Tuesday, 29 April 2014


Can anyone guess what this latest project is?

With apologies to Tom O'Connor and 'Name That Tune' (am I showing my age?!), this latest loco kit building project is perhaps a little obscure, but it's a replica of an iconic prototype nonetheless. I'll give you a clue: it's a diesel, and a handful of them had to take a difficult delivery route to their intended place of work.

More updates will follow as work progresses...

Monday, 14 April 2014


Cement theme really taking off!

Well, there's no turning back now! I've just treated myself to a small box of stuff from Hattons, including one of the Liverpool retailer's exclusive Heljan Class 14s in Blue Circle Cement livery. Currently available at a knockdown price, it was hard to resist. To go with it, I've boosted my collection of Presflos and added a couple of Dapol's Blue Circle-branded ex-gunpowder vans. These older, vac-braked wagons will allow me to run the proposed layout in either a 1970s or 1980/90s timeframe.

Just need to finalise the track plan now and find a few hours to get the rails laid down. Then I'll have to order a job lot of cement-coloured weathering powders...!

Thursday, 10 April 2014


New Metalair cement tank under review

In a previous post, I mentioned my intention of building a small cement works/quarry-based layout and explained how I've been upgrading a fleet of Hornby 'depressed centre' PCA wagons. Well, in a piece of good timing, the new Bachmann Metalair cement tank wagon is now available and I'm now the happy owner of this little beauty. Having reviewed it for the latest issue of Model Rail, I was very impressed with the model in a number of ways - it's right up there with the best of Bachmann's brilliant range of modern freight stock.

This factory weathered version sports a subtle coating of grime and cement dust, but I'll be adding some extra work staining and texture in due course. I'm looking forward to expanding my fleet too, with maybe one or two of the Blue Circle-branded versions that are also being released.

See the latest issue of Model Rail (195) - out this week - for a full review and some extra info on the real things...

Monday, 7 April 2014


WIth a cement-themed project in the offing, a rake of PCAs is needed

I've had a small bunch of Hornby 'depressed centre' PCA wagons in my collection for some years, thinking they'd come in handy one day. Well, some of them had already proved useful for trialling a variety of new weathering products - to varying degrees of success - but I'd long had a small quarry-cum-cement works in mind, inspired partly by Chris Nevard's 'Cement Quay' and some of the impressive real life cement works in my locality.

While the layout is in the early stages of planning, the PCA wagons surfaced again for use in an upcoming Model Rail feature on upgrading older style tension lock couplings (to appear in MR195). Now with the natty Symoba pivoting NEM coupling pockets installed, plus new buffers, the wagons are looking more refined and I've initially fitted Kadee couplers. I've never run a layout with Kadees - only ever having employed them on fixed rakes of carriages and the like - so this may well be my first serious foray. As the stock and traction for the layout is likely to be limited, this shouldn't prove too expensive. But I do like my working 3-links... Well, we'll see how it goes.

This PCA is in a sand carrying livery, so it might have to succumb to a coat of grey paint...

I picked up this trio of 2nd hand Hornby and Lima PCAs from SMTF model shop the other week - they're now in the queue to receive the coupling/buffer/brake gear detail upgrades and a suitably weathered finish.

Thursday, 3 April 2014


Early morning delight at Donny

A crisp Spring morning found me kicking my heels on Doncaster station at 7am, awaiting the Peterborough train. And lo, I did hear the distinctive sound of an English Electric power plant, gurgling away beyond the bridge at the south end of the station. A blue cloud of smoke soon began to drift from under said bridge, engulfing the mainline in a dense fog. And out of the oily mist strode not one, not two, but four Class 20s - each one under power - heading straight for the bay platform where I was standing. Was it a dream? No!

DRS has been using one of the sidings on the Up side recently, to store locos in use on local  engineers trains and I'd seen a DRS 66 emerge a few minutes earlier (66431), heading north. The quartet of '20s' meanwhile, pootled into the bay as a means of gaining the mainline south (or so it seems). They were actually waiting for my Kings Cross train to leave, so I couldn't hang around any longer. Indeed, my HST rolled into the platform just as I was taking these piccies with my (rubbish) phone.

So, it was a fleeting moment to savour. The sight and sound of four 1950s locos in 2014 - sounding pretty healthy I might add! The full line up was: 20303/309/308/305.