Wednesday 1 November 2023

Is It A Bus : Is Ir A Car? Is It A Train (3)

In Case You Haven't Heard

Both the withdrawal of the one-day travelcard-plus-rail ...
... and total ticket office closures ...
... have been rescinded.

Sense at last!

If You Want Rail Buses Or Railcars ...

... then the County Donegal Railway Joint Committee system would have been the place for you.

It's the bit of the island of Ireland, top left in the north, that isn't part  Northern Ireland.

The County Donegal Railways Joint Committee operated an extensive 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge railway system serving County Donegal, Ireland, from 1906 until 1960. The committee was incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1906, which authorised the joint purchase of the then Donegal Railway Company by the Great Northern Railway of Ireland and the Midland Railway Northern Counties Committee.

On 1 May 1906, the Joint Committee was set up. The lines inherited by the Joint Committee totalled 106 miles and were:

Finn Valley Railway (FVR) from Strabane to Stranorlar

West Donegal Railway line from Stranorlar to Donegal

The Donegal Railway Company lines between Stranorlar and Glenties, Donegal Town to Killybegs, Strabane to Derry, and Donegal Town to Ballyshannon

The Joint Committee opened the Strabane and Letterkenny Railway on 1 January 1909, bringing the total mileage to 121 miles (195 km). By 1912 the company owned the following assets:

Locomotives and rolling stock: 21 locomotives; 56 passenger vehicles; 304 goods vehicles

Head offices and locomotive works at Stranorlar

The Strabane to Derry line was completely owned by the Midland Railway Northern Counties Committee, although it was operated by the CDRJC.

It was the conversion from steam ...

... to diesel that brought the main era of rail buses and/or railcars to the characterful narrow gauge line. Sadly this quaint system closed in 1960 well before fbb was alert enough to even know of irs existence!
But if you want rail buses, small (above) a bit less small (below) ...
... and large (enough) ...
... you would have found them there.

Fortunately, a small stretch of the line has now reopened as a heritage railway where you can still experience something of the delights of this much loved railway.
There are several videos on YouTube of which one is available below. As a bit of a challenge to our  readers (and a BIG challenge to fbb!!) the commentary is, quite rightly, in Irish Gaelic.
Never mind, we can enjoy the views.

You might even he able to find Fintown on the map of the railway.
There it is, upper centre, on a stretch of line marked "closed". Its passenger service expired in 1946.
Surely it would be a joyous experience if you could visit!

Park Royal Rail Bus Part 2
If fbb really coveted a model of this beautiful BR vehicle, he could buy one manufactured by Danish company, Heljan.
On-line prices seem to run from about £90 (used) up to £200 (brand new OUCH). The model is long out of production hence "rarity" prices.

Such an outlay would not sit well with the Domestic Authorities, especially as we are entering the high winter fuel price season!

The second-hand ex Airfix kit model offered by Hattons had been cleverly motorised by plonking the body on a Hornby Pacer chassis - not actually correct but passable to the average viewer.

What attracted fbb was the price. ONY nine quid! Frankly, by today's horrendous price standards, even on second hand stuff, this was farcically cheap

You can find tank engines with missing funnels, missing couplings and erratic running for over £40! Indeed Hattons were offering a similar motorised rail bus for £44, but it looked like it retained the correct chassis.

So fbb sent off his £9 plus £4 postage and awaited arrival.

If it was that awful, fbb could throw it in the bin without crying for too long.

Upon unpacking, it looked a bit tatty; some of the windows were stained by glue ...
... mirroring a modelling ability well represented in fbb's skill set. Three of the four "nominal" buffers were missing ...
... and the roof was dark green - it should be dark grey.

So fbb put it on the track and, boy, it was erratic. The Hornby Pacer chassis is renowned for poor running as it only has electrical pick-ups on one of the two axles - not good enough. This one needed "the hand of god" to get it going as it repeatedly gave up the ghost for no obvious reason.

fbb's repair tools are (a) hammer and (b) WD40. A liberal squirt of the latter, then back on the track where it now ran as sweetly as any of fbb's stock. It did sound like an electric motor fixed to an empty plastic box, largely because it IS an electric motor fixed to an empty plastic box.

But what a beauty - a tatty beauty - but a beauty none the less. And for nine quid.

fbb fitted a rough copy of the buffers ...
... and painted them black so you wouldn't know they were wrong. You probably wouldn't know they were there!
And the roof is now dark grey (yes, it should be matt and not shiny) ...
... and there is now a hint of the yellow roller bearing axle boxes as fitted to the real thing, but not to the Pacer.

Now, will the body come off so fbb can fit lighting and extra plastic people? It may be possible to muffle the "hollow plastic box" sound.

For the time being fbb will leave well alone and rejoice in his really cheap acquisition.

It has only taken 50 years since he first bought his long-lost and never-built Airfix kit!

Donegal - A P.S
Here is a video (4 min) of a model recreation of Donegal station. And it all works perfectly - an experience unlikely at Peterville Quarry Railway c/o 2nd floor, fbb mansions..
But the chubby one can dream!

 Daventry P.S. blog : Thursday 2nd November 

1 comment:

  1. Andrew Kleissner1 November 2023 at 06:47

    Nice to see the County Donegal (before my time, too!) - but I think "Phoenix" is simply a shunter rather than a mini-railbus. I think it was based at Strabane.