June 20, 2010

"100th Blog Post"

This is my 100th blog post - where did all the time go?! That means I've been doing this blog for approximately two years. I can't believe it. To mark the occasion, I thought I'd post some recent pics of Copley Hill Mk2 - which will be going to the great scrapyard in the sky later this year to make way for Copley Hill Mk3. The current baseboard is going to become the storage yard, and the main front to my new workbench, and the new Copley Hill is being made on purpose built baseboards, and stocked with new buildings I am currently working on.

But that's for another time - enjoy the pics.

The above pic shows how small it really is - it's tiny in reality, I try and make it look a lot bigger on Youtube with certain camera angles and editing tricks. The shed is a very short sort of "relief" shed, only long enough for a W1 (I have now confirmed this!) - but since I only ever show it from this angle, modeling the rest of it would have been pointless for a cheap film set.

There is a photograph on Flikr which shows an Ivatt 2MT sitting with a standard 3MT - number 82029. Here I have tried a similar shot, but I'm minus the 3MT at present!

My D16 waits for the day when I can replace its connecting rods and crank pins - they are currently just place sitters for it to sit and look like a complete locomotive for show, until I finish the (correct length) connecting rods.

Two of my favourite locomotives - my "Hornby A2" - A.H. Peppercorn, and my Hornby A4, Sir Ralph Wedgwood.

St.Mungo and Sea Eagle wait patiently on shed in this shot.

...and just for fun, I got "Allen" out to feature in my 100th post. W.P. Allen, the engine he is based on, was a Copley Hill stalwart for many years and so it seems fitting that he features in this blog post.

Thanks for reading my blog up to its 100th post - I've loved writing this. It's not a blog that I would profess is a "must read" like George Dent's superb blog, but it's something that keeps me sane in the quiet hours!

Until next time - onto the next hundred blog posts!

June 17, 2010

"In defense of...a new build Gresley P2"

"You won't be able to start it".

"You won't get the money for it".

"You won't be able to build that part".

"You'll never finish the damn thing".

These, and many more, were comments aimed at the A1 Trust over the years - not by the railway press, who have been dignified and supportive throughout the building of Tornado, but by disgruntled armchair enthusiasts and keyboard warriors over the years.

I have no time for these sort of negative opinions, very few of which are based in fact, and it seems from the result of the A1 Trust's first meeting, eighteen years ago - neither did they, and no bad thing either!

I have to ask why the world of railway preservation and mainline steam railtours invites these sort of thoughts and feelings sometimes.

Every single project I can think of - from steaming the Duke, to King Edward I (soon to be operational), to a new build broad gauge locomotive (let alone two! Iron Duke AND Firefly) and Tornado, when first mooted they have all been dismissed by certain people of that mindset as "impossible" or a "pipe dream" or the latest jibe, "white elephant".

That is before we get onto the really impossible tasks, like rebuilding the length and breadth of the Welsh Highland Railway or the reinstatement of the Corris railway, or even trains back to Fort William in the modern day!

Forgive me for being smug, but the fact that so many volunteers in railway preservation are proving the nay sayers wrong on a daily basis only serves to confirm to me that we have a hobby whose majority is made up of "can-do" people as opposed to "can't-do" people.

There's a strange, nostalgic Britishness to railway preservation in general: people refusing to give up, in spite of overwhelming odds. Long may it continue.

As for a Gresley P2 - if it is announced, I know where my money is going. Into a covenant for the A1 Trust and towards the new build, numbered 2007. If they decide to go ahead, they will build it and operate it. That much is certain. How can I be so certain?

The naysayers said that you couldn't build a new Peppercorn A1, after all...

June 16, 2010

"Hornby Product Announcement!"

What's this?! A first look at a new Hornby product?!

A brand new, DCC fitted, Gresley W1 4-6-4. Simply stunning.

Okay, hands in the air - it's not technically a new product, direct from Hornby.

What it is, is a commission build by Graeme King for me, to produce a W1 by extending the Hornby Railroad Mallard as a base.

The great advantage of using 60022 was its DCC fitted chassis - which, straight out of the box, runs perfectly.

Taking this model out of the box and placing it on the Copley Hill set for the first time was a great moment - it looks and feels like a proper ready to run model, testament to Graeme's workmanship.

It also goes some way to show how bizarre Hornby's Railroad Mallard is, in some ways!

The bodyshell, as shown above with the comparison to my own super detail Sir Ralph Wedgwood, is actually the same item, minus the fittings such as glazing, lamp irons and a coupling. Apart from that, the two items are one and the same. Looking at the chassis - the DCC chassis, in the same vein as the Railroad Flying Scotsman, is also the same. The only difference is the fitting of the clunky, old style valve gear (which in fairness is very rugged for continuous use).

At the cab end, Graeme's careful cutting of the Hornby bodyshell and fitting of the South East Finecast W1 cab, and cab roof, looks phenomenal. You simply could not tell that the bodyshell had been cut in any way, shape or form. I'm very lucky in that Graeme decided as an exercise - in other words, to see if he could - make for me a non-corridor tender from the over-width Railroad tender (whose origin was from the old tender drive A4 models).

The result is a stunningly slimmed down body which is scale width and correct for the period depicted by this W1 model.

The chassis modifications involved the fitting of the South East Finecast cartazzi and pony truck sides - and a two axle truck between the frames. The irony that this model is actually a 4-6-4, when railway historians argue over whether the W1 was a 4-6-4 or 4-6-2-2, is not lost on me!

Comparing the W1 to the A4 betrays something else:

The sheer length of the W1 is startling. It has to be said - I'm suddenly finding that the A4 doesn't look long enough compared to the W1! There is a certain majesty in the 4-6-4 that I wasn't quite expecting, but the Gresley racehorse line certainly breaks through in this model.

One final picture - and a round of thanks and kudos to Graeme for a job well done.

Until next time.

June 03, 2010

"Stanier Twins...or not?"

The above is my railroad Black Five, numbered 45249. I've bought - second hand - another Stanier Black Five to restore. Pic below shows the extent of the damage it had when it arrived at the works:

45455's smokebox was badly melted, with the chimney at an odd angle, and the smoke gen popping through. It also had (not clear in this photo) damage to the LHS valve gear.

After removal of the smoke generator, and the damaged chimney, and rebuilding the smokebox to some extent, I fitted a spare stanier chimney to the smokebox I had in the parts bin.

The result is something much better looking, but showing up a lot of inadequacies of the Railroad Black Five - however, with some twists:

First off, length. Lining them up I expected them to be similar lengths - the Railroad Black Five is clearly about two scale foot and a half shorter (close to one centimetre) and it shows up very clearly. The firebox and cab seems to be the main culprit - it flabbergasted me as I was told by a fairly reliable source they were doing the same thing as the A1/A3/A4 chassis - same one for Railroad and super detail but with different valve gear. That's not actually the case here.

Why is this? Its tender drive heritage perhaps, as its the same chassis that was utilized for the old Patriot model too.

Looking at the cabs, the differences in length become slightly clearer:

And yet - here's a question for you. Which tender goes to which engine?

The correct answer is 45249 on the left, and 45455 on the right. But aside from a little detailing at the front of the tenders - the buffers are clear on 45455's front - the two tenders are identical in length and wheelbase, and share the same style top too.

The two engines are meant to be of the same class of engine, in the same batch - and while one is definitely better looking than the other, at the engine end, that Hornby haven't produced a Stanier tender that's better than this one suprises me.

Until next time!