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

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Lost without t’missus

Recently, the lack of time or facilities to do any railway modelling had been getting on my wick a bit. My wife has noticed. She normally does. It’s something to do with pacing about like a caged tiger looking like I’d like nothing more than to rip the disgusting built in cupboards out of the spare bedroom. I do, and shortly I will, but that’s another story.

One of the reasons, as I’ve mentioned before, is having moved into a new house and having lots to do. (For example I put 17 pictures up yesterday. All our internal walls are brick so the only sure fire way of making them stay put is drill a hole, and stick in a rawlplug followed by a screw.)

My future modelling facility is the shed out the back which has light and power. But it has no insulation, a concrete floor, and gaps in the walls. So not the best place to do anything right now.

My wife, as I mentioned noticed the clenched teeth. She suggested I could use the box room for railway modelling. She then found a desk on eBay (which I lost but won the chair that went with it), and then followed it up by finding a table on Freecycle from the Vicar who lives round the corner. So having potentially been the scene of bread and wine sacrifices it will now be the scene of various rtr sacrifices in the name of modelling the quirky.

So let’s say a massive hurrah for my wife. Saving me from having grey smoke coming out of the top of my head!

I’m so excited I’m not sure what project to start first….


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He’s not the Stig…

Putting this post through a Top Gear translator (if one exists), this post becomes “It’s not the Deltic, it’s the Deltic’s suburban cousin!”

Deltics are like the Stig – bold brash, instantly recognisable, and when you see one fly down the mainline you know it’s the one in the white suit, not the black suit (not that the prototype drove off the end of an aircraft carrier).

However, as I often say on this blog, I prefer the oddities. So this is the Stig’s cousin who is dressed in the white suit and helmet but is the size of Ronnie Corbett.

The Baby Deltic was one of these. Only 10 produced; a Deltic engine half the size of the original; and by the time they were reliable, the tiny fleet size made their withdrawal inevitable. 

Baby Deltic  (C) Ben Brooksbank

Baby Deltic
(C) Ben Brooksbank

I’m not quite sure why this one popped up in my eBay searches, but it did.

What's in the box

What’s in the box

And it was a bargain. Yes I know I can go and get one from Heljan but that involves money and I am a Yorkshireman with short arms and deep pockets, and I bought a house a few months ago so it just isn’t going to happen. It set me back £10. You know it’s a bargain when the postage is 40% of the price.

class 23

I also acquired a chassis on eBay for it. The kit says it will fit on a Lima 20 or 73, or a Hornby 25 or 29. Now the Lima 20 would be good bet because coming from the same era from the same manufacturer (EE), the bogies are almost identical. However, the modifications to make it fit require some work. The 73 would be best in terms of dimensional accuracy but Class 73s still cost more than I wanted to pay. The class 25 from Hornby is no where near and the bogie doesn’t look anything like a Class 23 bogie. So I settled for the Hornby Class 29.

Wheelbase comparison table

Wheelbase comparison table

If I am feeling inspired enough I may fork out for the sprues for the Heljan bogie frames which are quite cheap and can be sourced from Howes Models, and thus improve the bogie frame. Even if I don’t the bogie frame is vaguely passable as long as I remove the large sandboxes from the front.

Hornby Class 29 - the donor chassis

Hornby Class 29 – the donor chassis

Hopefully I can get on with the backlog of projects I keep talking about but not doing shortly, although house renovation work (and repair work following all these gales) is taking priority.

However, to finish on a happy note, The Baby Deltic Project is building a new Class 23. They are using a Class 37 (37372) with shortened body and shortened noses, Class 20 bogies acquired from DRS, and the sole remaining Napier T9-29 Deltic engine acquired from the NRM to recreate, as closely as possible, the tenth member of the class.


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Raise a glass to AGWG

This week was another sad week for the Ffestiniog when we lost our original General Manager, Allan Garraway.

Allan led the railway during the rebuilding and it is due to him that we have what we have today. His stewardship during the austerity years ensured the railway did not fail and his understanding of running a railway ensured the railway concentrated on the must haves and ignored the nice to haves. The fact the railway can now talk about having nice to haves is due to Allan setting the foundation for stability that we enjoy today and it is notable how hard following GMs have found it to continue that stable foundation he started.

Allan George Weldon Garraway, MBE, MA, CEng, MIMechE, MCIT

Allan George Weldon Garraway, MBE, MA, CEng, MIMechE, MCIT

Some people get hot under the collar about his scrapping of Moel Tryfan but given it was scrap one locomotive or scrap an entire railway, I think he made the right call – especially as rebuilding a locomotive is comparatively a piece of cake.

Scrapped to save a railway

Scrapped to save a railway

Some others get hot under the collar about his attitude towards some would be volunteers. Some people wrote some nasty things about Allan on internet fora within 24 hours of him leaving us but I’d say Allan could spot an idiot a mile off – fortunately. He always said that he wanted enthusiastic railwaymen not railway enthusiasts. I totally agree with this. Railway enthusiasts have their place and are great for the preservation movement, but when you are running a railway on a shoe string, you want professionals who know how to get the best out of an asset and can see the big picture without being distracted by the romance.

He knew that for the railway to survive it had to get revenue and that meant getting as many people on a particular train as possible while expending as little as possible. He gathered around him like minded individuals who could make that happen.

Allan found the Ffestiniog when he first volunteered on the Talyllyn and he was one of the ones who realised the Ffestiniog was the railway to save.

He gave up his career on the railways for a career on THE Railway managing the railway until the line was completed to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Despite being rather hard done by the railway when he left he didn’t hold animosity towards those who genuinely worked for the betterment of the railway. I was fortunate enough to get to know him as part of a group of Ffestiniog railwaymen who started visiting him on an annual basis some 10 years’ ago to operate his model railway.

We’d get the sleeper to Scotland on a Friday night, operate his railway on Saturday and then complete the day with a black tie dinner on the Saturday night.

Allan was genuinely interested in us and what we did and despite some attempts by some of our group, he’d never say a bad word about anyone on the railway.

Apologies for the poor picture - Allan giving his talk at one of our dinners in the Cairngorm Hotel about 10 years' ago

Apologies for the poor picture – Allan giving his talk at one of our dinners in the Cairngorm Hotel about 10 years’ ago

He understood railways from an operator’s point of view and this was apparent in his model railway which was not about scenery but was about operating. Running O gauge trains with scratch built NER traction and rolling stock (the locos used gun sight motors which were cheap post WW2) was great fun and my highlight was being in charge of a 35 lever frame ‘box fully mechanically interlocked which Allan had built. As operators we had to bell trains from ‘box to ‘box and the trains had to run with the correct head code.

Allan had even gone to the length of cutting a notch in one of the roof beams so that the driver of a down train would be able to see the advance starter leaving the terminus station….

An incomplete 'box diagram of Glenfield which I was Bobby of on more than one occasion. It gives some idea of the complexity Allan built into his railway

An incomplete ‘box diagram of Glenfield which I was Bobby of on more than one occasion. It gives some idea of the complexity Allan built into his railway

So raise a glass and make your toast. We have lost a gentleman and a true railwayman who’s standard we can only aspire to. Allan, I hope you’re having fun driving Linda round your model railway in the sky.