It's that time of the year when I take stock and make a plan for the year - which then ignominously fails in the next 12 months.
Twelve months ago I decided I really would finish the Tourist Brake Third. And after a lot of struggle I actually managed it - though it still needs writing up here.
The Baby Deltic was another "promise to finish" - and lo and behold it's done. And written up.
There the good news stopped.
However I have recently managed to clear away a lot of obstacles to various projects, http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/blog/296/entry-21655-retail-therapy/ so I hope there will be more progress in the year to come.
Work has actually started on the original condition NBL Type 2 diesel electric, and this is looking promising. I think I have all the bits now
(After that I can contemplate the task of putting a detailed Hornby 25/1 body onto a Bachmann Rat chassis, for a good mid 80s Class 25, but this isn't urgent)
The Ratio GW 4 wheel coach rebuild (to an engineer's tool/riding van) still needs to be finished, but should be a relatively quick project.
Now I have a replacement power bogie I hope I can finally get the detailed 155 up and running and (finally!) into traffic.
And with the damaged bogie of the Replica chassis repaired I can finish the 128 and get it into traffic as well. This (I hope) will give
me some better options for consisting Modernisation Plan DMUs - 2 x 2 car DMU is awkwardly long but 1 x 128 + 2 car DMU should be much more manageable. It will also bring the NRV and the GUV into play for operating sessions
There are still a number of long-standing projects which need finishing.
The Airfix Trevithick kit proceeded a lot further before hitting a problem with a seized and sheered bit of motion. I have an idea about how to fix this , but I need to find the courage and the focus to do it.
Once other projects finished and the decks have been cleared I can restart the upgraded 142 which has been lying stalled in bits for a long time. This too would improve my options for consisting - and therefore the operating interest of the layout - if I can get it finished.
The two brake vans , long stalled, are somewhere down my list of priorities
But there is a lot to be done on the locomotive front in the next couple of years, turning projects, aspirations and materials already in hand into actual working locomotives.
Type 2s are likely to be the major focus . The Hornby NBL body is well under way, and all parts to finish this should be in hand. It might turn into a quick win I now have the second-hand locos to do a "high spec" 25/1 with a Hornby body on Bachmann chassis. The combined cost of these two should be around £125.- a new Bachmann 25 would cost around £145 at a box-shifter
Then there are the 31s. I have a roughly -detailed Airfix 31, with filed-off body bands bought for £15 second hand as a mechanism donor. Not that the Airfix mechanism is a wonderful thing. But the body is in fact salvageable - at least to my eyes - and I think I could strip , clean up and redetail it as a refurb 31/4 (Transpennine South, for the use of) with decent result. The target loco would be 31 462 in plain departmental grey, and I've ordered the PH Designs etch - which at least takes care of the biggest issue, the roof fan grill cowling
I then have the 1978 body I removed from 31 415; a secondhand body with body bands on but buffers cut off; and the wreckage of Hornby's 31 270, with Mazak failure and a blown circuit board. I got to it before the body split - but there's an issue. In my experience, the Hornby locos are track-sensitive, and my other Hornby 31 (31 174) does not like the crossover outside Platform 2 which forms part of the run-round loop. This means it is relegated to Loco Hauled Substitute duties , and is in fact my back-up 31 , whereas the detailed Airfix 31 415 is front line and handles engineers and parcels trains as well. I like good quality mechanisms with smooth low-speed running , but I also like locos that stay on the track. This means that the obvious approach to providing a decent mechanism - ie stripping out the Hornby mechanism from the unhappy 31 270 and installing it under something else - is problematic.
No matter how you slice it, I have 4 x Class 31 bodies and 2 mechanisms both with question marks against them. I managed to get hold of a Railroad 31 chassis frame - but missed out on unpowered bogies and couldn't find a Railroad motor bogie. I also missed out on Hattons cheap Railroad 31, though that would not have improved the chassis/body ratio. I do have a spare (second) Athearn PA1 chassis, but that doesn't have quite the right wheelbase /wheel size, and would mean cutting and shutting a Mazak chassis frame and a drive shaft, and converting to DCC.
And there is no obvious route to the missing bodyshell variants - a "skinhead" at any date, or of any sub-class; or the Golden Ochre Brush 2 (successively Stratford, Tinsley and Immingham in the 60s , and therefore suitable for Blacklade, an E.Lincs before closure project, or any transitional GE layout)
I shall be on the scrounge for cheap serviceable mechanisms at Stevenage . A donor loco with a wrecked body going cheap; a Lima motor bogie and bits capable of receiving a remotor ...
I also have a vintage Triang-Hornby 37, bought second-hand from a junk shop in Louth in 1978 for a fiver, and used on my teenage layout, where it ran like a dog - a three-legged dog with emphasyma. Mechanically it was - by a country mile - my worst loco.
It has so far failed to be rebuilt as 37 688 or a Baby Deltic because more promising donors turned up for less than 20 quid each . I have an Athearn PA1 chassis, and Dave Alexander replacement bogie sideframes - this time it's a cut and lengthen job. So the long term plan would be to redo it as 37 172 in plain BR blue, on PA1 chassis (not entirely accurate - but it's only a cheap old 37). This because in 1977 we returned from a scout trip to Guernsey via the 01:05 KX Leeds night train (only Deltic haulage I ever got) , changing into what I now know to have been the Manchester-Cleethorpes newspaper train at Retford Low Level at 4:30 am - hauled by 31 172 in blue.
There are all of the issues of stripping and cutting the Athearn chassis, converting it to DCC and the small inaccuracies in wheel size and wheelbase - but this would give me a decent-running 37 of an earlier vintage than I have and I could manage the bodyshell work.
And wild horses and red-hot pincers would not persuade me to put that wretched Triang motor bogie under a 31
Then there's the stuff I have but need to get working....
The 155 has already been mentioned.
There's a Hornby 29 I detailed up years ago as 6119 in blue. Looking at it with fresh eyes , it's rougher than I expect the new NBL Type 2 to be, and it has a 3 pole motor bogie converted to all-wheel pickup with Ultrascales, which will be an inferior mechanism to the new loco . It also needs conversion to DCC , and with the original Hornby Ringfield this is not a simple task. So I intend to delegate the job to someone else at Stevenage....
I also have a Bachmann 4MT 2-6-0 which is compact , has a tender cab and would be ideal for Blacklade's kettle period if I managed to install a decoder. I now have a suitable decoder.
Then there's the Bachmann 08 and original split-chassis 03 (both BR blue) which have been lying in the storage drawer for years because they need hard-wired DCC conversions. Those, too, need sorting out and getting up and running on Blacklade.
Not to mention a few running repairs to coaches, switches and the like
Another purge of the unreliable wagons in the Boxfile fleet might be in order
Some of the things on the bookcase have been unfinished for an appallingly long time. Pacer anyone....
I really mean to get stuff finished and into action this year