HRCA 50th – Stoneleigh

We were honoured to be invited to exhibit at the HRCA’s 50th anniversary weekend at Stoneleigh.

We arrived on Friday afternoon to setup and this ensured that we had plenty of time to level everything and make sure that everything worked properly.

It was a very busy weekend and we found ourselves in the centre of the main exhibition hall, surrounded by excellent exhibits, traders and like-minded nerds!

It was also a chance to meet up with other HRCA members and put names to faces (finally).

A few items were put into the bring & buy sale, with most of them selling. We decided that it was time to part ways with the Hogwarts express set that I built some time ago – these days it doesn’t get much use and spends lots of time sat in the fiddle yard. Corfe Castle also departed, along with Crepello. We have sufficient Castles and Deltics these days and having replaced the St Paddy over the weekend (having sold the other one before Christmas) it was really no longer needed. I’m not looking to profit from the layout but it needs to pay its way and this allows us to invest in its future and subsidise those exhibitions that require an overnight stay!

I also finally managed to get my hands on a Southern N2 tank and even though the armature turned out to be defective, not a problem here when there’s Dennis Williams, aka the Dublo Surgeon in the next room selling spares and of course his rewound armatures!

The highlight for us though was not only that we got to meet up with Dublo legend, Ron Dodd again, we also got to visit his loft and admire his fantastic creation. No pictures or videos can ever do this justice and we were totally in awe at what he has created!

Thankfully, casualties were mercifully light this weekend and those that did fail were easily put right (thanks Dennis!). A couple of minor track niggles that will need attention in due course and the newly installed, servo operated points (more to come on that) performed well.

many pictures were taken, far too many to post on here (there is an upload limit!) but you can find them all on our Facebook page.

Our thanks to the HRCA for having us, keep us in mind for the 55th!


Creating a (proper) Southern EMU

Long post alert with lots of pictures!

So this year, I’ve got into 3D printing.

For the hobbyist, there are two main types of 3D printer available, filament based which involves the artwork being created on a flat bed using a reel of plastic filament, heated and injected onto the platform, and resin printing which uses UV light to cure the resin, which is the version I have.

For detail, resin trumps filament but the results can be hit & miss, it certainly doesn’t work straight out of the box and many tweaks and adjustments are required before you can expect decent results.

I was very lucky to acquire a 3D print file of the Dublo SR EMU, kindly and expertly drawn by Andrew Lance of the HRCA and this allowed me to experiment, below are some of the first prints I made, the original cab front on the left, the centre one is as printed and the right hand one has been quickly primed & painted…

The quality is good, certainly good enough to put to use and having sold the blue & grey EMU earlier in the year, the initial plan had been to produce another six car set, using the new prints rather than having to source cab fronts / scrap EMU bodies etc. However, during the course of designing these and as my tweaking skills improved, I had another, alternative idea…

As a child of the southern region, I grew up next to the South Western mainline between Weymouth & Waterloo. Therefore most of my childhood train journeys involved class 33/1s, 4TCs & 4REPs units, before finally giving way to 4VEPs, 4CIGs and eventually the class 442s. The one “neverwas” item I don’t have, which I’m quite sure Dublo would have produced had they survived, is a proper southern region EMU / TC.

A brief history of the 4REP & 4TC…

The South Western mainline was electrified as far as Branksome station (just beyond the platforms) in 1967 having survived the Beeching Axe and as steam gave way to more modern traction. At the time there weren’t sufficient funds available to electrify the entire line down to Weymouth and this posed a problem for the Weymouth – Waterloo services. The solution came with the creation of a number of 3 car (later made up to 4 car) multiple units.

They looked like any other mk1 slam door EMU except that they had no traction motors of their own. For the journey between Weymouth & Bournemouth, a modified class 33 “Crompton” locomotive (with extra jumper cables & control mechanisms fitted and re-classified 33/1) would propel the units in either four or eight car formation to Bournemouth and would be driven from the cab of the multiple unit (4TC) which had been designed to control the locomotive from the driving cabs. For the onward journey from Bournemouth, another batch of multiple units was created. These required not only sufficient traction power to haul themselves, but also had to be able to haul the additional four or eight car units so were fitted with eight traction motors – over 3000hp in a four car EMU, the 4REP quickly gained a reputation for power (referred to as Southern Deltics by some) and were easily able to exceed their designed maximum speed of 90mph. The 4 or 8TC would arrive at Bournemouth, attach to the wating 4REP while the class 33/1 was detached from the back, ready for the next journey back to Weymouth. No need for changing trains, the only inconvenience being the slight delay and occasional jolt as the attach / detach was made and a brief loss of lighting while the power source was changed over.

This system of push/pull operation was the mainstay of operations on the long distance services to Weymouth from 1967 until the mid 1980s, when cheaper methods of third rail electrification were realised and sufficient funding allowed not only for the complete electrification of the line, but also a new fleet of trains in the guise of the class 442. The southern region was already well versed in the art of recycling and as some of the REP units were barely twelve years old, it was decided that the traction equipment would be removed and used to power the new trains. Each four car REP had sufficient traction motors to create two, five car class 442 units. These were a major advance in comfort & luxury for southern passengers with air-conditioning, carpets and powered doors. Meanwhile, electrification of the Southampton to Portsmouth line was also completed in the late 80s but with no funding available for new rolling stock, it was calculated that there would be sufficient REP units left over to form 6REP units for this line, only one REP motor coach would be required for a six car set.

Sadly in December 1988, the Clapham rail crash occured. The crash involved a 4REP + 8TC which collided into the rear of a stationary train that consisted of three, four car 4VEP units. These were then struck by a rake of empty VEPs travelling the other way. The REP unit was mostly destroyed, however the rear motor coach was salvaged, repaired and did see brief life as a 6REP unit. But their new life was to be short-lived, the non-standard design of such a small fleet, coupled with there being fewer units than originally planned and the cascade of stock from elsewhere meant that these units were no longer required, and in the early 90s, they met their fate with the cutter’s torch. Today, no complete REP units and only a handful of 4TC units remain. These days, the closest you can get to a REP is to travel in the motor coach of a class 442, and even these are due to be re-tractioned in the near future!


Whilst Hornby have produced the 4VEP and Bachmann have produced the 4CEP and recently the 4TC, currently there is no 4CIG or 4REP unit commercially available. So my aim was to produce a 4TC & 4REP of my own using some of the many rusty mk1 SD coaches in the spares box.

Thankfully, the front cab design of the 4TC / REP / VEP / CIG etc is pretty much the same. At first glance, it looks like the standard SR EMU cab front with a corridor connection added on the front.

First job was to create a cab front that would fit onto a standard Super Detail coach, so the original SR EMU cab front file was used as the basis. My 3D design skills are limited but I was able to remove the existing pipework arrangement from the original design. I then managed to find some diagrams online of the cab front I intended to create and managed to draw a 2D version of the corridor connection. Using basic 3D creation software, this was converted into a 3D file and stretched accordingly before being sized up to fit over the rest of the design…

The corridor window is a rounded rectangle, also created as a 2D design and converted. Recesses were added to the original cab front and then the corridor was lined up with the original image.

After drawing in the jumpers & pipework by hand, the first version of the design was printed…

I then fitted this to a SR EMU coach to test the fit. Some tweaking of the roof needed as this is more of a flush fit on the REP / VEP / TC etc whereas on the class 501 (which the SR EMU is based) the roof overhangs the cab front slightly.

After a test fit, I painted the print, this is the same cab front as above now looking more like a SR cab front!

Having spent many, many hours looking at cab front pictures and diagrams, the feeling was that the centre window was too small and the corridor door was too far back into the corridor connection (a similar problem was noted on the Hornby version of the 4VEP) so a quick re-design was carried out to rectify these issues…

With the cab front design complete, time to start creating the coaches. Eight coaches would be needed, having considered having new coach sides made I eventually decided to use scrap SD coaches, filling in the original windows and rather than cutting windows as per the previous EMUs…

These would be simply printed on the overlay. A window effect was also attempted but just didn’t look right, so black was chosen instead…


Thankfully there are a number of good quality pictures of the 4TC units available, so drawing the coach graphics wasn’t too difficult. After some more fiddling with the roof, the first carriage of the 4TC was looking, well like a 4TC…


The rear coach destination blinds, this is a printed vinyl sticker and the white edge of the sticker has been painted in. The cab front numbers are not commercially available, so I acquired some inkjet waterslide transfer paper and created my own…

So after many hours, I had myself a 4TC all of my own, based entirely on Hornby Dublo coaches…

Now we need something to haul it, either a class 33/1 or ideally a 4REP.

A proper 4REP would have traction motors in each driving coach, this would be overkill in model form but I had concerns that a standard SR EMU, with only one driven axle could handle an eight coach train. Thankfully another solution would come my way, courtesy of our outing at Harmans Cross…

One of the most “interesting” repaints of a Hornby Dublo locomotive I’ve ever seen!

After a night in the oven cleaner, it became very clear that the body of this class 20 Bo-Bo was beyond salvation. The loco also didn’t run but this was easily fixed. The brush support was found to be damaged…

But rather than try and find a replacement, the 3D printer came to my rescue again. The original was scanned, re-drawn and a 3D print created…

So I had the means of propulsion for my 4REP but still had no designs printed or any idea how to mount the Bo-Bo mechanism into a standard coach.

Sadly, as no 4REP units exist and very few photographs with sufficient detail could be found on the internet, I had to resort to watching old YouTube videos of the trains in action in the late 80s. After many hours of viewing, I was able to draw up the designs for the four carriages, they probably aren’t perfect but certainly good enough!

I was able to use the window & door graphics used previously to create the rake of blue & grey mk1 coaches that are hauled behind the blue Deltic, however the buffet car posed a challenge due to the non-standard windows and the fact that both sides are completely different. Finding good quality images of both sides proved to be very difficult and of the eight coaches produced in this project, this one proved the hardest to recreate…

The other intermediate coach came next (1st class / guards compartment) mostly using the standard mk1 coach window graphics…

The driving motor coaches were the last to be tackled as I knew these would be the hardest.

Thankfully I also received a 3D file of the SR EMU undercarriage components, and after some considerable modification to the original design, I had a version that could be installed both in a powered and non-powered coach. For the non-powered end, the print had to be stretched, while at the other end and due to the larger size of the Bo-Bo bogies, the design had to be shrunk…


It was now time to tackle motor coach. Having fully serviced the motor bogie, it was time to try installation. Thanks to a poster on RM Web (cheers Garry!) I was given appropriate guidance and a couple of pictures of how to install the mechanism. Some butchering of the coach body and underframe was required to make it fit..

…But the final result was pretty reasonable!







The underside of a mk1 Super Detail coach, with a Bo-Bo chassis added…


A tight squeeze, but it just about fits…




With the graphics printed and applied, the undercarriage components were printed, here they can be seen prior to being painted. Motor coach first…

And then the slightly longer version on the unpowered coach…

After removing, painting and refitting, this is the result…

Once again, I had to make my own cab front unit numbers for the REP. The window glass was recycled from the original coach windows, which of course are no longer required!

The final result, here the front coach of the 4TC is coupled up to the rear of the REP. It’s a close coupling but it doesn’t foul, even on the small radius curves!


This is without doubt the hardest neverwas project I’ve attempted to date but has also been the most rewarding! The eight car set has seen lots of use during the final three shows of 2018 (reports to follow) being run on both the outer loop and the upper loop. The 3D printed cab fronts and underframes look authentic and I now have a pile of cab fronts printed, should anyone else be dumb enough to attempt something like this!

It also gives a new lease of life, not only to eight rusty mk1 coaches but to a very poorly Bo-Bo that was fit only for the bin.

Isle of Purbeck Model Show

A local show for us this time!

Our second appearance at Harman’s Cross, right next to the Swanage Railway – real steam trains vs toy ones.

During this show, I picked up a number of Hornby Dublo locos; a 0-6-2 LMS tank engine in a very sorry state, a Duchess of Atholl that had been painted very badly in Montrose green with transfers made on a Dymo machine and an even sicker looking Bo-Bo. None of these would run and therefore none of them cost me much money!

I also acquired a number of shabby looking tank wagons ready for another project (more to come on this)

Once again we were well fed and watered and well received.

With thanks to Dakota & family for keeping us fed!

Boconnoc Steam Fair

Our first venture into Cornwall!

What started as a bit of a joke ended up with us exhibiting at the Boconnoc steam fair this year. We arrived in convoy with three cars, two caravans and the trailer and decided to make a bit of a holiday out of this one, arriving on site several days prior to the show opening and making the most of the local area and the warm weather.

By the time the show opened however, the weather had started to turn. Visitor numbers remained reasonable until the Sunday, when the heavens really opened. The diesel generator used to power the model tent and several other marquees ran out mid way through Sunday morning and the decision was taken by the organisers to preserve the fuel to use for tractors to help tow people off the site. This basically meant that we became a rather large diorama. So the decision was taken to finish early and pack down and by lunchtime, we were on our way back to sunny Dorset.

A very enjoyable weekend despite the weather!

With thanks to Mick French of the Boconnoc model tent.

Chickerell 2018

Back once again to the model tent at Chickerell.

Once again, the sun shone all weekend. The marquee was hot, very hot but yet again there were no casualties apart from the usual need to carry out light maintenance on some of the locos.

Nothing came home broken even after some of the hottest temperatures we’ve had the layout running in.


Our first ever vintage show saw us exhibiting alongside lots of other vintage layouts.

After a very early start, we arrived in Hampshire with plenty of time to setup and we were very well looked after with bbq food and even beer (we need more shows like this!)

Lots of interest and a much more laid back atmosphere as toy trains took priority over model railways for a change – no DCC at this show!

A very enjoyable one day show where we got to meet, mingle and banter with other HRCA members and even some Triang, and a few more potential bookings that will see us travelling even further afield!

With thanks to the organisers of the Alresford show for their excellent hospitality.

Abbey Hill Steam Rally 2018

So in May, we were back at Abbey Hill once again in the marquee.

After one of the coldest weekends at Wimborne during the beast from the east, we faced one of the hottest weekends on our next outing!

Thankfully the layout held up really well and didn’t suffer with the extreme heat – no plastic to warp in the sun!

During our time at Abbey Hill I decided that in order to raise the funds to pay for the recently acquired Beyer Garratt, the blue & grey EMU needed to go. I have all the graphics files so replacing it shouldn’t prove to be too difficult, when I get around to it. Within 30 minutes of being listed, the EMU reached its Buy it Now price and was then safely packed away ready for posting when I got home. Sorry to see it go but needs must.

Whereas in previous years, we’ve ended up shutting up shop early due to poor weather, so such issues this time! – The sun shone for the whole Bank Holiday weekend.

Plenty of visitors through the marquee and lots of interest.

Next year however we have a diary clash, so we won’t be at Abbey Hill in 2019.