Wednesday, 29 August 2012

"Lone Wolf: The rebuilding of a Nu-Cast Gresley P2: Part 1"





Photograph is copyright of Simon Gott and replicated here for educational purposes only.

Lone Wolf

Oh dear. What have I done. I've taken on yet another project! (I have in fact taken on about five projects, one of which was the Ivatt Atlantic, but more on that later).

The above model will soon be in my possession and will be the subject of an excercise to see if I can produce a more reasonable P2 model for my personal collection and use in my future stocklist for my KX-Leeds trainset/layout/roundy round that I am planning.

It's completely out of period, it's unnecessary, it would have been at KX only a few times, and...etc etc.

Who cares! I've always wanted one, and in purchasing this particular model, I can do some modelling in terms of bringing it up to scratch, and also fulfill that small personal promise to myself that I'd develop a layout which a decent model of a P2 could get around.

The intention is to model number 2006 Wolf of Badenoch in its wartime all over black livery, perhaps with an interesting variation (white warning panels behind the buffers and white outline buffers) which can be seen in figure 150 of RCTS LNER Locomotives, Part 6B. The model will be carefully brought up to a decent standard through careful selection of appropriate components and modifications which will allow both a more accurate model and a better running model to be created.

I started collating a plan of action on the LNER Encyclopedia forum (which can be found here with the full discussion), and will continue the overall build here, and on my RMweb blog.

The Modifications Required


1. The Tender

The tender from the Nu-Cast model is mishapen, too long in the frames, too short in the tank and rather crude. It was good for its time, but I want the model to look reasonable against the latest Pacifics from Hornby and Bachmann. I have therefore made it my intention to scrap the Nu-Cast one altogether.

I already have a spare Hornby non-corridor tender, bought for a pittance off eBay, which is suitable for this build. It's one of the latest ones, and I believe it came from a super detail Mallard model. This tender is more or less the same as the P2 tender, however my intention is to model 2006 Wolf of Badenoch, and this means the streamlined tender fairings at the front and rear over the water filler cap need to be added.

Comparing the Isinglass drawings of class P2/3 against A4, the fairings look like they can be added relatively easily, either by carving up the old Nu-cast tender for its fairings, or using plasticard. The latter looks much more likely.

2. The Cab

The Nu-Cast cab is horrendous. The roof and its details are wrong for most of the P2s (streamlined or not) and it's certainly not right for no.2006. Happily, after the latest round of Isinglass drawings came in, I was able to confirm a long held suspicion that the A4 cab from a Hornby super detail A4, with the side sheets built up, would not only be the correct length, but 100% accurate for no.2006's cab, which conformed to the A4 specification, including the two extra roof vents.

Other than the side sheets, there are no discernible differences: the A4 and later P2 cabs were the same, even down to the non-beaded side sheets. I am therefore going to removing a Hornby A4 from a spare bodyshell I got off eBay: namely the battered remains of a Sir Charles Newton model.

3. The Cartazzi

The current model has a swing link cartazzi that just looks wrong. The intention is to remove this altogether and fit a fixed cartazzi, with flangeless wheelset. The cartazzi from the super detail Hornby A3/A4 can be happily used and then cut/shut to the correct length without further modification, as they are (again) very similar to that on the P2s.


4. The Streamlined Front

The front end will not be changed much. The curve and length, and the difference in width of the flat of the smokebox across the curve, is completely different to the A4. The A4 has a much sharper front and the P2's curves back more gracefully to its first boiler band. This whole section is also longer on the P2, according to the Isinglass drawings for the P2/3 and A4 Pacific. I am therefore not going to change the front end substantially, other than to try and match the more subtle details of the Hornby A4 through use of Archer's resin rivets and similar.

5. Wheelsets


Luckily for me, I don't need to change the Hornby A4 tender wheelsets: no.2006 had disc wheelsets for its whole life as a P2/3.

However I will be changing the driving wheels. It is perhaps not obvious from here, but the centre wheelsets have been turned down to be flangeless. I will be fitting flanged driving wheels throughout, though I am undecided on the brand. If anyone could assist with suitable suggestions, further to that on the LNER forum, I would be grateful. Obviously the replacement driving wheels must be able to utilise the existing valve gear and coupling rods.

The front pony truck wheelset will also need replacing. I think (though I may be wrong) that a set of V2 wheels may be suitable, now? Those I have several spare, for use on my Bachmann V2 fleet, and one can be fitted here as a matter of course.


6. Buffers


Put simply, the Nu-Cast P2 buffers are bad. They have a rounded base which is completely wrong for the P2s. At the advice of the members of the LNER Forum, I'm going to give Branchlines a ring for some Spencer double cased buffers in the streamlined pattern, which will help to improve the front end greatly.

7. Chimney & Whistle

The A4 type chimney is not a direct match to the P2s, but I have plenty of resin and plastic A4 chimneys spare from my recent A4 builds. I am therefore going to examine whether it is worth creating a new P2 chimney to more closely match the Isinglass drawings in this way, or whether the existing Nu-Cast chimney can be modified to be more accurate.

There is some method in my recent madness of buying up cheap spare Hornby A4 bodyshells and components - I now have a suitable wartime whistle for the chimney, taken from the same battered bodyshell of Sir Charles Newton I got second hand, and will be raiding for its cab as mentioned previously.

8. Washout Plugs

The washout plugs on this model are not correct for no.2006, but are correct for nos.2001/2002. The intention is to remove them by sanding them down, and then replacing them with resin cast washout plugs which may be provided by my usual and much appreciated source of components for my builds.

Figure 134 in RCTS LNER 6B shows I need five washout plugs to the A4 spec, placed in specific locations across the upper half of the boiler.

9. Miscellaneous

Lastly - the RCTS books suggests that 2006 lost its streamlined casing ahead of the cylinders, but the Isinglass drawings refute that by pointing out the dates do not match up, and therefore it's likely 2006 whilst in NE Black still had its streamlined casing ahead of the cylinders. I am therefore going to leave that as it is too.

Half the fun of this particular build is sourcing all of the different components and bringing them together to fit to my model. Given I have so little time to model during the working week in any event, I am planning each portion of the rebuilding on a month by month basis. The idea is to have no.2006 rebuilt, reliveried and running in by Christmas, in conjunction with a few other rebuild/relivery projects I will relate on this blog in the next few weeks.

However, I think the above gives me more than enough to do for the meantime!

Your thoughts and ideas, as ever, greatly appreciated for debate.

Simon

Thursday, 23 August 2012

"The Last Atlantic in High Wycombe"


Well, Wednesday evening came, and Harry Fielding and Graham Muz of Fisherton Sarum fame, were very kind in letting me come up to the club to use the club's test track after work. I had a very warm welcome from the club members, and enjoyed in particular talking to Graham and Harry about Hinton Parva, which is a fantastic layout to watch. They are terrific people and I will be going back for sure, during the time I have left on my work contract.

The main reason for coming up to the club was to test 62822. I was supremely nervous: it would be the first time that my Atlantic has turned a wheel in anger since I dismantled it in its enteriety, changed its motor and gearbox and rebuilt it to the standard seen above.


I am delighted to report that, apart from a bit of authentic "wiggling", it behaved itself impeccably, even getting into a race with another member's newly purchased Class 92 in Stobart Rail livery. 62822 won!

She ran very smoothly and really looked the part. I was quite surprised - it's the first model I can remember for years that has actually worked first time!

There's still a lot of things to add - lamp irons, whistle, tender steps, new oil lamps, a decent coat of weathering and the mixed traffic lining, but for a first time out she behaved herself impeccably.

More of the same please, 62822!

Until next time.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

"Rant of the Week - West Coast Mainline"


Yes, "Rant of the Week" is back after a prolonged absence. So what's got Simon's goat today?

The West Coast Main line franchise decision. It's the wrong one. I say this knowing that Virgin Trains are not perfect. I personally have always had a good service on the Pendolinos, and found them comfortable and clean. Others haven't seen this the same way. Love 'em or loathe 'em, the Pendolinos have changed the WCML and helped increase its useage since their introduction.

Virgin Trains have turned the franchise into a great success over the last fifteen years, and their conservative estimates (which greatly echo everything in the argument for High Speed 2) seemed logical, sound, based on fact.

Then you read the First document and wonder which company has got it the more wrong.

What frustrates me more than anything is the possibility that if Virgin are wrong, then so is the argument for HS2. If First Group can legitimately prove that more capacity can be found on the WCML, then the argument for HS2 is flawed, surely?

Both cannot be true. One of the two stances is incorrect. You can't have a lack of capacity on the WCML, needing a brand new high speed main line and also lease out a franchise based on a supposed increase in capacity being obtainable!

The WCML franchising debate also shows up how utterly frustrating and pointless the system in place is.

No other country in the world has accepted the British model of franchising railway lines, and it's somewhat telling that the best run railways in the world are normally goverment subsidised and run by public sector workers.

The problem then is that I don't want a call for a return to British Railways/Rail. I want something better than the system we have now. A system which remembers it's supposed to provide a service for the ordinary men and women of this country. Sectorisation was the closest to a workable nationalised railway we have had since the dawn of the steam locomotive, and even that had its flaws in some respects.

The thing is, I'd love it if the railways were nationalised and looked after in a vein not dissimilar to the NHS in some ways (less managers, more workers on the shop floor would be preferable), and have a similar emphasis on the funding. I have found it difficult as a natural Conservative to stomach many of the things the Coalition have done in government, and it's not really comforting to know that the opposition would probably have done as badly.

The biggest problem is a change in thinking towards Britain's railways at a governmental level, and in HS2 and the recent mooted electrification schemes, we can finally see some movement and realization that the railways have a very important job to do in the future of our nation.

It's not enough; the whole system needs overhaul, and it needs the removal of the franchising system, including the splitting of the maintenance of the track, stations and overheads from the companies which run, and the companies which own the trains; it needs a good solid "railway head" whereby someone with a track record in the industry (a good one, not a certain executive who chops and changes at a whim) can guide our railways into a nationalised form which is beneficial for the commuters and general public at large.

In short, we don't need British Railways or British Rail back. We need something better, but anything better than this.

And at this moment in time, it is a lunacy to remove one of the most successful operations in this utterly broken system, at a time when we're supposedly trying to cut costs and make things operate more efficiently.

If it's not broke...

Sunday, 19 August 2012

"The Last Atlantic"


It's getting more and more difficult these days to write blogs. Not because I don't want to, but because modelling time is at an all time premium, and there are many projects still outstanding.

One which I have finally got around to finishing off is my model of 62822, the last London & North Eastern Railway Atlantic working by 1950. I have found dozens of photographs of this engine in Grantham, King's Cross, Doncaster, even York, but for a long time any shots of the engine in the Leeds area eluded me. It had definitely worked there, and particularly in its last few months before withdrawal, with one such account related in the LNER RCTS Part 3A, page 43 of my edition.

Happily a member of the RMweb forum, knowing of my frustration at not being able to find such a photograph, has provided one, and even more happily has more or less confirmed my suspicion that the lining out of the tender on 62822 was applied much earlier than November 1950 (a feature much trumpeted for its final run). That being the case, my model will have the fully lined out tender as per the photograph I am modelling from. The member in question has opted to remain anonymous but he has my sincere gratitude and admiration for his modesty.

Of course, the C1s were synomous with the West Riding, and indeed, Copley Hill throughout their lives, and to not have at least one (or perhaps two - watch this space) working in the stocklist was something of an oversight on my part when I decided on the 1948-50 era theme three years ago.

That being the case, a good six months ago I purchased a much loved, but well worn DJH C1 Atlantic from a collection being broken up. It was finished in LNER unlined black and needed a full overhaul. This I decided to do myself, although I have been reluctant to fit a decoder and will in all likelihood leave this to someone better qualified than I.


The model was taken apart for a full stripping down. The metal body was left in brake fluid overnight (left over from my latest round of maintenance on the old 740GL), and was carefully rebuilt, taking care to suit any and all distortions that had been present. It is not just glued together but I have - finally! - done a few bits of soldering, albeit under the boiler and strictly to keep the major components together. Running plate, dome, cab and similar are all glued on. It was more than the strength of my confidence to do any more!

The chassis has had a good clean and checking of contacts and motor. It is sublimely smooth and powerful and I suspect only needs a stay alive decoder to improve its running more.


The body was coated in a grey undercoat (Halfords Primer) a good month or so ago after rebuilding, followed by two careful coats of acrylic, Gamesworkshop Chaos black last week. The boiler, cab and tender were given a single coat of Klear to give some sheen, and today the numerals on the cabside and the "British Railways" branding (all waterslide transfers from Fox Transfers) were applied, and then sealed with Johnson's Klear.

 

One thing which may be noticeable is the works plate over the splasher. This is one of several spare worksplates obtained from Fox Transfers over the years, and they really look the part.

The front numberplate is a piece of plasticard on which waterslide transfers (again, from the Fox Transfers range) were cut apart, and put together to form the correct number, before being stuck down with a Humbrol varnish above the handrail, and then sealed with Johnson's Klear.

The next job to do is adding the tender lining and some careful weathering around the wheels, frames and tender. You may notice that behind my C1 is the lone Thompson D Class, which is being lined out and numbered at the same time, and my recent V2 build which is going to be weathered when both of the former locomotives are finished in their lining out and put through the weathering bench!

So it's been something of a mixed traffic afternoon at the Copley Hill Works, and a welcome change from the Pacifics.

Next time I hope to have finished all three of the locomotives described above, lined out and weathered accordingly.

For now, good night, sleep tight!

 Simon

Friday, 17 August 2012

"The 5th Anniversary Announcement"


Today marks the fifth anniversary of the above video. Currently standing at a frankly incredible 504,703 views, this is the video where it all began, and where I look to to remind myself as to why we keep doing this.

I remember the first time we started editing this episode together. I was fuming, silently, in a corner. I didn't like the revised script at all! I recorded my voice for the episode and felt a little happier. The models looked really good on screen, and the faces, though simplistic, seemed to bring something more characterful to the engines.

Allen, young, naive and cheerfully optimistic. Stephen, wise and always smiling. Sir Ralph, looking rather vindictive at this point (but would turn out to be a great engine after all).

The set's modelling was of a low standard, as were the sound effects. The models were virtually untouched from their packages. Carriages and trucks were whatever I had in my loft, leftover from the days when my father and grandfather would play trains with me as a young boy, bright eyed and at primary school.

When my grandfather passed away, there were a few things in my life which seemed to instantaneously disappear. I could, for a good few years, no longer read about steam locomotives, British Railways and the like. His magazines, along with a single spotting log, apparently the 9th in a long line of logs, with several encyclopedias and well worn and underlined Ian Allen ABCs, were kept on a shelf in my room, untouched for many years.

I has also lost my love of Eltham College, the school I went to. He had been an Old Elthamiam, and I lived for the way he'd smile and pat me on the shoulder when I dropped in on my way back from School. I used to say, for many years, that every now and again, I'd feel his presence when I stood in the College's grounds, but I have been unable to go back there for some time. The memories, and feeling of his loss, are too painful to bear.

Eltham College was good to me, don't get me wrong. Yes, there were bad times, but then you have to have the bad times, otherwise you don't appreciate the good times. I loved my time at Eltham College overall, and it's simply that it will never feel the same for me that I cannot return there yet.

Sometime in 2004, however, there was a call to arms to "Save our Scotsman". I managed to do a good few laps of the college's "Chinbrook run" - a cross country route taking in the sights and sounds of Mottingham and Grove Park (!) whilst traversing part of London's Green Chain Walk - in an effort to raise money for the NRM to purchase 4472 Flying Scotsman, for the nation. I felt it was something my grandfather would have wanted, Scotsman always a favourite of his.

It was at this point, I think, that the original spark of creativity for The British Railway Series (as it was then known) was born, and I spent the next two years writing in snatched moments, mostly at night (though unlike Timothy Hackworth, working on Sans Pareil all those years ago, I had a torch and not a candle).

Three direct inspirations stood out. An old Hornby-Triang model of a Holden B12, finished in green as 8572, and known colloquially as "Stephen". A visit to see the newly constructed frames of Tornado, earlier in life, and A1 Trust letters and leaflets left around for me to read. A Hornby catalogue, with a three locomotive box set of the A4 Pacific Sir Ralph Wedgwood, ringed for a future purchase (never made, I believe). The fire was lit again, and a burning desire to write stories for children was born.

There were deviations from the path most certainly, but in the end, I just kept returning to the world of coal, fire and steam. A fire first lit by my grandfather, and for him, it will keep burning to the day I pass on from this world.

All of this would directly led to the characters Stephen, Allen and Sir Ralph, who would go on to be the most popular of all of the characters introduced in the YouTube series over the next five years.

2007-2012...it has flown by.

And now, here we are. With our first eBook, published and selling relatively well:


The first eBook is more or less how Episode 1, above, should have happened! In the event, I am glad it turned out this way as it's made the development of the stories interesting. Never a dull moment, always striving to do better with every video, and from now on, every publication.

It is at this point that I must make something quite clear. If the eBook does not sell well, there will not be a print run. Print runs are expensive, even for a small run of say 504 copies. The first eBook must fund its print run, more or less.

It's a sad fact that the series doesn't make enough money in a year to warrant risking the purchase of physical copies yet, but I am hoping as the sales gather momentum, and the new series airs in the course of the next year, we will be able to provide beautiful, fully bound hardback books for sale on our upcoming new website.

It's with that in mind that I decided to give us all a bit of impetus today, with a major (and I mean major!) announcement.

With Tale of the Unnamed Engine now out, attention is turning to the second publication. I can reveal today that the working title for the second eBook, due in the summer of 2013, is Gresley's Goliaths, and will feature this locomotive as one of the main protagonists:


That's right - one of the most impressive locomotive classes to appear in Great Britain will appear next year for the first time in The British Railway Stories. The story centres around the development and introduction of the Gresley class P2 on the London & North Eastern Railway, with an in depth examination of their history at the back of the book, along with character profiles and a new train spotting table.

I am very excited about the second book, and you should be too. On board as artist once more is the exceptional talent that is Dean Walker; and together I can say confidently that we intend to produce another quality piece of children's literature; the balance between entertainment and education hitting the spot, as I feel we've done with Tale of the Unnamed Engine.

For Book 2 to go into full development, we really need Tale of the Unnamed Engine to keep selling. I have had a bit of a setback with the iBooks version, but the Kobo version of the book is ready for release next week, which will open it up to yet more eBook markets across the world.

It's an exciting time to be on board with The British Railway Stories. We're going from strength to strength, with a determined eye towards the future, and a misty eye looking back at where we've been.

If we can remember the good times with the bad, and learn from our past mistakes, then the future will be brighter with every passing day. One thing which has always been clear to me is that there are no problems: only solutions, and it is this which has led us through eighteen YouTube episodes, and to our first eBook publication this year, with more planned and on the horizon.

I started out with nothing but an idea: and now I own my own company (albeit with not a lot of money and no real assets but the website, YouTube channel, and eBook to speak of at present! It is, however, the best start we could have for the stories).

We've had 6.2 Million views on the YouTube channel since 2007, and well over 15,000 comments across the eighteen episodes of the stories.

This blog has gone from strength to strength, and has had over 300 blogs with 200,000 views and more across them.

We have a Facebook group of around 300 members, who are great fun and have supported us for several years now. The company now has its own "like" page on Facebook which is proving to be a very powerful marketing tool.

Then of course, there are other eBooks, special promotions and merchandise in the pipeline over the next year...but I can't (and won't) release details yet until I am sure they are happening. The future looks bright, as I say.

Things can happen if you try: so the message of The British Railway Stories is clear: never give up.

I certainly never will.

Simon A.C. Martin

Sunday, 12 August 2012

"5th Anniversary Video"


Here's the 5th anniversary video, which this year is a question and answer session, featuring questions asked by the Facebook group and frequently asked questions from YouTubers.

Until next time!

Simon

Thursday, 9 August 2012

"Barnes & Noble"



I've nearly finished making it possible for Barnes & Noble users to buy Tale of the Unnamed Engine on their format. The price will match the Amazon version ($7.77, £5.18).

Until next time!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

"Some Bachmann V2 bashing..."


It's not unfair to say we've been waiting a long time for the definitive ready to run Gresley V2 model, and it looks like with the latest Bachmann offering, we'll have to wait a little longer. However, there are some modifications which can be made, which were discussed, talked out and modelled on the Bachmann V2 thread on RMweb which produce a much improved product.

As it stands, the Bachmann V2 out of the box has a better chassis and paint finish, but the old tooling is still lacking the accuracy to make it a decent representation of a V2.

The following modifications are by no means unique to me and I do not profess to have thought them up myself (bar the cylinder modification - that is wholly mine!) but they are useful for producing a Gresley V2 which is a vast improvement on the base material.

So, in the above photograph (taken yesterday, as per everything up to "Final Bits and Bobs"), my sample of the latest Bachmann V2 is shown after Hornby A3 buffers, chimney and coupling are trial-fitted, using blue tack. Bachmann buffers, chimney and coupling hook were removed. The chimney literally pops out from underneath the bodyshell, as does the coupling hook and Bachmann buffers.

The Hornby buffers came from a donor A3 bodyshell of the super detail variety, and required careful cutting to preserve them for fitting onto the V2.

The next stage is to remove the smokebox door and door, to replace with Hornby components, taken from said donor A3 bought for spares.


I filed down the smokebox on the V2 bodyshell, and removed the outer ring on the Hornby A3 smokebox door.


This next picture shows the front end of the cylinder after the torpedo ends have been removed. The torpedo ends are the pair on the left, on the right are a spare set from a Hornby A4 set of cylinders (and correct for my chosen V2, 60903).


I filed down the original Torpedo ends enough so that the Hornby set could be stuck on top. This has two benefits - firstly, it allows the torpedo ends to simply be slotted back into the cylinders without fuss (and they fit very well, a snug fit into a square hole), and secondly it gives the Hornby ends the correct length from the cylinders.


Here they are as fully modified...


...and as fitted to the cylinders. In my view, a modification well worth doing and improves the overall look no end. Note that the preserved V2, Green Arrow, has the original style retained.


I simply removed the dome from my spare A3 bodyshell and glued it into position on my bodyshell.

It required filing down of the dome enough so that the dome literally fits over the top. Using the small notches Hornby provide for placing over their boiler bands, it was easy enough to line up the dome perfectly.



With A3 buffers, front coupling and smokebox door fitted, and brass lamp irons left over from my recent A4 projects, and the handrail wire clipped to the right length, along with the Hornby Margate made A3 single chimney fitted, the front end looks much better in my view.


I cut the plastic moulded coal so I could add real coal later. My excuse is that King's Cross locomotives nearly always went back for more coal anyway...!

 
The finished model, with the cylinder draincocks as supplied attached.


Personally I think they are acceptable enough to use, and the overall model is definitely much improved from the original. Also note the cab doors - taken from an older Bachmann V2 model (for which I have no idea where these excellent plastic doors came from).


So, onto today's modelling. Final bits and bobs. Chaos Black acrylic paint was used to patch up any areas of black paintwork damaged through the modifications. Fox Transfers numerals were applied individually onto the numberplate to form "60903".

One thing I should note. I have been examining a whole range of photographs of the V2s. My chosen example, 60903 appears to have had only two smokebox door types throughout its life, and strictly speaking my use of an A3 type door is only accurate for a time between 1950-54.

60903 had the more standard type, with flush riveted smokebox straps and door dart for most of its life. 1950 is not out of my selected time period technically, but it shouldn't in theory be run alongside any models from 1948/49 as it wouldn't have had this smokebox door type then!


The cylinder ends were modified slightly to be straighter, and were refitted. The overall improvement to the front end is clear and it's a modification I think is well worth doing. I shall certainly be doing so to all of the planned V2 fleet.

Cabside numerals are from the Fox Transfers range and were applied as per the usual methods, but Johnson's Klear was used to seal the numerals and also give the boiler and tender the glossy finish I was after for a King's Cross based V2. This was also brush applied to the driving wheels and pony truck set.


Next time I'll work on the weathering, intended to show a clean example of a Top Shed V2.

Until next time!

Friday, 3 August 2012

"200"

We have reached our next milestone: 200 copies sold! We have been blessed with the support these last few weeks since the book's release, and hopefully it is all starting to pay off now.

Many thanks to everyone who have supported myself and Dean in our endeavours, and we will have some very exciting news for everyone soon I suspect...put it in the diaries, 15th September 2012!

Until next time!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

"Exciting times & International Engines"

 
 Meet "Qian-Jin", the Chinese Railways QJ Class locomotive, 
the first "International" character of the stories.

I can't remember feeling quite so positive about the future of "The British Railway Stories". We've had some fantastic reviews online, on blogs, forums and the Amazon sites, we've recently revealed via Twitter and Facebook, two of our new "International" locomotives (see above for Qian-Jin and below for Birgit, pronounced Chyen - Gin and Beer-get respectively. They are the Chinese and Bavarian locomotives who will join the British Roster of steam locomotives this year).

During this year, when our long awaited new main website will open to the public (the Facebook group will in the next few months get a look at the work-in-progress as part of Beta testing), the International characters will have their own section, with a few short stories and forms for expressions of interest for full eBooks to be produced on these characters. The idea is to provide a way of learning basic Chinese (Mandarin), German and Russian alongside learning more about the history of steam railways abroad. These books are not the main priority for the stories but I can and will develop them further if the interest is there.

If you are of a different nationality to those outlined above, and you'd like us to do an eBook on a particular portion of your country's railway history, drop me a line at copleyhill@live.co.uk and outline your thoughts on the matter. I'd love to be able to put together a more global catalogue of books which encourage reading, learning, and being entertaining across the world with regards railways.

On another note, I took a step closer last night to the "Tale of the Unnamed Engine" eBook being available on Barnes and Noble's eBook service, and iBooks too, and I anticipate that both will be available towards the end of August. It has taken longer than expected but hey, we're nearly there now!

Behind the scenes, I have been working around the clock with Dean to sort out various parts of the company's setup and discussions towards contracts for future eBook installments, which brings me neatly onto next year's plans. We want to release at least two eBooks next year, cross platform, and I am currently pitching ideas to Dean for characters and artwork. The idea at present is for a Summer and a Christmas eBook release, with possibly two special events to drum up the support and social media side to the releases.

We are more or less set on Book 2's storyline and characters, with the main protagonist to be revealed officially on the Facebook group on the 15th September 2012.

I'm very excited about the next book and I think the potential for more of the historical side to railways, and Dean's obvious artistic talent, to be shown is great.

I'm very positive about the future of the company and our stories - and you should be too, but we can't do it without your support and the necessary sales to fund things such as the hardback books, merchandise and the new YouTube series.

Soon, I'd like to be able to announce that we've managed a tie in with a very important part of Britain's railway heritage, but that is for another day and hopefully once all details are thrashed out and contracts signed.

Until next time!

 Meet "Birgit", the Bavarian S3/6 Pacific locomotive, 
the second "International" character of the stories, 
and the first officially introduced female character of the stories.