Enterprise in 4mm

Sorry it’s been a while, it has not been through a lack of desire but I’ve just had other shit to do. Work has been horrific and COVID for everybody has turned a screw in one way or another. My shituation is no better or worse than a million battles we’ve all had to get through, but hey, we made it right?

Since I jury rigged Six Quarters into the loft, in the sort of way she will never come back out, but she can live a life of exile that won’t make me feel guilty for ripping her apart, I have been thinking how to replace her.

I had a long diversion into OO gauge 1950s Bristol, which left everlasting scars, but after the normal merry-go-round of my layout plans I’ve settled upon, by way of 80s France, late in 90s Britain. When EWS had a fleet of diesels and electrics on their arse and embodied the hope of the new century into the ‘Enterprise Network’. A version of BR’s Speedlink for the 21st Century with the 66s landing on our shores like a Norman invasion.

As you know we’ve modelled stuff well outside of our own timespan and things long lost to progress. 99/00 Britain is slap bang in the middle of my memory and OTCM’s ‘Britain’. Modelling your collective memories into a wooden box is a lot more involved than perhaps understanding someone else’s memories and translating nostalgia. Or maybe I’m over thinking it?

But I look to Portchullin and my friend Mark, who has modelled himself as a child on a 1974 holiday, with his actual family on the layout. Is this a richer modelling experience I wonder?

So I find myself wanting to modelling a slice of my past, how I remember it. However it’s worse, or richer depending on your view, as this period is what slingshotted me into a railway career that I am now sixteen years deep. A period so transformative for myself and for the railway in general. So am I modelling a railway I remember or a railway I wished still existed or one that is both? I know, I know it all sounds like an existential crisis.

99/00 is when I truly fell in love with three things, Blink 182, Jessica D and Lima diesels.

So come 2022, I’m in a decent job, I’m apparently a ‘top’ earner, I should be able to live all my teenage dreams. But the trouble is I’ve seen Blink 182 and they weren’t all that, Jessica had 3 kids and lives in badly fitting leggings and I cannot afford Lima Diesels. There’s two reasons, I either had low expectations or the world’s gone mad.

As girls eat pickled eggs in their lingerie on OnlyFans to earn £200 and Bachmann announce £300 Diesels I cannot help hark back to the days Hattons sold ViTrains 47s for £37.

I’m not advocating the continuation of exploiting poorer countries so we can enjoy a hobby at a bargain price, we are just running out of the ability to do our hobby either expensively or cheaply and this can only end badly.

As we know these price increases have done nothing but shove up the 2nd/3rd/4th/5th/6th hand market. Even a toy fair is like having your pants pulled down. The worst is all the detailing suppliers, A1, Craftsman, Westwood (with the exception of Shawplan) have all gone to the wall or stopped completely and who’s going to cut up a £100 Lima 37? Certainly no one wondering between hunger or heating.

Bugger the cost of living crisis, we’ve got a cost of modelling crisis. It’s going to see the not so well off, the not so retired, forced out the hobby. When the monthly budget is eaten away by everything else, who can afford to do this hobby? People say this may hark back to the days of yore when people ‘modelled’, no it won’t, people are no longer conditioned to compromise, or using the most basic of tools. Hell most would not be able to hold a scapel without cutting off their own eyelids.

They’ll be no modelling, they’ll be shaking the box like a salt and pepper grinder. Who’ll want to see or buy compromise when only the very best is available, whatever the cost?

In that vein I’ve started a layout that’s a magnet for expensive models. It’s full of ‘modern’ diesels and electrics, wagons that cost more than a lorry load of baby formula. But I’m doing it Poundland style. It’s going to take me months to buy stuff second hand to do it, I’m going to beg, I’m going to borrow. Most of these pictures are stuff I’ve ‘borrowed’ from Chris. It’s the layout I’ve always wanted, it’s my teenage dream, however it’s an iPad on a Nokia 3310 budget.

Google defines ‘Enterprise’ as “a project or undertaking, especially a bold or complex one.”. Making model trains and an exhibition layout within a cost accessible to all, the term Enterprise seems apt.

An old Lima 60 with Appleby interior and A1 grilles curves round into the FY remembering the halcyon days of Lima being able to shit out a model every day and a few etched bits brought with your pocket money lifting them to a whole new level.

Mainline class 56047 brings in a selection of Chris’ wagons into the yard

This class 08 now has the pride of working on all of my layouts, being repainted more than a graffitied wall, here it sits waiting to test the points and the sector plate

This 47 has had more lives than trigger’s broom, the chassis I got as part of a GFYE 47 when I left my first job. Hellfire.

Westhill Wagon works cant 3D pieces. Leaning into the new world of model trains.


18 Replies to “Enterprise in 4mm”

  1. A comment about your picture captions. Small, light grey text on a black background for captions is very difficult to read. Please could you consider something more legible and, dare I say, “inclusive”?! e.g. with regard to being legible to all. (I’m looking at this on a decent sized PC monitor, hate to think what it looks like on a tablet/iPad or a phone).

    Hope this helps improve your blog.

    1. Reading on a phone, as someone with dyslexia and the associated visual sensitivity issues, I have no problems reading posts here – nothing will suit everyone I’m afraid.

      1. I think we helped the original issue by moving text that was included as captions out of captions and into the body of the post. Hopefully that means it’s ok for as many people as possible now!

    2. Interesting. I’m viewing in Chrome on an Apple Mac, and the captions are the same as the text – white words on a black background…. But then WordPress (which I use in my day job) does have strange quirks, some of which seem impossible to fix

      1. We made an amendment after the feedback to take the text out of captions and put it into the body of the text, which should make it easier to read!

  2. Great News this announcement “Project Enterprise”

    You have made some very valid points regarding the current cost of modelling crisis! The big boys (Hornby and Bachman) really have inflated the prices I feel now beyond the reach of the average working person. I know on West Halton we are milling down tubby Heljian 47 chassis and trying to get hold of as many Vi Trains or Lima bodies as we can to tinker with along with shawplan etches, as the new offering from Bachman that still has floors and is by far the ultimate 47 is out of reach for us two hairy arsed railwaymen on good money!

    The period you are modelling is probably apart from the early late 1960s to the early 70s and the early 1990’s the best one to model in my opinion. The time when I entered the world of work and landed a job on the railway. It was an amazing time to learn my trade. Knackered 31s 37s and 47s seeing out the last days. I remember the sad state things got when 47238 was on Peterborough L.I.P. and it needed topping up with Sherk oil for the rad fans and that was enough to show the loco N/ONE on TOPS and placed in the WNXX pool! Coz it needed a tenners worth of rad fan lubricating oil! Going to the Utopia that was Doncaster and seeing the trips go out in the morning and return from the early afternoon and during the evening seeing the trunk workings come through with some battered loco’s up front and the disappointment when 66 was on of the trains instead of the older traction, great days indeed and it was a shame that when Ed Burkhard frigged off then his beloved Enterprise network over the years was placed under review and wound down finally but until 2015.

    Really looking forward to seeing more progress and got a load of guff on Entreprise traffic from work years ago if you want any info drop us a line.

    James S

    1. James it’s good to hear from you, and I’m glad it struck a chord. Chris and I are also on ‘the iron road’, what do you do?

      Thank you for the story of 47238, I’ve heard similar. The whole period is just brushed under the carpet of ‘Modern Image’ but so so different. You’ve probably seen it but this is a nice blog with a bit on the same period, in fact the whole blog is great:


      Thanks for offer of information too. I’m starting to get the horn for scratch building some wagons or light conversions of cheap RTR ones…that maybe next. I’ve also recently brought a twenty year old MG Rover product so between that and the odd Lima loco my disposable income quickly disappears. Oly

      1. Olly, thanks for the response and thanks for the link I had not come across that Blog before and looks decent with a nice selection of Photo’s so cracking ill give a more of a look over.

        Yeah the 47238 story was very sad but true and when the announcement came about the Royal Mail contract coming to an end. I recall one Friday Day turn the pool of 47s that was the fomer RES 47/7s being at 10am 35 strong by 12:00hrs it was down to 10. We was told once they arrive where ever they get to then they was to be hauled to Healey Mills for storage.

        Enjoy the rover the other half of this dynamic duo will have a rod on now that you have bought a rover to restore. He has 2 i think that throws money at, coz they don’t run well.

        James S

    2. 6 Yankee 99 you’ve forgotten about the early 80s until sectors started in 87.
      Best diesel and electric era. New liveries Speedlink block trains and unfitted partially fitted freight.

  3. There is probably a place for both in the market and let’s hope that in time our salaries improve to March the increased cost of all goods out of China. From personal experience I’ve seem dramatic price increases on quotes for new models out of the factory and it’s as much material cost as design charges/labour.

    That said, I’m a firm believer in making the best of older models and enjoy this… I too cherish an old Bachmann 08, as well a mix of kit built and modified ready to run second hand wagons. Good luck on the project, I’d be happy to bring along some of the stock I’ve still got from when I first built Paxton Road in OO many years ago, when it’s closer to running.

  4. Sounds like an interesting project, the stock so far looks great. A1 Models are still around, search for A1 Models-Doncaster on eBay. Alternatively John is at the Nottingham show later this month

  5. Great piece. Today’s model railways is for the very rich, with bits falling off all over the place. I only buy cheap Lima locos, it’s surprising what you can do with a scalpel and a few tools (watch your eyelids!!)

  6. A thoughtful, while direct, blog and you’re not alone. However, you do have an advantage in that you have the modelling skills to create what you want and keep your eyebrows intact… The challenge for Bachmann, et al, is that if they are charging ‘top dollar’ then it’s not unreasonable to expect their models to be accurate on the basics (such as shape), which not all the older ones are. A good example is the 108 DMU, which instead of having rounded cab roof domes, suffers a ‘ski-jump’ affair. True, their new 47 appears to be good, while the 20 was a little bit of a let-down in the [lack of] lighting department. Money talks, and clearly with newcomers on the block (I’m thinking Accurascale) which seems to have cracked all the key elements (performance, looks, decoration) yet comes in at more ‘reasonable’ prices, is tough competition. I suppose the good news is that Lima products are still available (thanks HNBY), but with improved motors and DCC access, plus TTS decoders, at prices that are more affordable, and provide a decent base for people who have the skills to do ‘modelling’. It will be interesting to re-visit this blog in a decade….

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