Where you’ve been and where you’re headed…

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Well, there we are. Our wee blue world has completed another circle of the sun,bringing to a close a year of great change on a personal, national and global scale.

It’s been a funny old year from my own perspective as an old career finally ran its course and I sit right in the middle of a big transitional shift. The old job was doing me no good and had long ceased to be in any meaningful way enjoyable, let alone satisfying. Watching out for threats ahead and increasingly behind became ever more wearing with the risk of a wrong call made under pressure putting you out of a job and in my case also out of a home as I was still trudging along with a mortgage burden on my back. I had also been struggling with my own conscience as I see an increasingly unpleasant regime flex its muscles against the weakest and were things to seriously deteriorate I had no wish to be taking the heat of an angry populace on behalf of those who caused the problems in the first place.
Therefore, an opportunity arose this year to get off the hamster wheel and to say I grabbed it with both hands is the mother of all understatements. As a result I am now mortgage free with a small monthly pension and a part time job to back this up. It’s only a small step up from subsistence but it sufficient for now whilst I readjust to normal life.

At this point things are reasonably quiet then but as the year turns full circle, it’s time to start thinking about making sustainable long-term plans. Ideally, I’d very much love to return to Scotland now, but that’s going to be very much dependent on finding new work. At fifty with no real qualifications beyond some O levels and a lot of useful life experience this will probably be easier said than done but I owe myself to give it a try. It would be easier if I had a clue what I wanted to do but I’d settle for 30 hours a week at a living wage for now whilst I build up a bank reserve again to take care of the expenses of any move. I’ve no real desire or need to get back into the rat race but I would like to move back to my own country and to a wee place with a better kitchen, more cupboards and a decent bit of space out back for a layout shed and growing my own veg!

It must be an effect of the independence referendum but I do find myself increasingly missing ‘the old country’ these days and really would like to be a bit closer to my friends and family. It’s a fact that my social network is still largely centred around Central and Western Scotland. That said, I’d be happy anywhere north of the border, depending on where the work is.

I’d really like to do more in the way of modelling commissions but if I’m honest this is never going to generate anything more than pocket money for me so I have to be realistic and accept it’ll never be a ‘proper’ job! Modelling has in some ways just trundled along in the background this year, set against the monumental background of change that is still on-going. I’ve determined that the blog is my sole engagement with the wider modelling world. Previously I was a keen user of forums and I still use those useful CRA, G&SWRA, EMGS and Scalefour fora as places where you can ask sensible questions, relevant to your needs and receive similar responses. Sadly, other places that held promise fell into the hands of individuals with their own agendas and after being painted, entirely without justification, as railway modelling’s own Kim Jong-Il I took the view that I would leave the place to the projectionist and his fanboys and plough my own quiet furrow away from those who think toy trains are worth monstering people for.

I’ve since become a member of the fine Scottish Region Study Group; a decent, down to earth bunch of guys who are always good for a bit of banter and crack in the best Glasgow tradition and though visits are currently infrequent on account of distance, they are always a joy to visit; no cliques, no divas!

In spite of all the distractions though, I’ve managed to complete the troublesome Jumbo and Black Five, three diesel locos and have two LNER 0-6-0s and Duke of Gloucester well in hand. Therefore, although things have been somewhat disjointed, it’s not been an entirely unproductive year and while today’s entry has been largely retrospective, the next one will have it’s gaze fixed firmly ahead and to the north!

Thanks for visiting throughout the year and I hope you continue to find the content interesting and entertaining!

5MT CItadel


Duke goes Retro

A few months back I bought a Hornby Duke of Gloucester after finding out the one-off Standard 8P paid a good few more visits North of the border in the early days than I’d previously given the loco credit for.
Hornby supply 71000 in post 1957 condition with the second type of tender whilst I wish to portray The Duke as originally fitted with the BR1E tender. Essentially, this is a BR1D as fitted to 70045-54 with the coal partition removed. I have precious little reference material on the 1E and online sources didn’t go into massive detail as far as I could see so as I decided to wing it and use the spare 1D body shell I had lying spare. This also had the advantage of being in the early crest livery.
It was pretty much a simple case of unscrewing one body and replacing the other as they share more or less the same fitting.
In order to utilise the close coupled position, I filed away the bulk of the internal buffers, almost flush with the drag box on the tender face.
It makes a big improvement; I have a real problem accepting excessive coupled distances!
There’s more work to be done to the loco including conversion to EM and the fitting of some nice Lanarkshire Model Supplies cast buffers (illustrated) which will give a much more grown-up appearance to the loco.
At the end of the day she will join my slowly expanding EM fleet as its first Pacific type and while not directly relevant to my own current projects, 71000 will look pretty smart and will no doubt make odd appearances in Wharfedale, having been borrowed by Kingmoor for a cheeky ‘out and back’ to Leeds!






For Sale


I have here a brand new unused Bachmann Class 101 DMU in plain BR Blue livery. These go for an RRP of approximately £150 but I’ll take £95 plus postage. The model is in unmodified 00.

I’m also looking to pass on the 782 to a new owner in anticipation of the Beetlecrusher taking its place next year and the J83 filling the niche until such time as a new 782 kit becomes available. It’s a little sad I guess as the loco runs beautifully but I just can’t warm to the overall look. In that case it would be better for her to be in the hands of someone more appreciative.
I’m open to offers for the loco but I would ideally like something in the region of £130-150.

I also have a very nice Churchward Models etched Midland pattern signal box kit for sale as I’ve no real use for it. Again, a reasonable offer will secure the kit.

This is probably a good time to clear all items I can’t realistically use so there might be some 247/Comet coach bits coming up too!





A winter’s day; in a deep and dark December…


Instant reportage via mobile communications!
I’m giving Abi her morning walk right now and I thought I’d take a photo of this stretch of line; more of symbolic than actual importance these days.
Whilst all the attention is now rightly focused on the head of steel snaking back South towards Tweedbank and probably Hawick in the future, once the ‘Aye beens’ awake from their torpor; this short stretch of line was for four long decades the caretaker of the Waverley Route’s memory. Since 1970, the Brunthill Spur as it’s known has been operated as a long siding from Kingmoor Yard utilising the remnants of the old down Waverley.
Originally, after January 1969 the up line existed as far as Longtown to service the ordnance depot as well as the RAF maintenance unit at Brunthill but once the single line section that branched off from Longtown and connected with the Caley main line at Mossband was rigged for bi-directional working, the line was cut back to Brunthill. This was done largely avoid construction of an expensive bridge to carry the then new dual carriageway A74 over the line. Some suggest that it was indeed a factor in the genuine enthusiasm for the Waverley’s closure in high places. Nevertheless, the Brunthill line survived even the closure of the RAF base and continues to serve a freight terminal on the edge of Carlisle’s largest industrial estate and still receives regular trainloads of bulk cement for Lafarge.
I think it deserves some recognition for its tenacity and even though there will never be a main line through here again, this entry was inspired by viewing the above scene and imagining the passage of a pair of Border Union Clayton diesels on a Carlisle bound drag of timber wagons in an alternate 1975. 😊

Another step forward.

Tonight I primed and painted the loco frames and in addition cropped the motor shaft so the 1424 will sit comfortably inside the Smokebox.


Having performed these tasks, I placed the body on the chassis to check the fit which appears to be bob-on.
Some hint of the weight and mass of these beefy Locos is transmitting itself into this model; I think this is evident from the sit.
The model weighs a (metaphorical) ton and between that and the motor/gear combo I suspect it will pull anything I care to fling at it. Testing day at Wharfeside may be entertaining!


Testing Times

The last two nights I have been working on the two 0-6-0s from earlier.
Last night, I attached the rods to the J39, having tested the mechanism with the temporary nylon “crankpin bosses”. Once satisfied with the running qualities I soldered the bosses on. Whilst I appreciate that for many this will be teaching you to suck eggs, I’m hoping that novices do visit the blog and learn something useful from time to time.
Anyway, this is my method for ensuring that the rod doesn’t get bunged up with solder when you’re securing the boss. Nothing more than a humble Rizla paper. I don’t smoke but these useful papers have lasted me years.

If you do 5″ gauge, there’s great big ones about 6″ long too but they only seem to sell them in shops with Bob Marley posters on the walls.
How come so many Rastafarians and New Age folks are so into very large scale model engineering?

Once the rods were soldered in place, I cropped the crankpins down an dressed the bosses with a small hand file to give the result shown.


That was last night so tonight I tackled the J27. Having tested the motor and found it satisfactory, I installed it in the drive carriage, threaded through and coupled up the centre (driving) axle and attached the final drive gear.
Once again this tested OK so it was time to temporarily set the rods up and test the whole six coupled set-up.





You can see the temporary nylon retainers I mentioned before.
The mechanism is geared at 54:1 and with the motor being the powerful 1424 can from Mashima, it really does seem to ‘walk the walk’.
By the time the mechanism completed its first run in, it was starting to turn in the 1.5 – 1.8v range, drawing no more than 0.06A.
Not a bad start.
Satisfied so far, I now need to do a part dismantle so that the frames can be primed and painted. Once it’s all painted and permanently assembled, I’ll attach the brake gear, pickups (😕) and start running the whole assembly in on the rollers.
I will also need to crop the motor shaft too, so that it can be accommodated in the loco’s firebox.
Top tip though. Wait until these motors are tested and found to be satisfactory before you cut the shaft.
The reason for this is, I suppose, a warranty issue; the makers will not accept a defective motor as a return if the shaft is cut so make sure it works before the piercing saw goes into action or you’ll have as much chance of getting a refund as David Mellor has of getting a taxi!

Brass bashing continues apace



Last entry we had just completed one side of the cab assembly.
Since then I’ve completed this and offered it up to the footplate.
Tonight, I have been working on the side tanks. The thought of bending up the curve was mildly laxative but with a series of half etches to help, it turned out to be a reasonably easy task. I also got the opportunity to use my gravity-drop rivet tool for the first time, purchased at Expo EM North!
Worked nicely too.
Next task was to attach the tank ends.
The front piece was a single unit joining both sides.
The rear consisted of two pieces, each applied independently. One went on easily, the other had a mind of its own! I got there in the end though and finished tonight’s assembly work by attaching the tanks to the superstructure.
Soldering etched brass is still a learning curve for me and so far my soldering is a triumph of function over elegance; much like Jackie Baillie’s control pants.
I’m getting there though!