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

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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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Bird’s eye view

I have an 08 shunter. It’s a Bachmann one. They’re good and they’re outside framed (OK I know the new Hornby one is considered better but that doesn’t make the Bachmann one bad).


I’ve always wanted an 08 and a BR blue one too. This in itself is a little odd as I’m not really a corporate blue era person.

The reason though comes from a couple of incidents. When I was 4 (in 1982) I spent a week in hospital. From my vantage point in the hospital I could see the railway below and it looked like a model railway.

When I was 8 (I’ll let you do the maths) I spent a week in hospital again. As before I got to watch the railway below and this time I distinctly remember a very shiny shunter hauling carriages about. It made me want to build a model railway with a blue shunter.

I have since done sufficient research to know this was 08567 built at Crewe in ’53 and had just come back from overhaul at Swindon a few months previously.

So my only tasks on this little project is to re-number my 08 and make sure it has the correct details (dual braking for a start) for 1986. Then it will be the yard shunter in the research facility.


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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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Final pieces

So the jigsaw has all the pieces. Last week a delivery arrived with the final parts (ok this may not be true) needed for the Hawksworth Cathedral.

parts 2Final pieces are the new 5 pole tender drive (it’s from Henry hence the GREEN wheels), new blackened rods for a a Princess and blackened crossheads, slidebars, and connecting rods for a King , loco crew and lamps from Springside. The lamps are correctly white, not red as the GW had rectified this oddity by the time Hawksworth was in charge.

Now I just need to build the jigsaw…..

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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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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>….


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The Bishop of Where?

The crew of the Thunderbolt await the inspector at Mallingford (Bristol Temple Meads)

The crew of the Thunderbolt await the inspector at Mallingford (Bristol Temple Meads)

For those of you with a pedigree of railways and railway films, the quote above will be all too familiar. The Titfield Thunderbolt’s inspection run crewed by the dog collar brigade, grey shirt at the controls, purple shirt firing.

As you may have noticed from my earlier posts I do like an oddity or a might have been. One day I would like to produce the Titfield Thunderbolt set but the title of this post is actually because I want to discuss a might have been linked to bishops – the Great Western Cathedrals.

Hawksworth Pacific

Despite being born, brought up, and living in Yorkshire I do like the Great Western. The influence for that is my father who was born and brought up in Gloucester so was innundated with GW and LMS designs. His Uncle was signalman at Yeovil Junction so he saw a fair bit of Southern action too but the only LNER types he saw were the odd BXX classes occasionally coming through on CrossCountry workings. So our model railway at home when I was growing up was GW mainline with a station on the beach (complete with mermaid).

The Great Western did things first and generally rather well (up until the 1930s, and had it not been for the war they probably would have been the first to electrify a mainline. Unfortunately in the 1930s and 40s they trod water and lost ground).

The first British Pacific - No. 111 The Great Bear

The first British Pacific – GWR No. 111 The Great Bear

The Cathedral class was Hawksworth’s Pacific design which he produced in 1946. Unfortunately post war economies and impending nationalisation meant it never emerged although looking at the GA you would be forgiven to think he’d nicked the design from a certain Mr Stanier FRS (which given they were contemporaries at Swindon it is highly likely Stanier used his position to develop the ideas he and Hawksworth had developed together). There is no definitive record that the class would have been called after cathedrals but various modellers who have produced them have taken this suggestion and made it reality (Actually the Kings were supposed to have been Cathedrals but if you’re going to send your new loco to the US why not remind them they’re not part of the Commonwealth?!).

Modelling a Cathedral is relatively straightforward. The recipe is below and in the pictures linked.


1x Hornby Princess Royal

1x Hornby King body and front bogie

1x Hawksworth tender (Dapol or Hornby)

1x Princess dome

1x King smokebox door

1x pair of King buffers

Various pieces of plasticard


Replace dome with safety valve bonnet from the King. Add new dome further up the boiler (note this isn’t as per the original drawing but most modellers prefer the idea of keeping a bonnet). Replace chimney with GW double chimney from King. Replace cab and backhead with GW one from King. Replace front bogie with the one from King. Replace smokebox door with a King one (either the one off the King or buy a new Hornby spares one). Move reverser rod from LHS to RHS. Replace slidebars and cylinders with ones from King, Add buffers. Make fire-iron tunnel on RHS footpate. Replace whistles with GW ones from King. Remove outside Walchearts valve gear. Sell LMS tender on eBay. Add Hawksworth tender.

Various people have tried this and two known examples are Roger Meadows No. 8000 Gloucester Cathedral, and Nick Parson’s No. 8001 Exeter Cathedral. They have some detail differences but the main build is the same. There is also something of a step by step guide on the RM Web here.

Artist's impression of GWR Cathedral from OS Nock's book Stars, Castles, and Kings

Artist’s impression of GWR Cathedral from OS Nock’s book Stars, Castles, and Kings

I like a good story (you may have noticed). With this in mind I thought it might be worth sorting out the fleet list given two of them already exist (and there is already confusion over what name 8001 carries). So here is my suggestion. The first batch of 5 was built and given West Country Cathedral names. The second batch of 5 was built following the success of the first batch and given West Midlands route Cathedral names. The final batch of 10 were named after the Welsh Cathedrals, which left four to be named after other notable English Cathedrals.

8000 Gloucester Cathedral
8001 Exeter Cathedral
8002 Bristol Cathedral
8003 Truro Cathedral
8004 Wells Cathedral
8005 Birmingham Cathedral
8006 Chester Cathedral
8007 Hereford Cathedral
8008 Oxford Cathedral
8009 Worcester Cathedral
8010 Bangor Cathedral
8011 Brecon Cathedral
8012 Llandaff Cathedral
8013 Newport Cathedral
8014 St Asaph Cathedral
8015 St David’s Cathedral
8016 Canterbury Cathedral
8017 Southwark Cathedral
8018 St Paul’s Cathedral
8019 York Minster

So yes, one day I will build one. And yes, I’m a Yorkshireman, so it’ll be 8019. Apart from anything else, a Cathedral class locomotive not called Something “Cathedral” is an oddity in an oddity.


The Dog’s B…. Bone

At long last I’ve managed to find five minutes to post the pictures of my single cab class 58. It is still in need of a fair amount of cleaning up and weathering, but hopefully it gives the basic idea.

BR promotional model

BR promotional model

As the donor loco had a really poor body I bought a replacement and used the poor one for the new end bits.

End preperation

End preparation

Here the second cab has been hacked off and plasticard has been added in preparation of the new end.

A section of the old body was cut to length, black plasticard added to form a bulkhead, and then end detail was needed.

Buffer beam removed from old cab

Buffer beam removed from old cab

For this I used the end of the original cab, cut out, a section taken out of the middle to make it thinner, and then stuck back together again.

New end

New end

Lining up

Lining up

It fits!

It fits!

The only other thing that was needed was to modify the running plate to cover the gap where the cab was.

Running plate modification

Running plate modification


A final reassembly and the model starts to look the part. I still need to refit the handrails and add a few other detail parts but I’m pretty pleased how well it captures BR’s “might have been”.

Ready to roll