January 2020 Update

I’m very conscious that we haven’t done much with the website of late, with most of our udpates being posted via our Facebook page instead.

I still have a number of articles to write up regarding some of the projects we’ve been doing and of course the ongoing restorations & “neverwas” creations. Eventually I’ll get around to posting some more updates here.

The 2020 exhibition diary is now updated. This year we’re doing just seven exhibitions – a quiet year for us compared with previous years but already we’ve had a number of requests for 2021 so we’re certainly not disappearing any time soon!

Since the layout was created. I’ve dabbled in occasional Ebay sales (but mostly purchases!) but during 2019 we decided to sell off some of the rolling stock that was considered surplus to requirements, I also began creating some “neverwas” items purely with sales in mind. We’re certainly not trying to turn our hobby into a profit making enterprise but building, maintaining and running an exhibition layout comes at a cost. The initial building costs of I ‘Ad That were never fully added up but certainly ran into four figures. The boards, rolling stock and the trailer we use for transport also require regular maintenance. From a set of carbon brushes to a new tralier jockey wheel, it all costs money. Therefore from time to time, there will be items offered for sale as we look to cover our ongoing operating costs. If anyone wants a Southern or GWR TPO set then do get in touch!

Fear not – we’re not downsizing, we’re not selling up and we’re not turning this into a business!



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.

Lack of updates

I’ve been asked recently why this site hasn’t seen many updates of late, so I’ll try to explain! – Serious and long-winded post alert!

I don’t believe in posting one’s life stories on the internet and get regularly annoyed by those who post on social media the in’s and out’s of their illnesses, checking into hospitals etc. I’ll make an exception in this case for the benefit of those who do regularly read this site!

Over the last few years I’ve struggled at times with stress and depression, that meant that on occasions, switching off from work was somewhat difficult. Having a distraction, such as model trains, proved very useful in channelling my energies into something enjoyable. That included regular updates on this site as I had numerous projects on the go at any one time and an endless source of things to write about. Something for me to look back and reflect upon for many years to come. Difficulty getting to sleep of an evening also meant that I would frequently spend time late in the evening writing up our exploits before feeling suitably tired enough to retire to bed.

Then during the last year or so I’ve become more and more tired, reaching the point of being permanently in a state of exhaustion. As time went on, I found myself prioritising my energy for my day job, ensuring that I could get through each working day. As my energy levels continued to drop, I no longer had the energy, will or enthusiasm for many things outside of work. Basically all I really wanted to do was sleep. Preparing for Warley kept me occupied and then at the start of 2018, the struggle became even harder. Even attending exhibitions became very tiresome.

My wife had commented that I appeared to stop breathing in my sleep, often gasping for breath and snoring loudly. Something that had been going on for several years really. After a check with the GP and a suggestion that my tonsils were to blame, I waited for a hospital appointment to check them, where they decided they were fine. At that point I never really followed this up. Only when during the early part of the year, when I finally realised that my energy levels were now so low that I could barely be bothered to get out of bed, wash and shave, that I plucked up the courage to go and see a GP again. You see I don’t do GPs or hospitals – too many sick people in there!

After a referral to a sleep clinic, we suspected that I was suffering from a common condition known as sleep apnea, and to confirm the diagnosis I would require monitoring for an evening. This happened back in February and I spent the night (in my own bed thankfully) with a pipe up my nose, two straps around my midriff, a wrist monitor and a finger monitor, to monitor the quality of my sleep. Not easy getting to sleep with that little lot attached but I somehow managed it and we got some results within a few days.

Before leaving the hospital with the kit, I was shown the sleep pattern graphs, firstly of a normal night’s sleep and then of someone with a chronic sleep apnea diagnosis, which I was told was the far extreme. The graph showed that the patient never got beyond the second sleep stage, so never achieved a full night’s sleep. The brain goes into self-defence mode and wakes you, not to the point of physically being awake but enough to restart the breathing. Untreated, patients are at risk of premature strokes, heart problems etc. For me the effects were not only the exhaustion, the depression, low mood, snappy temper and most frustrating, I started having severe issues with short-term memory recall. My memory was always sharp and this was a huge frustration. Something that I’m assured will repair itself once I start sleeping properly!

The follow-up phone call stunned me a little when I was told that I was considered to have a chronic condition, that my breathing was stopping approximately 42 times per hour and my snoring was in excess of 80 decibels. The most effective, if unattractive treatment would be to use a CPAP machine, which would feed positive air through a face mask which I would have to wear each night for a minimum of four hours.

So I was relieved to get a proper diagnosis but still had a further four month wait to get my hands on the CPAP kit. Those four months proved to be the most difficult, as the cumulative effect of not getting enough sleep each night began to really take its toll.

During 2017 I also took on the responsibility of administering my local model railway club’s facebook and website, then took on another website for another group, then another, then another. Suddenly I had five websites to webmaster and zero enthusiasm for any of them, switching to a must-do environment where only essential updates got done. All I wanted to do after finishing work was lie down and nap. Watching tv, playing on the ipad, even having a conversation with the wife, I nodded off during all of these things. At Abbey Hill, I had to go and nap each day!

So why have I got this? – When I attended the group session to collect the CPAP equipment, I was by far the youngest and slimmest person in the room! At 45 years of age, 6 ft tall and 15 stone I’m not exactly obese either but my collar size is just over 17 inches, which puts me at risk. Exercise alone can cure this but trying to exercise when all you want to do is sleep, that’s not easy to do!

So I’ve now been using the CPAP treatment for just over three weeks. Not easy to get on with at first, the original face mask turned out to be too small, plus I’m a lot more claustrophobic than I ever realised. The machine automatically sends data each morning about the quality of my sleep and this is turned into an overall score out of 100. After a very shaky start I’m now getting high 90s and occasional 100 scores each night. Some people using this treatment say the effects are instant, while that hasn’t been the case for me, I am now a lot more awake and alert and slowly but surely, my desires for activities outside of work, including my trains, is improving!

So why am I bothering to write all this? – Well frankly it’s something that I can refer to in years to come but also, let’s face it, most people who read this site are over a certain age, may not be terribly fit and could be carrying some extra baggage. If you feel tired every day, if your other half is moaning about your snoring, or tells you that you stop breathing at night, go and see your GP – it may not be the most attractive treatment but a. it works, b. it’s non-evasive, c. the difference it will make to your well-being is huge!

Normal service will resume on this page as the projects resume, although to be fair there’s not much layout wise to do at the moment, there are a few exhibition updates at least.

Watch this space…




Wimborne vs the beast from the East!

So we found ourselves back at Queen Elizabeth’s School in Wimborne again.

After a chilly setup on Saturday, the layout once again went together without issue or fault.

The Beyer Garratt appeared once again, spending most of the first day happily trundling along with the coal train and on the second day it was allowed to rest a little while the other three sidings were put to use. We also encountered an issue with the valve gear jamming at one end of the Garrett so this had to be resolved.

Saturday night brought fresh falls of snow and after a slippery journey to the show, the decision was taken to close early as visitors had mostly decided not to venture outside. Before we packed down, I put all of the SR EMUs together to form a 14 coach rake, which looked quite impressive!

So we ended up finishing earlier than expected but still came away with more potential bookings, we were also kept fed & watered, another sign of a great exhibition!

Never done an exhibition in snow before.

Our next outing is at the end of April, time to service the locos ready for a four day outing at Abbey Hill.