Tag Archives: Dapol

Some rolling stock additions

There is little progress to report on the layout, so to fill the game, some of the rolling stock I’ve acculumlated over the past year ir so.

Dapol Class 33

The most recent purchase, the new and long-awaited Dapol class 33, a locomotive always associated with the Southern Region. In the days of the 1955 Modernisation Plan, the SR management concluded their motive power needs were quite different to other regions. With all their main lines scheduled for electrification and relatively little heavy industry they had no need for an express passenger or a heavy-haul freight locomotive. What they wanted was a one-size-fits-all locomotive suitable for passenger work on non-electrified secondary routes and for general freight work across the network, able to operate in pairs on what little heavy traffic their was. They rejected the Modernisation Plan type 2 designs as underpowered, came up with their own specification for a medium-power machine, and Birmingham Carriage and Wagon were the successful bidders.

In later years these versatile machines spread their wings as declining freight traffic made more of them available for other work. They worked on the Western Region in Devon and in West Wales, on the cross-country route from Cardiff to Manchester, and even into North Wales. None were allocated outside the Western Region, instead working complicated cyclic diagrams that took them back to their home region for maintenance. The majority were withdrawn in the 1990s, but even today a handful remain in traffic. Several more survive in preservation.

Minitrix Cisalpino

Something completely different, an addition to the Swiss-outline fleet. It’s the Minitrix Re484 in Cisalpino livery with matching EC coaches. Cisalpino was a joint venture between the Swiss Federal Railways and the Italian State Railway operating through trains between the two countries, using dual-voltage trains to avoid needing to change locomotives on the border. The rolling stock was a mixture of Italian Pendolino multiple units and Swiss locomotive-hauled trains. As ought to be obvious from the picture, this train is one of the latter. They were a common sight on the Lötchberg main line during the mid-noughties.

Dapol Grange and Farish Hawksworth

And next, a couple of kettles for when the layout is running in transition-era mode. This one’s the recently-introduced Dapol Grange class. The GWR had several classes of mixed-traffic 4-6-0s, and the Granges combined the smaller driving wheels of the Manors with the larger boiler of the Halls. The result was a locomotive with the same overall power as the Hall class but with a greater tractive effort at the expense of reduced maximum speed. This made them especially useful for fitted freight work in the west of England, the sort of versatile machine that would work freight during the week and heavy holiday trains at weekends. The coaches are Farish Hawksworths in the older blood and custard livery, since Farish have yet to released them in 1960s BR maroon.

Dapol 2884

And finally, another Dapol model, this time the Collett 2884 class. These locomotives were were the Great Western’s equivalent to the LMS Stanier 8F. The GWR didn’t build eight-coupled freight locomotives on the scale of the LMS or LNER, preferring to use mixed-traffic 4-6-0s on much of their freight traffic, but despite this the 2884s were found all over the system, including a couple based at St.Blazey in Cornwall for china clay traffic. The china clay wagons are made by Farish as an exclusive model for Kernow Models.

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A Day at the Cowshed


A few photos from The International N Gauge show at the Warwickshire Exhibition Centre. The exhibition centre, a few miles outside Leamington Spa, is a former farm, which is the source of the nickname.

The show has been a fixture in the exhibition calendar for quite a few years now, as the one major British show completely dedicated to N. It’s the big meetup for N gauge modellers from all over the country, and there were plenty of familiar faces present.

The first couple of photos feature the Cornish layout “Moulinnis”, a present-day layout set in the heart of clay country.

There’s some clever thinking-out-of-the-box design elements here, with the branch line forming a continuous run while one end of the main terminates in a fiddle yard. It also captures the atmosphere of clay country even though the china clay mill (which would have dominated the layout) is offstage. And it’s very compact, with a footprint of 8′ by 3′

Not all the layouts were British outline, with German, French and American layouts on display. South Walton was a little more unusual, set in New South Wales.

As well as layouts, there are plenty of traders to damage everyone’s credit cards, and manufacturers large and small display their wares and announce new products. Here’s the first engineering sample of Graham Farish’s new class 40, equipped with DCC sound. Can you beleive that’s N?

They were also demonstrating the sound-equipped class 108 DMU, which is already in the shops. What’s remarkable is they’ve managed to program the chip so a lot of the sound functions work under DC as well as DCC!  Apply a low voltage and you’ll get the sounds of the engines starting up and idling, but the train won’t move. Increase the power and the current will flow into the motor and the train will set off as the sound chip goes through the gear changes.

Over on the Dapol stand some finished production samples of the long-awaited class 33 “Crompton”. A countainer (not a Hanjin one!) is on the high seas, eight days out of Southampton, so they should be in the shops within weeks.

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Dapol Falcons

Dapol Falcon

Latest new toys for the train set are some newly-released “Falcon” ballast wagons from Dapol. They’re excellent well-detailed models of what has now become a very common sight on the full-sized railway, and at a price that makes them very good value for money.

Engineering trains used to be the poor relation of revenue-earning freight,and were seldom modelled. Such trains were often made up from superannuated repurposed revenue-earning wagons running behind the oldest and most clapped-out locomotives in the fleet.

With the massive investment in an increasingly passenger-focussed railway, all that has changed.  Engineering trains represent a major part of the privatised freight companies’ businesses, and a more typical train today is made up of modern purpose-built wagons behind the newest and most reliable locomotives.

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Here’s a short train of the full-sized versions at Dawlish back in 2004

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Dapol and CJM Westerns

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.

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Dapol Hydraulics

Dapol class 22

The layout has some new motive power in the shape of a couple of newly-released Dapol diesel-hydraulics. The little class 22 is the first of these.

The class 22s were one of those unsuccessful Modernisation Plan designs. Introduced in 1958 for secondary services, they were victims of the mass cull of non-standard designs at the end of the 1960s. The last was withdrawn in 1972, and despite an unsuccessful preservation attempt none of the locomotives have survived. British N has reached the stage where all the more popular and iconic classes of locomotives have been “done”, so manufacturers are looking at some of the more obscure prototypes.

Dapol Western Enterprise

The “Western” is altogether more iconic, making the national news when the last ones were withdrawn in 1977, and several survive in preservation. Graham Farish introduced the first N-gauge model back in the 1980s, and although it’s still in the catalogue their model is increasingly long in the tooth, so a modern state-of-the-art model is more than welcome.

“Western Enterprise” in its unique Desert Sand livery is a special commision for Osborns Models, a bit of a coup for them since these models were the first Westerns delivered from the factory, some weeks in advance of the more regular blue and maroon versions.

Dapol have come up with an interesting way of coping with the lower valance on the “Western” with regards to fitting a coupler while still allowing the locomotive to negotiate the sort of curves many modellers are forced to use. The model comes with a complete spare bogie, so you have the option of either having a coupler at both ends, or a coupler at one end only with a more realistic-looking front-end at the other. Both bogie and valance are push-fit meaning it takes just a few seconds to switch the locomotive between single and double-ended mode.

Both are very welcome models for anyone with an interest in 1960s Western Region in N, and it’s good to see the mundane in the shape of the 22 alongside the iconic.

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The 2011 International N Gauge Show

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.

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