: Dia P7 Hopper Wagon – £13.50 4mm (sufficient for two wagons). They cater for a large number of the variants to this numerous and long lasting hopper wagon. Needs wheels and the Slaters kit P7 kit for the donor model. Variants that can be made include the end braked version, improved components for the Morton braked version, outside twin W irons and also the anti-friction wheel device.
All of these are available from my website https://miscellanymodels.com/ and in addition to this from the Rumney Models stand at the following shows – Scalefour North in April, Railex in May, Scalefourum in September and South Hants in November,
All of these have been extensively road tested by me with a couple of test builds for each of them. You can see this unfold on my blog and if you are interested in seeing how they go together do take a look!
Please remember that the availability of these models is an adjunct to my own hobby and this has to be accommodated within the constraints of my day job and general life! In particular I can’t get to post these orders until Saturdays so do please give me a little slack when it comes to getting the goods to you!
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.
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!
Benfieldside has just completed its first outing for what is believed to be 17 years and whilst honesty dictates that we must admit to some glitches; especially first thing, on the whole it went really very well. As I have a fair number of photographs (some with thanks to David Brandreth), I will spread these over a pair of posts to keep people on tenterhooks!
A NER C class (to become a LNER J21) pauses at the starter with a freight train.
The same train in the distance, showing the goods yard with the station throat behind.
Things are quieter at the other end of the station where there is a full brake in the milk bay. The signalman has a commanding view; in part of the slightly droopy signal on the gallows signal!
Because we were so pleased simply to having it running, there was no pretence to running a sensible service (and we were a little short of stock, particularly passenger stock). Thus, the poor coal merchant went without any delivery of coal all day! At least it looks as if he has enough to keep the coal fires of Benfieldside going for a little longer.
Next door, it seems like it might be lunch break at Iliffe & Stokes; builders, joiners and undertakers.
Moor to follow in a few days time…………… If you don’t already do so, you can subscribe to this blog by entering your email address in at the top left of the page. This means you will be sent an email each time I post anything on the blog.
Now, I wonder if that heading will gather a few extra viewings………..?
As I have mentioned before on this blog, every few months I catch up with a group of mates to have a joint modelling session. The general gist of these is a combination of banter, a bit of modelling, more banter, a visit to the pub, even banter, a bit more modelling and all nicely rounded off with some more banter.
Last week saw us on the south coast to do some weathering – or rather some of us. One of our number was preparing for their imminent marriage whereas Oly (one half of OTCM) felt his budding TV stardoom was a sufficient excuse to hang up his airbrush. We do fear that Oly may not return to the fold; preferring instead to do his modelling with Brad, Leonardo and Denzil once he makes his silver screen debut in the autumn – don’t forget your roots Oly……….
We were all concentrating on different things; Peter constructed the better part of a bridge for his Aultbea layout and Chris was weathering some rather neat little shunters. For my part, I concentrated on weathering some of the stock that I have been building lately (and sometimes not so lately!):
First up is a pair of horseboxes. On the right is my HR version based on a Microrail kit – still in need of some glazing. On the left is the Caledonian’s equivalent based on a kit from by Spratt & Winkle. Both are in their pre-group livery as can be seen. As such stock was used in passenger trains, I have sought to give them an aged but largely cleaned feel – with the dirt largely present around ironwork and difficult to clean spots.
Having mucked up the weathering of some brake vans at the previous weathering session, I was also keen to get these corrected. This is where I have got with them.
As can be seen, I do not follow the school of thought that the pre-group or 1920’s era stock was constantly pristine. If you bother to look at contemporary photographs, little is clean and some of it is downright grubby. Railways in the steam era were very dirty places; it is inevitable where so much coal, ash and smoke prevail. Furthermore, I can not see even the most houseproud of railway companies regularly (or probably ever) cleaning their goods stock and most of these show stock that is care worn and soiled. This is the feel I am seeking to capture; not the utterly neglected and on its last legs look of the final days of steam but of railway materials that earn a living the hard way.
The pair of brake vans above are to HR diagram 39 from 1922 and are from a Lochgorm Models kit. There is some doubt whether they were delivered in 1922, as there are no known pictures of any of them in HR livery. However, I applying the “its my trainset rule” a number of modellers have painted them in Highland colours; including Paul Bannerman whose example is below.
The other highland brake van I weathered was the diagram 38 brake van. This originates from a Microrail kit and may well still be available from David Geen occasionally at shows as he does own the rights to the artwork. I have modified this with the early pattern roof look outs. These allowed the guard to look over the train around the twisting curves that characterised parts of the Highland’s system. However, there were complaints about whacked heads as the guards came up and down the steps to look onto the lookouts and as a result they were modified with approach cutouts on the roof – take a look at the Lochgorm’s page above to see an example.
Next up on the weathering front were some wagons and NPCS. The first pictures being the weathering to a couple of the items I have described in the pages here – the Oxford Rail NB jubilee wagon and the Mousa Models LNWR van.
And then some rather more ancient models of mine, a Highland Railway meat van from a Sutherland Castings kit and a GC van from another Mousa Models kit.
Finally, a group of wagons for Benfieldside. The hoppers have been seen before and the brake van we will hear more of another day.
Peter Denny’s Buckingham branch was very much an operational layout; for many years Peter’s children – Stephen and Crispin – were his chief assistant operators. However, as his children grew up they weren’t always available and Peter found himself operating short-handed. He found this frustrating as the need to cover the missing person interfered with the remainder of the operators.
This provoked the creation of the Automatic Crispin, one of the more famous parts of the layout. Long before the use of DCC, micro-processors or automatic shuttles, this was an electromechanical computer – and very ingenious (and mind bogglingly complicated) it is too. This was designed by Peter’s other son – Stephen – and took the place of Crispin to operate a portion of the layout automaticaly, in response to requests and commands from the other operators.
The heart of the system are a pair of disks and a paper chart with holes in it; all powered by motors and the enivitable mechano! The disks contain a series of metal studs or runners, each of which is connected to either the bell, the block instrument, the track or turnout relays. Running across these were a series of wiper blades of brass that connected power to the studs or runner as required.
The operation of the disk was initiated by Grandborough Jct’s signalman. As he sends a bell code, this sends a pulse of power to initiate the motor to rotate the disks or the paper chart on one segment; this first segment sends power to activate a bell code reply (each stud giving a ping). When this is answered by Grandborough Jct, in addition to acknowledging the offering forward of a train with a further bell code, it sets the block instrument. The acknowledgement of the latter being the next command to operate the correct route into the fiddle yard and power up the track in order to allow the train to arrive. The arriving train would hit a dead portion of track at the end of the fiddle yard to stop it running away, but in the process would send the “train out of section” bell code back to Grandborough Jct to allow the line to be cleared.
The story always told by Peter was that the Automatic Crispin was required when the real Crispin went to University but I think it is time to share with the world that this was a white lie. Crispin’s more prosaic explanation was that he had discovered girls at the time and all of a sudden, playing with Daddy’s trainset didn’t seem quite so interesting…….
As can be seen in the pictures, at present the Automatic Crispin is presently in bits, but is all beleived to be complete. It is part of Tony’s master plan to reassemble this; its orignator Stephen is apparently up for assisting to, so who knows?
To conclude the last of these three posts on Buckingham Central, a few photographs and to give you a chance to see the Automatic Crispen in action, take a look at this link to the BBC News article on Peter’s death and some video from circa 1980 of the layout – enjoy!
It is fair to say that Peter Bond and myself were not as proficient as Peter and his sons in this, sounds like we need some more practise Peter……..
When I was still in my shorts, I used to peruse my father’s extensive collection of railway magazines for hours on end – the Railway Modeller, Model Railway News and the Model Railway Constructor. I even marked in pen articles I particularly liked (not for long, the old man soon warned me off that approach!). My memories from this period of Buckingham were not about its operational possibilities but for its modelling.
Whilst the years have passed and there are now a fair number of fine layouts that have eclipsed Buckingham, back in the 1970s (when I was leafing through these magazines) these were not common and going back to when the articles were being written 10 or 15 years before, only a very few even got close to the standard of Peter’s modelling. So this post will illustrate what state of the art 1960s scenic modelling looked like.
As can be expected of a layout that is 50+ years old, wear is showing in places and prior to his death, Peter Denny did have a programme of repair and improvement underway. One of the aspects to be dealt with was the trees made of sprigs of lichen on trunks made of wire or heather – these had not faired well.
Tony had been mulling over what to do about this and consulted with Peter’s children who still have an interest in their father’s layout and seem to act as “non-exec directors” to the board. The conclusion was “do as Peter would have done” and as a result little upgrades and repairs are being completed to Buckingham, so the layout will still develop. In the case of the trees, replacements will be made of sea moss and ground foam.
One story that Tony was able to share with us, which I do not think is widely known, is why Peter selected the Great Central for his modelling. Apparently, he initially started modelling the Great Western but soon found that there were a few too many people that knew a too much about the GW. He was concerned any incorrect details would be found out and so he sought out a rather lesser known prototype. He settled on the GC because he wanted a prototype that had wooden post signals (he could not work out how to make lattice posts); he liked the brown and cream full coach livery that the GW & the GC shared and he did not want a company that used outside valve gear because he was concerned whether he could model it!
The layout contains a number of quite clever little cameos, often segregated from one another with a bridge or a blocking building. This means that there are quite a number of such scenes within close to each other without it looking too crowded.
Beyond the buffer stops of Buckingham, a market square and a pair of streets were modelled. Obviously, it is market day to generate a couple of extra trains – you can’t call this a cliche, because it was essentially the first example so every other example is the cliche!
In the final part, I will take a last look at the layout and also one of its more iconic features – the Automatic Crispen; with a shock horror revelation………..
For my 100th post we ought to choose an interesting topic, so it is fortunate that I recently wangled a return invite to visit Peter Denny’s Buckingham Great Central on a journey back home from the north east!
I was accompanied on the visit by Peter Bond and although perhaps not initially intended, this turned into quite a long operating session. Fortunately, there were several cameras on hand; so there are plenty of photographs – sufficient to split this posting into two or even three, so look out for further installments in a couple of days time!
Pete managed to blag command of Buckingham’s control panel; which is the most complicated of them – so he did regret his decision at times! Here he is looking suitably perplexed!
Perhaps with good reason…………..this is the control panel:
And this is the signal diagram:
All platforms have calling on arms, all lines have inner/outer homes and the platforms operate to receive and deliver! So, there are a fair number of signals to contend with – all (well, nearly all if we are honest!) of which work and need to be complied with. Here for example is the main home gantry………….
On this occasion, I operated Grandborough Jct, which has a less exacting timetable but even so, its control panel has a few idiosyncrasies. It (like that to Buckingham) is entirely handbuilt including its switches so some of them need to be coaxed across, others need to be pushed firmly and a few – most of the signals – do not yet work. There were also hand made block instruments and some signal bells to contend with.
Buckingham operates to a careful conceived timetable, that plots a “day in the life” of a busy market town station, not so inconveniently located for travel to London. There is a variety of fast and semi-fast commuter trains to London; a pair of pick up goods trains; local services services and a couple of services that come off the Leighton Buzzard branch which continue through Grandborough Jct to terminate in Buckingham, such as this one just coming to a stop at Bourton Halt and disturbing a hunt:
Even with over three hours at the regulator, we managed less than 20% of the day’s timetable; so we were going at around 120% of real time. Peter originally had a speeded up clock to keep the pace moving (which Tony, the layout’s now owner has on the wall but does not use). Apparently, you needed an experienced team to keep up with the clock and – just like the real thing – if you started to fall behind the whole system quickly becomes bunged up!
The timetable contains just over a hundred train movements. It starts in the morning with newspaper and milk trains, getting the town ready for the day. Then the early morning commuter trains start, along with connecting local services. A little later, the London expresses start, timed a little faster for the city suits to use (and pay for, they are posh coaches!). Here is one waiting for the right of way.
Once the morning rush is out of the way, a more settled period starts and the freight trains move around the layout interspersed with local passenger trains. However, towards the end of the day the reverse happens with the returning commuters. By the end of the evening, Buckingham is chock-a-block with trains, as you can see here:
But this is not the end of the day, because all of the locos need to be released and sent to the sheds, the trains remarshalled and made ready for the next day (which was great, because Grandborough Jct had no moves so I could go and poke Pete for all the errors he was making…………).
And here are the day’s operating crew!
So thanks for joining me on this blog; we are a minnow by some standards with around 40,000 hits but I hope there are things in here that interest you and maybe even some sources of inspiration!
Most years I attend the Missenden Railway Modellers Spring Weekend and have just returned from this year’s. The weekends have some 70 or so railway modellers congregating for a residential retreat to both learn some new skills, enjoy the company and get some quality modelling time in. The participants split between different groups depending what they wish to do; trackwork, weathering, painting/lining, DCC sound control, backscenes and, in my case, loco building.
In my case I started a new loco (of course…..), but not a Highland one. This is a North Eastern 2-4-0 “Tennant” produced by Arthur Kimber. I am building this for Tim & Julian for them to use on their layout, Benfieldside. Thus it is going to be in EM, but I am going to put in clearances sufficent to convert it on to P4 if this ever takes my fancy, and it will be in NER green – so it should look rather fine. Indeed, it should look a bit like this (:only hopefully at a higher resolution!):
Slightly annoyingly, the kit was conceived to be built to P4, so instead of converting OO/EM kits to P4, I am converting a P4 kit to EM!! However, at least it is all the same skills and cutting bits off to make them narrower, is easier than splicing them in! One small departure has been to use some Markits wheels to act as some test track dummies for the build. The idea is that they are capable of being taken on and off without damage, are not steel (so are not going to corrode) and also that they automatically quarter themselves. This is they in the largely completed chassis (which is a rolling chassis, even if I have not yet fitted a motor). Also of note is the valve gear (dummy, life is not long enogh to making working inside gear – and nor am I a good enough modeller!). At present the slide bars and pistons are not yet fitted.
Unlike Highland locos, the running plate and valancing has high swept up sections and really nice flowing curves. This took quite a lot of care to form and I found it necessary to clamp both the front and rear in place initially, after the shape had been bent. Once, however, one end was soldered in place, the second end need to be released so that the thermal expansion did not distort the running plate.
There are more of these sweeping curves to the cab, which also give rise to some tense moments as it is formed. So long as the folds are made at the right locations and around a former the curves formed quite well. When this is added to the running plate, it starts to look like a locomotive.
The boiler comes pre-rolled, with all of the cuts for the wheels and holes already formed. The smokebox is a seperate part that is secured onto the boiler by a bolt and nut. This is quite effective and may well be something that I mimic in the future. The boiler does not come with boiler bands, so I will have some fun putting these on. It also appears to be about 1/2mm too long, so some cutting and filing is going to occur.
This is what it looks like with the boiler plonked on it (as I said, it is a bit too long so is not sitting down properly – however, it does look good and very different from anything the Highland had!
Sorry if it looks a bit silly on its reduced size wheels! This will get explained and corrected nearer the end of the build.