March 25, 2012

"The British Railway Stories - Episode 18"

These are the stories we tell.

This is not the end.

This is the end, of the beginning.

March 22, 2012

"The British Railway Stories on Youtube - Remastered & New Episodes on the way!"

Episode 18 is in the editing stage, and the final modifications are being made to a boatload of changes to the original 17 episodes and two specials. The above gives a little glimpse to the changes being made. Enjoy!

March 21, 2012

Alan Pegler & 4472: A few words

It’s been a sad few months for railway preservation. First it was George Hinchcliffe, a man I am ashamed to say I knew heinously little about before he died. Then it was Malcolm Crawley, of the A1 Trust, who I knew personally albeit in a limited capacity as a friend of a friend.

Then of course, we have lost Alan Pegler this weekend. Many of us, did not know him personally. We all knew him, perhaps through specific literature, VHS tapes which used to play shots of Flying Scotsman in Australia, or Great British Steam, where we remember him smiling broadly as he watched this gleaming, apple green engine leave Doncaster Works for the final time.

One thing these three men all had in common, were apple green Pacific locomotives of the London & North Eastern Railway. All have, whether consciously or subconsciously, affected your lives, because you have experienced the fruits of their labours in railway preservation over many years.

Some of us are very positive because of this. We see 4472, not as museum piece, but as a living, constantly changing being. In this respect, it is no different to you or I. I am not the same I was in 1987, given my components are constantly renewing and changing, but I am still “Simon Martin” in the same way that “Flying Scotsman” remains Flying Scotsman.

I personally don’t care whether Flying Scotsman has the same components it had in 1923. It’s not a museum piece. That place in time and space, always reserved for 4472, has always been known as 4472. The number and the name remains constant, even if all the components do not. She is the sum of her components, no more and no less than we are.

I’ve seen firsthand the work going into her. Talked firsthand with people working on her, and I, and many hundreds of thousands of people, the world over, have put into the restoration pot our own money, freely, and in some rare cases, time and effort too.

I would like to think that the passing of Alan Pegler will present a line drawn in the sand. Here is where we remember what railway preservation was all about, and how we must go forward in the future.

Above all, remember that people sacrificed their wealth, their time, health and lives to bring into the present day, this relic of the past. Remember what it stands for: more than the sum of its original components.

It remains a Talisman, an apple green reminder of a time when railway preservation was but a glint in a few determined people’s eyes, and when hope was built from coal, flames, steam and steel.

Let 4472 be a living memorial, and moreover, remain the living being that it was described as, first by Pegler in the 1960s, and now in 2012, nearly 50 years after he bought her from British Railways.

Rest in peace Alan Pegler, and thank you, both for 4472, and the hope that you have, and will continue to give, generations of railway enthusiasts around the world.

March 20, 2012

"Final stages before release"

I've finished up some of the last bits of paperwork today for the first book in The British Railway Stories. Tale of the Unnamed Engine will be appearing for sale on the Amazon Kindle within the next few months, shortly followed by an iBooks release for OS devices.

I hope to be able to show off the first official piece of merchandise soon, too. It's a new enamel badge based on the logo which Dean Walker, the stories' artist, drew, and can be seen above in the banner.

So - watch this space - we're so very nearly there! :)

Until next time!

March 16, 2012

"An A Class Dillemma"

Sorting out my stocklist, I looked over my two valance conversions and spotted that something was amiss compared to my Walter K. Whigham A4 Pacific. The problem lies directly with the use of either Kingfisher or Mallard models as the donor locomotives for these conversions.

The short access hatches at the front end under the nameplates, are wrong - they should be the double length ones as seen on the Walter K. Whigham model, and any of the BR green liveried A4s that Hornby produce.

So the dillemma is simple - the choice is, cut the valances from the same donor models - but modify the hatches, or repaint BR liveried A4s garter blue with coronation red wheels.

Hornby have not offered an A4 Pacific in the garter blue/single chimney/long access hatches form yet, so it is up to me to decide whether I can live with the knowledge of this fairly minor physical discrepancy, or want to repaint a vast number of A4 Pacifics in the forms I want.

I do know that at this point in time, I am not comfortable repainting a vast number of A4s - so am leaning towards ignoring the discrepancy, OR...

...designing an etched replacement access hatch to fit onto the A4 bodies which need it. Good idea, bad idea...?

It really can be thoroughly infuriating finding a new problem once you think you've cracked the method!

In terms of the stocklist, I am debating adding Dwight D. Eisenhower and removing Sir Nigel Gresley, as Dwight D. Eisenhower was the only A4 to remain in LNER livery through to 1949. Albeit, I believe as E8 and not 4496 as it was post-war. This would add something a little different to the other planned garter blue A4s.

Until next time.

March 11, 2012

"Thompson A2/2 build - 60503 Lord President" - Brief Update 2

In a change from the wonderfully satisfying A4 conversions - which can be done in a few hours, spread over a week, my current long term project, 60503 Lord President, has had a few changes this morning and test fitting of components. The vacuum pipe and new coupling have been test fitted to the bufferbeam along with the buffers. Nothing has been stuck down or painted, and all will in all likelihood, be fitted after final painting and lining.

The one thing which eludes me at present is a firm statement either way confirming or denying the colour of the buffer shanks in 1949. I had thought that the LNER would have kept painting these black, but the photographs I have of 60503 I can't make out if these are red or not. It seems to depend entirely on the locomotive concerned in 1949.

I have found other Pacifics, A3s, with either red or black, and the A2/3s all seem to have had red. 60506 Wolf of Badenoch, however, definitely has black buffer shanks in 1949 as seen in Power of the A2s, so I am wavering with 60503 and leaning towards black buffer shanks.

The next change was the addition of handrails on the cabs, and the longer handrails on the firebox sides - correct for 60503 in 1949, but not for 60501 or 60504 as far as I can see. I have not yet removed the washout plugs, and the reason for hanging fire on this is that Graeme King is currently working on a sheet of etched components for his conversion kits, which will cover A2/1, A2/2, A2/3, and A1/1 along with some other items for the remaining Pacifics of the LNER. Having seen a few pics on the LNER Forum, I can state happily that the parts look well worth waiting for, so for the moment 60503 is going to have a nice rest from being hacked about until I can finish the job properly!

So that's all for the moment, but I will hopefully be making further modifications and finishing this model in the not too distant future.

Until next time!

March 07, 2012

"60010 Dominion of Canada"

How else to describe this particular conversion, but "emotional". There's a lot of emotion behind this one.

It all began on a family holiday to Canada. We had met up with my Uncle Edwin and Aunty Grace in Toronto, and taken a variety of transport to arrive in Quebec. Saint-Constant, specifically. Uncle Edwin, or "Uncle Ed", wasn't actually relative by blood, he had married my maternal grandmother's younger sister, but he had always been a close member of the family, and such a wonderfully informed and gentle individual.

I had no idea what was in store for me at the age of seven. I had been much enthralled with my Uncle's work on the Canadian Heritage Museum's Lysander, a World War Two spy plane, and in that amazing trip around Canada I had seen some incredible engineering ranging from that beautiful, part restored aircraft to the old Cadillac my uncle Ed ran around in.

I gazed up at a particular Canadian steam locomotive - I think it was CNR no.4100 (one time most powerful locomotive in the Commonwealth), and heard my father saying those immortal words "I thought you chaps had a Gresley?"

My Uncle went and spoke with a member of the museum, and we were ushered away from the main exhibits, and into a different hall. I can't remember exactly whether we walked, how far we walked if we did, or where it was in relation to CNR no.4100, but all I can remember was seeing shafts of light bursting from a section of roof onto a big, dark, gloomy hulk at the back of the shed.

As we approached, I could hear my Uncle correcting my father that "It's just a headboard - we haven't taken Flying Scotsman!" and as I looked away from them to the engine, I saw the word Canada shine gold for a brief second, before the sun outside faded, and the nameplate become a dull and dusty black and tarnished bronze colour.

It clicked into place only when I stood back from the dark hulk. I had seen this shape before; three times before, in fact, one in the museum at York, one in steam that was visiting the Mid Hants railway, and one in the Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin, in the United States the year before.

"It's an A4" I said, and I remember Uncle Edwin beaming. "Yes - it's our little piece of British Railways", and he went on to describe Dominion of Canada's working life, its preservation years, and the eventual plans for further restoration in the years to come.

"Of course", he said, speaking to my father, "I have always wanted to see it in that beautiful french blue - garter? Garter it is then. Garter blue with the maroon wheels. It's how I remember it, in my last days in Britain. It was a comfort to see this engine during, and after the war. It felt like a piece of Canada I could take comfort in, away from home".

He went on to describe the functioning of the bell, how he'd like to see it restored one day with both the bell and the Canadian whistle it had originally had - but "it has to have the valances off. It looks better without the valances, more functional". We all stood there for a few moments longer.

60010 looked, to me, like it had just come straight out of service and into the shed. It still smelled of coal and oil, and though the paintwork was worn and there were patches of rust in places, 60010 looked majestic. A great streak, seemingly forgot by time.

Over the next decade and a half, that conversation faded from memory, until I got the call in early 2007 that my Uncle Ed didn't have long to live. I had started an Aeronautical Engineering degree at Loughborough, which had been almost entirely his influence, and whilst the mathematics was getting me down, the fascinating theory behind the principles of flight had kept me going.

My last phone call with Uncle Ed talked over some portions of gas turbine theory, his work at Pratt & Whitney, the restoration of the Lysander, which was nearly complete and ready to fly; and to my surprise, a few railway anecdotes that I wrote down and filed away, including this one.

I didn't really believe - because I didn't want to - that he was dying. By the time I'd got the money together to fly over there, he had already passed on.

I don't think I've ever fully forgiven myself for not spending more time out in Canada over my formative years, seeing Uncle Ed. I am in a way grateful that he didn't live to see me change my degree from Aeronautical Engineering to English, for I fear he would have been disappointed.

He would never have shown it - he was that sort of a person, always very glass half full, but I lived to hear the pride in his voice when we used to talk about aircraft. He didn't have any children of his own, and in myself and my cousin Mark, he had what was probably closest to grandchildren.

When I found a bell, a turned brass whistle of a size and shape suitable for 60010 in 1949, and managed to get a Hornby model of LNER liveried Kingfisher (single chimney) off eBay - well, I followed the same method I used in making 60022 previously.

I made a slight change to my method this time. I had no spare Hornby bracket for the smokebox numberplate, so I stuck the etched nameplate onto a bit of spare brass, and filed/bent it to shape for fitting on the smokebox.

I then added the bell (which ironically, has come off a scrap Canadian Pacific locomotive I got off eBay as a spares or repair job) and the turned brass whistle to get 60010 - not as I remember it - but as my Uncle Ed remembered it.

And through it, I will always remember him, and the good times we had together.

March 01, 2012

"Identity Change! 60028 Walter K. Whigham"

The deed is done! 60034 Lord Faringdon (the mistake of the last blog entry) has been swiftly changed back to single chimney form, and renamed and renumbered as 60028 Walter K. Whigham, thus filling another gap in my stocklist, and correcting the embarrassing mistake of last time!

All in an evening's work, and I can breathe a sigh of relief. Spare Hornby A4 chimney fitted, Gamesworkshop "green putty" and Humbrol Plastic Filler used to fix the smokebox, Archer's Rivets to reline any areas affected by the sanding down.

I then used Gamesworkshops Chaos Black acrylic paint to seal and finish off the smokebox, numbers removed with a wet'n'dry foam pad, the area polished, Fox Transfers numerals applied, and sealed with Gamesworkshops Ardcoat applied lightly.

The next stage will be to add real coal lumps in the tender, and then weather the model, but it just looks so good at the minute I haven't the heart to do the deed yet. I have a few more spares on the way to fit to the model, including doors thanks to a tip off on the LNER forum, and to my relief, missing reversers to fit to this one, and the earlier Mallard conversion.

Next time will no doubt involve more Gresley A4 antics, given I've decided to "de-frock" another two garter blue models. Just watch Hornby this livery variant next year!

Until next time - have a good evening.