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I am currently working on a layout set in the Western Region on two 3ft by 2ft (roughly) boards which could only allow real leg room for two-car DMUs at best. Since I moved from N up to OO gauge the right stock has always been problematic for me. Most of the major manufacturers make classes that would be appropriate for Devon branch lines.

Time period is the major issue. Originally the plan was going to be '80s but with the low availability of a 'Skipper' (cream-brown Pacer) I reckoned I could settle with a Hornby blue-grey 121 'Bubblecar' to stand in for a 122 which appeared on Devon and Cornwall lines. Loco-hauled workings, some of which were brought in to stand in for the absent 'Skippers' on the Tarka Line, are currently out of the question because of the lack of space.

Now Hornby are releasing a Class 153 in Regional Railways livery AND a Class 142 'Pacer' in the latest First Great Western livery.
. Both are reasonably priced and could stretch the time period for the layout.

Assuming that the Pacer is virtually unchanged from the basic model judging by the Arriva Trains and Merseyrail Pacers that came out last year (2007), which is the model worth waiting for? With the FGW 142 I could bring the layout right up to date. But the 153 I assume could be the superior model and a better runner. The first of the 153s have already had great reviews and would at least allow for a '90s layout. I'm not sure how I could improve the 142 detail wise, which of course is another option....
If I go down this road I would like to put people inside it.
 

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Aren't the 142s confined to the main line these days, following problems with the severely-curved branches back in the Skipper era?
 

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IMHO, the 153 is the better bet, as they were used on at least some West Country branches, and the Hornby model has a more up-to-date mechanism with lights and is DCC ready. The 142 models are a bit behind on features and represent older technology. Also, as Edwin says above, the 142s were barred from the tightly curved branches in Devon and Cornwall due to excessive flange wear and excessive noise (flange squeal) - I wonder if the two were connected!!
 

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On recent day trips to Devon, I took these photos of DMUs just in case they might be useful to someone sometime:-

153 in the depot at Exeter St. Davids in 2006:


Three other sets also at Exeter St. Davids in 2006. It isn't possible to make out the class numbers but the window / door configurations should reveal their identities?


A six car formation at Dawlish in 2008. There are at least two types of DMU here, and the following photo reveals three different liveries.


The six car set in the previous photo passes a two car set just before the tight curve into Dawlish Warren


David
 

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QUOTE (Edwin @ 9 Jan 2009, 22:15) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Aren't the 142s confined to the main line these days, following problems with the severely-curved branches back in the Skipper era?

Well, yes, a lot of them have appeared on the main line much more than they would have done twenty years ago, but at one time I was at Exeter and they were running on virtually all local services, including the Tarka and Exmouth Lines. They had conjoined Class 153s running down to Paignton on occasions, but there was not a single 150 in sight.

Thanks for the pics to the last poster.

Running a Pacer on all line wouldn't surprise me. Nowadays companies seem to slap any class on any service. Like the other day I was at Reading and they were running an HST down to Great Malvern, which in former days would have been a duty for a Turbo. I thought this was insane given that it was stopping at Hanborough, Charlbury etc, which to my knowledge have short platforms. Wasn't the Cotswold line due to be re-doubled?

I would like a 121 but would you say £57 is a bit over-priced for what is in essence a Lima rehash? Would it be better moneywise to get it secondhand? Not that I really mind how it looks too much, I've always been fond of the blue-grey one in model form.
 

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QUOTE (sambwoy @ 10 Jan 2009, 18:30) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I would like a 121 but would you say £57 is a bit over-priced for what is in essence a Lima rehash? Would it be better moneywise to get it secondhand? Not that I really mind how it looks too much, I've always been fond of the blue-grey one in model form.

I would have thought you could have done better than £57 for a 121 New if you shop around enough.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I can't remember where I got the £57 price from. I think this is only a rough price but I think it was on the Modelfair website. I'm not sure. I think I was initially looking for the price of an FGW Pacer when it finally comes out.

I think one issue I am beginning to have is that the track hasn't been laid down. I think its a case of all dressed up and nowhere to go as it were.
I have all the accessories but I was having a long umming and ahhing over decent trackbed. First we used wooden floor foam underlay which we painted with Early Learning Centre grey poster paint which didn't work and made pinning down track a nightmare. Then it was bolsor wood but the PVA glue caused it to curl up at the ends. Now I use Woodland Scenics HO Scale Trackbed which be easily cut without crumbling or degrading and it can be sanded and just about rigid enough. It also has the raised appearance so it doesn't require chamfering like with the cork. But this layout I want to exhibit because there is no decent space in the house. I just wonder if the trackbed will withstand being carried about a lot, especially at the joints between the two boards and when it comes to wiring.

I chose a FGW Pacer because I can relate to them better having actually been on one. Whereas a Class 153 I can only vaguely remember going on one in around '98 when my family took one from Keynsham to Bristol. Interestingly we took a Class 37 hauled train on the way back. Because it wasn't a multiple unit we wondered if it we got on the right train!
 

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Sambwoy,

I don't know if you have looked at the book Baseboards for Model Railways by Ian Morton in the "Aspects of Modelling" series.

In Chapter 9, Portability, there is described a 4' X 2' layout which folds in half to form a box 2' x 2' x 16" for storage.

Something like it would probably give you what you are looking for. The rear fiddle yard would accomodate a older two car DMU (eg 108). It might also allow a short frieght, say a 20 + 2 or 3 mineral hopper wagons to add more interest.

Hope this might help.

Best wishes,

John H-T.
 

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The Pacers (as 142 Skippers) were delivered to Laira new, and expelled from the West Country in disgrace after ignominious failure about 2-3 years later . Even desperate measures like fitting grease and lubrication devices on certain of rthe curves on the Looe branch couldn't save them .

Modernisation Plan units were drafted in again and 153 conversions then replaced them due to their ability to go round sharp curves

121s were certainly used on Devon and Cornwall branches prior to the Skipper episode.

Recently as part of the Government reprisals against the West Country called the new franchise , Pacers have been drafted in to work some of the straighter lines (main line locals , Exmouth branch)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I know they definately were working the Tarka Line last year. Maybe this wasn't one of the major problem lines. The Looe branch curves and possibly the Gunnislake branch I understand had incredibly sharp curves.

Interestingly, I heard the rigidity of units on branch lines is not an old problem. They tried Sprinters on the Blanau Ffestiniog line but again there was the problem of excessive noise on the curves, so they stuck with earlier-built DMUs.
 

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To reduce lateral oscillations and generally improve the ride, more modern trains have shock absorbers that damp the rotation of the bogies. One consequence is that the bogies rotate less freely and therefore are more likely to come into flange contact (with attendant wear and noise) on tight curves. The Blaenau branch is obviously now worked by Sprinters, not sure if they solved the problem or just decided it wasn't enough of a problem to keep the older units in service! However the Pacers with much longer fixed wheelbase cause a lot more noise and rail wear.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I don't see why with these train operators all stock have to be a certain standard. On branch lines they could still have more exemptions like with the CIGs on the Lymington line. On branch lines like in Devon which are under a Community Railways Project, for example, they could run 'heritage' DMUs because the service is infrequent and confined. It could also be a good selling device to enable passengers to use the trains more. Just anything to put a bit more romance and interest back into the railways.
 

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The CIGs were "proper trains" with electric traction - inherently very reliable in service with a low failure rate . Modernisation DMUs were lightweight stock powered by 1950s bus engines from manufacturers long defunct , and there were some reliability issues throughout their working lives . Also the passenger accomodation was very very dated
 

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QUOTE (sambwoy @ 14 Jan 2009, 14:51) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I don't see why with these train operators all stock have to be a certain standard. On branch lines they could still have more exemptions like with the CIGs on the Lymington line. On branch lines like in Devon which are under a Community Railways Project, for example, they could run 'heritage' DMUs because the service is infrequent and confined. It could also be a good selling device to enable passengers to use the trains more. Just anything to put a bit more romance and interest back into the railways.

No reason in principle why they couldn't do this - after all Chiltern have a heritage bubblecar on Princes Risborough to Aylesbury and Arriva Wales use one on the Cardiff Bay shuttle. Not to mention the very much lighter vehicles on the Stourbridge branch. The main criterion is how fully the operation is segregated from the main line and thus what is the risk of collision with another train. In this connection the main obstacle may be that the Cornish branch units have to use the main line for long-ish distances to get to depot. Either you have to make the case that this is safe in passenger service or make the easier case for operation with crews only and accept more dead running. And how many DMUs are still in working order and not jealously guarded by a heritage organisation? Access for wheelchairs etc is another issue.
 

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I was involved 7 years ago with some of the first non-passenger Sunday testing of the Parry People Mover on the Stourbridge town line, to segregate us from the main line the point staff from the Stourbridge Junction signal box had to be kept in the unit thus making the point unoperational.

Down here in West Wales when I first moved here five years ago you would often see Pacer units in Carmarthen station, these seem to have been cascaded to the Cardiff area nowdue to crew complaints and replaced by 153's.

Lew
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
QUOTE (Edwin @ 15 Jan 2009, 10:41) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Chiltern have a heritage bubblecar on Princes Risborough to Aylesbury and Arriva Wales use one on the Cardiff Bay shuttle.

Two good excuses for a present-day layout using 121s. You can't get an Arriva 121 though sadly.
 
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