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Worcester North signal boxes

Worcester North has four mainline signal boxes:

Worcester North (MR)

Worcester North Jct (MR)

Bilford (WR)

Blackpole (WR)

Here’s how I am creating those four ‘boxes from off-the-peg kits. Each ‘box will only be finished to the extent it will be seen – what I mean is that 3 of the ‘boxes are viewed from the front and one from the back; respectively the backs or the front will not be finished or painted or finished as they won’t be seen.  Also as the layout is set in the summer (1959?) many will feature open doors or windows

Worcester North Jct (LM) is 2 Dapol (ex-Airfix) C006 Midland ‘box kits also grafted together with Ratio Midland windows to be installed (available separately).  To create a six-window ‘box like this, you will need 4x kits due to the roof dimensions and the need to cut the roof to fit (you could make a whole new roof using Slater’s materials but the kits are cheap…).  This box has had its external walkway narrowed and will have Ratio double stanchions installed to make up a handrail.  Here’s the ‘box as a basic structure with roof loosely placed on top.

Bilford (WR) will be 2 Hornby R421 Great Western signal box kits grafted together.  Although obsolete, the kit (made for Hornby by Pola or Kibri I believe) is readily available and with little effort should make up into a lovely example of a fully timber GW signal box.  Because the kit has very few separate parts, this signal box would be the most challenging if you wanted to model open windows or doors, but not impossible.  Here’s all of the parts you’ll need from two kits…

This image shows the two roof sections grafted together, jointed and overlapped for strength (plasticard strips (off-cuts) do the trick)

This image shows the plasticard box structure creating the brick plinth underneath the Ratio structure – pure scratch-building here, no clever tricks or skills

Here’s what it looks like underneath with stiffeners to strengthen the basic structure.

And here are the four roof sections roughly cut (next job is to cut them more accurately to create a single roof as per the first signal box)…

Here are all of the components that will need cutting carefully to length (x marks the spot).

And here are the back (top) and front (bottom) panels of the signal box overlaid – the centre (3rd) panel on each will be removed with the two ends butt-jointed to form a 4-panel length signal box.

Kicking-off with Worcester North (LM), this signalbox is made from two Ratio 536 Midland signal box kits grafted together on top of a brick plinth scratchbuilt from Slater’s Plasticard cladding a Plasticard box structure as per the pic on the left… (plus both kits’ staircases to create a double length staircase!).

Here’s Worcester North box posed on the railway itself in early October 2014 – not in the right location, but for photographic purposes – the height of this box is appreciable

And here’s Worcester North Junction ‘box also posed on the layout in early October 2014.  The roof has been assembled, but the window bays and upper structure still need filing to fit – the ‘box is in grey primer (Halford’s car paint) – and obviously I have only loosely fitted 50% of the front windows; what this shows is how you can easily upgrade the Dapol/Airfix kit. As per Bilford below, Worcester North Junction will be raised to track level to enable rodding to be installed as well as giving the signalman a better view of his patch…

And here are the back (top) and front (bottom) panels of the signal box overlaid – the centre (3rd) panel on each will be removed with the two ends butt-jointed to form a 4-panel length signal box

Here’s a very rough ‘n’ ready Bilford posed on Worcester North (the railway) in its correct location in early October 2014 – the simple structure is complete as is the roof; priming of the windows is complete and painting of the outside of the ‘box is underway

This ‘box is going to be mounted on a hillock as a natural raised part of the ground in this area.  This is to bring it up to a more natural height and to allow for point rodding and the Signalman’s visibility

Lastly, Blackpole (WR) is a Ratio 552 standard GW ‘box kit.  This is a relatively new kit and like most Ratio products is superb in all respects.  Once tidied-up (as with any kit made of any medium), the parts all fit simply and neatly together

Both these photos show Blackpole ‘box posed on the layout in early October 2014 – it will actually be in place almost opposite this location and with its back to the viewer meaning these windows and the interior will be nigh-on invisible

Each signal box will have its own lamp hut – these ubiquitous but important outhouses are Wills products – some have had the door cut to represent an open door – and are a must to accompany any signal box.  Just as important will be the smaller outhouse that accompanies each ‘box; more details to follow

I am waiting for PECO to release their fairly recently (Spring 2014) announced plastic signal box interior kits in order to finish these kits; the larger boxes will be 48-lever (or more) and Blackpole (WR) will be 24-lever.  As of September 2014, PECO confirmed that their new kit is progressing but it’s going to be a Ratio product: they don’t use CAD to develop products and instead use old fashioned mock-up product approval which is understandably slower than a computer-based approach.  Watch this space…

The technical stuff of modelling open doors & windows, cutting and grafting sides and roofs together would take too long to explain here.  If you want to know more or have a query, please do contact us using the details from the home page  

The really satisfying thing here is that each ‘box has in its origins an easily available and constructed kit and each has been suitably altered to make it feel unique or scratchbuilt

Materials Used:

Airfix/Dapol C006 Midland signal box kit

Hornby R421 GW signal box kit (obsolete – available at shows/internet)

Ratio 552 GW signal box kit

Ratio 536 Midland signal box kit

Wills lamp hut kits

TBA outhouse kits (to follow)

Ratio signal box interior kit (replaces Springside whitemetal interior kit) not yet available

Wills plasticard (and other plastic extrusion manufacturers)

Halford’s car primer (white, grey and red oxide)

Humbrol & Precision Phoenix paints (numbers to follow)