Tag Archives: Graham Farish

Graham Farish Mk2a Coaches

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While the later air-conditioned Mk2 stock have been available for many years, the earlier non-aircon coaches have long been one of the most significant gaps in the N-gauge coaching stock roster. The long-awaited Graham Farish models go a long way towards filling that gap.

Graham Farish have chosen to model the Mk2a variant, introduced in 1967 for use on principle express routes. Unlike the first Mk2s, they were air-braked only, and could not run behind some of the older diesel classes that were only ever fitted with vacuum brakes. The prototypes had long service lives. Though ousted from front-line services by later Mk2 builds relatively early on, they continued on secondary services all over the UK for many years. The last ones survived until the early 2000s, outliving some of the later Mk2 builds by the best part of a decade.

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The three models represent the TSO (Tourist open second), FK (First Corridor) and BSO (Brake Second Open) with Eastern Region running numbers. There is no BFK (Brake First Corridor), perhaps slightly disappointingly since BR built more than twice as many BFKs as BSOs. They’re initially available only in BR blue/grey, the livery they carried for the first two decades in service. Hopefully Network Southeast and Regional Railways liveries carried in later years will follow in due course.

They certainly are very impressive models, with an excellent semi-matt finish, close-coupling mechanisms with NEM sockets, and fully-detailed interiors including seats and tables in the correct colours. They certainly capture the distinctive look of the Mk2 extremely well.

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One quibble is the height doesn’t quite match that of Graham Farish’s Mk1s. It’s not a huge difference, but it is noticeable from certain angles if you mix Mk1 and Mk2 stock in the same train. Without a micrometer screw gauge I have no idea whether it’s the Mk2 or the Mk1 that’s slightly under or overscale. Saying that, the difference isn’t enough to be jarringly obvious and probably acceptable to all but the most fastidious.

A few years back, British-outline N-gauge models were the poor relation to continental and American models, with a lot of crudely-detailed models that were years if not decades behind the best models released by Kato, Fleischmann or Roco. But since Bachmann took over Graham Farish and a competitor entered the market in the shape of Dapol, things have improved out of all recognition. These Mk2s are possibly the best British-outline coaches released to date, and I think they are on a par with state-of-the-art continental models.

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Coaching Stock Dilemmas

New and old Farish Mk1s

I’ve already replaced my older BR Blue and Grey Graham Farish coaches with new “Blue Riband” models, since the improved detail and close coupling mechanisms are a vast improvement. So now I’m considering doing the same with the WR chocolate and cream set used when running the layout in 1960s mode, and sell on the older coaches. One thought was a formation that could double up as a charter set when the layout is running in “present day” mode.

Unfortunately if you want to duplicate the real-life formations, that approach runs into problems. Here’s a photo of the Torbay Express behind King Edward I in 2010.

GWR No 6024

There doesn’t seem to be a ready-to-run RBR (Restaurant Buffet Refurbished) anywhere on the horizon, and I’m not expecting a model of that ahistorical Mk2 in chocolate and cream, but a representative 9-car formation behind modern-day steam power could be something like this:

BCK-FO-FO-FO-RMB-TSO-TSO-TSO-BSK

Meanwhile, the late-50s “Cornish Riviera” west of Plymouth was this nicely-modellable 7-car formation, all runnable with stock in the current Farish range (The RU isn’t out yet, but is imminent)

BSK-CK-FK-RU-SK-SK-BSK

Spot the similarities? This is looking like two totally separate formations. Especially when you look more closely at the present-day set and realise they all have Commonweath bogies rather than B1s.

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Placeholders

Placeholder wagons

On Steve Jones’ late lamented Electric Nose blog, he came up with the context of “placeholders” – models you know bear little or no resemblence to the real thing, but stand in for want of a better model. These two beasties are examples.

The china clay slurry tanker on the left is an old Peco wagon repainted in ECC blue with some Fox transfers. It’s not that close to the converted caustic soda TUA it’s supposed to represent, but ironically it’s as accurate as the Peco tank I repainted – that was supposed to have been a representation of those original caustic soda tanks.

On the right is one of the Graham Farish Tullis Russell PAAs which they made in the mid-1990s. The prototype is supposed to be one of the eight wagons used to transport china clay between Cornwall and Scotland for use in the paper industry. Although they’ve got the livery right, the actual model is something of a compromise, being one of their existing aggregate hoppers with a lid.

If you look at a photo of the real thing (from Paul Bartlett’s excellent website), you realise the model looks nothing like it apart from the fact it’s the right shade of blue and has four wheels.

Paul Bartlett's Photographs: Tullis Russell PAA China clay covhop TRL12300 TRL12800 &emdash; TRL12804 PAA

These wagons were signature items for Cornwall in the 1980s, given the rarity of the prototype I can’t see anyone coming up with a better version any time soon, and scratchbuilding replacements would not be an easy job. For the time being, they’re going to have to do.

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Graham Farish 2012-3 Programme

Bachmann have just announced the new models for the Graham Farish 2012/3 programme. It’s an interesting mix of new and retooled items. The obvious modern-era highlight is Freightliner’s class 70s “Powerhaul” locomotive, but I notice the refurbished 37 and the Deltic are being retooled as all-new models. Several new and retooled steam locos as well, with an emphasis on big Pacifics, although the humble GWR pannier tank gets a partial retooling.

Highlights for me include

  • Mk2a coaches, with TSO, BSO and FK being produced. Early Mk2s have always been a big gap in RtR N gauge. Bachmann shrinking down their existing OO models isn’t entirely unexpected, but nevertheless is greatly welcomed.
  • Retooled FK added to the Mk1 range. Probably more useful, to me at least, than the already-announced FO.
  • SR-design Bullied coaches. Again, the 4mm ones scaled down, and will add a bit of variety to my transition era fleet. They did make it to the Cornish main line at times.
  • 50′ Polybulk covered hopper. This doesn’t duplicate the Grainflow hopper of the N gauge society kit; it’s the shorter swing-roofed wagons used not only for grain but a variety of other traffic flows, including china clay and assorted chemical traffic. For a Devon and Cornwall layout, it’s an important signature item for the 1980s/90s.

While no doubt some people might be disappointed in which OO items haven’t been “shrunk”, I’m more than satisfied by the announcement of the Mk2s and Polybulks – Those are two of the most significant gaps for the region and era I’m interested in.

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