Bangernomics as a modelling philosophy.

Just arrived, a very well priced Bachmann 9F.

I’m sat writing this on my sofa in Bervie on a cold night in late November, having finally settled in the place I feel I belong. Northern winters are long, dark and cold but when you live in the kind of place I do with the sea close by, the stunning land and seascapes of the Mearns and animals and people around me who are the best I’ve ever shared my life with, the dark part of the year actually has a magic about it I never experienced anywhere else. I never ever imagined that I could experience this level of contentment and to achieve it is wonderful. I hope I can live in relative good health long enough to enjoy it for some time and indeed there’s a peace and fulfillment in my home and work life here that I am prepared to defend with my life if necessary. You certainly can’t put a price on Hygge!

Anyway, that’s enough rumination on life in general for today, what of the modelling world?

Well, there’s no doubt that although I’m getting to love my modelling again, there is no doubt that new RTR is reaching new plateaux of expense and I need to say that as I strive for a more sustainable and less materialistic life this is becoming a significant factor in my modelling. In my opinion, Bachmann and Hornby in particular appear to to be pricing themselves out of the range of most working class modellers like myself. Add to this, ever slipping deadlines for long anticipated new models such as Hornby’s standard 2MT have led me to the conclusion that these big guys have little place in my modelling world now. The imminent and frankly flawed Caley 812s, produced by Bachmann for Rails will probably be the last products I buy new from these manufacturers. This is not to say I’m forsaking the RTR world as new players, particularly Accurascale and Cavalex are presenting a new and responsive business model which provides a keenly priced product of unprecedented quality. It bids well for the new locos planned by both manufacturers, whose openness in their design and production processes is winning them many friends.

Apart from this, the aforementioned price hikes have led me to go back to the old school modelling of my younger days

The tumult and upheaval of my last few years in the Debatable Lands led to me having to dispose of a lot of well loved models to pay for stuff like, rendering, fencing, flooring, a new boiler and car parts. I have started to revisit some of those lost favourites. A visit to Aberdeen MRC’s show last month was a pretty enjoyable experience, particularly from a social point of view, given we have been deprived of such pleasures for too long a time. However, it was the keen eyes of my best mate which generated the inspiration for this post. On one of the second hand stalls, was a Bachmann D11/2, Haystoun of Bucklaw, minus box for a very tasty £60. Needless to say, the old 4-4-0 didn’t hang about long, finding its way to a new home in Bervie that very day, joined the following day by a similarly priced Hornby K1 which will soon take on a West Highland identify.

Haystoun of Bucklaw. The Scott based names of the D11/2s were the stuff of legend.

Significant in the latter day steam heritage of this part of Scotland were the Peppercorn A2 pacifics operated, by Dundee Tay Bridge and Aberdeen Ferryhill and having had to part with mine during the tough years, I was keen to find one again but prices for even second hand were prohibitively high. Until one day two weeks ago when I found one on a certain auction site as a non runner for the incredible price of £60. Needless to say, I figured it wouldn’t be a difficult fix, so I pushed the button. Upon arrival, it was obvious that the problem was a twist fault in part of the valve gear, so a few minutes tweaking ironed out the problem and once again 60533 was a Happy Knight. Not forever though as soon, this loco will become 60532 Blue Peter, a celebrity in the last months of steam working along the Strathmore route in 1966. As I drive buses around the area, it is easy to imagine her charging through the glen at Carmont or through the former station at Laurencekirk. In time the model will reflect those days, but here she is in her raw material state, currently being shown off on the bookcase – there is much to do in this place but it must wait until the stove is installed!

Soon to be 60532 Blue Peter, last steam queen of the three hour expresses.

The last bargain acquisition was the loco in tonight’s header, a Bachmann 9F, acquired for the bargain price of £87. Sobering to think we could get one at that price for new in 2007 which shows how hard the twin forces of price inflation and wage stagnation have hit us in the UK since we failed to jail the economic terrorists who caused the 2008 crash. That’s a subject for another day, but fair to say I’m no less radical than I was!😂 Anyway, this one has less of a justification although, as a reflection of my indestructible interest in the railways of the ‘other’ North East, south of the Tweed, this 9F will be treated to some air pumps, reservoirs and plumbing, suitable for one of the heroic Tyne Dock to Consett ore haulers. At least the Oxford J27 I bought not long after I came here won’t be so lonely!

What a leathering with weathering this one’s gonny get!

Anyway, I think that’s enough havering from me tonight; I’m just impressed that I’m getting the inspiration and motivation to start posting to this blog again.

My sincere thanks to all those of you who have kept the faith and continued to follow and enjoy my posts through the difficult and sparse years as I geared up to come home. I hope to have more regular and interesting posts in the future. Thanks also to all of you who made my arrival at this good place possible. You know who you are and one or two of you are on your own journeys which are coming to fruition too.

Tonight, I hope can enjoy your fireside like I am. This tune is appropriate for cosying in on a northern night.

I

Movements

A lot has happened since my last post and the last two to three months have seen enormous change in my life as I finally moved back north to start a new chapter in life. It all happened very quickly in the end with a neatness and ease I never, ever expected, even down to being able to transfer in work with no other pain than learning new routes and a few different procedures.

Scenes like the header image are now everyday for me but never to be taken for granted. All my life, I’ve dreamt of living in a small, rural place like this and the sea is an incredible bonus ball.

The place I live now is essentially a 1920s flat in a block of four. There is as much living space in it as I had in my old semi. On top of that, there’s a massive loft and a fireplace, currently boarded but ready to be opened up to accept a stove.

But it’s outside where things get really interesting as there’s a massive amount of garden space that will allow me to properly grow my own food. Not only this but a garage for heavy DIY and crucially a shed that is about to undergo substantial rebuilding to become the new ‘kennel’, or as we’ll know it, Alba Weathering’s new Hercules Works.*

Cleaned up and rotten timber removed. Lots of heavy work to follow…

My intent is to substantially re-timber the shed and add a couple of lower courses of Engineering block to remove the risk of rot again, along with some drainage work at the front. It’s a big job, but it will put all the lessons I learned from Kingmoor Works about workspace design to practice.

Things are beginning to settle down at work and Scubaidh is getting used to his new world; I don’t think he’s had so much fun anywhere else before coming here. Always a new adventure to be had. In fact, he’s already had Class 08, 26, 27 and Barclay 0-4-0 haulage on the Caledonian Railway at Brechin!

Of course, these are side issues for your average dog and I think he is probably more impressed with the places he gets walked these days, particularly the fantastic beach at St Cyrus Nature Reserve!

He used to be wary of the sea, now he lies in it!

Yes, I think he’s happy in his new world!

(photo; Ian Pepper)

There’s a lot to do before normal modelling resumes here, but the process of getting to that position is going to be an interesting project in its own right and will certainly be the subject of several posts.

*And finally; Hercules Works? Well, it’s a nod to both Hercules Linton, designer of the Cutty Sark who started and finished his time on earth in this village, and two the Atlas Works of the old NBL company. I think it’s fitting anyway!

The Last of the many.

Cowlairs works. Photo; Urban Glasgow Forum.

This week, after thirteen years of operation and probably a three figure total of locos weathered, to say nothing of a good number of builds, ‘Kingmoor Works’ closes its doors for the last time as relocation north beckons.

The last models have left the works in the last month or so.

This Heljan Class 60 is the last O gauge model to leave and is now back with its owner.

60002 Capability Brown, 1990.

The backbone of my work, however, has always been the 4mm model and fittingly, the two very last jobs were a pair of Sulzer Type 2s; a Heljan Class 25 and SLW Class 24 for Eddie Reffin’s, Glencoe layout, itself developing into truly wonderful creation.

Heljan Class 25.
SLW Class 24. Has to be seen in the flesh to be truly appreciated

On Friday, the great move north is finally effected and a new era begins.

Watch out for the rise of Hercules Works in the not too distant future.

More on the origins of the title in due course…

Closer.

Steam raised and ready to depart Carlisle!

You’ll recall in the last post that an offer had been made and accepted for the house. Things have indeed been progressing, slowly until a month ago but then accelerating rapidly to the point that I will be leaving Carlisle finally of the 30th of July.

As you’ll have observed, a process of packing and storage has been in place and this week the final acts in that process are taking place.

Meantime, following a trip up north in June, I found a suitable place in the coastal village of Inverbervie in Aberdeenshire, set in the Mearns country, celebrated by famous Scottish author, Lewis Grassic Gibbon. The place itself is absolutely perfect for my needs and set in such a nice place, about 5 mins walk from the sea, I can hardly believe my luck in finding it, no small help from a mate of mine – you know who you are and thanks again!

The third piece of the jigsaw is work and I have been lucky to get a transfer with work, to a small depot a few miles away. This saves me the anticipated search for some work again and couldn’t have worked out better.

This weekend, has been a mix of phone calls and on line chats to service providers as changeovers are set in place and visits to local friends. I also gave Scubaidh a trip out to Powfoot for one last attempt at the land speed record!

Next week, I’ll be writing this from a different place!

The transonic shock wave is not visible in this image!

Decades.

It’s a long time since I started on this road as long time followers of my blog will know.

In the last couple of weeks I have received a suitable offer for the house, the paperwork has been submitted and it’s now pretty much just a case of working out a suitable date.

And at that point, an association with this house and this city, dating back to the last days of the 20th Century comes to an end.

In some ways I suppose I should feel some kind of sadness, given the length of time I’ve been here and the decent neighbours. I’m giving up a job too, but that’s something I can deal with once settled in a new place. I’m ready for this change and looking forward to the fresh start, back under my own sky.

Whilst I haven’t found a new place yet I do have somewhere to go whilst I sort this. This arrangement gives me the advantage of being able to make a cash offer and without the bother of cross-border conveyancing.

And with all that out of the way, I can seriously focus on creative stuff, including breaking through the block that has been holding this blog back.

I really do need to get back into the habit, so I’ll share some of my recent work tomorrow.

One of the first thing I’m going to do once I’m home is make a scenic display piece for photographic work. It’s become patently obvious that my work really does need proper presentation to be seen at its best.

I also feel that a couple of small dioramas will be a good way making a serious stab at developing my scenic modelling skills.

In-between Days

Apologies for the ‘on-off’ nature of postings at the moment.

Regular readers will know that I’ve been on a long journey for the last 6-7 years on a number of levels;

The primary thrust of that journey is the physical one I’ve been building up to in preparation for my return home at long last.

Most of my physical, mental and economic capital has been tied up in the process of preparing the house and getting it into a viewable and marketable state.

This process is now complete and a few weeks ago the place finally went on the market. An initial flurry of viewings in late November has been followed by a probably inevitable lull in December while people’s minds are occupied by the Great Consumerist Festival. So be it; I plan a quiet peaceful Solstice for myself and hope that things pick up once we are through that period. All I can do from this point in is wait now; all the work and preparation is done. All unnecessary things including most of the models are packed away at a secret holding location in Scotland already.

A small quantity of modelling things and the workshop tools remain out and available for use now and finally some headspace to make use of them.

Hopefully this will manifest itself in some new postings before long but while I just want to get packed up and away now, I guess the situation is in the hands of the Universe now. I have learned to be patient but hopefully when it happens the journey will proceed to the new destination with the speed of a WCML electric. Good Yule, folks!

Isolation

It’s been a strange old time for all of us this year, myself included and from a personal perspective, lockdown led to the surprising revelation that apart from trips out through the Borders, Galloway and beyond and going out to work three days a week, my life wasn’t that different. I have lived a increasingly solitary existence for sometime now and the realisation that this probably isn’t a healthy situation long term is at the forefront of my mind now. It’s something I need to address although with my head full of what I need to get done to sell up and move it’s something I can only fully apply myself to once I’m out the other end of that particular process. It is however something that needs addressed and hopefully soon. It’s taken a situation of global proportions to illuminate how small my own macro world has become! I look forward to renewing old connections and forging new ones in a new chapter of life. I hope this starts to happen soon!

Meanwhile, modelling has been a little quieter and the only activity this weekend has been in relation to a Heljan Class 27 and my sole remaining Bachmann Class 37/0, both undergoing renumbering from previous condition. All being well, weathering may take place later this week.

A trio of Accurascale STS Cement hoppers also recently arrived and will get the treatment in due course.

Anyway, I have an early start in the morning so signing off now and stay safe folks.

Heart and Soul

Now and then a new release arrives that inspires you so much that you throw all your creative effort at it to make it as special as you can.

Dapol’s Class 21/29 is precisely one of those though in fairness, Hattons’ Barclay Pugs and Hornby’s J36 (plus the impending Rails 812 Class and Hornby 2MT) fall into the same category for me. It’s taken forty years but they all seem to be arriving at once! 😀 However, I digress; these two 29s arrived in recent weeks after I finally cleared my stash at C&M Models in Carlisle (can’t recommend Mike’s good customer service enough!) Both fit in with that last year of Class 29 Operation in 1970-71 and are finished accordingly; though I might have to obtain another 6107 to do her in April ‘68 condition with D prefixes as photted by Derek Cross in an uncommonly accurately captioned shot! 😉.

However, in the best traditions of ‘Wordless Wednesday’, it’s time for the photos to do the talking… DISCLAIMER; I know the cocks and bags aren’t attached. I’m waiting until I get decoders installed in the locos first! 😉