Chronicling the development of my Cambrian and Narrow Gauge 4mm scale model railway

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Counting the days…


The lack of recent activity both on here and on the modelling front has been precipitated by a house move. However we are now in the new H family house and it has space. Oh yes it has space…

Anyway, I haven’t been idle with getting bits for the Cathedral project.

Here are the latest bits. This County body and tender body I picked up for next to nothing on eBay due to a slightly melted firebox side sheet caused by an overheating motor.

However as I want it for the cab (which is slightly different from a Collett one) and for the double chimney, this is perfect.

So now I’m counting the days till the house is in a sufficient state of unpackedness for me to have a modelling day.

Also I now have another tender body so maybe another Modified Hall. Sod Hall perhaps.

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Short arms and deep pockets…

Princess coupled to a Hawksworth tender - loco trials?

So the saying goes about Yorkshiremen. I don’t think we are cheapskates. Far from it, but we do like to spend our pennies wisely. “If tha looks after the pennies, the pounds’ll look after themselves” as my old skool mate used to put it.

Whenever I sell anything on eBay (not very often mind you) I always take the time to do a little research into the price trends of the item I’m selling. It still amazes me that people don’t. On my Cathedral project I need a Hawksworth tender. There are two options really. The Dapol one and the Hornby one (there are three options but the kit option didn’t appeal to me). As my loco is tender drive and they are both loco drive tenders, whichever I got would need a little “adjustment” to fit a Ringfield underneath it, but I’m sure I can make it work. I’m not the first.

I have therefore been monitoring eBay for some time for this item. I could buy a new tender top from the various spares shops (Peter’s Spares is good – though to let you into a secret, it’s cheaper on their website than on their eBay shop for any item). A new spare tender top costs £15ish.

Peter's Spares comparison

Peter’s Spares comparison

Alternatively I can lurk in the eBay shadows waiting for my prey. So I did, with searches set up as “gwr tender” and “green tender” (as no-one is going to list the thing as “Hawksworth tender”). One lunchtime I was perusing and someone put on a new Hornby tender and a new Hornby tender top both buy it now. They were so cheap I bought both. I mean cheap. I had bid on another one earlier on and I lost that but who cares? I got a complete tender and a tender top for the same price as if I’d bought a new top from Peter’s Spares, once combined shipping had been taken into account. And a heck of a lot less than the one I lost out on bidding.

Sometimes eBay plays you a Monoloply "Error in your favour" card...

Sometimes eBay plays you a Monopoly “Error in your favour” card…

To be frank, if you put things on eBay and don’t check how much they’re worth first then you must either be daft or you are deliberately making a Yorkshireman’s day.

In this case, I am one happy Yorkshireman.

Oh and the spare tender? I don’t know yet. Perhaps one of the five Modified Halls that were never built…. My preference would be for Naff Hall.

Foremarke Hall at Winchcombe  (C) Ian Crowther

Foremarke Hall at Winchcombe
(C) Ian Crowther


Blinded by colour – a chuntering on liveries

Did I mention the “c” word? I think I might have done.

“What colour?” seems to be the biggest cause of argument on the railway. Occasionally you see it used for good such as in the case of deciding what colour to paint Duchess of Sutherland where punters could vote… for a fee, thus raising the money for the repaint in the process. By showing how the voting was going, and publishing it in the railway press, additional votes (and therefore revenue) were secured by people desperate for a particular colour scheme. Smart work, whoever thought of that one.

Duchess of Sutherland in the voted for Brunswick Green  (c) RuthAS

Duchess of Sutherland in the voted for Brunswick Green
(c) RuthAS

One benefit of the younger brigade of railway volunteers starting to swarm some of the UK’s railways is the reduction in all things BR black. The upsurge in the late 90s and early 2000s was a direct result of those people who could remember the days of steam being in charge of the paintbrush. As they get too old to volunteer, or too old to be in decision making roles at least, we are seeing more colour come back, which is a good thing in my books.

A well applied livery can make such a difference. A bad one can look appalling. You can see on today’s railways the difference between those that get it and those that don’t in their livery applications. Some railways get it very right. Midland Mainline for example seem always to manage to provide a livery that works. The teal and tangerine livery, followed by the blue, followed by the latest EMT liveries all worked for their time (and continue to do so).

Midland Mainline's second livery launched in time for Project Rio

Midland Mainline’s second livery launched in time for Project Rio

Midland Mainline's second livery and East Midlands Trains livery (EMT photo (c) Phil Sangwell)

East Midlands Trains livery
(c) Phil Sangwell

As did GNER’s blue and red.

Much missed GNER livery (c) Phil Scott

Much missed GNER livery (c) Phil Scott

Second from bottom of the livery pile for me are Northern’s class 333s. The original livery was smart. Very smart. On the lines they first ran where there hadn’t been anything new for donkeys years it was like seeing the Vulcan at Farnborough airshow in 1952 when all you were used to were Lancasters. Unfortunately they have since had several partial vinyl wraps and that red/blue mix just make you want to vomit.

So much potential... missed!  (c) Peter Skuce

So much potential… missed!
(c) Peter Skuce

However, the winner (or loser) of worst livery ever is DOR’s East Coast. This is a good reason why the railways shouldn’t be under Government control. Brand awareness just doesn’t seem to be a Government skillset.

East Coast have one saving grace. It’s the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight class 91, 91110, the British record holding locomotive. You may not like the livery but it is distinctive so it ticks some of the livery boxes.

Yes I like it, and yes, I've got one

Yes I like it, and yes, I’ve got one

However, getting back to the East Coast norm, which civil servant nitwit thought a grey train (OK it’s supposed to be silver but it is grey in pretty much all light) would look good? Not only does it show up every single crinkle and dent on the Intercity 125s and 225s but the person who came up with it hadn’t been looking out the window that day and noticed the sky in the UK is uniformly…  GREY! When you get a train you want to be cheered, spirits lifted, hop, skip and a jump, etc. Never before has anyone produced a livery (and I use the term loosely here) that can depress people more. The purple stripe doesn’t help either. It’s a small trickle of colour that has escaped the bland artist on the bandest palette immaginable.

Grey, grey, GREY! (c) A1Personage

Grey platform, grey canopy, grey sky, grey carriage… grey, grey, GREY!
(c) A1Personage

A livery should be a symbol of the company. A beacon of advertising. A distinction from the world around it. If East Coast’s livery is a beacon of DOR, the sooner it is back in private hands the better. And the purple stripe? It reminds me of the scene from the Italian Job when they all jump in the Dormobile after they’ve done the raid. They’re all looking so glum and one of them says “Look ‘appy you b@rrstards…we won didn’t we?” and one of them responds with a limp wave of a balloon.

That’s East Coast’s livery: a sad, depressing, grey day punctuated with a limp purple balloon.

"Look 'appy, you b@rrrstards..."

“Look ‘appy, you b@rrstards…”

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GWR in the heart of Ebor

Having made my musing clear last month regarding the GWR Cathedral, I decided I did want to get on with it. At the same time I also decided that as my family and I (that phrase has to be said in the Queen’s voice) had been in York for nearly a year it was time to stop messing about and go and have a look at the Ebor Group of Railway Modellers.

So last night I popped down and found a right good mix of people whose main aim is to get together for a chat and maybe, just maybe, talk about railways. The club rooms are extensive, have various layouts either built or under construction, have a library and workshop, and have the added attraction (or should that be the main attraction) of being above a bar where they had Deuchars IPA (in bottles but still…).

The other thing I found rather good was a decided lack of animosity towards GW. Surprising given this is the heartland of LNER but mention of a GW Hawksworth Pacific didn’t receive the response I was expecting (maybe they were just being polite).

Anyway, I have been doing further work on the Cathedral, No. 8019, and have now worked out pretty much everything I need to get. I have this, a Hornby Princess – eBay coming up trumps again – which will be the donor.

Hornby Princess

However it has the early 3 pole Ringfield motor so I will swop it for a 5 pole. I will also have to do some jiggery-pokery with the tender as the most readily available top is from the Hornby County which is loco drive and so shows the coal hole which will be full of Ringfield.

Hornby's Hawksworth Tender  (c) Peter's Spares

Hornby’s Hawksworth Tender
(c) Peter’s Spares

Some way to go then. Also there will be a break in (physical not mental) railway activity for a short while as we’re about to move house. A house with a garage, or is that a workshop, and a shed already fitted with light and power <strokes white cat and chuckles>….