November 24, 2011

"Happy Thanksgiving & 'Tis the Season!"

To all of our American readers, I'd like to wish a Happy Thanksgiving! I hope the day goes well, and that we get to see the Sonic the Hedgehog balloon at Macy's Thanksgivings Day parade NOT puncture its head on a lamppost this time around...!

On another note, the blog banner has been updated - well, we are in the run up to Christmas after all...!

Happy Holidays!

November 23, 2011


Just a musing I had. What if Gresley's proposed 4-8-2 had been built...and what if Thompson had rebuilt it?!!

Horrors! Or not, I rather like the idea. Please excuse the missing half of the driving wheels!

Until next time!

November 20, 2011

"Rant of the Week: New Build Steam!"

It's been a while since my last "Rant of the Week", but I have just seen something so extraordinarily frustrating and aggravating that I had to share it.

Over the last six months, the "in thing" in railway preservation has either to join the "haters gonna hate" campaign against Scotsman (see previous blog posts), or start up a new build scheme for making a steam locomotive.

So we've had a Claud Hamilton announced, a Gresley J39, most recently a couple of Diesels including LMS no.10000, and to be fair, all of the above involve to some extent enthusiastic individuals who have all taken part in railway preservation at some level over their lives.

To the above, don't worry, you're not the topic of my rant. No, the subject of my rant is this:

The Great Bear New Build Project

Yes, there is a now a few individuals wanting to build a new version of The Great Bear, Churchward's only Pacific, and the only GWR Pacific ever built. What has been written on this locomotive extends to somewhere between extremely inefficient and useless, and adequate but needing modifications to get the best out of it.

So my first reaction was to groan, and think "really? Another one?"

Then it hit me.

This actually could be the most sensible of all the new build projects that has been announced.

What? Really? Well, let's think about it. The original locomotive was essentially an enlargement of the Star class of locomotives. It was later rebuilt into a Castle class locomotive.

The Stars, Castles, and this behemoth all shared certain standard Swindon components. In fact, let's be frank here, it's because so many of the GWR engines shared common, standard components, that we are able to see so many of the classes that were lost to the scrappers built afresh.

For example, Didcot's Lady of Legend, 2999 is one locomotive I have been keeping my eye on, a rarity for me as the Great Western isn't my thing normally! That is being built out standard GWR components with some new parts manufactured to complete the look.

Overall I think this will be one of the more stunning locomotives in preservation, and particularly in its place between the GWR of old, and the Star class locomotive Lode Star at the National Railway Museum.

So my feeling is, if you can build a new "Saint", a "County" and a "Grange" from standard GWR patterns and spare components, how hard can it be really to build a new GWR Pacific? The only real stumbling blocks (big ones at that) are likely to be the main frames, the unique boiler, and the tender.

But if you can build a new Peppercorn A1 from can do anything, that I firmly believe, with just one caveat - the first hurdle for all of these projects will be regular funding and enthusiasm, and it is this I feel most strongly that needs fixing for many of them.

If enough people can get together to build a replica of the GWR's lone Pacific locomotive, why not let them try.

They could do worse than to have a go. If they don't manage to build it, the reconditioned parts or any new parts made could just go on another GWR locomotive, after all!

Until next time!

November 13, 2011

"Selling on!"

I am thoroughly, thoroughly broke at the minute and require money to push forward the development of my children's book, website and associated bits and pieces.

So what better way of raising funds (other than my part time job!) is a quick firesale of items I no longer forsee a need for.

First up - a very good condition Hornby Duchess 4-6-2 (one of the latest batches).

Yours for £70 or make me an offer!

Second one in - a terrific example of Hornby's County Class 4-6-0.

Yours for £45.00 or start the bidding at £15!

Finally - a virtually unused example of Bachmann's popular Dynamis system 36-505.

Yours for £90 or start the bidding at - get this - just 99p!

All proceeds go to - ah - me - and rest assured are not going on beer money.

Well, maybe the odd ale at the odd preserved railway.

Until next time - where I'll have a few more updates on the book, the upcoming new website, and various other bits and pieces.

November 11, 2011

"We will remember them"

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

November 10, 2011

"Thompson D Class 4-4-0, The Morpeth"

Finally made a start on my Hornby D49 conversion. During the war Thompson rebuilt The Morpeth with two inside cylinders of the Director (D11) type, and it is this locomotive I am portraying with my modifications.

Two spare D49 bodyshells were sourced off Ebay, and one was cut along the front portion of its running plate, up to the front of the leading splasher, and and at the bufferbeam end for the curved running plate section.

This was then mounted further back, forming the curved section of running plate ahead of the leading splasher which the prototype had so prominently.

Plasticard strips were then added to form the running plate and one side of the bufferbeam. This was repeated on the alternate side:

...and then painted black after Humbrol plastic filler had been applied and sanded down several times, to see the overall finish.

Note I also made for each side a representation of the frames which are seen more prominently on this inside cylindered locomotive. This was done with very thin plasticard I had lying around, cut to shape and poly-cemented into place behind the running plate (but remember to leave enough of a gap for the chassis and motor arrangement to fit between them).

Not bad, but needs a bit more work. The Hornby D49 which will be used as a donor model will lose its handrails, dome, and various other bits and pieces. I'm waiting on a smokebox door and door dart to complete the components needed to finish the model (when the Hornby donor arrives, that is!)

Until next time!

November 08, 2011

"Facebook Group Xmas Competition"

Just to say, for anyone on The British Railway Series Facebook Group, I'm running a special competition where the prize is a signed print of an artwork Dean Walker is preparing for the series.

The rules are as below:


1. Create a piece of artwork that incorporates a railway theme, and a wintry theme.

2. It can be in whatever medium you wish, showing whatever you like, that is related to railways and winter.

3. Upload it to this group for everyone to see, putting in the title "XMAS ENTRY - Your name".

4. The winner will be chosen by me.

5. The only criteria for winning there is is simply originality, and creativity.

6. The prize this year will be a special "The British Railway Series" themed print featuring more of Dean's beautiful artwork and signed by both Dean and I.

7. The closing date is the 15th December, and the winner will be announced on Christmas Eve (24th)

8. Final rule - have fun! :)

Until next time!