December 19, 2008

"Winter Wonderland"

I thought I'd try my hands at scratchbuilding some buildings for a temporary winter set. They are not great, but for a first attempt, its all about learning the do's and don'ts of scratchbuilding! The shed is made out of plasticard, with brick paper attached, the backscene of the Copley Hill carriage works is the wrong colour (should be whitewashed!) but the brick comes out better in the photographs. These are made from plywood, cut to shape and painted carefully on the roof, and not so carefully where the roof meets the front facade.

The snow is soap powder, stuck down with a very diluted PVA glue, and the track was then laid on top. This was done so that, while it looks less realistic, it enables the trains to run without problems, and with several little cousins visiting at christmas, a decent running train set for them to play on was a must!

Merry Christmas everyone - last blog before christmas!

December 13, 2008

"60163, Tornado..."

Seen above is my completed model of 60163, Tornado, depicted as she will look in 2011.

Here's how I built mine, for those of you who may want to build your own:


You will need:

1. Bachmann Peppercorn A1 donor model (mine was Aberdonian - which needed some modifying)
2. Fox transfers nameplates and express passenger blue transfer lining
3. Black undercoat, Express Passenger Blue paint, Railmatch bufferbeam red paint, and a few other acrylic colours
4. Clear varnish sealant for paint and transfers

The model was taken apart to remove rivet detail (like Kestrel before her, the model of Tornado actually needs to be a darlington variant which requires a little alteration), rubbing down and a black primer being applied:

The cabside had its rivets removed and paint stripped.

To me, Bachmann's backhead is excellent for detail, but it only really comes out when painted - here, I have handpainted the backhead myself. Some further modifications will be made to the cab in the shape of cabinets under the driver's seat.

The tender tank needing rebuilding to better represent 60163's larger tender tank, and if you look carefully on the finished pictures, you'll see I modelled the cabinet of dials on the right hand side of the tender footplate as well!

The boiler had minor alterations - chimney shortened, dome lengthened - this is hardly noticeable on the model, but it's there! Tornado's safety valves, cab roof, dome and chimney were reprofiled to meet Network Rail's 13ft above rail height stipulation, and so has my model.

The model was then sprayed black using Gamesmaster's "Chaos Black" - I swear by this stuff, never had a problem with it. It forms a perfect undercoat for certain shades of blue (especially my specially mixed Express Passenger blue paint!), and dries evenly.

The nameplates were dealt with separately, the fantastic Fox transfer etched plates being attached:

After the undercoat was completed...

...the first coat of blue paint was applied. I have never liked either Hornby or Bachmann's shade of Express Passenger blue, and the railmatch equivalent doesn't float my boat either. I opted for mixing my own paint from various off-the-shelf acrylics, and came up with this shade, as shown on the tender body:

Be careful, however! This was my first attempt with a spray gun, and in retrospect while the coat is even, it is also too thick. I'll be more careful next time!

Next came the adding of always helps to have another model around to check where the lining goes - you'll notice in the later photographs that my model is missing the lining on the footplate - there is a good reason for this. I forgot!

Here, my earlier model of 60130 helps with the lining:

Here is Tornado, halfway though finishing the lining:

The transfers are Fox Transfers - use lots of water, soak up the excess with a cloth or tissue, and use a cocktail stick to position it carefully!

Here's the finished article, I'm delighted with the colour and how the whole project has turned out:

There's more to do which shall be covered in a future post - adding the roller bearing axleboxes on the tender and cartazzi truck is the major one, and another aesthetic piece is the adding of spoked wheels on the tender (as on the real Tornado).

I'll also cover how I added the A4 chime whistle to the right hand deflector.

Until next time!

November 27, 2008

"Return to Great Northern"

New bufferbeam added, and dome - and some pictures here!

A proper, detailed post entailing the kitbash will be posted later next week.

November 24, 2008

"Pacific Power Part Four"

60525 A.H Peppercorn stands outside the works, newly painted and finished, complete with etched name and numberplates!

There will be a seven engine lineup next update - six Peppercorn pacifics and one Gresley...!

November 18, 2008

"Pacific Power Part Two"

This model of 60525, Peppercorn A2 A.H Peppercorn, has become this below:

And hopefully, will look something like this when finished:

Making a grand total of six Peppercorn designed pacifics in use on 56C (when finally built). More pics will be forthcoming, when it has been finished in the next few days, along with a further update entitled "North by Great Northern!"

Until next time!

November 17, 2008

"Pacific Power Part One"

Here's a lineup of some of the pacifics that will grace Copley Hill over its building, inception, exhibition and possibly disrepair (1964). From left to right: 60114, 60114 (in blue), 60130, 60139, 60158 and the last one which won't appear, 4472...!

November 13, 2008

"Creative Writing"


Between the three main lines lies the shed,

Smog and smoke suffocating all who enter.

Asbestos sheeting lies broken by the transfer lead,

While the drivers prep their engines at its centre.

Timid, grimy shunting engines,

With shrill yelps for whistles, move,

Hurry hurry, back and forth, they go,

Waiting on their larger brethren:

The great monuments of steel and copper,

Study these: the fire and the steam!

Great burnished safety valves and stoppers,

Rusty running gear, and blackened rings.

Majestic still, the largest of them all,

Those of a 'Peppercorn' disposition show.

Slowly backing onto shed,

Their grace of line, three cylinder design.

There, names that echo in the minds of schoolboys,

Their numbers that tally in the minds of drivers,

Kestrel, Osprey, Sea Eagle,

60130, 60129, 60139, there's the trio!

The day is done, and soon they all return,

The birds return to roost, under the broken gables

Of the roof, permanently with soot,

All go back to the blackened red brick hill.

The night falls like a blanket over the shed,

Pulling back the smoke, reveal the stars!

The engines now begin to quiet for their sleep,

Snoring in the form of hissing from their valves.

Their cracked lamps are taken, stored away,

Their tired eyes are gone then, all to bed,

Washed up with meths and flannels,

Dirtied, peeling paintwork left for dead.

The last door banged, on broken hinges,

From the burnt out foreman's office,

Everywhere in Copley Hill was silent.

Good night to the birds and shunters,

They rest, not knowing their final fate,

Men with blowtorches, men with axes,

Know what happens at the daybreak.

For tomorrow, 7th September, comes Copley's end.


This was written for my formative essay, on the module "Creative Writing 1".

Until next time!

October 25, 2008

"Doncaster or Darlington..."

Otherwise titled: ah, damn it!

One thing I managed to miss was that the Peppercorn A1s were built at two different locomotive works - Darlington and Doncaster. The main difference (in fact the only difference I can see, visually) is that the Darlington examples don't have the riveted cab sides and tender sides of the Doncaster built examples - the rivets used on the real locomotives were flush riveted, and therefore the sides are smooth.

Kestrel was a Darlington built engine, and had smooth sides. Therefore...

Hands in the air: I made a mistake with 60130, whose donor engine was 60161, North British, which was Doncastor built and thus showing a lot of rivets...

This is a grand example of checking your information before modelling! What irritates me somewhat is how many photographs of Kestrel I have and she clearly doesn't have any rivets visible on cab side or tender whatsoever...

But it has to be said, the reason I picked this particular Bachmann model was so that I could have 60130 in the express passenger blue - the livery my grandfather remembered seeing her in, and my favourite of the BR liveries. It seems Bachmann has not done another run of their Peppercorn A1s in blue, and definitely not any Darlington examples, as opposed to Doncaster built examples.

Having said that, I have decided to leave Kestrel like this for now. The rivet issue is annoying, but it doesn't jar on my eyes nearly as much as the latest A1, King's Courier does. It has a split smokebox handrail which the real King's Courier, it seems, never carried. It's also aesthetically odd: I much prefer the early or the last design of smokebox doors the A1s carried.

Also, beggars can't be choosers, and you have to work with what you have. Thus, this model has the same problem as Kestrel:

But to be honest, I'm not really bothered at present. I wanted a few bird namers on the layout, and I like the names immensely. Both were 56C/37B engines, and to me, they are fine (even if they are non-authentic)

Besides, the smoke deflectors can be swapped over to another A1 model, as can the smokebox door, when/if I get a few donor models with the correct cab sides and tenders!

Just think: fictional locomotives don't have these sorts of problems!

I can see why Robin Green over at Treoch likes his fictional machines - it does actually save on counting the rivets!!! Plus, you can get some lovely names which make your own models a little more unique.

So, perhaps I could continue with the bird namers a little - 60166 Herring Gull, 60169 Gadwall, perhaps 60171 Capercaille? Hell, I could even choose donor models for 60166 and 60169 that were "built" at the same works as their A4 predecessors!

And I haven't forgot that I still have the plates for a certain 61676, Charlton Athletic either...!!!

October 18, 2008

"60130, Kestrel"

Dedicated to my late grandfather, she was his favourite engine:

60130, Kestrel

Finished in ex-works condition, 60130 Kestrel is ready for her first run!

You may notice some changes that have been made to the A1 besides the numbers and nameplates - I wanted this engine to be completely ex-works, so the smokebox straps and dart have been picked out in "boltgun metal silver" (from the Games Workshop range), as have the buffers, and the reversing rod (which is my biggest complaint on the Bachmann A1, and the one least relevant to the model - which is still an absolute stunner). Numbers were done by the cocktail stick/nail varnish remover method and then sealed using a light cover of varnish (which, after some light weathering next week, won't show up so shiny, hopefully).

I've been pondering over my next renaming - Kestrel has been made as a tribute - perhaps an actual Copley Hill A1 should be my next locomotive. With that in mind, I plunged into my "bible" for Copley Hill - Great Northern Railway Engine Sheds, Vol.3.

There's a few choices: Sea Eagle, Abbotsford, Foxhunter, Bongrace, Alcazar and Kittiwake amongst them. Hence, I got these:

I think another blue Peppercorn A1 may appear sometime in the next month...I also have a green liveried one to renname and number too...

Until next time!


EDIT: Unbelieveably, I missed something in my reading - Kestrel WAS a Copley Hill engine - too late in life for my layout (1959-1963) - so my locomotive may be slightly out of time, but no less a 56C engine (but not a 37B engine!)

October 15, 2008

"Early Bird"...

A hint at things to come on Copley Hill...the locomotive in question is 60130 Kestrel, renumbered/named from a spare 60161, North British (of which there is another, and will be renumbered and renamed accordingly).

The smoke deflector will get a touch up of black paint this afternoon, when I return from a fencing match, and tomorrow (my day off!), I shall be picking up a few essentials for removing the numbers from the cabside to replace 60161 with 60130 - and thus, the transformation will be complete!

I have been experimenting with a track planner, and the early results are not bad if I say so myself! And once they have been finished, I will post up the first finished track plan for 56C - which is based on the plans of Copley Hill I found, in 1949, 51 and 56 - it is possible for maintenance and ease of operation's sake, that the final track plan will be an amalgation of the three original drawings.

More next time!

October 06, 2008

"Suburban steam"

Firstly, apologies for the lack of updates!

Having returned to university, I have found myself inundated with work - 60113, Great Northern, has had to put on hold (though she is looking delightfully A1/1 like, if I do say so myself), and the new layout plan - much simplified from the first design all those weeks ago - will be uploaded soon for your interest.

However, I did manage to buy a rather handsome Eastern Region tank engine, from the Loughborough Model Centre - a rather smashing little shop just a cycle ride away from the university.

Seen above, it's of the "N2" Gresley 0-6-2T class, and will make a splendid addition to the Copley Hill fleet, once appropriately weathered. That will be the next subject of my Copley Hill Works blog...!

September 25, 2008

"56C or 37B?"

It was with much groaning and thumping of fist on desk this morning when I realised I had made quite a significant error. You see, Copley Hill has had three shedcodes throughout its life - COP, 37B and 56C.

Now, originally, I assumed (very much a school boy error here) that 37B became 56C with nationalisation - how I could ever have thought that is beyond me! As Copley Hill became 56C in 1959, a full six years after my layout is set.

I've settled into using the term "56C" to describe the layout - Copley Hill is, to me, 56C. The only problem is, in 1950-53, it was not 56C but 37B.

So the question is, do I change the blog now - and rename the relevant sections "37B" - and more to the point, do I change my RMweb logo to 37B (now we're getting silly!!!)

Actually, I had a good long think, and made a fairly easy decision.

When the layout is first built, it will be 37B, set in 1950-53. However, I intend for the layout to develop and change over its five intended years of operation, so chronologically, I could make it 56C when my rolling stock has changed into decaying, tired and dirty steam locomotives, and when the layout has been adapted to represent the layout in 1959, when it was 56C.

But, since that is the ultimate aim - the blog sections and my logo will remain 56C. It's what I know it as now, and that is how it will be recognised. As long as I explain my reasoning behind the shedcodes, and how my first error in this project came about, it should be okay.

I WILL get a layout plan update here soon! I couldn't today because my scanner did an amusing thing (it blew up, electrical discharge from a faulty junction box in my old, victorian home. Electricians everywhere this afternoon, lord knows how I'll explain why we're out of teabags and coffee to my parents when they return), but rest assured, we will have an update on the revised - simpler! And much more useable layout plan next time!

September 24, 2008

"Great Northern takes shape"

Another update to the A1/1, which is starting to take shape quite well - there's a few more minor problems to sort out, running plate, some thinner, better looking boiler bands, and of course the cylinders and valve gear, and other components such as the banjo dome...

But, the look of an A1/1 is starting to emerge with the addition of superheater covers and better shaped smoke deflectors.

Copley Hill Works

Until next time!

"These are the stories we tell..."

The London and North Eastern railway was one of the so-called

"Big Four"

companies, formed during the 1923 grouping act in Britain.

In this form, with engines from the North Eastern and Great Northern railways,

it lasted a mere twenty five years,

but left an ever lasting impression of Luxury, prestige and speed.

40 years after the end of British main line steam,

these are the stories they tell...

In April 2007, a group of English students were given their module titles for their first year at university. One of those modules was Language and Communication, and involved a film project.

After much discussion, it was decided to make a Children's series for Youtube. It had to be educational, historical and above all – fun to watch. Not only that, but it required a certain amount of views over a year, and to fulfil the conditions set down by the course.

But what to film? Many ideas were tried out – stop motion plasticine films about a dog and his bone, animated features about ocean liners and their trips around the world – all ideas that were put into the mix. Then one day, in a meeting at the home of group director, Simon Martin, the old Hornby train set was discovered...and thus, the first seed was sown.

Initially the series was researched with a certain little blue tank engine in mind. However, the more the team researched series similar in setup, the further away from their minds was the Reverend Awdry's creation.

You see, the series had to be historical, and by that, fully accurate with regards to liveries, time period, locomotives and rolling stock. The first trailer, which by then had a new title - “The British Railway Series: The End of the LNER” was broadcast on July 15th 2007, and featured an as yet, unnamed locomotive – a blue Peppercorn A1 pacific, without a face, and pulling a train of maroon Gresley coaches.

It was here that the first dilemma appeared. On the one hand, the series was going to be very similar in style and setup to the little blue tank engine – how to set it apart from that series? The solution came in the characters, and the scripts that followed. Between the July trailer, and the final, fifth trailer which arrived on August 20th, a group of five locomotives had been procured and given their names. It was to be a wholly more emotive series, with friends separated, reunited, rebuilt and even renamed along the way.

It is not unfair to say that the series became the brain child of its director, Simon Martin – more than anyone else on the series, he had worked long and hard in creating the characters, writing the scripts, and researching the time period and location “The British Railway Series” would be based in.

“My first character was Stephen – this one was very easy. I had an old Hornby B12 model, that had been named Stephen by my father and I for as long as I remember – the reason? The original designer of the real class was Stephen Holden, and my father and I being steam enthusiasts, gave it an appropriate name. The engine itself was quite elderly, so it was natural that the character of Stephen would be the oldest of the engines in the series. He first appeared in episode one, and has appeared in every episode since – and remains the only engine to do so”.

By the time episode one had been scripted, then approved for filming, filmed and edited, it was clear that the series was not going to be a one-off episode. Around ten scripts had been written by then, and more, interesting, characters were popping up all the time.

Episode one, titled “A great problem goes west!” was the first story of the engines Allen (the young Peppercorn A1 Pacific), Stephen (the wise and elderly Holden B12) and Sir Ralph (the haughty A4 pacific). The story revolved around an old Great Western engine needing help getting back to the Western Region of British Railways. Allen was chosen to pull the train, and several mishaps along the way led to a happy conclusion (this episode was set in 1951, and the course of the first six episodes were spread, chronologically, over the years 1951-1952. Episode Seven is of course set a the end of 1952). There are several, deliberate, references to the Reverend Awdry's “Thomas' train” story, in which the plucky tank engine forgets to bring his train with him. The BRWS team (the name the students decided to give themselves) were all fans of the books when they were younger, and their first episode was in fact dedicated to the “The Railway Series” (from which the series gained its name).

The episode had a mixed reception. The faces, made from a special modelling clay, were a hit, but the filming and set were not up to scratch, and in fact many alterations were made over the course of the first six episodes.

By the time episode five had been released, the series then had Herbert (the nervous V2) and Nigel (the cricket loving V3). Both of these characters have proved popular, and have had some great moments in the series - “the bull was in the tunnel...the bull was in the tunnel?!” (Episode four: “Nigel, Herbert and the Cows”).

Many things were learnt over those early episodes, in that first few months. By the time episode six was being approved for filming, the set had been adjusted slightly, a new camera had been procured, which specialised in model filming, and the characters had started to settle into particular roles. They were by no means one dimensional characters – Sir Ralph, of course, is the best example of this. Originally a very haughty, arrogant engine, Sir Ralph's background and mishaps formed a story arc that started in episode one, and came to a head in episode ten, “The Legacy of Gadwall”. Sir Ralph developed into a thoughtful, emotive locomotive with many character flaws – and of course, positives.

The series was developing into a complex look at the development of the Eastern Region of British Railways in the 1950s. Subjects like the “Modernisation Plan” of the British Railways board, scrapping of steam locomotives, and the onset of diesels appeared, giving the series a very real and historical perspective of British history.

One thing that made the series stand out was its very distinctive style and music from the outset. An orchestra was hired in to record a version of “Rule Brittania” for the intro, and a local student rock band were hired in to perform a remixed version of “The Dambusters March” for the end credits. The original ambient sounds and effects were donated by several members of the MTF forum, and their names appear in the credits of every episode as thanks.

By episode 8, released at the end of March 2008, the set had been re-designed, and the name of the yard – always referred to as “the sheds” or “the yard” was now revealed to be Copley Hill, a real life set of ex-LNER sheds in the Leeds area. The set was re-designed to better look like Copley Hill in real life, and the re-development of the set continues well into the next planned episodes over the course of 2008 and 2009.

The series had seen several guest engines appear from other regions of British Railways, to acknowledge the other regions and leave openings for the possibility of other series. These guest engines helped to cover up a few mishaps of the early set (like malfunctioning models and track work), and not only that, produced some very memorable episodes.

The series has a finite length, as per the original directive of being historical. The series will finish in the year 1967, when the last of the ex-LNER express locomotives leaves the rails for the scrapyard, and it's a certainty that only a few locomotives (including Scott the A3 pacific) will survive.

But that's a long way off, and of course, there are many, many stories still to tell...

September 23, 2008

"60163, Tornado's First Train"

What a mental week! Unfortunately university work, and my training have got in the way of any modelling or layout planning, but I did take time off from my busy schedule to see Tornado and travel behind her on her first public train.

Here's the link to my photographs:

She's alive!

Goodbye for now, I will make some sort of proper, modelling update to the blog this week - probably tomorrow!

September 15, 2008

"North by Great Northern...Part 3"

Here's another pictorial update from the Copley Hill Works.

There will be a layout plan update this week, I am putting the finishing touches to the second layout plan as I type this.


September 08, 2008

"North by Great Northern...Part 2"

Another pictorial update:

Copley Hill Works

The tender is now a very nice shade of British Railways Expressenger Blue...

Here's hoping I can do a little more layout planning next, now that I'm waiting on some major components.

September 01, 2008

"Great Northern"

It's rather a brute of a machine, isn't it?

Seen here: This database is a mine of information for anyone modelling the LNER and I highly reccomend it.

The lone A1/1 was an Edward Thompson rebuild of Sir Nigel Gresley's prototype pacific - Great Northern, which was to form the testbed for the Peppercorn A1 pacific. Suffice to say, not many locomotives have formed the prototype and test bed for two classes. A controversial rebuild, even today arguments break out over the locomotive's looks and even a question of should it have existed at all...

I was rather surprised to find in my research, how many times the unloved 60113, Great Northern, visited 56C. It was enough times, both in photographs (I have found no less than six photographs of the A1/1 at Copley Hill over a period of five years), that I decided - now that the Clan model is almost complete - to try to build another locomotive for the intended layout.

And why not? I love unusual machines, (RMwebbers will no doubt know of my passion for Brush Traction's Falcon... and, euh, be tired of my obssession with it, mind), and anything that adds interest to the shed scene will be well worth the effort.

However, after the agonising time put into a second hand Nu-Cast A2/1 kit (and failing so miserably to build it, that it's been sent away to be sorted out!), and the misery of failure, I decided on this occasion to kitbash, rather than kit build.

I've kitbashed one locomotive already: a Trix A2 became a "Trixby" A2 (that's a Trix A2 body on a Hornby Railroad Flying Scotsman chassis), which turned out okay - as 60525 A.H Peppercorn. I'm doing a similar conversion here, except I fully intend to modify the cylinders and valve gear to appear more Thompson-esque.

I have a plan - the components are coming together - and I really, really want to build this A1/1. It's almost as if it'll convince myself that I can actually model - and well enough to finally get on and do some proper, soldering kitbuilding, instead of kitbashing.

So next time, hopefully, I'll have some pics up of the work in progress...

Until next time.