It's that time of the year when I survey the state of the bookcase and the cupboard and post over-optimistic ambitions for the year's modelling....
At least this year I'm sitting down to contemplate at the start of January, rather than the middle of February, which I suppose is progress. There's also the fact that I need to write up some of 2017's output for the blog.
After a pretty patchy year things took a sudden leap forward when I realised I didn't have to wait for a suitable IKEA product in order to mount the Boxfile on a solid base (a chassis??) . That project is written up here, http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/blog/343-blacklade-artamon-square/ but as noted towards the end, it spread into quite a bit of work on the stock. I don't think I'd done any significant wagon modelling for five or six years.
This gave me a real incentive to finish off the MICA and get couplings fitted. It also spurred me to take action to deal with the Blue Spot fish. Rail Blue looked just too dark compared to some of the photos on Paul Barlett's site - some look almost as if Parcels transfers have been applied straight onto Ice Blue - and I was lucky enough to find a jar or Railmatch faded Rail Blue in the paint box. Much better. With HMRS transfers (and a bit of cobbling from other sources) and Kadees the van is now ready for use as an NRV on DMU tail traffic, though perhaps the weathering wasn't really heavy enough, and I suppose the real things disappeared a couple of years before Blacklade's "mid-late 80s" period (As far as I can gauge from Paul Bartlett's photos they went in 1981-2 ).
For the MICA I improvised with the only black transfers I could find in my collection - a Fox sheet for the BR Insulated van in 2mm/4mm/7mm which was a give-away with MORILL.... Ah. That must have been over 20 years ago. It's not surprising the transfers had yellowed, though I managed to touch round with white and after weathering and varnish it's not really visible. The number's not quite right either, although I used a 7mm letter for a W-prefix , and the capacity should be 8T not 10T - but you can't read the capacity from a distance of more than 6 inches.
Another two wagons for the Boxfile were sorted out over the weekend, which takes me to 24 serviceable wagons. The "extra weight plus Hornby wheels" formula is working well. Two wagons more will receive Sprat and Winkle couplings this week. Another wagon should respond to the standard treatment - and then I'm down to a hard core of 3-4 wagons where further thought will be required.
And one Saturday before Christmas I bought another boxfile from WH Smiths and converted most of a corregated cardboard box into dividers... This one takes various bits - the LMS interdistrict Brake 3rd (which had its underframe weathered while I was doing the CK), the Tourist Brake 3rd, a Lima LMS 42' GUV I bought for reworking, the NRV van, a stray Grampus...
I don't think I ever wrote up the Lima 37 upgrade which I was threatening in last year's "2017 programme" posting. I think that one was done in time for Blacklade's appearance at Ally Pally: certainly it was available well before the layout's outing at Shenfield in September. There was nothing ground-breaking about it, I'm afraid, and as Tim Shackleton wrote up a more comprehensive rework of exactly the same loco in his diesels book I shall be modest and brief. A new etched roof fan from Shawplan, Shawplan etched window frames and Lazerglaze windows (fettling them to fit is still laborious - but infinitely better than attempting a home-made job), new and substantial buffers, etched depot symbols and nameplates (more Shawplan) , Kadees and weathering. I'm not terribly proud of the Kadees - there's not enough room for the draft box on the bogies so the box and coupling protrudes and there's an uncomfortable resemblance to a Eurostar 37. It's a lot better than the tensionlock , but that's not saying much. Only touch-up repainting was needed as the target loco (37 688 in two-tone Sector grey) was what Lima had produced in the first place.
And an old Express Models DC directional headlight kit went in. I had it kicking around with no other sensible use , and working headlight when you ease open the controller is better than nothing. Lights are an operator's convenience, basically
An interesting minor point concerns the nose grills. Some photos show these in black on 37 688, other shots of 37 688 show them in grey as represented by Lima. So somewhere between 1985 and 1990 this loco got a repaint. I left the grills in grey, with weathering - I didn't think there was any real gain in fitting etches, even though I have two packets of the things from the time when I thought this loco would be done using a Triang-Hornby body (recycled from Flaxborough in my teens - and even then second hand from the Aswell St junk shop) on an Athearn PA1 chassis. (Those bits will now become a plain blue 37 172 sometime in the distant future). the biggest gain on the grills is removing the body grey Lima left showing in the recessed bits. It was an IM loco in 1990, but still carrying BX depot symbols
The roof "shoulder" grills are incorrect for this loco - Tim Shackleton corrected them, I didn't dare to. He also lowered the loco on its bogies - I thought about hand-filing bearing surfaces flat, and chickened out.
This loco was a bargain find at DEMU Showcase - right number, right livery - for £18, it runs well and with all the bits the whole project cost no more than about £35 (plus decoder). I can justify that for a space/backup loco that only needs to shift two coaches- whereas a three-figure sum for a new Bachmann one would be an extravagance
Now to plans for the coming year.
First of all the outstanding projects, and here a little clarity is dawning.
- Finishing the wretched Coopercraft Tourist brake third has to be a high priority, so that I can commission Set 4, and have some proper "modern" mainline corridor stock and some coaches in post 1956 maroon for the steam period on Blacklade
- A relatively quick win would be finishing the complete rebuilding of an elderly Ratio GWR 4 wheeler. This survived intact from my early teenage steam layout, was stripped down with Modelstrip, and duly broke down into its component pieces as its vintage polystyrene cement failed. The sides have been filled and sanded to represent an elderly departmental vehicle with a few plated-over panels, and sprayed with Games Workshop Chaos Black. I have a Shirescenes compensation unit in stock for this for this ( last time the chassis wasn't square). This would go towards a steam-age engineers' train. Again this is a 2017 project I never got round to writing up..
- There's a Cambrian Starfish kit sitting in the cupboard that might go nicely with this.
- And if I finished off the stalled vintage Parkside Toad B sitting on the bookshelf , that could be paired with the olive green Shark to make up an Engineer's train for the steam period (It doesn't have hand-rails - and I've been chickening out of doing my own...)
- The 128 made some progress this year , until I realised it was sitting askew on one bogie. The plastic mounting had fractured, and after several briefly-successful homemade repairs with superglue, I discovered at Peterborough that I could get a replacement part from Replica. I now have to do that, and get this one finished. I can then run an alternative parcels train featuring the 128 and NRX or my blue GUV (which has been sitting in its box for a long time). Or a BG. And the 128 can be consisted with my 101 or 108 without forming an awkwardly long train
- I have a more or less finished Silver Fox Baby Deltic body and all the components of the chassis : finishing this should be another relatively quick win. It's been on the list to finish since 2016....
The revival of the Boxfile has sparked renewed enthusiasm over some very long stalled projects.
The correct intergroup ratio for wagons , I read somewhere long ago , is LMS 8, LNER 7 , GWR 3, SR 1. I'm one over the top on GW, have no SR, am on par for the LMS, and two light on the LNER (And one of those I've got is a Single Bolster - useless on the 'file). The ratio adopted between types is 4 vans: 2 minerals: 1 open (the Boxfile takes 7 wagons). I have four rounds or tranches of stock plus 4 locos - and I'm one open over the top and two vans light.
There are 3 vacant slots in the two stock boxes.
So obviously I need 2 x LNER vans... And an etched kit for an LNER van has been sitting on my bookcase part built for an inordinate length of time. I think it was started before the Boxfile. Provenance is 5522 Models, offered as a complete package deal by DOGA long ago. This is an obvious candidate to finish off.
And for the second one, I have a Hornby LNER van sitting somewhere in the cupboard. They've done it in white as N E in the past - I am pretty confident it's an NER prototype but can't confirm (I wasn't prepared to pay £35 for the NE volume of the new Tatlow for 1 wagon - but I do have the old 1 volume Tatlow, which shows some very similar NE goods vans). Whitemetal NE axleboxes and buffers from ABS are in stock..
I have several first loco kits in the cupboard. One is a Judith Edge Thomas Hill Vanguard - slightly late for the Boxfile, but of particular interest as it is designed to fit a Black Beetle . So no chassis building needed... I was getting quite enthusiastic about building this - then I checked and found a) it needs a 36mm x 14mm wheels Beetle , not the usual DMU types and b ) Beetles have almost disappeared. A hasty check round various suppliers ended with me buying one of Branchlines' last two of these units. (I also got a Mashima motor for the Craftsman 02 kit lurking in the cupboard)
So it looks like I will be building show etched kits in the near future.
- Another, much larger, stalled project is the heavy rebuild of a Hornby Pacer using a Branchlines chassis . This would be a very useful model if I can get it into traffic, so I really ought to have a serious go at it once I've cleared the other unfinished items out of the way.
- I have a Lima 42' LMS CCT which can be cleaned up and upgraded: I have Comet LMS bogies in stock. This will presumably be in Crimson - I can't quite make out when they disappeared but I presume they had gone by the mid 80s ? (If not it would be a useful vehicle , as this plus a Mk1 BG would fit into the platform...)
This accounts for all the occupants of the bookcase bar the WD brake and the Bratchill 150
If I get beyond that , there are some DC Kits DMUs I could build, or some blue/grey coach projects. Maybe fix the N5? Or perhaps I could try to sort out Tramlink, still buried under it's pile of magazines. There's an elderly Bachmann 03 and a not so elderly Bachmann 08 - neither DCC Ready - which could live useful lives if given a decoder, not to mention the "stuff a Hornby 0-6-0 chassis under a GBL Jinty" project
I really don't need to buy any RTR this year (though a Stirling Single hauling a couple of blue/grey mark 1s could be justified in the E Midlands in the mid 1980s....)