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Re: A Highland Miscellany

Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:55 pm
by steve howe
Pinking shears! what an inspired idea!

I have a pre-War tea shack to build and this neatly solves the asbestos tile conundrum :D

thanks Mark :thumb

Re: A Highland Miscellany

Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:42 pm
by Noel
No, Mark, I don't know for certain what the colour was, I'm afraid. I'm going by long ago memories of corrugated asbestos sheeting, which, even when new, was a pale creamy grey, so the blue cast in the photos just didn't seem right to me, but I asked because the shop may have been roofed with something quite different in colour to what I remember [and memory is notoriously unreliable anyway...]

Just out of curiosity I Googled the pharmacy and found this 1930 image of the back (ironically, the image Google found is bigger)

Sorry, I don't seem to have been very helpful :?

Re: A Highland Miscellany

Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 9:12 pm
by Terry Bendall
Mark Tatlow wrote:Do you know what colour they were

I can recall seeing asbestos slates used on building in Sussex which had a distinct dark pink tint to them, often used on timber clad bungalows. Sometimes almost a dark red but faded. Perhaps a regional thing or a different sort of asbestos?

Terry Bendall

Re: A Highland Miscellany

Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 9:29 pm
by Noel
Having had to give up on trying to make something work, at least until tomorrow :) , I found these two on Pinterest [which I detest, because everything is divorced from its context, but I didn't find the originals] with dates given of 1920s and 1962 respectively, which at least seem credible.

Assuming that the building and name colours didn't change substantially [big assumption, I know] I think the earlier one may be silver gelatin rather than orthochromatic film, hence the relatively dark grey roof. The colour photo presumably shows the result of 40+ years of weathering, into something like this
showing before and after steam cleaning. The lower four here shows more examples, including a dark brown version, possibly a weathered dark pink as mentioned by Terry, but I think that the 1962 shot probably rules that out at Kyle. I assume you have seen some/all of these before, but I hope this helps.

Re: A Highland Miscellany

Posted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:56 am
by John Palmer
From Historic Scotland: The Pattern of Scottish Roofing. Not available as a download that I have been able to trace, but available online at As a sourcebook on Scottish vernacular architecture, this comes close to my treasured 'Buildings of the Scottish Countryside' - indeed, in some ways better by virtue of the plethora of colour images. Asbestos diamonds illustrated and detailed at page 162, and appearing to have a very slight mauve cast.

Re: A Highland Miscellany

Posted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 8:46 am
by Noel
The book page numbers and online page numbers are not matched, so look at online page 170 for the image John refers to. It also shows that the ridge material is unrelated to the slates [thin lead sheet?], which probably explains the differences in appearance in the 1962 image I posted.

Re: A Highland Miscellany

Posted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:44 am
by Mark Tatlow
Thanks to John and Noel.

The book that John points us too is definitely helpful and will be bookmarked for future use. I have a couple of other Scottish vernacular architecture books which I will share details of when I get home over the weekend.

The asbestos slates shown on page 107 (scan)/162(book) are the type I am looking to create. Whilst I would say that the slates in this picture have faded a lot (as have these ... ae977e.jpg), I think I am taking the point that my colouring is too dark (the blue tinge I think is a bit more in the photograph reproduction). I feel a bit more colour washing coming on over the weekend!

Elsewhere in the book (including the frontspiece) has photographs of much larger slates that have the very reddish hue that Terry mentioned. As these things were man-made, I am guessing that each come from a different manufacturer and had a slightly different constituency.

The B&W photographs that Noel have found are known of (they were taken by Duncan MacPherson who was the owner of the Kyle Pharmacy and has was a well known photographer of the area). They have formed the basis of the model. Rights are retained by the Skye & Lochalsh Archive and they want £40 per image to reproduce them. Given that the Archive exists to record and share the history of the area, I felt they were seeking such a sum for someone who is only (frankly) playing trains. I thought I would retain the multiple £40s to spend on some worthy trader at Scaleforum instead!

Re: A Highland Miscellany - Cornish Modelling

Posted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 9:33 pm
by Mark Tatlow
Don’t worry – this is not announcement of being turned to the dark side of modelling “Green With Rivets” (aka the GWR)! Instead it is a reference to a week’s trip to the extreme west of Cornwall to support my wife who was appearing in a musical that was running for a week at the Minack Theatre –


As I was expecting to have a degree of time hanging around whilst the Mrs was on stage, I took a little modelling with me – in this case, a Jones era double deck sheep van. As can be seen in this George Washington Wilson photograph of Kyle – sheep traffic was an important source of traffic to the Highland Railway – the majority of the train in the platform are sheep vans and there is also a row of them in the foreground.

Kyle of Lochalsh 3 george washington wilson aberdeen uni archive.jpg

Ever with the eye to efficiency, the Highland developed a double deck van to double the number of sheep that could be transported in one vehicle. I believe that the Cambrian Railway and several railways in Ireland had similar vehicles, but otherwise these were characteristic of the Highland’s lines to the west coast and clearly I have to have a rake of them. Unfortunately, there is quite a lot of effort in each one………….for example each side below is made up of five layers of laminate (and they are delicate too)!!

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The highland had several versions of these vans, this time I chose the second era of van, which has a single door and diagonal bracing; I do have plans for some of the other diagrams so this is a topic we will revisit at some point! The starting point for this vehicle was an etched kit from the Lochgorm range (presently unavailable, but we are all hoping……) and as already hinted, it is not an easy one! This is mostly due to the delicacy of the parts and the multi-layering of the etches that take up a lot of care to line up with each other. It takes a fair few hours simply to get the sides made up and ready for assembly and then you still have the metal bracing to do!

There were a number of elements to the kit that did not work for me. The various tabs you see in the above image are to help locate the various floors with each other but in practise they are not correctly located and just get in the way – so I whipped them off! I also ditched the compensated suspension and instead used spring suspension instead with some trusty Bill Bedford sprung units.

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However, I did not spot the biggest problem until it was too late. There is an error with the design of the kit ends where one of them is missing the top gap between slats. The correct end is as per the top picture and had I have spotted this prior to the assembly of the ends, I would have been able to insert the additional gap with a piercing saw. Having missed the problem until after I had built the van, I decided not to sweat the parts apart to cut in the slat. It only shows to those that know it is wrong; the problem is that I am one of them so it does niggle!

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Contrary to the instructions, I did not loose lay the floors in place and instead created a cage arrangement by hanging the floors from rods that were secured to the roof. As can be seen below, this enables the roof and the floors to be released from the interior of the van. This is necessary to both paint the vehicle but particularly populate it with the necessary sheep. You would be startled by how many sheep are required to fill one of these – around 50 and it costs a fair amount to populate each van. Thus, I have in mind casting some of my own in resin, although that is a story for another day.

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The problems with the kit did not finish with the problems noted to date. The iron strapping was not quite right, the springs for the axleboxes are too big and the brake lever/shoe seemed excessively skinny. Thus, these were all adjusted or replaced with alternatives. All this effort and problems to solve meant that the van took a great deal longer to finish than the week that I had available – so it has taken until now to photograph it. This is what it looks like and rather dainty and different I think it is too!

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And if anyone wants to see what the musical was like, here is a clip (with apologies for the rather shoddy photography which is me!)

Re: A Highland Miscellany

Posted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 11:09 pm
by David Knight

Fine looking vehicles (in both senses of the word). :thumb What would the braking system have been, manual, air or vacuum?



Re: A Highland Miscellany

Posted: Mon Oct 01, 2018 7:21 am
by DougN
Mark, as Australia rode on the back of a sheep for a large part of its economic history the State railways had similar wagons. The Victorian in both senses of the word had the "L" wagons for sheep. Later they developed the LL wagons... which it has been joked the lambs and lots of lambs wagons! ;)

Re: A Highland Miscellany

Posted: Mon Oct 01, 2018 7:51 am
by Mark Tatlow
David Knight wrote:Mark,

Fine looking vehicles (in both senses of the word). :thumb What would the braking system have been, manual, air or vacuum?



A manual scotch brake actuating on one side to one wheel only.

Scotch brakes are simple levers, whereby the action of the brake lever is transmitted to a shoe that bears on the wheel. These bolsters in the Wizard range show what they were like.

So well short of vacuum brakes!

PS - just had a panic looking at the photo prior to responding - I have missed some end straps. Something to add tonight.

Re: A Highland Miscellany

Posted: Mon Oct 01, 2018 10:13 am
by Paulhb
Hi Mark,

Very nice.

Have attached a couple of pictures of the earlier Jones Diagram 9 Sheep van. Not the quickest kit in the world an certainly is a good soldering test.

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Paul Bannerman

Re: A Highland Miscellany

Posted: Mon Oct 22, 2018 8:04 pm
by Mark Tatlow
A couple of my modelling friends (whose blog you can find here - are in the process of putting together entries into a competition to build cameo layouts being orchestrated by the publishers Titfield Thunderbolt. To be fair to Oly, his entry is largely complete as long as he does not seek to tinker with it too much(!), the same could not be said for Chris’s entry – titled Bottom Works Siding – so he has some catching up to do! To assist Chris I offered to make his signals and after a few weeks of work we have reached the point where they are complete.

Chris’ model is based on the GCR’s route over the pennines at its Yorkshire end. It will represent a set of transfer sidings from the Woodhead route electrification to a industrial line serving a coking plant – so I suspect we will get to see a fair amount of grot in the finished article! Its signals are LNER or BR(E) practise which is mildly different to what I have built before in some regards but not others as there was a lot of standardisation between the LMS and LNER (and BR more or less adopted LMS practise).

IMG_0017 (3).JPG

So first up is an LNER standard wooden post with replacement BR miniature upper quadrant arms. The post is a piece of brass square section that I filed to a taper (hard work) with predominantly Masokit’s fittings (which I found to be notably better than MSE’s equivalent).

IMG_0015 (2).JPG

This one is effectively a standard LMS/BR tubular post signal (apparently with brewer’s droop – sorry!) with a small bracket that has another miniature arm signal to it. This is assembled with a combination of tubes and angle section from Eileen’s Emporium, along with some more Masokit’s arms.

And finally a miniature ground signal – which despite being startling small was not actually all that difficult to build – it being based on a excellent little etched kit from Palatine Models.

IMG_0021 (2).JPG

As a result of a lost camera, there are not really any meaningful photographs of the signals being created but fear not, I still have a few to go for Glenmutchkin, so there will be some to come! In the meantime, and to prove that they really do go, here are some videos.

Re: A Highland Miscellany

Posted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 5:52 am
by DougN
Very nice there Mark! :thumb

Re: A Highland Miscellany

Posted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 1:00 pm
by iak
Sweeney #1.jpg
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Re: A Highland Miscellany

Posted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 1:29 pm
by Noel
Mark, I know nothing about GCR ground signal practice [I presume L/Q], but the LNER used U/Q ground signals [one area of difference from the LMSR which used L/Q]. Also, again so far as I know, the larger light aperture was always, in all signals, for the green glass, as various factors could affect the position of the clear signal, so I think your disc is probably a U/Q one anyway.

Re: A Highland Miscellany

Posted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 3:11 pm
by Mark Tatlow
That maybe an "oh bother" moment as I had thought I had found a picture of what looked just like an LMS ground signal and went from there!

I will look at the photographas again and think about it. I hope I don't have to make another of the little blighters!

Re: A Highland Miscellany

Posted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 8:09 pm
by Noel
These may help. I was interested to see the date of introduction given as 1938 or later, which I didn't know.

Having found my copy of Derek Munday's "Signals for the Railway Modeller", it appears that the GCR used McKenzie and Holland rotating ground signals

Re: A Highland Miscellany

Posted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 8:45 am
by Mark Tatlow
Noel wrote:These may help. I was interested to see the date of introduction given as 1938 or later, which I didn't know.

Having found my copy of Derek Munday's "Signals for the Railway Modeller", it appears that the GCR used McKenzie and Holland rotating ground signals

Thanks Noel; although the line is being modelled in the early 1970's, so I still think I "could" have had the LMS ground signal; a LNER standard one has just arrived in kit form from MSE/51L. Guess what I am doing this weekend!

Its going on a )) layout; so maybe the "getting it all right" is rubbing off?!?!?

Re: A Highland Miscellany

Posted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 9:03 am
by Mark Tatlow
Although not Highland vehicles, these full brakes have a strong association with the Highland's branchlines in the post grouping years.  Once the LMS took over the Highland's system in 1923, they seemed to have been horrified by the state of the coaching stock that they inherited!  Portions of the Highland's fleet were speedily retired and large numbers of foreign company's stock was drafted onto the system (especially the main line from Perth to Inverness, where the trains became fully corridor connected almost overnight).

When it came to the branchlines, the upgrade came primarily by the cascading of the better Highland stock onto these lines but there were exceptions.  Although the Highland had full brakes, it was a line that had a lot of parcels/packages traffic, so it seemed that they needed even more and a batch of these Midland six wheeled full brakes were drafted in.

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Many photographs of the Highland branchlines of the 1920s had one lurking in the background so I felt one should get to make appearances on Glenmutchkin.  Simple, I thought, Slaters do a plastic kit for one and whilst it is no longer available, it is easy to pick up second hand and it should be a nice quick build.  Unfortunately, I had not realised what a rubbish kit it was!  It is too short and too narrow, most of the mastering is really crude and the panelling in particular would be a scale 6 inches deep.  So the Slaters kit made it back on ebay only marginally quicker than it came off and I set about designing my own kit.

It has taken a couple of iterations and about three years, but finally I have got to the stage where I am happy with it but you can form your own view!

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The first iteration used a cleminson chassis but in the light of the success I had with sliding axles on some of my other 6 wheeled stock (NB, article with editorTim on this), I redesigned it to include these and some sprung W-irons in the style of Bill Bedford's.

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This proved similarly successful and as you can see in the video, it trundles along quite nicely behind Phil Baxendale's Jubilee.........

Other than the use of these sliding axles, the main unusual feature of the model is the arrangement of securing the roof.  I have found that it is essential to bolt these in place to prevent the roof becoming adrift at some point in the future (which has happened to half my stock over time).  Therefore, I designed a set of legs that allow the roof to be bolted through the floor from below and in the process also securing the separate chassis tight too.  Broken down, the components look like this and having them separated does make painting a lot easier.  It is definitely the route I will take in the future.


It is intended that this kit will be made available for sale as a 4mm/1ft model - albeit you will need to source the fittings/castings yourself.  I have prepared some fairly extensive instructions and this includes the details of what is required and where to get it from.  I am waiting for a quote from the etching company to be able to work out the sensible cost for these; so an update post will follow when I list it for sale.

In the meantime, here are a couple of additional views of the completed vehicle, awaiting its turn in the paintshop!

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Re: A Highland Miscellany

Posted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 9:22 am
by iak
Very nice beastie Mark.
I'm intrigued with the sub assemblies. I would imagine this is pretty strong it's all assembled?

Re: A Highland Miscellany

Posted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 9:59 am
by ralphrobertson
Nice full brake there Mark.

Might be able to help you with the ground signal, when designing the Palatine etch I took dimensions from the drawing in the LMS Journal and photographed several which were lying around by Bury signal box on the East Lancs Railway. I was also provided with some photos by Dave Kenton of our Manchester MRS and I am sure he won't mind me posting some of them here to help you get things right.

I have to say I never expected to sell any of these etches (they, along with all my etches, are developed solely to help us with Slattocks) and so I never wrote any instructions but they have been popular with the professional model signal builders who have made quite a few.

I hope these shots help.

Castleton ground signals 80s (8).jpg
LMS Ground Signal taken in 1980s near Manchester

Castleton ground signals 80s (9).jpg
Side view of signal

Castleton ground signals 80s (10).jpg
Rear view

Castleton ground signals 80s (2).jpg


Re: A Highland Miscellany

Posted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 10:02 am
by Mark Tatlow
Hi Iak,

Yes, it is fairly durable - I tend to make all my models thus as I am a bit of a clumsey oaf if given a chance!

The chassis is solid because it has an entire floor which is a sheet of metal and the solebars fold up off this (and are laminated). The roof is also a sort of tube with a plate at its base (which also forms the lip that is in reality a rainstrip at the head of the side).

You can't see it in any of the pictures I have to hand, but there is a fold over tab at the base of each side that projects into the interior by about 7mm and has a hole within through which the fixing bolts pass through. Then to finish this off, there is also a further tab at the head of the sides that folds through 180o. This includes the fanlights for the windows (so no real effort required to align these) but also creates a 1mm laminate at the top of the sides to stop them wobbling about which I find to be a problem with many etched kits (I normally put a 1*1mm piece of brass along their top)

Re: A Highland Miscellany

Posted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 10:06 am
by Mark Tatlow
Thanks for the photographs Ralph.

It was a neat little kit and a great deal elegant than the MSE/51L equivalent.

Whilst Noel has pointed out I have built the wrong one (!), I do have another layout I am to build signals for and it definitely has LMS standard ground signals, so I will probably be back for one or two more etches in due course!

Re: A Highland Miscellany

Posted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 11:50 am
by essdee
Lovely work Mark - and the MR 6wh brake is a 'bonus' - I am stood in the queue, for a brace of these......... and thanks for saving me starting on a Slater's version!