A pair of Janii… Or a brace of Januses?

Don’t panic, I’m not going to try and master the English language by debating the correct plural for a Janus, but it does leave a minor dilemma when you’re dealing with them in multiple!

Anyhow, the announcement a while back that Oxford Rail were planning to produce a Janus diesel cane as very welcome news here at OTCM towers, we are big fans of the class and, as probably the most typical steelworks loco going, I was on the verge of commissioning someone to build a couple from the rather excellent Judith Edge kit. We don’t normally do chequebook modelling here but I’ve done etched brass kits, and, while they look OK I get zero pleasure from building them and someone else can do a much better job so I’d rather focus on being able to spend my time building something I actually enjoy…

The Oxford Rail model has been reviewed several times online already, so I won’t bore you all with another one. Readers could do far worse than peruse James Wells’ review on his West Halton Sidings blog for a comparison between the Judith Edge and Oxford models.

I was lucky enough to pick 2 returned models up with a big chunk knocked from the RRP for no real reason other than a few minor cosmetic blemishes… this was of little bother to me as I wanted to repaint mine while doing minimal modifications, the only real one being the filling of the hole in the bufferbeams.

As mine are intended to go into use at a coking plant first, with likely future use on a layout based around a steelworks, I decided to use the same shade of green I’d previously finished my Sentinels in – Vauxhall Leaf Green. If the M.D. of Halfords happens to read this blog (and I’m sure they do) please keep supplying your range of 80’s car paint aerosols, cars are definitely still painted in such awful shades!

Inspiration was gleaned from Orgreave Coking Plant near Sheffield, where locos wearing a darker green shade worked Like this and from the Scunthorpe area, this abandoned loco at Flixborough Wharf by Gordon Edgar being a Stunner

Having left the locos on the side for ages, this weekends trip to Holland and Oly wanting to run some British Steel Traction on Six Quarters (the Lowca Light Railway was a joint NCB/BSC operation in its later years…) I finally got my arse into gear and cracked on a couple of weeks ago. The body splits into 3 parts (cab, bonnets and footplate) which make it easy to spray and work on, and fill the bufferbeams.

At this stage I got distracted from the original spec and decided some new buffers would look good on one, so some RT Models examples I had in stock were duly fitted.

After a coat of paint, weathering and reassembly, I am quite happy with how my pair have turned out:

Next job after our jaunt to Holland will be to replace the plastic handrails temporarily refitted with some soldered up from 0.45mm brass.

So thanks to Oxford and Golden Valley for saving me a lot of time (or money paying someone to build them for me) allowing me to crack on with various other projects in the kit draw!



Forgive, But Not Forget?

The DJM Austerity has never been a true friend of this blog. It was always what OTCM needed, a true highly detailed Austerity. It was our bread and butter, our raison d’être.

Unfortunately the model in reality was a bit crap, especially in comparison to the latest mass produced gold from Bachmann and Hornby. You can sort of forgive the chunky bits, sort of, but what you cannot forgive is the fact you’ve known cars from British Leyland built better and be more reliable.

The last DJM Austerity came the closest to being involved in any kind of model train domestic abuse incident. It was like a girlfriend who promised everything only to turn out to be a raving bunny boiler. It’s still banished to Chris’.

So why on earth did I buy another one? The answers quite simple, I am as tight as a duck’s arse. Hornby’s current version of the Dapol model, is well the Dapol model, with all its fables and compromises. And it’s expensive.

The eBay mentalists have seen prices of even second hand ones rocket to levels just shy of brand new items. eBay continually surprises both Chris and I with insane prices paid for absolute shite, to understand why people pay what they do on eBay is to understand the very fabric of time. It’s just impossible.

So I am Warley and DJM is flogging Austerities fresh in box (as if that’s a guarantee of quality) for £60.

Sixty raving quid! One thing is immediately obviously, we’ve been ripped off previously. This model detail wise is spot on for £60. The RT bits cost a tenner. So for £70 you are on the home straight. What about it running like a two legged dog? Well if you run it in, and I mean leave it all night running in, and then chip it with a capacitor and turn the back EMF off you can get it running like a three legged dog. Which is just slightly above enough. Hopefully with time and not a single lump or bump or incline it might one day to get to a full proper four legged dog.

The RT etch and injectors gives you everything you need, and it’s quite a fun job for a novice who fancies detailing something. It’s probably worth replacing the smoke box door dart as it looks a bit like you do when you go outside on a cold day in only a t-shirt. The etch consists of a few fold up steps, which can all be done with glue if you are not into molten metal and with the other bits you’ll end taking the chunkiness out and bringing out the finer points of a good looking engine.

So you’ll need:

RT Models Austerity Steam Injectors

RT Models DJ Models detailing Etch

RT Models smoke box door dart.

Smith’s Three Links

And crew, but even I don’t have them yet.

That’s just a reminder to always clean you windows, I cannot handle sprayed filthy windows.

Thanks folks and happy modelling,


New year, new post

Trust OTCM to be two weeks late with a new years post, with the two big manufacturers announcing their 2018 catalogues (including some NCB wagon filth from Hornby) it seemed ripe OTCM gave a flavour of 2018.

It’s been a rock and roll period since the end of December, I have separated from my wife and moved in with my parents but it’s not something to mourn. It just means Chris is now worried if I’m not in a bad place marriage wise I’ll start making happy summer based model railways. Living with my parents also has its benefits, there is an insulated shed at the foot of the garden the size of which would make even a hardened model railway enthusiast weep at the potential. The workbench has been established in my Mum’s craft room (a handy place). So all is good, and nothing gets you over the break up of a marriage like a few hot dates and starting a gigantic model railway you can possibly never finish.

Chris is currently having his back bathroom ripped out (which is not a euphemism) so he is currently living with his in-laws but he’s being experimenting with homemade British Steel transfers the results of which he will share soon.

Work has been bonkers, Chris starts a job at one of Britain’s biggest freight operators toward the end of the week and I’ve helped deliver London Bridge final stages and a new platform at Redhill as well shuttling between the UK and Germany looking at the class 717s.

On top of that, just to add to the manic nature of 2018 SQ and myself made it briefly onto national TV as part of the programme ‘Biggest Little Railway In The World’ which is broadcast weekly on a Sunday night on Channel 4. If I knew how much I featured in every episode I would tell you all but unfortunately it’s as much of a surprise to me as to you. Unlike you however I watch it hiding behind a pillow. I’ll give you more on the ‘BLR’ after the final episode.

I’ll just apologize though for the state of the SQ while it was being filmed, and it has a class 20 running box fresh on it because at the time that’s all I had that worked.

As we look toward the whole of this year, as a reader you’ll get more of the same and maybe a podcast or two, some video content and more importantly we are out and about the breadth of the country with SQ, well I say that, the furthest we get north is the Midlands but for me in Deal that’s like Carlisle.

Does all that mean there’s been no modelling? Of course not, it’s been the only thing keeping us sane. I’ve been modifying a Bachy 04 with a cut down cab. Grimethorpe colliery got a couple of these modified by Hunslet after their BR service. We assume because they didn’t fit under some form of loading apparatus. Like most of SQ it’s based on a prototype rather than religiously following one. It just makes the whole loco look far more deviant and evil than it needs to which is part of the attraction. The stove pipe is an off cut of a sprue. It’s rough and ready and requires more filling and filing. 

You’ll also notice in the background is a new DJM Austerity. Which as you know has been such a friend of the blog. I know after previous posts this is like that mate you have who keeps sleeping with that girl you all know is trouble. But it was £60, that’s my defence. I have also given this one all the opportunity on earth to run well, it probably won’t, but then at least this one can only postively surprise. 

Me on TV being seriously unimpressed by Scottish weather

Enjoy 2018 everyone, because there is no way it can be any worse than 2017.


Many Years in the Making…

As I passed through London Bridge at around 23.00 this evening, surrounded by many workers clad in orange getting work underway where possible ahead of the formal 01.20 possession start time, I couldn’t help but feel a touch of sensitivity over what, after many years of hard work and planning, finally goes live tonight…

For both myself and Oly, being employed by one of the train operators most affected by it, London Bridge has played such a massive part of our lives and careers for so long, this is the final Big Bang! My first planning job on when I joined the railway back in mid 2012, was for the engineering work at Christmas to double the Tanners Hill flydown, an essential enabler for the London Bridge project, and since then through 2 companies, everything has been focussed on the redevelopment of London Bridge, and seeing various major engineering work and challenges through the various stages required in order to come to fruition.

Providing nothing disastrous happens, Tuesday 2nd January should see the completed station handed back to train operators and the commencement of various route learning trips for GTR services in the lead up to the introduction of the May 2018 timetable change, where that distant reality of an intense timetable of Thameslink services from the south to both the East Coast and Midland Mainlines finally becomes true.

So while wishing all readers of OTCM a very merry Christmas (and a happy new year if we are too lazy to post anything before then) let us also raise a glass to all those working over the festive period (Oly included, but not me, I’ll be on the sofa at home drinking beer and avoiding doing any modelling..) to make this massive project, among others, come to fruition over the next 10 days.

All the best!


Tom Cruise, a Class 73 and a Whole Lotta Trouble

Somehow through no fault of my own and without any real planning, I have found myself in a niche job role on the 1:1 scale railway. I am also pretty sure that job role should be entitled ‘Shit Fixer’. Or as my boss calls it, an ‘Operations Development Manager’. 

It might be through a random collection of experience that I find myself flitting between trade union engagement, introducing new rolling stock, consulting on ERTMS, building new platforms and recently being asked to put together something very out of the norm.

Imagine if you can me sat at my desk fending off phone calls and emails trying to read WNXX.com and drinking a cup of tea I’d ordered with the words ‘Steve can I have a secondman’s cup of tea please?’. So it was a tea worth savouring, when an email appears from the boss entitled ‘Project Gemini Stunt’. Which piques the interest compared to something like ‘Rep release for Redhill Platform testing’.

In a matter of a month or so my firm are entering a contract to organise a stunt train for the next Mission Impossible. The details of which I’ll be murdered if I share but it’s fair to say was completely out the ordinary for even the most Bodgetastic and fly by night organisation let alone one of Britians biggest and most publisised train operating companies.

The problem is as the email explained there was a special selection of skills required if the mission was to be accepted (Ed. You could not help yourself could you?) It turns out that I found myself with the majority of desired abilities and also, and most importantly, the sheer stupidity to say ‘yeah it can be done’ when everyone had said it was impossible (Ed. Come on now)

After making one phone call to inquire about the progress I found myself slap bang in the middle of what my colleague calls a ‘Shitnado’. We swear a lot on the railway. (and also watch a lot of Trailer Park Boys)

The more the odds stacked up the more I was determined to show we could do it, and we could do it in budget, professionally and more importantly safely.

So on Sunday 26th inside a possession was 400 ton of new train, 1960’s vintage class 73202, 8 railwaymen and women, 300 crew and extras and little old me just keeping it together under the responsibility, cup of tea in hand.

There was a moment when we were propelling a 12 car train with the class 73 about a mile over a stretch of railway soon to be Britain’s busiest that I had a little twinge of pride that I had somehow found willing people to come on this mad adventure with me. Not only that they trusted me, their faith making me realise I’d come quite far in 13 years. 

It’s not everyday you get to work for Paramount pictures, or do 7/8 eigths of what we did, but it’s also not everyday you get to feel a little proud of what you’ve done. So you’ve all got to read about it.

And my thanks has to go to all those people who helped me not just on the day but with all the emails and phone calls on the build up and the fact no matter what I asked and no matter how out the ordinary it was done perfectly and with a laugh. 

And most important of all the tea never stopped being brewed.

Its 0545 and after various rushed phone calls the forgotten coupling is dropped off at Blackfriars only to find it knackered. Luckily we packed another.
Driver Daw edges the old girl out of the station to propel back into platform 1.
400 tons of brand new multi million metal edges out of Blackfriars ready for its starring role
Waiting for ‘Action!’ 73202 basks in the cold sun waiting for more stunt work
The unseen hereos, Driver Daw and his steed.
Suns going down, everyone has gone home. Battersea here we come.

All photos copyrighted to OTCM as I actually remembered to take some.