Friday morning Pacers with coffee

While hardly new the class 14x “Pacers” are, to me, something I’d consider to be vehicles (rolling stock) of a modern British railway scene and of the modern stock they’re something I’ll wish I’d seen before they were all retired from regular service. I remember reading about their introduction in a magazine and how appealing their design sounded.

For the model railroader, reality is an endless buffet line and we freely sample only the plates that suit our selfish interests. We owe nothing to the truth or have any journalistic responsibilities. I’ll argue that evidence-based modelling only slows us down and undermines our integrity as artists working in this creative, personal, pursuit. That, however, is a rant for another round and I should probably get back to my Pacer nostaligia. Pacers make me think about my opinion of our model railroader privilege since I continue to maintain my fondness for them. I like the way they look, the way they sound, even their compromise design – a brilliant testimony to austere design and perhaps the most literal interpretation of “railbus” this generation could have. The sound of those diesel engines must have been dreadful in that uninsulated Leyland bus shell and I’ve read so many accounts of their hard ride, when they were still on the rails(!), they must have been miserable in real life but I don’t care since I only need to be amused by them. I don’t drive one so I don’t need to them to be reliable tools of work and I don’t ride in them (haven’t ever and certainly not regularly) so I get to romanticize away all of that hard, cold, loud ride.

Hornby listed a model in OO scale shortly after the 142’s originally entered service and I’d like one someday. Every time I see a reference to the real one or models of them I think I should indulge in more research and I wander over to eBay to see about buying a model. If I remember correctly someone’s even making one in N and that would really suit rather nicely if I can negotiate another model into my collection (i.e. “What don’t I need to make room for the latest thing I want?” These are my rules: two out for every new in.)

An article in Rail Magazine inspired these thoughts, this morning over coffee, with the announcement of Nothern’s updated plans to begin withdrawal and scrapping of their fleet:

Categories: How I think

7 replies

  1. Loved this line, Chris: “For the model railroader, reality is an endless buffet line and we freely sample only the plates that suit our selfish interests.”

    I always start each clean slate with a clean plate when I go back to the buffet. I like the fried stuff that’s really bad for me. Same in my model railroading!

    Great to have Prince Street a-bloggin’ again.

    • I always start each trip on a buffet line as if I still need to obey tradition and get about half way through when I realise I could’ve really just had what I enjoy. Plus, where else do we get to experiment with food combinations like gravy on sausages?

      It’s nice to write a proper post. The Facebook side of this blog is a fun sketchpad but it’s a lousy tool when I feel like writing. This post started on Facebook but I stopped and moved it here and enjoyed writing what became, or at least feels like, a more fully-formed piece.



  2. I lived in Devon when the “Skippers” (aka Pacers on Western Region in Chocolate/Cream) arrived and on the whole they weren’t all that bad.

    Part of the problem is that they quickly became homeless – the 4 wheel frames struggled badly on sharp curves, a real problem in Cornwall, so they were quickly sent elsewhere. But of course the elsewhere really weren’t suitable for them.

    As for models, Dapol have (finally) released them in N about 10 months or so ago now. In OO there is the old Hornby model, or if you can wait (and the budget allows) Realtrack (in partnership with Rapido) are making a new high end model. Maybe arriving in 2020, maybe 2021 depending on how things end up.

    • Thanks for the comment. That Rail article inspired more enjoyable internet browsing. I’m amazed at how many different paint schemes they’ve worn, including the chocolate and cream you mentioned.

      Thanks for the reminder of the Dapol model and its release.


  3. As you say, Chris. You haven’t travelled in one…

    They were pretty bad when new, so I hate to think what they are like now.

    • And, as I say, that’s the real privilege our hobby affords us: editing reality to return only the parts that favour our view. American modellers do this a lot with Alco or MLW diesels. We love the loud noise and all that oily exhaust and get to edit out how miserable that would’ve been for the crew working in a cab so uncomfortably loud you can’t think, everything is so damn dirty, and the air isn’t healthy to breathe.

      It’s wonderful to have this place of pretend where we can chose the way we know something and while aware of the reality, can proceed without penalty.


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