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Model Railway Express News Bulletin 30 January 2015


Optimism and nostalgia

By Phil Parker

Brian's Tea Time film today dates back to the days when what became the Class 31 diesel was the white heat of technology. Young boys would dream of being able to command one of these rail-borne spaceships.

It can be hard to find cause for optimism these days but back then, with BR in the middle of a massive modernisation programme, even if you weren't around, the sense of a better future is palpable. Maybe this is one of the reasons the steam to diesel transition era is so popular.

Have Your Say

Having your say - Fri 30th January 2015

By Phil Parker

Wooden wagon construction

Further to the comments on the new Oxford model open wagon,  I wonder how far the manufactures should go with internal detail on wooden open wagons.

Oxford has shown the planking joins inside the body, but in reality there should also be evidence of the fastenings that are obvious on the outside of the body inside as well. Wooden wagons were  so designed that a damaged plank could easily be replaced, and this means that all the fastenings of the timber work would have to be bolted ones.
On the various iron work pieces, such as  corner angles and diagonal braces, the fastenings that are modelled appear to be coach bolts, which have domed heads with a square neck beneath,for these bolts  the iron work  would have to have square holes to accommodate these necks. These square holes would have been punched through the iron work. This means that inside the wagon body there would be nuts and washers on the coach bolts. These would have to be in counter bores in the planks so that they did not protrude into the wagon and so snag on goods carried therein. I suspect that the planks would have been 1-1/2 inches thick at least, this thickness would allow a sufficiently deep counterbore to accommodate a 1/2 inch nut and washer.
Something similar would have applied to the external end timber verticals, although from the photo these look like they may have counterbored holes for the bolt heads.
I’m not in a position that I can examine a wooden bodied open wagon, but there should be a few of these around in the U.K. for someone to have a look at and see how the fastenings appear on the interiors, and see whether my assumptions on their arrangements are correct..
All the above does mean that for the internal appearance to be fully correct to prototype, there should at least be circular recesses inside the wagon body lining up with the various bolt heads on the outside.
Probably pretty hard to do with the moulding processes used now-a-days.
Could one indicate these holes with a black marker pen? Hard to get the pen right down to the bottom of the wagon side or end or does one accept the present level of internal detail, planking joins only, and leave it at that?

Bill Pearce


Customer Comments

I hope the following will help Dudley Jones (Wednesday).
Criticism is both fine and essential – as long as it is constructive. In my days as a Quality Manager, my organisation never referred to ‘complaints’; the term used was ‘customer comments’. These could be either negative or positive and be used by the organisation to improve its products and services.
Ian Taylor, Merl Evans and I have all independently commented about the Oxford Rail wagon. Those comments have been made with the best of intentions to help Oxford ‘refine their products’.
I’m sure Dudley is not, as he puts it, “a person of low standards (seemingly)”, but is like the greater majority of us who buy locos and rolling stock to run on our model railways for our own pleasure. However, the standards of quality we now enjoy have come about partly by constructive criticism and customer comments. Complacency on the part of makers is something no-one wants.
Today’s world of ‘multiple platforms for verbal expression’ does facilitate those who would ‘bash’ a maker or product – but it has also enabled a far more comprehensive and rapid rate of knowledge sharing. From bitter experience, I can say quite categorically that model railway manufacturing is akin to walking through an uncharted minefield!
I would have written directly to Oxford Rail with my query about the bottom doors, but was surprised to find that the website carried no ‘contact us’ detail.
Brian Macdermott


I read with interest the comment recently regarding postings of criticism regarding the Oxford RCH wagon. My posting recently regarding the couplings was not meant to criticise but hope they would take another look at it. As they are new to the hobby they might like our input.

I find the postings on MREmag try in the main to be constructive and long may they be so as this sets it apart from some sites.

Regarding Hornby, if it means they have to make toys to keep me happy with the Main Range railway items then so be it. I am sure the non Railroad railway items they produce would not survive if it were not for the so called toys they produce.

Ian Taylor


Popularity of Train Sets

On Wednesday Peter Armond made an interesting point on the popularity of train sets as Christmas presents.

I remember watching one of those countdown type programs a couple of Christmases ago where they went through the top 100 toys of all time. Train sets did feature, but only once.

All the various computer game consoles got mentioned in their own right rather than grouping them all together as a generic item. People outside the model railway world do not seem to differentiate between the quite varying types of railway related toys and models.

Now I know if you did separate them all out for this kind of survey everything would be thinned down and they probably would not even feature, but it does show how people see a Playstation as a totally different item to an Xbox, but a train set is a train set no matter who makes it, what scale it is and how it is powered/operated.
David Rhodes


Hornby and image

I looks to me the Hornby need a second Branding for up-market model railway items. Hornby is associated with toys, Thomas, Harry Potter and getting kids (of all ages) started with something from the toy shop supermarket or
general catalogue. Nothing wrong with that as it is needed.

However the problem seems to be the model market, vary accurate with high levels of sometimes fragile details for the enthusiast/collector.

So perhaps a different branding 'HR Models' for instance. It has worked for Toyota/Lexus and Skoda/VW/Audi. So why not Hornby?

Allen Morgan


Can I mention a couple of issues which occurred over the last couple of years and, I think, illustrate a certain ‘lack of concentration’ on the part of the Hornby management.  Before I start, I should also note that my period and location of interest is 1955 to 1963 in south west Scotland.
The last 2P which Hornby produced was a Scottish based one, with the appropriate shedplate (possibly Kittybrewster?).  In the Hornby magazine review, it was recommended for a layout based in the English Midlands.
One of the last 4Fs they produced was 44331, with the late crest.  It has a 2B (Nuneaton) shedplate.  This is completely incorrect.  I was very interested in this loco, because I used to see it passing through Kilmarnock on a frequent basis in the late 1950s.  From 1955 until it was scrapped in May, 1963, it was always an Ayrshire loco, shedded at either 67B (Hurlford) or 67C (Ayr).  It took me about five minutes to look this up in one of Jim Grindlay’s excellent steam loco allocation books.  I contacted Hornby about this and asked if they were aware of the issue.  They agreed that it was a mistake by their Development Team and they could do nothing about it now.
I should also mention another significant mistake with both these locos.  I have not checked the measurements, but I’m quite sure by just looking at them that they don’t have large enough cabside numbers.  Both Hornby and Bachmann miss out on this, even when they do go to the trouble of producing a Scottish based ex-L.M.S. loco.  I’ve never been quite sure of the background to this, but I’m hoping that this note will prompt some informative replies.  As far as I’m aware, in B.R. days, St. Rollox works applied larger cabside numbers to locos than any other works.  The number which sticks in my head, but may be wrong, is that they were two inches deeper.  You could always tell a Scots (and Kingmoor) ‘Jubilee’ in this way, without actually reading the number.  Nearly all ex-L.M.S. locos in Scotland could be overhauled in St. Rollox.  As far as I’m aware, only the Scots and Pacifics went to England for shopping.
Ken Haywood



I find the attitude that a locomotive must have existed in someone’s memory for them to buy a model of it, quite extraordinary!

If that were true there would be a very limited market for Grouping liveries, yet Era 3 stock does not appear to linger on the shelves.

As Brian Macdermott recently pointed out, the sale of steam locomotives is holding up remarkably well, in spite of Old Father Demography reaping away.

Chris Spencer


Winston Churchill's Funeral

On Wednesday evening there was a fascinating program about the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill presented by Jeremy Paxman, It included some brief, but very good colour footage of the funeral train with good shots of the special van to carry the coffin and of Pullman Car Carina. The restoration of the loco was also briefly featured.

If you didn’t see it, it will no doubt be on iPlayer and will possibly be repeated. Well worth watching as a documentary generally as well as for the railway footage.

David Rhodes

Editor: iPlayer link to Churchill: The Nation's Farewell


Branksome Shed

I have become interested in the S&D and although I have several books on the subject, I have never found a picture of Branksome MPD. I understood that this depot not only serviced S&D locos but also large locos like Merchant Navies.

Can anyone out there direct me to any publications on this subject please

Alan Willesden


Exhibition venues

Our editor has hit the nail squarely on the head with his comment about venues costs.
Both the York and Doncaster shows are very large affairs, in what might be called the Top 10 of UK exhibitions with regard to size. Their organisers have the financial resources to hire these venues but the vast majority of Clubs organising shows don't. This means that they have to take whatever they can afford and live with the compromises that this may entail.
Lots of schools and colleges would be suitable for Club-type shows but the people who run them have no regard for helping out local organisations and are only concerned with maximising their own income. This leads to them pricing themselves out of consideration and, in at least one occasion I know about, losing ALL of a potential hire charge when they wouldn't compromise on the excessive fee they required.
Steve Grantham


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.

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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.939 - Using and scaling building papers

By Noel James

Printable shingle building sides and flooring templates for label paper should come out correctly sized. To print, enlarge pic to full size, right click, and then click on print picture. Set your printer on best quality. Use felt tip markers on label paper edges to keep white from showing. Make sure that shingles have bottom edge (shadowed) on bottom of roof sections.

In time, label paper may come loose as the adhesive is not totally “bomb proof”. A thinned coat of contact cement on the surface of your styrene or card will prevent this.

Tea Break

Time for a Nice Cup of Tea on a Class 31

By Brian Macdermott

Here’s an excellent documentary showing what went into the building of the Class 31 locos – one of my favourite diesels. Known to my spotting pals and me as ‘D55ers’, I saw a good 90% of them.

Although the major part of the film covers the actual building, the last few minutes show examples of the class in service. We see the Cambridge Buffet Express at King’s Cross; note the branding ‘Cambridge King’s Cross’ on the BSO. I could well be one of ‘the oiks’ at the end of the platform.

We were recently discussing headcodes, and this shows how the GE section of the ER had its own take on the subject (at least in the early days).

There is a lovely clip of ‘The Lea Valley Enterprise’ leaving Broxbourne. This ‘fast fitted freight’, which started running in late 1959, left Tottenham at 3.20pm and called at Angel Road, Brimsdown, Waltham Cross and Broxbourne collecting goods from the local industries before heading off to Whitemoor. I used to live in Waltham Cross and saw the train regularly as it was booked there from 4.10pm to 4.29pm. Sadly, I never photographed it!

If you want to know more about the train, Cecil J Allen wrote a 4-page article in Trains Illustrated, October 1960.

OK…get the tea brewed and see how they built the Class 31s.

(Click ‘Watch on You Tube, then the ‘gear wheel’ to watch in 720p HD. Also click the oblong box ‘cinema mode’ for a good view.)

Model Railways

Graham Farish Class 37/0 Weathered BR green (371-454)

By Pat Hammond

The Class 37 was an English Electric mixed traffic design, which entered service in 1960. It became the largest of the Type 3 classes with 309 being built. They were introduced between 1957 and 1965, but, over the following years, modifications and refurbishments created six subclasses.

This model is of D6927 which was built at the English Electric Vulcan Factory and entered service in March 1965. It was initially allocated to Landore Shed at Swansea. In June 1974 it received its TOPS number which was 37227. It was to be one of the locomotives that remained in its as-built condition and classified as sub-class 37/0. It was finally withdrawn from service in June 2000 and preserved on the Battlefield Line in Leicestershire.

This is a highly detailed model developed by Bachmann to replace the original Graham Farish version that dated from 1981. The new model, introduced in 2008, has a twin flywheel 5-pole skew wound motor and a 6-pin DCC decoder socket ready fitted. It is in lightly weathered BR green livery with small yellow panels and a centre box. The latter carries the code 7N14 at one end and dots at the other. It has detailed cab interiors and well detailed bogie frames. The model comes with a bag of extra detail for the purchaser to fit, including shorter reach couplings, dummy coupling hooks and brake pipes.

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