September Update

GWR Running
GWR Running

Just thought that I would post a few pictures and update the latest activity.

The first picture is of a GWR scene features in the foreground a Graham Farish large Prairie. I have had this for a while but its always been an indifferent runner if it ran at all. I finally traced the problem to the commutator segments being filled with dirt and crud. A fine toothpick to clean out the grooves worked a treat and now its a reliable runner but not all that fast. The middle loco is a Gaiety body on a HD 0-6-0T chassis which has been 3 railed. The rear loco is another Graham Farish but this time an 0-6-0T.

Probably my favourite HD loco is the 2-6-4T and I have many variants on this theme. On ebay I spotted a repainted one renumbered as 80098 which is one that is currently awaiting overhaul at the Midland Railway after a long service on the railway. I won it with a low bid and when it arrived was mostly disappointed as the chassis was really rough with the wheels not being in gauge, the motion was broken on one side and it was a pretty grim runner. The repaint though was not at all bad despite the number on one side being a bit wonky. I worked on it and got it to run OK but was not really happy so I started looking for a chassis for it. Well that got me bidding on the low side for complete engines. Most I lost as I wasn’t prepared to go very high. But I did win an 80054 which was in good condition and ran well so I just added it to the collection. Then came another repaint this time in blue (Caledonian Blue?) and I won that at an even lower price. The blurb stated that it needed a repaint but that it ran well. In fact the paint job is not bad at all but it had no handrails and no numbers. The handrails have been added from an old body and I think that it looks OK and has been added to the fleet. 80098 remains as it was still running but without its replacement chassis. I had better stop bidding for complete locos unless the body is a basket case.

80098 with it unnumbered sister engine
80098 with it unnumbered sister engine

The pictures shows 80098 with its broken running gear alongside the blue version

There is a similar story with a Bo-Bo. Sometime ago I won a Playcraft Class 29 diesel which had been fitted with a Bo-Bo chassis. Now Playcraft is HO but in fact this fitted in well with the other diesels and was added to the fleet. It had been repainted with full yellow ends and with the Bo-Bo chassis runs very well and pulls 4  or 5 coaches with ease. When I won this it came with a “free” original Class 29 in two rail in original condition. So look for a chassis and fit it under this one as 3 railing it looked difficult. Now ebay people like to break up locos and sell body and chassis separately but with the aim of getting more for it than fo the complete engine. So lots of low bids on complete engines with most being lost but one came up. Low price nice repaint of a Wrenn body but the chassis is very noisy. I have got it running as best as I can but do I put the chassis under the Class 29? Currently its added to the Bo-Bo fleet.




Rolls Royce of Controllers

I started my 3 rail layout with 3 small ovals and 3 HD A3 controllers which worked fine. There was a great deal of correspondence on the web and the HRCA that these controllers should be handled with care as the mains leads could perish and cause problems with the controllers with the fabric covered mains leads being the most vulnerable. I added a mains trip.

When I started my extensions to two of the lines I switched to an H&M Duette being slightly newer but still behind the mains trip. This did not last that long before it had problems and this was changed to two H&M Clippers. These have the added advantage of being 12V and 1.5 amps allowing a little more oomph for some of the engines.

Over the years I have kept with these but they gave up fairly regularly and as they are sealed with rivets not screws I have been reluctant to delve inside. This came to a head over the last winter when one failed early on, was replaced and this one failed as well after a few months. Time to break out of the circle.

So to the Rolls Royce version. Why Rolls Royce – it does what any controller does, controls the trains, but it does it in an immaculate fashion, it’s hand built to order and its a work of art as well as totally functional. oh and by the way its expensive.  I never thought that HD trains did slow running but with this controller they will crawl very realistically. It has enough power 15V and 3 Amps to run the most reluctant of engines and with the separate amp and volt meters it is also possible to gauge the health of the engines by the amps they are pulling whilst running.

The controller is made by Allister Hughes of Superneomagnets  and although I always buy IMG_3108my magnets off him I have no other connection except as a very satisfied customer. We spend lots of money on engines and rolling stock and use very old controllers because we know no better. Now having a modern one I have smooth performance, excellent slow running and more power than I know what to do with. The transformation of the running experience is huge I just wish that I had bit the bullet before. It has a separate transformer which I have tucked away behind the control panel. I also ordered the optional hand controllers so that I can shunt in the sidings on both lines – very convenient.


IMG_3111It is very interesting that so far experimenting with some of my engines the Triang Winston Churchill pulls nearly 1 amp when pulling 3 coaches whereas most HD engines are below .25 amps when pulling normal trains. The 8F, which has always been a slow runner, shows that it needs some 13- 14 volts to run at normal speeds. All very interesting but not really sure what it means but you can never have too much information.

Now what do I do with the three ancient Marklin controllers and the A3 controller which still manages the small oval?


Double Heading

The boy recently converted a Wrenn LMS R1 loco to 3 rail running. This is my fourth R1 in IMG_3100various liveries. These locos have very light plastic bodies and with the addition of the 3 rail skid are just about able to pull one coach and a van or 4 plastic goods trucks. This is perfectly OK for branchline running and I have run that way since I had the layout.

IMG_3097But in the course of the conversion we had two engines running together and so we progressed to see what they would pull. The two engines were able to pull a 7 0r 8 wagon goods train or 3 SD carriages. So a real case of double heading where a single engine can’t pull the train so a second engine is added, a fairly common practise in steam days and now taken to extremes in the US with up to 6 diesels connected to the same train, sometimes 4 up the front with 2 pushing and in some cases even a couple of engines in the middle.

IMG_3094I have a collection of small engines mostly converted from Triang or modern Hornby which all suffer from the R1 problem – plastic body plus skate giving minimal haulage capability. Well along comes double heading and they will now pull my standard goods and passenger trains. A real game changer in running more interesting stuff.

All double heading has been done on my sole remaining H&M controller but I will try it with an A3 and then comes the new controller which is due next week.


Spring has sprung

Spring is here and the clocks have sprung forward – more time in the garden less in the train shed.

A lot of running over the winter but little in the way of layout changes or for that matter new rolling stock. The running has had the unfortunate affect of causing some of the converted engines to give up the ghost. Two Farish models an 0-6-0 PT succombed and the large Praire tank also stopped running plus the Triang dock shunter. They have all been placed in the dead loco box as they are not worth getting repaired. I will have a go during the Summer but I am not hopeful. Also I had two of the H & M controllers fail. These are fairly easy to come by but they are old and probably the same will happen again so I have bitten the bullet and ordered a new double controller from the chap who sells the Neo magnets listed in the links.

Expensive but hopefully worth it. It is built to order and will take a few weeks to arrive. I will post pictures and running performance when I get it.

Update April 6th – Yet another loco dead. The converted Bachman 2-6-2 standard tank has broken its front driving wheel and has locked solid, No chance of resurrecting this one, Shame as it looked good but would not pull much of a load. Perhaps I should concentrate on HD locos and not this modern converted stuff.

Whats been Happening

A great deal of running but not a lot of purchasing. I have only bought two engines since Winston Churchill. An additional Bo-Bo and I am waiting on a 2-6-4T renumbered as 80098. These were excellent value and could be used for spares but at the moment they are runners and running.

The problem is I am running out of space as I make it a rule that all runners are present on the layout and available to run whenever required. No storing  in boxes and getting them out when required – not my way of operating.

Perhaps an extension………………

Hornby Dublo and Maerklin running

I received a request on running Marklin and HD on the same track. I do this. Each track has a HD controller and a Marklin controller. The Marklin trains will run one way only using the HD controller and will not reverse. The HD trains will not run with the Marklin controllers and could damage the motors.

I have added the types of conversion methods to the page entitled Three Rail Conversions


Winston Churchill by Triang Hornby

My new acquisition is a Triang Hornby Battle of Britain Class named Winston Churchill. This has been converted to 3 rail using an HD pick up. Despite it having a plastic body it pulls my rake of Trix coaches with ease but I have not yet tried it on HD coaches.

Triang Hornby Winston Churchill
Triang Hornby Winston Churchill

HD did a model of the rebuilt version of Bulleid’s pacific, Dorchester (3 rail) and Barnstaple (2 rail) but never the original “spam cam” version. This was modelled by Wrenn and I have their Merchant Navy version of it. The Wrenn model has a diecast body and is really heavy. It does run well but has all of its driving wheels flanged which does make it intolerant of any dodgy curves. My version occasionally derails on one curve although no other loco in the fleet has any problem including the Trix/Lilliput Flying Scotsman which also has a flanged middle driving wheel.

Battle of Britain Class - Winston Churchill
Battle of Britain Class – Winston Churchill

This Triang engine is not the best of models seeming to be slightly too narrow and is not very well detailed but given its introduction date of early 70’s is adequate compared to the rest of the fleet.

The first picture is with Flash, the second without – the colour is meant to be SR Malachite Green. On close inspection neither of the pictures are really very good and I will take some more and replace these – soon.

In focus, with flash
In focus, with flash

Overall an interesting addition.

Trix Coaches

Hornby Dublo did not make many BR (SR) Mk1 Green coaches and as a result they are

Black 5 pulling Trix carriages
Black 5 pulling Trix carriages

fairly hard to find and on the expensive side. For a M&B expect to pay around £70 and for a good unboxed up to £40. I have three of them unboxed and paid around £25 each, all bought at train fairs.

I also have a couple of Kitmaster green MK1 but neither were a brake so the short rake was a little odd. I added a Trix Buffet Car version which had been fitted with HD bogies and that was the state of play.

Trix - Brake Composite
Trix – Brake Composite

Then I saw on ebay some Trix BR (SR) green coaches, bid for two brake composites and one both of them for £4.99 each + postage. They run without any problems on their Trix bogies so I am unsure why the Buffet Car was fitted with HD ones. The net result is that this carriage rides a little higher that the originals.

Trix Buffet Car

So if you are a runner and want some BR (SR) green carriages keep a look out for the Trix ones. They are all plastic, rather than the HD ones with their tinplate sides but look good and run well. They also do the buffet car which was never available from HD. Coopertrains have produced new versions but you would have to pay £140 for the buffet car and £125 for the brake. They are lovely models but for a runner?