Wordless Wednesday


Thank You, Accurascale

Here at OTCM towers, we have always felt sorry for the British Railways standard 24.5T Hopper, or at least for its model brethren.

This poor chap has been overlooked for many years, an accurate model escaping the attention of not only the RTR manufactures but also the kit companies for at least 3 decades. K’s produced a white metal kit, but for a reason unknown to man, decided to base this kit on the prototype example, of which only one was built, rather than the production batch which totalled over 5000… talk about maximising your market!

Parkside joined the RTR guys in ignoring the 24.5T, even though we all hoped that following their successful 21T Hopper kit this would follow, and then DJ Models announced they would be producing it. At this point our hearts sank, now the model had been announced no one else would be interested in producing it, but in standard DJM style, we wouldn’t see any results for what would seem like 36 years, if at all.

Fortunately at the same time, the internet started generating rumours that another company had also scanned the preserved example, although everything was very hush hush – que much relief in OTCM circles.

Less than a year later Accurascale have produced and delivered a bloody gorgeous model of the prototype, one that pushes the standards for RTR wagons further than has been achieved before. To have done this for what is, essentially, £20 per wagon is quite an achievement, and keeps the price in line with contemporaries from established players in the market, such as the Hornby coke Hopper. That isn’t to put the Hornby Hopper down, it’s a lovely model and Accurascale have been able to take advantage of a couple of years development in manufacturing techniques, but their offering certainly has the edge.

The model really is top quality, but can obviously be improved on further with some weathering and better couplings. Other than this I didn’t see the need to do much to the first of two packs, other than remove the power station circuit branding – while having one wagon ‘off circuit’ seemed feasible, 3 in a rake was unlikely so these patches were removed with a little thinners and a cotton bud. Instanter couplings were then fitted, Smiths links with Exactoscale Instanter links which clipped into the plastic coupling hooks making installation on all 3 wagons a 15 minute job.

Weathering was in the usual OTCM style – a right mix of Tamiya, Revell, Games Workshop and artists acrylic colours with an emphasis on black and dark browns, laid on heavily and then removed with thinners to leave a varied pattern. The aim has been to create something that looks good from a normal viewing distance and passes muster up close, rather than going for out and out accuracy and detail on each wagon.

Now in the interests of fairness, it only seems right to mention a bit of a QC issue on one wagon I didn’t notice until I started vandalising, in that the last photo above shows that one of these has 2 of the central pillars fitted rather than 1 as should be the case. The expectations of many that a factory can turn out thousands of products with many individual parts and not a single defect drive me insane (let’s look at the bigger picture guys) and I could have sent this back for an exchange but I doubt it will be noticed in reality, so this isn’t a moan, more just to highlight an issue. Obviously we are always fair on OTCM so if Accurascale want to send me some free stuff I can make the above comment go away!!! (Nudge Nudge Wink Wink, with a pinch of salt…)

I’ve got another pack to work on (they are tempting, these things) but will spend a bit more time on them, these having been rushed through so that they can appear on SQ at the GCR Model Event next weekend, if you are there please do stop by and say hello or similar (a moderate bit of abuse might be tolerated – ed)



Hatton’s AB Review – RTR Coal Board

As the avid readers of OTCM are more than aware we’ve never been flush with cash here at OTCM towers and now as I currently bump blindly through my divorce I’m now tighter than a duck’s behind. This meant that I had to cancel my pre-ordered Hatton’s Andrew Barclays. I know, I can hear the violins playing from here, so here is a later than planned review. With added thanks to my new girlfriend for buying me it for my 30th (thought I’d ask for it in while the goodwill was still there)

Hot on the heels of the Hornby Peckett and Oxford Janus a ‘proper’ NCB tank engine was not far off and fair play to the Scousers at Hattons for taking up the mantle. These new retailer lead projects are bringing more and more unique and interesting models to the market. I am not sure the new Hatton’s class 66 is needed but as I said to Chris it does have rotating axles and I am sucker for that kind of crap.

Usually reviews start by saying ‘it comes in a sturdy box …’ it does indeed come in a box, I think if it came wrapped in used tissue with a pink bow stuck on it, it maybe worth mentioning in a review. Assume all models come in boxes.

Anyway once out of the sturdy box it’s weight is immediately noticeable but it does look the part, it must be said I have never looked at a scale drawing of anything but I imagine if you did this would look like the drawing. My niggles are small and make me feel petty but the glazing can be a bit of an eye sore as it’s a chunk of see through plastic and in a cab so exposed just looks ropey. My advice is pop it out and if you particularly want it a blob of glue n’ glaze will do.

There are some seams on the chimney and holes for a pipe in the buffer beam. Both tooling compromises and easy enough to sort. The only real ‘biggy’ is the solid boiler area under the tanks, again a compromise in a model of this size. Does that bother me? Nah not really, I know high level are talking about a chassis but for what I need mine for and in the OTCM world of “that’ll do” it is more than adequate.

Hattons told me at Ally Pally that the easiest to install 6 pin DCC decoder is the Gaugemaster DCC23 which seemed mental advice considering they do their own 6 pin.

I need to put my hand in my pocket and buy a 6 pin, as it’s only run very briefly on DC but reports elsewhere say these things are good as gold. Whether it will run okay on my dodgy tile grout covered p-way is a different matter though.

Hattons have also impressed with video tutorials and sensible project updates.

For example here is the one for the DCC install along with the project page from the website:

Hatton’s AB DCC Install

AB Project Page

So should you buy one? Yeah, definitely, at £99 its okay value, no bargain but you don’t feel like you have been robbed by a man in a balaclava holding a machete.

There are a ton of variations on the same theme and all are lovely.

In a brief period of modelling this month here is my No 6 completely going against my new ethos of ‘test thoroughly then weather’.

Overall 8.5 out of 10. It would of been a 9 but the box let it down only being a box.




Pointwork Progress

Yes that’s right, a post on a Wednesday involving words!

It’s been a fair bit of time since we last made a proper post on here, please rest assured we have both been turning out various bits and pieces, Oly working on a number of different wagon projects ahead of Six Quarters next Exhibition outing at the Great Central Railway Model Event on 15-17 June, while I have been cracking on with trackwork and basic scenery for Bottom Works Sidings.

It’s been a while since I last built any pointwork for myself, I served my apprenticeship in trackbuilding putting together the points that appeared on Stoating Bank many years ago (which never actually got used in anger) and then followed this up building some for a failed club layout, which were far from perfect. Therefore I put off starting the track needed on BWS for a bit of time and tried to find other things to distract me until the issue became pressing.

Starting with a couple of straightforward points, I built 2, then redid the first as I wasn’t happy with it, but am now in a rhythm and enjoying building them, particularly the more challenging examples. All are simply copperclad construction, I made a firm decision to walk before I could run and therefore avoided any cosmetic chairs or more realistic sleepers.

BWS has a requirement for 4 regular and 1 interlaced (often described as 3 way) points. At the moment these all still need tie bars, the copperclad filing back to insulate the rails and sleepers trimming to length, but I am pretty happy with what has been achieved so far – the aim is that the pointwork will all be irregular and help give the impression the yard is somewhat rundown, various aspects having been built up locally on site leading to a slightly haphazard appearance.

These two Y’s were the first to be built, one of which is impressively compact! Ignore the interlaced point, more on that later…

Sleepers being laid on a temporary foam board sub base for the crossing leading to the sidings at the front of the layout.

Crossover for the front of the layout in place… the kickback siding is meant to represent the old line into the Bottom Works’ which has been lifted and is now just a short siding used for storing cripples and other wagons that need placing somewhere out of the way.

Now back to that 3 way… I started building this, very much making things up as I went along, and at the last modelling day we held was busy working away, having received plenty of pointers from Mark Tatlow… anyway to cut a long story short, he got fed up weathering his own stock and took over building my point, while I ended up weathering for him… cue a beautiful piece of point construction with just one issue, it didn’t really fit the space allocated to it! No matter what I tried I was unable to get the curve to the track plan I was after with it in place.

I therefore took the brave decision to save Mark’s point for the next layout and build my own, which I’m not about 3/4 of the way through, this one fits the alignment of the layout much better and helps the rearmost lines sweep through the centre of the layout.

As you can probably see, there’s some basic landforms also going in, and everything is starting to come together as I envisaged it.

I’m pretty sure my trackbuilding wouldn’t conform to P4 standards but testing with OO stock seems to prove it works so that’s good for me, and it’s certainly given me the confidence to take on more complex formations in the future. I haven’t even suffered from too many burnt fingers so things can’t be bad!



Oly’s Holland

It all started with sound logic. The plan made perfect sense, Mark Tatlow had been invited to “Rail 2018” in Utrecht, Holland. Mark has always, religiously, hired a van around 10 times larger than required. This van was usually a classic long wheel base Sprinter, in which Portchullin had received many a war wound on the motorways of Great Britain by being allowed to slide around freely in the rear while the vehicle was driven like it had been stolen by a middle class mad man from Sussex.

Portchullin requires around 5 operators, 1 to operate and 4 to spend the weekend fixing it, so to make the proposition of 5 of us on the beer in Holland more appealing the spare space in the van would be taken up by SQ. So a sort of free layout for the exhibition manager.

That was where all logic ended.

The first issue was everyone’s ability to read the same 2018 Calendar. 4 weeks out we only had 4 of the 5 operators signed up and 1 of our party was convinced the show was the week before and that the organisers and everyone else had got it wrong.

We hadn’t. Chris had planned his entire March around a show that didn’t exist and had made plans with his wife. The sort of plans that when asked to change lead to a raised eyebrow. The plans were kept. The mission just got a little more complicated.

Version 2.0 now meant that Mark, Pete and the van would arrive in Deal on the Thursday morning, load up SQ with Portchullin and drive to Holland. Because of Chris’ plans, him and I were now booked on the 0200am ferry Friday morning. So he could complete his arrangements, drive to Deal, drive to Holland all for opening. This meant a 4 hour dash across Europe at 0430am Dutch time. The organisers had said if we didn’t get through Antwerp by 0730 all bets were off.

The plan reached version 4.3 before 2.0 was settled on for the only workable solution. We also stuck with 4 operators. Because no one else was mental enough to agree…

Imagine therefore my joy at seeing the van Peter had organised turn up and reveal itself to be a normal wheel base Vauxhall. Portchullin wasn’t so much as swinging around freely rather than packed in like sardines.

We had to unpack half of Portchullin to wedge in SQ and then after making an impromptu lid managed to stack everything else on top. We were luckily left with just about enough space for Mark’s pants.

I was now convinced the layout would be timber and ashes by Holland with Pete seemingly having learnt to drive during an undeclared season racing stock cars. With instructions given to Pete and Mark, the sense of doom was replaced with the sure knowledge that definitely something tragic would befall the layout.

Now I love Mark and Pete with all my heart but they are a cross between the chuckle brothers and Terry and June.

But they got there safely and set up SQ….

So its 0200 in the morning and the beast from the east is slowly edging it’s way to Britain and it was cold enough to make me realise that what we were doing reeked of madness, the next level up from full blown eccentric.

“Antwerp by 0730” echoed around our heads as the ship’s bow opened, late, to the pitch black endless plains of the European mainland. It was now 0455 as the grey German tin of Chris’ BMW roared off onto the lumpy French motorways in a sort of reverse Blitzkrieg we knew we were against the clock and the Dutch rush hour traffic.

Now there is something you should know about Chris and that is his obsession to never rely on satnav. He honestly believes that the use of it is the harbinger of society’s collapse. For instance if you were to use a such a thing to say go from your house to the local shops within the next five days we would be living like Mad Max. Therefore Chris has to autistically remember every road and junction from the ferry to the show. He also refuses to share this information any more than one direction at a time, so after saying ‘what road are we looking for?’ and him saying ‘E17’ 47 times we sat joking about old cars and girls, content with eating packets of extra strong mints.

We made Antwerp at 0700, and left it behind in smug competence.

Arriving at Utrecht in good time it was apparent instantly that Holland was colder than the south pole, but we’d made it to find SQ with a building detached, the backscene split and the layout too low. But hey it’s life on the road and the lads were in good spirits. Let’s get smashing…

Set up and ready to go
Hooky running and cracked backscene
With no sleep, there really is only one thing for it
The Dutch bloody love a camera

Lunch served
Camera action!
A skinny bloke
We don’t go anywhere without teabags and our enamels
Waiting for the bow doors
Warp speed
0300am fry up
Janus and buggered backscene
Three days, job done

What’s happened since?…

The layout is slowing edging its way toward the 2.0 version, things have been ripped up, changed, modified and tidied up….

Look for SQ, loads of new stock and plenty of laughs during the GCR’s model event in June.