Is There A Link?

The model railway world was surprised to hear the news that Simon Kohler was “retiring” from Hornby, a departure that happened at the end of May. He shot to fame with a wider audience as a star of two TV series entitled “Hornby A Model World” broadcast on the “Yesterday” Channel.

Then we heard that Simon was re-activating his consultancy business, offering his skills to any who may wish to pay; skills in product development and marketing which he had developed at Hornby. He had fallen out with Hornby (or they with him) in the past and began developing his own business unil he was welcomed back to a restructured Hornby.

But there’s a possible clue. In the interview he suggested that his “retirement” was “something of a surprise”.
Recently some corporate news has broken concerning the state of Hornby’s finances.

Hmmm? “Hit the buffers” is an emotive journalistic term; but here is the accompanying article.

Worryingly, high unsold stocks was one of the factors in the original Hornby (Meccano Ltd of Binns Road Liverpool) collapse.

There has been speculation for some time that the company’s expensive development of the TT120 system …

… was “courageous” and maybe a step too far. Also surprising, to those in the trade, is the decision to sell the TT120 range only direct – on-line – and not use retailers. Most would think that customers would want to see the product before they buy, specially if it is something very new.

There hayd also been the launch of new electronic control technology – also expensive to design and commission.

To add to the confusion and detract from sales, this product changed its name soon after introduction, Or so fbb thinks.

Hornby is well short of going bust this time, but the corporate mind always looks for a fall guy; and a resignations, dismissal or retirement of a key player is often used as a technique to quieten shareholder concerns.
One to watch – with some anxiety.
Too Courageous Again?

No sooner had fbb put finger to keyboard, than Sheffield correspondent Roy sent fbb a timetable change for Hulleys Breezer. Instead of offering a round trip every hour, the frequency is now every 90 minutes.

Apparently the original timing was too tight.

Doubtless in response to Stagecoach’s Peak Sightseer, Hulleys now run the open top bus from and to Chesterfield.

Also in a swipe against Stagecoach’s subsidised but expensive offering, Hulleys stress that the £2 maximum fare and OAP passes ARE available on the Breezer … 

… neither is available on the Stagecoach tour.

Great Value £2 Trips From Hulleys.
There wan’t time to provide a full description of two Hulleys routes with excellent scenery. There are two versions of the 257, once service 44 (later 244) fom Sheffield to Bakewell via Bamford.
Both versions leave Sheffield via the A57 and run as far as Ladybower Reservoir (map below, centre left).

Instead of crossing the Ashopton Viaduct …

… the 257 turns left for Bamford …
… and then due south to Bakewell.

A good £2 worth with excellent scenery, but only a single decker.

That version of the 257 runs Mondays to Saturdays every hour, a frequency unheard of in Sheffield Transport or PTE days!

The above is a Monday to Saturday extract and there are variations for Monday to Friday plus some school day bits to contend with.

But on Sundays the Snake Pass is back.
Readers will doubtless remember Hulleys innovative X57 between Sheffield and Manchester via The Snake, The route was ultimately a failure despite the company’s determination and resolve.
But on Sundays the 257 (same route number – very confusing) serves the Derwent Dams …

… crosses he stonkingly gorgeous Snake Pass just like the failed X57 …

… to Glossop. It then turns left for Hayfield, a route never before served by a bus from Sheffield …

… before finding its way via Sparrowpit and Winnats Pass (seen previously c/o Stagecoach) …

… and terminating at Castleton.

Excellent value for £2 and, dare fbb say it, far better value that Stagecoach or Hulleys open toppers.
The Sunday 257 runs every TWO hours and there are route 272 buses back from Castleton to Sheffield, also a jolly good ride. That’s £4 for the round trip.
Super and even duper!
Treetise On Bodging Trees

fbb’s cheap Chinese trees were a very un-tree-like almost dayglo green. So fbb painted them green! He surmised that diluted mid green poster paint, darkened with a touch of blue, would counteract the yellow tones of the originals.

And, by some bodging miracle, it did the job, just right. 

At the back of the layout was a line or trees that had lost their “foliage” in the outdoor weather, They were made like bottle cleaners …
… with twisted wire and bristles for branches. The Chinese replacements, however, were based on a plastic “armature” …

… and they received the same successful green-blue repaint treatment.

Also successfully. But the aged modeller did not have quite enough large Chinese trees to fill the gap. Would it be possible to make something of the needle-less pine trees that were due for the bin?

Hmmm. Take a good sausage of PVA (No More Nails) …

… and mix it with the blue green diluted paint.

Then splodge the paint glue goo all over the bare “branches”

Then generously sprinkle thereupon some “meadow grass” scatter stuff and …

… a respectable tree appears.

Maybe the good old modelling skills of Bill Bodge and Fred Fudge have a role to play even now. 
A broad view of the results overall is encouraging …

… with loads more fiddly bits to do.

But to see it all looking reasonable is a real “treet”. From a distance, new repainted trees and old trees with new foliage merge quite nicely – especially if you don’t look too closely.

Tomorrow we go to London.
 Next Superloop blog : Tuesday 27th June 
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