The Silloth Donkey and Fireball XL5…

…which is just a smart-arsed, attention-seeking way to get your notice to two projects I’ve been tinkering with of late.
Probably due to spending a lot of time on the course of the old Carlisle and Silloth railway whilst going about my working day, I’ve fostered a growing interest in the route which alternates between snaking and poker straightness along the strange and beautiful Solway Plain of North Cumberland.
One of the staple machines of the line in the LNER and British Railways era was Gresley’s J39 class locomotive. An everyday sight on the line from about 1930 until 1962, locos from this class worked out of Canal Depot in Carlisle.
This bunch also worked out to Langholm on mixed traffic, Alston on goods and even as far as Hawick on occasion.
With that in mind, this chassis is in the process of being prepared to go under an old surplus Bachmann J39 body. The chassis itself is Comet with Markits wheels, Mashima 1224 motor and High Level gearbox. Originally I intended to fit a 1424 motor but I fancied a less intrusive motor in this instance so as not to project into the space under the boiler.
In fact, given the prodigious efforts of this motor in my Jumbo, I’m pretty sure it’ll be pretty happy in this application too.


Testing, so far, has been successful and when time (surprisingly limited at present) permits, I’ll get the chassis rodded up, pick-ups fitted and ultimately off to Glasgow for testing on Wharfeside. The chassis is a basic effort in this instance, being rigid without compensation or springing.

Additionally, I’ve converted my second Heljan Clayton to EM with another set of Ultrascales. Whilst there’s up to a six month turnaround on orders for these wheelsets, they are undeniably worth the wait and a drop-in fit.
One thing to note if you’re doing this particular gauge conversion is the fact that brass collars are provided that fit over the mounting lugs for the cosmetic bogie side frames. However, whilst these allow for sufficient clearance between the wheels and frames, you will need to secure the frames with epoxy or the like as there is insufficient length left on the lugs after fitting the collars to provide a solid interference fit. They run well though, as the pictures of the first conversion under test on Wharfeside demonstrate.




*Fireball XL5 was a snide reference to the Claytons’ pyromanic reputation; less an internal combustion locomotive as a spontaneous combustion locomotive…


A Railway Re-born (part 1)

Re-blogged from the WRHA.
A series of photographs showing the inexorable return of the iron road to the Scottish Borders.
I would never have believed this possible twenty years ago but today it is again possible to photograph a train with Lady Victoria Colliery as a backdrop.
At last, one of the biggest wrongs of a London-controlled national transport policy is being righted. New railways are truly one of the great success stories of our Holyrood Parliament.
Whilst I don’t as yet see a convincing economic case for re-opening all the way to Carlisle ( though it would be a highly useful diversion and charter route), I am convinced we will see trains to Melrose, St Boswells and Hawick again by 2025. It’s nice to dream of things considered impossible even a few short years ago.


The Beast


This behemoth has been sat idle in the Kennel for two years whilst I pondered whether a suitable step down could be found to adapt it for airbrush use.

Thanks then due to my mate, Jon Hunt who unexpectedly came up with something suitable the other day.
This really is a step change in how I work and the increased air capacity and adjustable working pressures are really bringing out the potential of my airbrush. With two outlet valves I can now keep two brushes on standby for acrylic and enamel work respectively. I’ve already experimented on a couple of models this evening. I’ll photograph them in better light this week, but there are notable improvements.
I expect I’ll need to attach moisture traps though.

One thing on my mind of late is that I may finally need to separate my building and painting activities. I have a number of jobs requested by friends for weathering and construction so I’m considering re-jigging my spare room so that the less messy parts of building can take place there.

In any case, with the work space being directly in front of an opening window, it’ll probably be more H&S friendly to do my soldering there with an open window for the fumes to drift out!
Not only that, but it will be a more pleasant spot to work on a cold winter’s evening. This is the only good photo of one of the guinea pig wagons I played with tonight!


There’s still a lot of re-ordering and a bit of redecorating to be done in the room but this is what the business end looks like!



Vincent van Gogh: transport artist

A side of Vincent Van Gogh I was completely unaware of. Some remarkable work and featuring the main forms of transport of the day which makes it entirely appropriate to reblog via the kennel!

The Beauty of Transport

Vincent van Gogh. Sunflowers. Chairs. Night skies of swirling blue, butter-yellow stars and fat crescent moons. Tortured by mental illness, unable to make a living from his paintings. After his death, so famous that he was the subject of an episode of BBC TV series Doctor Who without anyone having to worry that the audience wouldn’t know who he was. In short, you know Vincent van Gogh. Except that you don’t.

Van Gogh is best known as a Post-Impressionist, his paintings a form of emotional expression rather than a literal representation of the world around him. The Impressionists, in contrast, employed a more naturalistic style, tackling found subjects whether those were countryside scenes or industrial views. We looked at the work of Impressionist Camille Pissarro a few months ago.

Born in 1853 in the Netherlands, where he started his journey in art, van Gogh moved to Paris in 1886, where he…

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Campaign for Borders Rail

Monday 6th October saw the first ever train on the Borders Railway when a Dutch track-laying machine began its work at Newcraighall. CBR’s intrepid photographer waited two and a half hours in a howling gale to record this unique occasion, as portrayed in two photos reproduced here:


2522 – The first train on the Borders Railway. Just before 10.00 on a dreich Monday 6th October, the track-laying train begins inching its way south from Newcraighall, propelled by GB Railfreight 66 736. Track laying up to this point (with 60 ft rails) had been by means of cranes and other mobile equipment. Millerhill loco stabling point is in the background. [Photo: David Spaven]


2524 – Just after 10.00 on Monday 6th October, the track-laying train inches steadily southwards from Newcraighall, propelled by GB Railfreight 66 736. The train is on what will become the Up line to Tweedbank (the logic being…

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Playing around in the light.





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I always prefer to photograph my models in daylight. Of course that means that I have less opportunity now the days are shorter.
On the other hand, the light is less strong and perhaps imparts a more subtle look.
I’d wanted to show the Black Five off in daylight so here it is with a few props to give a minor sense of perspective.
This reminds me starkly that I truly need to create some kind of scenic display piece. Any model looks far better in a scenic setting and it’s high time I addressed this.