Overdue return

Not seen on the layout for quite some time, #18 was returned to traffic today.

It is over twelve months since the box cab diesel was derailed at this exact spot and rolled, over the low level line, all the way to the garage floor. Luckily it landed on its roof so the damage was confined to the bodywork. The loco has been parked at the back of Cuarto Sheds awaiting repairs since then. Most of the damage was on the fireman’s side of the front end with the top corner and roof being completely destroyed.

I have rebuilt the loco with an asymmetric appearance, there’s a window on the driver’s side but the fireman’s side is now blind, as if the window has been plated over. Such asymmetry looks odd to British eyes but is not an unusual feature for American designed trains. A new roof, headlight and some repairs to the pilot were also required.

#18 was usually paired with the railbus trailer as a push pull train and has been returned to this duty on the Resurreccion to Rio Paleta via Centrales local service, releasing #10 to share the station switcher duties at Grande with #6.

Posted in Bodging and Kitbashing, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

Surprise arrival

A bit late posting this because the last two days have been a bit hectic. Completely out of the blue I received a copy of the latest MTI book on Thursday. I certainly hadn’t ordered a copy so the publisher must have sent it because he’d used some of my work. A look at the list of contents left me no wiser but my name was included in the list of contributors, this left me thinking that one of my photos must be included in an article, though again the list of contents didn’t show anything that would have any connection.

Ah well, have a quick scan through it and find out. When I got to page 31 there it was. Not just a photo but a full page about my tiny German N gauge layout, Sandbach (Waldshut).

An overall view of the station.

The photographic reproduction in these books isn’t brilliant, being copied from previous editions of the magazine, so I’ve dug Sandbach out of storage and posed a couple of push-pull trains in the station as shown here.

The train at the platform is ready to depart while the other is laying over on the goods loop.

Would I go back to N scale after so long working with On30 and bigger? No way, it’s far too fiddly! I reckon the best way of operating Sandbach would be with just these two push-pull sets so that there’s no need to do any running round or shunting.

Posted in My trains, Standard gauge, Toy train chit chat


Several years ago I bought a Hunslet 2-6-2T on Ebay. The model was advertised as On30 but turned out to be nearer to 1:64 scale (logically for a 3ft gauge prototype running on 16.5mm track). It just looked wrong with my other On30 trains and was relegated to a box at the back of the cupboard. The box emerged a while ago and the Hunslet was placed on Cuarto Sheds awaiting attention. As things go with my modelling it was forgotten about again until this afternoon.

My initial idea was to shorten it as an 0-6-2T and alter it to sit higher on the chassis. This looked better but still not quite right, on top of which the Lima GWR prairie mechanism is a non-runner and not worth renovation.

I’ve had a look in my scrap box and found a Smoky Joe chassis which is in good running order.

This chassis had been part of an abandoned Gn15 project, with a wider footplate made to slot over it.

Placing the Hunslet body on the footplate gives a nicely proportioned loco which, with a little work, would be a useful addition to the FCPyF fleet.


Posted in Bodging and Kitbashing, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

Another return to Primrose Valley

The On18 mini-modules have been ignored for a while but I’ve done a bit more work on them this morning. Both Primrose Valley and Hunmanby now have wooden blocks attached beneath them to raise the boxes to match the height of the coastal inlet. When the glue dries I’ll drill through these blocks and add screws to fine tune the height adjustment.

The cliff face above the track on the coastal inlet has been covered with filler, it looks starkly white at the moment but paint and sand will dull this to make it more like limestone.

Primrose Valley now has a quite overgrown appearance instead of the sandy look it had before. I did the same with Kato Unitrack when I made Allt-Na-Ballt and it works quite well to disguise the use of N scale track on an O scale narrow gauge layout.

I have also been working on “upscaling” a Hornby waiting shelter to O scale. I’m not sure where it will be used yet, probably to replace the grounded caboose body at Primrose Valley. If the new shelter is used at Primrose Valley the caboose body could then be redeployed on the FCPyF at Cumbre where its colonial appearance would be more in keeping. This would enable the corrugated iron shanty (which I quite like) currently in use at Cumbre to be relocated near the turntable Cuarto de Pulgada and the existing hut from there would be transferred to Hunmanby. Nothing goes to waste!

The work in progress photos (taken on the platform at Grande) show the rocket stick base and card cladding the lower walls. A new door is required before painting and weathering can hide the bodging. One of the things that put me off O scale modelling in the past was the lack of building kits and high cost of those that were available. Of course scratch building and kitbashing is the way to go for cash-strapped modellers and is surprisingly easy in larger scales, certainly not nearly as fiddly as it is in OO and N! Careful selection of cheap second hand OO scale buildings for conversion can result in fairly convincing O scale structures.

Posted in Bodging and Kitbashing, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat


Diesel #15 was in charge of a freight to Cuarto de Pulgada this morning (1) with #5 on the rear of the train as a banker (2).

The line levels out briefly through Rio Paleta (3) but #5 stayed with the train all the way up to Cumbre (4) where the train stopped briefly while the banker was detached (5). After a while the highball signal was raised allowing #5 set off back down the hill (6).

 At Rio Paleta #5 took refuge in the siding (7) just as autoferro #27 was departing from Centrales (8). The railcar passed through Rio Paleta without stopping (9) and carried on to Cumbre (10) where it paused to unload some stores for the telegraph office before continuing to Cuarto de Pulgada.

 With the main line at Rio Paleta clear again #5 was permitted to draw out of the siding (11) and resume its journey to Centrales (12).

Both diesel #15 and autoferro #27 will return from Cuarto de Pulgada to Centrales this afternoon but it’s time for lunch and a siesta now.


Posted in My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

Not in booked formation

“Not in booked formation” used to be a frequent message sent when I worked in Manchester telegraph office. It advised staff along the route that a train was made up differently from its usual consist, perhaps a spare set standing in for one that was in the wrong place due to a previous train’s cancellation. This also meant that seat reservations etc. would not be as arranged and possibly the luggage van would be at the wrong end.

Anyway, it’s a long time since I was a railway telegraph clerk so we’ll get back back to the FCPyF. A telegram “Train not in booked formation. No passenger accommodation.” was received at Cuarto de Pulgada as the morning railcar departed from Centrales. This train is usually operated by freight motor #20 with a passenger coach attached.

The telegram didn’t convey any further information, obviously the return working would have to be cancelled in so far as passengers were concerned because there’s no spare coach kept at Cuarto. Other than that it was just assumed that #20 was running freight only so it came as something of a surprise when the train arrived a couple of hours later.

With more rust than paint, and what paint there is being obviously left over from the van’s previous incarnation as a road vehicle, this is really scraping the barrel. Even the MoW crews use smarter looking railcars!

There must have been a severe shortage of motive power for the loco department to have pressed this into service. The return working is booked to convey mails but the Sierra Oculta Post Office complained so #20 (below) and a coach were dispatched empty from Centrales to work the afternoon mixed.

It’ll be past the afternoon train’s departure time when #20 gets to CdP but at least the mail contract will be fulfilled and the train will be able to convey passengers too. Nobody’s any the wiser why the rusty van was used on the morning train from Centrales so it’s been sent to Cuarto Sheds until somebody owns up and asks for it back.

In reality, the van body has been sitting in the goods yard at Centrales for a while. I was testing a four wheeled mechanism found in the scrap box to see if it worked and it ran better with the additional weight of the die cast van held on with Blutack. It probably won’t last long in this condition because I want to use the mechanism in another small diesel shunter, like the Plymouth DDT, using the body from an old Tri-ang clockwork loco. But that’s another story.

Posted in Bodging and Kitbashing, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

Missed connection

It’s a warm early summer afternoon in Sierra Oculta. The station clock strikes three as autoferro # 27 clatters over the points and leaves Estacion Centrales bound for Cuarto de Pulgada.

This may seem nothing out of the ordinary until you refer back to my mention of the clock. This train is due out at two forty five, so it’s only fifteen minutes late. Now that, on the FCPyF, is remarkable!

Unfortunately the noon arrival from San Fernandez is running bang on three hours late, and has just come to a stop at the home signal as #27 departs.

Intending passengers for that CdP railcar are going to have to wait for the evening mixed train. By the time they get to the upper terminus it’ll be close on midnight.

#28 is the newest addition to the passenger fleet, a lovely smooth runner but it still has to share a single track railway with steam hauled freight trains. The FCPyF makes money out of freight so it’s given priority when things get out of sequence. Hauling passengers, even with the economies of lightweight railbuses, is a loss making business.

Posted in Bodging and Kitbashing, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat