Tag Archives: Steam

Visit to: Swindon Railway Festival , September 2016

Today I am going to take you on a retrospective adventure to the Swindon Railway Festival, which I visited on the 11th September at Swindon’s STEAM – Museum of The Great Western Railway.

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I had just returned from a trip to somewhere or other (as I often do) and I was not sure I had the energy to go to the event, but in the end I’m really glad I made the effort.

With Swindon’s ongoing celebrations as part of Swindon 175 there was a strong emphasis on GWR heritage across the full breadth of the GWRs history, including South Wales coal lines, Cornish branch lines and, of course, the surrounds of Swindon itself.

Stand out layouts at the show included Porth St John; a beautiful depiction of Cornwall in the 1930s. I loved the representation of the mudflats beneath the elaborate blue bridge and the fishing nets.

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Photo by Sumita Majumdar

Ynysbwl Fach was also fun to watch and a rarely modelled example of a private coal yard. I think it is maybe the first exhibition layout I have seen that is based on a South Wales colliery. I was even treated to a pronunciation demonstration of the layout’s name (I was close with my first attempt, but didn’t quite get it).

Swindon Model Railway Club’s Fisherbridge was also in attendance with its new collection of 1980s N Gauge rolling stock.

Here is a video from the day:

Model Rail Magazine to produce Wisbech and Upwell J70 Steam Tram

Rumours from Warley National 2016 indicate that Model Rail magazine are considering commissioning a Wisbech and Upwell J70 Steam tram,  famously associated with Toby the Steam Tram from The Railway Series ( and the Thomas and Friends TV series).

Model Rail are requesting feedback on livery options and whether to produce a version with opening doors, sounds and removal sideplates!

I know what I’d choose (all of the above).

These models will be more than welcome on Brewery Pit, so I look forward to hearing further news. Pictured below are my J70 and Y6.

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Rolling Stock – J70 0-6-0 Tram Engine

In this series of articles I will introduce the locomotives that I operate on Brewery Pit.

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The Prototype
One of the main engines that see’s regular use is my J70 steam tram. The J70s were introduced to replace the ageing Y6s, and were famous for running on the Wisbech and Upwell Tramway in Cambridgshire. J70s and Y6s look very similar from the outside, but are quite different underneath the tram body. The fundamental difference is that J70s have six wheels (0-6-0), while the Y6s have four wheels (0-4-0). The side skirts are also formed in a slightly different way, with the J70s including moulded foot steps (Y6s have ladder-like steps) and a curved lower section to the skirt.

The model
My model is made from a Silver Fox resin kit that was bought for my birthday in September 2006. I opened up the side windows using a knife and added hand rails. I decided that I wanted my steam tram to include a boiler, and I just happened to have a Dapol plastic pug kit lying around (many railway modellers do, for some reason). I cut up the boiler and mounted it onto a piece of plasticard and added some hand wheels to either end. The boiler isn’t accurate as it has a saddle water tank, but I didn’t really care at the time (and still don’t).

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Painting
I wanted to represent an engine running between 1948 and 1950, so I purchased as many books as possible and looked at the photos of the various steam trams and settled on No. 68217, which was one of the last steam trams to run on the line.

I weathered the boiler using weather powders and sealed it with a matt varnish.

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The tram was painted with a now discontinued shade of brown from Tamiya’s acrylic range (I think it was Tamiya, I can find out if anyone really needs to know).

The final weathering job shown in the pictures is not accurate to how the model now looks, as it was repainted to better fit in with my Y6 later on.

Power
You cannot obtain a 0-6-0 chassis which would fit such a small loco, so there is little choice but to install and 0-4-0 power bogie. I was a little excited at the time I bought the kit and urgently insisted a black beetle motor bogie be sent out to me ASAP. Unfortunately, the wheelbase (distance between each wheel) of the bogie was quite wide, now I know that this is a skirted loco and little of the wheels is seen, but when it is seen it looked weird.

The motor bogie was converted to DCC control and was a poor runner and it was eventually replaced with better black beetle bogie with spoked wheels (a nice touch), a shorter wheelbase and 27:1 gearing (meaning it can travel much slower than my previous 15:1 version).

My J70 is currently waiting to have a DCC ‘stay-alive’ capacitor to be installed, but more on that some other time.

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Falling Behind: A Leader Story (Pt2)

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We now return to the development of my Golden Arrow resin and white metal kit of the pioneering Bulleid Leader (click here for part 1).

Leader’s bogies are gigantic, just massive. Leader looks like the monster truck of UK locomotives. These bogies are cast in white metal and have a very nice finish. They are also nice and weighty. While reading how to install the recommended DS10 motor I mis-interpreted the instructions and installed a separate DS10 motor into each bogie. In hindsight this wasn’t such a bad idea, as leader is now a real brute on the rails.

I followed the wheeling convention of some of Heljan’s diesels and put bearings around the front and rear axles on each bogie and left the middle wheel floating. This helps prevent the massive wheels from causing derailments.

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I installed two Lenz silver decoders (one on each bogie) and programmed each to the same ID. Trial runs showed strong running qualities, but I did need to shave away some of the higher sections of the bogies to allow Leader to get around the tight corners on Brewery Pit. Having duel motors and picking up current from both bogies means that when Leader de-rails it has a propensity to continue to drive on with the derailed bogie, so one needs to be careful.

Leader often ran with all it’s vents and doors open, so I cut through the resin cast and opened up all the doors and vents. I also made some vent flaps out of plasticard. I then added hand rails and door knobs. Please note that most people fit the the vertical cab rails on the front of Leader in the wrong position. Most models have them mounted on the very front of the cab, but the prototype has them fitted to the sides and they bend around to the front. In my opinion this makes a big difference to the look of the loco. These hand rails were made from guitar string.

I also added lamp irons and a whistle. The flush glazing was hand cut from thick transparent plastic.

I then painted Leader with the softest silver-grey shade I could find. I used a Halfords car spray and I was very pleased with the results. I felt like I had sprayed the paint on a bit thick in places, so I decided to fix the paint with a satin gloss coat – fatal mistake!

The paint never fully dried and always retained a slight tackiness. I keep my models in a metal box surrounded by foam and I was concerned that the foam might mark the paint so I wrapped Leader with a thin bit of plastic wrapping. I then discovered that the paint was still slowly moving and the paint had formed moulding lines with the patterning of the plastic wrapping. I quickly sprung into action and scrubbed away the tacky areas of paint. My model of one of my favourite engines was sullied.

So at this stage these pictures are all I have of Leader in it’s (almost) final stage. A real shame.

The story continues…

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Swindon Railway Festival (2013)

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I visited the Swindon Railway Festival on Sunday 15th September, and what an enjoyable show it was.

The cost at the door paid for both entry into the STEAM Museum (which tells the story of the Great Western Railway) and the model show. The museum is built into some of the former Swindon Works buildings, which is a simply wonderful venue for a model railway show.

The quality of modelling on display was quite amazing. I really liked Carsmoores Scrapyard, I was impressed by the small size of the layout and the detail and lighting. The owner of the layout even gave me some nifty tips on building landscaping from foam board and DAS clay.

Another favourite model of mine was Tucking Mill, which was a highly detailed 2mm layout. The level of detailing on 2mm layouts has increased so much in the past few years that I start to wonder why I don’t take the leap. Tucking Mill has some lovely subtle landscaping in place and some nice motive power. I particularly liked their point-changing levers, which activate a slow turning servo which changes the point-work.

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Hornby’s stand included early versions of their upcoming P2, which was looking beautiful. I am really pleased to see that it has separate fitted hand rails, after all this ‘design clever’ nonsense. I also spotted a plastic seam near the front of the boiler, which I hope is an indication of future models with stream lined fronts! Hornby’s Sentinel diesel shunter is also looking impressive.

I also had an enjoyable discussion with a chap from the broad gauge society and discovered that there are some models I can build in that gauge. Maybe one day.

All in all, it was a great day out. Below is my video from the show: