I tried an Italian model shop..


The Italian Railway Society magazine Binari  recently recommended an Italian model shop – TechnoModel  of Livorno (on the western coast of Italy)

Just before Christmas I went onto their site (in Italian) and noticed they had a pretty special offer on an Italian HO diesel railcar set (DC) by Os.kar at above 30% off. I have a bit of a thing about  railcars so in a spate of pre- Christmas bonhomie I placed an order. There was an added bonus of no postage charge! A note from Fed Ex followed a few days later (27th December) to say the parcel had been collected and should arrive on January 4th or 5th

Parcel dispatched from Livorno Italy 27th December Espresso FedEx  actually arrived today-29th December (am)

In comparison-A British outline item pre-ordered back in 2012, which I had not un-naturally forgotten all about, was dispatched first class on the 24th December from Cornwall  also arrived today but  pm…. (of course the pre-delivery period was not the fault of the shop just what happens with Chinese manufacturing)

If your into continental HO I would recommend  Tecnomodel      www.tecnomodel-treni.it on the basis of this experience. I also use a German shop modelbahnshop-lippe.com from Detmold who also give excellent service with comparable delivery periods.

If continental model shops provide good service at affordable prices then I would suggest that you use them while you can. Being in Europe does bring some advantages…



The age of trains?

When will transport correspondents and perhaps some campaign groups, understand the the age of trains is nothing like the age of cars. They continue to be surprised by how long they last & how they are regularly refurbished

An article in today’s Guardian provided by the Press Association  draws attention that Britain’s rolling stock is “21 years old on average”.

Now average is like statistics -it can be manipulated. The figure seems to include 40 year old Caledonian sleepers- MK3’s  to you and me, which have had at least a couple of major upgrades during their life and are still some of the strongest railway carriages ever built in Britain. If you recall Morris Marinas and Austin Allegros, popular cars of the same period, we are not talking about the same sort of product! Even still  these sleepers aren’t exactly a major part of our current carriage stock.

Then they’re are onto Pacers. Now if memory serves me right they are a derivative of a Leyland National bus body-  And who drove (no pun intended) BR to use these- yes our wonderful Ministry( of/for but generally against railways) who wanted to replace 40 year old DMU’s which have only recently departed our systems- but were always better than Pacers.

As usual the situation is not simple, but commentators need simple solutions these days.

Railways have been “cascading” rolling stock for generations. The Southern Railway was a past master at it and BR- Southern Region carried on the tradition. So how old is the train- do we date it by when it was first built; when it was last refurbished or when they added Wi-Fi?.

Re-using perfectly good under-frames in the building of “new” electric stock was usually the way they could afford to create most of the Southern Electric system .An investigation into a crash into the buffers at Cannon St station in 1991  identified that the under frames on the electric stock built in the early 1950’s, dated from 1928 & 1934 and this was possibly a minor contributory cause of the extensive damage. (The train hit the buffers at 10 mph- possibly not a design criteria!)

Then of course the usual- they do it better in Germany, France & Japan piece but no facts to back this statement. With the state of DB and SNCF these days I would guess there aren’t any!

Christmas & Model Railways

Its that time of year again.. The tradition of giving a son or grandson a train set as a Christmas present is possibly in severe decline.

Personally I think that’s a good thing.

The giving of a train set is not the route to the life long hobby of model railways, but a dead end. The train set was seen as a complete model railway- a circle of track, maybe a siding or two; a station; a goods shed; a complete train; a controller etc all in a very big box.

And of course it fails its promise- its not a model railway. There is assembly required but no sense of building. The child is not limited by his imagination but by the very limited horizons of the  manufacturers marketing department- how little can we give and still say its a complete model railway. Boredom levels are reached fairly quickly.

My Dad, who stated me off on this hobby never gave me a train set- he probably couldn’t afford one and in the late 40’s they weren’t easily available.

Instead we started off with a couple of tank wagons and some track- all Hornby Dublo. It must have been a year or two before an LNER 0-6-0- tank loco and a controller followed. Shunting using the tank wagons as locos taught me a lot.

Even though we used the dining table as our “baseboard” there was a sense of building something.

Six years or so elapsed  before a “permanent” baseboard formed of old table tennis tables supported on redundant egg crates, became my first model railway.

I was hooked- I had read the Mecanno Magazine from an early age- now it was also Model Railway News and the Railway Modeller that were devoured every month. Trials of  new techniques and features instantly incorporated on the layout.

We then moved house several times and no layout room. Career- working away from home, marriage and children meant it was years before I could think of a layout.

But I did return to the hobby.

Perhaps in coming from an age where patience was a virtue, where moving forward slowly but steadily was part of how things were, made model railways an ideal hobby.

Instant gratification it isn’t, but none the less a lifetime hobby. As they say about pets…

Model Railways aren’t just for Christmas

Russian interest in MVR reaches 120

Looking at the sites analytic data, there has been 120 visits to this site from Russia over the last 30 days. Russia seems to have replaced the USA or South America into the second place behind the UK with around 290 visits.

Now considering the population of Russia at around 143 million & internet access  at 102 million, we have some way to go. Is it just that some of the alleged hackers are getting bored with US politics and are getting interested in model railways?

As they used to say – Happy Christmas to all our readers…

Another railway themed interest?

I was recently given a GWR  1d Prepaid Newspaper Parcel stamp by a neighbour of ours who is a serious philatelist.

I must admit I had never heard of these before.

After a bit of research it appears that all British railway companies were allowed to carry letters  after an 1891 Act- the Railway Letter Act, which  laid down the conditions for this trade, which preserved the Post Office monopoly on carrying letters. All Railway Letters had to carry a normal postage stamp plus a railway letter stamp the colour and size of which, together with the price was covered by the legislation.

In simplistic terms the surcharge for the railway letter was fixed at twice the price of the postage stamp.

However there never was any monopoly on the carriage of parcels and therefore the stamp I was given, was not part of any Government legislation, but merely a means of collecting revenue on parcels.

Unlike the railway letter I assume the Newspaper parcel was not delivered by the GPO, but had to be collected by the recipient from their local station.

It being Britain there is of course a group who covers the railway aspects of philately called the Railway Philatelic Group which has over 200 members

Another railway themed interest for winter nights?

Building a Model Railway

See details of a new Liphook U3A group being proposed for 2017

Building a model railway 2017 is not a course but a group who will follow the building of a new model railway layout over a period of 12 months- monthly sessions with the opportunity to exhibit the finished layout at local & regional exhibitions. See details on a new page on this site.

We should count ourselves lucky we have Network Rail..

The new Amtrak station at Niagara Falls, which reportedly took 17 years to complete and cost $43 million, will open on December 6… Timetable News European Rail Timetable Editorial December 2016