Monthly progress

March Progress

Posted on April 1, 2017. Filed under: Monthly progress |

Kyle of Sutherland has relocated to North Yorkshire.

Settle and Carlisle 170314 4436       Looking west

To the right of the houses in the middle distance, just above the Leeds and Liverpool canal, a road bridge crosses the Settle and Carlisle line. Yesterday morning 60103 Flying Scotsman passed under the bridge on its way north to celebrate the reopening of the through route to Carlisle.

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February Progress

Posted on March 1, 2017. Filed under: Monthly progress |

It’s been a solder-free month, though I did finish the last of the four, front-of-layout view blockers (see mid-February “Project progress”). A sepia photograph of No 3 featured in MRJ No 253 and here’s the original colour view.

scenery-34-161010-4357       View blocker No 3

I still don’t know what the next loco will be.

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January Progress

Posted on February 1, 2017. Filed under: Monthly progress |

What will the next loco be?

1649 2 140611       Western Region loco 1649

In June 2014 I tried out my new vee block on a trial pannier tank cross-section for 1649, the last steam loco to work on the Far North line. Last year I bought the 16xx Branchlines kit with a newly designed nickel chassis and a (re-worked?) Nu-cast whitemetal body. Then there’s Black Five 44722, for which I recently completed the Stanier tender, as reported mid-month.

And now there’s 40150, a Stanier 3P 2-6-2T used in the late 1950s and early 1960s, on Georgemas Junction to Thurso trains and occasional piloting duties. There’s a possibility of some etches to kick-start this model.

Whichever loco I choose, I need to complete it, and paint it, to exhibition standards well within the year.

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December progress

Posted on January 1, 2017. Filed under: Monthly progress |

2015 was the “Year of the Tree”, 2016 was the “Year of the Train”, but what’s 2017 going to be?

54495-scratch-9-161212-4417       Pickersgill 4-4-0 54495

54495 is now boxed up for transporting to the paint shop to receive its fully lined 1960s livery with the later BR large totem. The buffer heads and springs, screw couplings, and mechanical lubricator drive mechanism will be fitted when it returns. And there are additional small holes in the cab front and footplate in case I get the urge to fit 0.2mm copper wire to represent (some of) the prototype oil pipes. Hopefully the job lot of loco number and shed plates I ordered some time ago, including those for 54495, will then be ready.

The paint shop will also number 54458 and letter the tender in immediate post-nationalisation style, which was applied until 1949. In this form, with its existing well-worn paintwork, 54458 will represent a run-down, early 1950s loco.

44695-tender-4-161231       New Year’s Eve in the Packing Dept

Two Caledonian 4-4-0 locos (big box), two matching CR tenders (rear bottom), one fully-welded Black Five tender from 45473 needing a change of totem to lion-on-wheel (rear top), and one newly completed part-welded Black Five tender body ready for painting with the later BR large totem, with its chassis in primer (front small box). All destined for the paint shop.

The latest Black Five tender, intended for long wheelbase Black Five 44722, has taken almost sixteen years from picking up a soldering iron through to completion and deserves a longer write-up. I’ll post something in “Project progress” later in the month.

Now, 2017 could be the “Year of The ERSA RDS 80” digital soldering station. I bought this second hand from a well-known 0-gauge modeller and all-round good egg (moving up to a 150W ERSA) back in October. I can now tackle jobs that would have been very difficult with my aging 18W and 25W Antex irons. As for the 75W Weller, the bit could only be used where there was plenty of access space. I’ve been contemplating an ERSA for some time, but hadn’t taken the plunge. You get used to particular soldering irons and I was concerned I might not get on well with a change of iron. The RDS 80 has not only made soldering easier and more enjoyable, it’s brought about a step change in my modelling.

However, it finally looks as though 2017 is going to be the “Year of The Train, Again”.

There are some big decisions to take this year, such as which loco to start next. And what to do scenically to make Kyle of Sutherland ready for exhibition.

Happy New Year!

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November Progress

Posted on December 1, 2016. Filed under: Monthly progress |

Here’s the first published picture of a Far North passenger train passing through the model Culrain.


The train is the morning Helmsdale to Inverness with the previous day’s northbound TPO immediately behind the engine and coaches from the previous evening’s Inverness to Helmsdale. From the condition of the Dunalastair IV 54458 and the presence of cattle flakes on Culrain’s loading bank this suggests the early 1950s.

The middle part of last month was taken up with non-Kyle of Sutherland modelling, however I found time to continue with 54495. I rebuilt the complete upper body of the original low-sided brass tender from a Caley Coaches kit with a taller, scratch nickel silver tank and front end.

54495-scratch-7-161201       54495 with rebuilt tender

The loco and tender are booked into the paint shop for January 2017.

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October Progress

Posted on November 1, 2016. Filed under: Monthly progress |

54495 is rolling along nicely.

54495-scratch-6-161031       Soon be ready?

There’s plate work to be fashioned and numerous small details to be added. The smokebox and boiler can be separately removed, which has made the overall work much easier, especially sorting the clearances between the chassis and the footplate. Consequently, 54495’s very free, compensated rolling chassis nicely fits the body.

54495’s tender was originally made some time ago with higher sides than those provided in the kit. Subsequently, I painted it in well-worn, early 1950s condition and paired it with 54458. The second tender, which still awaits a taller nickel tank, will be painted in fully lined BR livery to go with 54495.

And right back at the beginning of the month at the Autumn Model Railway Weekend at Missenden I finished the tree module intended to fill the gap front centre of the layout, as in last month’s progress post.

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September progress

Posted on October 1, 2016. Filed under: Monthly progress |

Most of my train photographs have been taken looking along the line, whereas the exhibition viewer sees the layout from the front.

scenery-33-160909       Cut-out for a new plug-in module

My plan is to break up the exhibition view of the layout between the wings into three distinct diorama-style views. This requires four view blockers, including two end blockers to soften the harshness of the theatre-type vertical wings. This last month I’ve made a base for the view blocker just to the left, or north, of the station gates, which plugs into the cut-out above.

To accentuate perspective, the view blocker will be approximately 0-gauge and consist of trees, telephone pole, post-mounted post box, shrubs and hedges. Two large tree armatures are ready to be foliated at the Missenden Autumn Weekend coming up.

And 54495 continues to make progress.

54495-scratch-5-160928       Look like a Pickersgill?

The Brassmasters whitemetal chimney intended for a Black Five now has a piece inserted for additional height.The Caley Coaches dome was laboriously filed from an oversize brass casting.

Maybe this month it will acquire wheels.

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August progress

Posted on September 1, 2016. Filed under: Monthly progress |

“Under a threatening sky moving in from the west, The Mails leaves Culrain Station behind a Black Five before crossing the Oykel Viaduct over the Kyle of Sutherland and starting its climb up to Lairg.”

That’s the narrative. Here’s stage one of the model reality courtesy of the new north end backscene I painted in the middle of the month:

Scenery 32 160817      “The Mails” leaving Culrain

The backscene is a companion piece to that in “July progress” for views south. In this part of the world bad weather tends to come in from the west/north-west while milder weather is more usually seen looking east/south-east.

This is only stage one because the clouds should be much smoother and the colours more graded: largely, I guess, because in reality we view them at quite a distance. However, having spent a couple of days on this backscene, I needed to return to my main priority.

The bulk of my time in August was spent on 54495, including a week at the Missenden Summer School. 54458’s boiler was bolted to the cab front and the smokebox was soldered to the footplate. In the course of building 54458 I soldered and unsoldered the smokebox numerous times, and so with 54495 I arranged to bolt the smokebox to the footplate, for ease of removal.

54495 Scratch 4 160901       54495 ready for wheeling

The main geometry is now more or less complete, with the motor driving the rear axle in the frames, and the front end resting on the bogie. In due course I’ll fit the wheels (the coupling rods are ready and waiting) and compensate the loco.

This month my main priority will be to make a scenic view blocker front centre of the layout.


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July progress

Posted on August 1, 2016. Filed under: Monthly progress |

A mixed bag of work this last month: station accoutrements, loco improvements and a new south-end-of-layout backscene. It all contributes to this long overdue picture of “The Mails” slowing for the Culrain stop.

Train 13.15 160801
Dunalastair IV 54458 pilots a Black five on “The Mails” through Culrain

And I’ve made a start on 54495’s chassis. The view of 54458’s bogie from the front is acceptable, but there’s a lack of realism from an exhibition view to the side. Consequently, I’ve put more effort into 54495’s bogie to include a representation of the equalising beams and leaf springs.

54495 Scratch 3 160725       Pickersgill bogie laminations

Having now assembled the bogie, I can use it to profile the front frames. The bogie frames sit between the main frames, so the equalising beams sitting under the main frames will determine the profile.

This month I’ll continue to work on 54495 as my first priority.

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June progress

Posted on July 1, 2016. Filed under: Monthly progress |

My main goal in June was to paint 54458 and take a picture of it piloting “The Mails” through Culrain. “The Mails” didn’t take a pilot today, but I did catch 54458 on the last northbound passenger train of the day from Inverness.

Train 18.15 160630 Widescreen       Evening train to Helmsdale

Cattle flakes on the loading bank and the condition of 54458 (see updated portrait taken from the road bridge in the Rolling Stock Gallery) date this from the early 1950s. The inspiration came from the photograph entitled “One of the last ‘Dunalastairs’ : No 54458 leaving Inverness on an evening train for the north” on p.133 of “The Caledonian Dunalastairs” by O.S. Nock. My copy of the book was kindly bought for me by that great modeller John Hayes, whose untimely death was reported this last month. I dedicate this picture to him.

Painting 54458 involved fully dismantling the chassis and body, which turned out to have an unexpected benefit. 54495 had previously reached the frames stage (see “December progress”, 2015) and being quite similar to 54458 I used the bare chassis from 54458 to help with the planning for 54495.

This month I’m keen to spend more time on 54495, though I still have lots of scenic and architectural modelling to do.

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