Oly’s Holland

This is as near as model railways gets to touring with Sleaford Mods… 😉

The Model Railways of Oly Turner and Chris Matthews

It all started with sound logic. The plan made perfect sense, Mark Tatlow had been invited to “Rail 2018” in Utrecht, Holland. Mark has always, religiously, hired a van around 10 times larger than required. This van was usually a classic long wheel base Sprinter, in which Portchullin had received many a war wound on the motorways of Great Britain by being allowed to slide around freely in the rear while the vehicle was driven like it had been stolen by a middle class mad man from Sussex.

Portchullin requires around 5 operators, 1 to operate and 4 to spend the weekend fixing it, so to make the proposition of 5 of us on the beer in Holland more appealing the spare space in the van would be taken up by SQ. So a sort of free layout for the exhibition manager.

That was where all logic ended.

The first…

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Getting down to business at last


I’ve been off work this week which has allowed me to finally get properly to grips with the long procession of models requiring enhancement.
This week that has meant some top-end 1960s-era mainline power. First pair out the door into today’s early spring daylight were A2s No 60530 and 60535, both in 1965 condition.’535 is for a friend and is essentially straight from the box Bachmann.
Every other loco you’ll see today has been upgraded with LMS cast buffers and vacuum pipes in the case of 60530.






Next was a Class 40, again in mid ’60s garb (EE Type 4, more properly in that era, I suppose), in a typical condition for that era when diesels were beginning to dominate and with their own dedicated depots, cleaning and maintenance was less problematic than earlier in the decade. D369 has had the benefit of LMS buffers replacing the factory item. This in fact was done back in late 2014 but she had then languished awaiting the call to EM conversion that ultimately never came, but we know that story now, don’t we..?



Last but not least for today was my current favourite ‘big engine’ of the pack. Hornby’s latest take on the LMS ‘Duchess’, No 46256, Sir William Stanier FRS. In spite of dark mutterings from some quarters about the fixed rear truck, this is certainly the finest yet take on these, the finest examples of UK ‘Big Steam’ and worthy of the prototype.

Once again I have traded the original buffers for more substantial castings from LMS. They really do enhance the front end in my opinion and if you can summon up the minerals to do the surgery it’s worth the effort.

I’d like to fit a shorter drawbar for a closer loco-tender coupling and add a crew but, otherwise I’m pleased with the model as it comes. I’ve portrayed the loco during her last 3-4 years of service and she has a work-stained but still cared-for appearance.

This one provided the most enjoyment this week and I really must find a layout somewhere in the area to run it on!


All in all, there’s been a bit of interesting stuff going on here this week. I have a couple of smaller models to be getting on with next, more typical of bread and butter Scottish operations in the 1960s. Tomorrow, however I’m going to consider some of the very positive developments this year offers for the Scottish modelling scene.

Musically, there’s a rich crop of new, interesting material passing my way at the moment including new-to-me Australian band, Lowtide.  Their latest album Southern Mind has been on repeat this week. Theirs is a rich, layered soundscape that reminds me a bit of the Cocteau Twins. Being a sucker for bass, the fact they use two bass players has sold me considerably!

Alibi is my current stand out track, with that marvellous bass line that takes me back to my ‘goth phase’ thirty years ago!

LOWTIDE – SOUTHERN MIND (Opposite Number release OPPONO6CD)



Just to illustrate that snow has always been a problem for the railway I thought it was time again to share this well-known BTF film from 1955.

It features some good footage of the Stainmore line where the incident occurred and some interesting working practices that might be frowned upon in today’s more safety conscious world’

Building up steam with Diesels…


February beckons. For me that means that the difficult part of winter has been ploughed through successfully and as the days stretch out,  the sun appears as it  did today and I start to emerge from hibernation mode.

February sees the annual Model Rail exhibition in Glasgow and is invariably a weekend where I get back to my home city, even for a day and catch up with old friends in familiar territory.

Meantime, when I’ve not been at work over the last week or so I’ve been getting into my modelling again and when it’s not been cold, I’ve had a little dabble with the airbrush and weathering materials out in the kennel.

I’ve been gathering up the stacks of half done projects that have been building up over the last few years and making an honest effort to clear them now the psychological barrier of gauge conversion is no longer the issue it was.

The header image is of a Heljan Hymek in O gauge currently in its finishing stages with only the metallics to add.

It’s the same with the two models below, the top image being a Bachmann 08, portraying Balornock’s 13207 in 1956/7 when still in black.

The model still requires cab door glazing as I bought the Shawplan pack intended for the steel door version; this loco has wooden doors which have the smaller window.

Below that is a Heljan Class 27, portrayed as an Eastfield machine from 1965.

This model still requires the flexicoil bogie springs cut from the bogie moulding and re-mounted slightly inboard. This makes a surprising difference to the appearance of the model.

Once I have done this, hopefully on Wednesday, this and the 08 will receive a final light spraying of dust and the metallic treatment.


Both the models are therefore  works in progress and once completed you’ll see them here, hopefully under natural daylight. With luck, that’ll be over the next week.

Along with this pair, you also see 37 406, The Saltire Society.

Again, not wholly complete at this time, but displaying a heavily weathered finish, circa 1987.


As I said already. I’ll show them in more detail in a subsequent post when I’ll also share my current thoughts on the EM situation.

Modelling diesel power is probably less Adrenalin inducing than the activities shown in the video for toniggt’s Top Tune! 😊


Which Union is it to be?

A bit of politics for a Monday morning and I think some very important points are made in this piece.,
Expect some modelling input later though. 😊

Barrhead Boy

There will be a hard Brexit there is no other possible outcome, let me remind you what Theresa May and her Tory Government said on the border issue in Ireland.

The prime minister’s phase one of the EU agreement promised unreservedly no hard border, “including any physical infrastructure or related checks and controls.”

There is no way that can be done, except by either remaining in the single market and customs union or in a Norway type deal, however this will mean there has to be freedom of movement, the UK would still need to make the exact same financial contributions as now and allow legal oversight by ECJ.

All that would change is that we would have no MEPs and absolutely zero influence or veto over EU legislation.

That is just unacceptable to the right wingers and Brexiteer zealots, more importantly it is unacceptable to our foreign based, tax…

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The Far North – Let it Snow!

Some Topical ponderings, reblogged from the always interesting Highland Miscellany blog.

highland miscellany

With portions of the country suffering from a bit too much of the white stuff of late and with some trains embedded in both snow and mud blockages, I thought it might be fun to look back at the problems that snow caused one part of the Highland Railway’s system in the past.

Even though it was not as high as many other parts of the Highland’s system, its northerly position and exposure to winds makes the Far North line prone to drifting snow; especially where the line rises across the flow country between Forsinard and Scotscalder.  This has long been a sore to the Highland Railway and there are a number of fine photographs of snow ploughs in action.  Here are a few of them.

Believed to be near Scotscalder Station; what looks like a Barney in the rear and a Medium Goods to the middle – there is…

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