La’l Ratty

image

Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway with some friends. We started out early from Carlisle, conveniently timing things to catch one of the services currently operated by top and tail Class 37s from DRS on top of Mk2f stock, all supplied by DRS but operated on behalf of Northern.
image

image

The Ravenglass and Eskdale or ‘La’l Ratty’ in Cumbrian is a 7 mile, 15″ gauge line down in one of highly scenic southern parts of West Cumberland. While it’s relatively close to Sellafield, the large nuclear plant doesn’t intrude into the vista much and is quickly lost from sight once your journey up the Esk Valley to Dalegarth commences.
The station at Lakeside adjoins the Network Rail Station and it’s a tidy, welcoming place with friendly and professional staff.
They combine this professionalism with a laid back and homely approach, personified by this lovely Labrador working as s ‘firedog’!image

image

The Ratty was built in 1875, originally to 3′ gauge for slate extraction but was converted to 15″ gauge shortly before the (not very) Great War and has operated as such ever since. In the post-WW2 era, the line became much more widely known, partly due to characters in the Rev Awdry’s books.
The 15″ gauge locomotives are beautifully engineered representations of full-size locomotives although they are distinctive in their own right – they are not replicas of full size main line machines, but are proportioned in a way that if scaled up to main line size they would look perfectly at home.
This is readily apparent from our host engine on the day, River Irt.image

image

image

image

image

image

image

The journey up the Esk Valley and back was scenic in spite of the indifferent weather and it was apparent that River Irt was earning her keep in full. The engine was having to work hard with a heavy trailing load – the train was full and there wasn’t a great deal to differentiate, sound-wise with a full size machine.
It’s a special feature of the line that the locomotives are all fitted with whistles formerly fitted to main line machines – River Irt’s appeared to be a Southern ‘Bulleid’ type as carried by ‘Merchant Navy’ and ‘West Country’ class machines.
‘River Mite’ carried a ‘Stanier’ type as carried by the likes of Duchess of Sutherland or Scots Guardsman on the main line.
‘Northern Rock’, also in steam that day carries a ‘Chime’ whistle, carried I believe by a Gresley A4 in a previous life.
Here’s ‘Northern Rock’ awaiting her sister’s return just outside Ravenglass on our way back.
image

The line is surprisingly intensive in its operation; there were three steam and one diesel locomotive in operation during our visit with two stops at passing loops to meet other trains on route. The route is controlled by Radio Electronic Block Signalling as used on the West Highland since 1985 and operates on pretty much similar principles.
Even with that, when the full service is in operation on the busiest days, I suspect the signallers really earn their crust!

One thing particularly impressed me on the Ratty (although pretty much everything did); that was the superb track and infrastructure (trackwork anorak warning!) and it’s clear that the railway has a first class PW department. The track although ‘only’ 15 inch gauge is laid with flat bottom rail on vinyl coated timber sleepers, secured with pandrol fastenings. The track itself is well ballasted and maintained. The ride, even on jointed rail was commendably smooth and the formation one of the tidiest and best kept I’ve seen on ANY railway.
I know a guy in Lincolnshire who’d love it! 😉
image

image

image

image

image

All too quickly it was time to catch the train back to The Citadel, but again we timed it for one of the 37- hauled services, so a fitting end to the day.
We had a great time at Ravenglass. Our hosts certainly know how to run a scenic railway; one that Cumbrians are justifiably very proud of.
Although the line is miniature, the engineering on display is impressive and the line has its own engineering shops where it still produces locomotives not only for its own use but even for railways elsewhere including Japan!

I highly recommend you pay them a visit. You can find out more here if you are interested.

http://www.ravenglass-railway.co.uk

These folks deserve support for their superb efforts and I’ll be creating a permanent link from this blog in due course.
Meantime, do pay La’l Ratty a visit if you get the chance. There’s far more to this place than a short blog entry can even think of covering.
Leave any preconceptions you might have about a narrow gauge miniature railway at home. This may well be miniature and narrow gauge but looks very much like a busy secondary main line with a friendly ‘branch line’ vibe. Very dog-friendly too as River Mite’s ‘fireman’ will testify! 😊

Advertisements

ALB-009/10 The Workhorse and The Sodjer.

Some new projects at Alba!

Alba Weathering and Effects

image

image

image

image

Two More 0 gauge beasts completed for a friend. Both are Heljan Models, Class 31 and Deltic No 9016, Gordon Highlander; completed on request in the condition you’d have seen them in circa 1969-70.
I love the sheer physical presence of these models but I have neither the space nor the resources to be able to model in this scale to my own safistaction.
All the same, the big stuff is fun to work on!

image

image

image

image

View original post

Fine milled Grain

Some more positive observations about the Grain to note.
The body itself is held on the chassis by means of two small screws, easily removed from the underside with the break point perfectly sited if you wish to repaint yours.
Also apparent is the void on the chassis representing the hopper chute which provides a convenient place to stick some additional weight, the wagon feeling just a little light.
image

image

With the body removed, it’s a much easier task to remove the buffers and drawhooks and also a good opportunity to sand down the noticeable gap/lip on the body ends.
I’ll give these a bit of fine filler yet before repaint commences.image

image

Cereal, fill ‘er…

IMG_0023

Last week, things went fairly quiet in the kennel after 65855 left works although I’m working on two O gauge ‘biggies’ for a friend. That said, I took delivery of one of Bachmann’s long anticipated 20 ton Grain wagons.
Truly in-depth reviews of this particular model can be found elsewhere and I won’t claim special expertise but first impressions are favourable. Whilst there’s a conspicuous joint line on the roof ends that needs filled and rubbed down, this shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve. Beyond that the buffers, although adequate could use replacement by articles from a well-known supplier of such items and if you’re modelling the earlier, pre-1964 BR era, the shade of grey used needs toned down to the darker, bluer variant used by post-war BR.
I also intend to apply 3-link couplings, but EM modellers will be pleased to know that Gibson wheelsets are a perfect, no aggro drop-in fit.

IMG_0025

That’s the third wagon on the trot that Bachmann have achieved this outcome with and though nearly all the BR staples have been covered with the release of this wagon, I’m hoping the ease of conversion becomes standard on all future rolling stock releases.

It’s not the 10th Earl of Drumarse’s horse box, but for modellers of rural Scotland’s railways, this latest addition to Bachmann’s range of rolling stock is both very useful and very welcome!

Coals to Newcastle

image

image

image

image

I appreciate the blog’s been quiet over the last day or two, but here you see the reason.
Although it still requires a number and shed plate for the smokebox and possibly some can doors, the J27 is now essentially complete and ready for traffic. Some typical North Eastern Region hopper wagons are being prepared just now so 65855, as the model is now will have an authentic train to match.
Whilst not directly relevant to my usual ScR interests, this loco and associated train are a little nod to my long standing interest in the North Eastern, itself a spin off from those happy days at Berwick I mentioned before.
Anyway 65855 is a North Blyth loco which in the 1960s would have worked in the Morpeth and North Tyne/Redesdale areas.
As she was one of my first ‘self builds’, I’m pleased she has taken so successfully to her new lease of life. Hopefully she’ll get a chance to show us what she can do on Wharfeside before too long!

Odds and Sods.

image

Now that the J27 is a de facto ‘runner’, I’ve turned my attention to the aesthetic side. The model was one of my first, if not THE first proper kit build I undertook when I graduated from just tweaking RTR in 2009. I could see one or two wee issues such as my over-enthusiastic filing taking a bit of the round on the boiler top and a few patches and worn paint on the edges. It’s all being filled and stopped prior to sanding back to the round and some fresh paint. The loco will be receiving a new number and 1960s finish shortly as one of the later survivors, probably from North Blyth.

Whilst I’m waiting for the filler to go off, I’ve also been finishing off some wagons.
Firstly, there’s an ex-LMS steel sided van. I built this a few years back but I was never happy with the finish so I repainted it in a more restrained grey livery with less weathering.
image

Also a long term resident of the bench was this old Airfix LMS brake, given Shawplan glazing, handrails (urgh!) plus LMS buffers and ballast box. It’s not bad looking now but needs some lamps.
image

Lastly, there’s a Hornby ex-LMS Horsebox which has had a wheel swap to EM, link couplings and some light weathering applied.
This can be cut into a passenger train on Cully for example, as the conveyance for the horses of the 10th Earl of Drumarse or some other chinless git heading north with some of his posh pals for a fortnight of whisky and shooting stuff… 😉
image