Layout Progress #11

There has not been much modelling on this blog of late, it is that time of the year over in Blighty where the weather likes to tease us hopers into believing we might have a decent summer. In the UK there is one thing you learn quickly, when the sun does come out you just go out immediately as you literally may be living through what summer there is.

This added with Chris’ preparation for the big day and well its all been a bit stale. Chris is up to his arse in DIY in his love nest and I have started a new job which means I am settling in with long hours and a light work load which can be tedious.

And there are a couple of modelling projects greeting me every time I go in the shed that I would rather did not remind me they existed.

But I digress with excuses because I have been saving my pennies and brought some bits for SQ. Remember that big hole that needed a building? That then got a shell? Well yeah, here she is, the newsagents from Lowca, Whitehaven. It would not of got where it is was it not for Pete building the basic shell and Chris’ impressive nagging to get it done. There are still a couple of bits that need adding, but yeah it was that grim in real life. The patch of brick work is also copied from the prototype, here is a link to the photo that started the love affair with all things ‘NCB’:

Gordon Edgar’s Amazon at Lowca



There is also a much needed flagman, he was a Bachmann Scenecraft station member suitably ‘Northernised’ #Finescaleflatcaps


Dangerously nearing a cliche is something I really had the horn for doing, a dog waiting for it’s owner. The dog seems miraculously strong to bend the lamp post, this is my dodging modelling and needs straightening. The level crossing sign I bodged from some plastikard after buying some crap signs for roughly a fiver, more fool me. Again copied from the one used at Lowca.


Above and below is the whole scene together.


I hope you all like the update, I am quite into it on the whole. Its really given my mojo back and I still get shocked at what I can achieve with half an hour a night and a sleeping pattern devised by toddlers as well as pretty basic skills.

The layout is also showing signs of actually working after a long time pretty much inactive. I found some DCC chips with capacitors on eBay from ‘the far east’ (always worryingly generic) and instead of burning down the entire workshop are giving sterling service and seem to be working without fault even in that bloody DJ Models Austerity.

Hopefully we should have more modelling coming at a decent rate over the next few months. Some of our American and Canadian friends have been inspiring us massively and we hope in the next couple of months to give you an insight into how that inspiration is turning into something physical.

Bye for now and happy modelling,




A Bloody Wedding

Today was a big arse day.

Chris got married to his girlfriend Heather and model trains have a lot to do with it.

As a true believer Chris was allowed ‘to do’ the wedding favours. So obviously he choose OO gauge wagons carrying personalised gin.

In this photo the wagons are obvious, however the gin has already departed. After all I was there.

There is no small wonder Chris has done no modelling of late as every wagon was sprayed and hand written (bugger that)

Luckily however we were all allowed to keep ours so expect a super detailed version soon.

Saturday Heather and Chris are having a big old piss up and a lot of modelling people are going (also maybe expect a drunken selfie, but to finescale standards)

I imagine all our readers along with myself wish Chris and Heather a happy marriage.


Competition Fever

Nothing on earth tunes the sense like a crafted and worth taking part competition.

Back in Blighty there has not been a proper all encompassing competition for baby trains since the Scalefour’s 1883 comp and out of that was born some very nice filth.

Now Iain Rice and Wild Swan’s Simon have come up with a competition. Chris and I are hugely horned by what is going to be entered. Are we going to enter? Well maybe.

The latest MRJ has the details but here are the rules and the judges are the very cream of model railways…

I think some folks from over the pond maybe interested but an expensive plane ticket to enter…


Layout Progress #10

Although layout progress has been lacking on the blog that is not to say there has not been any developments. Between ranting about Austerities and foaming over class 71s my ‘workshop’ aka the glorified shed has been finished.

I have alluded at great length to the problems with ‘House Modelling’ and its ability to strain even the most solid of relationships with the way it can stain even the most expensive of rugs.

Thanks to Chris never ever being able to say ‘No’ he agreed to help my shed fit out. So we spent a weekend getting splinters and inhaling insulation dust. With a good 7 years taken off our life expectancy (really we should start using PPE) we sat back and admired the finished product.

Its good. Its bloody lovely in fact. Six Quarters has taken residence and now the final touches can be made and running concentrated on.The list of jobs is still quite impressive however. Its just amazing to finally be in a position to have the layout and fiddle yard set up as they would be at an exhibition. 

Thankfully my Mum is pretty handy on a sewing machine so a nice curtain is incoming to really finish off the shed.
In terms of the layout, there is new point handles, a bloody large tree and now 3/4s of a building. 

A massive thank you to Mr Tatlow of Portchullin who, while I supervised, spent our last modelling day rekindling old tree building skills. I would of helped but I was so, accidentally, hungover my mind felt like it had been turned to liquid. The tree is a lot of splayed picture hanging wire twisted and soldered. I then painted it with a polyfilla/paint/PVA mix with painting and dry brushing to complete.

And now the scene looks like this,

Payday on Friday will see a nice tin of Dulux black to finish painting all the layouts exposed bits. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and theres a couple of spare walls in that shed…


Hornby Class 71 Reviewed

Not that long ago after battling killer loft spiders, Christmas decorations and kitchen appliances the wife promised she would always use, I sold all my unneeded models that were maturing under a layer of dust.

The cash from these models has, you’ll all be pleased to know, been ploughed back into a new collection of unwanted models. What? You thought I was going to do something sensible with it?

So now I own a Hornby class 71. While its purchase is not as say whimsical as a North British class 16 or an LNER J15 it is slightly ‘off project’. Off project in the same sense that Mars is not Earth.

When I got into model trains, I believe around minus 3 months old (you could hear a Lima Pancake growl in the womb) I decided I wanted, no I needed, a class 71.

Why I hear you all ask in unison. Well I come from Dover, situated nearer to France than to any normal decent civilisation, and this meant that Dover had special requirements for locos come Modernisation in the 50s. The class 71 were odd as they were literally constructed to provide services in Kent and importantly to and from Dover. Continental freight and trains like the Night Ferry were hauled by 71s. It was there reason to exist.

All rights reserved by dsj672
71015 Humming through Hither Green on an up Ferry freight in BR Blue days. Although they were all delivered new with spoke wheels through maintenance cycles these were replaced with disk wheels. If you look closely at the NRM’s sole survivor, 71001 it has a mixture of wheel types. All rights reserved by dsj672


As I grew up these trains had folklore spun about their awe inspiring turns of speed. The railwaymen my Dad worked with talked of them in glowing terms and with their odd little DC pantographs for working in yards caught my interest and never ever let go. When we would visit places as kids my Dad would point out an odd lone wooden pole and say ‘that was for the class 71 overhead’ (its no wonder I never had a chance).

They only hung about until 1977, having had an insanely short life span having been introduced in 1958 to 1960. The reason for withdrawal was they just did not have the versatility of the electro diesel class 73s. These weren’t go anywhere do anything trains they were oddly ultra bespoke. BR tried to turn a fair few of them into ‘Super’ electro diesels, the class 74s, and they were such a shambles they too were withdrawn in 1977 after numerous fires, explosions and broken promises.

I told myself for years that when I had the abilities that I would kit build a 71. I once had a Modern Traction Kit 71, but as usual with anything from MTK it looked like it had been moulded by a man who only had access to children’s drawings. It was from the age of modelling when everything looked better if you squinted from 50 feet away.

Chris and I had a DC kits 71 once but never got further than milling a Heljan 33 chassis for it (sounds more pro than it was) when the layout it was planned for dried up the resin kit sat forgotten in a shoe box.

Class 71 sat at Dover waiting to leave with a freight from Europe. Oddly the class 71s never received an air horn keeping their shrill air whistles to their graves. All rights Hornby

Then Hornby and DJ Models announced a version each. A ready to run 71? Well after I streaked naked down the road at the news I noticed two immediate downers. The DJ one would turn up in the Sun’s final spasms of heat and the Hornby one would have an RRP of 169.99. This is expensive.

So as much as I wanted one I held off as I also like an easy life at home as much as any Kent based electrics locos.

Then I saw a brand new one for £80 with free postage. So I did what we all do and hit “BUY” before then mentally punishing myself for my outrageous spending. I then realised kids can survive two days without food so my guilt ebbed away to be replaced by apprehension and excitement. I sat like a little boy eager to see my short wearing postman appear on my street throwing parcels marked ‘FRAGILE’ over people’s back gates. He got to my house with the 71 still in one piece.

Back in the day and on the famous Golden Arrow heading toward Dover. This train was so prestigious onlookers actually openly wept as it passed. NB Not everything in this caption may be factually correct. All rights Hornby.

Lets be clear straight away the Hornby 71 is bloody lovely, but its fragile. The pantograph, handrails and wipers all destroy themselves or pop off if you even give the loco a stern look. However I had not been this genuinely excited about a baby train since childhood so I weathered it 4 hours after getting it. Or as Chris said ‘F*ck me. Speed weathering’.

I am very in love with her and until the wife notices it, it currently resides on the living room bookshelf and its giving me deviant ideas… that or she will be for sale next year having been put in the loft with the wife’s new juicer.