News from January 2024

Our News

T21 64 needed its replacement buffers to be fitted (following the successful fitting of this type to T21 87). We’ve used Bachmann product 36-032 for these models, and they really are a perfect fit with one caveat. A small part of the chassis needs filing (or grinding) away to enable them to fit properly. But, no adjustment is necessary for them to comply with NEM, and when close-coupled, there is a hair’s distance between the buffers. Perfect! As expected, however, the job was not possible without things falling off; six handrails, a step, the hooter and one windscreen-wiper! We took the opportunity to make up two new handrails (to replace missing ones), but we’re now thinking that a complete matching set would be nicer (along with new steps); but, that’s for another time, perhaps! (We celebrated this work done by watching the “Expedition Kilvamma” DVD, a film about the rescue of eight type T21 locomotives from Strategic Reserve, 20 years ago in 2004!)

T45 328 has been bothering us a little since we finished building it because it really does seem too lightweight. A large chunk of brass has been purchased from a model shop, to be cut to size and used as a weight. We needed to cut it into segments so that it could fit in the limited space under the body; but three segments seem to have been enough and the loco inspires confidence, now. Unfortunately, we can’t run it in yet because it will not run on ‘train-set’ curves, such that we are borrowing at the moment!

Y7 1201 has arrived onsite, so that it could be used as a ‘guide’ for the retrofitting of working couplings to our UB 1949. The couplings that come with these Jeco models cannot be ‘used’ in service (the train needs to be turned upside-down) so after some investigation we fitted a modified standard coupling to our units. The UB is a newer vehicle (to us) and was pending this modification. We had fitted the couplings to the earlier models with track pins, but we had none in stock, so we have experimented with using a bit of bent wire; time will tell!

Bo14a 3867 had been retrofitted with Symoba coupling mechanisms, but we found recently that the pocket would not accept an insert. The central bar is inline with the pocket inner ends and is in the way. We were able to resolve this problem by filing the inserts to a thinner cross-section, but it is a tricky job; and whilst it has worked for this carriage, we need to rethink future use of this coupling type.

We also bought more Roco close-couplings so that we could continue retrofitting them to the stock that we have acquired since being in Sweden. That was a job for February, but with some of the other jobs taking less time than allowed, we were able to complete the retrofitting at the end of January.

Some time ago an old Faller kit was acquired, a small timber house with garage. Advantage was taken of a free Sunday afternoon to assemble it. The one-piece roof was not quite at the same pitch as the walls, but we managed to get it together. It has a black card interior (no need for the matt black paint on the inside) and all the curtains have net curtains also, so no need for interior fittings. With a couple of very subtle modifications, it went together very well, and in a day.

Manufacturer News

Roco has announced an Epoch-IV locomotive ‘set’ comprising two Rm locomotives in SJ orange livery; and the photo montage suggests that Roco is putting the correct bogies on the models (unlike Märklin’s toy version)! The pair comprise locos numbers 1260 and 1262 and the basic analogue version is hinted at 6041 kr (roundly £550), which is not unreasonable.

Jeco’s T23 appeared at the beginning of week 4 (w/c 22 January), but due to unhealthy funds here, we’ve had to limit ourselves to just one (of the two intended) (and one for a Friend of the RTJ)! It is a nicely detailed and well proportioned model, but like many new things, it is not without problems that need sorting out. By turning the power up slowly, the cab light comes on fully, but the directional headlights flicker and a growl is heard from inside (sounding quite like a diesel engine, despite this being a DC Analogue model). Then at mark-70 (GaugeMaster controller), the loco takes off at almost full speed. We can slow it down to mark-60 (still running fast), but any lower than that, it stops and growls again. During testing (running in), one of the coupling rod pins unscrewed of its own accord and fell out bring the loco to a very sudden stop and with the wheels now out of alignment! This performance is not a regular running-in problem, and we suspect it is a faulty blanking plate for the DCC socket, which wouldn’t be the first time. (This article was faulty on the E2 steam loco, which Jeco replaced without fuss.) Aside from that, we see no point in a cab light on an analogue model; if a driver has the cab light on and it is slightly dark outside, he won’t be able to see; it’s unnecessary. Also, the box needs modifying if the loco is to be put away with a Roco close coupling fitted.

Not entirely by surprise, Märklin and Trix have announced the production of the Swedish F-class steam loco, as preserved number 1200. This follows on from the almost identical Danish E-class last year. However, it is expected to cost in the region of £700 (over 7000kr in Swedish money), so it is unlikely that one will be arriving here!

In HNoll’s first update of the year, the B4 carriages departed China on 17 December and are now out on the great oceans. It is hoped that the boat will avoid the problems we read about in the news recently, and it is not known if it will have to go via the southernmost tip of Africa. If this happens, there will be a further minor delay. Expected arrival in stores is during the latter part of February.

A Volvo 480 in H0-scale has now been produced by Minichamps, and first impressions seem good (unlike their recent 740); and we hope to acquire one or two, soon. Their 850 sedan is still awaited.

Other News

Two RTJ-Friends took a trip on one of the new X15p trains now being introduced onto the Roslagsbanan in early January, but only two units were (said to be) in service on the chosen day (out of four units available) and a wait of nearly one hour was necessary (in –10°C, feeling like –18°C). These trains are rather like other recent introductions to Stockholm with wide open gangways between the carriages making through access very easy. The seat-backs are not quite as upright as on the X10p units, and they were a little more comfortable, but still could be a lot better! The journey was to Ormsta and back, and the return journey was not without issue. The hooter had stopped working (discovered when coming across a car on a crossing in front of the train, but no collision occurred), and in accordance with safety protocols the train was allowed to proceed but at no more than 40kmh; all the way from Vallentuna to Stockholm Östra! It was believed that a build-up of snow and ice had caused the hooter to fail. Teething problems aside, we look forward to more of these units entering service.

We are saddened to learn that the UK model shop, Hattons is to close soon. For us modelling the railways of Sweden, Hattons hasn’t played a big part in our development, but some of our infrastructure, controls, scenery and suchlike came from them. They are not insolvent, but the ever-changing market demands have made it unsuitable for them to continue trading.

Another loss to this hobby, again in the UK, is the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition at the NEC. Whist this hobby is alive and well, the effects of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis has taken its toll. There is also the age-old problem of old-age; not enough is done to encourage younger people into the hobby. In the UK especially, exhibition layouts are built at a height that youngsters cannot see, thus giving them a negative experience of the hobby; and some of our Friends remember all too well the belligerent attitude of one trader towards children who happened to be anywhere near his stand!

Sad but inevitable news from here in Sweden is that the model railway club in Järfalla is having to close because the basement that they have rented for 50 years needs to be acquired by the municipality. Strictly, the basement is a shelter and has to be made available within 48 hours if needed; and now that Sweden is joining Nato that risk has been heightened. We fear for other clubs who rent similar premises for their activities.

Behind the Scenes

Mini-Series about the new railway; 2: Rickbacken—Töjnan Järnväg

Taking the crown from the FLMJ, the RTJ is to be the new main focus of attention. It was intended that construction will start at Rickbacken, which will have the largest one-piece diorama on a board (or series of boards) fitting in a space roundly 4500mm by 2200mm (±14’9″ by ±7’3″ in English measurements), but, after careful consideration, it will start somewhere else! The lowest level will have one half of the fiddle-yard, and then there will be a curved incline (or even a helix) to the next level with the track for the main station. On a third half-level, there will be a town scene; the layout of which should blend in very well, and be so very Swedish with subtleties that were missing from the FLMJ (which was actually the case with most of the FLMJ’s scenery). So, the station will be a ‘through’ layout, fiddle-yard to next diorama (the latter part going through a hole in the wall)!
At the other end of the scenic railway, there will be Töjnan, a more industrious area, but not without housing and shops. A lifting bridge (or swing-bridge—let’s see how creative we can get) will be necessary here due to an inward opening door to the ramp outside. The main board should fit in a space roundly 3200mm by 1950mm, the latter going down to 1360mm at one end due to the door. In normal operation, this door would not be used, so surrendering the railway’s right-of-way will not be ‘usual’ during operation. Being an industrious area, extra industrial sidings will give the station enormous appeal for shunting operations, and great care will be needed with designing the track layout, here.
Between the two main locations, there will be a third station, but small enough to be omitted from the railway’s name! Skarpa Gård will have a small station to serve the village that is said to have been built in the shadow of the manor house, the ‘Gård’ in the location’s name. Not all trains will stop here, but the interest should be with the scenery, which will have mostly ’country’ elements, instead of being built up. There are other ‘extra’ plans for here, also; but they’re for a later update! Due to the simpler nature of the layout here, this is probably where we’ll start building, instead of at Rickbacken.
From a technical viewpoint, the mainline, as described here (with the exception of most of the sidings), will have overhead cabling; and there will be entry/exit colour-light signals at the stations. For Epoch-IV, this is quite correct for a secondary line, which is how the layout is to be depicted. There is no specific location for the railway, and although the names come from the Stockholm and Uppland areas, we expect the scenery to imitate the Småland area because that will be local and inspiring. Nevertheless, as before, our trains will reflect all of Sweden, including iron ore trains from the far north.

Next Month: Trädgårdslinjen.