The origins of TT and The Tri-ang TT range 1958-64

TT gauge had it’s heyday in the 1950’s and 1960’s. However production had ceased by 1965.

TT gauge has a track width of 12MM and is half-way between N gauge and OO gauge.

Although the original Tri-ang TT gauge range was short-lived Hornby have now released a new range of TT products.

The origins of TT gauge

TT gauge began in the U.S.A. just after WW II. when Harold Joyce formed The company. H.P products. The first release was an EMC E6 locomotive, followed by an 0-6-0 switcher. They were substantially built with a brass chassis and wheels.

The EMC E6 was a Diesel locomotive, built between 1939 and 1942. Steam locomotives soon followed. Interestingly, they used the same drive mechanism, in several different configurations, as Tri-ang were to do later.

In 1949, the Challenger was added to the range. This was an ambitious model for the time and sold for $85.00.

TT began to go out of favour in the mid 1960’s, when both H.P. and Tri-ang ceased production. however TT remained popular in Europe.

Tri-ang begins TT production.

Tri-ang began production in 1958 … TBC

Model railways on a budget, #1 ,baseboards and track

This article and series features exclusive video content. The videos can be downloaded for free, click on the three dots on the right, when hovering over the video.

  • Baseboard, Free
  • PVA Glue- large bottle, £2 – Poundland
  • 1/8″ Cork sheet- Javis
  • Peco track pack, £62.00 – Jacksons Models
  • Dapol class 27, £120 – Hattons.

Nowadays, building a model railway can be an expensive business. Therefore, how do you create a layout for less than £300?

The answer is n gauge, as a rule n locomotives are cheaper, and you use less materials to make the baseboard and scenery. A basic oval with two sidings, can be had for around £60 and locomotives are generally cheaper than their 00 equivalents. For example a Dapol 9F, can be had for £120. While the 00 equivalent would be well over £200.

The video below shows some early running tests of the prototype layout. The locomotive should run at normal speed with no stalling or stuttering. It should also pass over points smoothly.

Track can be cleaned with a spray of WD40, on a cloth, or lighter fluid.

You also need much less space than with the larger scales.

Baseboards on a budget

The baseboard used for this project was made from three old chipboard shelves. They were screwed together using scrap plywood battens. Check that they are perfectly flat.

Priority number one is getting the track laid flat, and reliable. N gauge can be very finicky, with wheel flanges being fractions of a millimetre deep, there is no room for error. Consequently, cork sheet was used as an underlay.

Another issue is unreliable joints, especially with sectional track. Sometimes you just have to solder a recalcitrant joint, take care not to get solder on the rail head. N gauge track is usually nickel silver and takes solder well.

Power connecting clips are also a source of problems. I usually solder these to the outside of the rails. Use a very fine tip, not a braising iron!

Once the track is good we start work on the backdrop. This splits the layout into two scenic sections….

Part two looks at making the backdrop. We also investigate what is available on the second hand market, in n gauge.

The English Electric class 55, Deltic Locomotive, 00 models history.

The prototype.

An early train featuring a production Deltic.

The English Electric prototype class 55 Deltic was running by 1955, using two converted Napier marine engines, giving 3000HP. It had a distinctive blue livery and was relatively light in weight. At the time, BR was looking to replace the aging pre-war steam locomotives on the main lines to Scotland. The Deltic took over these duties and ran into the 1980’s.

The engine was triangular in shape hence the “Deltic” name. During testing the prototype suffered catastrophic engine failure. As a result, the 22 production versions had engine and other modifications done to them, before entering service.

The prototype is also the subject of Bachmann’s recent, eye wateringly expensive model, at £400.

The prototype Deltic in Doncaster, 1955. Quite a few schoolboys are taking an interest.

The Kitmaster Deltic Kit.

In the early 1960’s Kitmaster released a kit of the Prototype Deltic. This was undergoing testing in 1958. Later, many of the Kitmaster range were re-boxed by Airfix. The kit is still available from Dapol.

The Hornby Dublo model

The class 55 Deltic locomotive went into service in 1961 and the Hornby Dublo model came out in the same year. The catalogue number was 2232 and it was in the BR green livery with the second logo. This was a remarkably crude model at a time when Hornby was losing out to Tri-ang.

Hornby Dublo 2232 Deltic.

Next, In 1962 “Crepello” was released, also in BR green. Finally, the same year saw the release of “St Paddy” . St Paddy was made for the 3-rail system. additionally, good boxed examples go for around £300. 1964 saw Hornby go into administration with many unsold models still in stock.

The Hornby 2007 / 8 model

For two years Hornby produced The class 55, The duke of Wellington’s regiment in BR green livery. These go for around £50. This locomotive was only issued in the City freight set and the set is fairly scarce on auction sites.

The lima class 55 models

Lima released a number of Class 55 Deltic, named models, starting in 1977. They are also readily available for £30 – £40. Additionally, They are quite good runners and reasonably detailed. “Meld” was released in 1977 and seems to be the most common model, on auction sites.

The Bachman class 55 models

The Bachmann Deltic first appeared in 2002 and it is still in the range. These are less common on auction sites and are much higher priced than the Lima versions, at over £100.

The Bachmann Deltic prototype model

As mentioned earlier there is a special edition model of the Prototype that was made for the National Railway Museum.

There are DC and DCC sound fitted versions. Also, The model is well finished with a striking blue livery. There is good cab detailing and sprung buffers.

Burago 1: 24 scale Mini Cooper, 1969, Review

The prototype

Mini Cooper Mk 1.

The Burago Mini Cooper is a budget model with operating features. The original Mini was in production for an incredible 40 years. Notably, the first model came out in 1959, it was designed by the famous Sir Alec Issigonis.

The car had a two-door design with a transverse engine and front-wheel drive, indeed, this allowed for more passenger room in the cab. Additionally, the car was manufactured in Britain and at sites around the world. There was also a pickup, estate and van version.

Finally, this popular car became a cultural icon in the 1960’s and was featured in the 1969 film The Italian Job.

The Mini Cooper was a rally car variant of the original Mini that had appeared in 1959. The main differences of the Cooper, from the production Mini were a larger capacity engine, up from 848 cc to 997 cc and twin SU carburettors. The Mini Cooper first raced in 1961.

Monte Carlo Rally 1960’s

The Burago Mini Cooper model

Burago is an Italian manufacturer of die-cast models. Admittedly, 1:24 scale is quite large for car models, but not too large to accumulate a good collection in a small space. While not top end, they are good value and have operating features. The Mini reviewed here has an opening bonnet and doors. They are cheap and robust enough to give to children, this Mini is about 5″ long.

The packaging is reasonably robust for the price.

Engine detail is rudimentary, but at least there is one! Additionally, the headlight lenses are nicely done, although the indicators are just painted on. One bugbear for UK collectors is the foreign plates, However, the year is present on the plate, a nice touch.

Next, there is no indication of windscreen rubbers, but the wipers are fine.

The rear aspect is pleasing with moulded rear light clusters, although the indicators are the wrong colour. The Mini badge is included, as is the fog lamp and filler cap.


There are many Mini models at various price points and the Burrago version is good for the money.

I have one available to buy at the time of writing. This is discounted as the box is damaged.

The mini Cooper on Wiki

Model Review – Hornby 4P LMS Compound ( R3063)

The prototype

The 4P has a complicated history with many rebuilds. The version modeled by Hornby was built by the North British Locomotive company for the LMS, between 1924 and 1932. The Midland Railway 1000 series were very similar. The type remained in service until 1961 and none have been preserved.

The model

The Hornby 4P compound was issued in 2011, it has a modern can motor and was part of the Railroad range. The drive is in the Loco with a DCC decoder in the tender. Consequently, there are visible wires, however, this allows for pickups on all the wheels. The body is the same one used for R376, 30 years earlier.

Detailing is adequate although the cab pipework and handles would benefit from painting. The lining is well applied and the model has a nice satin sheen.

Running & drawbacks

This is a light model with poor pulling power, it originally came with traction tyres, however, adding more weight will improve performance. The can motor is quiet and there should be no problem on points.

The DCC socket is in the tender giving plenty of room.

Overall this is a good model with no major problems.


The Hornby R3063 4P compound can be had for £60 -£70, on auction sites.

There is an earlier version made from 1981-83. This model (R376) has the Ringfield motor fitted in the tender and a smoke unit. These can be had for about £50.

Manchester trams, then and now.

Horse trams

Manchester trams then and now, looks at the development of trams in Manchester. For example horse trams began in 1877 and Manchester now has the largest tram network in the UK

Horse-drawn buses had been operating in Manchester since the 1860’s. Consequently, heavy traffic congestion lead to the formation of the Manchester Suburban Tramways Company in 1877. Local councils were allowed to build and lease the lines but not operate them. Thus Salford and Manchester councils began to build an integrated horse-drawn system that grew rapidly.

By the 1890s, the Manchester Tram Company had 515 tram cars pulled by thousands of horses, they plied the city and outlining areas. In the 1880s some local towns began to use steam trams.


The original lease for the tram lines was due to expire in 1898 therefore Manchester Corporation began to take over running and rebuilding the network for electric traction. Many methods of powering the system were looked at, including steam. However, by this time steam tram engines were becoming obsolete.

Electrification using overhead power was chosen. Consequently, a new electrically equipped depot had to be built and land off Queens road in Chetham hill was purchased. the depot and first electrical operated line opened in 1901. It took two years to rebuild the rest of the network, at a cost of £1,500,000.

The old routes were much more extensive than the modern Metro system

By 1949 the system was worn out and would have cost too much to replace. It had already been decided to scrap the trams in 1937, but the war intervened. Consequently, disused routes provide thousands of tons of steel for the war effort.

The new trams

The new Manchester tramway system began to be constructed in 1992. The network has 99 stops and over 64 miles of track. Additionally, the system is owned by Transport For Greater Manchester, which is a public body similar to the old Corporations. However, the trams are operated and maintained by two private companies


The first line to open ran on existing heavy rail lines. That is from Bury to Victoria station and from Deansgate to Altringham in the South. Furthermore, a street-level line was constructed to link Victoria station with Picadilli and Deansgate/ Castlefield.

The line gradually expanded until the newest line opened in 2020, to the Trafford centre.

Tram video, Manchester trams to the city, what to see and do

I am producing a new article and history/transport documentary each week. These are 30-minute programmes.

The video features:

  • The Metro at St Peter’s square
  • The art gallery
  • History of Manchesters’ trams
  • Exchange Quay
  • Ordsall Hall
  • Harbour City
  • Media city
  • The Lowry art gallery
  • MOSi
  • Manchester Cathedral
  • Victoria Station

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Improving the Metcalfe Terraced houses kit.

The Metcalfe Terraced house kit can be improved with a few extra parts from Wills and lit with some 12v grain of wheat bulbs.

You will need:

  • Wills guttering & drainpipes
  • Scalescenes curtains and wall pictures
  • Scalescenes roads download.
  • 12v grain of wheat bulbs
  • Copper tape
  • Metcalfe cobbled sheet
  • 2mm card
  • Brick colured chalk pastel
  • Grey chalk pastel
  • Red and black wire 7/0.2 stranded.
  • Dapol station accessories

Make the main walls as per the instructions. the kit comes with extra laser-cut window sills and lintels. use these to add some depth. Finally use the brick coloured chalk pastel to colour the edges. The square corner of the pastel just fits in the groove. Grey chalk pastel can be used to colour the roof edges.

Extra walls

The kit does not have walls between the houses. Therefore you need to make some from 2mm card, to block the light from next door. Also cut a couple of holes in the downstairs room corners for the wires to pass through. Curtains come from a scalescenes house kit download. Use some scrap card to space them away from the windows slightly.

The first floor then has a 12v bulb fitted, you can hold the wire in place with a piece of masking tape. Additionally. cut the corners off the floor so that the upstairs wires can pass through.



Make up the Wills drainpipes and paint them. The guttering is about the correct depth to fit directly to the wall under the roof edge.

The base

The base is made from 2mm card with the lampost from a dapol station accesories set.


You can use copper tape on the base to solder the bulb wires to.

The Hornby Class 81-86, early models.

Introduction – the death of Hornby?

Early models of the class 81 included a rare 1964 Hornby Dublo version. The first class 86 electrics to run on the West Coast main line were derivations of the prototype class 81. Consequently, the class 81 (AL1) was first made in model form by Hornby Dublo, in 1964, Cat. No. 2245. This was just before Hornby were bought out by the Lines Brothers (Tri-ang).

Meanwhile, after the amalgamation In 1966 Tri-ang-Hornby brought out their own version, R.753. This used the ubiquitous motor unit from the dock shunter and class 101. Moreover, the Dublo version used an entirely different chassis and is now one of the rarer Dublo models, costing close to £1000!

The Hornby Dublo class 81 costing about £1000

The Dublo E3002 was a crude model by modern standards and pretty bad by the standards of 1964! As a result, Hornby were in trouble, with lots of unsold stock. The worst culprit being the ugly co-bo Diesel electric locomotives that stuck to the shelves like glue. The model railway press were scathing in their verdict on build quality. Consequently, when Tri-ang took over there were literally hundreds of these models in stock.

The Prototype

By Barry Lewis – Kenton Bypasser – 1, CC BY 2.0,

Under the 1955 modernization program for British Railways the West coast main line was to be electrified. As a result, 100 AC electric locomotives were ordered from five manufacturers. The first to be delivered was E3001 built in 1959. Associated electrical industries built 25 examples with two being geared to 80mph for freight duties.

The locomotives operated on 25Kv AC and were only used on the West Coast main line. Finally, The last class 81 was built in 1964.

By 1965 electrification was pushing north. As a result 100 more locomotives were ordered. English Electric and British Rail made them in Newton Le Willows and Doncaster. E3101- E3200 became the numbering. The class 86 was based on the earlier class 81. However, there were differences. The noses were square and not sloped back. Also the second pantograph disappeared.

The class 86’s saw long service and many liveries. By 2002 the last were out of service on the West Coast line. However, Freightliner still operate a fleet of 86’s on intermodal work. While West Coast railways use them on charters.

By Phil Scott (Our Phellap) – English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The Tri-ang Hornby Class 81-86, early models

The Triang-Hornby version of the class 81 came out in 1966, R.753. This model is hard to find, costing £100+ for one in good condition. The class 81 also appeared in a train pack, R.644. The train pack was released in 1969. The first model had two pantographs as had the Dublo version.

The R.644 train pack.

E3001 was the prototype electric loco delivered in 1959.

The Class 81 in the 1968 Hornby catalogue.

The Hornby 1968 catalogue

The Hornby Class 81-86, Later models.

In 1981 Hornby produced a new model with a Ringfield motor. Firstly, R360 number 86210 “Phoenix” was issued. Subsequently, a plethora of models followed. These featured many liveries. Named locomotives also proliferated.

Modern releases of the class 86

More recent models include versions by Heljan. Bachmann also produce a class 85 in BR Blue. At the time of writing (April 2021) Heljan has just released a new class 86 model in 00. This is in the early BR Blue livery, pre and post TOPS.

The Tri-ang class 3 standard tank locomotive, R59

British Rail standard classes

After WW II British Railways had inherited a multitude of different locomotive types. Therefore, in 1951, an attempt was made to Create a range of Standard steam locomotives that could run anywhere on the network. However by 1955 it had been decided that steam would be phased out resulting in a short life of between seven and seventeen years for most of the standards.

The prototype.

The standard class 3, 2-6-2 design was built at the ex GWR works in Swindon. Consequently, Forty-seven were built between 1952 and 1955. The designer was Robert Riddles. It was a hybrid design using LMS and GWR parts. Additionally, there was a 2-6-0 tender version of the class 3.

The model.

The Tri-ang class 3 standard tank locomotive first appeared in 1956. The livery was BR black with the early crest. The wheels were solid, however, it had brass buffers and safety valves. The body molding was quite crude with “soft” detail. Compared to the real thing the pony truck wheels are under scale.

Consequently, By 1961 it had gained see through wheels and a green lined livery. The model continued in various guises until 1972. The featured image is the original 1960 version with sold wheels, compare it to the image below. Finally, it is common to have decal damage as that is where the model is usually held when lifting.

Five versions of the Tri-ang 2 – 6 – 2 were produced between 1956 and 1972. The later model has nickel tyres but maintained the same running number. The 1960 green version with solid wheels was only produced in that year. However, the 1972 version is the least common variant.

The 1961 see through wheels version

The centre wheels had no flange and the motor used a brass gear. Both pony trucks pivot at the ends unlike modern designs. Finally, the one I have is a sweet runner, even after 60 years! Will the current crop of models still be running in 2081?

Scan from British Model Trains 3rd edition.

Film and media

Film of the standard class 3 is fairly rare as none were preserved. However, the standard class 3’s used the boiler from GWR Prairie tanks and they look very similar. The differences being a smaller tank and no Walschaerts valve gear.

Atlas Dinky Toys, Modern reproductions-Are They Any Good?

Atlas Dinky Toys Modern reproductions.

Atlas editions recently made a series of replica Dinky Toys. They ranged from the early sports cars, from 1934 onwards until the 1970’s. French Dinky was also represented with the Peugeot 204 and others. Atlas ceased trading in 2017 but there are still a lot of these models about, are they any good? As the replicas are no longer made, they will probably become collectors items in their own right.

Typical original condition for this model (1948-50)

The Atlas Editions Ford Camionnette De Depannage – Red (25R)

The original Dinky model came out in 1948, it was available in red, green or gray. The Replica comes in a reproduction box that is a fairly accurate copy of the original.

This crane was intended for the French market although it was available in the UK. As with most pre-late 50’s vehicles no windows were fitted. The overall shape of the replica is accurate as is the crane arm. The red colour is shiny and looks correct. Tyres are the correct size and colour. Overall this is agood model and can be had for less than £20.

The forward control lorry was used for many models here are some prices realised from Vectis auctions

The Atlas Dinky Toys Modern reproduction, 1960 Guy Van, Heinz.

An original Heinz van from 1960

The colour match on the replica is excellent and the wheels are the correct type. The original sells for £100 upwards.

The rear doors open as on the original. This is a heavy and attractive model.

Finally lets take a look at the Atlas Editions Dinky town road signs. These are based on one of the early sets from the 1930’s. Dinky models were initially designed to go with Hornby’s 0 gauge model railways.

The replicas come in a yellow box with french text. They are made out of cast metal and are well painted. The original sets are worth over £90 in good condition.

Atlas Dinky Toys Modern reproductions are good models and should be bought now while prices are low.

Read my price guide to Dinky Tankers.