I've decided to start a new feature on the blog with the less-than-original title of Model Of The Week.
Taking Dduallt to Railex last weekend gave me my first opportunity in a year and a half to see all our finished models. Once they leave my workbench to be sent down south to be finished off my Himself I don't see them again unless I'm on a visit or at an exhibition.
So I took the chance to take some snaps of many of the locomotives and rolling stock on the layout and I plan to show a different one each week and explain a little about how we built it. I'm going to archive the posts so over time it will build into a kind of online stockbox.
And where better to start than with our first ever 009 model: Conway Castle.
Himself built this loco back in 1989 after the teenage me presented him with an impulse purchase while exhibiting a club layout at a show in Hemel Hempstead.
It's a Chivers whitemetal body kit running on an Ibretren 'Cuckoo' chassis. These Ibertren chassis have a very bad press but I have to say this has been the most reliable performer on the layout for over two decades. To be fair we have re-motored all our Ibertrens with Mashima cans and they've now run so far that the ridges in the driving wheels have worn away - both developments making them much quieter runners.
The model is presented in its original, and somewhat garish livery. It has been improved over the years with the addition of jewels to represent the headlights, but the flush glazing is an original feature.
At the time we made it, however, I didn't appreciate that the loco wasn't fitted with a proper cab door for its first few years and so we ended up glazing the hole above what should be a temporary stable-style lower door panel.
When Conway Castle - known to the folk at Boston Lodge as Conk-Out Castle - was repainted into the green and off-white livery it wears today it was given a proper recessed door.
For a long time I've intended to make a second version of the loco in this condition in which it was served on the WHR as the yard pilot at Dinas and also on construction trains with Upnor Castle, to operate on Bron Hebog. Must get round to that....
Here she is on Dduallt double heading with Planet 'sister' Upnor Castle - please excuse the slightly blurred photograph.
A few notes on the prototype.
Conway Castle was built in 1958 by F C Hibberd as a 2'6" gauge locomotive. It worked for the Royal Navay armaments depot at Ernesettle in Plymouth and was bought by the FR in 1981.
There it was regauged, fitted with a 180hp Gardner diesel engine and given a radical, modern body. Following the InCa (Increased Capacity) project on the FR in the early 1990's it spent a period operating in push-pull mode before being superseded as the FR's mainline diesel by new-build Cricceth Castle and was transferred to the WHR in 2000.