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1980's branch line loco hauled services


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I am looking at having a loco hauled service but my layout design means I can only have a loco plus three carriages.  Layout set early 1980's, west country, but not on a specific location.  Something like the Barnstaple branch would probably do the job


Firstly, is this even feasable (particularly re brake force and low speeds)?


I'm guessing that a Mk 1 TSO, Mk 1 TSO brake, Mk 1 TSO in blue/grey would be a suitable sort of combination (no need for first class on such secondary services) but in 7mm I can't seem to find a suitable brake, only a corridor one (BSK).  Would those have lasted into the early 80's?


Heljan only do TSO it seems and Skytrex do both types above.


Would another combination have been seen?

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From what I recall, the local Devon Mark 1 sets in the early/mid 80s tended to consist of 5 Mark 1s - for 3 car sets, you needed to head further West. I remember the second class coaches as being the corridor variants, but the Platform 5 1985 combined edition shows that Laira had a pair of TSOs on the books as well as SKs, so these may well have turned up as well (I've listed the seconds as SKs below).


Colin Marsden's Rail Portfolios 6 The Cromptons has photos of the Devon sets, including the following:


33 + CK, SK, BG, SK, SK at Kingkerswell in July 84

33 + SK, SK, SK, BSK, CK at Kings Nympton in August 84

33 + what looks to be the same set as above at Yeoford in October 84

33 + BSK, CK, BSK, SK, SK at Hollicombe in June 85


For shorter trains, John Vaughan's excellent album "Diesel Days - Devon and Cornwall" has photos of several suitable sets of Mark 1s. Examples include:


A pair of large logo 50s (My Lords!) on a CK, BSK, SK trio at Liskeard in Feb 83

A single 50 on a BSK, SK, CK set between Truro and St Austell in April 83

A single 50 (refurb'ed Swiftsure in Banger Blue) on an SK, CK, SK, BG quad in October 82


Hope this helps - I would love to turn the clock back to those happy Mark 1 window-hanging days!



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Looking online for RTR coaches in 7mm I can find



SMR526BG Diagram 182 Corridor Brake Second BSK (Blue/Grey)

SMR520BG Diagram 146 Corridor Second SK (Blue/Grey)

SMR521BG Diagram 89 Open Second SO (Blue/Grey)



HJ4902 B.R. Mk 1 S.K. Second Corridor - Blue Grey Livery.
HJ4912 B.R. Mk 1 S.O. Second Open - Blue Grey Livery.
HJ4922 B.R. Mk 1 B.S.K. Brake Second Corridor - Blue Grey Livery.
HJ4932 B.R. Mk 1 F.K. First Corridor - Blue Grey Livery. 



JLTRT seem to do all the above in kit form but I'm not sure whether the sides come 'ready printed' or not as I don't trust my airbrushing skills on something expensive.  But I'm not really keen on "mixing manufacturers" if that makes sense either.


Do you think I could scratch together a suitable short rake from what's readily available? 


Unfortunately I only have enough room for 3 carriages plus loco in fiddle yard otherwise I'd go for a 5, funds permitting :)

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I don't have any of the Heljan or Skytrex Mark 1s myself, but looking at the pictures on the Tower Models and Skytrex websites, I'm not sure that I'd want to pay the best part of £750 for three of their coaches.  The close ups on the Skytrex site of their code SMR521BG SO, eg http://www.ogauge.co.uk/assets/SMR521BG-2.JPG seem to show a roof that's the wrong profile and the wrong shape over the ends, with a scale 6 inch airgap (or more) above the end, together with window frames that are too pronounced, heavily recessed glazing and an unconvincing moulded grab handle topped with a splash of brass paint.  I'm not convinced that's worth £250....


The Heljan Mark 1s on the Tower site look better finished and more sophisticated, but the body shape looks too flat to me - the Mark 1 profile is very characteristic and I'm not sure that Heljan have got it right.


I hear what you're saying about not wanting to paint your models, but some of the kit options are pretty good - in addition to JLTRT, both Easybuild and Westdale have large ranges of Mark 1s, and I'm sure I read here recently that the Cavalier kits are still available from Adrian at ABS models.  Might be worth considering....the Precision spray cans work well as long as you shake them for longer than the instructions suggest and only use them on warm, dry days (don't ask me how I know what happens on cold, damp days when you haven't shaken them for long enough......).


As an alternative, Aquitrain might still have some blue and grey Mark 1s left.  I'm not sure how up-to-date their website is, but it currently shows some RTR models are being available http://aquitrain.com/items.php.  These are converted Lima models that have been enlarged to the correct scale size and fitted with pre-printed sides. 


Hope this helps,



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My biggest worry about my lack of airbrush skills is that it's a pretty expensive thing to bodge, and by time I've paid someone else to spray them for me I'm probably spending more money than the rtr options.


I wonder how manufacturers manage to get things so wrong, particularly when there are hundreds of the real thing still around.


I'll enquire with Aquitrains as to availability as well.

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The trick to airbrushing is,


1, thin coats. It doesn't matter if it takes 8 coats, just build it up gradually.


2, get as fine a mist from your brush that you possibly can. This is where the more expensive brushes come into their own.


If you go the other route with spray cans. Place them in a bowl of warm water first. It really helps with the flow of paint.





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What about the Barnstable Bumper set that was kept at St. Davids in the late 70s to cover for failed DMUs? That was a BCK and SK for a while , although later on in the 80s it was a paid of BSKs.

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Aquitrain are very low on stock of the printed sides in blue/grey and no plans to reprint at present.


As I can't rustle up £600 to buy three of the completed coaches he has in stock, I'm a little stuck at present.


A 3 carriage set will fit in my storage tracks as the current plan goes (5ft traverser in the circuit with the ability to move stock off of the traverser into a side track) so that'll be my aim, once the finances etc sort themselves out.


I do have one Lima Mk 1 at present so may look to grab two more cheaplyon Ebay  and attempt a respray but as previously said, I am very nervous about attempting a respray for myself, in the absence of sufficient Aquitrain sides unless I can somehow find more of those.

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Barnstaple trains got very ratty & random in late 1980s - here's a 50 running round a 2 coach train at Barnstaple

Next pic is a 3 coach set at Eggesford



What about the Barnstable Bumper set that was kept at St. Davids in the late 70s to cover for failed DMUs? That was a BCK and SK for a while , although later on in the 80s it was a pair of BSKs.


I believe the BCK+SK set formed part of the 07:45 'mixed' train as in this image on Derby Sulzer site - (and discussed in the North Devon freight thread) the caption reads "Newton St Cyres....On November 25th 1978 25069 & 25058 pass the station with the 07.46 Barnstaple - Exeter mixed service. In this case the two passenger coaches are sandwiched between several parcels/mail coaches. Photograph courtesy Peter Lovell"


EDIT - how about a 31 + BCK + SK + ex-GW Siphon ? ;) 

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I quite regularly found myself in corridor Mk1 stock on night and relief services in the period from 1983 to 1985.  Last time was in late January or early February 85 on a severely delayed service from Bristol TM (I think; my increasingly unreliable memory won't tell me if it started from Birmingham NS) to Bridgwater on an afternoon of snow and low temperatures.  What I do remember was a total lack of heating.

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