Edward Elgar’s birthday a few days ago was an excuse to give 50007 a spin on the layout. The prototype was painted in Great Western green to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the GWE in 1985.The repaint and renaming was somewhat controversial in some quarters, earning the locomotive the nickname of “Snotvac”. It survives in perservation, although it’s currently running in its earlier guise of “Hercules”.
The model is one of the oldest on the layout, resprayed and detailed by Chris Marchant of CJM something like 25 years ago. This one’s still running on the original Farish 5-pole chassis; one of the early ones with nylon gears that therefore still runs. The coaches are very much newer; a rake of the the recently-introduced Farish Mk2as.
In contrast, the newest addiion to the fleet is one of Graham Farish’s newly retooled 31s. No 5826 was one of a handful of locomotives outshopped in the late sixties in an unusual interim livery, still wearing the original green but with full yellow ends and BR double arrow logos normally applied to locomotives repainted into BR blue.
5826 was one of the locomotives transferred to the Western Region at the beginning of the 1970s to replace the WR’s non-standard diesel-hydraulic fleet. It was running in this livery in 1973, representing an earlier era to the 1980s class 50, but ideal to run alongside the hydraulics. Here it’s pulling a very mixed parcels train, typical of the sort of duties these medium-power locomotives found themselves working during the 70s.
Dapol’s blue N gauge “Westerns” have arrived! Just like the limited edition Desert Sand “Western Enterprise” it’s an excellent model of an iconic locomotive. Along with the earlier Dapol class 22s and Hymeks, and the Farish Warship, all the major BR Western Region diesel-hydraulics are now available in N gauge, which ought to spawn a few 60s/70s WR layouts. The only missing loco is the short-lived D600 class, and I’m not sure a five-strong class that spend much of their short lives confined to Cornwall would be popular enough to warrant a ready-to-run model.
The Dapol loco is the one in the foreground. The locomotive behind hauling the milk tankers is an old CJM respray of a Poole-era Farish model. It actually stands up remarkably well considering how old it is. It’s nowhere near as detailed, and with innacurate bogies due to re-use of the class 50 chassis, but I think it’s still good enough to run on the same layout as the new Dapol model. A tribute to Chris Marchant’s skill as a modeller.
Given how many of my older Farish locos have died due to split years, it’s a pleasant surprise to find it still runs.
Now I’ve taken delivery of another shipment of Kato Unitrack, all the track in the main line fiddle yard is down. It it’s current incarnation there are six roads using Kato #6 points and some 282mm radius curves to keep the track spacing tight. The tracks are in excess of ten feet in length, meaning there’s space for two trains in each road at least when running in British-outline mode.
Experience will tell if this formation will work; it’s accepable for a parade-of-trains approach but won’t allow realistic timetabled operation because it lacks the ability to reverse trains. I’ve drawn up an alternative scheme with eight roads and trailing crossovers at each end which will allow end-to-end style operation as well. That may end up reducing capacity slightly because all the additional pointwork at each end will take up more space, but will gain a lot in operational flexibility.
The three locomotives are again CJM models acquired during the 1990s, repainted and detailed Farish shells on CJM Saturn chassis. The trains are three iconic (for me at any rate) late-80s Cornish trains, the “Night Riviera”, the West of England TPO and the afternoon St.Blazey to Gloucester Speedlink.
Now I’ve got some track down on the layout, a few older models are coming out of storage.
These three class 47 locomotives all carry liveries from the early 1990s, and represented the current scene at the time I obtained them. They’re all hand-finished models from CJM, all three based on detailed Graham Farish shells mounted on the (then) superior Minitrix chassis. Despite having been stored for a decade, all three ran straight out of the box, with only 47708 (the one in Network South-East livery) running slighly jerkily, probably down to dirty pickups.
I’m wondering how many of my old Farish models of similar vintage still run, and how many have died due to split gears. The big question now is how many older models are worth resurrecting, and how many should be retired in favour of newer more accurate products coming from Bachmann and Dapol.
I spent a fun day at the International N Gauge show at the Warwickshire Exhibition Centre, otherwise known as “The Cowshed”, just outside Leamington Spa. As a show dedicated to N-gauge modelling, with layouts large and small showcasing the possibilities of the scale, and the specialist traders out in force, it’s one of the major events of the year of the model railway calendar. It’s a good time to meet up with a lot of old friends from the railway modelling community, as well as getting inspiration from layouts, and of course buying stuff.
Compared with a few years ago the overwhelming majority of the layouts were British outline with only two or three continental European or North American layouts on display. I’ll put this down to the steadily improving quality of British models from Dapol and Bachmann in recent years.
This show has become a popular venue for nanufacturers to unveil their new products. One highlight for me was CJM‘s class 50, which for a suitably eye-watering price makes the Farish one look like the dated relic it is. Dapol‘s big annoucement surprised a lot of people. After a lot of online speculation as to what class of locomotive it would be, it turned out to be a range of working semaphore signals. They will initally be available as upper and lower quadrant home and distants, although bracket signals are also planned. The samples I saw in action certainly look impressive, driven by a small motor and worm rather than a solenoid, and seem straightforward to attach to a layout. Just drill a 13mm diameter hole.
Bachmann also had a number of new products on display, including fully-decorated Metro-Cammell class 101 DMUs, and advanced samples of the 4-CEP and Seimens Desiro EMUs. I can see some SR and LMR electric layouts in the coming years.
As is usual for this sort of thing, I ended up spending far too much money, and the stuff I bought, such as a class 24 and a secondhand blue class 108 DMU, had a decidedly Cambrian flavour. I did resist the temptation to buy a brass BLS Ae6/8, a Zurich S-Bahn double-deck set. or Dapol’s Grand Central HST, the latter of which looked superb but wouldn’t fit into any layout I might conceivably build.