Lynton & Barnstaple Railway “Taw”

I love it when a new purchase arrives, in this case, its a new purchase that I’ve been waiting on for almost two years. Such is the way of things with the Model Railroad Industry and Pre-orders nowadays, you order then wait what feels like forever to actually pay and receive it. Though this model was in some ways, extra cursed. I placed my order January 20, 2017, so almost two years ago, and after an initial delivery from the factory in China to Denmark where Heljan is based, some making it to market in the UK where the prototype is, and being panned with failing motion and a variety of problems, they were sent back and heavily modified at the factory and re-shipped. Fortunately for me, my order didn’t ship the first time they were delivered, by the time the version I’d ordered was arriving, it was abundantly clear that the whole batch needed to be recalled and reworked.

The locomotive I am talking about, is Heljan’s “Lynton & Barnstaple Railway” Manning Wardell 2-6-2T in OO9 (British Narrow Gauge). I don’t model the L&B, but at some point I was exposed to it (and the efforts to re-open the line and rebuild the locomotives which were all scrapped), and thought its a cool prototype. In later years, it had become part of the Southern Railway, and there was a cross platform connection at Barnstaple Town between the narrow gauge and standard gauge. I have thought for a long time this would make a cool diorama/cameo layout, and had bought some apropriate Southern Railway OO Gauge models, but never had access to any Narrow Gauge, and kits were out of my budget/skillset. When Heljan announced they were doing it as ready to run, it was around the same time Bachmann was releasing Skarloey in their Thomas line, which I bought and re-detailed back into the locomotive Skarloey is based on and which Bachmann 3D scanned, Talyllyn.

So, after all the missteps and waiting, my model of Taw, one of the three original locomotives finally arrived on December 23rd, and through being out of town, Christmas and work, I finally picked it up this weekend. My afternoon today was spent unboxing, checking it out, looking to see if it looked ok, and then running it for about half an hour forwards and backwards and with/without coaches to see if any problems exposed themselves.

IMGP0945RawConvNothing like a present to yourself at Christmas Time, then again, It has been on order so long it’s already missed being a Christmas Present once before and two birthdays!

As it is, even the new version has apparently had some of the same issues based on the comments on RMWeb, a major UK model forum (worth checking out even if you aren’t into british trains and models, lots of discussions on technique, and an active North American section). So I’ve been awaiting the opening and running in with some trepidation, knowing this time it had been shipped to me, and getting dinged for $36 in tax and service charges by CBSA, means if it doesn’t work, it becomes a hassle in sending it back for warranty repairs or replacement.

So, in narrow gauge, the couple of models I have are effectively display pieces. I am allegedly building a mini layout/shelf display for them (I say allegedly as I haven’t touched it in months).

My L&B “Taw”, in its later Southern Railway Paint as No.761. Looks gorgeous out of the box, but how will it run?

Turns out, as far as I’m concerned, it ran perfectly. I have a loop of 12.25″ radius Bachmann EZ Track in N-Scale specifically for narrow gauge british (N Scale Track is the same width as OO9, very handy!) I put the loop of track out on the hardwood floor, and spent an enjoyable hour with the locomotive running around the circle both ways, pulling coaches and on its own to look and listen for problems. It ran smoothly, stayed on the rails, and no bits fell off. Given that most of this locomotives life will be spent in the display case, having nothing explode in an hour of test running, probably means I’m safe for the future on the rare occasions it gets an outing, it should be ok. If a manufacturing defect was to appear, based on what I’ve seen from others on the forum, it seems it would have done so in this early running in period.

Videos of the running in:

Yes, it was just like being a kid, the only place available to me to set up my loop of N-Scale/OO9 track was on the floor of the office/layout room. There is something to be said for sitting on the floor watching a model run around in circles somtimes!!

IMGP0964RawConvNothing says having fun with trains like a loop of track on your floor!!
OO9Display.pngTaw and Talyllyn in my display case. A pretty solid if small collection of Narrow Gauge Locomotives!

Back at the Workbench

It’s been a funny year for me, modeling wise and real life wise. As anyone who reads the blog knows, we bought a house this year, massive change #1, which however brought me the room to start building benchwork this summer and start making a layout in my home a reality. Great news.  Then, after what seemed like forever this summer in the interview process, I made a second life altering decision, this time in my professional life, and at the end of summer, I left the consulting firm I had been at for 15 years since graduating from University for a job in the public sector. Also great news, but very daunting, and I’m still on a steep learning curve after a month in the new job.

This past week, I realized that as much as I’ve done in the layout room since we moved in June, I hadn’t done as much modelling as I’d like.  I’ve done things here and there, but I don’t have any of my normal range of little projects going, either for the layout or because it interests me. I normally have at least one project out on the workbench, so if I walk into my office/layout room, and feel like filing or sanding or painting or whatever for five minutes here and there, I can.  I’ve let the room and the workbench become a bit of a mess even in just a couple of months, by not focusing on the things I needed to do still post move, mainly more cleaning and organizing of stuff to try to find more things that could be donated away/sold/thrown out/recycled as appropriate. I finally took a serious stab at that on Saturday, and feeling quite proud of myself, before I start one of the growing pile of freight car kits for the layout that are collecting in a workbench drawer, I went back and pulled out a project that was left in mid-stream before the move.  I started to seriously work on the interior of the British Railways Mk1 First Class Coach.  Turns out I’d managed to paint the car before we moved, but packed it away before building the interior.

IMG_6538Actual modelling in progress. Painting seats, tables and interior partitions for a British Railways Mk1 Coach kit.

While I’ve spent most of this afternoon working on the interior and fettling the fit and finish of the parts so that it can all be assembled when the sub assemblies are painted, I will now be leaving this out on my bench so that Monday, Tuesday or whenever, if I have a few minutes, I can do a little bit of work to move another project toward completion.  It’s nice to have reclaimed my workbench for modelling projects!

Taking a Break from Benchwork

Back in early 2017, I started on a small Ikea Shelf layout for narrow guage equipment, not based on any prototype or anything, just a shelf diorama to display some 009 Gauge models I have bought or customized.  Today, to break from working on the new layout, and to frankly, get it off my workbench where it was dominating the space, I finished wiring feeders to the track, and did some test running with Talyllyn.  The little shelf seems to run fine.  I’ll need to run it in more before balasting and doing some basic scenery, but a couple of hours this morning while watching car racing got it done and off the bench.

Bottom and top views of the narrow gauge diorama/layout on an Ikea Inreda shelf.

For now, since all the wire I’d cut weeks ago is now soldered into place, the shelf and its frame have gone away into the ever emptying closet (turns out building the benchwork has inspired me to finish the clear-out started before moving!).  With my workbench back and feeling like I’d accomplished something rather than just putting it away in shame, it was on to other layout projects and preparing for selling more surplus models in September at the Lakeshore Model Railroaders Flea Market on September 16th, but I’ll post more about that closer to the date.

Great British Train Show 2018 – Belated Show Report

Even numbered years are big years for those of us interested in British Model Trains in Ontario.  Even numbered years brings the return of the Great British Train Show at the end of April.  I blogged about the 2016 Edition of the show here, and despite some delay in getting this post written, I did attend and enjoy the show again in 2018.

As it’s been 3 weeks since the show, this is going to be a photo heavy rather than a text heavy post, largely as I want a reference/reminder to it for myself.  As with 2016, I brought a newbie to the British Scene along with me, this time, my friend Doug.  We want off and visited Credit Valley Model Railroad after the show, and then had a pub lunch. I need to research pubs in Mississauga, our choice was passable, but only just.

You’d grin like an idiot too if you’d just bought an unopened London RT Bus for $5!!
My friend Trevor Marshall bought a new locomotive, a Lee Marsh GWR 517 Class to operate on his friend Brian Dickey’s Roweham layout, a gorgeous loco on a gorgeous layout – Read More Here about Trevor’s thoughts on investing in others layouts as well as your own in relation to Roweham.
Rapido Trains was the title sponsor of the show.  Along with their Tardis, they had samples of the Sterling Single, J70 Tram Locomotive, and GPV Gunpowder Van.
Phil Parker from BRM Magazine along with the project/raffle prize layout “Didbury Green” that be brought from the UK with him. Sadly, I didn’t win it, but inspiration for small space modelling!!
A sampling of the variety on offer, clockwise from top left: Vintage Tri-Ang; Platelayers Society OO Guage show layout; Montreal British Modellers portable layout; working Meccano locomotive; Live Steam; P4 Gauge Upper Leaside; and, OO Gauge Ottawa British Club layout.  Something for everyone and every era of British Railways.

With me moving in June, I wasn’t in the market for much, turns out, buying a house and moving in Toronto is expensive (who knew?).  That said, I got my discount bus and a discounted passenger car for a project, so I managed to spend slightly more at the vendors than I did on admission and raffle tickets, but not by nearly as much as past shows.

With that, onwards to 2020, I know I’ve already got a note on the long-range calendar to be free the last weekend of April for the show when it rolls around again!

Realtrack Scotrail Class 156

A few weeks back I wrote about my list of pre-orders.  Well, the first one completed its journey around the globe from the factory in China, to Yorkshire England and now to Toronto.  It is a Realtrack Models British Railways Class 156 DMU.  The model is manufactured for Realtrack by Rapido Trains, the Canadian manufacturer.  The Class 156’s were built between 1987 and 1989 to replace aging DMU’s that replaced steam locomotives hauling coaches in the 1960’s.  They entered service branded as “Super Sprinters”, and I received a model of one from my Grandfather, and it was one of my favourite units to run on my old 4’x8′ layout.

IMGP5263RawConv.jpg1980’s Lima class 156, look at that fantastic underbody detail, solid chunks of plastic with some details molded into it.

The technology of design and production, and the expected level of detail has come a long way since the late 1980s.  And with that in mind, when Realtrack announced they were producing a modern Class 156, I decided that I wanted one.


Scotrail Class 156 at Maillaig Scotland in 2014. Still going strong into privatization after British Rail was broken up. In the “Spotrail Saltire” scheme.

After what seemed like a never-ending wait from when I ordered the model in November 2016 after it was announced, it finally arrived today.  Some of that was production delays, some of it credit card issues on making the final payment, but regardless, any Friday night at the end of the work week where I can come home and find something exciting waiting is a good reward!

IMGP7040RawConvThe very classy looking box the models come in.

When I opened the shipping package, and started to go through the bubble wrap, the large box was uncovered, along with two of the plastic clamshells Rapido ships their products in.  I was confused by these, until I opened the box and discovered that Realtrack had taken the models out of the clamshells, and bubble wrapped them inside the foam to try to ensure handling by the mail for their final leg didn’t damage them.  I’m pleased to say both appear to have arrived safe and sound, just need to dig out my track to actually test run them.


Unboxing Realtracks Class 156 and some detail shots of the model.

Once I get it checked that it runs ok, I’ll take some videos too.  It has full sound for the DCC, but since I don’t have a DCC system to program it, It will be a while before I can play with the sound functions.  after a quick look around, it’s a fantastic looking model, and even though it isn’t a place/era I model, I’m glad to have it in my collection.

How to Get yourself in Trouble with Model Railroad Pre-Orders

Pre-ordering, it’s the bane of the hobby and a necessary evil all at the same time.  As the quality of models have gone up, and the market has changed, manufacturers and retailers doing commissioned special products want to make sure they don’t get left with thousands of models that they can’t sell or have to discount.   It’s great for the manufacturers as they know exactly how many models to make, and if it will be profitable, but it has tougher impacts on retailers and customers.  The burden of bearing costs of stock have moved from the manufacturers (theoretically with the deepest pockets financially), to the Retailers (middle-sized pockets), and no doubt they are trying to find ways to move the customers (smallest pockets).  I understand this, and in theory I don’t have a problem with everyone bearing some of the risk, but it also means you have to make purchase decisions sometimes years in advance and then have to budget hundreds of dollars not knowing when you will actually have to pay it, or what the final price will be (assuming your retailer doesn’t honour the originally announced price). It also means, if you think you really need a model for a layout, and you don’t order it, you either will never get it, or have to pay a premium on the secondary market later, as no where will have stock sitting around. It’s a disincentive to people getting into the hobby as well in my opinion as people see models, and can never buy them if something would draw them in.  I’m not so smart as to think I have any idea how to fix this, but that’s my mini-rant for now.

The point of this post, was to tackle my own pre-order issues in the face of yet another announcement of a new product.

Early on after I started this blog in May 2016, I wrote a post on my over-abundance of projects.  In that post, under a category of maybe, I spoke of my love for the preserved locomotives of the Caledonian Railway in Scotland”

Caledonian Railway Locomotives.

  • I’d like to build a model of the first steam locomotive I remember, Caledonian 419 from Bo’Ness, but only tricky white metal kits are out there.  I’d also like a model of Caley Jumbo 0-6-0 812, then I’d have models of all three preserved Caledonian Railway locomotives with the Hornby No.123 I have.  Why I need these, well, I don’t, but I want them, which is dangerous.

I haven’t managed to fix my over abundance of projects, not entirely at least.  I’ve been working on it, and trying to stick to finishing things on my workbench rather than finding more, with varying degrees of success.  I have a lot of kits in the pipeline, but they are theoretically freight cars for the planned layout, not new projects that generate a need for more storage or display space

Well, this morning at Model Rail Scotland in Glasgow, the UK retail store Rails of Sheffield announced that they have commissioned Bachmann to produce an exclusive model of the Caley Jumbo 812 class locomotive, one of the two wants on my list quoted above.  As of this morning, they are taking Pre-Orders with a £30.00 deposit (see that comment above about moving the risk and costs to the smallest pockets).  And now I’m sitting here at work, working and blogging and trying to figure out how to convince myself not to place the deposit.

6210944064_f4f61c9d98_oLook at those lines, Victorian Railroading at its Finest (built in 1899 and still running today), and now announced in a Ready to Run exclusive model for the Rails of Sheffield store in England.  Seen here on the Severn Valley Railway in September 2011.

This is where getting into trouble comes into things.  I have a number of models on Pre-Order, some for projects which are “real”, some which are really just display/collection pieces, and I don’t have any room to display them in our current apartment (which poses a problem, and part of the reason I have a table to try to sell off some models in April at the Lakeshore Model Railroaders Flea Market, but I digress, more on that in the future).

My pre-order list maybe isn’t as long as some peoples, but its long enough:

  • Realtrack ScotRail Class 156 – This is a shelf model. I’ll probably regret this one, but its in and being billed sometime soon when.  My only justification was one of my earliest models as a kid was a Lima Class 156 model that my grandfather gave me. It’s a pretty rough model by today’s standards, and the new one is manufactured by Rapido Trains for Realtrack and is a real stunner in both looks and the DCC sound.
  • Rapido SW1200RS CNR – This is one that is due to arrive in Canada in March 2018, it’s on the water as I type coming from the factory to Rapido. At least this is a must have for my modelling era and will likely be a core locomotive on the Liberty Village Line layout.
  • Heljan Lynton & Barnstaple OO9 2-6-2 Locomotive. This pre-order also came from an idea for a diorama to use other models I own in that 2016 post, and it did prompt me to build a custom OO9 locomotive and start a narrow gauge shelf layout (that I haven’t worked on in a while…seems to be trend there). The first run that mine was a part of had all kinds of problems, leading to them being effectively recalled to be re-manufactured.  Allegedly due back to the UK in March 2018, that remains to be seen.  UK pre-orders are a real pain between the potential for price increase and currency conversion rates.
  • Bachmann Scotrail DBSO, a companion to a customized Class 47 #47703 locomotive I did to model a 1980’s ScotRail Push-Pull Trainset. They announced them in March 2013, I think I ordered mine in 2015 or 2016, could show up someday, there’s at least been an engineering prototype produced now.  This is probably one I could still cancel the order for without hurting the Canadian importer I use for some of my UK models.
  • Rapido Canadian Pacific Royal Hudson – Another display case model, as I’m ordering the 1939 Royal Train version of locomotive 2850. First samples look amazing, sounds like it may be in production by end of 2018.  This one’s also one I could cancel, but I’ve wanted a model Royal Hudson since I was probably 10 or 12 years old, and I know I’d kick myself until the end of time if I passed on it now.
  • Locomotion Models/National Railway Museum Great Western Railway 4-4-0 City of Truro.  A model that was released probably 8 years ago now that I’ve been kicking myself over missing that whole time. Another not for layout, but a locomotive that I find incredibly attractive and allegedly a record breaker.  This is another one I could maybe back out of, but I’ve already spent the better part of a decade wishing I’d bought one the last time it was made.

So six big items. Definitely not as bad as many people’s lists, but it’s still a lot of money to budget for, especially as if the rule of the land holds true, and they all show up at the same time!

So back to the just announced model. There is only one British locomotive that I have no layout for that I would want more, and every time someone starts a discussion about a new announcement, everyone expects someone to announce it…

01234_n_15amvrns7n1234The only thing that would have been worse than the announcement of 828, a Caledonian 419 at Bo’Ness, the first working steam locomotive I remember as a child.

A Caledonian Railway Class 439 0-4-4 Tank Engine.  One is preserved, by the Scottish Railway Preservation Society at their Bo’Ness and Kinneil Railway outside Edinburgh.  This was the first steam locomotive I can remember seeing in steam and riding behind, and it has a special place in my heart because of that!

If today’s announcement had been a 419, it would have been meme time…

takemymoneyThank you Futurama…the best most underrated cartoon of the 00’s, That Statement is Technically Correct, the Best Kind of Correct…I’ll stop now and show myself out..

As it is, I suspect in the next few weeks I will place a pre-order for an “As Preserved” model of 828, but I’m not rushing onto my keyboard to place the order. I’m typing a lengthy convoluted blog post to stop myself from doing that. See, good things can happen on the internet!!  Rails is apparently saying 18 months to delivery, or mid 2019. That means no need to rush and order today, can think about it, and make sure if I’m going to, that I get it in before orders close.  It would also likely be the furthest out of my current pre-orders, meaning all the other things I’ve committed to buy should arrive before it.

6213612559_a49b1964ff_oPreserved Caledonian Railways “Jumbo” 812 class locomotive 828 at the Severn Valley Railway in 2011. She’s a looker, and the “As-Preserved” model announced today is seriously tempting me.