IT’S FARRON AWAY THE MOST LIBERAL OF ROAD TRANSPORT DIORAMAS!
Although 2016 was a quiet year for Ming Ing – my 4mm scale road transport haven whose back story is told on other pages on this website – 2017 will see it appear first at the Model Steam Road Vehicle Society Rally in Tewkesbury on 25 and 26 June and again at the Cheltenham GWR Modellers Group Exhibition on 28 and 29 October. As such May 2017 is a good time to look ahead to new exhibition features on this haven for buses, cars and lorries as well as catching up with developments not already photographed and described.
First of all, thanks is long overdue to my good friend and fellow exhibition modeller Nicholas Wheatley who in the summer of 2015 very kindly supplied me with some 4mm scale mourners and funeral directors to go with my existing Oxford diecast Daimler DS420 hearse. The mourners were from the Preiser 1/87 scale set 10521 while the undertakers were cast in white metal by Gem Models of Bedford, their catalogue 4536.
Most of the new features however have involved vehicles, most spectacularly the range of Scania Irizar PB three axled coaches again produced by Oxford Diecast. While Scania has been well known for its bus and truck manufacturing for many years, the Irizar Group is a builder of luxury coach vehicle bodies based in Spain’e Basque country but with subsidiaries all over the World. The PB version is a coach body that can be built on a wide range of chassis and is designed by UK company Arup Design Research, who excelled with its revolutionary styling and features. The PB body is available in 13 combinations, each suited to a particular chassis, as well as coming in different lengths and heights.
Oxford Diecast launched their new Scania Irizar PB tooling in Eireann/Eurolines colours although in the context of Ming Ing and its holiday coach servicing and repair depot the second release in its eye-catching metallic blue body with intricate silver decoration was much more interesting. Wilfreda Beehive, founded in 1949, are bus, coach and tour operators based at Adwick-le-Street, Doncaster. As one of the regions largest bus and coach tour operators, Wilfreda Beehive offer a range of services aimed at holiday makers, local businesses, schools and private hire. Having made major investments in its coach fleet, the South Yorkshire firm are proud to be able to offer exceptionally high levels in both luxury and on board facilities. Registered YT60 YYK, the detailing on their Scania Irizar PB includes tinted side and rear windows and silvered roof hatch windows. The interior is described as Mouse Grey with graphite grey seating. My version of YT60 YYK is seen leaving City Coaches’ yard behind the Thorneycroft Amazon mounted Coles Mark 7 crane and Queen Mary trailer kindly loaned by my good friend Ryan Wheatstone. Powered by the Amazon’s six cylinder 100 bhp engine, the crane could lift five tons at a maximum radius of 7’6″ and served with the British Army as well as the RAF.
The three ton Queen Mary trailer was designed by Taskers to a 1938 Air Ministry specification for a low loading vehicle for transporting fighter aircraft and a total of 1 859 examples were built. Standard equipment at Maintenance Units and on wartime airfields, the Queen Mary was 40′ long and could also carry components of larger twin engined aircraft. An improved five ton trailer was introduced to RAF service in 1943 with over 1 950 being eventually produced. The Bedford OX tractor had a six cylinder 72 bhp engine but was often substituted by a Commer Q2 towing vehicle. Both classic vehicles were built from the Airfix RAF Recovery Set which also features two RAF motorcycle outriders.
Even more likely to turn up in Ming Ing after its long road and ferry journey was the Ulsterbus model in Belfast based firm’s gloriously bright colour scheme of white with green and two-tone blue abstract riband effect running along the sides. The company logo features in blue on both sides and their website address is printed on the roofline above the side windows. The coloured bands also feature below the radiator grille across the front of the coach. The vehicle is registered BXI 337 and also comes with tinted side and rear windows and tinted roof hatch windows. The spoiler and bumpers are white, echoing the main body colour while the interior is Mouse Grey with mid blue seating. I had considered that two Scania Irizar PB coaches would be enough for Ming Ing but I was seduced by yet another stylish and trendy livery – Bullocks from Cheadle near Manchester. Registered with personalized number plate PB11 BUL, the white bodywork features a fantastic rainbow of colour in light and dark red and gold, The Bullocks company name and ‘Comfort as standard’ logo are both printed along the sides under the tinted windows and their contact details feature on the rear of the coach, also in red. The interior floor and dashboard are grey with contrasting bright blue seating.
As can be seen from the picture on the left, Bullock’s Scania Irizar PB is entering a City Coaches’s yard already partly occupied by a Neoplan Cityliner in the markings of Harry Shaw Travel of Binley near Coventry. Harry Shaw actually started the business in 1951 with a milk float and two milk churns! Milk was not delivered in bottles then – Harry rather delivered it by the jug direct to people’s houses. Things progressed quickly and Harry imported some of the first milk vending machines direct from Chicago, USA, to put into Coventry’s booming car factories. Soon Harry was selling more milk than anybody else via vending machines in the Midlands. From here he rapidly moved into road haulage and sent some of the first lorries from the UK direct to Milan in Italy. Coaches were next – Harry bought his first coach in 1964 and soon established a name for top quality vehicles. In the ‘60’s and ‘70’s the business was unique as he renewed his vehicles every 12 months.
The coaches were painted sky blue – and again this was unheard of at the time as every other coach was painted green or red! Harry, however, wanted the vehicles to be in the same colour as his milk lorries. It is surprising when you look around now just how many coaches have blue on them! Travel Agencies were next. Sons Robert and John joined the business in 1981 and the 1980’s saw Harry Shaw grow rapidly in the travel business. Coach tour operations were started to Mediterranean resorts and a whole host of UK and European tours entered the programme. In the mid 1980’s Harry Shaw became famous nation-wide for actually paying people to take a holiday! The Company paid each client £5 to go away as a promotional offer. At the time it was estimated this generated over £2 million worth of publicity. Throughout the years the coach fleet was constantly being up-dated and the, by now, orange vehicles were a familiar sight throughout the UK and Europe. In the early 1990’s the Company were amongst the first to see the opportunities made available by the opening of the Disneyland® Paris. A programme of trips was developed staying in both ‘on site’ and ‘off site’ hotels. These trips are still popular today and Harry Shaw takes clients to the resort throughout the year. As such Harry Shaw joins playwright George Bernard Shaw and actors Martin and Suzanne Shaw in richly deserving the adjective “Shavian” – making City Coaches yard a Shavian haven by the presence of one of his coaches.
Still in the yard are a pair of B-T Models forklift trucks and a number of Gilbow pallets, ready to move heavy objects such as the diesel engines used to power coaches. In my working life, involving large quantities of tourism brochures and sacks of ballast, I have often had reason to lie on top of pallets. Unfortunately none of these have been Roxanne Pallet! Talking of human resources though, the queue seen above next to the Ulsterbus Scania Irizar PB was formed from the venerable Airfix Civilians set – apart from the two Preiser hikers pointing towards the city walls of York. The luggage was by Peco.
To offer more room in the coach yard, the Volvo digger was moved to become a flatbed lorry load with Monty’s A3M3 Grant tank – previously on its way to Eden Camp – now being held in reserve for a possible future World War II diorama. However, another tracked vehicle has arrived – a John Deere 650H bulldozer, helping the workmen complete a small road repair near the level crossing. At 1:87 (HO) scale this classic piece of American construction plant is slightly under scale for its British environment but neatly fits into the corner of Ming Ing module 2. The model is an Athearn diecast (ATH77088) imported by Noch GmbH of Germany and its fine detail reflects the ethos of the Moline, Illinois based firm – founded by blacksmith John Deere in 1837 – that “Nothing runs like a Deere”. One of the world’s most recognized corporate logos, the leaping deer trademark – rendered in black on yellow for construction vehicles as opposed to yellow on green for farm tractors – has been a symbol of quality John Deere products for more than 135 years.
Running on the road repaired by the John Deere 650H bulldozer however are some new and interesting cars. Potentially supporting any one of these is Oxford Diecast’s 76FTB003, The third model in this series could have belonged to any roadside breakdown specialist in 1972 and in the absence of a breakdown vehicle of more modern design still makes a useful contribution to the scene. Painted bright red, the model has a silver platform, black interior detail and also features a roof beacon above the cab. The white radiator has black ventilation grilles and the registration plate UEV 320L is silver out of black. The Ford name is masked in silver across the bonnet and the vehicle still gets me humming the tune to Pop Will Eat Itself’s 1987 single “Beaver Patrol”. The Jaguar E-Type Series 1 (76ETYP002) seen on the back of the Ford Transit Beavertail was introduced in March 1961, using the triple SU carburetted 3.8 litre 6-cylinder Jaguar XK6 engine from the XK150S. The first 500 cars built had flat floors and external bonnet latches. These cars are rare and more valuable. After that, the floors were dished to provide more leg room and the twin hood latches moved to inside the car. The 3.8 litre engine was increased to 4.2 litres in late 1964. All E-Types featured independent coil spring rear suspension with torsion bar front ends, and four wheel disc brakes, in-board at the rear, power-assisted from 1964. Jaguar was one of the first auto manufacturer to equip cars with disc brakes as standard.
Also visible on Ming Ing from time to time will be Oxford Diecast’s 76FT003, a Ford Transit in the bright modern image of the RAC, as registered in 2008. The simple bodywork colour scheme of orange and white is covered with extensive artwork from the 0800 telephone number to the website address, all white out of orange. The red and white chevroned back carries the blue Ford badge, as does the black radiator grille. Moving from recovery services to the armed services however is yet another ODC product – 76DEF013 – is a long wheelbase Land Rover Defender in a blue RAF scheme with white roof, as used by 10 Signals Unit according to the white lettering on the sides below the rear windows. Registered OU 02 AEP, the Defender – descended from Maurice Wilk’s original 88 inch wheelbase Land Rover of 1947 – also carries the RAF roundel on the back, the bonnet and the side doors. Each of the four black wheel arches also feature a white square printed in the centre above the wheels. In this case the Defender has been commandeered by two Royal Air Force policemen who have heard reports of pilots flying too low over the outskirts of York.
The 356 was created by Ferdinand “Ferry” Porsche (son of Ferdinand Porsche, founder of the German company), who founded the Austrian company with his sister, Louise. Like its cousin, the Volkswagen Beetle (which Ferdinand Porsche Sr. had designed), the 356 is a four-cylinder, air-cooled, rear-engine, rear-wheel drive car with unitized pan and body construction. The chassis was a completely new design as was the 356’s body which was designed by Porsche employee Erwin Komenda, while certain mechanical components including the engine case and some suspension components were based on and initially sourced from Volkswagen. The first 356 was road certified in Austria on 8 June 1948. In late 1959 significant styling and technical refinements gave rise to the 356 B (a T5 body type). The mid-1962 356 B model was changed to the T6 body type with twin engine lid grilles, an external fuel filler in the right front wing/fender and a larger rear window in the coupé – as modelled here by Cararama. The Porsche factory did not call attention to these quite visible changes with a different model designation. However, when the T6 got disc brakes, with no other visible alterations, they called it the model C, or the SC when it had the optional extra powerful engine.
While iterations of the Porsche 356 included Ultravox singer Midge Ure among its famous fans, the Volkswagen Golf followed the air-cooled Beetle as both a German icon and a car of the people. The name Golf comes from the German word for Gulf Stream – Golf Storm, an oceanic air current. They were fond of calling their VW models after famous winds at one time, including the VW Scirocco, Bora, Jetta and Passat, as well as the Golf. Designed by an Italian automobile designer – Giorgetto Giugiaro, the Golf featured a water-cooled engine, front wheel drive and a hatchback shape. Its mechanical attributes ensured crisp handling and good road holding, ideal for the ‘hot hatch’ youth of the day – and it was comfortable into the bargain. Launched in 1974 production of the first Golf ran until 1983. The Golf seen here on Ming Ing is a GTI model in Alpine White with the registration registration TUY 493Y. The Golf Mk1 was sold as the Volkswagen Rabbit in the United States and Canada and as the Volkswagen Caribe in Mexico.
The Classic Mini – designed by Sir Alec Issigonis – was introduced in 1959 and subsequent refinements resulted in ‘souped up’ variations including the 1275 GT, which appealed particularly to the young sporty drivers. The second release by Oxford Diecast (their catalogue 76 MINGT002 – lucky the British Motor Corporation never released a GE version) is registered JUJ 939W, painted jet black with a beige interior. Lots of chrome work adds to the racy image, enhanced even further by the gold stripes running the length of the lower body indicating its 1275 GT status. The 1275 GT is often incorrectly described as the “Mini Clubman 1275 GT”. The official name was always just the “Mini 1275 GT”, and it was a separate, distinct model from the Clubman (although it shared the same frontal treatment as the Mini Clubman, and was launched at the same time). In 1969, under the ownership of British Leyland, the Mini was given a facelift by stylist Roy Haynes who had previously worked for Ford. The restyled version was called the Mini Clubman, and has a squarer frontal look, using the same indicator/sidelight assembly as the Austin Maxi. The Mini Clubman was intended to replace the upmarket Riley and Wolseley versions. A new model, dubbed the 1275 GT, was slated as the replacement for the 998 cc Mini Cooper (the 1,275 cc Mini Cooper S continued alongside the 1275 GT for two years until 1971). The Clubman Estate replaced the Countryman and Traveller. The original “round-front” design remained in production alongside the Clubman and 1275 GT.
Having mentioned Porsche, Ford, Volkswagen and British Leyland in its many forms, it is only fair that General Motors gets a look in on Ming Ing! Known as the Opel Corsa in Europe, the five door Vauxhall Corsa D registered as ML12 CFY and represented by Oxford Diecast as 76VC003 is in a dramatic shade of red which also extends to the bumpers. The exterior trim is masked in both silver and black while the interior is grey with black steering wheel. Note the very modern light clusters to the front and rear and the highly detailed Corsa badge, too. However, despite being marketed under the Chevrolet and Holden brands around the World, the Corsa has never been sold in the USA or Canada. The Corsa D made its debut in 2006 when British pop group Girls Aloud were at the height of their powers. Which reminds me of a joke: “The latest Vauxhall dealer promotion is attracting drivers from all walks of life, including binmen, solicitors – and pop sensations Girls Aloud. Nadine, what happened?” “Well, we were on our way to a bikini wax when we found out that General Motors had named special editions of their range after us – such as the sporty Sarah VXR and the practical but stylish Zafira Kimberley.” “And at the end of the road, which one of you was the Corsa?” “Nicola, she’s the redhead!”
And talking of red vehicles, I thought it was high time the farmer with the lambs on the end of their tethers had a new tractor to replace his antiquated Little Grey Fergie. Luckily, Oxford Diecast had that covered too with their Massey Ferguson 135 – which was built in the Banner Lane factory Coventry with the original design of rear 3 point rear linkage and plough draft control by Harry Ferguson. This 1:76 replica comes in bright red with white roof and exhaust stack and black interior. The wheels are red and silver and the engine is coloured a blue grey. Note the Massey Ferguson 135 lettering along the sides above the engine and the Massey Ferguson marque on the front grille. The Massey Ferguson 135 was produced for 11 years from 1964 to 1975 and could be distinguished from the Massey Ferguson 35 by a much more blocky shape. The first Massey Ferguson 135s came with no cab or roll bar ( as replicated by Oxford Diecast 76MF003), but eventually Massey Ferguson added a cab to make it suitable for much harsher weather. The only factory variant of the MF 135 was the 2135 which is an industrial tractor and is easily distinguishable because it is painted yellow and not the traditional red and grey. Available with one diesel and three petrol engine options, the Massey Ferguson 135 is regarded as one of the best, if not the best, tractors of all time.
Although the Swansea firm has already dominated this article, more respect is due to Oxford Diecast for producing more 1/76 scale Volvo cars for Viking Vehicles of Jeremythorpe, Min Ing, York to repair and maintain. Of these, 76VA001 represents the 4 door saloon version of the Volvo Amazon which has also been available as a 1/43 scale model. In real life, more than 650 000 of the Jan Wilsgaard designed large family car were built by Volvo between 1956 and 1957 of which over 234 000 were four door saloons rather than 2 door coupes or 5 door estate cars. Decorated in pale green with a darker green interior, 76VA001 is right hand drive and registered JHO 887E. The distinctive front radiator grilles are silver on matt black with additional exterior body trim finished in silver/chrome on a black chassis. The Volvo marque is printed on the rear, with a fine little finishing touch of a GB sticker. The Amazon shared the wheelbase, tall posture and high H-point seating of its predecessor, the PV, while in 1959 Volvo became the world’s first manufacturer to provide front seat belts as standard equipment — by providing them on all Amazon models, including the export models. The Volvo Amazon later became the first car featuring three-point seat belts as standard equipment and was the last Volvo car to be named before the now familiar three digit nomenclature was introduced.
The Volvo P1800 was a two-door, two-passenger, front-engined, rear-drive sports car which Volvo produced as a coupé between 1961 and 1973, making a short sortie into a shooting brake version between 1972-73. Its roots lay in the need for Volvo to produce a sports car to compete in the US and European markets. Project development was the brainchild of Volvo engineering consultant Helmer Petterson and the car was designed by his son Pelle Petterson. However, due to opposition from rivals who feared a drop in sales of their own cars, difficulties arose in actually getting a car manufacturer with the capacity to tool and build it. Finally, Jensen Motors agreed to make an initial 10,000 in their Scottish plant for assembly at their West Bromwich factory. In 1963, production moved back to Sweden to Volvo’s Lundby plant, following which the car name was changed to 1800S and the badge on the car body changed accordingly. Despite engine upgrades over the years, the Volvo 1800 which also offered three gearbox options – 4-speed manual ; four speed with overdrive; or 3-speed automatic, only ever reached a top speed of 118 mph and was deemed more of a high end tourer than a sportscar. However, during its lifetime, nearly 40,000 of the coupé version were sold and around 8000 of a 3-door sports estate model. Volvo are noted for the longevity and reliability of their cars and it is interesting to note that in 2013, a P1800 in the hands of its original owner was acknowledged as the highest mileage private car in original ownership, having clocked up over three million miles. Oxford Diecast’s 1:76 scale replica of the P1800 made its debut in bright red with lots of contrasting exterior chromework. The interior features a black steering wheel and black interior. Registered RYN 480E from 1967, note that the 1800S logo, indicates its manufacture in Sweden post 1963. The blue and silver Volvo badge sits on the front of the bonnet above the silver radiator grille.
The Volvo 245 DL Estate, part of the Volvo 200 series, was produced between 1974 and 1993. During this time over 962,000 were manufactured. Oxford Diecast’s 76VE001 5-door estate version, registered TAY 999R, dates from 1976. Volvo cars, built originally to be driven in Sweden’s hard seasonal conditions, are famous for their longevity and solidity, with particular reference to overall occupant safety and road-holding. The 200 series, designed by Jan Wilsgaard, had a front engine and rear wheel drive and was classed as a mid-size luxury vehicle, coming often with leather seats and wooden dashboard. The steering was so reactive, one could turn on a Krone – or even a sixpence. Decorated in bright green with contrasting silver trim and a beige interior. The instantly recognisable diagonal Volvo marque and radiator grille are reproduced in silver on matt black and other external detail includes black chassis, silver wheels, black bumpers with chrome edging and black windscreen wipers. Like the last three pictures illustrating this article, TAY 999R was photographed on a sister diorama to Ming Ing and as a backdrop uses some of the splendid scale length models of Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company designed and built Cemflo wagons built for me by Bob Bage of County Durham. In itself, this is an homage to the Automobile Association’s Drive magazine – as received through the post by my late father in the 1970s – which often used to picture cars under test in unusual, often industrial, locations within its Reader’s Digest sized pages.