Monday, 28 November 2011

Duck The Great Western Engine - Planning it out

All I will say at the moment in time is the face and chassis are sat on my workbench, and the body is being worked upon. Body itself will take a while to do, as it'll be done in numerous parts, but it should leave me with a rather nice locomotive, regardless of manufacturers announcing it next year.


Saturday, 26 November 2011

Incomplete Projects

Well, everyone has them. In fact, some have a few more than others do. Then I'm sat writing this whilst documenting projects I have started and still have left to do, most of which could have been done ages ago.

Yet another project I started but never completed.

The loco you see above is one such project of mine, from back in 2009. It's one that never got completed, and as such it's sat in it's box, where it's been since applying that British Railways transfer. The pugs are one small design, of a plethora of variants, that I would like to model a reasonable number of. Caledonian, North British and Great Eastern ones are in the "wishlist", but other things are further ahead.

I've got several OO9 locos and coaches that need attention. For example, Duke is ready to paint apart from the fact I've yet to drill his spectacle plates out, which is due to a bad quality casting, something I'm not too happy with. Then I have a few other locos, most of which I'm not going to reveal until they're complete, which also need adjusting and painting. Sometimes I wish they were all ready to run and all I had to do was lay track.

I've got numerous items of rolling stock to repaint and modify. The list comprises of a rake of closed vans that will become "The Flying Kipper", 5 or 6 cattle vans to form a train, 18 open wagons to become generic types and a few coaches which need new parts building or modifying before they can be used.

To add to that, I'm partway through adding DCC to my locomotives, and whilst it's a great thing to have the cost of it is somewhat eyewatering, meaning anything that isn't used regularly will remain simply DC. I've also set a few chips so the locos will go backwards instead of forwards, which needs correcting soon.

Lastly, there is the fact I've started on toying with my camera filming in HD, which really captures the models well in motion. If anything, it's far superior to the last one I had, which could only record in a VGA resolution. Hopefully I'll have something worth showing on YouTube soon.

Enough of this, time to get back to work!


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Bertie The Bus - Bandai TECS

I never was too happy with any of the ready made Bertie toys manufactured by the likes of Hornby, Bachmann and Ertl. All of them were flawed in major departments, and as such I really couldn't stand them. One I really did like was the "Bandai TECS" toy, which actually looked like the character in question. These were also sold into the US market* as the "Ertl Gold Rail" range of die-cast and plastic toys.

Now there are still a few issues I'm not happy with on the toy, although they aren't major. For a start, one of the windows is little more than a sticker, meaning it'll need opening up and filing to match the others. The opening to Bertie, with the steps leading into the body, is also solid, but cast in metal. A session with the hacksaw and bastard file should sort this issue out.

Bertie's body is moulded in two parts. Being made of plastic, the two simply clip together holding the face in position at the front of the body, where the radiator grill would normally sit. The chassis of the bust is cast metal, and holds the wheels in place. For a model with no given size, it matches up well with the Bachmann Thomas, so I'd stick his size to around 4mm scale or so.

For the price it cost me to buy it and then import, from Japan to the UK, I'd say it's a reasonable representation of Bertie himself. Not too bad, and certainly a lot better than the Hornby Bertie, something which seems to be closer to O gauge than the OO gauge it is marketed as.


Sunday, 13 November 2011

Maisel Oil Company Number 6 : "Cinn Tìre" - Background Information

This locomotive was created primarily for the Permanent Way's locomotive building competition. Whilst there is still time left in it, I thought I'd allow you to read about it even if you aren't a forum member, although I'd suggest joining.

Please note that the following writing is fictional, and based upon an alternate timeline where the Maisel Oil Company's venture into coal-based oil had been succesful, and as such kept the railway going well into nationilisation. Whilst in the realm of fiction, the ideas and backstory are based upon real practise, in an aim to create a realistic tale of one particular locomotive.

Maisel Oil Company Number 6 : "Cinn Tìre"

 Parts used during build:
  • Tri-Ang Class 08 locomotive body (TT scale)
  • Graham Farish Class 08 locomotive chassis (N scale)
  • Milliput (Standard Grade)
  • Wilko's Fine and Coarse Sandpaper (400 grit)
  • Halford's Wet & Dry Sandpaper (1500 grit)

The Campbeltown and Machrihanish Light Railway was a 2 ft 3 in (686 mm) narrow gauge railway in Kintyre, Scotland, between the towns of Campbeltown and Machrihanish. Only three other passenger-carrying lines in the UK operated on the same gauge, all of them in Wales - the Corris Railway, the short-lived Plynlimon and Hafan Tramway and the Talyllyn Railway.

In 1929, both the railway and the colliery were purchased by the Maisel Oil Company, which had a patent for a process to produce oil from coal. This concern proved successful for the company, keeping the line running until 1939, where it was used by the military. In 1945, the line reopened for both Passenger and Freight traffic, until it's closure in 1973.

In 1931, the company realised it needed more locomotives and stock to cope with the line. Two more Andrew Barclay tank engines, made to the same design as the existing Argyl and Atlantic, were purchased and put to work. One was briefly converted to oil firing, but was later reverted to run on coal.

After the war, the company were looking into new locomotives to replace the older, smaller designs. One of the company's directors had seen Diesel shunters used under trial whilst visiting family, and spoke only of how they were the future. Many manufacturers were busy with orders, but English Electric were pleased to take on an order for a trial locomotive, based upon a design they had used with the London Midland and Scottish railway.

The company later found out the loco was to be narrow gauge, and immediately decided they'd build it regardless. Scaling down parts to suit the line, they were able to create a locomotive showing similarities to their flagship shunter. Within 6 months, the loco was ready to go to Scotland, and perform service with the company.

Entering service in 1950, it was popular with all the crews, mainly due to it's enclosed cab and ease of operation. Whilst it spent most of it's time shunting, the crews did use it for light goods work when no other engines would be available.

With the company deciding to use roads to transport the oil, the railway closed down in the summer of 1973. Passenger services had gone the previous year, and three of the line's tank engines had gone for preservation, with the fourth going as spare parts. The diesel shunter was sold to a private enthusiast in Australia.

It arrived at the Puffing Billy Railway in 1974, and was regauged to suit the line. A light overhaul and a lick of paint was all it needed, being pressed into service for maintenance work.

In the winter of 2009, the railway sold the locomotive to a group of enthusiasts who were rebuilding the Campbeltown and Machrihanish Railway. Happy to see the locomotive had survived, it was shipped back to a private site in England for restoration work.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Duke The Lost Engine - Work begins

This is one locomotive I've wanted to do for a long time, and as such, starts a whole new fleet of Narrow Gauge engines for a proposed layout I'm doing. Failing that, it'll make for a nice collection.

The kit itself is the Langley Models kit for the Larger Englands. Whilst not correct, it's as good as i'll be able to do Duke for now. Not a bad model, although the ammount of work needed on the parts is a bit of a pain. Considering kits sold for half the price are nowhere near as bad, i'm not looking forward to tackling any more Langely kits.

When I took these photos, I got a few people to check the running height. When they said it was sat too high on the chassis, it meant I had to drag the files out and remove a fair bit of plastic from the donor chassis.

Mine may have been a bad casting, but at least I got it to fit together. Now the task of filling gaps and drilling the spectacle plate draws nearer.


Sunday, 6 November 2011


Well, everyone has at least several planned out in their heads, as I have. Whilst many are out of the question, some of them would certainly be well worth looking into to.

Idea One: Large Tramway Museum

Preservation layouts. Something I love and hate with a passion. Whilst many are good and done well, I can't help but feel some just don't have the right stock to fit on the layout, ie having several big locomotives for a small station terminus isn't really that convincing. Throw a Austerity (pseudo British Railways livery or not) and a rake of multicolored Mark 1's onto it and it'll satisfy me.

As someone with a passing interest in trams, I've visited the museum at Crich several times and been thrilled everytime I go. The fact that there are so many examples on show, although most fit the feel of the line, helps to recreate a time when such vehicles were commonplace.

In model form, it's something you could do freelance. Perhaps even take inspiration from Blackpool or Beamish for a general feel of how to do it? Regardless, you could "prototypically" run trams from several areas and have a modern setting to it.

This is one I'm really looking at doing in the future, most likely in OO. (16.5mm track gives you just over 4ft as a track gauge, not too far off from the gauges many systems used.)

Idea Two: Wisbech & Upwell Tramway Preservation Group

Trams again! Although this time, it's fair to blame the late Reverend W Awdry for creating Toby The Tram Engine, a character who is an instant favorite. Inspired by a holiday, the Reverend managed to convince The Fat Controller to bring one to Sodor.

So far, this one could easily be done. I've got a already modified Dapol 04 body, which would simply need side skirts, and two K's J70 kits. I'm tempted by the Silver Fox offering, so I may compare the two and how they build. Stock wise, there is the old D&S coach kit range, comprising the four wheel and bogie stock, but I'd either bash Bachmann USA's Henrietta or create a 3D printed model.

I've enough reference material to start working upon this idea, and setting it a few years in the future may be the best bet. There is already a J70/Y6 replica underway, in the form of a rebuilt tram locomotive at the Nene Valley Railway, and one of the 04 locomotives is still in existence. You could easily have the preservation group using two locomotives alone, possibly in addition another loco (perhaps a Austerity or something similar) based on the line too.

One to wait for when I have more room, as I'd prefer to do a full blown scenic layout.


Well that's about it on the idea front for now, so I'm going to go and think them over. I could rather easily convert over to tramways altogether, but I've enough to do modeling wise right now.


Saturday, 5 November 2011

Bachmann Devious Diesel - Chassis Pictures & Dimensions

Took these pictures, and measured the dimensions for the folks over on NGRM-Online and RMweb. If you're going to show these on other forums, please link back to this blog when doing so.

Total Length: 98mm (137 including couplings)
Total Width: 34mm (39mm including cranks and rods)
Total Height: 44mm
End of wheel to end of wheel: 58mm
Axle to axle: 44mm

Please note that they are approximate, although as accurate as I can get them.

Pictures of the chassis:


Thomas The Tank Engine - Front Coupling

Well, the Bachmann Thomas range is certainly great, don't get me wrong on that. The biggest problem however lies with the earlier models featured, such as Thomas, Percy & James. Considering they were designed when the range was started, it's easy to forgive Bachmann on the minor errors that appear on them.

However, one thing does annoy me with them. The lack of a front coupling.

Every locomotive character since, starting from Gordon and Henry, has had one. It makes sense to have one too, as they are commonly seen either running cab first or shunting within the television series. To solve this, you can glue couplings onto the main three, but for Thomas at least there is a way around doing so.

As you have seen from the pictures above, my Thomas has a front coupling. In this case, it's one of the metal Tri-Ang/Wrenn examples found commonly on many older items of rolling stock. This was picked as it was at the top of my parts box, but other tension lock couplings can be fitted by following my method.

Please note that this is written for the Thomas model from the "00682 Thomas' Holiday Special" train set. Other Thomas models lack the extra parts on the underside of the footplate.

The real fun starts when you get the model out of the box. Removing the novelty Christmas hat (as seen in at least one episode) you'll find the snowplough on Thomas is removable, leaving two lengths of plastic rod hanging from below the front buffer beam. This is part of a one part casting, and as such can be unscrewed with a small Philips screwdriver.

The donor coupling, if using a standard tension lock, will have three holes. Normally, you'll find two raised lumps that sit on the outer holes, with the middle one being used to screw it in. Unfortunately, the holes used to screw the snowplough in are a few millimeters short of the outer holes, so you have to modify the coupling. Whilst this may seem awkward, it's nothing a good Diamond coated file won't sort. Having altered the coupling to fit, simply screw it back in with the existing screws and Thomas will be ready to shunt wagons and pull trains backwards.

Hopefully, this will help anyone wanting to give their model a front coupling, although I can't say it will work for all tension lock couplings. Please remember however this modification is only suitable for the Thomas from the Holiday Special train set.


Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Bachmann 58802 Devious Diesel - Review

I've decided to take a fully fledged look at the latest offering in Bachmann Train's Thomas range, namely "58802 Devious Diesel." Whilst some may look at this review and argue with some points, I feel that all points given are valid and address issues that are apparent on the model. I must also apologise in advance for the quality of the photographs included, I'm afraid my camera is not a fan of the dark nights we are now experiencing.

With both Hornby (OO/HO) and Lionel (O) making models of the character, let's see how well Bachmann compares to both, and if it beats them as a model of a character.

Diesel comes fresh from Bachmann in the commonplace blister packaging, which is clearly designed to show off as much as the model without having to open it up. Whilst this is good for selling the model, storing it in said packaging can be a pain, but cutting it open carefully will leave you with the plastic inserts which the model will fit straight back in to.

Out of the box, the first thing many fans will notice about Diesel is his face. Rather than the classic model-based face, he comes with a modern CGI face which represents him as seen on the show in more recent years. Some may say this detracts from the model, yet I feel it's something that can be looked over. As with the rest of the range, the eyes do move left to right and back again.

Upon running the model, you'll realise how the weight of model, much more than earlier Bachmann models, helps with both haulage and adhesion. Given how much room is available in the body, it makes sense to pack as much weight as possible in. The chassis also features proper outside frames, which Hornby opted out of and Lionel moulded on, in order to be as accurate as possible to the prototype.

Separately molded parts on Diesel include the coupling hooks, buffers, ladders and face. All of the parts on my review example appear to be crisp and clear, with no sign of flash or damage. A rather nice feature is that Bachmann seem to be shrinking the size of the hook, seen on the bufferbeam, down to a more prototypical size when compared to the earlier items in the range. Not quite scale size, but better than before.

Overall, it's a nice model of either Diesel or a generic class 08/09 shunter. Featuring outside frames, moving eyes and detailed parts, it's clear to see that this model puts both Hornby and Lionel models to shame, which was to be expected. With the arrival of Diesel however, it's quite well thought out to guess that two of Sodor's twins, namely Ironworks shunters "'Arry" & "Bert", could be arriving soon.

So, do you buy Diesel? My advice is yes. It's a good all-around model and the flaws on said model can easily be overlooked.