At the AGM yesterday, the N Gauge Society announced their next ready-to-run model will be the BR Carflat.
These vehicles were built from the mid-1960s using the underframes of redundant coaching stock. They were used both for freight services carrying newly-built vehicles, and for the distinctive “Motorail” trains carrying holidaymakers to Scotland and Cornwall.
Though the Motorail trains ceased in the 1980s with the growth of the motorway network, the Carflats continues in use in freight traffic until replaced by more modern wagons around the turn of the century.
The model will be made by Bachmann, and will be available in six versions. representing both Motorail and freight versions. Like all N Gauge Society models they’re exclusive to members, and the N Gauge Society is now taking pre-orders for delivery next year.
To some people, this picture captures the appeal of the railways of continental Europe. It’s Euro-City Train 91, carrying the name “Vauban”, which at the time ran from Brussels to Milan, and seen here at Kandersteg in in the heart of the Swiss Alps. Like a lot of international trains at the time, it’s a heterogeneous mix of coaching stock from different national systems, the leading coaches from the Belgian state railway SNCB, the rear ones from the Swiss federal railways. And the train is running on the metals of the private Bern Lötchberg Simplon.
Over the years I’ve managed to accumulate a fair few N-gauge SNCB coaches from Arnold and Roco in assorted liveries with a view to modelling this train, most recently some unboxed Arnold factory clearance stock for a fiver each! I can’t recreate the exact formation of this train because no manufacturer has ever made the newer I11 coaches (second, fourth and fifth in the formation). But a few Google image searches have brought up pictures from a few years earlier showing formations I can represent with the coaches I’ve got.
To the uninitiated it looks like a random jumble of coaches. But every coach is there for a reason, and once you get your head round the carriage workings it starts to make sense. Like many long-distance trains passing through Switzerland it’s made up of an international portion plus a Swiss portion for local passengers within the country. I don’t know the exact reason the Belgian through coaches are a mix of types, but the more modern I11 coaches were used predominately on internal Belgian services rather than longer-distance workings. Perhaps there weren’t enough left over for international use for a complete train? Likewise the Swiss portion has one first class EWIV coach, and three much older EWIs for second class.
Researching train formations for a prototype-based layout can be as interesting as building and operating the actual model. Any parallels with software testing or analysis is left as an exercise for the reader.
Dave Jones, formerly frontman of Dapol (Well, “Product Development Manager” was his offical title) has announced his new solo project, with a series of ready-to-run models in three scales.
As he says on the new website:
Starting from a blank canvas and using the best design, and modelling techniques currently in use for ready to run model locomotives, I intend to produce a raft of models over the next few years with my desire for innovation, and forward thinking put into each and every model I make.
The first three products announced are the Class 17 and 23 diesels, and the LNER J94 saddle tank, all three in N, with the J94 and Class 23 also appearing in 0, and the J94 in 00. Some interesting choices there; a couple of the short-lived unsuccessful Modernisation Plan locos that are probably unlikely to be duplicated by any other manufacturer.
Exciting news, and I’m hoping to see him pick up where he left off with Dapol, with models up to the standard of the recent “Western”.
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.