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)


Comrie Pug (Pt1)

Whilst I wait for a replacement chassis etch for the Barclay (long story) I’ve decided to make a start on the second NCB loco for Project77.

Due to some confusion and overthinking on my part concerning the compensation on the Barclay, I feel that I need to start afresh with this loco and I’m doing it as a rigid just to keep things relatively simple and make proper progress.

I’ve used the RT Models chassis etch for the Austerity.  This will go under an old Dapol ‘Warrington’ which I obtained for a fairly reasonable price over the summer.

Power is by a can motor through a High Level 108:1 gearbox which should mean a fair bit of grunt.

No need for speed here. Strong and steady is the standard requirement and it’s likely the motor will have a flywheel.

Anyway, two evenings’ work has seen the frames assembled, using my faithful Hobby Holidays masterchassis jig with various details applied tonight and the gearbox frame assembled.

Now, if I can get myself a 14BA drill and tap, this would be running by the weekend!

Carlsberg don’t do kits…

But if they did, this one would keep them on their toes!

Just arrived in the post today is a new kit by Peter Stanger at 52F models.
This is for the attractive C16 4-4-2 tank locomotive, formerly NBR Class L.
52F kits already have a reputation for innovative and intelligent design and even from the point where the wrapping comes off, quality radiates from even the sturdy plastic box containing the kit itself.

Inside are a fabulous collection of nickel silver etches, first off; the quality is readily apparent upon viewing and the chassis frames are a simple fold-up which should help the achievement of square chassis assembly.





One especially innovative feature for me is the fact that some of the more complex-shaped items have already been pre-formed, such as the tank sides and boiler. The cab roof and smokebox have also been pre-shaped. The smokebox wrapper is also part etched so rivets can be pushed out though if I remember correctly this only really applies to the similar C15, a kit for which is also being produced. (EDIT-sorry, Pete, I just read the relevant part of the instructions – C16s could have them too!)




Additionally, there are several bags of castings, both white metal and lost wax brass.
These latter, along with the superb sprung buffers will I hope be available separately as there are items that will be useful for other NB/LNER types. The buffers are also suitable for CR types too




This particular version of the kit is optimised for EM although P4 and OO versions should be available.
For an additional fee, Peter supplies Gibson wheels with modified crank pin throw, prototypical to the engine.

The instruction sheet itself is a work of art with clear, detailed and explicit instructions for each stage of construction; far cry from the cast kits of yesteryear and it’s evident that these have been written by someone who has actually built the kit.


In summary, this kit has been designed and produced with care, intelligence and real innovation.
The mere appearance and feel of the kit inspires confidence in this builder at least and in time, when current commitments have been cleared I shall report the building process on this very blog.
In the meantime, if you want one of these kits, they can be ordered via Peter at
I’m really pleased with this excellent kit and the proof of it will be in the building.
I have every confidence it will live up to the high expectations I have for it!

Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

A consignment of tender wheels arrived today although I was slightly crestfallen to see that my supplier had provided OO wheels on pinpoints which were ultimately as much use as Nigel Farage to an Edinburgh taxi driver.
After weighing up my options, I trawled my parts boxes and found a set of 14mm spoked Markits tender wheels and saw that they would sit comfortably on the Gibson EM axles I had spare.
Feeling pleased that I’d pulled off the bodge successfully, I placed the wheelsets into the tender frames and have placed them temporarily under the body. There is still a bit of filing and clearance to be done underneath so the wheels turn freely and in truth I wish I’d fabricated new outer frames but things are pretty much on course now here to create a very nice little engine. I’m looking forward to adding the smaller parts and getting on with the painting.



Love me tender…

I decided to crack on with the tender underframe for the Jumbo tonight following the arrival of frames from Caley Coaches. The Caley very thoughtfully settled on a standard tender chassis wheelbase during the Drummond/McIntosh/Lambie era and that means I was able to put something underneath the DJH castings. You can see the supplied arrangement in the top picture. How anyone ever produced a running model from this garbage is a matter of amazement. How the hell you solder an entire tender body together whilst installing bearings, wheelsets and ensuring overall squareness of both body and axles is utterly beyond me. To think I used to get so frustrated and blame myself for failing in these tasks!
I would say most successful builds of early DJH were in spite of rather than due to the design!
Anyway, that’s enough grumpiness on my part, let’s get on with our tale.
You can see that I attached a spacer to one end of each of the frames. This is a precaution to prevent any distortion through heat during assembly that might occur if I attached both spacers to one side. This creates a risk of your chassis looking like it should have a Fyffes sticker on it!
Assembly was fairly straight forward, the openings for the axle bearings having been gently opened out prior to assembling the frames. Once this was achieved, I attached the bearings using axles to check squareness. Lastly this evening I attached the transverse rods for mounting the brake gear.
There we have to bring the job to a close for now as I need to order correct 4′ diameter wheels for the loco and also some Carrs Brown Label flux for the stainless steel coupling rods on the loco.
One thing’s sure, I’m going to have to cut the frame ends short and carry out some substantial surgery to the lower body ends on the tender in order to mount these frames at the correct height! Once that’s done to satisfaction I will add a false floor for the purposes of mounting the chassis to the body.
Not Mission Impossible by any means but care will certainly be required!







Further 4-4-0 Fun






The Gresley Composite coach has taken a back seat  while the paint hardens and the decals settle so today I returned to the Pickersgill 4-4-0 project. After a bit of head scratching about the best way to progress with the pick-up arrangements, last night I decided to rip out all the curcuit board/DCC stuff and rig the model for conventional wiring. Hornby thoughtfully coded all the pick up wiring in standard red and black, so it was easy to determine what went where. I then combined all the loose positive wires, soldered them to a fresh piece of  the appropriate colour then, protected the joint with heat-shrink tube. 

A basic pick-up rig was created for the tender with pick up on the aft four wheels and a pair of bus bars connecting these with the front of the tender. The connection has been tested then separated again after being found to function correctly. I will connect the loco and tender permanently when detailing and painting has been completed but this is now essentially a working loco.




Encouraged by progress with the Pickersgill, I dug out the part-built ‘Scott’ 4-4-0 that’s been lurking on the bench for two years, seeing sporadic work. I then fitted it with a similar rig on the tender and noticed that the tender itself was sitting lower than it should. Some mounting pads have been fabricated from plasticard but suddenly, it seems that there will be two ‘Scottish’ 4-4-0s heading into the finishing shops shortly!

I apologise for the poor photography tonight; I used the iPod to take these as opposed to the phone!