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IC-class-86sWith 3 more class 86’s working their way along my workbench some thoughts on variety might be worth sharing.  Eagle eyed folk will spot that the one on the right is a class 86/1 while the others are class 86/2 but I have omitted the chassis for this exercise as that’s the big difference between the sub classes.  It’s not even about the detail differences (TMD cables, headlights, extra door handles) but what I want to focus on this time is the livery.  All three are, of course, Intercity livery and yet all three are different.  The obvious difference is the amount of yellow on the fronts but the more subtle difference concerns 86260 and 86242.  Aside from the front 86260 is actually the same as 86102 with the numbers the same size, data panels and nameplates in the same place and the double arrows on the bodyside.  86242 however had slightly smaller numbers, data panels behind the cabs, nameplates mounted centrally on the body, over the white stripe, and no double arrows.

Things get even more tricky if you consider that a year or two before the period my layout is set 86242 had the same livery treatment to the front as displayed by 86102.  All this goes to show that you should really work from a photograph of the loco you are modelling taken at the time you are modelling.  As I have said before, model what you actually see, not what you think you know.

Sticking with variations on a theme some thoughts on couplings.

The good old Kaydee, reliable easy to use and most importantly faff free in use.  I use them between coaches and multiple units.  Problems to my mind are as follows

  • If you want them to work as intended (with magnets under the track) then you need to mount them too low for 4mm scale – this looks awful and to be honest from a visual point of view not much better than the current crop of smaller tension locks.  By that I mean it jarrs to me that the coupling is kind of floating in mid air and not really attached to the vehicle in a way that makes any sense.
  • Not a lot of UK stock uses buckeye couplings for coupling locos to trains, or should I say not a lot of uk stock used to use them. In my era it was pretty much EMUs and class 33/1’s and 73’s (the latter not completely unheard of at New Street but very unusual.
  • Now this last one is the one that modellers have been ignoring for years – they don’t actually look much like a real buckeye coupling.

The first one is easy – dispense with the hands free and mount them through the bufferbeam where they should be.  Mid rakes it not a problem to use Kaydee as, like i said at the start they are reliable and faff free but on the front of an EMU there has to be something better.  There is and its called the Sergent coupling.


I have been aware of these for a few years now but only just got round to getting hold of some.  The difference is, to me at least, like chalk and cheese with the Sergent coupling looking like a copy of the real thing.  The Kadee looks almost toy-like by comparison.  For those wondering they are not compatible and the way they work is different – the Sergent has a tiny ball bearing inside which holds the knuckle shut.  This is released by using a magnet on a wand (from above) but in reality as I am not planning to do a lot of shunting with EMU’s I am using them purely for their cosmetic benefits.


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Dave long
Dave long
7 years ago

I use these on my US stuff and they make a very noticeable difference on them where kadee/copies are the standard.
I’d planned on using the economy sergents when I finally got round to my British stuff again for fixed rakes. But they appear out of stock at the moment.


Chad Bevan
Chad Bevan
7 years ago

Hi Jim,

Just straying off topic for a second, but when will we see some more building construction? It’s been quite a while, and I love seeing your recreation of 1980’s BNS!



Chad Bevan
Chad Bevan
7 years ago

Not so much buildings like the signal box (or dare I say the Rotunda!) but yeah, the platform modules, weathering of the ground structures as well as your interpretation of rain effects and puddles fascinated and inspired my modelling. This isn’t a niggle, just curiosity!

Ian Smith
Ian Smith
7 years ago


Very interesting on the Sergent Eng couplings. Are there any modifications (apart from setting height) required for 4mm stock? I have long been after something better than Kadee (I always thought them a bit over scale). Looking on the SE website there is, really, just the one type so easy to get the right style. Also, did you get yours ready made up or did you have a go at the kit version? Certainly I will looking to use between all my coaches rather than just the visiable ends.

Ian S