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Model Railway Express News Bulletin 20 October 2014


Trams in the sunshine

By Phil Parker

Yesterday I visited the Sydney Tramway Museum. It's a lower key opeation that the UK tramway museum at Crich but very friendly. With over 100 cars in various stages of repair, there's quite a fleet too.

The museum has been in existance since the 1950s but now enjoys modest running over the ex-military line that ran alongside it for many years.

Best of all, access was via a regular train service, even on a Sunday. The station is next door!

More on the Sydney Tramway Museum website.

Have Your Say

Haing your say - Mon 20th October

By Phil Parker

Duke of Gloucester

Just a note to confirm that the Duke was a frequent visitor to Glasgow, having seen it there myself and confirmed by a number of friends. There is also a published photograph of it leaving Aberdeen and also a number of sightings at Perth. It was regarded as "not uncommon"!

Chas Dougan


There is a picture of 71000 at Aberdeen on 30/7/61 on a stopping passenger to Buchanan St. in George O'Hara's  BR Steam in Scotland. I seem to remember comments on its appearances north of the Border as being uncommon, but certainly more than once, but cannot remember the source, but it was in the seventies when plenty were around to remember its movements.

Richard Doake


The long wait for mine, the R3236 version, ended today with its arrival. What a disappointment. First the coupling between engine & tender fell apart. Then I noticed the front buffers were pointing about 10 degrees upwards & finally the rear coupling fell off in 2 pieces. Luckily for me Hattons said they would replace it & cover my postage costs. Quality control is, sadly, becoming a thing of the past.

Peter Rich

Editor: Before condemning the general quality control, has anyone else received a duff Duke? Excellent customer service by Hattons though.



I have been understanding and very supportive of Hornby.
Regular readers will know of my enthusiasm and admiration for the Rail Road 'Duke' and the P2.
I recently asked Hattons to notify/update me as to when the ex GER D16 would be expected. Bearing in mind that it has appeared in adverts as due in September I hoped that its appearance would not be long delayed.
Yesterday I received an update to the effect that the D16 is now due in March 2015, an almost 6 month delay.
Here we go again....
Incidently, as 71000 was based at Crewe for most if not all its short service life it seems highly likely that it ventured to Glasgow on the WCML from time to time.
Dudley Jones


Concerning Commissions

Although we’re living in tighter financial times I’m amazed at the amount of rolling stock that has become possible now.

With success stories such as the Beattie Well Tank and LMS Garratt now the phenomenon of commission models has opened the possibility even wider, surely the sky’s the limit?

However, I’m concerned with regards to how viable these projects are. Perhaps I haven’t heard all the news but there’s projects I’ve placed orders for and haven’t heard anything of them for over a year. It’s one of the reasons why I’m holding back from DJ models great class 71 offering. When it involves a transaction before delivery there’s a strong chance the money could be held up for years.

For example the Model Rail sentinel was completed from announcement to finish within 18 months and was well documented. Now I’m looking at the USA Tank due 2013 leaflet but I haven’t heard anything since the switch to Bachmann in September last year. I’m really wondering if such projects are still running because I haven’t heard that they’ve been cancelled or anything. So you see the risk that it would be to fund projects straight up, could end up with the purchaser being years out of pocket.

Here’s a list of the projects I’ve had interest in some I have orders for but what’s happened?

Loconotion models – leader project announced 2008

Kernow - Bulleid 1-Co-Co-1 Diesel announced 2010

Rails exclusive – Class 33 ultimate spec announced 2011

Model rail – USA tank project announced 2012

Have any/all these projects been cancelled? If anyone has any knowledge what has been/is happening with regards to these commissions it would be greatly appreciated. Considering there’s rumours for more commissioned models on the way I’d like to know if the ones from previous years are still coming at all because I can’t afford to get ahead of myself.

David Ashworth

Editor: Model Rail have been keeping readers updated with the progress of the USA tank in the pages of the magazine so it's certainly not cancelled. As for the others, can anyone help?


Wish List Poll

Having completed my OO Wish List I suddenly realised there was no mention of OO9.  Whilst it may not have been included in the past it does fall within the OO category and we now have three major manufacturers,  Peco, Heljan and Bachmann, producing/soon to produce ready to run locomotives and rolling stock.   I do hope their combined efforts are rewarded and this development encourages more to take interest in the charm of a narrow gauge feeder to their layouts, or layouts in their own right.  

Having enjoyed the writings of the late P.D. Hancock in the Railway Modeller, describing his fictional Craig and Mertonford Railway, I have already acquired the offerings from Peco to add to the layout started many years ago but stalled due to circumstances not foreseen.  
Whilst on the subject of the Wish List, I had expected to see the Gresley V4 2-6-2.  Although only two locomotives were built the photographs I have seen illustrate an attractive machine. Although based in Scotland until withdrawal, ‘Bantam  Cock’ came south for a period before nationalisation and operated on G.E. metals in lined L.N.E.R. livery.    Malcolm Root’s 2015 Railway Art Calendar features a painting of ‘Bantam Cock’ at work in Scotland and when I saw him yesterday at the Chelmsford Model Railway Exhibition he also had a limited edition print of his painting available for purchase.  We now have one-off prototypes being produced in OO so a Class of two must stand a chance – and we may see a replica on the main line one day.
Frank Spence


A bit more on Sleepers and Dining Cars

Alistair Wright (Friday) made an interesting observation about Sleepers and Dining Cars.
In order to ‘keep a level playing field’ for those who haven’t yet voted in The Wishlist Poll 2014, I think it needs to be taken into account that the model railway world was vastly different over 30 years ago to what it is today. As they say in the financial world: Past performance may not be a reliable indicator of future performance.
Looking at Pat Hammond’s excellent Ramsay Catalogue, I see that the ex-Dapol (now Hornby) 12-wheel 68ft Dining Car has had around 20 releases in various liveries and running numbers since 1987. An example is still available to buy on the Hornby website.
As noted by John Cherry (also Friday), if it looks right, it is right. Whilst that might not appeal to the aficionado, it certainly seems to for the buying public. When Hornby released the Hawksworths, they had to respond to public demand for unauthentic GWR livery versions. Anathema to me, but fine for many!

Model railways encompass a broad church and that's partly what makes the subject so captivating.
Brian Macdermott


Whilst Alistair Wright might like to think that his etched kit sales experience is a true barometer of demand for specific coaches, this overlooks the significant difference (in outlook as well as numbers) between those who have the desire and skill to make models and those who are essentially box-openers.
Whilst I am sure that sleepers and 12-wheel diners are not high on everybody’s ‘wish lists’, they will undoubtedly appeal to many RTR purchasers, if only for novelty value or to ‘complete the rake’.   (After all, very few layouts really require a Duke of Gloucester, yet demand has been surprisingly high.)   That said, the recently-expressed concerns about rising model prices and affordability will not exactly boost demand for the more esoteric items and their appearance and popularity must remain speculative. 
Nick Stanbury


Metropolitan Railway Coaches

One of your correspondents recently noted that there are no suitable coaches to run behind the planned Heljan London Transport electric loco. I agree that it would be good to see one of the manufacturers provide these.

One option if you are happy to scratch build is to use the card kits from Street Level Models. The sides are beautifully printed, far better than I could paint, leaving the relatively basic body construction to be done. I have used modified Bachmann bogies and some white metal components bought from Mainly Trains. The final result is more at the "Railroad" end of the scale but is quite passable at "normal viewing distance".  It may actually be possible to find a suitable donor coach that will accept the Street Level Model sides and save some work.

Patrick Peake
Perth. Australia


The Great Electric Train Show

I had a real treat during my last Sunday visit to GETS – I was invited ‘back stage’ of Abbey Road, the well-known London Underground layout by John Polley. I was amazed at the speed with which he and his colleague operator, Roger, were flicking switches and setting roads whilst still talking perfectly coherently to me!
Many will know that John is the owner of Metromodels (; he has recently started working with 3D-printing. The photo below shows one such model and the photo below that gives an overall view of ‘front of house’ of Abbey Road.

The rest of the show was a great pleasure for me as many of the layouts were ‘my cup of tea’ – big and portraying the late 50s/early 60s!


Hinton Parva (above) always pleases the eye; the team works really hard running to a pre-planned schedule. More details here:
One layout that I hadn’t seen before, but would like to see again, is Horfield (below). This is a 35ft x 10ft finescale 00 layout representing a busy 4-track section of the Western Region. The layout featured in Hornby Magazine, February 2014.

My final picture (below) shows a signalbox on the Thornbury Hill layout, which is set on the London Victoria to Brighton line somewhere in the south London area in 1962. The layout sees an intensive service of main line and suburban electric trains along with the occasional freight and parcels service. Seeing the Brighton Belle hurtle through is pure magic! You’ll see that and the rest of the layout in one of my Tea Breaks during November.


Finally, the Bachmann display was chock full of some delightful models…those Porthole coaches look brilliant!
Thanks to all for a great show.
Brian Macdermott


Aussie XPT

I may stand to be corrected, but I believe they were built in Australia under licence.  First time I've seen a really good picture of one though
Tony Elliott


The fluting or corrugations on the body sides of the passenger cars is fairly common here, the bodies are made of stainless steel, and the corrugations lend longitudinal rigidity to them.
I'm pretty sure that a large part of the XPT sets were built here, but the Paxman engines and transmissions came from the UK. Some may have been re-engined lately, as they are getting pretty old now.
I'm glad to hear that you had a comfortable trip on the 'IP', with an interesting diversion at the Sydney end.

Bill Pearce


As a retired  chemist from the labs of the former NSWGR/PTC of NSW, I was around to witness the preparations for the introduction of the XPTs into NSW.
The NSWGR was re-organised and restructured in the 1970s and 1980s, becoming the Public Transport Commission of NSW and then State Rail Authority of NSW (SRA). There have been further restructures since then.
In 1982, the first XPTs began service with the SRA. These had a long development from the UK-designed HSTs. A great deal of research and practical trial work was carried out by the SRA Laboratories in consultation with the Mechanical Branch Design Office before the design was settled with Commonwealth Engineering who assembled the vehicles, using “a blend of local and imported components”. Differences included:

  • Larger aluminium cooling groups (to cope with higher temperatures)
  • De-rated Paxman diesel engines (to cope with higher temperatures)
  • Higher capacity air conditioning systems
  • No guard’s compartment in the power car
  • Welded construction of bogies instead of bolted or riveted
  • Fluted stainless steel bodies on trailer coaches – consistent with other long-distance loco hauled coaches
  • Increased vertical travel of axleboxes in bogies
  • Different spring rates in all bogies
  • Lower maximum speed

 The units have been a great success and are still in service. On test, they set a new Southern Hemisphere speed record (183 kph) in 1983.
I hope this note is of interest.
Robert Evans


Our esteemed editor asks why some coaches seen in Australia have fluted sides.  

I have little knowledge of or interest in overseas railways but suggest that the fluting is for structural rather than stylistic reasons, in that coach bodies made from aluminium or thin steel are commendably light but lack strength unless suitably fluted/corrugated/ribbed – chose your preferred process and term.  Such coaches have long been conspicuous on railways in the US and certain other former colonies.
Nick Stanbury


Hazel Grove & District MRS

2014 Model Railway Exhibition

Saturday & Sunday 25th - 26th October 2014

Saturday 10am to 5pm; Sunday 10 am to 4pm

Hazel Grove Recreation Centre, Jacksons Lane, Hazel Grove, Stockport SK7 5JX

21 layouts

Full Trade Support including SQUIRES

Demonstrations – Club Sales Stand – Free parking – Disabled access – Refreshements

Adults £5.00 – Concession £4.00 – Children £3.00
Children under 16 accompanied by Adult go Free

Free bus from Hazel Grove station both days

More details at –

Norman Hambridge


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 read the Notes for Contributors and 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.


Brassmasters Princess Royal

By Phil Parker

After many years in development Brassmasters are pleased to announce the introduction of a kit for the LMS ’Princess Royal’ 4-6-2 locomotive and tender.

It follows their standard practice of resin boiler/firebox, etched nickel silver superstructure and chassis and is completed by whitemetal castings, lost wax castings and turned fittings.  

The kit allows any of the locomotives fitted with the most common combustion chamber (long firebox) boiler to be modelled. These were used on Nos. 6203-12 from new and on 46200 and 46201 from 1952. The GWR style motion used on these first two engines is also provided in addition to the later type fitted to the ten production series engines.

For the real masochists, dummy working inside motion is included – it is just visible through the cut-out in the front frames!  

The price for the locomotive is £220 and the 10T high sided riveted tender, which were paired with the ‘Princesses’ from 1936/7 onwards, is £45, both prices exclude post and packing.

The kit is being produced in a limited edition of only 40.   Full details are on

Hints and Tips

Hints & Tips No.895 - Soft Drink Cans as a Detail

By Charles Beckman

I think this is scale-dependent. O or G scale modelers might beat a crushed can into a reasonable facsimile of a crushed car as part of a 'stack of scrap' carload. The material is way too thick to represent crushed sheet metal in the smaller gauges. On the other hand, it could be cut up with snips and painted/weathered into reasonably convincing chunks of scrapped ship hull plating.


British Rail Departmental Locomotives 1948-1968

By Paul Smith & Shirley Smith

Publisher: Ian Allan Publishing (OPC), Riverdene Business Park, Molesey Road, Hersham, KT12 4RG.

ISBN: 978 0 7110 3800 4

Pages: 96

Illustrations: 216 including 91 maps

Date: September 2014

Cover: Hardback

Size: 210x150mm portrait

Price: £20

Index: Very good

This book is about the non-glamorised workhorses on Britain’s railways, the departmental locomotives that worked in the sheds, workshops or even as stationary boilers. This forms a very useful reference work, covering steam, diesel, electric and battery engines and includes not only standard gauge but also narrow gauge. The book contains photographs of the subjects and also includes locations with maps showing where the locomotives were to be found.

At the back of the book there is an index of locations which includes additional information including co-ordinates and the status of each site. An appendix provides details of departmental locomotives that have been preserved and the location of them where known.

Reviewed by Pat Hammond

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