Johnson 1F

Designed by Samuel Johnson the 1F was introduced in 1878 by the Midland Railway and the last one was withdrawn in 1966. It had a half cab and the last ones in service retained this “feature”. There is one, 41708 in preservation.

The 1F was also rebuilt with a Belpaire firebox as the LMS 3F (Jinty) and some of the original 1F’s were also fitted with this firebox including 41712 and 41708


So a rebuilt 1f and a Jinty were very similar apart from the half cab.

So my purchase of a Triang Jinty modified by cutting off half of the cab is a fair representation of a Johnson 1F. 

It has been converted to 3 rail using HD CoCo pickups and runs very well although like any plastic bodied conversion pulling power is not its strong point but ideal for a short goods or a 2 carriage branch line train.

41712 was destined to go into preservation as it was the last 1F overhauled in 1963 but was scrapped before the preservation society could raise the necessary funds so 41708 was chosen instead

All in all a good purchase and nice little runner

GWR U1 ex TafF Vale

The Hornby Dublo  0-6-0 chassis with the inch and a half motor was the basis for many kit builders

Wills Finecast

  • F101 S.R. E5 (ex L.B.S.C.R.) 0-6-2
  • F108 S.R. G6 (ex L.S.W.R.) 0-6-0
  • F111 G.W.R. V1 (ex Taff Vale) 0-6-2

K’s of Willesden

  • G.W.R. 97XX 0-6-0
  • L.M.S. 3F 0-6-0
  • L.N.E.R. J50 0-6-0

The J50 I recently added to my loco fleet features here

This month thanks to ebay I added the GWR V1. This was a very speculative purchase as the pictures showed no pony wheels and did not state that it was on an HD chassis even if the picture of the box showed that it should be. Anyway I took a chance and got it at a very good price. When it arrived, in the original box, it was clear that the pony wheels assembly had broken but the seller added a suitable pony set up . So the new pony wheels which were on a plastic carrier were added – not quite right but reasonable, the chassis, which was an HD 0-6-0, was 3 railed with a Marklin skate and nylon bolt to prevent shorting, The original 2 rail pick up was rewired to earth and the bottom of the skate insulated to prevent contact with the 2 rail pick up wire. The nylon bolt had a thick screw head and this had to be filed down to ensure that the skate had the maximum clearance. A little more filing is necessary as it stutters on the X crossings with their higher central section. I added coal to the bunker but the engine is still minus its handrails which I need to work on.

The one thing that you can’t see from the pictures is that the pony wheels don’t actually run on the rails, they hover slightly above. Adding some weight to the plastic pony just lifts the front drive wheels so I am going to live with them just not touching.

XTrack or Scarm

Stephen sent me a question which I thought might be of interest to new readers so I have included it here with my reply

What great find this site is!
I am resurrecting a childhood Dublo layout for my son; it is interesting and exciting that there is more info around these days because of www than in the 70’s.
One question – the above page refers to xtrackcad software for planning layouts and i followed the link to have a look at it… It would seem that you need to be a computer programming whiz to set up xtrack… umpteen downloads, unclear “build” instructions, strange programmes, etc. Is it just me or this software is way beyond the abilities of the average computer user?

Stephen, Many thanks for your kind remarks. It was a long time ago that I used Xtrack and I do remember that it was clunky in the extreme and very important that that the track you used was HO which of course HD runs on. I changed to Scarm as soon as it was available. It then went behind a paywall but they now do a freeware download which is very adequate for most purposes. I would suggest you switch to this programme. It still takes a bit of learning and application but is basically more simple to use. Like all of these CAD based programmes it can be very frustrating when you can’t attach the right rail in the correct place but it seems that practice helps. You can spend happy but sometimes frustrating hours producing your ideal layout. I did think of doing a portable layout based on an internal door (the largest width available from B & Q) but moving a door around in a hatchback is not easy so I gave it up but did produce a Scarm version of a possible layout and I found that it was pretty easy to use although frustrating until I got the hang of it again. The results are 

The red arrow on the top loop indicates that the two rails do not meet exactly – you could either spend a lot of time getting it right or just take advantage of the fact that in reality they will join together with little or no problem. Although HD track doesn’t look at all flexible there is in fact a little give which can be used in these instances.

Just a hint to start with. To get to HD go to the top LHS side of the page just below the icons there is a dropdown menu, click on this, go to Hornby(4) click then you will find HD 3 rail – click on this and you are ready to drag, drop and join the rails, points etc – good luck

New Additions to fleet

So over a period I have updated Brian’s Northern Heights layout (latest one is below), added videos from Ron Dodds and Ray’s Layout and 3 rail conversions but what have I been doing? – trying to act as normal as possible as we went (are still going through) our last 2 lockdowns. In November I bought a Ron Dodds re-magnetizer so have been using this to upgrade my fleet and get them all running in the same direction. The magnetiser works on HD, Trix and Triang XO4 motors so has been very useful.

Oh yes and I bought another couple or 4 locos because at the prices it would have been rude not to.

The first was a K’s kit (Keyser) of a LNER J50 especially made to use the HD 0-6-0T chassis.

I gave it a quick repaint in satin black but it needs transfers. Amazingly it is a good runner – amazingly because it only has one pickup but is helped that all the wheels are non insulated

The second addition was a Trix 0-6-0T E2 tank engine converted to 3 rail.

This is not a bad runner but it does hesitate a little over trailing points. I thought that grounding the isolated wheels would stop this as it does with normal conversions. My use of silver paint to ground the insulated wheels resulted in a dead short as the chassis is live on Trix not earth as HD. Off came the silver paint so the hesitancy remains;

I already have one of these but it must have been an earlier version as the wheels are solid (with spokes added) whereas the new has proper spoked wheels. The solid wheeled one

Then came a 3 railed Hornby 0-4-0T Southern shunter. No good reason but it looked nice, runs well but with so little tractive effort 1 plastic coach or a couple of wagons is its limit.

The coach is a Graham Farish (Grafar) GWR suburban as the engine still has its Hornby couplings as they are moulded into the chassis.

And then a Trix 0-6-2T was available very cheap so it too was added. A genuine 3 rail version so it runs well 

Not at all sure why the previous owner painted out the G of GWR but it is there under a blob of paint. This then joins the stable making 3 of these engines

Br (SR) Class 73 conversion

The latest conversion from Ray

Another unusual loco to my SR fleet.A Hornby Class 73 electro-diesel. It`s got a home produced p/up assembly consisting of a 6mm wide x 5 thou brass strip with drawing pin heads for the collectors. All these locos being DCC ready have to be rewired to operate on 3 rail correctly. The pics should help show it was done.

And a video of it running

HD Layout 2020

So as promised

I was surprised how slowly you had to run the trains to make the action look remotely sensible.

Joining the small bits together was easy as was cutting out bits I didn’t want although the final video is a bit jerky moving from one section of the track to the other,

This is a total overview of the layout and features the two neverwas locos of the previous two posts plus running on the small inner circuit the Dinky Toys 0-4-0T  although the Duchess of Atholl also gets a look in. The Dinky Toys loco is a metal bodied push along with a Triang/Hornby chassis converted to 3 rail. Goes very well

Looking at other videos I need to get closer to the action so perhaps if there is another that will be the way forward.

No commentary just the lovely rattling noise.

Another neverwas

Here we have an N2 which I repainted badly and added a LNER sticker but do you notice the differences

Well the person who made this body took a standard N2 and cut out the boiler completely including the filled in bit that joins the bottom of the boiler to the front wheel splashers. He then fabricated a new boiler, adding new safety valves direct into the boiler (unlike the original which has the safety valves on a circular plinth) added a new dome but left the foundation ring on display and what looks like an original chimney. He then added a Westinghouse air pump just in front of the side tank. There was now a gap under the boiler between it and the chassis frame just like the prototype. He then painted it in red primer and then added fine handrails. Oh yes and he added a vent to the cab roof and put coal in the bunker.

So it looked like this

Sorry about the picture quality but it was taken back in 2005 but you get the drift. I bought it from Mike King a friend and dealer who lived in Christchurch just as you see it.

Now he (could it really have been a she) had spent a lot of time producing the body and to make it effective it had to use an early horseshoe magnet chassis as this enabled the gap under the boiler to be seen. The later N2 chassis would have had part of the motor visible.

So when I bought it had an early chassis with green wheels on one side and black on the other. it hardly ran but it did. So why after spending so much time and effort on the body 

  1. He didn’t paint it
  2. He put it on such a crappy chassis

Anyway it stood in a siding on my layout for many years

I had improved the running by switching to a neo horseshoe magnet but the running was no more than acceptable.

As the number of locos on the layout increased leaving this in a siding with little or no running became a problem. So I did a quick and nasty matt black paint job, added an LNER sticker and installed a new armature and low behold it became a standard N2 excellent runner. Why did it take all that time

So there we have it. A unique (surely no one else would have gone to all that trouble with the body) Neverwas N2 which runs well but has a mismatched chassis and a terrible paint job.

And a final question did an N2 ever have a Westinghouse air pump? I am off to Google to search their images


Neverwas or Neverwazza

Perhaps my definitions are wrong but as there is less to do now that we are in lockdown lets discuss.

My definition was that a Neverwas is a model railway engine that is not a model of an actual prototype. It could also be called generic or freelance. In the very early days these were common many of the Hornby 0 gauge range came under this definition. Then there were the HD 0-6-2T models discussed in the last post. HD also did the Atholl fitted with a cowcatcher and light and liveried as a Canadian Pacific loco although it never resembled anything that they ran.

Triang did the dock shunter and the continental range with no reference to an actual prototype. Trix did an american engine which seemed to have no prototype.

So if that was a Neverwas then the term Neverwazza was applied to HD derived engines which were planned to be made by HD as described in Michael Fosters book, those could have been made and those that should have been made. Like for instance the Black Five shown here with a Castle chassis and wheels, 8F outside motion and a 8F tender with the 3 rail pick ups. It could have an 8f body as the black 5 and 8F were very similar but .this one has a Graham Farish body. Now that to me is a Neverwazza.

Meccano kept very up to date with their locos and by the time that they would have been able to make it the engine had been replaced the Standard 5MT and Trix were making that so they would not have bothered with an old LMS derived Black Five – but they should have done.


the HRCA  have a section on their forum which is titled Neverwas and includes just about everything that is not pure HD and of course the 0-6-2T and Canadian Pacific are pure HD locos even if they are not a model of a prototype. so they don’t apply to this section unless they are repaints. So this section includes newbuilds that HD never made,  repaints, coversions and includes carriages etc which have been repainted

So the HRCA officially has zero acceptance of the term Neverwazza

So my Gresley V1/3 is a Neverwas by their defintion – so no change there then.

I bought a Neverwas

I am not a railway enthusiast. I was never a train spotter in fact I had no interest in trains until I resurrected my childhood dublo in my 60’s and started playing with trains again.  Bu that is by the way but of interest as you read on.

The Neverwas  is not a Neverwazza or a conversion it is an engine which does not really represent a prototype.

In fact it was all started by Meccano when they first introduced Hornby Dublo back in 1938. They introduced the A4 “Sir Nigel Gresley”  which was definitely based on the prototype and four  0-6-2 tank engines. 

One of these was an LNER version which every one at the time said was a model of an N2, but HD never admitted to it, The LMS and SR versions used the same body and had no prototype locomotive anywhere near the same. HD altered the body for the GWR version but even this had no obvious prototype.

Thus HD introduced 3 neverwas locos which had no prototype and never admited to the N2 until after the war when they liveried it into BR and gave it a definitive N2 running number. 

So to the current, Ebay listed a 3 rail V1/3 2-6-2 by McGowan models, Re the first paragraph I had no idea what a V1/3 was but Google knows. It was a Greasley 2-6-2T 3 cylinder tank engine with Walschaerts outside valve gear and McGowan made the body for a Triang chassis which included the cylinders and the motion.

This is the BR version which must have come much later but the outside cylinders and motionn are obvious. Although as the motion was to come off a BR standard 2-6-2 there would have been no guarantee they they would line correctly or that he wheels would have been the correct scale size. Anyway,

The ebay version was this:

Other photos showed that it was an HD 0-6-2T chassis with an added front bogie. No outside cylinders and no valve gear.

The body looked in good shape and with an 0-6-2T chassis it should be an excellent runner and at the price – why not

So it was a neverwas – the body might look like the prototype but not the running gear but the hope would be that it was a good runner.

The first thing you do when a new loco arrives is put it on the track and see how it runs – they never run well but that  is where you start.

This one startered off at speed altough noisy but derailed its bogie within a foot and its pony at the first curve – not a runner then. The body under the tender had a hook at the rear which extended into the body and stopped the pony wheels from moving freely – cut off and filed down so that the pony moved freely and did not derail. But the bogie was a different matter. Nicely made with an accurate attachment to the chassis but with no weight it moved in all directions. This loco had been produced by a bodger and I was there to continue that, 

The bogie was a simple open topped box with a rivet at the bottom holding the connector in place, which was not firm and allowed it to waggle sideways. In these circumstances the bodgers bible says try something temporary first before getting out the soldering iron. So bluetack was pushed into the box making sure not to foul the axle. Much better but still jumped off at the slightest imperfection (points or X crossing). More bluetack plus two small slithers of lead sheeting pushed into it to add weight all done without fouling the axle movement. Result is an absolute succes running tender first, no movement off the rails, no derailing many circuits with no problems, Not sure I want to try it chimney first as this might be too much of a test, Anyway tank engines were meant to run tender first.


So now we have a neverwas bodged V1/3 with an inside motion that now runs very well as it has an N2 chassis – bit of a winner if you are a HD runner and not a railway enthusiast/rivet counter.

The body was well made and well preserved with no marks so looks good. Conclusion – good runner, good looking engine shame about the originality but who will ever know. Don’t you tell them.

So another runner added to the loco roster but with no room in the sidings one of the poor runners had to stand down. Last year I bought an Airfix 4F converted to 3 rail running. It was cheap looked nice and seemed to be well converted with an HD pickup but it was a tender drive and I should have reconsidered as tender drives often don’t work well on HD track. On arrival it worked fine but would not pull the skin off of a rice pudding. One Trix coach was its maximum. I cleaned the tyres thoroughly but it didn’t make much difference. So that is the one to go at the moment. I will probably try a new set of tyres just to see if it will improve but for the moment it is in the “to do” box. Shame really because it does look the part

Tomlinson Park

Paul Thompson has been around 3 rail for many years and in fact painted, extremely well, my BR green 2-6-4T 80135. Here are some of his videos on Tomlinson Park his 3 rail layout.  He also has a garden railway and takes great videos of that as well.