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)


If you build it, they will come.







Twenty-five years ago; if you had told me that in the 21st Century I’d be riding down the re-born Waverley Route behind a Peppercorn A1 Class locomotive I would have asked you what you’d just dropped.

On Sunday the 13th September 2015, though no illicit chemistry of any sort was involved, that’s exactly what I did.

In just a few short but unforgettable hours all those marvellous images and anecdotes that admirers of the famous line rever; the tales of majestic vistas and sweeping curves, the old DMU cab ride film. All pulled into perspective and brought back into glorious, kicking, screaming life.
An uncommonly wonderful railway returned from oblivion, traversed by a member of a locomotive class back from the lost ranks of the extinct. A historical wrong in part(for now)righted.

Even the service trains observed today were full; station platforms crowded,
bridges full of photographers and curious well-wishers dotting the line-side of the Lothian uplands and the Gala Valley to witness a sight not seen here for half a century.

Tonight I’m hugely proud of my wee country because WE made this happen; from the grass roots lobbyists of the CBR and the WRHA who kept the flame and kept the dream alive to a forward looking and sympathetic government who trusted those who believed in the potential of this largest stretch of line to be built in Scotland or the UK for a century. To the engineers, technicians and labourers who grafted in all weathers and hours of the day to being the project to fruition.
True, mistakes were made along the way but today, the people of the Borders have a fast, modern link with the outside world and if what I witnessed today is any indicator the future is bright.

This evening, with the events of the day in mind, I walked Abi along the old trackbed from Brunthill to Parkside.
Even if trains return to the entire route in the future as far as Carlisle, developments since the 1970s have ensured that trains will never run this way again, but away to the north, the Phoenix of the Waverley has again risen and in that knowledge, the old section, quiet, leafy and tranquil can finally rest in peace.


Sometimes, the wildest dreams really, really do come true!

Captain’s Log, Stardate; WTF?

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As someone who’s been following Scottish politics since the great independence debate took off in 2011-12, I’m pretty used to ill-informed, bat-shit craziness by now but I have to say that this post, spotted on a well-known UK model railway forum by an ‘alert follower’ 😉 still made me rather astonished in a Jo-La sort of way and it kind of proves that the UK media’s propaganda onslaught is having effects outside the expected sphere. Either that or Alan Cochrane’s taken up railway modelling!
Anyway the 5:15 to UKIP-land’s running a bit late so best take your meds now, old chap!

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