Train Planner

(C) Mark Branson
Back in the day, before working in education, I worked on the railway. I was a train planner for a large freight company, in their bulk freight division. Now, I almost feel like I’m back there, train planning. Except, in fairness, it’s not trains I’m planning, it’s layouts.

Since Chetwynd Aston bit the dust I’ve been debating what I want to do and have held off doing any layout building until I decided just what. However, the forum I’m an admin on is running a layout building competition in 2017. Yet, as the brief hasn’t been announced (as admin though, I was in on the discussions), I can’t really go too far into details.

Suffice to say, I’m beginning to lean towards something along the lines of Juniper Hill (photo above) again. It’s a fantastic layout with a genuine sparse-feel to it, detailed yet not over-crowded, and with a really excellent atmosphere to it. The cogs are whirring, that’s for sure.

And I need somewhere to run my new Sentinel (and weathered Cory wagon) too…!


December Playlist

Ok, let’s start with the confession first. My ‘Sunday Playlist’ has already changed. I haven’t managed to create any since that first one so, with that in mind, I decided that a monthly playlist would be more suitable. So I’m starting over with December.

December being December means that there is most certainly a Christmas feel to this playlist. If Christmas music isn’t your thing, I’m sorry, but there is something a little less Christmas-sy included too. This is in the form of Tallis Variations, a wonderful 14 minutes of music from the pen of Philip Sparke. I had the honour to hear Glyn Williams perform Candlelight Carol live at the beginning of December, a stunning piece played beautifully by a maestro of the instrument. Further to that, standard brass band festive fair is included; Jingle Bells (performed by Lions Youth) and Mistletoe and Wine – a piece I remember well from my time playing with Audley – this time performed again by Cory. The playlist (just over half an hour) is finished by the fantastic ‘Yule Dance,’ a superb combination of  O Little Town of Bethlehem, In Dulcio Jubilo, I Saw Three Ships and Sussex Carol.

Jingle BellsComposer: Traditional, Arranger: Derek Ashmore
Performer: Lions Youth Band
Conductor: Nigel Birch

Tallis Variations
Composer: Philip Sparke
Performer: Cory Band
Conductor: Philip Harper

Candlelight Carol
Composer: John Rutter, Arranger: David Griffiths
Performer: Cory Band
Conductor: Philip Harper
Soloist: Glyn Williams

Mistletoe and Wine
Composer: Jeremy Paul, Leslie Stewart and Keith Strachan, Arranger: Darrol Barry
Performer: Buy As You View Band
Conductor: Robert Childs

Yule Dance
Composer: Philip Harper
Performer: Cory Band
Conductor: Philip Harper

Dirty Trucks

Amy’s on her work’s Christmas do and isn’t back until tomorrow, therefore I’ve got an evening to myself. So, with a beer and a Bond film on the go, I got stuck into a bit of modelling.

Bachmann recently released the quite stunning Cory Brothers 7 plank wagon, weathered and, all in all, looking quite grotty. I was very tempted to buy one, but then decided that, already owning a Hornby version in pristine condition, I should just do a bit of ‘proper’ modelling and weather that myself.

Having dug the model out I realised I’d forgotten that, on receipt of it, I’d had a little go at weathering it with a bit of dry brushing. It was pretty rubbish so after a quick splash of water I’d rubbed it off and it was back as new.

After that, I lightly scrubbed the surface with a craft knife to distress some of the lettering on the sides. In some cases I totally removed the lettering on planks, with the aim of priming and repainting these to indicate replacement panels.

Then I primed (acrylic) the replacement panels and then dry brushed the chassis of the truck to lose the sheen of the black plastic.

After that the next stage was to paint the replacement panels brown. As soon as the paint was applied I dabbed at it with a small cloth to remove the paint, leaving a slightly grainy effect (it looks ok from a distance) on those panels.

The next stage involved dry brushing all over the wagon with the primer. Again, the aim was just to tone down the black plastic effect that the wagon suffered from. On the wagon ends I feel I may have overdone it, so there will be a little reworking of that in the future.

The final job was to dry brush (a technique I love) the wagons with the brown paint again, this time on the underframe and around rivets and metalwork to try to indicate a light rusting effect. This can just about be seen on the pictures but I’ll probably add a bit more work to this, potentially using a lighter shade – I have a ‘burnt sienna’ somewhere that will do the trick I’m sure.

Overall, I’m really very happy with the wagon. Perhaps it is a little too lived in, but I’m applying ‘rule 1’ of railway modelling. It was a very pleasant way to spend half an hour too.

Next steps: weather the Sentinel and decide on a layout plan to run both the loco and this wagon on!

The case for the defence.

I have no idea how this happened…

That, of course, is a lie. There was a Black Friday sale. I saw it advertised. I clicked to ‘have a look.’ There it was. Somehow it ended up in my basket and it’s now on my modelling desk.Whoops.


Maybe it’s not quite so whoops. It’s retailing for around the £53 mark. In this sale I got it for £35. It would have been rude not to. Plus, I’d been eyeing up the Model Rail Sentinel – all £70 of it – so this was half that price and is a stunning little loco that I’ve wanted since seeing it announced.

Oh, I’ve also got a layout plan in mind for it to run on.

Am I convincing you yet?

It need’s debranding. I’ve got no plans to make anything M.S.C related, but I like the blue and the yellow lining so I’ll keep that but lose the writing. Then I’ll added the ‘Clara’ nameplates I have stored away and give a really filthy weathering job.

Convinced? Yes. Good,

Case closed.

A day out at Ironbridge

Last Saturday Amy and myself went to Ironbridge for a stroll, a look in the Museum on the Quay (we’ve got the Ironbridge Museum annual pass) and a bit of a mooch around the shops that are there. Earlier this year I bought a fantastic book called ‘Shropshire Railways’ by Geoff Cryer and in it were a few pictures of the old Ironbridge station. Therefore, I decided that this visit would be the perfect chance to have a peak at the site and we decided that we’d take a walk down the pathway that was the line, back in the day.

What was surely once a station in the most stunning of locations is now a (quite cheap, now you mention it!) car park. The pub in the first picture is called ‘The Station’ – I bet a lot of late nights went in to naming that one!

If you look closely at the picture above you can see the lines crossing the road. This was a crossing when the station existed and it was a picture from this angle – with the bridge and the toll building in the background – that piqued my interest in looking at what was there now.

As mentioned above, the lines go across the road still, although it’s Mazdas, rather than Manors, which cross the rails now.

The path above, once the line, heads off towards the cooling towers now. We set off and walked a pleasant – and leafy – mile or so, before heading back.

Just before we got back to the car park and the former station site we passed under an old rail bridge before emerging into the platform area.

Then it was off to the nearest coffee shop to warm up!