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The Far North Line
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 Posted: 21 Apr 2017 00:24
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Ben Alder
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A quick look round the terminus now. It is Thurso, tremendously compacted,but its all there. The main compromise is with the shed layout - the building and TT are at 180 degrees to the prototype because of space problems and  the shed is a two road one rather than the single one actually there. As part of my alternative world, I reasoned that one or two of the proposed branches from Thurso were actually built, which needed extra motive power - I also had a ready built model that I wanted to reuse :giggle:



Next, I'll take a look at the engines on the layout. I have parallel  time lines here - what actually happened and one where a spot of indulgence lead to some unlikely survivors....



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 Posted: 21 Apr 2017 07:16
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Gary
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Great pics Richard. :thumbs::thumbs::thumbs:  Looking forward to the next set ! ;)

Cheers, Gary.



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 Posted: 21 Apr 2017 12:48
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jakesdad13
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Fantastic as usual :thumbs::thumbs:, the whole scene is so life like!

Pete.



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 Posted: 21 Apr 2017 15:14
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ianvolvo46
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Top quality Ben and stunning pictures :tophat::tophat::tophat:

Ian vt



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 Posted: 21 Apr 2017 18:45
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JimW
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Great to see this on here Ben as it has always been a layout I have kept an eye on.

I have always liked the way you got the scenery to blend into the backscene and also the work you did on your track some time ago.

Enjoy your stay here and I look forward to seeing more.

Jim



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 Posted: 21 Apr 2017 22:11
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Ben Alder
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Thanks all - a quick look at Thurso's locos first. For the last years of steam the branch was served by a quartet of types, viz a Stanier 2-6-2T no 40150, CR 0-4-4T 52236, a CR 0-6-0 57585 and a variety of CR 4-4-0's. The first two types were seen in the last posting, and here are the other two. Firstly the 0-6-0. It is actually 57587, the Helmsdale engine as I am in the process of converting a SR 700 into 57585 at the moment. I did have a model of this engine, built from a DJH kit, but it was so full of errors that I scrapped it and rounded up a BEC kit as a replacement. 57587 is a conversion from the new Hornby 700 - Drummond engines look so much nicer without superheating,I must say.



Next is 544491, a CR 4-4-0. A Nucast kit on a Hornby T9 chassis with the traction tyres removed and replaced with a smooth set, it is a smooth runner and capable of handling the small loads required for my layout.



Helmsdale had a broadly similar collection of engines but with the added bonus of the Dornoch rota, which can make for some interesting variety.Up to 1956 it was the home for the last two HR tank engines and after their time a CR 0-4-4T and BR Standard 2-6-0 were used before two GW 16xx's turned up to work the branch till its closure. Here is the last HR 0-4-4T at Helmsdale.



It's a bit of a cheat really, as at present it is unmotorised. I bought it on eBay, and is either a Jidenco kit or a scratchbuilt copy of it - I have an unbuilt kit and there are subtle differences in some of the cab and window shapes. Anyway, made of brass and gauged to EM, crammed full of lead that has proved impossible to dislodge without damaging the body, and as a stopgap measure I built a dummy chassis so it could sit about the layout looking pretty rather than lie in a cupboard until I got round to motorising it, which could be a time as I am swithering whether to just do the other kit instead.

And its replacement - a 16xx. Again a Nucast kit bought ready made with the usual 1970's type of motor - it goes but nothing like to modern standards and is also waiting for a decision. SEF have just brought out a chassis kit for it, but I don't like doing these things - R-T-R manages it so much better, and a proprietary model of this type can't be too far away.





Some more locos coming up soon.....



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 Posted: 21 Apr 2017 22:42
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Ben Alder
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One I omitted from the last lot - 54495, a long time Helmsdale loco, and the last one to be allocated to the shed. Latterly it was kept in shining condition, but mine has been dulled down somewhat.



We now start to stray from reality a bit -The last few years with its plethora of LSWR releases have been a bit of a windfall for CR and HR bodgers, as they are products mainly of the Drummonds, brothers who left their mark on various railway companies. Their style is distinctive and easily recognisable, and there was a lot of cross fertilisation between them. Peter was in charge of the HR and he had drawings prepared for three seperate 0-4-4T's of varying sizes. The smallest was actually built - the Dornoch tanks - but the other two never got approval. However, thanks to the model manufacturers, I have done an interpretation of them. The Kernow 02 worked out as a very close approximation of the middle sized loco, and needed little done except altering the cab shape and adding HR type boiler fittings. By the Fifties any engine around had passed through works several times and tended to acquire what ever was lying around and could be used, CR stovepipe chimneys being a good example of this. A most unlovely addition to a loco. here is the middle tank on shed at Helmsdale( it is now working the branch).



The other proposed loco was a straight copy of the M7 - a drawing was done and dated some years after it was introduced, and it is more or less an exact copy of the LSWR loco.Although never built, later on the CR equivalents gave good service throughout the Highlands and no doubt the HR one would have as well, if around. again, it was a case of adjustment and refittings, although  the tank length is different from the M7. There is one at Thurso for working the Gills Bay branch.



I'll next take a look at some real survivors that lasted beyond recorded history.:lol:



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 Posted: 21 Apr 2017 23:02
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Toto
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Fantastic loco's in amazing settings. Great to view.:thumbs:



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 Posted: 22 Apr 2017 23:09
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Ben Alder
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One of the reasons that there are few ScR  steam branch layouts around is the practice of using pre group engines up to the end of steam. Away from main lines, most traffic was in the hands of CR and NB locomotives, and model of these have always been problematic. Back in the seventies quite a few types were made as white metal kits, but these suffered from dreadful attempts at chassis - a pair of drilled bars was considered sophisticated design, and even back in the so called golden age of modellers who made things for themselves very few seem to actually have been assembled. Most of these kits have now vanished as commercial ranges, with some popping up on ebay, but sourcing secondary motive power is problematic nowadays, and is dependent on constructional skills even if obtained. Thee are one or two etched brass kits around, but these are aimed at a skill set beyond the traditional white metal approach, and personally I have little time or interest in tackling such items. Whether the 3D revolution will increase choice is still debateable - there are several locos about and the quality is increasing all the time, but I'm not going to hold my breath on this one....

Fortunately, I had gathered the usual modellers stash of appropriate kits over the years, and put off starting them long enough to benefit from the current generation of R-T-R, giving me both company locos and up to date running. This has sometime come with a compromise over wheel dimensions etc. but it has given me the fleet I had dreamt about and planned as a teenager, so the odd mm or two I can live with.

Part of the original scheme was setting the period to be modelled around the end of the war, when there still were a good selection of HR engines about, but to do this era successfully involves lots of pregrouping stock, both carriages and wagons, which are not made in abundance, and often white metal, a material I don't like for rolling stock. So, eventually, it dawned on me it would be a lot easier to change history a bit and declare that the HR engines survived that bit longer. There was no real reason they couldn't have beyond the LMS decision to concentrate on CR types as secondary power and scrap most of the others to save costs. They actually gave some HR engines a mid life overhaul and rebuild, fitting CR boilers which gave an extra twenty years or so life to them, so this was enough justification to have a more interesting choice of locos for me....

A look at one or two now, firstly the Barney 0-6-0 goods engine. Smaller than the CR types that replaced it, there are two around, DJH bodies on a Bachmann chassis.



Helmsdale lies on the coast, but there are steep climbs in both directions from it - to the County March north and the Lairg summit south, and a good deal of the sheds work was banking  - usually by the CR 4-4-0 but I retained one 0-6-4T Hr banker that was used up Struan to Drumochter in HR days. here it is waiting a train at Helmsdale.

 
 The other main "what if"involves a take on another HR 4-4-0, the Small Bens. A very successful engine several were recylindered and boilered by the LMS in the late twenties, and regarded as all but new by them. There was  a kit about for them, but I took a Hornby T9 and turned it in to a representation of this class. The drivers are too large, and put side by side the differences are obvious, but in isolation they do for me. It was a project that grew as it went along - I had done a gathering of T9's from ebay about five years ago as I needed two for a kit to give me a set of untyred drivers. This was when prices were a lot lower, and I didn't pay more than 50 for any one of them. Of course, once I had built up enough donors, T9 drivers became available as spares :?and although I contemplated  selling some on , ended up having a building spree with them. I did one Ben as Ben Alder, naturally, and made a second one with a stovepipe chimney. This was converted from a BR lined black body, which set me thinking about these HR survivors - Caley 4-4-0's were lined out so I did a third with this livery and transferred Ben Alder's name to it. Along the way I had done another with the intention of painting it in LMS lined red, but the complexity of that and the fact that the red paint I had sprayed on bubbled turned it into another BR black job. Finally, once all this was done I was clearing my bench of the various T9 pieces that had accumulated with a view to binning them. However, I realised there was enough in hand to put another together, not that I needed one more, but it seemed a shame to waste it all. They are finished in permutations of post war and early BR combinations of tender and loco lettering, none of which are strictly accurate, but each locos fittings are correct for their time - no two are exactly the same...
  A couple of pics of some of them now. I've grown fond of my hybrids and they spend a lot of time at work on the layout.







There are one or two more to come, but that covers most of the locos used. I doubt if I'll ever see any come in a blue or red box though....



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 Posted: 23 Apr 2017 00:11
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paul_l
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Great selection there, in my still to be done box is a DJH Barney, etched brass Yankee tank, and a scratch build passenger tank all to be done with P4 chassis in the late HR period (no lining required) - they have been in the box for over 20 years, but you never know ........

Paul

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 Posted: 23 Apr 2017 00:15
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Toto
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Never mind the pictures or the loco's ........... A fantastic read. Thanks Richard. A great insight into the thoughts and the reasoning of your choices made. :thumbs:

Cheers

Toto.



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 Posted: 23 Apr 2017 01:20
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Ben Alder
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A bit of a trawl through the archives has found a couple of more Bens - seen here.




And some more of the lesser seen. A Loch, another well built loco and another DJH kit, with multiple faults. I have rebuilt it as an LMS reboilered version, using another DJH Caley boiler. It changed the appearance of the loco significantly, and is more than likely a one off, as the kit seems scarce and didn't appear in their catalogue for long.



I managed to find a late HR Clan on eBay - a Jidenco kit and not that well built, so it is treated as a sort of shed pet, with light duties. The chassis had a determined limp, which was  semi cured by a twist- not engineering but sorted things out. It is currently in works to see if it can be improved - current pick up is problematic among other little quirks.



Another eBay buy was a  HR Castle which I felt sorry for - badly built and had torn itself to pieces on meeting its first curve - the amount of work it has taken is beyond belief three motors and gearboxes to start with and it shorts on curves. That  I can't blame on the loco as I didn't think I would have to deal with the very long wheelbase of this engine when I laid the tracks. I am trying out dead rail, which cured the problem, but current availability isn't to my satisfaction, although that I'm sure will improve. I also have got a set of fully insulated Markits drivers as an alternative, so something positive will emerge from this. Since the photo was taken it has been weathered.


Last edited on 23 Apr 2017 01:22 by Ben Alder



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 Posted: 23 Apr 2017 08:36
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Hi Ben Really enjoying this layout topic and seeing the variety of locos you have along with the descriptions :tophat:
Great photos of the layout and locos thanks for posting.:thumbs::thumbs::thumbs:



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 Posted: 23 Apr 2017 20:29
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Ben Alder
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Thanks. In the flurry of examining ancient engines I almost forgot the mainstay of the main line - the Black Five. Here is one at Helmsdale. There are four or five about, all veterans of my previous layout, Kylesku, and current Hornby models with a bit of titivation. It doesn't take much to make a good model into a far better one, and basically new bogie wheels, fill in frame extensions and the underside of the smokebox was cleared out. The tender had is lip at the top of the chassis removed and some extra details such as pipework added, most of which immediately disappears to the eye as far as everyday viewing is concerned, but gels together overall.



One of the pleasures of modelling a real location is the research into the background of the place and trying to get as much correct stock as possible assembled. Fortunately Helmsdale was reasonably well recorded and photographed in later steam days and I have managed to gather some reminisces as well that can provide operational detail hidden behind the bare bones of the working time table. One of the passenger duties was the exchange of restaurant cars there, and I have pictures of four different types in the post war period. After steam the service declined to a buffet car, but that's another story.

The earliest type was an MR clerestory diner, a magnificent vehicle, that was withdrawn in 1948/9, but looked so good an exception was made for it. A friend with a Silhouette cutter and a similar range of modelling interests very kindly did the bodywork , leaving me to get it running and painting. Fortunately, it finished its days in simple LMS livery, without the panelled lining that looks great but is not my idea of entertainment.....
A glimpse over the fence at it in a siding.



Another coach was the standard LMS six wheel bogie dining car - this is an original Dapol model with extra detail and must be coming on thirty years old now.



LNER vehicles, apart from the parcel vans, were rare beasts on the North lines although Inverness saw rakes of them on the Aberdeen services and I have seen photos of some on the main line south of Inverness, but about the only one to run up here was a restaurant car. This is an Ian Kirk kit, and while a bit basic, builds up in to an acceptable model.




The last of the current types is an ex Pullman car used till the early sixties, and probably the most luxurious of them all. I have some interior pics of this car and although railway owned its former glory was still evident. Unfortunately, no RTR model of this type is made, but I took advantage of a Hornby Pullman sale to get the nearest version and pass it off as the one from here. IIR, there is one window short , but it is more or less the same arrangement and will do me. I have reached the stage in life where  one realises that if a personal magnum opus is going to be reached some compromises are necessary along the way.



Incidentally, the above coaches were photgraphed today in daylight - I far prefer this as it gives a natural look to things, with shadows where they should be rather than floods of photo lights flattening everything.

Here are a couple of pics of Thurso shed in daylight - the real thing was single road, but I had an already built two road shed and it gives an excuse for extra engine movements...:lol:






Last edited on 23 Apr 2017 20:31 by Ben Alder



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 Posted: 23 Apr 2017 22:17
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Toto
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A bit of interesting background on the buffet cars and great shed images. I see what you mean about the effect of the use of daylight. Very nice images. :thumbs:

Thanks for sharing these with us.

Cheers

Toto



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