Spring Time in the Black Country

One of the signature locos of the Black Country Blues (BCB) fleet is 47335.  A TOPS numbered loco in two-tone green with full yellow ends livery sets the time and as a (then) Bescot allocated loco, it sets the place fairly well too.  With the initial rush to get the stock for the layout exhibition ready it entered service with a quick EM conversion (the existing Bachmann wheels pulled out to EM), a renumbering and a bit of weathering.  Unfortunately, it has proved to be a little unreliable, partly due to the wheels fouling on the brake gear and partly due to the known issue with some Bachmann bogies causing them to rock on the centre axle.  For a while now the plan has been to use some Penbits sprung bogies to resolve these issues.  I started to fold and solder the bogie subframes over a year ago and got as far as preparing the bearing carriers that allow the axles to move over any track irregularities.  Like so many of my projects though, it stalled while I did something else.  When I picked it up shortly after BCB’s appearance at Wigan in October, this was where I was up to:


Cautiously following the excellent instructions provided, the next step was to assemble the bolsters which connect the subframes to the chassis (and contain the secondary suspension).

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So far, so good; at this stage nothing irreversible had been done to the loco, but to move it on, the drivetrains from the Bachmann bogies needed some modification, so I had to decide whether to proceed (and in doing so, give myself a deadline to have it ready the layout’s next exhibition appearance).  Here goes nothing…


I’m guessing that invalidates the manufacturer’s warranty!  More modifications followed, and a small task that I found dis-proportionally time consuming, to open up the brass bearing that clip into the plastic bogie housing to allow the axles to travel.


I got there eventually, allowing the bogies to be test assembled.


They stayed like this for a while as I got distracted by some wagons, but next on the to do list was to add the springs.  Each bogie has eight springs, four primary springs that act on the bearing carriers in the subframe and four secondary springs that connect the bolster to the subframe.



I had some difficulties with the primary springs and am planning to replace the two individual springs with one continuous spring on either side of the bogie – just waiting on some suitable wire to arrive.

Just over a month to go before the loco is required in service; no pressure then…

The Mill Motive Power

Jason has been working on some additional locos for The Mill, firstly a Judith Edge 88DS.  As can be seen, it is all but complete now apart from glazing, painting and adding weight.

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Jason continues: “It is actually the third Judith Edge kit I have built, the first being started over five years ago and then put on the back burner when I discovered that they weren’t built until after my modelling period. However, recently I have dug it out and moved forward to the point where the end is in sight and who knows, maybe we can have an early 70’s mad half hour at the end of shows. It’s a Thomas Hill Vanguard and if anyone is in doubt about how long it has been sat on the ‘to complete’ pile, it appears in one of the first posts on my Bacup thread!


And finally, a loco which is unlikely to see much use on The Mill, an L&Y Class 23. I have owned a second hand OO Works one for a number of years now but it ran like a crippled tortoise. At the 2015 Expo EM North, I managed to pick up a George Norton kit of one for £20, only to later discover that the boiler was missing. Now I could have got a new boiler from London Road but chose instead to build up the chassis and mate it with the RTR body. This has involved shortening the chassis, adding compensation (not catered for in the kit) and adapting the High Level method for the brakes so that they are removable. It has turned into a rather enjoyable but sometimes frustrating labour of love but is getting there now.”
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Half an hour at Foundry Lane

A few photos of 20073 shunting the sidings at Foundry Lane, here we see it arriving with a brake van, there being no inbound traffic on this afternoon’s trip working

After dropping the brake van in the sidings, the loco headed off to the steel terminal, propelling a bogie bolster which had arrived on the morning trip and returning with some empty wagons which had been unloaded during the morning

The brake van is collected and added to the back of the wagons.  The loco then ran round, ready for the return working

The trip working then left, heading back towards the mainline

We grab one last photo before she disappears under the bridge and into the gloom beyond

The next exhibition appearance for the layout is Expo EM North on 15th and 16th September at the new venue of George H Carnall Leisure Centre, M41 7FJ.

Some research

Where possible, I like the locos on Foundry Lane to represent ones which are likely to have been seen on the West Midlands during the early 70s.  The latest of these is a class 25 which will be subject of another blog post, which needed to be renumbered.  The excellent Derby Sulzers site was my starting point, which provided me with a short list of potential candidates, but I had a few gaps in depot allocations.  After a bit of Googling I stumbled upon the BR Database website – which looks like a really useful resource.  With the Class 25 identified (it’ll be Bescot’s 25038, since you ask), I started digging further into the database.

Looking up a couple of the New Haden locos, my EE type 1 (D8000) was new to 1D (Devons Road) in June 1957, but moved to Crewe South in October ’58, where she stayed for a couple of years before moving to 1B (Camden).  My Sulzer type 2 (D5030) is more of a problem though.  Built in June ’59 she was new to 31B (March), so not exactly local!  Being built at Crewe, suppose the excuse that she was on a test run will have to stand as her Crewe allocated classmates had details differences which rule out a simple renumbering.

It covers those steam things too; for example Geoff’s Fairburn (42234) was at Stoke from 1952 to 1957, then moving to Rugby until withdrawal in 1964.

Worth a look if you are about to do some renumbering – I’ll add a link to our “blogroll”.