But they aren’t nearly so much fun.
Early days on Portwilliam – Lima Mk1s and a DJH Std 4
Once upon a time if you wanted a Mk 1 you had a choice. You could have a Hornby (nee Tri-ang) one, or the Lima one. Both looked more or less like a Mk 1 but neither was what you would call h-fi – both were crude and neither was flush-glazed. In fact the windows on the Lima version were so deep you could have fitted window boxes and not fouled the loading gauge. Hornby followed their usual pattern when deciding which version to do and issued the BSK, CK, RMB and sleeper, but no ordinary SKs or SOs. I saw Steve Fint’s “Kyle of Tongue” at York in the 1980s – it featured a BG and SK made by sawing two Hornby BSKs in half and sticking then back together in a different order, and I remember thinking how terribly avante garde that was. Then along came Comet and suddenly with a tube of Evo-Stick and an afternoon’s work you could have most of the more common variants.
Now of course we are spoilt for choice – Hornby, Bachmann, Replica, Southern Pride, Comet, Coopercraft (if you can find it) – honestly, you young people don’t know you’re born.
So these three started off as an early 1990s attempt to build a Euston – Stranraer “Paddy” boat train (The “Northern Irishman” to give it its proper title, which apparently nobody did very often), firstly for the ill-fated Kentigern and now for Newton Stewart. I needed BSK/SK/CK/SK/SLE/SLE/BSK and at that point only Comet did all the necessary versions. I rejected the Comet full kits as I much prefer working in styrene so after a lot of consideration I decided on Comet sides, Coopercraft underframes and ABS for the missing bits. Comet roofs and ends would have been sensible too but there was a pile of tatty Lima Mk1s and Hornby Grampians in the stash so I raided these – some of the remains were used to make the Grampian BCK on the ‘Coaches’ page.
Coopercraft chassis, Comet sides, Lima roofs and ends. I think the interior moulding is Mainline …
I bought all the chassis and ABS bits but only one each of the BSK, CK and SK sides to start with, £70 for the full rake was a bit more than the budget would stand in one hit. Three coaches were partly completed and then Bachmann changed the game entirely. Glacial progress can be useful sometimes, they eventually released my entire boat train and I still haven’t built the layout to run it on yet ! I actually got a bit carried away with the Bachmanns – I also bought an FK and an RU so with a bit of judicious re-marshalling (of geography as well as the train) I can have a BSK/SK/FK/RU/SK/BSK “Three Hour” Glasgow – Aberdeen express.
That left my half-built mongrels a bit surplus to requirements so they went in a boxfile and stayed there for fifteen years. The CK (which was actually complete if not painted) could obviously go with a Porthole BSK to make one of the hybrid two coach sets used in the last year or so of Port Road operations but I didn’t really need the others or the surplus chassis. By this time there was a plan for the BSO/SO/RMB/SO/BSO Easter 1963 railtour set involving more Bachmanns (c’mon Bachmann, three fifths of a train so far…), but apart from these, Mk1s weren’t that common in Galloway. Still, they could always make a short Sealink set or a 1970s ‘what-if’ set at some later date and I’m too lazy to dispose of surplus stock anyway.
Then the February 2016 “Steam Days” appeared. It contained an article called “A Night in Galloway” by GL Pallister detailing a 1964 line bash on the overnight Paddy. As well as a very descriptive account of the nights events (and rather tragic conclusion on the return 8.00 Stranraer – Dumfries) it included a 1960 photo of a Newcastle – Stranraer ‘Day Paddy’ – two Black Fives and seven coaches – most of which (according to the carriage workings book) should be SKs. I was expecting them to be Thompsons and Gresleys but the magnifying glass revealed the first three to be unmistakably a Mk 1 BSK and two Mk 1 SKs !
So another set of SK sides was procured and the SKs and BSK have joined the ‘Day Paddy’ pool. To be honest, at the moment they are the Day Paddy pool, the rest, another motley half-assembled collection of LNER-derived bits, is still in a state of disassembly waiting to see what sort of price Bachmann’s Thompsons are when they eventually come to market. I expect the rest of this particular train will finish up as three or four Thompson hybrids with Comet sides if only because etched and injection moulded attempts at flush glazing never look right side by side in the same train. I might even try styrene sides, Thompsons aren’t the most difficult sides to fret out of 5thou.
The donors for these are all Lima coaches (I put the Tri-ang bits seen in the last instalment back in the box). The BSK was already structurally complete using an old Lima RU but the other two now use a couple of coaches which are as old as Portwilliam. Fitted with ABS buffers and gangways, Kadees within the set and dropped buckeyes at the ends they formed an unlikely branch set in the early years. When I first started building Portwilliam I had a Saturday job in a model shop; customers were few – so few that I was paid in stock rather than cash more often than not which suited me just fine. A lot of the early rolling stock and most of the track for Portwilliam was sourced this way, fair recompense I thought for eight hours every Saturday dealing with the local youths who only came in to practice shoplifting and the older … erm … characters who talked a great deal and drank much tea but bought little. Oh, and the owner’s ex-wife who still lived on the premises and kept me endlessly supplied with tea whilst alternating between screaming hysterically and weeping uncontrollably depending on whether the owner was there or not.
Fished out of the loft – MJT buckeye at one end on a Smiths hook, No5 Kadee at the other. Buffers and gangways are ABS
I wondered whether to cut them up or not, but by ‘refurbishing’ them in this way they live on (well, the roofs, ends and bits of the sides do) and maintain a link with my very first PP&W model rather than gathering dust in the attic. The Kadees can cope with a streamline small radius crossover and a 3rd radius curve whilst leaving a gap of about 2mm between gangways on straight track – acceptable in the circumstances so I will use Kadees within this set. It won’t be getting re-marshalled in normal use.
Jack up roof, replace sides, underframe, bogies, all detailing parts, replace roof.