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


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


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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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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Never trust domeless engines…

So says Gordon on meeting City of Truro, before going on to lose his own.

The only drawing for the GWR Cathedral is this one which isn’t even Hawksworth’s work.

Hawksworth Pacific

It shows a really odd arrangement. The dome is where the safety valves on a GWR loco normally go, and there is a top feed but no safety valves shown.

The more I read about Hawksworth, the more I realise he was a true Western man. With that in mind I cannot believe he would have put a dome on his Pacific on the grounds that he could use an elongated King boiler and still have the regulator at the top of the Belpaire box and put the safety valves where they normally go.

Nick Parsons also had the same thought when he built his Cathedral because he put the safety valves in the normal position above the centre driving wheels, and put the dome between the bonnet and the start of the Belpaire box. Roger Meadows also didn’t agree with the concept drawing and did his with no dome at all.

Given Hawksworth’s Great Western-ness, and my belief he would strive for the best Swindon solution, I have decided my Cathedral won’t have a dome (but will be fully lined like Nick Parsons’ version).

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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>….