Penlowry

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


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Newcastle Brown

I’ve got a new favourite. As regular listeners will know I like an oddity. Something off the norm for me is just really interesting. I think it is the designer in me, I like to see the results of other engineers experimenting. Sometimes there are successes, and sometimes there are failures. But if you don’t try, you/’ll never know. My list of “one day in the future” models includes (for example) the LNER streamlined B17/5s. They only did two of them and I think they were probably a pig to maintain, but it was an experiment for publicity – something the modern railways can forget about sometimes.

Gresley B17/5 East Anglian

Gresley B17/5 East Anglian

The list also includes the LNER C7 with booster tender. Booster tenders never seem to have survived much wherever they were tried but I love the experimentation that went into them

Gresley C7 with booster tender

Gresley C7 with booster tender

My new favourite class is the Consett long boiler tanks. There is something about the way they look, almost narrow gauge in appearance. I also like the ingenuity that went into solving a particular problem. Again, it was an experiment, partially successful, partially not. At high speeds the long boilers, with their firebox behind the back axle made them waggle their arse – a bit like a salsa dancer waggling their hips as they walk. However, the tractive effort packaged into a small locomotive with small wheelbase made them ideal for hauling heavy loads on branchlines with tight curves and steep gradients. So that is what they were used for. Evolved over time, the details of the design changed although the concept remained the same. One remains, preserved by the North Tyneside Steam Railway Association. It has just been returned to steam and looks fantastic. Railway Bylines has just done an article on them in the latest issue (Vol 20, Issue 4, March 2015). Worth a read.

(c) North Tyneside Steam Railway Association

(c) North Tyneside Steam Railway Association

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Going underground

Having recently been in the depths of a project looking at international trains, I got on to ruminating on what-could-have-been with the UK – mainland Europe business as BR originally intended. Originally the Eurostar business was a conglomeration of BR, SNCF, and SNCB, which of course were all state run. By the time Eurostar went live in 1994, the UK was in the midst of privatisation so the BR share was being run by London and Continental Railways (LCR) which is a company wholly owned by the DfT. In 2010, a company called Eurostar International Ltd was created to run the Eurostar service, 55% stake being owned by SNCF, 40% owned by LCR, and 5% owned by SNCB. It is this 40% stake which has just been sold by the Government.

The original intent was the service we see today (London – Paris / Brussels) but augmented with regional trains from as far afield as Glasgow running direct through the tunnel to Paris. Then on top of all that, there was a proposed sleeper service, the Nightstar.

The regional Eurostar trains were built; they are called the North of London sets and you may even have travelled on one. When GNER ran the ECML and was short of rolling stock it hired in some N0L class 373/2s to cover the shortfall. Most people remember them fondly in their striking dark blue livery. Those who got off at York particularly liked them because York was the first stop north of London where the platforms were long enough to take an entire set (all 14 carriages) – if you wanted to get off at York, you were advised to sit in the front carriage it was off the end of the platforms at the other stations. Unfortunately that has been the only use for them in the UK and for the last few years they have been running as TGVs on French domestic high speed routes.

GNER liveried class 373/2 NoL Eurostar (C) Tagishsimon

GNER liveried class 373/2 NoL Eurostar
(C) Tagishsimon

The Nightstar project was even more disastrous. Most of the vehicles were built but never went into service as it was realised early on that the demand wasn’t there (well I would have gone on it gladly so there was some demand, obviously just not enough). At the time the sleeper carriages made headlines for their price – three times the price of any other carriage built around the time (the Mk4s being the most recent) but unlike other carriages they were fitted with three power systems to work in the three countries so it’s perhaps not surprising they cost so much. These days, such compliacations are much easier to deal with. Eventually, having been kicking around for a bit with nothing to do, London and Continental Railways sold them back to Alstom who promptly sold them and the rest of the incomplete order to Canada’s Via Rail to run their Renaissance train.

Train of Nightstar carriages in Toronto (C) Buddah / Arsenikk

Train of Nightstar carriages in Toronto
(C) Buddah / Arsenikk

 Of course, on Penlowry, there is the aim to model a tunnel running from Sodor to Northern Ireland, known as the Stollen. Such claims as “economic unviability” are of course unheard of on Sodor with the bankrolling of the railway that seems to occur. So it is highly likely that Eurostars will be seen running through the tunnel in GNER and original livery, along with other trains the Fat Controller has collected from round the globe to enable him to run the service.

White rose

One day, it might even see the use of high speed postal services between the UK and Ireland….

TGV La Poste.  La Poste announced in June 2014 that they were going to stop using the TGVs (but crucially unlike the Royal Mail shortlived change, they are keepign the traffic on the rails) (C) Baastian

TGV La Poste.
La Poste announced in June 2014 that they were going to stop using the TGVs (but crucially unlike the Royal Mail shortlived change, they are keepign the traffic on the rails)
(C) Baastian


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Racking my brains

Following on from my earlier post about the mountain railway section, I have since got hold of some of the rack rail Fleischmann makes / made. This has tempted me to do a rack railway properly.

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I may be slightly mad but I think, just possibly, it may be possible using a Mini-chassis or by making my own chassis and adding a rack gear.

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I get plenty of time to think in my job as I hurtle up and down the ECML but not much time to do, so I should have plenty of time to work out if it’s possible before I actually get the chance to do anything about it!

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