Penlowry

Chronicling the development of my 5-gauge 4mm scale model railway with a few off-topic insights thrown in for free


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The little grey cells

As I said in an earlier post, my modelling appears to have currently reached a temporary hiatus. There is little I can do about it. I have two sons who are hardly independent, a job that has gone into overdrive, and, as my previous but one post said, I am getting to grips with the new pump world.

One of my regular readers, who happens to write a blog about modelling that does happen, said to me recently, “You like to have several projects on the go at once don’t you?” He may well be right, but I think my blog is misleading because I haven’t anywhere near as many projects actually on the go as I make out. Many have reached the drawing board and are no further.

This doesn’t concern me greatly, because the day will come when the kids are busy doing homework, and when not doing homework, chasing girls, and I will get some time to build things. All I am doing now is the planning.

Although I don’t get much modelling time, what I do get are 10 minute breaks between jobs in the office, and a lunch break where I need to think about anything but High Speed Rail in Canada, buying trains for Mexico, looking at recently scrapped trains in Australia, and has the right team won the latest franchises in the North of England (to give an example based on this week just endeth).

These 10 minute breaks are ideal for research. So for the last couple of weeks I have been resurrecting an idea I’ve had for some time to build a 1988 built steam loco in 009, and the last couple of days in amongst the hectic world of modern day Colonial railways, examining GWR tenders, Hawksworth ones in particular, both for my Pacific project and also for something else. These dabbles in online research keep the creative juices flowing and ensure I don’t end up in the loony bin.

More on 1988 steam locomotives and Hawksworth tenders another time. I may also do a piece on Hawksworth himself. The more I look into his work, the more I’m saddened he didn’t get a chance to show what he was really capable of.

One of the results of this week’s research: Did you know that Charles Collett did an 8 wheel version of his standard 6 wheel 4000 gallon tender?  No I didn’t either. He only did one. I presume it was an experiment to see if you could get the same capacity on a wider route availability. Presumably it wasn’t worth the bother.

Anyway, here it is attached to a Hall.

Collett 8 wheel tender


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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…”