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Golden July for the Highland

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!).

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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.

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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………..

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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!

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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.

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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!

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The Hughes crabs again on a more normal passenger travelling in the opposite (northwards) direction.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Boxing Clever

One of the worst parts of Portchullin is the lack of thought I gave to transporting the layout about.  One of its attractions is the curve which makes it unusual but this makes the boards big, cumbersome and above all awkwardly shaped to transport.  It also made them difficult to create packing solutions for and the limited solutions that I adopted have never been good enough which has plagued the layout throughout its life.

It was a mistake I am anxious not to repeat with Glenmutchkin and now that it is beginning to accumulate some finished elements, it is definitely time to deal with this and create some cases to enclose the boards when they are either stored or transported.  My requirements for these were that they provide rugged protection to allow the layout to be transported without risk of being damaged.  I also wanted them to be easier to move, in particular on my own, and to pack away themselves without taking up significant amounts of space.

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There are (presently, there are plans……) six scenic boards and the crate for the first two – for the smallest boards – is now complete.  The concept I came up with is to use end pieces that secure the two boards on top of each other, face to face.  To this, I have added larger panels to close in the sides and prevent these exposed parts from damage.  To try and speed up assembly and also reduce the space that they need, each end is hinged to and end piece but conceived such that they fold onto each other so that they pack into the minimum possible space.

One of the other features I included was nicked from the St Merryn team was to introduce packing pieces to make sure that the ends stand clear of the rail ends.  A simple feature that I had not seen described before.

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To make the combined case and boards easier to transport I have introduced some trolley wheels – the operating crew are pretty excited with this and can hardly believe how much they are going to be spoilt!  The other little trick I am please to have employed is to introduce slight feet to enable fingers to get below the box to lift it.

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I have concluded that only the two smallest boards can be paired up in this manner as they are already quite heavy and will get more so as I add the remainder of the features to their topsides.  Thus the remaining board cases will be slightly different.

ExpoEM – Portchullin’s Next Outing

Portchullin’s next outing will be this forthcoming weekend; 18/19 May at Bracknell Leisure Centre, Bracknell, RG12 9SE.

We’ll be taking you back to the 1970’s where blue and grey ruled in the western highlands, with the odd stray green one………….

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Pop by and say hello?

 

 

My Home Town and its Model Shops

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.

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Take a Chair (….err, actually a few thousand!)

Of late, I have been getting on with one of the more boring layout building jobs; that of adding cosmetic rail chairs.

As I wish to retain the flexibility of soldered track construction (basically because I do not trust myself to get it right the first time!), it is necessary to affix cosmetic chairs at each sleeper.  I did lesson the task by using part soldered/part chaired plain track but even so I reckon there are three thousand chairs to affix………..

It does, however, make a big difference and the track is now beginning to look real – as you can see below.

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I am over half way and so it will soon – which is just as well as filing the chairs ready to lay is wearing my thumbs and fingers out to very sore digits!

Arguably though, chair fixing is a form of procrastination because i must finish the wiring and then confront that turntable again!

 

Diagram 51 Full Brakes – Test Build part 5; now in glorious technicolor!

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.

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Second we have the sliding door version, this being modelled with full step boards and in Highland Olive green.

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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:

Part 1 – getting underway with the body

Part 2 – drawing the chassis and roof to a conclusion

Part 3 – the build of the second vehicle (sliding door version)

Part 4 – details of the spring bogies that accompany these (and many other coaches)

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.

 

Aultbea Update

From time to time, we have dropped in to see progress on a layout being built by Peter Bond, called Aultbea.  As we dropped in to see him yesterday, I have some update photographs.

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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.

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The view inside the trainshed is particularly impressive; I think you can smell the diesel fumes and sea air!

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The builder in a characteristic pose, talking…………….

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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.

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Damaging Value…..

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…………..

One for the Paintshop

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!

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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).

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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.

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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!!!!

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Cover Girl! ……..and a shameless plug!

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.

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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!!

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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.

Roger Farnworth

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