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)



Just to illustrate that snow has always been a problem for the railway I thought it was time again to share this well-known BTF film from 1955.

It features some good footage of the Stainmore line where the incident occurred and some interesting working practices that might be frowned upon in today’s more safety conscious world’

Building up steam with Diesels…


February beckons. For me that means that the difficult part of winter has been ploughed through successfully and as the days stretch out,  the sun appears as it  did today and I start to emerge from hibernation mode.

February sees the annual Model Rail exhibition in Glasgow and is invariably a weekend where I get back to my home city, even for a day and catch up with old friends in familiar territory.

Meantime, when I’ve not been at work over the last week or so I’ve been getting into my modelling again and when it’s not been cold, I’ve had a little dabble with the airbrush and weathering materials out in the kennel.

I’ve been gathering up the stacks of half done projects that have been building up over the last few years and making an honest effort to clear them now the psychological barrier of gauge conversion is no longer the issue it was.

The header image is of a Heljan Hymek in O gauge currently in its finishing stages with only the metallics to add.

It’s the same with the two models below, the top image being a Bachmann 08, portraying Balornock’s 13207 in 1956/7 when still in black.

The model still requires cab door glazing as I bought the Shawplan pack intended for the steel door version; this loco has wooden doors which have the smaller window.

Below that is a Heljan Class 27, portrayed as an Eastfield machine from 1965.

This model still requires the flexicoil bogie springs cut from the bogie moulding and re-mounted slightly inboard. This makes a surprising difference to the appearance of the model.

Once I have done this, hopefully on Wednesday, this and the 08 will receive a final light spraying of dust and the metallic treatment.


Both the models are therefore  works in progress and once completed you’ll see them here, hopefully under natural daylight. With luck, that’ll be over the next week.

Along with this pair, you also see 37 406, The Saltire Society.

Again, not wholly complete at this time, but displaying a heavily weathered finish, circa 1987.


As I said already. I’ll show them in more detail in a subsequent post when I’ll also share my current thoughts on the EM situation.

Modelling diesel power is probably less Adrenalin inducing than the activities shown in the video for toniggt’s Top Tune! 😊

Which Union is it to be?

A bit of politics for a Monday morning and I think some very important points are made in this piece.,
Expect some modelling input later though. 😊

Barrhead Boy

There will be a hard Brexit there is no other possible outcome, let me remind you what Theresa May and her Tory Government said on the border issue in Ireland.

The prime minister’s phase one of the EU agreement promised unreservedly no hard border, “including any physical infrastructure or related checks and controls.”

There is no way that can be done, except by either remaining in the single market and customs union or in a Norway type deal, however this will mean there has to be freedom of movement, the UK would still need to make the exact same financial contributions as now and allow legal oversight by ECJ.

All that would change is that we would have no MEPs and absolutely zero influence or veto over EU legislation.

That is just unacceptable to the right wingers and Brexiteer zealots, more importantly it is unacceptable to our foreign based, tax…

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The Far North – Let it Snow!

Some Topical ponderings, reblogged from the always interesting Highland Miscellany blog.

highland miscellany

With portions of the country suffering from a bit too much of the white stuff of late and with some trains embedded in both snow and mud blockages, I thought it might be fun to look back at the problems that snow caused one part of the Highland Railway’s system in the past.

Even though it was not as high as many other parts of the Highland’s system, its northerly position and exposure to winds makes the Far North line prone to drifting snow; especially where the line rises across the flow country between Forsinard and Scotscalder.  This has long been a sore to the Highland Railway and there are a number of fine photographs of snow ploughs in action.  Here are a few of them.

Believed to be near Scotscalder Station; what looks like a Barney in the rear and a Medium Goods to the middle – there is…

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E&G DBSO (Pt2)

These rather superb vehicles are edging ever closer to release so I think it’s timely to re-blog this interesting and informative post from the Scottish modelling scene’s very own Rudeboy, Bob Reid.

A Carriage Shop Miscellany

First announced back in 2013 these models have for a variety of reasons been a long time coming.  Personally, I think it’ll have been well worth the wait.  Whilst they are still at the pre-production stage  (these photo’s show the first “Engineering Prototypes”) it is clear that Bachmann have not only moved up a gear in terms of attention to detail but in doing so have also captured the look of these uniquely Scottish vehicles especially at the cab end.


Although these vehicles were converted from plain Mark 2f BSO’s the conversion and the additional equipment involved made them quite unique, and Bachmann have captured all of the changes that were made to the vehicles well.  That is despite the fact that none of the remaining DBSO’s are in the original 1979/1980 condition having been considerably modified twice since then.

* Before anyone goes off the deep end picking out…

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Electric Light Omnibus (Bus garage, Montague Place, Brighton, UK)

Always something fascinating in this excellent blog, whether it’s transport heritage, architecture or industrial design that floats your boat.

The Beauty of Transport

After a while, you start noticing old transport buildings, even when they’re no longer in their original use. There you are, walking down the street, when you notice out of the corner of your eye something that looks transport-y. And most of the time, when you research it later, you find out that the building has indeed had a transport-related earlier life. So it is with this week’s building. It’s still being used in a transport-related way, as a car garage. This is 25 Montague Place, Brighton.

25 Montague Place, Brighton. Photo by Hassocks5489 (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons On consideration, it quickly becomes apparent that car maintenance can’t have been its original use. It’s clearly too old. The shaped parapet gable at the peak of the main (western) elevation, and the Venetian window (three parts with an arch over the central section) suggest a building which…

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Watering a dead plant.


Today, I reached a conclusion in my modelling activities following a frustrating attempt to replace a motor on a part-built kit chassis. It finally dawned on me that I was no longer getting anything like the enjoyment I once did from the hobby. I considered the various themes in my collection, postwar BR, 1970s industrial, Scottish Pre-group and 1980s Scotrail.

All are of interest, but the postwar era and industrial and some of the pre-group was to EM. Since I moved to EM in 2013, I had acquired much new good quality RTR that would be needing conversion to EM – a fact I found increasingly daunting, given the good running qualities and the finesse of much new output. Given some of the problems and potential difficulties in conversion I was struggling to get motivated. You only have to look at the finite clearances on Hornby’s recent Peckett W6 saddle tank to see the potential difficulties. Clearly it would be a very similar situation with the new 14″ Barclay keenly awaited from Hattons. I looked to the rather lovely Heljan Class 05 shunter in my display case with its excellent running and jackshaft cranks and had to admit that the likelihood of my getting comparable running qualities from it post conversion were as likely as BBC Scotland rediscovering professional journalism. And of course, in what hints at being a vintage year for those who model Scotland, an NB ‘C’/ (LNER J36) 0-6-0 has just been announced and there’s a strong possibilty that the long-spoken-of Dapol NBL Type 2 may finally appear within this solar traverse.

It all means a bigger pile of models to convert and when even the otherwise excellent Bachmann Porthole and Thompson coaches require complete bogie replacement for EM it is increasingly obvious that the Law of Diminishing Returns is increasingly applying in my sphere of modelling. The process of converting stock begins to overshadow everything, draining energy and distracting from the acquisition of other skills and wider enjoyment of my modelling. And of course there were the wheels themselves; you have a choice of user friendly but chunky Markits, Gibsons with finesse but fragility and occasional QC issues and frankly the worst crankpins ever made and finally, the admittedly excellent Ultrascale with an attendant six-month wait.

I would require the ability to re-generate like a Timelord were I to stand any chance of doing all this. Additionally, factors involving track came into play with the advent of high quality bullhead pointwork from Peco

Once the conclusion was reached that five years of toil had delivered precisely hee haw*, the final decision was easy; I am abandoning EM and returning to OO. That OO Finescale can be made to look as good as the more prototypical gauge widths is conclusively demonstrated by my own ScRSG’s Alloa layout. The moment I made that decision was a liberating one and I can already feel enthusiasm returning. Most of the converted rolling stock can be returned to OO by simply re-setting the back to back on the wheelsets. Some converted RTR can readily be put back to OO with replacement parts from the manufacturers.
All this will free up time again to do the kind of modelling activities where my true talents really lie.

As a much valued friend put it today when I was having a rant via text;

“James Watt didn’t paint the Mona Lisa.
Cuneo didn’t design the Forth Railway Bridge.
Leonardo da Vinci was just a freak!”

Aye, play to your strengths is the message and that’s what I’m going back to now so watch out; this blog will be getting noticeably busier in the coming weeks.

And if you are feeling all Calvinist and nailing your colours firmly to the EM mast there will be lots of Gibson, Penbits and Brassmasters goodies up for sale shortly too!

Finally; you know that I often like to add a musical footnote to my posts and this week I’ve obtained two CDs that have immediately really etched themselves into my consciousness, having hardly been off the player all week.

The first is Four Tet’s New Energy (appropriately, given the nature of this post!)
The posted track is ‘Two thousand and seventeen’. It’s a track that seems well suited to night driving and in fact I first heard it on 6Music’s playlist back in September, resulting in it becoming a bit of an earworm during a week of late shifts driving a near empty bus through Carlisle’s darkened streets!

The second is Ride’s Weather Diaries. Ride were around in the 1990s but largely escaped my attention though on the strength of this album I’m tempted to investigate their back catalogue. The posted track, ‘Pulsar, doesn’t in fact appear on the album but it’s a worthy statement of intent for the album’s content.

I recommend both Albums.
Four Tet – New Energy on Text Records TEXT046
Ride – Weather Diaries on Wichita Recordings WEBB510CD

*’Hee Haw – Rhyming slang; a polite Scottish euphemism for ‘f*** all’…