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Sunday, May 11, 2008

An EMU Bookshelf

Disclaimer: I get an affiliate fee if you purchase anything via the links in this article. If that bothers you go directly to amazon, or purchase your copy somewhere else.

Book authors seem to devote a lot of time to writing books about locomotives. Indeed every class of diesel has at least one entire book about it, sometimes several.

But for those of us who are fans of EMUs the local bookshop is something of a desert. However, if you look hard enough there are a number of good books available, even though it often means buying second hand.

I’ve put some details below of the books which I have in my collection, which I hope will be of interest to anyone researching the subject area. If you have any suggestions for other books to add to the list, feel free to email me.

British Rail Fleet Survey 10: Third Rail dc Electic Multiple Units by Brian Haresnape and Alec Swain, ISBN 0711017603.

The British Rail Fleet Survey series is probably the definitive series on the history of British Rail motive power between the modernisation plan and the late eighties. Whereas most other books I’ve listed here are mainly photograph based with a small amount of text, the books in this series have a good amount of textual content.

The 3rd rail EMU book starts with about thirty pages on the general history of third rail EMUs, then follows with two to four pages for each class which ran on BR during the eighties (the most recent class described are the 442 5-WES units). Each chapter (one per class) describes the history and some technical details of the units along with a number of (black and white) photographs and, occasionally, a simple engineering drawing. Liveries cover a selection of those carried during the units careers.

This book covers both southern and non southern 3rd rail units, as well as the dual voltage classes 313 and 319. Book 11 in this series by the same authors covers overhead EMUs, ISBN 0711019029.

Motive Power Recognition 3: EMUs by Colin J. Marsden, ISBN 0711015694

This series of books was one of my must haves during my spotting days in the eighties with the A5 format making them useful pocket references. The EMU book covers all classes of EMU which where active on BR during the mid-eighties. All photos are in black and white with units being in liveries which where current at the time of publication (ie mainly blue and grey).

Primarily pictorial in nature the book has, generally, two to four pages for each class starting with basic technical data followed by well captioned pictures. As befits the title of the book the captions mainly refer to the distinguishing details between each class, and vehicles within each class. The shots of individual cars make useful references for the modeller.

British Railway Pictorial: First Generation Southern EMUs by Kevin Robertson, ISBN 0711030871

With the electrification of the southern railway system starting over a hundred years ago (and, indeed, before the formation of the southern railway) you could spend a long time debating what constitutes a ‘first generation’ EMU. For the purposes of this book it is anything up to and including Mk 1 based units, with the exception of the earliest types.

The book starts with a listing of the various types of EMU stock, but again there is nothing listed before 1914. The earliest EMUs were a varied collection of converted coaching stock and there are few photographs of them around, so maybe this omission can be forgiven.

Organised in roughly chronological order this A4 format book is a collection of black and white photographs illustrating the various types, usually with three photographs per page. Most units are in BR green livery.

Southern Electric by John Glover, ISBN 0711028079

This book is a revised edition of the books of the same title by G. T. Moody, the first edition of which was published in 1957. It gives the definitive history of the electrified southern region from it’s earliest days to the late nineties.

Whilst not strictly a book ‘about’ EMUs its content will surely be of much interest the the EMU enthusiast. In A4 format with many illustrations (in black and white) it covers the history of each electrification scheme and much more besides.

Southern Electric Slam-Door Stock: The Final Years by Roger Palmer, ISBN: 0711031088

The content of this photograph based book accurately reflects it’s title, it covers the remaining slam door stock running on Network Rail in the early 2000s. In landscape format with one photo per page, and every shot in colour, it covers the gamut of privatisation liveries to be found at that time.

Captions concentrate on details of the location and service with very little about the units themselves other than the numbers. One neat touch is the picking out of the location in bold text which I found helpful when flicking through the book.

A Southern Electric Album by Michael Welch, ISBN 1854142704

Another photographically based book but one which is distingished by it’s detailed captions which show the author has great knowledge of both the locations, the units and the services. In a slightly smaller than A4 format and with every picture in colour the book covers not only Emus but also has a few shots of 3rd rail locomotives including one of the 20002 prototype.

Organised in geographical order, starting in the west and progressing eastwards images show a wide selection of ‘first generation’ units in both BR green, all over blue and blue-grey liveries.

Southen DEMUs of Michael Welch, ISBN 1854142879

Whilst not strictly and EMU book, the southern DEMUs where effectively EMUs with diesel engines so I feel this book is worth covering here. Compiled and written by the same author as the previous title, this is in the same style with a similar depth to it’s captions, often covering the entire history of the unit depicted.

Again this book is fully in colour and whilst concentrating on green, blue and blue-grey liveries it also has a few images in Network SouthEast and privatised liveries.

Posted by Mike on 05/11 at 06:51 PM
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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Wiring a crossing for DCC

There can be few layouts which get by without including a diamond crossing at some point, mine included. And for those of us using electrofrog trackwork and DCC that raises the question of how to wire it.

My first assumption was that it would require some complex wiring and a DPDT switch, but I chose to search the internet first for a definitive answer. I found rumours about using a revering loop module but nothing in detail. I couldn’t see how a reversing loop module would work, but then I don’t understand how they work as reversing loop modules, but I figured it was worth some experimenting.

Below is the technicolour diagram of what I ended up with.

The blue and green wires show the normal ‘two wires’ from the command station/controller. These are wired to either side of the crossing as they would be normally with blue to one rail and green to the other.

The short red lines show where an insulating joint is needed either side of the crossings frogs.

The inputs of the reversing module (I’ve shown a Lenz LK100 here, but another make would work equally well) are connected to the ‘two wires’ from the command station. It doesn’t matter which wire connects to which terminal, the module will switch them as necessary.

The outputs from the LK100 are in turn connected to the crossings frogs. Again it doesn’t matter which output goes to which frog, just as long as the frogs are insulated from neighbouring rails.

With my crossing wired as above when I run a train over the crossing there is a ‘click’ from the relay as the LK100 switches polarity and the train runs across the track completely unhindered.

PS. The diagram assumes that both the crossing tracks have the same orientation, ie neither is part of a reversing loop or figure of eight style layout. If so you’ll need to make some modifications, I suspect putting another reversing loop module over the other rails of the crossing (and inulating them) or on one or more approach roads.

Posted by Mike on 02/10 at 02:57 PM
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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Dapols Revenge

Way back in the mists of time Bachmann announced they would be producing a class 66.

A few years later, when everybody was fed up with waiting, and Dapol where looking for a new model
to add to their range they decided to produce the 66 which Bachmann appeared to have given up on.

Later that year Dapols baby was finished, but in the meantime, Bachmann had been putting in overtime on their 66, which was finished a few months later.

Among Dapols product announcements for the following years where a class 150, class 03 and Stanier coaches. Weeks later Bachmann announced a class 150, class 04 and Stanier coaches in their range. Dapol wisely gave way to the larger company and changed their proposed product range. They also went into stealth mode and secretly produced a Voyager.

But as soon as the Dapol model was on sale, Bachmann announced that they already had a model Voyager in an advanced stage of development. Given that Bachmanns development cycle is usually at least 18 months, and they have a habit of pe-announcing every model, why would they have a model Voyager already in development?

Dapol appear to have taken this announcement as an act of revenge. They had spent the effort on their Voyager and in a few months there would be a Bachmann copy on the shelves. So they again went into stealth mode and produced a 9F, a model which Bachmann had already announced themselves.

If Bachmanns Voyager was an attempt at revenge, it seems to have massively backfired on them. Their Voyager is still unavailable twelve months later. There is still no sign of their 9F, but Dapols model is due to hit the shops within a month.

Bachmanns actions look like a large company metaphorically beating it’s chest to scare off a small upstart. But all it has done is given Dapol a chance to prove that being smaller makes them nimbler. They can produce a model on schedule. They can produce a model in half the time. That they tackle Bachmanns head on and come out on top.

All this duplication is a sad waste of development resources. A model locomotive costs about £70,000 to develop, so the N gauge world has lost nearly a quarter of a million pounds in development money, not to mention the three alternative models which would have been produced instead.

But it does make for a fascinating spectacle for the casual observer. A true David versus Goliath battle, with David appearing to win every round.

So, how will Bachmann try to regain the upper ground? Will they try and copy another Dapol model?. Will they try to arrange some kind of truce? Will they also go into stealth mode when producing new models? Or will they do what modellers have been screaming at them to do: dig out their Gantt charts, announce realistic release dates and stick to them?

Posted by Mike on 12/01 at 10:27 AM
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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

CJM on the web

Chris Marchant a.k.a. CJM has long been revered in N gauge modelling circles for his outstanding RTR modern image locomotives and resprays.

Indeed when Eurotunnel wanted to create a scale model of the terminals at each on of the Channel Tunnel for display at Folkestone prior to the actual construction it was Chris who was hired to create much of the rolling stock for the layout. If you are very lucky you may even find some of the wagon kits available on ebay to this day.

He recently made available a DVD displaying a selection of his models and he has now created a website detailing his range of products and services, along with a little of his history. If you’ve never seen one of his models the close up photographs on the site are well worth looking at. Read more at

Posted by Mike on 09/12 at 10:24 AM
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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bachmann in Model Rail

In an effort to be greener and get some exercise I took a walk to the newsagents today to get the latest copy of Model Rail. When I got half way there and it started to rain I found a good reason why so many of us are wedded to our cars.

In this issue is a six page interview with Graham Hubbard and Dennis Lovett of Bachmann.  One of the quotes which grabbed my attention was this one from Hubbard on the subject of duplication, “The UK market for models is small compared to other world markets and with so many options available to manufacturers then it clearly is stupid to produce two class 08s, rebuilt ‘Royal Scotts’ and ‘N’ gauge Voyagers.”.

So, which company was it that anounced a Class 150 after Dapol had announced theirs? Similarly with the Class 04 (after Dapols class 03), Stanier coaches and Voyager? Bachmann claimed last Christmas that they decided to continue development of the Voyager because it was already well developed by the time of the Dapol models release at last years Warley exhibition, yet the model is not expected to arrive until this Christmas. In other words, Bachmann have wasted twelve months development on a model which we already have (from Dapol) when they could have invested that time and money into something new.

On a brighter note there was a comment which brings me a lot of hope, as a southern region modeller. In response to a readers question about whether the ‘OO’ 4-CEP will ever be produced in ‘N’ gauge, “We will duplicate everything we do in ‘N’ and ‘OO’. This could be ‘N’ led, or ‘OO’, but it won’t all happen overnight. It could be ten years before we see it, but if we’ve got all the research we might as well use it.” That should give me something to look forward to in my retirement then (and I’m only 37!)

Posted by Mike on 08/16 at 03:16 PM
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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Farish HST DCC Conversion

Bachmann/Graham Farish have recently re-released the HST with a completely new chassis. This chassis is of a similar design to that of the class 66 and revised class 57, but they have taken a slightly backward step as far as DCC conversion goes by not including the marked solder tags (and they still haven’t managed to make a DCC plug-and-play chassis, but that’s another article). However, this new chassis is much easier to convert than the older ones.


The body is easy to remove - insert a thin screwdriver or finger nails either side and the chassis just drops out. You will now see the circuit board atop the chassis. We will do the conversion by removing the two coils (labelled L1 and L2) and soldering the decoder in their place. There is space to put the decoder in the guards compartment (on the right in the photos).

Start by removing the two coils with a small pair of clippers.  Remove the yellow, blue and white lighting wires from the decoder and cut the other wires to length, the red and black being the shorter pair (see the photos). Now solder the red, black, orange and grey wires as shown in the photos.

All that’s left is to place the chassis on the programming track to test and programme as usual.

Posted by Mike on 07/22 at 01:30 PM
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