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.

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Requiem in 1:76.2

COVID has struck its latest victim. This time in the form a four foot board where no one side is quite symmetrical with the other, or as its also known ‘Six Quarters’. Like an old ship being sunk to form a new coral reef, she will ascend the loft ladder to become a home to the sort of spiders that only live in the attic.

While Chris Witty is yet to start collating data for exhibition layouts that have died because of COVID, I know SQ will not be the only one. 2020 was always meant to be the last year, its a shame it follows most of 2020 in being a bit of a damp squid. Like most of us this year we’ve missed countless exhibitions, such as Swansea, Derby and Perth. More than that we’ve missed countless opportunities to chat, have beer and eat Indian cuisine.

It was only in lockdown that I’ve realised how much I genuinely enjoy exhibitions and exhibiting. We should all be proud that our hobby has that at its centre. My four feet of wood has allowed us to travel around Europe talking utter shit with people, stuff that in the present circumstances would seem exceptionally trivial but really kept us coming back for more. It feels a long time since I sat in a pub so far up north my nose won’t stop bleeding talking about North East steel train movements in the 1980s, with Chris leaning over going ‘I’ve got a layout plan for this in my head. We’ll talk about it over naans later’. Many a layout built and dismantled mentally over a weekend in our time.

SQ has survived a divorce, the following three turbulent house moves, survived my bodgery, somehow stayed together when it really shouldn’t of. It took on its own life beyond me really. It got us mentioned in high circles, it was mentioned last week in same breath as Pempoul when Planet Industrials talked about inspirational models (we really all need to get back out soon). Its been mad really when you think it starts life as a tree and then its in an exhibtion hall in Holland and the only difference between the tree and there is your imagination (ED – and the wood processing factory). I say this as you, the readers, are the only people who truly get this.

So it isn’t just a bit of wood going up in the attic, its a bit of me and I hate spiders. Happy retirement SQ, you’ve done us a lot of favours and you’ve given me a lot of happy memories.

Thanks as always to Adrian at Uckfield for giving it its debut. Uckfield’s kindness to us at OTCM is a favour never under appreciated.

So whats next? Well a couple of things. I’ve built a shelf layout, based on the SR/EKR. Which I’ll share when the scenics are more than my imagination.

I’m planning the next exhibition layout also, think trams, think grim, think tungsten bulbs.

We still have BWS in the stable and we are still chief ground crew for the unkillable behemoth of Portchillin . Who I’m sure would be the headline layout at the first show post nuclear annihilation.

Thanks for everybody as well who stopped by, took photos, invited it to further exhibitions and generally put it out there. It seems fitting its last show was actually to Lowca where it was based to meet the real men that worked the tiny engines in 1:1 scale.

Stay safe, stay modelling and let’s have a beer at that next show.

Oly

I’ve done a sad black and white photo and everyfing

On the Workbench:September/October 2013

I have had a reasonably busy couple of months at the workbench it seems, with a couple of show visits thrown in to help keep the inspiration flowing……

Work has mainly been focused on freight stock (fairly standard fare for me now – I can’t get excited about coaches!) with a number of vehicles not seen for a number of months progressing through the paint shop. I tend to batch paint kits once a collection have built up, thus saving unnecessary airbrush cleaning etc……

Coaching Stock:

As we like to do things arse about face, having just said everything is freight orientated here is a mk1 coach that Oly has been working on. Readers may recognise it as an example of the Hachette ‘Model Railway Village’ coaches that were available with the first edition of the magazine for £3.00. With the mag swiftly filed in the bin, the coach can receive some attention – it will never make a display case model but working on ‘IILRIIR’ principles (if it looks right it is right) the model is perfectly acceptable in a rake of stock viewed from normal exhibition distances. Oly has fitted it with some slightly smaller wheels to compensate for the over thick solebar (bringing it down to the same height as a Bachy mk1), given it some T-Cut treatment and then renumbered/weathered. It now needs some couplings sorting before entering traffic.

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Locos:

I have been paying some overdue attention to the EE type 3, the model having been sat in the workbench queue for a couple of years now – jobs carried out recently have included lowering it and adding a few finer details.

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From the factory, we both felt the Bachmann model sat too high on its bogies, no doubt to allow the loco to negotiate some trainset bends. As it will no longer be required to squeal its way round 18 inch radius curves, I set out to investigate if anything could be done to improve the models appearance.

Before:

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On removal of the bogie from the chassis block, I found the mount attached to the bogie by 2 screw towers either side of the driveshaft. Attacking these towers with a razor saw to remove about 4mm then filing out the underside of the chassis mount to clear the driveshaft left the loco sitting like this, a great improvement I think:

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Next up is renumbering and weathering before the model can re-enter traffic.

 

NCB stock:

The Hunslet 50550 I have been working on over the summer is now complete, and just waiting for name and works plates (on order with Narrow Planet), some coal in the bunker and a few oil cans etc on the footplate. I made the decision to start converting the industrial fleet to DCC and this has been fitted with a chip – the improvement in slow speed running making it a worth while exercise before we consider operational aspects.

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I am now working on a Judith Edge Hunslet 325HP 50T diesel shunter kit. This is the first etched brass kit I have attempted so will be a bit of a learning curve, but if it all goes wrong the model will be dumped in a siding as a failure, as seems to have been the case for a fairly large proportion of the NCB’s real fleet in the early 70’s!

I have married the kit to Alan Gibson wheels and a High Level 108:1 Loadhauler gearbox/ Mashima 1024 combo so it should crawl along at a nice slow pace when done. Or not work at all.

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A couple of Dapol PO wagons picked up at the Chatham show for something ridiculous like £1.50 each brand new have been allocated to the NCB Pool, and had an innitial repaint into internal user grey – although I am not sure its dark enough really. They now await some lettering and internal user ‘X’s along with a bit of general decay and heavy weathering. I attacked the top plank of one example with side cutters to replicate an example that was in use at Gresford Colliery in Wales during the early 70’s, the rotten woodwork clearly not standing up particularly well to attack by mechanical shovel!

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Another wagon for the NCB stock is this Parkside ex-SNCF 16T mineral, picked up at Scaleforum for a fiver. I have been unable to find a photo of one of these in service on BR in 1972 so it has been cascaded into internal usership. This model has been built as per the original kit design, although I will be fitting some new buffers as the Parkside buffer heads are completely unconvincing!

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Freight Stock:

First up is this Hornby (Ex-Lima) CCT which was heavily weathered. I have attacked it with polish to give it the look of a vehicle that has just had an encounter with a carriage washer for the first time in a considerable while. The polish really brings out the depth of the BR blue and it adds a splash of colour to fitted freight services……

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Next up, planned to form part of a block tanker train on the next layout, I have spent today working on the chassis of a Bachmann TTA, converting it into an early build TTV. The main work involved has been the construction of new brake gear and replacement of the air tank with a vac cylinder. A heavily weathered standard TTA is shown below for comparison – this needs backdating a bit for ’71-’72 and will feature at some point in the future.

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Although much finer etched parts are available, I decided to do the conversion on the cheap, the wagon chassis was abandoned in a corner of the loft and all other parts were in stock – total cost £0.00. Once everything is painted black I hope it will look OK and add a bit of variety to the train for no outlay, if not I can refit the original parts!

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A bit of a bargain picked up on the bring and buy stand at Scaleforum was this Airfix brake van for £2.00. I have assembled it as per the kit design and it looks fine at the rear of a train, although there are no doubt higher quality products out there (IILRIIR again…..)

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A trio of Bachmann 16T mineral wagons have been stripped down and repainted into ‘rust’ before having some grey paint added over Maskol to give them an abused look. The rust still needs a couple of extra shades adding to give it a bit more texture but they are getting there….

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The Cambrian Models LNER Quint bolster is also progressing, although I am working on trying to create a realistic unpainted wood finish and I think there is still a way to go:

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Also through the weathering shop are these 2 Parkside plate wagons, still awaiting buffers (standard). They would be getting towards the end of their lives by the period modelled and have been portrayed as such. Seeing this photo has made me realise the inside of the plate needs weathering as well!

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This Parkside BR Pipe wagon is now ready for transfers and weathering.

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As are these Parkside Vanwides and Palvan, all of which were seen ages ago having been constructed…

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Finally, I found these 2 ex. LNER vans in a box of forgotten stuff. They were the first wagon kits I ever built when I was about 14 or 15, never ran freely and were badly painted, not to mention most of the brake gear being on them the wrong way round! I decided to dig them out and see if anything could be done – the chassis was stripped down as much as possible and reassembled while the bodies were repainted into Bauxite. Apart from a few dodgy chassis bits (the broken V hanger on the RH van and the brake link on the LH van being the wrong way round) they haven’t turned out badly, and will look the part in a block van train.

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So there we go, a very minimal cost 2 months worth of modelling there – working on stuff already in stock from years ago or purchased at minimal cost – probably less than £20 for 2 months entertainment. Who said model railways were too expensive?

 

To make up for the low cost modelling, I did splash out on a rake of 15 new Hornby Railroad MGR’s – working out at about £4.50 each they are cheaper than you can get the 80’s models online – these will be backdated over the coming months with crossbars over the top of the hopper and pre-TOPS wagon codes along with various other details – keep your eyes peeled, monotony is on the horizon!

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Thats all for now folks, happy modelling, I will leave you with this cartoon from this months Model Railroader that caused a laugh.

 

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Chris

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