Model Of The Week Archive


This carriage is now one of the older ones in our fleet, a fact given away by the rather huffed-up appearance of the windows.

It was probably one of the last carriages I built where the floor was fixed and the roof was left removable up until the point when the model had been painted, then the glazing was slipped in and the roof glued in place before the carriage received a final spray of varnish.

It is the varnish which frosted the windows which was the inescapable downside of building the carriages this way. Because we now build them with a floor which can be pulled out, and back in again, at will the glazing does not have to be inserted until after the model is varnished meaning the windows can remain impeccably transparent.

Our model shows 117 running in the push-pull set in the mid-1990s. 

It had recently had a comprehensive rebuild that saw all the pillars rearranged and reduced in number so the narrow, vertical drop down windows it was built with in 1977 were replaced with the bigger, bus-style, design with the sliding openings at the top.

This made the carriage look very much like 121, which was the last of the six 'tin carrs' built at Boston Lodge in the late 70s and early 80s, but inevitably the two were never identical.

In the fullness of time I will have to get around to making another 117 to run on Bron Hebog along with the rest of this set.  Running the green and ivory livery on the WHR would be stretching modeller's licence too far, methinks.


101 was always one of my favourite FR carriages - it was the first model I scratch built 20+ years ago - so I was delighted when it was given a reprieve and reincarnated as a 3rd class, top end, observation carr.

I didn't waste any time creating a 4mm version of 123 (as it now is known) to run on Dduallt and Bron Hebog.

Apart from the obvious difference of being turned 180 degrees to face Blaenau, 123 had a number of alterations to the bodywork which meant it wasn't an option to merely recycle one of my existing models of 101 (As we did with 100 when we modelled it in its final days as a mess coach on the WHR construction.)

There were some extra windows cut into what were previously blank panels in the guard's compartment and when the old windows were replaced with double glazed units it meant they lost their rubber seals which gave them rounded corners, and instead became square.

The interior was completely re-designed with 3rd class seats replacing the swivel seats and Pullman armchairs from its days as a 1st class carriage.

The sight of an Observation Carriage at the top end of an FR train set still takes some getting used to, especially with a Double Fairlie at the head of the train as in this scene from Chris Nevard's photo shoot with Dduallt. At first glance you could be forgiven for assuming you're looking at a Down train.

Picture copyright Chris Nevard / Model Rail magazine

The best time, perhaps, to be sitting in 123 would be on an Up train hauled by Linda when you'd get a perfect front row view of all the action on the footplate - even better when she's eventually converted back to burning coal.

It would also be the best place to ride when an FR set is being used on the WHR, being at the back of the train as you travel towards Caernarfon.

Bug Box 4

I suppose some people with a more casual association with the FR might presume this purple colour scheme is a result of modeller's licence, but it is not. Here is the proof:

It's quite remarkable how in two decades the FR made the transition from a railway that gave BR's corporate blue livery of the '70's a real run for its money it terms of dullness and monotony to one which, for a short period in the late 90's, appeared to be painting its rolling stock in all colours of the rainbow.

Small Birmingham number 4's post-rebuild livery was certainly one of the more unusual.

The situation has settled down a lot more in recent years with most rolling stock either wearing the regular maroon / ivory livery or one of a more rationalised range of heritage colour schemes.

Today number 4 wears the rather unremarkable green with red ends scheme of the Col. Stephens era - not a personal favourite, I must say - so I'm quite glad that our Chris Veitch brass bug box looks a little more interesting.

'The Zoo Carr'

All FR enthusiasts probably have their own mental associations with certain items of rolling stock.

For me this semi-open bug box - or Birmingham knifeboard Observation Carr, to give it a more formal title - always brings to mind the 1930's and images of Tan y Bwlch and Bessie Jones in Welsh costume.

The real carriage is a replica which was completed in 1997 and makes use of some of the original components from carriage number 2 (or 6, if you prefer) which was re-rebuilt into a closed First Class carriage.

This model was built from a Chris Veitch kit and shows number 1 as it ran when first restored to traffic in a two tone green and ivory livery.

The actual carriage has subsequently been repainted into what I consider the rather drab 1930's colour scheme of solid green sides with red ends.

Bug Box 5

For me this is the original FR 'bug box'.

The reason number 5 (as was) is so iconic to me is that visiting the FR as a child in the 1980s it was the only one remaining in service.

Or perhaps, to be more accurate, I should say it was the first one to come back into service, because it had recently emerged from being totally rebuilt, almost single-handed, by the late Ron Jarvis.

I think it is fair to say that it was his single-minded dedication to restoring these unique Victorian carriages that led directly to the wonderful fleet of original and replica four-wheelers which so enhance the FR these days, including the most recent addition the 'port hole bug box'.

Ron's work was taken up by the volunteer Team X whose efforts in turn can be traced through to the magnificent HLF carriage workshop, and the stupendous vehicles it produces, today.

Our model shows number 5 as it was running in 1988 (the year in which Dduallt was originally nominally set)finished in the cherry red livery with black ends.

It is made from a Chris Veitch brass kit, as are all our bug boxes.

These are excellent kits - and I'm not just saying that because Chris reads this blog.

'Superbarn' 103

This model was just being built when I started this blog two years ago.

Indeed if you look far enough back through the archive you'll read about an almost catastrophic design cock-up on my part. (But if you want to find out about that you'll have to do the hard work and discover the story for yourself!)

We've had a lot of 'musical numbers' among the carriages featured in Model Of The Week recently and this one continues the theme.

This latest 103 has nothing whatsoever in common with the original 103. That was a 1960s buffet car which was given a radical face lift in the late '80s and then pulled apart in the 2000s.

This 103 has blazed a new trail in 21st century carriage design on the FR.

Much longer and wider and looking like a slimmed down modern WHR carriage, but with obvious styling cues taken from the 'Barns', it shares the inset door vestibules with its larger cousins.

Passenger comfort was the primary concern with wider seat spacings with more leg room as well as easier access for customers in wheelchairs or with limited mobility with the double doors at one end.

The design has been repeated in two new Superbarns, 121 which has already entered service and 108 which is in the early stages of construction at Boston Lodge.

Our model was scratch built in styrene, including the roof which, as other previous posts on this blog detail, was rather tricky due to the design over the vestibules. It called for styrene to retain a curve with very little support - something it is usually very reluctant to do!

That I managed to beat it into submission is something I'm very proud of, but I'm not going to try it again - my model of 121 (and 108) will have brass roof skins!

Carriage 10 (The current one)

This is our model of carriage 10, a replica of one of the four wheel Ashbury carriages which were acquired by the FR a few years after the introduction of steam.

They were of a much more conventional design than the iconic 'bug boxes' and none of them survived into preservation.

This one was completed in 2007 and portrayed one of the First Class carriages which were later downgraded to Third.

Our model is from a brass kit.and the biggest challenge with it - much like the Curly Roof Van - is the ornate gold leaf lining.   Himself did the best he could with the finest waterslide lining available from the Fox range.

I seem to recall this task required the donning of three pairs of spectacles and I think the end result is pretty admirable considering the size of the blighter!

'Mary Ann'

This is one of my favourite ugly ducklings.

In many ways you could argue the story of Mary Ann - or 'The Simplex' if you prefer - is a microcosm of the journey the FR itself has made over the last half decade.

Now considered a heritage artifact our model shows Mary Ann in its workaday condition of the 70's and early 80's.

When the new administration took over in 1954 the Simplex tractor - a veteran of the Great War narrow gauge system in France - was the first thing they got working.

In the years that followed as traffic boomed and the railway struggled to expand it was rebuilt and modified to meet changing needs, receiving a transplanted diesel engine and growing a semi-enclosed cab, which certainly gave it back something of the 'tin turtle' look of its armoured sisters on the Western Front.

Those whose only experience of Mary Ann has been as a working museum piece in the last 20 years or so, when it has been stripped back to 1950's condition, and had its original gallons-per-mile petrol engine reinstalled, may perhaps be appalled to see such mutation. But it's important to remember that during this time Mary Ann was one of the mainstays of the p-way department who inevitably ended up doing most of their work in the winter months of the year or early in the mornings. It would have been unreasonable, to say the least, to deny them even this modicum of comfort in the name of heritage, surely?

Our model is one of those box of bits machines. It came about when as a teenager I was given a random selection of old 009 stuff including the remains of a Meridian Models kit for an armoured Simplex and couple of very crude old French 0-4-0 chassis which had been used for a scratch built Garratt.

As it happened, one of these chassis fitted neatly beneath the Simplex body which was opened up at the sides and Himself  created the cab from styrene and added some etched brass grills, nameplates and vac bags.

Back them I considered this a marvel of miniaturisation, never for a moment imagining that in years to come there would be kits of the market for a fully open Simplex with the tiniest, rubber band powered mechanisms such as those produced by Nigel Lawton.

That's progress for you.

Van 59

This is my scratchbuilt model of a van which has had very peripatetic existence.

It started out as a cattle wagon on the Vale of Rheidol Railway, being built at the GWR's Swindon works in 1923.

15 years later the company re-gauged it (to 2'6") and transferred it eastwards to one of its other Welsh NG outposts, the Welshpool & Llanfair Railway where it stayed for another 20 years until it was purchased in the early years of the FR revival, and re-gauged back to 2 foot (give or take half an inch).

It was rebuilt by volunteers in Buckinghamshire and first saw use on the FR in 1968.

Van 59 has been used to carry all manner of irregular cargoes over the years including horses and more recently, as you can see from the picture, with the intention of deploying it as a bicycle van, although I don't ever recall seeing it being used for that purpose.

Its great versatility to the railway comes from it being fitted with a vacuum pipe connection (and more recently its own cylinder) which means it can be marshaled into passenger trains, which has led to its most notorious duties as the host of a small generator providing power for the lights and sound system on volunteers'  'disco train' charters.

It also performed a similar role during a gala event in 2002 when it again carried a generator to power the lights in the train as 'Blanche' ran through the night during 84 hours of continuous running.

Another interesting fact, which I have only just discovered, is that the red handbrake wheel you can see in the picture is the original wheel from 'Palmerston'.  

Carriage 10

Our model of Carriage 10 (yes, I know it's called Van 2 these days, but this is a model of it as number 10) is built from one of the excellent Parkside Dundas kits.

It shows the carriage running as it was when it was restored to traffic in 1991 with an all over green livery.

Today it has very natty brick red colour on the ends and the framing along the bottom, and I am intending to get my hands on a second kit to represent it in this condition to run on Bron Hebog, leaving this original one to be used on Dduallt.

For those who don't know the background, this carriage started off as one of three 'curly roof vans' but was rebuilt in the 1920's with a conventional profile and two passenger compartments squeezed into part of the old luggage space.

What would make a very interesting model of this van is of it in the beaten-up condition, with half its doors missing and flaking paintwork, from the mid-1950's when it was used on early clearance trains along the line, before its wooden frame finally cried 'enough' and it was placed in store for three decades waiting for the FR's heritage revival.

Van 2

This attractive example of a Mk3 quarrymen's carriage turned brake van is very much a period piece now showing the van in the orange livery it wore through much of the 1990's and wearing the number 2.

This is how it was known for around 40 years after the preservationists takeover until the fleet of heritage vehicles was re-numbered in the mid-90's, a state of affairs that still leaves many of us - me included - confused.

What I grew up calling Van 2 - and have this model of - is now known as Van 6.

Carriage 6 - a first class 'bug box' - is now carriage number 2.

And carriage number 10 is now Van 2.

(I hope you're remembering all this because I certainly struggle to.)

As for the history of the van / carriage, it is said to have been converted in 1908, when the bodyshell was cut back at one end the the balcony added on.

Between the two world wars it was also fitted with air brakes and used on the WHR.

In the early years of the FR revival it was often pressed into passenger service as part of the famous 'Flying Flea' set of four wheeled carriages, with room for 6 people.

Our model was adapted - in much the same style as the prototype - from a Parkside Dundas plastic kit for one of the Mk 3 Quarrymen's, with windows cut into the ends and a balcony rail added in brass.

Van 6 is once more running around in green livery and I may well find myself making another model in this condition at some point in the future.

Dduallt Signal Box

A lot of the subjects I have modelled for Dduallt and Bron Hebog have been altered or rebuilt since I completed them, but very few of them have ceased to exist - this is one of them.

If you've only ever visited Dduallt in the last 20 years you could be forgiven for not realising there ever was a signal box here because it was torn down a few years after the passing loop was taken out of commission.

You could also be forgiven for thinking it looks more like an overgrown potting shed than a signal box, but this is the FR of the 60's and 70's where practicality and getting back to Blaenau were the only criteria that mattered.

The box was tucked in the corner between the start of the new Deviation spiral and the line to the Old Moelywn Tunnel.

In the year we chose to model Dduallt - 1988 - there remained a very short stretch of this line forming a short siding behind the signal box. It gives us lot more operational flexibility when running the layout at exhibitions and a handy place where we can leave items of rolling stock on display while the trains run.

The model was built by guesstimating the dimensions because I never did take  the opportunity to measure it while it was still standing.   Using a comprehensive set of pictures - that I did have the presence of mind to take - I based the design around the size of the average front door knowing that the FR most likely built it using off-the-shelf components. 

I think it turned out pretty well.

'Tin Carr' 110

This carriage is perhaps the most appropriate of all the rolling stock we run on our other layout Dduallt.

When it was built it first saw use on a special shuttle service on the first section of the Deviation, around the spiral as far as Gelliwiog.

The carriage worked in a push-pull operation with the diesel Moel Hebog out of the bay platform at the top end of the station, which is also a feature of our model of Dduallt which is nominally set in 1988, the last year of the 'classic' Deviation trackplan there.

In fact 110 ran its first season incomplete, in a rather skeletal, semi-open condition until it could go back into Boston Lodge at the end of the summer to be completed.

It set the style for a the FR's second generation of modern era carriages which were markedly different to the wooden-bodied 'Barns' of the 1960's.

The 'Tin Carrs' had inward opening doors and entrance vestibules at each end, with a distinctive dome shape to the roof above and with windows either side of the corridor connections, allowing a view through into the neighbouring carriage in much the same fashion as many subway trains around the world.

They had very distinctive ribs on the bodyside beneath each window pillar which were arranged in a rather traditional pattern with alternate narrow droplights in between larger fixed windows.

Compare it to a side-on view of one of the NWGNR Ashbury 'Summer' carriages and you will see a very similar design theme.

110 remains unique because it was much longer than the 'production' carriages which followed and were built on ex-Isle of Man Railway underframes. This prototype was built with a central spine and is also quite distinctive on the FR in that it has no visible frame beneath the body.

110 had its push pull controls removed in 1990 and ours mostly runs, as the real one does, towards the top of end of a carriage set, as the last corridor vehicle before the so-called 'lock ups' which are coupled in front to add capacity as required. With this role in mind I built the model with its corridor connections closed at the Blaenau end.

As part of a noble tradition of FR singletons (along with the likes of 116 and 122) 110 has always been one of my favourites.

Parry People Mover

I have a very soft spot for the Parry People Mover.

This is another of the models on Bron Hebog that, as far as I know, is the only one of its kind.

My PPM was scratch built in styrene and runs on a Kato tram chassis. There are lots of previous posts documenting the build if you have a look back through the archive.

The model's appearances at Beddgelert on Bron Hebog are, of course, complete fantasy.

The real machine left the WHR in a state of mechanical disgrace around 15 years ago when the line only ran to Dinas, and even when the vehicle ran it did not excatly cover itself in glory.

So feeble was its performance that it is highly unlikely that it would ever have managed to surmount the summit at Rhyd Ddu to roll down the hill to Beddgelert, although its flywheel would no doubt have reached V max by the time it did.

I think the PPM's appeal to me lies in that sense of the 'white elephant' and also its stark modernity and the utilitarian bus-style interior which remind me of the FR of my childhood - the angular Earl of Merioneth and the 'tin carrs'.


2090 was the only WHR-style brake carriage, and indeed the only lavatory fitted carriage until the first of the service carriages came along.

In fact, it came close to becoming the second service carr because the original plan was to rebuild this vehicle before the railway changed its mind and stripped and rebuilt 2020, the first of the semi-opens.

This was the second of the Winson carriages that we modelled, so it is now well over a decade old.

It shows 2090 as it first ran on the WHR with a one bay guard's compartment at the Caernarfon end.  This was later extended to allow for storage of the refreshment trolley, and the carriage was altered a third time to include a toilet.

2090 is easily identified by the double doors at both ends.  The other three saloons in the original batch had single doors and the most recent triplets, built at Boston Lodge, are a metre longer and have single doors at one end and a double at the other.


This is now one of the oldest carriages in our running fleet.

It is one of a pair of Langley Miniature Models brass kits for the 1876 Brown, Marshalls twins 17 & 18.

It shows 18 running as it was in 1988, the nominal year of the rolling stock for our original 009 layout Dduallt, when the FR's carriages had begun being repainted into the two tone livery.

It was a very plain colour scheme compared to the ornate Victorian liveries some of the Bowsiders are currently wearing, but arguably it did a little more for them than the all over red of the '70s, or even worse, the short-lived varnished teak livery of the mid '60s.

It was around this time that 18 was stripped of much of its panelling which means this model is somewhat inaccurate because, as you can see if you look closely, all the detail is there half-etched into the brass sides, although the livery does disguise it somewhat.

More of an annoyance is the positioning of the classification transfers on the doors. The words should really be in the panels rather than below them. But at the time , 20 years ago now, we only had some rather crude dry rub transfers to use which, even if it were possible to get them to sit in the sunken panels nicely, were fare too large anyway.

Better quality and smaller waterslide transfers are required in a situation like this.

Partly because of all these compromises, and also because our carriage fleet has expanded along with the FR's over the past two decades, 18 see less use on our layouts these days, and is usually confined to a role as a spare carriage rather than being marshaled in one of the core carriage sets.

River Bridge

This is the stone arched bridge over the Afon Cwm Cloch just north of Beddgelert station.

I thought you might like to see some shots of how Himself made it.

As you can see below the bridge was built as a sub-assembly, so if could be completed and painted before it was fixed in place and the embankment built around it.

The faces of the bridge and the wing walls were made with a plywood base with embossed card bonded on top.

Off-cuts of plain styrene were glued along the tops to form the cappings.

You can't quite see in this picture, unfortunately, but the brick pattern styrene sheet was glued on at an angle under the arch to create the correct diagonal effect.

Here it is in position beneath the trackbed with the river being formed- the rocks, in case you're wondering, are proper, actual pebbles.

The model was finished off with another fabulous paint job by our Artistic Director.

If you haven't discovered it yet he has written a How To guide describing his technique with acrylic paints on our structures. You'll find it in the menu over on the right hand side of the page.


It seems strange how 104 has survived the retro-rebuilding / upgrading of the Barns in recent years and is still running around pretty much the same condition as when it was given a radical makeover in mid'80's, losing its classic Barn toplights and louvred windows in favour of larger, rubber-edged panes.

104 is, of course, the doyen of the Barn programme of the 1960's. You could be forgiven for thinking it was the (now scrapped) Observation Carr 100 that was the first, but this composite saloon emerged a year ahead of it with the original running number 24.

This is my second model of 104 which I made because my carriage building technique had advanced considerably from the first batch of carriages I built in my teens in the early '90s.

One of the big improvements was the much chunkier corridor connections with styrene strips formed into channel and shaped to look like the folded rubber on the real carriages.

On this second generation of carriages I also began adding an additional layer of strip on the window pillars which adds a much finer degree of detailing and a crisper look the carriage overall.

In its own way I think 104 has become an FR design classic - an elegant comprise between the original Barn outline and the modernist Tin Carrs of the '70s - and I think I'll quite miss it when it is inevitably (?) chopped up for firewood and something new placed upon its underframe.

Van 51

We have two versions of Van 51 / Van 1 which is another of those FR vehicles which has been given a new look and a new identity over the years.

This is the more modern of them, as P-Way brake van 51.

The model was scratch built in styrene to show the van as it appeared for the last decade or so in a livery not dissimilar to that adopted by BR's engineers fleet at one time and which suited it rather well, I think. It was built up on a Dundas four wheel chassis kit.

Van 1 was constructed in 1964 by the volunteers of the Midland Group of the FR Society. In its early years it was used as a passenger carriage at the peak of summer traffic.

At that time it looked much larger with the full height bodywork carried forwards to form a covered entrance vestibule, which was reduced to an open platform during a rebuild in the mid-80's making it look much more like one of the original FR four wheel vans which has been converted from quarrymens carriages.

In the 90's it was given a new number to accommodate a replica of a four wheeled double-balconied van which took the number 1, although it too later surrendered it to the reborn 'curly rood van'.

In its original condition the van formed part of the historic first steam train to return to Blaenau in 1982, hauled by Blanche. By now the all over green livery it first wore had been replaced by cherry red. Our other model of it portrays it in this condition and will no doubt be a future Model Of The Week subject.
NG-Y Ballast Wagon

In my opinion these wagons are a 'must have' for any model of the modern WHR because they were so essential to the effort to rebuild the line from Caernarfon to Porthmadog.

Ours are scratch built from styrene and it took a while to get around to making them because I didn't have access to any drawings for the NG Y design. In the end I took a tape measure to one of them myself along with a copious amount of pictures taken from every angle.

A big help in getting them to look right is the availability of U section styrene produced in a wide range of sizes by Evergreen which was used for the straps along the side of the hoppers, the Z struts at each end and the inner parts of the main frames.

Another important finishing touch is the distinctive wheels used for the hand brakes and the controls for the ballast chutes which I had custom etched.

Himself made use of his airbrush for the weathering effects to make them look suitably used.

We've perhaps overdone it a little with the load - some viewers at exhibitions have commented that they would be over the weight limit - but I have to say I have seen pictures of them looking pretty full when in use on construction trains.

I suppose this is what you would call a standard WHR carriage, if there were indeed such a thing.

2042 was the third and final of the original batch of third class saloons built for the opening from Caernarfon to Dinas by Winson Engineering. It was also the last to be sent for a full-scale overhaul at Boston Lodge Works which was completed in time for this season's running.

The design has been superseded by longer 13m carriages built at Blodge which also have proper disabled access with double doors at one end.

It was the last of the original carriages which I built, in styrene as usual.

It spent a number of years sitting unpainted in a drawer and, in fact, by the time Himself got around to finishing it off Blodge had already begun giving the Winson carriages a makeover, the most obvious changes being vertical strips of beading beneath every window pillar, the removal of the hoods above the opening windows and a change to the livery with the cream doors which are now standard on new-build carriages.

I did briefly consider taking the unpainted model back and attempting to rebuild it in the new style, but it would have been very tricky to remove so much detail without damaging the styrene panels beneath the beading. So in the end we decided to the full Winson rake kept in their original condition.

I may one day end up building replacement carriages in their current form but not for a while yet methinks.

Old Water Tower Base

Known by some people by other less flattering names - such as the 'manky water tower' - this 1920's concrete McAlpine structure is one of the few bits of WHR heritage left at Beddgelert station, especially now the pit next to it has been covered over.

Our model was made from styrene from measurements taken at the site.

The mankiness comes courtesy of some concrete effect paint, which has a sandy texture when applied.

The rusted bits of rails sticking out of it are - well - rails, in this case offcuts of some Peco 009 track.

Romanian Ballast Wagon

This is another of my most favourite scratch built models.

This wagon was built new for the WHR in Romania in 2006 and was apparently based on a four-wheeled standard gauge design for Austrian Federal Railways.

Whereas the ex-SAR wagons are very simple designs - just a big hopper with sloping ends - this Eastern European monster has one of the most complicated bodyshells I've ever attempted.

And even once you've got all the angles on the hooper (which is divided into two) sorted out you then have the challenge of replicating all the control rods and leves and the ballast chutes beneath the frame.

Unlike the SAR wagons this one discharges ballast along the centre line of the track as well as at the sides.

I was also very pleased with the way the various handrails, which I had to fabricate from brass myself, turned out.

This wagon is so complex that I doubt I would ever have attempted it were it not for a very kind contact on the WHR (who was very proud of their new toy) offering me a large scale General Arrangement drawing which, along with the photographs he supplied of the wagon, was invaluable during the build.

Curly Roof Van

It's hard to believe that it's eight years now since this most distinctive of FR vintage vehicles was reborn.

For me this replica of Van 1 is as symbolic as the gravity slate train is in showing how the revived FR has embraced its heritage once more.

The model is made from a Worsley Works 'scratch-aid' kit and runs on the same Parkside Dundas bogies as Van 2. (I still want to call it number 10.)

The unique curly roof was rolled from sheet brass by Himself - and what a cracking job he did on it, too - but the real challenge on this model was the high Victorian gold-lined livery.

After experimenting with bow pens and metalic ball pens we eventually settled on using the thinest waterslide gold lining we could obtain from the Fox range.  Himself did very well getting it into some very small spaces.

The Up end of the van (the blank end) is lined in white.

Somewhat unusualy I have had the priviledge of riding in this luggage van as a paying passenger.

The occasion was a vintage weekend a couple of years ago. It was Merddin Emrys offical relaunch / sponsor charter with a short rake of the FR's Victorian liveried carriages.

When number 15 developed a hot box and had to be detached at Blaenau it caused something of an acute accomodation crisis. It was typical Blaenau weather that October day - the rain was lashing down - so in the end about 20 or so of us decided to make ourselves as comfortable as we could in the central luggage section of the van for the journey back to Porthmadog rather than waiting an hour or so for the next service train.

With all the fussing about with 15 the train - now formed of just a Double Fairle, a bogie van, a 'bowsider' and a few four-wheelers - was running quite late when it eventually departed Blaenau.  I seem to recall it was considerably less late upon arrival back at the bottom of the line......

NGG16 ??

This is the loco which kicked off our adventure in modelling the Welsh Highland around 15 years ago.

It is an unusual Model Of The Week in that the model in question is not of any particular prototype engine.. Allow me to explain.

Himself was tempted to buy and build this Backwoods Miniatures kit when it hit the market, I suspect because he couldn't resist the challenge.

At the time we hadn't set out to model the WHR, it was just another exciting new locomotive to make, and so we didn't set out to represent one of the repatriated Garratts (138 & 143) which at that time were confined to shuttling between Caernarfon and Dinas looking for all the world like the steam-powered equivalent of a great beast in a small zoo enclosure.

For that reason the kit was built as Pete McParlin intended.  Although the coal in the bunker has come back to meet us  - when we made it the NGG16 fleet was on an exlcusive diet of oil - there are other features such as the sunshades over the cab windows and, most notably, the huge single headlamps which mean that this model wouldn't stand up to scrutiny if we tried to pass it off as one of the WHR's current quartet.

And if you hadn't spotted those subtle bits and pieces the ACR (Alfred County Railway) stickers on the bunker will certainly cure you of any misapprehensions you may have about what it is you're looking at.

Despite all that, because it is finished off in SAR unlined black livery, and because 143 spent many years running about on the WHR in this livery, it still blends in on Bron Hebog.

I've been badgering Himself for many years (as children tend to do) urging him to dunk it in paint stripper, attack the errornous details with a soldering iron and rebuild it as a more accurate representation of one of the WHR Garratts but so far he has either been too busy or is just hoping that if he ignores me for long enough I will forget about it. (As parents tend to do.)

Whatever the debate about the bits and bobs it does or does not have on it, there's no question that it is another fine example of Himself's ability to assemble these brass kits so as they not only look superb but run like sewing machines to boot.

The Water Crane

There is no rule which says the Model Of The Week has to run on rails, although to be fair, our subject does still move.

The water crane at the North end of the platform at Beddgelert is one of the most prominent features of the station.

Our representation of it was scratch built by Himself and brought to life with the assistance of the legendary Stefco.

The component parts are brass tube and rod plus a few brass washers all soldered together.

The main upright is tube with a slightly smaller but much longer solid rod inside which extends below the baseboard, which is how it swivels.

The top horizontal pipe is solid rod as it was easier to bend the end to shape, with a bit of tube added on the end for the counter weight. Washers were slipped on to show the flanged joints and soldiered into place.

The bottom flange is just small pieces of brass fashioned and soldiered in place.

The drip stand was similarly made from brass.

Motorising it was an afterthought. Steve Coulson came up with a mechanism made up of components sourced from his man cave full of various dismantled electronic consumer products.

At the heart of it is a low geared 3v motor – probably liberated from an old video recorder or something similar – which is wired to a three position switch hidden beneath the baseboard and gets its juice (currently) from a battery.

The drive from the motor is connected to the aforementioned inner brass rod and the crane thus swivels – delightfully sedately – hither and thither.

Alas, at the moment, there is no auto-stop feature. So if the operators become distracted, and forget to turn the switch to the central ‘off’ position when it has turned 90 degrees, you sometimes look down the platform and notice the water crane turning round, and round, and round like a malfunctioning clock!

Carriage 24

This is the other half of the WHR heritage carriage fleet - there's not a lot of it, is there?

In fact, 24 is only really 'heritage' in that it looks old and is uncomfortable. The actual carriage is newer than some of the WHR's modern carriages, being built at Boston Lodge in 2002.

It is a replica of one of the NWNGR (North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways) 'Summer Coaches' which were built by Ashbury, to the original full height rather than the cut-down condition in WHR days.  The FR has two of these survivors from the old WHR, one of which, number 26, has been so comprehensibly rebuilt I'd be fascinated to know if there is anything at all of the 1894 vehicle remaining at all?

It might even be the case that this replica has got more original bits on it, because when it was being built them found some old NWGNR axleboxes in one of the stores at Boston Lodge which were fitted to the bogies along with authentic curly-spoked wheels.

The model was scratch built in styrene and in the same way as our model of WHR carriage 23 had each of the matchboard strips glued on separately.

I fashioned the top hat ventilators from various bits of styrene tube. I think they're probably a bit too tall and thin, but I didn't have many good pictures take from a high angle to judge their dimensions properly. 

Today there is just such a picture in the official FR & WHR stock list book, so I may in future get round to making some shorter, fatter, replacements.

Carriage 16

Once upon a time there were very limited rolling stock options for 009 modellers of the FR.

Langley did their brass kits for 'bowsiders' 17 and 18, and Parkside Dundas had the plastic semi-opens 37 and 38. And that was about it apart from some ancient GEM and FR whitemetal kits for old Obs 11, WHR pair 23 and 26 and sundry box boxes which all weighed not far short of a real NG carriage.

So there wasn't much choice other than to scratch build, which is how we came to have this model of 16 which is entirely built from styrene. (Yes, even the curvy handrails on the balconies!)

My technique for building this carriage wasn't dissimilar to the way they these pioneering iron framed bogie carriages were built in 1872.

In those days - we're talking 18 years ago now - I was still building carriages with a fixed floor and a removable roof.

On these carriages there was a bit of a problem doing that because the bogies are tucked up into the carriage body and hidden behind those big iron frames.

What I did was to build the bottom frame and the end balconies as a rolling chassis unit and make a separate square carriage body to mount on top.

As the model is so old there are a few things I find a wee bit unsatisfactory these days - the windows should be slightly rounded, for a start. But I think its still quite a creditable effort.

This model shows 16 as it was running in 1988 in the all over Cherry Red livery, so we can't reasonably run it on Bron Hebog, so I think in time we'll replace it with a Worsley Works brass kit finished in the Col. Stephens green livery that 16 is running around with currently.

'Russell' (Cut Down Version)

This model of Russell is built from a Chivers whitemetal kit for the 1923 Boston Lodge butchered version of Russell from the days when the FR and WHR were first connected - a botched attempt to make the locomotive fit the FR loading gauge which legend records was declared a paint-scratching, bodywork-denting failure in the depths of the old Moelwyn Tunnel.

The model came about for two reasons. Firstly we had a spare bespoke outside framed chassis for Russell (built for me, very kindly, around 20 years ago by renowned Colorado NG modeller Mick Moignard) when our first Chivers kit was superseeded by the exquisite Backwoods Miniatures kit.

The other reason was because the Artistic Director wanted something to wind up the punters at exhibitions and a model of Russell in its controversial cut down form fitted the bill perfectly. (He also tells them he thinks the WHHR should restore the locomotive to this condition)

The old hand made chassis still works a treat and so our ugly duckling still takes a wander around Bron Hebog to amuse the operators and the public alike.

Here, in a scene that will surely never be repeated in reality, we see it passing that other narrow gauge sight-for-sore-eyes, K1, at Beddgelert station on Bron Hebog.


This engine is the 'Mother of all Garratts'.

Our K1 is built from a Backwoods Miniatures kit and is pretty much put together as Pete intended.  One of the most obvious alterations is the extended railings around the coal bunker at the back.

The loco has also been through wired connecting the motors on each bogie which has transformed the performance of the machine which was previously prone to sticking on points with its relatively shortly four coupled bogies.

Himself is, justifiably, proud of the lining job on this model which took weeks to complete.

The two colours were applied separately and included small areas like the panels on the back of the front water tank which you can see in this shot below.

If anyone needs any introduction to K1 the story is it was built, in Manchester, for the North East Dundas Tramway in Tasmania in 1909, retired in 1929 when the line closed and shipped back to the UK for display at Beyer Peacock in 1947.

It was bought by the FR in 1966 'for future use' according to the official stock book. Not being around at the time it's a decision which has always intrigued me.

It strikes me there was either a top rate clairvoyant on the Board who foresaw the FR reopening the WHR one day or they were prepared to butcher any locomotive to within an inch of its life to make it fit for service on the FR.

(The third explanation, that it was bought for the sake of preserving an important landmark in articulated steam locomotive design seems frankly perverse for a railway that did not have a shortage of things to spend its money on closer to home in the 1960's.)

Whatever, K1 was bought, and ten years later was punted off to the National Railway Museum for 18 years before an eleven year overhaul, and a new boiler, saw it return to service on the WHR in 2006.

It hasn't seen much use in recent years as train loadings on the completed line have got beyond it, but volunteers are currently tinkering with it at Dinas and we're being promised it will appear in service again.

Van 58

Van 58 is one of those vehicles which is really only known to the staff and volunteers on the railway as it spends most of its time lurking out of sight in the yards at Minffordd or Glan y Pwll.

Yet again I'm showing my age when I say that I still refer to it by its original running number 999, which was another of those convoluted FR puns. The first bit of the is obvious enough when you consider that it started out on the railway as a Breakdown Van. The extra dimension to the joke is that it replaced one of the vintage FR covered fans, number 99, in the role.

The wagon itself was rebuilt at Boston Lodge from a 1955 Hudson vehicle purchased from R.N.A.D. Ernesettle.

After a few years it was transferred to the Civil Engineering Dept for use as a mess van and it is now used as a mobile workshop and stores van by the P Way crew.

I scratchbuilt the body from styrene about 16 years ago and it is mounted on Hudson bogies produced by Parkside Dundas.

The model doesn't do a lot of mileage on our layouts. Most of the time it is parked in the down platform headshunt / escape chute on Dduallt, and as van doesn't have vacuum brakes it's not likely to appear on Bron Hebog any time soon.

Carriage 2022

If you're a railway enthusiast - as opposed to a tourist - then this will be the carriage you'll make a bee line for when you board a train on the Welsh Highland.

Even on a wet day - and yes, that has been known in North Wales - this is the best way to experience both the scenery and the sounds and smell of steam, standing and leaning on a perfectly-positioned handrail watching Snowdonia slip past.

(And if you do get a wet day then the scenery won't be the only thing slipping if my experience of riding behind the Garratts is anything to go by....)

2022 is one of a pair of second-generation WHR carriages built by Alan Keef in 2002.

There were a few detailed changes from the original Winson design, the most notable of which was a secondary bar / handrail between the window pillars.

That had me scratching my head a little when I came to make these models. The lower, square sections, were pieces of styrene cut to fit and glued into place, but this thinner, round bar would be too vulnerable if done the same way.

What I did in the end was to drill a hole in every pillar and thread a length of brass wire through the whole lot. I had to make a jig to ensure the hole was drilled in exactly the same place in each pillar. The extra effort was repaid with a much more rigid bodyshell as a result of the wire.

The park bench style seats, with their varnished wooden slats, were scratch built slat by styrene strip slat.

Today 2022, and 2021, are the only remaining semi-opens on the WHR. The original Winson carriage, 2020, having been rebuilt as a service vehicle instead of the brake carriage 2090 as had once been planned.

I'm sure it was done for the soundest of commercial reasons after careful study of the traffic data, but as an enthusiast I found it a disappointing move because for me nothing beats travelling in these semi-opens.

Carriage 20

Number 20, is the prettiest of our 'Bowsiders' which, I would suggest, could be considered the classic Welsh NG carriage design.

This model is made from one of the Worsley Works 'scratch aid' kits and it shows number 20 as it ran in the late 1980's when it was the first of the FR's balconied beauties to be repainted into the two-tone livery with the panels picked out in ivory, aping the style in which these carriages reappeared after the restoration in the 1950's.

It was quite a latecomer to our fleet. For years we only had the one pair of 'Bowsiders', 17 & 18, which were built from Langley brass kits.

Until Allen Docherty entered the fray there was no kit for the second pair of composites, 19 & 20, which differ from the older carriages because they have  two first class compartments, marked by an additional small vertical panel.

Because of the waisted body profile I was not about to attempt to scratch build these carriages in styrene.

We do have a fourth carriage - number 19 - which has yet to enter service.

It is currently sitting in a drawer awaiting a roof and a coat of paint.

You'll probably never see this one on Bron Hebog, though. The intention has always been to finish 19 in all over cherry red livery which is what it was wearing in 1988, the year we nominally set Dduallt when we began building that layout more than 20 years ago.

In time I suspect we will end up constructing a second set of 'Bowsiders' which are now running in a mix of high Victorian and economy 1930's liveries and will make the occasional appearance on Bron Hebog on vintage train duties.


I love the England engines.

In fact I would go so far as to say that if I were forced to choose between an FR without England engines or without Fairlies I would wave goodbye to the Fairlies.

Palmerston was the second of our two Englands to be built from the venerable Langley whitemetal kit and we incorporated a few lessons learnt with Prince.

Although it still sits on the Ibertren chassis the kit was designed for the power comes from a Mashima can motor.

We also drilled out the huge lump of cast metal masquerading as coal in the tender and replaced it with some real crushed coal. Not only does it look better but it also saves a lot of weight which is an important consideration for operating Dduallt with its fierce gradient.

Palmerston has made quite a few appearances on the WHR at galas or on photo charters. He and his brother Prince make a terrific contrast to the giant Garratts and their jumbo-sized carriages as they potter about on Bron Hebog with a comparatively modest vintage train formation.

'Romanian Carriage' 2060

Carriage 2060 is a WHR one-off. Its continental heritage is immediately apparent.

It was bought second-hand in Romania and partially refurbished before being brought to Boston Lodge in 2007 where it underwent a lengthy process of fitting out before finally entering service on the WHR where it has mostly been employed in the secondary train set.

At the time it was purchased it was reported that there were a number of similar redundant carriages in Romania and the idea was these vehicles might be a quicker and cheaper way of increasing the fleet ready for the re-opening of the section from Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog. (Quicker and cheaper, that is, than building carriages from scratch at Boston Lodge.)

Our model is made from a Worsley Works brass scratch-aid kit. As with all Worsley products the model you end up with reflects the amount of work you're prepared to put into it, and Himself put a lot of effort into making the roof and blending it into the sides of the carriage to make it look like a smooth, welded bodyshell. The ribs along the top of the roof are also particularly effective, as is the paint job around the window frames.

The carriage runs on bogies from an N gauge Farish BR Pullman Carr, the Commonwealth Bogie being a pretty good match for the bogies bought over from Romania and re-gauged for use on the WHR.

Fortunately, in my opinion, and for various reasons, 2060 has not sparked an influx of immigration from Eastern Europe while Boston Lodge has continued designing and making indigenous modern WHR carriages and a new generation of FR 'Superbarns'.

Much taller and slimmer than the other WHR stock it is far too continental looking for my tastes and a fleet of these Romanian carriages would make the WHR look too much like the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway of the 70's and 80's, with their Alpine and African carriages, before they embraced their GWR heritage with those lovely Pickering replicas.

(No slur intended on the W&LLR, by the way.)

Service Carriage 2010

Service Carriage 2010 was a breakthrough in terms of passenger comfort on the WHR because it carried the first on-board toilet in the line’s history.

It was a development which was long overdue. When the reborn railway was first opened to Rhyd Ddu there were some grumbles that the extended journey from Caernarfon was a long time to sit with your legs crossed and upon arrivial at South Snowdon (as once was) there was a veritable stampede towards the National Park’s toilets in the car park.

Our model of 2010 was scratch built in styrene by me and final detailing and painted carried out by Himself.

2010 took its design cues from the second generation of WHR saloons built at Boston Lodge and were slightly longer than the original Winson carriages at 13m and featured double doors at one end. It was also inspired by the first example of the Service Carr concept, the FR’s 124, which you can read about here, which combined the functions of brake / guards compartment, toilet, buffet area and a diesel generator.

Like 124, 2010 features smaller windows in which the bottom third is a blank panel. Its generator compartment has three narrower doors rather than the two on the FR version.
  A notable difference between this and the other WHR new builds is the bogies. 2010 runs on a pair of re-gauged 760mm roller bearing bogies acquired from Romania rather than the plain bearing SAR bogies used to date. We’re representing these on the model using a set of N gauge Commonwealth bogies produced by Farish and robbed from one of their Mk1 Pullman carriages. (The bodyshell from which was subsequently flogged off on ebay for a pleasing amount!)

Another modeling challenge on this carriage was the handrails on either side of the doors. These could not be simply folded up from brass wire, like the simple design on the early carriages, but had to have the inset posts soldered on individually. A tricky wee job.

It is also worth noting the efficiency with which the carriage works team at Boston Lodge turned out this vehicle. The welded chassis and body frame, which was fabricated by a firm in Caernarfon arrived at Minffordd Yard in mid-January 2008, and by the end of August the complete carriage was being taken down to Porthmadog Harbour station for clearance testing against the platform canopy and in the sidings. All very impressive.


Strange as it may seem, the utilitarian and workaday 120 and its twin 119, have always been among my favourite FR carriages. These 1970s 'tin carrs' with their rounded roofs and corners always reminded me of the early BR MkIIs, and these ones in particular with their toilet compartment and the distinctive opaque window always looked like mini mainline carriages to me.

These carriages, which have lost their toilet compartments in recent years, have gone through a number of changes over the years. This model shows 120 as rebuilt with a smooth lower body panel, replacing the very obvious vertical ribs beneath every pillar with which they were first built.  However, it does show the carriage still with its original bus seating, before they were replaced with the much smarter, red 'diplomat' seats.

In the last few years these carriages have been used to strengthen the sets on the WHR, so we'll definitely be seeing 120 in action on Bron Hebog, even if I do end up having to make another version of it as it is today without the toilet compartment. Oh yes, nearly forgot to say, it was scratch built in styrene like most of our modern carriages.

'David Lloyd George'
  Our model of 'The Dave', or if you prefer 'The Soup Dragon - on account of its similarity to the colour of tinned tomato soup - is a kit-bashed Backwoods Miniatures masterpiece.

The most obvious of the changes that had to be made to represent the 1992-built machine was the wider opening on the cab sides as well as lots of extra bits and pieces on the top of the boiler and representing the oil tanks where the kit has coal bunkers.

As I understand it, one of the reasons the locomotive has not yet been converted to burn coal is because it was designed as an oil drinker and its unique tapered boiler means the fuel spaces in the tanks are not simple square boxes as they are on Merddin and the Earl.

The picture above shows DLG running on Dduallt when it was brand new, before Narrow Planet etched some lovely name and works plates for us.

Buffet Carriage 103

When you model one railway for a quarter of a century things start to get confusing, especially when the running numbers of the rolling stock are recycled.

Carriage 103 is a case in point. You're showing your age if, like me, the vehicle that comes to mind is the 1968 Barn buffet car rather than the new 'Superbarn' which has absolutely no link to the previous carriage to bear the number, other than the number itself.

This is my second (of three) models numbered 103. Two of them are of this buffet carriage.

The version you see above shows it in the condition it ran for much of the 1990's and through until its withdrawal in 2006 with smooth, aluminium-faced panels and the MkIII style sausage-shaped windows in the buffet area. I always felt it brought a bit of Inter-City chic to the Welsh NG!

Someone - arguably with too much time on their hands - once pulled together some statistics from 103's 38 years service on the FR.

They calculated that it ran 524,233 passenger miles - which apparently gets you to the moon and most of the way back - which is the equivalent of 19,416 return trips to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

And if you assume that there was a different bum on each of its 17 seats for each of those journeys it could have carried up to 30,800 passengers - and more importantly relieved them of a lot of money for refreshments.

Refreshments which in recent years have included bottles of ale from the Purple Moose Brewery, which is a neat link into this picture below.

If the reference is lost on you, allow me to explain.

A number of years ago a spoof picture was published in the Ffestiniog Railway magazine showing 103 painted up to advertise the local brewery - run by an FR volunteer - and which was a reference to a wind-up a couple of decades previously when the magazine reported that one of the carriages would be painted to advertise the Yellow Pages. I believe a number of people were taken in by it at the time.

Of course, all the best jokes have an element of credibility about them, and I recall that this Purple Moose spoof came about around the same time we were beginning to see standard gauge trains being used as mobile billboards thanks to vinyl wrap technology.

Some members of the layout crew have always enjoyed winding up the viewers at exhibitions, so the picture from the magazine was scanned, reduced to the same size as the model and a print out stuck on top. It matched the dimensions of the model carriage almost perfectly, which is a bit of luck!

It was not very high-tec - just ordinary paper stuck on with some tiny blobs of blue tack - and was only supposed to last for one exhibition appearance, but goodness knows how many years later it's still stuck to the side of 103.

Carriage 105

105 is the great survivor of the 1960's Barns.

It may sound a little silly to talk about a carriage built in the mid-19060's in those terms, but of the first generation of Barns it is the one remaining in the most original condition - at least as far as the bodywork goes.

The model you see here, in a picture taken on Dduallt, is the second version I have of this carriage.

The first, I have to confess, was a bit of a cock-up, because when I made it - and it was about the 3rd or 4th carriage I ever scratch built - I did not appreciate that the two sides were not identical!

What I failed to twig, until many years later, was that on the 'engine side', the side you're looking at here, 105 had an extra window pillar at the bottom end, which was a legacy of it being fitted, when new, with the FR's first toilet compartment.

It had a camping-style Elsan chemical bog. Lovely!

This was removed in the mid-80's. which is the period in which my model shows the carriage, and the space where the compartment used to be turned into a standard seating bay, but the extra window pillar was never removed.

Incidentally, 105 has since been rebuilt again with a toilet compartment, but now it has been placed in the centre of the carriage where the first class section once was.

(There are some pictures of my latest model of 105 carriage in its current guise here)

This 105 is one of only a handful we run on Dduallt in the Cherry Red livery of the 1970's and most of the 1980's. Some may consider it a little dull but I think it suited the Barns very well. It certainly looked a lot better on them than it did on the tin carrs.

KMX Tamper

This is, without doubt, the model of which I am most proud.

The true joy of scratch building models is knowing that you have made something completely unique, and that is most certainly the case with the Welsh Highland's tamper.

The KMX was purchased in 2005 at the start of the final push to Porthmadog. As bought it was a metre gauge machine (built in Austria in 1995 by Plasser & Theurer's French subsidiary FRAMAFER for use in an underground coal mine in France.

It was taken to Boston Lodge where the complex task of overhauling and re-gauging it began, with Bron Hebog blog reader Chris Hoskin taking a leading role. (So I shall not show my ignorance by writing any more about that here!)

Our model was scratch built in styrene and brass (the roof) and motorised using a Kato Shorty chassis which had one bogie removed and mounted independently as a trailing bogie at the other end of the model, but wired through so it could still pick up current.

Like many of our models it was a team effort, with me building most of the styrene body, and Himself fabricating the roof (one of the many Boston Lodge alterations) from brass and taking on the job of painting and weathering it.

It was something of a stop - start project which took the best part of three years from the first cutting of styrene to it's debut on Dduallt in May last year.

If you'd like to read in much more depth about how the model was built, and to save you searching through the archive, links will take you to the pages here, here, here, here, here, here, here and finally, here.


The most diminutive member of the locomotive fleet is 1899-built quarry Hunslet ‘Britomart’

This delightful little blue engine was brought to the FR in 1965 from the Pen-yr-Orsedd Quarry by a group of railway workers, principal among them the legendary ‘Stefco’ (Steve Coulson) and today given tender loving care by his son, and current Boston Lodge fitter, Rob.

Our model is made from a Chivers Finelines whitemetal kit and runs on an old N gauge Arnold 0-4-0 chassis.

In fact this is Britomart’s second chassis. The original was a very elderly second hand example which was so decrepit only the rear axle was powered. With the weight bias of the body well towards the back anyway it meant the locomotive was prone to performing wheelies when setting off.

It is rare to see the locomotive running solo on the layout. Its very small wheelbase - and the old Arnold’s rather crude mechanism - mean it is prone to stalling when running through the points.

On occasion, however, it has been seen heading a train on its own, like here with the vintage twins, carriages 11 & 12.

There have been tantalising glimpses recently of a prototype outside framed chassis and body kit for the quarry Hunslet on an narrow gauge modelling forum and we are among the many crossing our fingers that the designer will be able to bring it into the market.

Remarkably, the real Britomart has run the entire length of the FR & WHR network in one day – an 80 mile round trip – double-heading with Baldwin tractor ‘Moelwyn’ on a charter train last year which we recreated days later on Dduallt.

A few weeks ago Britomart took a two carriage charter train to Beddgelert alone.

These occasions meane we have all the justification we need for our little blue engine to see service on Bron Hebog.


It's time to set the record straight. I was ticked off recently when I described NGG16 number 87 in a Model Of The Week post as the flagship of the restored WHR.

'Surely', wrote a correspondent, 'There's only one WHR flagship, and it's Hunslet 2-6-2 'Russell'?'

It's an interesting point, but I'm sticking by my original statement for a couple of reasons.

Firstly because this blog is almost exclusively concerned with the FR-controlled rebuild of the WHR but also because a flagship, in a naval employment of the word, can be switched from vessel to vessel, or as in this case locomotive to locomotive.

Russell, I would argue, is in an altogether different and more prestigious category. The sole surviving NWNGR locomotive is the icon of the WHR.

Our Russell, the one seen here, is a second generation model. The first was a Chivers whitemetal kit running on a semi-scratchbuilt chassis. The chassis is still going strong running with another Chivers body representing the loco in 1930's cut down form. (Good for winding up the audience at exhibitions.)

This one is a Backwoods Miniatures kit. It runs as well as it looks and represents the loco the first time it ran on the FR after restoration in 1988.

Of course on that occasion, and since, it has never ventured further than Rhiw Goch, but we don't let such minor details as the fact it couldn't squeeze through Garnedd Tunnel deter us running it on Dduallt.

Let us hope that when Russell's current overhaul is completed (and the appeal is still open donations) relations between the FR and the WHHR at Gelert's Farm will have thawed even more than they already have in recent months and we will not be straining credulity when we run our model on Bron Hebog.

Fuel Wagon 66

This is another example of a scratch built model of one of the less-glamorous, workaday FR wagons, but one which is essential to the running of the railway.

These wagons carry fuel for the shrinking fleet of oil fired locomotives on the FR as the line moves increasing back towards coal firing.

Today wagon 66 is generally filled with much lighter and more refined products than the waste motor engine oil which was being used in the early 1970s when it was built.

The basis of the real wagon is a 2000 gallon oval tank recycled from a road vehicle so I adopted a similar solution for my model.

I spliced together two tanks from Cooper Craft plastic kits for a 4mm scale lorry tanker.

This was fixed to a scratch built chassis fabricated from 'I' section styrene strip and mounted on bogies knocked up in styrene to represent the ex-Polish State Railways plate frame bogies.

I used fine etched brass mesh from Scalelink for the walkways on top of the tanks.

The red stripes were done using thick lining from Fox Transfers and the word OiL made up using pieces of big white letters such as L's and T's.

If you look carefully at that word OiL you'll see how it's designed to look like a steam engine. The O is the cab, the i the boiler with the dot representing a dome and the L the smokebox and chimney which is emitting some spherical puffs of steam. It always makes me smile.

The actual wagons are mostly seen parked at the fueling point beneath the water tower at Harbour Station or at Boston Lodge Works. If you're around at the right time you might see the empty ones being taken away or full ones brought down from Minffordd Yard.

How then do we justify running this model of Wagon 66 on Dduallt?

Our excuse is a special trip-working to Glan-y-Pwll to service a steam loco which has been based there for a short season of workings, for which there is a precedent.

V-16 Guard's Van

This guard's van (an NG.V-16 to give it its full title) was given to the WHR as a gift from the Sandstone Heritage Trust & Railway in South Africa in 2003 to celebrate the twinning of the two organisations.

It was rebuilt by volunteers at Dinas and was used on the WHR for the first time in 2006.

This model was built from a Worsley Works scratch-aid kit, which provide a basic brass bodyshell (minus roof and any of the strapping or handrail details)and shows how, with care and time spent on them, they can be turned into really nice, detailed models.

The real vehicle's primary role has been as a tool van / brake vehicle on construction trains on the Phase 4 project to rebuild the line from Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog.

The V-16 wagons included a primitive toilet. This was stripped out during the refurbishment and replaced with a cut down mobile chemical toilet, of the type see seen at music festivals and the like.

It has also been used in demonstration freight formations at the Superpower events.

Much to the relief of anyone who has to go anywhere near the van, the chemical bog has recently been removed.

Cwm Cloch Farm Barn

What we have here is the biggest structure we've built for Bron Hebog so far, a modern steel framed barn on Cwm Cloch Farm which sits inside the S bends beyond and above Beddgelert station and sits at the right had side of our layout.

The design was prepared by the Artistic Director, working from photographs, and turned into three dimensions by myself in styrene.

The frame was built using I section styrene from the Evergreen range, which was where I also obtained the corrugated skin for the sides and roof.

The final element was the low breeze block walls between the uprights of the frame for which I scribed the courses on plain styrene sheet.

The completed model was sent back to the Artistic Director to be painted, and fine job he made of it too, don't you agree?

Carriage 12 / Van 5

This carriage has had one of the most varied careers of any item of FR rolling stock.

In the freeze-frame reality of Dduallt it remains running as Carriage 12 even though the prototype has reverted to its original identity as Van 5.

Let's have the history lesson, then.

The vehicle was built by Brown, Marshalls as one of the second generation of bogie brake (luggage) vans. (With a conventional roof rather than the curly roofs of the first three.).

By the end of the 1920s the railway had less use for these type of vehicles and it was rebuilt at Boston Lodge with a new body, incorporating a guard's compartment and passenger accomodation in 1st and 3rd class.

It was one of the two carriages first restored for use when the railway reopened and was given the number 12.

It had another makeover in 1957 when it was refurbished and altered. The longitudinal, compartment-style seating was changed into an open saloon formation and a sales counter installed for an embryonic buffet service.

A rudimentary corridor connection fitted so it could work as a twin set with sister carriage 11, which by now had been turned into a first class observation carriage with windows installed at one end.

It was altered again in 1963 when the body was lengthened and mounted on a steel underframe.

In 1982 larger windows were provided in the centre of the carriage and it is in this condition that our model is shown, paired with its sibling, carriage 11.

In 1999 it was repainted into the green and ivory livery carried in the 1950's and early 1960's and in 2005 returned to its original identity as Van 5.

It is currently undergoing a very extensive overhaul at Boston Lodge and is set to emerge restored to how it looked when first lengthened in 1963.

This is our second model of 12. The first was kit-bashed from a GEM whitemetal kit for carriage 11 which had an extra styrene section grafted into the middle of the body, much like the real carriage did.

As you can imagine it was quite a heavy model, which is less than ideal on a layout such as Dduallt with a severe gradient, so this replacement was scratchbuilt in styrene.

Carriage 12 ran for a couple of seasons on the WHR along with 11 as part of a secondary train set, so in due course I think I will end up making yet another model of this carriage to run on Bron Hebog showing it in green and ivory.


I'm not sure what more I can tell you about Lyd that you don't know already given that its official launch pictures remain the most clicked post on the blog.

Our model of the loco - which made its debut on the FR / WHR in 2010 - is already a historical curiosity on two counts: the spoof BR black livery (which suited it far better than the Southern green, in my opinion) and because ours is oil fired.

(The young Lyd was never happy on a liquid diet and was weaned onto solid food just before Christmas and is apparently thriving on it.)

Mechanically, our Lyd is a standard Backwoods Miniatures kit. That is noteworthy because most of the other 009 Manning Wardles you will come across on the exhibition circuit have undergone rather traumatic transplant surgery and suffer the indignity of running with N gauge internals.

On this model the alterations are on the outside with the profile of the cab cut down at the corners to fit the FR's loading gauge - as on the real engine.

Buffet Carriage 14

This carriage, which began life as Brake Third number 15 on the L and B in 1897, opened the way to a revolution in FR carriage design when it was rescued from a field at Snapper Halt and reborn at Boston Lodge as the railway's first genuine corridor buffet vehicle.

With the old route through the restrictive Moelwyn Tunnel abandoned the FR reset its loading gauge and roomy number 14 was the carriage which showed what was now possible.

Its dimensons and design themes were unashamedly copied in the creation of the new 'Barns' which first appeared in 1964 and indeed are still appearing today.

This is our second model of 14. It was scratch built in styrene and portrays the carriage in its present condition following a major rebuild in its centenary year which restored it to something more akin to its original L&B looks with the panelling and guard's duckets, although they are more slimline due to the less generous clearances in North Wales than was the case in Devon.

My first model of 14 was of the carriage as running in the early 90's with its simpler panel layout, louvre windows and fitted out inside with formica and metal framed ex-bus seats.

Today 14 looks and feels very much more elegant with a varnished wood interior and perhaps the most comfortable seats on the railway - and I include the first class carriages in that - I believe they are former tram seats.

With the wonderful local Purple Moose ale on sale from the counter at the Porthmadog end of the saloon it is to my mind the most pleasant and atmospheric way to travel on the FR in a 'modern' corridor train.

NGG16 87

87 is one of four Beyer-Garratts currently on the WHR. Three of them have seen service so far. It was one of the first batch of NGG16's built by Cockerill in Belgium in 1936 and is the oldest in the fleet.

It was purchased from store in Exmoor following a large private donation which also covered the cost of an extensive restoration at Boston Lodge Works.

Our model is made from a Backwoods Miniatures kit which has been altered to better represent the earlier design of this class. One of the more obvious changes is the removal of the narrow windows on the cab sides.

This loco spent its first season on the WHR in 2009 in this light grey livery and although it has since been repainted into a midnight blue colour scheme we thought the grey was so distinctive and unusual that we should show our model of 87 in this guise.
In years to come, as memories of its short-lived livery fade, I think it'll become a real head-turner and conversation point on Bron Hebog at exhibitions.

For a number of years now our Garratts (we have three in the fleet at the moment if you include K1) have been rostered on implausible - if not downright impossible - running in turns on Dduallt.

We hope you enjoy these snaps of the big girl taking a gander around the spiral.

Pullman Carriage 'Bodysgallen'

At the time I made this carriage, at least ten years ago or possibly more, I considered it the most challenging model I'd yet built.

Some of the trickiest bits were the oval windows, which I described making for the larger model a few days ago.

This model of 'Bodysgallen' is in the condition in which the carriage was delivered to the WHR, complete with the table lamps which didn't hang around for long. Our solution for modelling these was to break open and steal the cast lamps from a OO Hornby model of a Pullman coach which was lying about in a box at home. They were a perfect fit.

Other details intended for a 4mm standard gauge carriage are the transfers which are from the Fox Transfers range. They're perhaps a tiny, weeny bit oversize, but they do the job and look very effective.

My one regret with this carriage is that I built it with the corridor connections in the closed position at both ends, because that's how it was running on the railway when I researched the model. It's been on my mind for a while now to make some bits which I can graft onto at least one end of the carriage to look more like the corridor is open and in use.

Cherry Picker Wagon

It's one of our models that I am particularly proud of because of the challenges I had to overcome making it and because, as far as I know, it's the only model of this wagon.

The Cherry Picker was conceived, designed and built by the FR's Signal and Telegraph department staff and volunteers as a faster and much safer way of maintaining the railway's 'pole route'.

The guts of the machine is a self contained, skid mounted unit which was found in a scrapyard near Blaenau Ffestiniog still attached to a life-expired Bedford CF van.

It was bought and the hydraulics fully overhauled by the team.

Boston Lodge built the well wagon onto which the skid was mounted and the wagon runs on a pair of spare Hudson bogies, one of which has a hand brake.

The team had a stroke of good fortune when they discovered that the base of the lifting unit would fit neatly inside the shell of an old mobile generator unit, which in turn was a snug fit on the well-wagon.

Just as I wrote last week (about mess coach 1000) it's another fine example of FR recycling and ingenuity and the wonderful thing about it is the whole machine looks as if it could have been designed that way on a blank piece of paper.

My model is entirely scratch built (except for the Hudson bogies which are made by Parkside Dundas) and 99% of it was done in styrene. (The 1% is the etched brass non-slip chequer plate surface on the well-wagon.)

I am particularly proud of my representation of the picker basket on the end of the boom which was also fashioned out of one piece of thin styrene which was curved, bent, folded, and finally, bonded into submission.

If I was a much better metal-worker it would have been more logical, I'm sure, to have made this out of brass, but I'm not and so I didn't.

Neither am I much of a micro-engineer so I'm afraid the picker boom is very much a static model.

Unfortunately this is one model you'll probably never seen running on Bron Hebog unless the FR retro-fits the real wagon with vacuum brakes to comply with the WHR safety regulations.

But as there's no pole route on the 'Dark Side' why would they ever need to?


This jaunty little diesel is another of the FR's Great War veterans which has been in Wales since 1925, although it spent its first 31 years as a petrol drinker.

For me the secret of Moelwyn's charm lies in its outside cracks and the unusual layout with the jack shaft at the front. It is quite a sight when running at speed as it pogo's up the line with a metronomic bouncing motion.

Our model was built from one of the wonderful Meridian Models kits for the original spec 0-4-0 Baldwin tractor which Himself adapted to add the frame extension and pony truck at the front which date from a 1957 rebuild at Boston Lodge.

Moelwyn is also a favourite of FR stalwart Ian Rudd who coerced Himself and other willing volunteers into repainting the loco into a rather smart crimson livery a couple of years ago.

The pictures above show Moelwyn running with Britomart on Dduallt recreating, as accurately as we could, Ian's 60th birthday special this year which traversed the entire FR & WHR system.

Mess Coach 1000

Narrow gauge railways like the FR have been recycling long, long before it ever became fashionable and the WHR mess carriage 1000 was just one of the more recent examples.

It began life in 1965 as the first of the 'Barn' Observation Carrs and was truly revolutionary in terms of passenger comfort and luxury on the FR.

By the early years of the 21st Century the wooden body was well past its designed life-span and rapidly reaching the point where it was financially and practically more sensible to scrap it and start again: which is exactly what the railway did.

The original 100 had a final fling in passenger service on the WHR before it was stripped of its posh Pullman armchairs in the rear saloon, mounted on a pair of ex-SAR bogies, and saw out its days as a mess coach for the volunteer gangs laying the track on Phase 4 of the rebuilding project from Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog.

And when the rails reached Porthmadog it was no longer needed and was scrapped.

To avoid confusion with the brand new Observation Carr 100 it had an extra 0 added to its running number.

Our model of 1000 is also a neat piece of recycling.

It began life in the passenger fleet on Dduallt as a model of 100. In time, as my scratchbuilding skills improved, I made a second model of 100 and this one gathered dust in a drawer.

When the real carriage was requisitioned for 'departmental service' at Dinas, Himself decided to give our old 100 another lease of life.

Accordingly it was mounted on a new set of bogies, had most of its interior detail stripped out and received some wasp stripes at either end.

Running as 1000 this previously discarded carriage now has many years service ahead of it on Bron Hebog.

The Green Party would be proud of us.

Carriage 111

Push-pull driving trailer carriage 111 is celebrating its 21st anniversary in 2011. This model isn't much younger, dating from the mid-90's.

Although it was built for use with an off-peak push-push set 111 has spent most of its time in service functioning as one of the first class observation carrs at the Porthmadog end of the train sets, albeit very much the third choice these days.

111 was the last in the line of the 1970's design of 'tin carrs' which were built on former Isle of Man Railway underframes and used a lot of off-the-shelf components from the bus industry including seats and the beclawat sliding light windows.

As a child of the '70's I've always had a soft spot for these carriages. Along with the new Earl of Merioneth - unkindly dubbed 'The Incredible Hulk' or simply 'The Square' - they impressed me with their modernity during my visits to the FR as a kid.

Our model of 111 shows the carriage in its original green and ivory livery and runs with the other 5 carriages that made up the INCa train set and is most often paired with the push-pull fitted diesel locos 'Conway Castle' or 'Criccieth Castle'.

We run it in proper push mode too, with the loco at the Blaenau end of the train propelling the six carriages down the spiral and through two sets of points in the Dduallt station loop.

It does so time after time with barely ever a derailment and I happen to think that's no mean achievement in OO9.

Service Carriage 124

This vehicle takes the railway back to the Victorian era of the curly roof luggage vans (and their non-curly cousins) as a bogie vehicle in front-line service which doesn't carry any passengers - apart from the one's sitting down to use the loo, of course.

The concept is a carriage which combines all the functions that would normally be dotted about the train in other vehicles such as the guard's compartment, a toilet and the kitchen / buffet area.

124 goes a stage further because it also holds a generator to provide the electrical power for the carriage's equipment.

124 is not an entirely new carriage. The bodyshell - which is rather ugly, if we're being honest about it - is brand spanking new but it has been plonked on a third hand underframe which was once upon a time a carriage on the Isle of Man Railway, then ran around as 1981-built 'tin carr' 121, before that was scrapped and re-born as 124.

It most respects this model of 124 was a fairly standard 'Barn' build with the exception of the glazing.

To give the crew some privacy some of the windows on the real carriage are covered in a reflective film, the kind that allows you to see out from inside but which looks like a mirror on the outside.

How, we wondered, were we going to recreate this in model form? The answer, in fact, was to do exactly the same as on the prototype. We were kindly given an off cut of the self-adhesive film used on the windows of 124 which was applied to the back of the styrene glazing, and it works a treat!

'Vale of Ffestiniog'

We're going modern image for this Model Of The Week feature, the FR's handsome Funkey diesel 'Vale of Ffestiniog'.

Not everyone is a fan of its aesthetics, however. Among railway workers it was colloquially referred to as the 'Blue Brick'.

While researching this post I had one of those moments when you suddenly notice how the years have flown by. If you'd asked me I wouldn't have guessed that this model is now 10 years old but I realised it was when I looked out an article I wrote for Railway Modeller in January 2002 about its construction.

Oh dear, I'm feeling rather old now!

Anyway, back to the model. The basis is a Worsley Works scratch-aid kit running on a Farish Class 90 chassis.

(See a previous post about our model of the WHR's original outline Funkey 'Castell Caernarfon' for more on our solution to represent the much bigger bogie frames on the locomotives.)

There is no such thing as a 'bog standard' Worsley model. Because of the concept of the kits, which provide only a basic bodyshell, there is tremendous scope to detail the model in your own way.

Thus there is gratifying payback in the look of the finished locomotive for all the extra effort a modeller puts in.

For example, some of the added details which Himself put on our Vale were handrails on the front and sides, the upper and lower headlight clusters and windscreen wipers to name just three.

He also took care to shorten the roof which is well-over length as etched.

Our 'Vale' is finished in the original National Power livery - in deference to the firm which sponsored Steve Coulson's radical rebuild of the South African machine to fit the FR loading gauge. We used paints from the Railmatch range and the transfers (decals for foreign readers) are those produced by Fox for a 4mm scale model of the handful of GM Class 59's which once upon a time wore NP livery.

Since the WHR was once again connected to the FR the locomotive has seen extensive use on the 'Dark Side' but, of course, not in this technicolour livery. (It now sports a two-tone green not unlike that originally applied to the Class 47's.) This, of course, will preclude us using this particular model on Bron Hebog and we shall probably have to build a replacement in the 'correct livery'.


Oh sod it! Why rebuild a perfectly good model? Let's just run it out of period. It'll give the smug pedants something complain about at exhibtions!


ALCo Great War veteran 'Mountaineer' is pictured here in the Down loop at Dduallt with the green and ivory push-pull set.

This is the 2nd version of 'Mountaineer' to have run on the layout. Both have been built from venerable GEM whitemetal kits but the one you see here has been altered and improved in a number of places to more accurately show the loco in the condition it ran in the late '80s and early '90s.

The most obvious change is to the cab. The GEM kit shows 'Mountaineer' with the slope-sides it received during its first rebuild at Boston Lodge. It took full advantage of the FR's loading gauge but left little room for the the driver and his mate to safely poke their heads outside. It was changed to a more traditional FR Fairlie-style profile in 1983 after one too many of the Alco's crew had brained themselves on lineside structures.

At the front end we built up the are around the cylinders to look like the piston valves it received in 1982 and - although you can't see it in the picture, unfortunately - Himself knocked up something approximating the not-so subtle lubricator.

The chassis is one of the least sophisticated in the fleet. It is an unaltered Arnold 0-6-0. There are no outside bar frames, cranks or clattering bits of Walschaerts valve gear to be seen and wouldn't be surprised if the layout operators visibly wince every time it emerges from the fiddle yards into public view.

Getting something better down below has long been on my wish list. For a while I considered fitting a Roco outside framed chassis, as others have done. I don't mind admitting it was the cost of purchasing one of these which put me off and it was probably just as well seeing how other 009 modellers who have shoehorned these mechanisms beneath heavy whitemetal kits have watched helplessly as they self-destructed and wobbled into oblivion.

At the moment my current thinking is to adapt a Backwoods outside frame chassis, but as with so many other things it's just a question of getting round to doing it.


Linda and her sister Blanche have been on the FR for so long now (it'll be 50 years for Linda next year) that I've begun to consider them as 'native' engines like the Englands and Fairlies.

I've got a couple of reasons for wanting to feature Linda now. One is that this model will be retired in the coming months when a replacement, built from a brass Backwoods kit, comes into service. (You can read the latest entry about this project here)

There is a second reason why Linda is on my mind at the moment but I'm afraid you'll have to wait a while for me to tell you about that - it's top secret.

This Linda is mostly made from a whitemetal Parkside Dundas kit. I say 'mostly' because 20 years ago when she was constructed the only kit available was for Linda (and Blanche or Charles) was in original Penrhyn condition, ie. no tender.

So how did we go about making a tender for Linda? We did exactly what the FR did - we adapted one from an England engine, in this case a Langley 'Prince' kit. We widened the sides of the tender by building them up with styrene and dug out the whitemetal casting of the coal and replaced it with the oil tank.

The other obvious alteration was the retro-fitting of outside frames / cranks. This was done by disassembling the Ibertren chassis and replacing the original axles with longer ones, hand-filing and drilling a set of cranks and fitting them onto the ends and then slipping a false frame, made of very thin styrene, behind in the cranks and in front of the wheels.

This arrangement served both Ladies very well until Blanche dropped her knickers in spectacular - and terminal - style at an exhibition earlier this year (read the sorry tale here).

This event prompted Himself to resume work on a pair of Backwoods Miniatures kits which had been languishing in a drawer for too many years.

Blanche is now finished (see here) while Linda is awaiting her new dome which is being turned up for us with the safety valves on the top which will be correct for her intended livery - the Midnight Blue she wore in the mid-1990's.

The wheel has come full-circle on the real railway with Linda returning to service this summer once again sporting FR green, once again making our model correct.

Here's another shot of her double-heading with 'Mountaineer' on Dduallt.

'The Iron Bogie'

Wagon No.8 is sometimes known as the 'Iron Bogie' or, as one of our blog readers put it, the 'I can't believe it's not a Cleminson' wagon.

It was built at Boston Lodge Works in 1880 and mounted on flexible two-wheel trucks, but later investigations revealed its underframe arrangement does not conform precisely to Cleminson's patent. Although the outer axles can turn and the middle one can swing there is an extra link between them missing.

Some have suggested this may have been an error born out of ignorance or a cunning wheeze to avoid paying for the use of the patent, but either way they probably need not have bothered because experiments running the chassis around sharp curves during restoration in the 1990's showed the centre axle hardly moved anyway.

Which is all the justification I needed for not bothering to articulate this model at all! The one concession on an otherside solid chassis is the some side play on the centre wheelset. Instead of a pin point axle it has a longer axle and the centre axle boxes are drill through allowing it to move about 2-3 mm either way.

I confess I can't remember a great deal about how I built it (it was probably more than 15 years ago now) but I seem to recall I chopped up some old Egger wagon frames to make a 3-axle chassis and the body was built from styrene.

What I do remember very clearly is attempting to slice the thinnest possible slivers of styrene rod to represent rivets on the strapping on the iron body and gluing each one of them on by hand.

In these days of waterslide resin transfer rivets these now look horribly crude and make me wonder whether I should build a replacement with more subtle detailing?

S and T Tool Van

If you're being pedantic about it then this wagon should probably be referred to in the plural as Tool Vans. The wagon is a three-in-one contraption - something we only found out once we had built it! But more on that later.

The main bits of the Tool Van wagon - the big square bits - are a classic piece of FR recycling. They started life on the roads as the back bit of BT vans and just happened to be just the right size to fit within the FR's loading gauge when mounted on a four wheel chassis.

The two are linked together by a platform with steps in the middle on both sides.

Now, when I first made the wagon, I assumed the boxes and the platform were a fixed structure and the two chassis swiveled underneath like normal bogies, and built it as such.

But how wrong you can be.

I can't remember whether we discovered our error by someone telling us at an exhibition, or whether Himself got down on his hands and knees and looked beneath the real one, but we discovered the wagon is articulated by very different means.

Instead it is the vans at each end which pivot on the centre platform - the chassis are fixed beneath the vans - and not only that but there is also a tiny pair of wheels beneath the centre platform.

The model had already been finished when we found this out, but Himself managed to prise the three sections apart and reverse-engineer the proper articulation.

The wagon was scratchbuilt in styrene and two vans are sitting on chassis from Parkside Dundas V tipper wagons. The wheels beneath the centre platform have had their tyres removed in order both to fit them under there and to aid smooth running.

Some other later additions to the model were the 'X' boards carried at each end, the skylights on the ex-BT vans and the lights on the inside ends.

It is pictured in a typical S and T train formation on Dduallt with 'Harlech Castle'. Van 51 and the Cherry Picker, which will be the subject of a future Model Of The Week.


We present for your enjoyment the one and only 'Gentleman's light sporting locomotive'.

That's how one of the pre-war FR drivers affectionately referred to the Single Fairlie 'Taliesin' which was reborn at the beginning of the 21st Century.

(Let's not get into the debate about whether it's a rebuild or a replica here.)

Our model is a pretty standard Backwoods Miniatures kit and it's a beautifully quiet and smooth running machine.

The real 'Taliesin' will be worth watching in the coming months as it emerges from Boston Lodge with a pair of beautifully disguised piston valve cylinders.

'Criccieth Castle'

The starting point for our model of the FR's diesel 'Criccieth Castle' (which was built at Boston Lodge in 1995 from a kit of parts bought from Baguley-Drewry's liquidator) is a Chivers Finelines whitemetal kit for sister locomotive 'Harlech Castle' running on a Grafar 08 chassis.

In recent years Farish have revamped their 08 with pukka outside frames and cranks but back when we made 'The Cric' the conversion had to be done the hard way, stripping down the chassis, replacing the axles, fashioning our own cranks, not to mention drilling into the chassis and creating a fourth axle and new rods for the jackshaft drive.

The alterations to the body were simple by comparison to the mechanics. The main difference between 'Criccieth Castle' and 'Harlech Castle' is the front bonnet which extends the full width of the locomotive, and is decorated with brass handrails and the go-faster grill with the whiskers.

We used the existing whitemetal structure as the base and bulked it out with styrene extensions and other details such as the grill and the exhaust.

Himself added more finishing touches including the buffer beam detail around the coupling, the windscreen wipers and the cab is flush glazed with each window cut out of styrene and fitted individually.

The model is most often seen on Dduallt doing what the real one was originally built for, operating in push-pull mode with the green & ivory InCa carriages.

'Criccieth Castle' has, however, been run to Beddgelert since the WHR was reopened so our model has many years of legitimate work ahead of it on the exhibition circuit on Bron Hebog.

Carriage 11

Or should I be calling it Van 4?

Since the FR re-organised the numbering of its heritage carriage fleet in 2005 many Ffestophiles have stubbornly continued to refer to this 1880 veteran as number 11.

It was built by Brown, Marshalls as a brake and luggage van and rebuilt with passenger accommodation in 1929 / 1930.

In the early days of the revival it was turned around and windows cut in one end to become the FR's first observation carr, running as lucrative pairing with its sister vehicle, number 12. (Passengers paid extra for the first class fare to ride in 11 then handed over more cash to buy refreshments from the buffet counter in 12 which could be accessed through the end doors in the guards compartments which ran back to back.)

Our model is definitely called carriage 11. It was scratch-built in styrene to replace our first version which utilised a vintage whitemetal GEM kit.

It is one of the items of stock which betray Dduallt's heritage as a layout that originally had a nominal era of 1988 which has since morphed into 1988 - the present.

This was the year when the ubiquitous cherry red livery began to give way to the two-tone maroon and cream design. 11 was still in all-over red and in front-line service as the observation carr on the third passenger set.

In the last couple of years it has been given some TLC and returned to its 1950's green and ivory livery and I have a long-standing intention to build a third model of it in its current guise for use on heritage services on Bron Hebog.

'Upnor Castle'
This was my first scratch built loco, Planet diesel 'Upnor Castle'

Upnor - or Uproar as it is nicknamed on account of the appalling noise levels in the cab which require crews to wear ear-defenders - was the FR's first proper mainline diesel loco.

It arrived from the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway in 1968 (having spent six years there after being bought from the Royal Navy's Lodge Hill and Upnor Railway in Kent, which is how it came to acquire its name) and was re-gauged from 2 foot 6 to the FR's 1 foot 11 and a half inch gauge.

In the '70's and early '80's it was found most often on the bargain early morning and late evening trains until replaced by 'Conway Castle' (see the Model Of The Week Archive for more on our model of this sister machine).

It was transferred to Dinas at the start of the Welsh Highland rebuilding project, having been 'sold' to the in-house construction company, and put in over a decade's hard work on engineering train duties until, to use a good bit of Scottish slang, it was completely gubbed.

It had a thorough mechanical overhaul, and a repaint, at Boston Lodge in 2010.

Our model was built with a styrene body sitting on a whitemetal underframe from a Chivers 'Conway Castle' kit (to give a decent weight for traction) and utilising an Ibertren 'Cuckoo' chassis with a Mashima motor.

There have been many subtle changes to Upnor over the years, with the ancillary bits and bobs beside and on top of the bonnet changing places. Our Upnor was built to show the loco as it was in the mid-90's at the end of it's first period on the FR and is correct for its early years on the WHR, so there is a justification for using it on both Dduallt and Bron Hebog

These pictures show it on typical duties over the years. Here hauling a WHR construction train. (Let's ignore the fact it's at Dduallt for the moment)

Upnor has also been regularly employed tripping the loco fuel oil tankers from Minffordd to Porthmadog Harbour station. (In this case taking the scenic route via Blaenau!)


This model is one of the most challenging carriages I've built so far, the unique 122.

Steve Coulson designed and built this prototype carriage to make maximum use of the available FR loading gauge and incorporated many design ideas from modern bus building, such as bonding the flush aluminium skin to the bodyshell.

Inside it is very spacious, with excellent views from the large windows and many believe it is the most comfortable carriage on the railway to ride in.

The trickiest bits of this model were the ends which are not flat like most other FR carriages but slightly curved, like the 'Bug Boxes'. My solution to this was to make ends in much the same way as I make my roofs with a double skin. I started off with a flat base to which I added some longitudinal strips in the middle, and then a curved skin was stretched over the top.

The vents on the top of the roof also needed some thinking about. On the real carriage they are the round vents you see on yachts or narrow boats. I made these out of Milliput employing a small off-cut of styrene tune as a mould to make a small circle of putty and smoothing down the top surface to make something that looks like the flattened dome shape of these vents. A few pricks with a needle around the edges completed the effect.

122 reminds me very much of an earlier, distinctive prototype, 116, and not only because of their large bus-style windows. Like 116, which was followed by a fleet of Boston Lodge built 'Tin Carrs' (to a much more utilitarian design) 122 did not lead to a series of production vehicles because the railway chose instead (for very logical reasons) to utilise the skills and facilities provided by the HLF heritage carriage restoration programme to built a new series of wooden bodied 'Barn-style' carriages for the FR and the WHR.

It is never-the-less a lasting tribute to the originality and ingenuity of its designer, the one and only 'Stefco'.

'The Darj'

The loco in question is Adrian Shooter's Darjeeling and Himalayan B class 0-4-0 19B. It is a Backwoods Miniatures kit and is pretty standard, with no alterations, and it runs like a sewing machine! (Anoraks will notice that it's missing the tender which Adrian had built for it to run on his 2 foot gauge 'garden railway')

This model always causes a stir at exhibitions, usually eliciting smart-arse comments from people who don't realise that Adrian's engine, and its two Boston Lodge built carriages, paid a visit to the FR a few years back.

In fact, if you've ever seen a copy of a lovely painting of 'the Darj' steaming over Rhoslyn Bridge on the spiral at Dduallt with Taliesin posed on the line below, it's a little known fact that the inspiration for this was a photograph taken on our layout Dduallt while exhibiting in the carriage works at Boston Lodge during a gala weekend.

'Toastrack' Carriage 39

This model was sort of scratch built and sort of kit bashed about a decade ago. A Parkside Dundas kit for the FR's 1970's built semi-opens 37 & 38 provided the bogies, the main chassis and the seats.

The sides and ends I made myself from styrene. The hoops were bent from wire and glued on one by one.

The carriage I modelled is FR number 39, which is a replica built by Winson Engineering in the 1992. (One of the original carriages - number 42 survives and has been restored to service at the WHHR) It is shown it the condition it first ran. If it were truly accurate it should have tiny safety chains across the doorways but I reckon it would be very hard to find any that wouldn't look overscale.

In recent years the carriage has been fitted with small mesh doors and painted in a dark green livery which, to my mind, is not as attractive as the two tone scheme it is shown with here.


Prince was our second 009 model. It's a Langley whitemetal kit on an Ibertren chassis - which is now powered by a Mashima motor. There are two main issues with the Langley kit. I believe it's supposed to represent Prince as he first ran under the new administration in the 1950's, so almost every part of the locomotive is undersize to represent the modern Prince, which emerged from Boston Lodge after a rebuild in 1980 not so much a Small England but an England-on-steroids!

As well as being too small all round the cab roof is the wrong shape - it shouldn't turn down so much at each side, even on the 1950's Prince the roof profile was flatter.

The other challenge is the quality of the whitemetal castings. The loco body is divided along the centre in two big castings each with half a smokebox, saddle tank and cab. The problem we've always found - and we've built three of these kits - is that one half has usually shrunk more than the other, sometimes failing to match up by as much as 1mm.

Our Prince represents the locomotive as running in the early 1990's with the obtrusive large capacity oil tanks in the tender (which have since been removed in favour of a much more subtle arrangement.

For me the weakest aspect of the model is the lining, which was done by hand by Himself with a bow pen two decades ago. Many times I have considered nagging him into dunking it in paint stripper and doing it again with some fine waterslide lining. What prevented this more recently was the purchase of a Mercian etched brass kit for the England engines which was intended to replace our faithful 'Old Gent'. But to date Himself hasn't got any further than soldering together a tender before getting distracted by NGG16's, Lyd and all the carriages that I keep sending down from Scotland for painting.

So our old Prince carries on in frontline service, bless it.


The real 116 has been through a number of rebuilds in it's near 40-year career on the FR, and so have my model versions.

This is the 2nd one I made which shows 116 in the condition it ran between 1982 and 2007. During this time it had a first class compartment at the Portmadog end with a distinctive wider window and a smaller pane, with no opening, dividing it from the open third class saloon.

After the latest rebuild it is now a completely third class saloon, with six windows spaced evenly along the bodyside and better quality seats and fittings.

My first model of 116 was only the second carriage I ever scratchbuilt, and I still think it was a pretty good effort. The problem with it was I didn't have access to a drawing when I made it. I based it on the known dimensions of a 'Barn' saloon and worked out the window positions for myself. Unfortunately at the time I didn't realise 116 was almost a foot longer. Oops.

I have built a 3rd version of 116, in its current condition, which is languishing in the ever-growing line of carriages waited to be painted by Himself.

B Wagons

Eight of these were imported from South Africa at the start of the WHR project along with various other wagons. They didn’t see much use during the construction phase because some of the other types – the low-sided DZ’s and flat DZ’s – were more practical for those purposes.

After being overhauled by a volunteer team and repainted into SAR livery two of them were employed as bike carrying wagons, marshaled at the Porthmadog end of the WHR carriage rakes. The drop-down doors were modified into ramps and cycle racks were placed at each end of the wagons. For the 2011 season they have been relieved of these duties as passengers’ bikes are instead being stowed in the guards’ area of the Service Carrs.

As oil prices soared in recent years the FR began a converting some its fleet of steam locomotives back to burning coal and some of the other the B wagons, as the biggest load carriers on the system, are used to ferry coal from the storage area in Minffordd Yard to Boston Lodge and the re-fuelling area at Harbour Station.

They’re also being increasingly employed as general utility wagons. Due to its severe gradients the WHR rule book specifies that all trains must be fully fitted. Although the FR has a large fleet of wagons they are almost all unfitted. A couple of weekends ago Himself was riding in a B wagon on the‘Greasers Express’ when volunteers oil and fettle all the point mechanisms on the F&WHR system.

Our models are built using Worsley Works kits as the basis of the bodyshell to which we have added brass angle to complete the detailing.

Himself made the racks for the bike wagon from styrene strip while the ramp adaptations were made from brass and the luggage and bike symbols knocked up on the home PC from photographs of the signs on the actual wagons.

'Caernarfon Castle'

This is one of a pair imported from South Arfrica in the 1990’s and has retained its original, very continental-style GRP bodywork. (The second machine, which had been given a modified cab during its life in Africa, was selected for a radical rebuild to fit the FR loading gauge and became ‘Vale of Ffestiniog’)

Our model’s built from a Worsley Works ‘scratch aid’ kit. Allen’s etches provide for the bulk of the bodywork leaving you to complete the finer detailing.

It’s powered by a chassis from a Farish Class 90 chassis.

One of the main challenges with modelling the WHR & FR ‘Funkey’ locomotives is the bogies which are very tall, with the side frames extending well above the top of the wheels. This is a problem in 009 when you’re using a N gauge chassis which are mostly built around a big metal block housing the motor and drive to the bogies.

Simply fixing false Funkey side frames onto the N gauge bogies won’t work because they will foul on the metal chassis block and won’t swivel!

Our solution has been to divide the bogie frame in half, so the top is fixed to the metal chassis block and the bottom section, with the axleboxes and springs etc, is bonded to the N gauge bogie and only this lower part swivels.

Other extra details added to the basic body kit include the handrails at each end of the loco and the large headlight jewels.


This one of my Pride and Joy's, the WHR's Pullman Observation Carr 'Glaslyn'.

There's a brass scratch-aid kit on the market now but I made this one first and did it the hard way!

The challenge with this carriage, as you've probably realised, is the curved front.

As you'll know if you've already read my carriage building guide my usual approach is to make up the bodysides and roof as one unit and have a removable floor /chassis. But on this carriage I needed the floor to keep the curved front section in shape.

I began by making this sub-assembly..

Which was then bonded to the other sections of the body like this....

You can see, above, how 95% of the floor will still be removable.

Next I made up the roof section. The front pair of window pillars won't be added until the roof is fixed on, and you might also notice that the curved front of the roof is slightly behind that of the bodyside at the bottom. This is because the front window pillars are angled backwards slightly..

Here's another shot with those pillars in place. The floor / chassis has been made up, too, including the skirt beneath the front of the carriage.

The actual carriage has since been named 'Glaslyn' in traditional Pullman fashion - by HM The Queen, no less!

Himself did a stunning job with the lining using 4mm and 2mm scale Fox waterslide transfers.

Carriage 23

Carriage 23's story has come full circle. It was built by Ashbury for the NWNGR in 1894 as a not-fully-enclosed 'summer coach' with half height doors. In 1923 it became part of the carriage fleet for the WHR and later lost a few inches in height in order to run through the FR tunnels when the systems were combined.

The FR took ownership in 1936 and it was one of the first two carriages used when services began again in 1954, and was in time rebuilt with full height doors.

In 2002 it returned to its first home, Dinas, to strengthen the WHR carriage fleet and lend the operation some token heritage.

Our model was scratchbuilt in a typically labour-intensive fashion. Rather than use pre-formed wood panel effect styrene every single plank on this carriage was added by hand.

It shows number 23 as running on the FR in the early 1990's after it had been extensively rebuilt with matchboarding and repainted green. The original Welsh Highland Railway lettering (save for one letter, I believe) was discovered in one of the Boston Lodge glory holes - sorry, storerooms - and it was finished in this all- over dark green livery.

At the time of the revival the carriage had been restored with plain panels and over the decades to come ran in green and ivory, all over red and maroon & ivory liveries.

When Dduallt first appeared on the exhibition circuit we had a whitemetal 23 built from the ancient GEM kit, which was finished in the Cherry Red livery it carried in 1988.

Along with a GEM number 11 (and a kit-bashed 12) these whitemetal carriages dictated how we built our Dduallt layout. There was no point building a model of the spiral if our locomotives wouldn't be able to haul such ludicrously weighty rolling stock up the hill. So we conducted a series of experiments to establish the maximum gradient we could haul trains up and reverse engineered the project from there.

Little did I realise that I would go on to scratchbuild dozens and dozens of featherweight styrene carriages in the years to come. Hindsight is indeed a wonderful thing!

Buffet Carr 114

114 is one of a trio built in the early 1990's under the InCa programme. The bodyshells were built at the former Steamtown depot in Carnforth (now the base for charter operator West Coast Railways). 112 & 113 were composites, with two first class compartments at the bottom end, while 114 was designed as a buffet carriage.

For their first decade in service they ran in this green and ivory livery and for a time operated as a push-pull set with diesel locos Conway Castle and Cricceth Castle. Which is how we run them on Dduallt.

They have since been repainted into the standard maroon and ivory livery and dispersed among the the FR fleet, with 113 spending a number of seasons providing extra capacity in one of the WHR rakes.

They remain distinctive vehicles with their comparatively flush bodywork and square, horizontally divided windows.

This model was scratch built from styrene, but using a thicker base layer than other carriages to account for the relative lack of beading.

Earl of Merioneth

Our model of 1970's 'Super Fairlie' Earl of Merioneth is one of Himself's masterpieces.

The basis of this model is a Backwoods Miniatures Double Fairlie kit for the classic late-Victorian Fairlie, which provides the double bogie chassis and the main frame for the superstructure.

But the most visible part of the locomotive - the iconic angular square body - is Himself's work; scratchbuilt in brass.

The D shape smokeboxes are whitemetal castings from the kit for Linda / Blanche kindly provided by Parkside Dundas.

Being born in the 70's myself I have a very soft for the Earl, or 'The Square' as it is more commonly known around the railway.

It was built at a time when the railway's sole focus was on carrying as many passengers as possible, in as fewer trains as possible, to Blaenau and so the massive tanks - which put the locomotive over the weight limit when full - were designed to hold enough water for a round trip and sufficient fuel oil for the whole day.

The loco's makeovers in the late 80's, and again in the 90's, were remarkable for the way they transformed the look of the machine with very few changes to the superstructure and should perhaps be required reading for design students.

Aside from the bling brass domes - not shown in the picture above, which formerly adorned Merddin Emrys during its own aesthetic nightmare in the 70's / 80's - and the new round smokeboxes, the changes were purely cosmetic and achieved with a paintbrush.

To this day I struggle to believe those are still the same tanks and cab the locomotive first appeared with in 1979, but they are. It is an optical illusion caused by the lining and moving the position of the nameplates to the centre of the tanks.

The Rhosydd Waggon

This is not your average slate waggon. It's a semi-scratchbuilt model of the unique replica of a wooden bodied waggon from the Rhosydd Quarry.

I say semi-scratchbuilt because I used a Parkside Dundas 2 ton waggon chassis kit as the basis for the running gear on the model. It's not completely authentic - the wheels and the axle boxes are different on the actual waggon - but the thing's so small that only real waggon geeks are going to notice the differences. (And you know who you are!)

While I'm in the confessional - which is highly appropriate considering the restoration project was led by a priest - I'd better admit I didn't bother with 'bobbins' either. (That's the name for little iron collars that separate the wooden rails)

The challenge on this model was to accurately drill holes in the rails - which are strips of styrene - so that each rail slipped easily onto the brass wire uprights.

If any one of the holes was even slightly out of position the styrene strip would flex upwards or downwards rather than sitting straight and true.

There is a second similar waggon in our fleet, a version of one of the FR's own fleet of wooden bodied waggons, which was built in the same way but with a slightly different layout of the side and end rails.

Some notes on the prototype and its origins.

Rhosydd Quarry was situated at 1800ft. above sea-level on the col north-east of Moelwyn Mawr, near, but never connected to, the Cwmorthin Quarry that fed to the FR at Tanygrisiau. It makes a great hill walk to follow the track up into the hills behind the village to see the remains of both Cwmorthin and Rhosydd Quarries where slate-built barracks and a lonely chapel are slowly submitted to the elements.

The remains of this waggon were rescued from beside the main incline by a group of FR volunteers.

Restoration was restarted in 1999 from nothing more than most of the ironwork and newly-made longitudinal chassis timbers.

The team had only one drawing to work from as there are no known photographs of this type of waggon.

It has had a number of runs down the FR in the years since as part of the FR's restored gravity slate train.

Incidentally, there is currently an appeal by the Festiniog Railway Heritage Group to restore yet more of these wonderful slate waggons and provide undercover accommodation for them so the unique spectacle of the gravity train can still be enjoyed by generations to come, and we commend it to you.

P-Way Mess Coach 1111

It's one of the most humble, and yet distinctive, items of rolling stock on the FR; the P-Way department's Mess Coach 1111.

Both the real carriage and the model are revolutionary. In the case of the actual carriage it is because it was the first time in nearly 40 years the track gangs had been given a dedicated and bespoke mess vehicle. Previously they'd had to rely on pokey four-wheel brake vans.

It was built by Winson Engineering at the mid-1990's and is said to have been intended as a prototype for the WHR carriages. Much careful thought went into its design and how it was to be used.

The verandahs and the doors at each end of the carriage ensured workers could safely and easily access the vehicle in even the tightest spots where the trains squeeze between stone walls and in cuttings, and the platforms were sheltered by the extended roof.

The carriage is narrower than the other bogie vehicles on the railway and a rope is hung along each side as an additional safety system when working in those places where the trains perch on precipitous ledges.

Inside there are tables and chairs, a toilet, a stove and a drying cupboard.

I suspect many gangers on preserved standard gauge lines would look on enviously at this bespoke, 5 star accommodation.

Our model of this carriage - the only one that I know of - was a technological breakthrough for us too.

It was the first time we built a carriage with the roof fixed on and a removable floor / chassis. Previously we had glued the floor into place in the early stages and the roof was only fixed down after painting and the installation of glazing.

1111 required a different technique because of the roof overhanging the balconies and it proved to make the carriage bodies sturdier and much more robust and it has now become our standard way of scratchbuilding them.

It is a very distinctive carriage, and I have to say, one of my favourites.

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.
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.