Willin Ford

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This layout really is pure indulgence on my part as it consists mainly of models I have simply because I like them.
When I first started making the model I thought the area modelled was near Ludlow in the English Welsh borders. It was a glorified test track really and is built along one wall in the spare bedroom at eye level as I sit at my desk.

To start off I will run through my roster of locomotives that range from steam in the late 1940’s to blue DMU’s in the 1970’s. My favourite period though is the green diesel transition from steam diesel.



A couple of views showing the back scene with industries providing some traffic for realistic operation.


The first loco I bought to run on the model was a Hornby Collet 0-4-2 4800 class tank engine and although built fairly recently looks much older. When introduced in August 1932 the class was designated “4800” in effect the design was merely an up-dated version George Armstrong’s “517” class of 0-4-2T’s that were put into traffic from 1868 onwards for branch line and local work. 156 were at work but by the 1920’s and early 1930’s most were over 50 years old and being scrapped in large numbers. Pressure was exerted on the CME Charles Collett to a replacement for the Armstrong 0-4-2T and the result was the “4800” class. They were not greeted with much enthusiasm by the railway press as they looked rather Victorian with their tall chimney and dome. However the economic conditions in the 1930’s meant that extreme prudence was necessary when capital expenditure was being considered for motive power on lightly trafficked branch lines. So the revision of an old but successful design was a case of good housekeeping.
In all 95 Collett 0-4-2T were turned out from Swindon works between August 1932 and April 1936. Note; The 4800 numbered series were auto fitted, the 5800 series were not.

Enough of the history on to the model itself. When first purchased it ran reasonably well if with a slight limp. Removing the rubber traction tyres completely transformed it so that it runs much more slowly and doesn’t stall on dead frogs. It has a slight limp though, never mind I like her very much. She has just had a slight weathering so she looks used but well looked after.



4869 at rest between shunting moves in the yard at Willin Ford.

Peter M


This BR prairie model was my second purchase and was on offer from a well known emporium in Liverpool. It is a bit modern for my taste really but I do like watching its valve gear when in motion. She is used for both passenger and freights and quite liked by the crews because of its roomy cab. The real ones were considered to be very heavy on coal so presumably not over popular with firemen.
An interesting note, in a book I have by Colin Maggs it shows no 82044 working a Yeovil Pen Mill - Taunton train with its coal bunker sprinklers working to damp down the coal dust while standing in a station.




The GWR prairie is another small loco that I find very attractive, they were introduced 1906 and 175 were built. They varied slightly in that some had a flat topped tanks that held 1000 gallons of water and some had a sloping front to the tanks and these held 1300 gallons.  
My model which is a Bachmann example runs very well and captures the look of the prototype very well I think. She is a useful loco to have on the roster as she equally at home at home on a passenger or freight working.


Ex GWR prairie 4545 is seen working a passenger train consisting of a B set.


At rest in the yard at Willin  Ford between shunting moves.






A selection of shots showing 3711 at work. She is an ex GWR 57xx class which was a very large class indeed and could be found all over the system on various jobs. I remember seeing them as a train spotter at Paddington bringing in empty carriage stock and then giving trains a push as they started their journey to the west country.
It is another Bachmann model and a superb runner, weathered to look work stained but not too dirty.



Another locomotive I have always found attractive but never owned an example of is the ex GWR 4300 class of mixed traffic mogul. The model had long been out of production but I managed to get a second hand Bachmann one that had not been used very much, judging by its overall condition and lack of wear of the wheel treads. It seems to me that the model gets better each time she is run.
The real locomotives were designed by G J Churchward and introduced in 1911 a total of 342 being built between 1911 and 1932. They were basically a tender version of the 3150 class of 2-6-2T engines with a standard no 4 boiler.
Collett introduced 20 updated versions with a side window cabs and a screw reverser in place of the large lever originally fitted.  100 locos were rebuilt between 1936 and 1939 to the more modern specification.
They were very powerful for their size, having a tractive effort slightly greater than an LMS black 5.

A few photos of my earlier version mogul no 6383 at work shunting in Willin Ford yard and station.







An old friend of mine gave me two locos he found in his loft when he was clearing it for some remedial work to be done on his roof.
The first is an Mainline ex GWR 22xx class 0-6-0 tender engine found all over the system. I believe they were popular with their crews as they performed well and were fairly comfortable to ride on at low speed.




Three views of no 3210 at work in the yard and then departing from Willin Ford with a parcels train.


The second loco I was given is a Standard class 4 4-6-0 mixed traffic loco.
This loco like the Collett 0-6-0 is a Mainline model but has done little work and having been serviced and its wheel treads cleaned up runs quite well. The level of detailing is not up to modern standards but she looks fine at normal viewing distances.




She is seen bring in another parcels train, uncoupling then running forward to replenish her tender with water.




Having filled up with water she then runs round her train while the vans are being unloaded.


Now I must put my hands up and admit that I am an unashamed diesel fan, I suppose because I remember them being introduced while I was still at school.
With such a small layout large locos are not suitable but the class 2 25’s are perfect. It must also be said that in model form generally, diesels perform better than steam locos.
My first diesel purchase was a green two tone livered 25 which I think looks very good. I must admit I like the transition period as it allows a bigger choice of motive power to be run.




D7502 shunts some old open wagons in the yard.


25043 is another Bachmann model and a superb performer. She is seen making up a train of fitted vans.




Later that day we see the 25 shunting a brace of BRT wagons.





Now you are probably all wondering what a Scottish 26 is doing working in the border counties.
The fiction is it is on test working some of the stone trains as the class 26’s had smaller wheels and were lower geared. Wonderful thing the imagination, probably the modellers most useful tool, and it’s free!




In reality the 26 was on offer at a silly price and I liked the look of it so bought one. It is a Heljan model and runs superbly being very heavy. All the details on the buffer beams though make shunting with it a bit fiddly as they get in the way of the tension hook couplers. Of course KD’s would probably work better but I’m in too deep with the existing ones. The only work I’ve done on the model is weathering the bogies and a touch of black around the exhaust on the roof. The white plastic interior has been toned down a bit as well but so far I haven’t added crew figures.




Another pair of locos I have long been rather fond of are the BR class 03 and 04’s
I have an example of each, both of which I bought second hand. Although small I think they both ooze character and charm.
They are both Bachmann models and the green 03 runs quite well and is the more recent model. The black version is the older model and runs superbly due I think because it is heavier having a  metal chassis. I also like the look of the connecting rods being driven by the jack shaft.



A couple of scenes showing the 03 shunting mineral wagons and vans in the yard at Willin Ford.


Here we see the 04 no 11222 shunting a CCT wagon in the yard and then some wooden mineral wagons at Willin Ford station.






I have long admired  the GWR railcar powered by two under floor AEC diesel engines, the fore runner of the DMU.
The Lima model I bought second hand when doing an exhibition with Two Sister’s Farm. It was a reasonable price and ran quite well on test on TSF. When I got it home I got rid of the traction tyres and cleaned the wheels then lightly lubricated it. I added a crew and some passengers and some extra weight in the body. It then ran very well and has continued to do so.




We come now to what is probably my favourite class of diesel, the English Electric class 37. I would think probably one of the most successful locomotives of the 1955 BTC Modernisation Plan built in this country. Over 300 were built between 1960- 1965 and were allocated to all regions except the Southern. As time passed the fleet reached all parts of the UK network and have become one of the most reliable diesel classes ever built.  
To my mind every thing about them just looks right.
Mine is a second hand Bachmann example which performs superbly.





She is seen at work in Willin Ford goods  yard and station area.


As well as the two steam locos I was given came this home made Bubble car.
I have added passengers and a driver at each end one standing and one sitting.
The under frame detail on this old Lima model is very good but needs painting to show it to advantage. This I did using photographs of the real thing for reference. Then some gentle dry brushing to finish it off and given its humble origin runs remarkably well. She really needs some steps for the crew to board her but my attempts in plasticard have not worked.




She is seen here her engine idling as more passengers board her at Willin Ford station.


I must admit to having a liking for rail cars and DMU’s. This goes back to I think to when I was a lad and we regularly travelled from Watford Junction to St Albans Abbey on a Sunday. At first we were pulled by an LMS push pull set with usually a Stainier 0-4-4 tank engine no 41908 then sometimes a Fowler 2-6-2 no 40010 or 40043, these latter were known as bread vans because of their rather poor performance. Then a BUT  three car set was tried out, which I really liked as you could stand behind the driver and look over his shoulder as you travelled along giving a splendid view .
The thing I find attractive about DMU’s is the fact that you can see the engine radiator and all the bits that make it work.
The example I have of more modern DMU is a class 108 this Bachmann model was on offer at the time I bought it. I  carefully painted the under frame details then dry brushed them as they are so visible. I still need to give it a crew and passengers but as I don’t run it very often it is not very high on my list of priorities.





This is the most recent purchase is intended to work with my DMU set and was a bit of an impulse buy. It was on offer at about half its full retail price. It is a Heljan model and when I opened the box most of the under frame detail was loose in the box having not been glued properly. However having glued everything in place and painted all the details it did look rather good. Also it runs absolutely superbly and as I’m a bit of an old woman about decent running so I forgave its early problems.






The last loco in my selection of purchased items that I bought just because I like them, is the 08 0-6-0 diesel shunter. Mine is the Bachmann version and runs quite well, but perhaps not quite as well as the Hornby version though.


Here no 08021 is seen working under BR ownership.


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The fiction is the 08 was due to be withdrawn as it was only fitted with vacuum brakes. The local quarry purchased it and it is now no 80 but it is not lettered with the name of its owners on its bodywork. It shunts incognito as it were.




Three views show her working in the yard at Willin Ford shunting wooden opens from the quarry.

So there is my collection of motive power enabling me to run trains from just after the second war up to the run down in the 1980’s.

Peter M


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Willin Ford started life many years ago as a shunting plank come test track. At the time of building it the local model shop had closed so I had to get Hornby small radius points from a local toy shop.
They looked fine but to my mind didn’t perform very well at all, with very long plastic dead frogs and geometry that some of my locos didn‘t like. Locos both steam and diesel had to be run very slowly over the points because they tended to derail if care was not exercised. I thought many times they’ve got to go, when I get the time and inclination. Needless to say being lazy I did nothing, but at a show last year while exhibiting Two Sister’s Farm I bought three second hand Peco setrack points for £4.50 and put them aside.
Having now made time I decided to take the old Hornby points out and replace them with the Peco ones. As I wanted to use as much of the existing track as I could it meant care in lifting the old points out. It took nearly all day take the points out doing the minimum of damage. The ballast being especially hard to clean off the base board ready for the new points and track. After a lot of fiddling I got the new points in place and tested. The improvement in the running of both steam and diesel locomotives was incredible. No more stalling or extra care needed when shunting rakes of wagons. I will do some more testing just to make sure, then paint and ballast the track.




Peter M


I have done a little more work on the re-laid track, it is now ballasted and roughly painted, it still needs a bit more work. I have also modified the back scene which I have never been very happy with. It is a work in progress as I like to add a bit at a time as I do with ground cover. I am trying to get a more Forest of Dean feel to the model, so I have re-located a bit further south from Ludlow which was the model‘s original location.



Peter M


I took a few pictures at a recent running session featuring my Lima GWR railcar, which growls a bit when running but runs surprisingly well. I think given its age it is a very good model with a well detailed body, the only improvement would be a more modern motor and flush glazing and wire handrails.
It is seen arriving with an empty van and stopping to let the passengers alight.
The van is then uncoupled and the railcar runs round it using the loop, having run round the van it is pushed into the back siding to be loaded. The railcar runs back into the station and the passengers get on and the railcar sets off back to the terminus.






Peter M


I have done a tiny bit more work on the forest back scene and think I will leave it for the time being, and possibly come back to it later.
The next running session I photographed featured the first train of the day, which is usually an  auto train. This train is always well patronised in both directions, with workers from town coming to work in to the local industries and office workers from Willin Ford going into town. With a twenty minute turn around time the loco always takes the opportunity to fill up with water while waiting before returning on its return trip.





Peter M


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This is more typical of the sort of train seen in the Forest of Dean, a 57xx no 3711 running bunker first arriving at Willin Ford with a few empty mineral wagons from the junction. The engine stops in the loop and uncouples from the wagons and runs forward to the water tower to replenish its tanks.





Peter M



With the tanks now full the engine runs round the empty wagons in the loop and couples up to the Toad brake van. This is uncoupled and pulled back across the points then pushed forward into the other leg of the loop, where the handbrake is wound on. The engine then backs out and the points are changed, she goes forward and buffers up to the rake of empty minerals standing in the station loop.  The engine is coupled to the wagons and pulls them out of the loop. She stops and the points are changed so she can back her train up to the brake van waiting in the loop. She couples to the brake van then pulls the train away to the quarry to be filled with stone chippings that will be used for road surfacing.





Peter M




Edited by Broadoak

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A small prairie arriving at Willin Ford with a B set, a typical western branch line train. Having arrived the engine uncouples and runs forward to replenish its water tanks.




Peter M


No 4545 then runs back past the coaches in the loop so it can couple onto the other end. Once coupled up and a vacuum of 21 inches obtained the driver awaits the guard’s whistle and then sets off for the junction.




Peter M


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Hi Broadoak

I always use Peco track even when its set track nothing I have come across beats it as far as commercially made track goes.

The exception that proves the rule is the Japanese micro layout

How big is this one and do you have a drawn plan for it.

Narrow obviously being a shelf.

regards John


Edited by buz

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Hello John,

This one is about ten feet long and 9 inches going up to a foot wide at the station and goods yard end.

I'm afraid I don't have a plan of the layout but it's pretty simple. Just an excuse to run my favourite locomotives really.

Kind regards Peter M

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