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

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Long brown coats


One of my bugbears with model railways is unrealistic buildings. You see some absolutely stunning model rolling stock, way better than anything I will ever be able to do, photographed in a model magazine, next to a building with a black shadow all the way round the bottom and a regular “flat” looking roof. That is the benefit of model railway clubs of course. Bringing people together with different skills and the end result can be incredible. 

Roofs really get me. There is no such thing as a straight or ordinary roof. Most have sags, twists, moss, dirt, stains, bird poop, gutters, down pipes, barge boards, and other interesting characteristics. 

They also have flashing. Quite why this gets omitted so much on model railway buildings I’m never too sure. I do a fair amount with Metcalfe kits. When I get the chance I’ll post a picture of what I mean but a key thing for me is to add flashing. Get a piece of paper (not card- the paper in your printer is fine), and use an ordinary graphite pencil to shade it, til it’s all grey. Cut to shape and glue on. Being paper it will flex slightly and sag and look a lot more realistic than card does which is too stiff. 

And the picture, that’s the view out of the window of the Gentleman’s facility at a local replenisher in York. A great example of interesting rooftops. Note the broken slates in the one in front, the clean new flashing despite the old roof, the, moss on the one on the right,  and the corrugated sheet filling the gap between the two. Also note the very uneven roof in the right background all covered in lichen and moss. Nowt regular about any of that. 

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The ends of the spectrum

As you will know from previous posts, I do like oddities. However I also like standardisation. It’s the Engineer’s sense of order in me. As a professional railwayman, the idea of standardising across a fleet, or fleets, had much appeal. In a world where costs are analysed time and time again (I often wonder if there is a false economy in the cost of the ongoing analysis, but I digress), the need to standardise is more and more important. The lack of standardisation on coupler interfaces is one that makes me bang my head against the wall, but in other respects the railway has got much better. 

Possibly the standardisation crown has to go the GWR. Their standardisation policy saw loco type after loco type using parts from others to produce a fleet of locos where boilers, wheelsets, cylinders, rods, chimneys, smokeboxes, cabs, and tenders could be interchanged. 


I recently attended the York show where I acquired (within 10 minutes of arriving) a Mainline 43xx Mogul – the pocket rocket of the Western. A class loco which I think Collett didn’t improve at all when he produced his 93xx version. This one, however, has a dodgy motor. I’ve been looking at ways to get the loco back up and going again and one thought was to use the chassis from something else.  


With the standardisation, the chassis and wheels are the same as the 61xx prairie tank, except without the trailing truck, and is also the same driving wheels and wheelbase as the Grange and the Manor. So I have plenty of options. 

I’ll post again when I have decided, but in the meantime, here is a comparison chart of GWR six coupled tender locos showing the standardisation (the Manor class isn’t included as I haven’t got a GA of that to hand and don’t be looking for scaling accuracy cos it ain’t!). The only real differences apart from the Mogul are the Modified Hall and County which had 7’2″ bogie wheelbase, and the unbuilt Pacific which had a new driving wheelbase but according to OS Nock would have used the 6’3″ drivers from the County. The comparison also shows what a big lump the County looked to those used to the more “slimline” boilers of the older types. 

The oddball in all GWR six coupled locos was the King class which was very different (and therefore not shown), but the Pacific would have used the front end of the King so it would have had company.