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Model Railway Express News Bulletin 27 March 2015


Will you go down to a show today?

By Phil Parker

Time for a new poll I feel. This time we're asking how many model railway exhibitions you visit in a year.

Strictly speaking this is more appropriate for UK modellers who have 500 events a year to chose from, but please don't let that stop you voting - it will be interesting to get an average across the readership.

For non-UK readers, perhaps I should ask how many you might visit if it wasn't such a long way to travel. Mind you, you probably have a different perception of distance. In the UK, some people moan about traveling 20 miles whereas the typical Aussie or American considers ten times that a quick run out!

Talking of voting, this weekend is the last chance to get your vote in for the Model of the Year 2015 survey so if you haven't voted, please do.

Have Your Say

Having your say - Fri 27th March 2015

By Phil Parker


In Wednesday’s MREmag John Coats wrote, “Regarding trade reviews of new models in the British Model Press I agree with Adrian Swain that they are about as useful as Chocolate Teapots.  Look at the review on this site of the Bachmann E4, Five and a half lines of comments on the new model and at least five times as many lines on the history of the prototype.  How can a modeler be expected to make a purchasing judgement based on that information.”

In short – they were not intended to.  I have from time to time pointed out in this magazine that I do not write critiques, because I do not have sufficient knowledge of the real locomotives and rolling stock to do so.  As many readers know, I am interested in the history of the British model railway industry and of the individual models that have been produced down the years.  That is why I took on the job of writing Ramsay’s British Model Trains Catalogue and why I publish Train Collector magazine.

The ‘reviews’ I write for MREmag are intended as introductions to the model, just as they were 15 years ago when I started writing them. I have never passed them off as critiques. There are plenty of people capable of writing those and no doubt we will see them in MREmag if the editor’s plans for Citizen Journalism take off, as I am sure they will.  In the meantime I shall continue with my introductions and histories, as long as the Editor wishes me to.

Pat Hammond


Changes to Hornby models

I read with interest this Wednesday’s MREmag and noted Andrew Carter’s comment with regards to Hornby making changes to the Star and the GWR Tanks without acknowledging the fact. I have great respect for Andrew’s past and current postings on MREmag and hope the following may be of interest to him and others.

Firstly, the changes were made because of the comments raised by the model buying public and were set in motion prior and just after I left Hornby which is now nearly a year!  One and probably the main reason that Hornby did not highlight these changes when introducing their latest variants is the fact that there maybe earlier models on the retailers shelves which obviously do not have the changes and therefore any announcement may render them ‘obsolete’. This is not a new procedure but one that Hornby has adopted for many years.

Without doubt and certainly during my time at Hornby the end users comments were and still are listened to but sadly not all changes and modifications can take place immediately.  Changes may involve in some cases tooling modifications after which the actual production of the models. This procedure and delay can take up to a year or more.

I trust the above has helped to clarify the situation. As an aside I shall be on the Hornby stand at Alexandra Palace this weekend and would be happy to renew acquaintances as well as make new ones over the weekend and i look forward to seeing you there.

Simon Kohler


Bachmann 4F

Many thanks to John Cherry (Wednesday 25.03) for considering me as an S&D expert, but there are people with a far greater S&D knowledge than me.  I'm just an avid studier of pictures and captions from S&D books, videos and the trust's website, and when I need to know more I ask our friend Brian Macdermott, and if he doesn't know, he always knows who will.
To answer Johns question about S&D Armstrong 44560, Brian, others and I, did a very exhaustive study of photos of all the Armstrongs in BR 60s days and came to the conclusion that 44560 was the best one to model because of it's long-livety and consistent condition, and with evidence to show that too.  So yes, this is the one that I'm modelling using a Bachmann 4F.
However, whilst the main details of the loco body are probably correct (the Armstrongs were Midland engines with right hand drive and beaded splashers as per the Bachmann model) the Fowler tender body is wrong for an Armstrong.  Bachmann have modelled the preserved 43924 which has a tender with large 'coal doors' on it's front face and with tank vents behind the rear coal plate, whereas 44560 has a 'coal hole' tender face with the tank vents inside the coal space.  We found no Armstrong photos with this Bachmann tender, and indeed the impression I've formed is that most 4Fs had the 'coal hole' rather than 'coal door' Fowler tender.
So to have an accurate 44560, I'll have to do a chopping/carving and filing job on the front face of my nice Bachmann tender.  I haven't started yet because I was hoping to find a 'bits' supplier that makes a white metal or etched brass tender face to make the job easier, but no luck so far.
Regarding John's last point about Bachmann's newly proposed 44044 and their model having the wrong splashers for this loco, yes your right John, but it was locos only up to 44011 (not 44026) (plus the 5 Armstrongs) that were built with beaded splashers like Bachmanns 4F.  Also, repairs tended to have beaded splashers removed not added.  So 44044 had plain splashers.
Another error with 44044 is potentially the tender. The picture on the Bachmann website shows it with the 'as preserved tender' from 43924, but unless Bachmann have a photo or tender history records to show otherwise, this may be the wrong one.  44044 was built with a Midland Johnson tender and received a Fowler one around March 1956, however, as I discovered, it's very difficult to see from most photos whether a tender front has a coal hole or coal doors, because most photos are a 45 degree or lesser view and the angle isn't right for seeing far enough into the 'cab space'.  When I eventually found a 'good' photo, it was almost always not showing a 'coal door' tender front.
Maybe Bachmann have that photo or tender history, and/or maybe they're going to tool up the 'coal hole' tender top, and the website picture is just a 'quick' illustration. 
Finally John, in your last line I think you mean 'beaded splashers' not 'plain splashers'
If John or anyone else wants to read even more about all this, I and others on here generated lots of 'froth' in the Having Your Say section of MREmags dated 01/7/13 , 3/7/13 , 5/7/13 , 8/7/13 , and 10/7/13 
Apologies if all this sounds a bit complicated.
Peter Welfare.


The answer to John Cherry’s question about 4F no. 44044 is that it didn’t have beading on the splashers; nor did any of the LMS engines, nor the Midland-built ones numbered between 4012 and 4026. The S&D engines, being from an earlier batch, did have beading, like all the Midland examples up to 4011.

Tenders on Midland-built 4F’s are a very mixed bag because many of them were coupled to second-hand ones from withdrawn engines. The Bachmann model has the same Johnson 3,250 gallon type as their 3F, which is fine for many examples, but not for the S&D engines, nor for the preserved [4]3924 in original condition, along with a number of other Midland engines. These were coupled to the Johnson 3,500 gallon type which was visually very different to the smaller types in having neither raised beading on the sides and ends of the tank, nor flush-finished countersunk rivets; instead they had very prominent snap-head rivets. Panelled Johnson tenders of different capacities primarily differed from one another in the width of their tanks, ranging from 6’1” on the 2,750 gallon type to 7’1” on the 3,250 gallon variety. This makes them difficult to distinguish from many angles.

Later in life a lot of Midland 4F’s gained Fowler 3,500 gallon tenders from withdrawn engines, including, I suspect, Fowler “Austin Seven” 0-8-0’s, 2P’s and LMS compounds. The S&D examples, along with the Derby-built 7F 2-8-0’s, were recipients of these.

Finally, apropos of the illustration on the cover of the edition of Bachmann Times shown in Wednesday’s magazine, the S&D “Armstrongs”, as they were known, were never painted blue, that livery having been abolished for goods engines in 1914. Come to that, I’m as near certain as I can be that neither were the S&D Bagnall tanks blue, the livery having been finally abolished altogether between their being ordered and delivered.

Neil Burgess


Timetable vs sequence

My own layout is a main line terminus station which is surrounded by a twin track circuit with access from the station in any direction. The station has six platforms, a parcels siding and a small goods yard with two roads. There is an engine shed with disposal road, turntable and coal stage. The working of the station is very intense as on arrival all locomotives are trapped by their train. Carriages are pulled off by pilots and taken to carriage sidings off the outer circuit. Locomotives reverse to the shed, are turned and coaled, watered and stabled for their next turn. This layout is controlled by DC from one position with room for two people to participate if desired.

I operate a sequence with the sole object of ensuring that all stock is used. I visit other layouts where the owners just tend to run their latest acquisitions or perhaps their favourites. I like to ensure that all stock is used. The outer circuit ensures that all locomotives have the opportunity for a good run round with which I believe they all run the better for.

I copied and amended that layout from a 1970’s Model Railway Engineering magazine which was just the station etc and a fiddle yard. The locomotives would never run more that 10-12 feet which did not appeal to me.

In the summer months, May to early October, I help to operate on a large O gauge garden railway. This too is DC controlled with a minimum of 5 operators at 5 locations. There are 2 main line termini stations and 1 branch line terminus station. There is also a through station with two junctions on the main line. Only the through station is not in a shed.

This railway is owned and was built by an ex railwayman and is operated to a strict timetable. Everything is done in a prototypical way and in keeping with the owner’s belief that many model railways have too much track just to make operating more easy, the track work is minimal. Operators must therefore follow the provided instructions to the letter, to ensure that every movement is correct and all stock left in the correct places. Failure to do this always results in a monumental jam which causes delays to the timetable to the amusement of everyone else.

The timetable as written takes just over 2.5 hours to complete. Stock is dispersed widely throughout the layout when operating and the whole timetable has to be completed to ensure that all stock returns to its own station to be in the correct place to run again next time.

There has only ever been one occurrence in my experience whereby the session was terminated. On all other occasions the clocks keeps running and efforts have to be made to catch up with the timetable. This is different to another large layout which no longer exists on which I used to help. This had a master switch wired into the two large station clocks and whenever things went awry there was a shout of ‘stop the clock’ which was done until things were rectified.

In the winter it is another large O gauge layout in a garage. This one is DCC with pretty much hot and cold running everything. Two main line termini each with an engine shed with working coaling facilities, one being a coaling tower with wagon hoist and the other a ground level wagon tippler. Each has a goods yard and a turntable. One of these has to occupy the main line to release locomotives from trains that have arrived. There is also a through station with an industrial branch to a working coal mine.

Coal trains are loaded at the mine, moved to the station goods yard and then dispersed to the loco sheds to service the coal hoppers. The empty wagons are then reassembled into trains and returned to the coal mine for reloading. There are other freight movements including van trains and oil trains and of course the usual mix of passenger workings. One loco shed has a diesel servicing facility and the 5 diesel locomotives all visit for servicing periodically.

I am not going into this detail to impress but to try to explain why the change from a timetable to a sequence was made on this layout. As I hope you will appreciate from the above description each station becomes very busy at certain times. Unfortunately not all at the same time. This caused operators to be left with little to do for lengthy periods which was OK to start with (cups of tea and a natter etc.) but soon became a source of complaint. It was therefore decided to switch to a sequence and make movements as soon as it was convenient for all concerned. The same order of movements as per the timetable is used but not timed. This has worked much better even though it has not entirely eliminated some slack periods and operators are happier with this system.

From the above experiences I would make the following observation. Working to a timetable of necessity leads to clock watching. The thought is always there that you must not lose time especially at busy times. This can have a detrimental effect on the quality of running with movements being made un-prototypically quick and trains run too fast. With a sequential operation people seem to operate the stock at a more prototypical speeds which to me greatly add to the realism.

Merv Rogers.
East Yorkshire.


I've been following the thread on choosing a prototype to model and the issues raised, and was struck by a comment on "scale time".

American club model railways often can be very large indeed using a folded and interleaved aisle design to maximise the available mainline track run, but when push comes to shove they are still faced with the reality that the prototype run may have been twenty miles (often more) between industries but they have less than one scale mile of mainline in total.

The old-saw answer to this problem has always been to use a fast clock to run time at a much accelerated rate, compressing the day in the same way the mileage has been compressed on the model. In the beginning this
involved pulling cogs out of the works of a full sized clock, and there are, or were, small hobby industries that purpose-made such things for purchase, but in this day and age a computer is a fine stand-in.

I'm wondering why no-one has mentioned using a fast clock in the past. Are these devices not a feature of the UK model railway scene? I'd have thought they'd be ideal for passenger traffic intensive layouts.

It occurs to me that anyone with access to Maplins  (oh, those were the days, when it was a matter of a quick nip up the A45) could knock up a fine period replica fast clock from a photograph of the real thing, couple of step motors, some necessary (free) driver software, a Raspberry Pi and some card or wood. Such a clock could even, on command, start showing the real time in order to do domestic service when the railway is closed for Real Life.

Steve Mann


Milk Train Working

Many thanks to Chris Nottage and Rev Graham Crawford for letting us have their thoughts on operation (Wednesday). As promised, I will be sharing some of the ways I operate my layout with you – today’s offering is about Milk Trains.
If you study the chart attached, it will become apparent that I roster the following locos to the following loads:
1-3 Tankers – Hall or Grange
4-6 Tankers – County
7-9 Tankers – Castle or 28xx
10-12 Tankers – King, D600 or 47xx
You will notice I mention a 47xx. I will be getting one of the Heljan locos in due course. The D600 is a Silverfox loco which will be changed for a Kernow version when available.
Milk Train Working (PDF)
Brian Macdermott


Bachmann V2

I support John Cherry's request for a single chimney, green, late crest V2 with the retooled body. I often wonder what market research decides which type of model is produced. The same could be said regarding Hornby's decision to produce BR WC "Bude" which was a "one off" with extended smoke deflectors. I would have thought a more anonymous member of the class would have wider appeal. I guess the research has been done.

Andy Moore


May I whole heartedly endorse John Cherry’s point regarding Bachmann producing yet another double chimney V2, given that there is such a beast in the current (well nearly) range.

John is correct is stating that only six V2’s were thus equipped and I believe that only 60963 had a double chimney fitted by the onset of 1960. This obviously means that double chimney machines were not only limited in number but limited in timescale too.

I do look forward to the total upgrade from Bachmann, which I feel personally is long overdue. However, I do hope Bachmann can see sense and produce a single chimney BR green version – probably far and away the most popular version.

Now, if Bachmann really want to be clever they could produce V2 60813 with a stove pipe chimney and deflector wings! I jest (I think)!
Keith Bryant


94xx on Chalford Trains

Many thanks to John Goss (Wednesday) for the interesting 94xx photos.
I contacted Mike Arlett and he has kindly supplied the photo I referred to in last week’s Tea Break text. It is from the Lightmoor Press Norman Lockett Archive series of books, specifically ‘Western Region Steam 1950-1965’ (by Mike Arlett & David Lockett).
It shows No.8491 climbing the bank into Brimscombe station on 22 May 1961.
Looking at the photos in the book, it is amazing how many types of Autocoach were used on the Chalford trains. Motive power was also variable. One of Norman’s photos dated 7 August 1961 shows No.5182 – also with two trailers.
I forgot to mention in the Tea Break notes that at least one 94xx has been photographed working a passenger train from Bath (Green Park) to Bristol Temple Meads.

Photograph by Norman Lockett, courtesy/copyright David Lockett.

Brian Macdermott


Emerald Lake Model Railway

Regarding models of this type being good for the hobby or not, I think that layouts should be viewed in the context that they are presented. The Emerald Lake Model Railway is obviously well and truly focused on kids and casual visitors. It is meant to be fun. If it manages to capture children's imagination and leads them into the hobby in a more serious way later in life then I believe these types of layouts have a place and purpose.

However; maybe the same could not be said if a proliferation of layouts of this nature start to appear at exhibitions and so start to falsely represent railways and the more serious side of the hobby. I took my young son and daughter to the Emerald layout once, they ran around amazed and captivated by some of the "set pieces" or "dioramas" but one visit was enough for them. Besides, they couldn't wait to get back to the station for another ride behind an NA Class tank doing battle with 1 in 30 - 1 in 40 grades on the Puffing Billy Railway!!

Andy Moore


Shifting geography!

Sorry about this, but I ‘shifted geography’ on Wednesday when I said the Swindon-Bristol line crosses under the S&D just north of Cole. It doesn’t! It is the Reading-Exeter line.
Brian Macdermott


MRC Membership Special Offer at LFoRM 2015

The London festival of railway Modelling is at Alexandra Palace this weekend, with a great selection of 40 layouts, inspiring demonstrations and trade. The Model Railway Club (which organises the layouts and the stewarding) has a fantastic offer for new members joining the MRC at the show. Not only do you get 50% off the normal annual membership rate, but you also get a Model Craft modelling tool set worth £39.95, absolutely free.
The Model Railway Club, based near King's Cross London, in our own purpose built premises, has something for all serious railway modellers. We cater for all scales, and you can get involved in one of our club layouts, use the workshop, attend monthly lectures, test your models on our test tracks, use our extensive library or just come along on Thursday Track nights to talk railway modelling with fellow modellers and improve your know how and skills.
So come along to our stand at Alexandra Palace (you can't miss it, it’s right at the entrance to the Great Hall) and sign up.  Remember this very special offer is only available for new members signing up at the exhibition and completing a direct debit or standing order mandate. More details are at our website
Tom Cunnington
MRC Exhibitions Co-ordinator


Join in the discussion - send an e-mail to:

In the case of e-mails published in MREmag, individual responses from the editor are not usually sent unless there is an issue to be raised or answered. Our thanks to all those who contributed their thoughts, questions and answers which develop the topics covered above. A special thanks to Pat Hammond, Brian Macdermott, and Trevor Gibbs for their regular features.

 If you have suggestions for the model manufacturers to consider, or if there is anything else you would like to discuss within the British railway modelling and collecting subject base of this magazine, please send me an e-mail, giving your ‘first’ name and surname (no pseudonym please) to Please keep your postings to a reasonable limit, as well as being positive, polite and definitely not libellous.

Anonymous comments cannot be published. Your contributions will be edited for readability and acceptability within the unbiased policy of the magazine. Care will be taken not to alter the views expressed but they remain those of the writer of the e-mail and are not necessarily shared by the Editor.

Any photographs supplied for use must have been taken by you, or you have copyright clearance for MREmag to use them.

Event information is reported as supplied and taken in good faith. If you are planning to travel a long distance, you are advised to check the website or contact the organiser to make sure everything is going ahead.

 Remember! The manufacturers are our friends - not our enemies. They read this magazine and so, when you comment on their products, you are talking directly to them. Choose your words carefully as you would with a friend.

Hints and Tips

Hints & Tips No.963 - Making Paint Mixtures Part 1

By Ken Church

These are some of the mixings I use in painting pictures but they should work particularly well for backdrops and for buildings and groundwork such as fields and trees. In each case the first colour is the main one and the others are mixed into this.

Trees: Windsor yellow (a very strong colour; use carefully!) & windsor blue - gradually increasing blue for darker areas then add light red for added darkness. (There are many other colour combinations e.g., Windsor blue & burnt sienna = dark green. In fact try any shades of blue/yellow with added earth colours - they are all different and all good!).

Roofs: Ultramarine/light red/crimson = dark grey. For a different base colour just alter the sequence of colours.

Stone bridges: Raw sienna + a touch of crimson then add light red to darken; for cracks use burnt sienna/light red/ultramarine = very dark! (Of course stone colours vary considerably so just experiment with above colours + yellow ochre which adds a real glow to everything. A thought: Yellow Ochre + any blue makes a subdued green which melts back into the atmosphere - this could be included with the Trees above).

Fields, grass outcrops etc.: any of the above could be used – it is really just experimentation so try them out on a scrap of paper first and it is surprising what you will come up with, however, try not to use more than three colours otherwise you will have mud!

Tea Break

Time for a Nice Cup of Tea on a U Class

By Brian Macdermott

I normally try to give you a broad spectrum of videos covering model and full-size, and I try to do that on a turn-by-turn basis. We have had a run of ‘full size’ recently, but Peter Welfare was so enthusiastic about the U Class last week that I felt we had to have a closer look at one.

The class has been way up high in The Wishlist Poll since 2012 and climbs steadily year-by-year as other SR locos get taken up by the makers. The Class 700, S15, Adams Radial, USA Tank, Marsh Atlantic and Air-smooth Casing Merchant Navy are all in hand.

Let’s hope the makers see these photos and videos – if they do, I’m sure we’ll see the U in model form sooner rather than later!

I couldn’t make up my mind which of the two videos to show you, so I’ve gone for both. The first is about 6 minutes; the second is about 15 minutes – so I’ll leave it to you. If you ‘freeze frame’ the second one at around 3:30, have a close look at the wagons – almost a mobile Bachmann catalogue!

OK…if you’ve got your favourite mug of tea to hand, settle back for a long look at No.31806 – now resident on the Swanage Railway.

(By the way, if you think I’m biased, I promise you some J27 footage in the future!)

Photo of U Class at PhotoBucket

Swanage Railway strengthens its fleet with three classic 1920s steam locomotives

Model Railways

Graham Farish LMS Black Five (372-138)

By Pat Hammond

This is a highly detailed model from new tooling which in 2010 replaced the Graham Farish original model of 1978. Bachmann had reintroduced the old tooling in 2004 and had produced four versions of the model before abandoning it around 2009. The new model is far superior to the old one and comes highly detailed. It has a Stanier tender and a 6-pin DCC decoder socket fitted as standard. The tooling allows for both short and long firebox versions, smoke box with or without stepa and plain or riveted tenders.

The model is supplied with a packet of extras which include a replacement front bogie with scale wheels, cylinder drain-cocks, front coupling, dummy coupling hooks, brake hoses and an alternative drawbar.

Stanier's Class 5 mixed traffic locomotive of 1934 was one of the most successful and influential designs. The fact that 842 were built between 1934 and 1951 meant that they were a common sight on the LMS. The design was to form the basis of the Standard 5 class built by British Railways and ‘Black 5s’ remained on the network to the very end of steam. 18 were bought for preservation.

The model shown here is No.5190 in LMS black livery and with a 6A shed code. It belongs to era 3 and carries a recommented retail price of £129.95. Released at the same time is 372-139 No.45206 in BR black livery with early decals.

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How many model railway exhibitions do you visit in a year?
Q: How many model railway exhibitions do you visit in a year?

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