Friday, 27 November 2009
Thursday, 26 November 2009
Been spending my last few evenings assembling a huge number of Woodland Scenics trees, of various sizes, shapes and foliage shades. They're to go on a couple of dioramas that I have planned for the new year and I thought I'd get some ready to plant beforehand.
Besides, it also gave me the opportunity to see how the plastic tree armatures could be improved with a little tidying-up of mould pips and a few coats of acrylic paint.
There's no rest for the wicked, as they say, and with my steam loco detailing book now in the shops, I'm starting my third title for Crowood. I shan't say what it's about just yet (I don't think I'm allowed to - better check my contract!) but somewhere within it should include how to create realistic trees!
When I've planted a few, I'll post some pix of the finished trees.
Monday, 23 November 2009
Anyway, it was a good show in many respects. The Model Rail stand was busy with readers' enquiries, subscriptions being taken and limited edition models selling well. Our lovely ViTrains DRS Class 47 (Craftsman) arrived in time and proved popular. I'm tempted to obtain one myself - the livery application is excellent.
There were a many fine layouts, although I only managed a few quick glimpses of these on the Sunday and I'm sure there was much that I missed, especially the large-scale stuff and the Continental 'zone'.
After deliberating over which models to take for the Model Rail display stand, I opted for a range of steam, electric and diesel including the 9F from the current MR issue, a Duchess City of Edinburgh, a couple of WD locos, DB SChenker 37419 and a Hornby Class 86 in 1970s condition.
The '86' proved a topical choice as Heljan had test mouldings from its upcoming OO model of the AL6 and it proved an interesting comparison.
My model is based on an early Hornby release - a late 1980s production run - in InterCity livery, albeit with a new 5-pole motor unit obtained as a spare. I had intended to fit Ultrascale wheels but haven't yet got round to that.
Quite a few visitors passed favourable comment on my '86', which is always nice to hear and I even had a few firm offers of cash for it! However, it was always my childhood ambition to build a WCML layout with catenary as I grew up watching 81s, 83s, 85s, 86s and 87s on everything from local freight trips to expresses, especially around Warrington Yard and I still harbour such an ambition, albeit in more modest form.
Therefore, my small collection of West Coast electrics (a pair of 87s as well as this 86) may soon increase, depending on how good the Heljan 86 turns out. By looking at the test models, it's looking pretty good so far.
The model of 86008 appears briefly in my book on diesel & electric loco detailing, althoug the full detailing project will hopefully appear in Model Rail sometime in 2010.
Talking of Heljan, I also picked up more exquisite etches from Shawplan's Extreme Etchings range, one of which is a set of radiatir fans and grilles for the Danish firm's Clayton. I've had my eye on a green one but have been waiting for the power unit issues to be resolved. HAving heard plenty of positive comments, I reckon I shall be parting with a few bob as soon as pay day arrives!
Mind you, having had a good chin wag with my predecessor at MR, Darren Sherwood-Jones, on the Just Like the Real Thing stand at Warley, I'm sorely tempted to dabble with one of Mr Waterman's diesel loco kits. Darren's blue Class 20 was superb, especially the weathering. Look out for it in MR soon. The JLTRT kits look a pleasure to build and the new 12t box vans on show looked equally impressive. On my modest budget, I reckon the rolling stock is all that Mrs D will allow me to stretch to!
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
Despite being delayed for a week or two, my second volume of a series of books dealing with model loco detailing was released yesterday, just in time for the Warley show this coming weekend. Hopefully, stockists will have received their copies!
Whilst browsing in a local Model Shop at the weekend, I came across an interesting orange diesel shunter from Jouef. This HO loco, representing a French prototype looks to have been taken from a cheap starter set as the bodyshell and chassis are a bit basic. However, it has potential.
Thursday, 12 November 2009
A few people have been asking about how my model of Dent station is progressing. Well, a year on from the last meaningful bit of work, it has now been taken over by a giant cat who finds the permanent way just the best place to sleep.
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
‘Peak’ D67 has simply had a nose seam line added. I say ‘simply’, but this wee task can take a while to get right. Any errors and a repaint is necessary. With care, the line can be cut with a sharp blade without the need for any refinishing. My book on detailing ready-to-run diesel & electric locos demonstrates how I go about this task. See www.crowood.com
The headcode panels have been modified to display 0O00 at one end and .D67 at the other. These Fox decals are, strictly speaking, a bit big for these particular headcode boxes, but they look alright!
Another ‘Peak’, this time a Class 44 has been converted to D10 Tryfan complete with US-style heavy duty grilles, courtesy of an A1 Models set of etched parts. While these new grilles could be better in terms of fine relief (maybe Shawplan could have a go in the Extreme Etchings range?), it’s the only pack around.
Anyway, this is the second time I’ve done this job, funnily enough both times recreating D10 (D9 also had the same grilles). While I did an un-named blue version of 44010 for myself, this green D10 depicts the engine in mid-1960s condition. Again, the technique features in my book on diesel loco detailing.
It’s always a relief to finish a couple of jobs that have been dragging on for months. Things to do in my own time are always at risk of being sidelined in favour of other things like car repairs, decorating, horse riding or the odd Stockport County match!
Anyway, with apologies to the models’ owners (for the delay), a BR blue ‘A4’ Sir Nigel Gresley is now en route back to Australia and a pair of ‘Peaks’ are making their way up to Scotland.
The blue ‘A4’ has turned out well, although I must admit to being wary of ruining a perfectly good model (originally 60029 Woodcock in BR green). Not the easiest thing to dismantle and strip for a new paint job, the chimney also had to be modified to a single unit to suit the period in which Sir Nigel wore the blue scheme. As luck would have it, I had a spare ‘A4’ lying around that has donated a smoke stack to the cause!
Despite my reservations about the colour, the blue looks well on the model, off-set nicely by the white-black-lining (Fox Transfers). Just a whisper of track debris and smoke/coal dust takes away the immaculate finish and adds a little extra realism.
I hope it makes it back Down Under in one piece!
Being a pair of gypsies at heart, me and Mrs D seem to move around a fair amount and rarely get time to unpack all our stuff before getting itchy feet again. After looking through a thousand-and-one packing crates the other day (for something completely unrelated), I came across this old Lima single car Class 121 DMU.
Not a true single-car unit, it was converted from a driving trailer car of a Class 117 using (I think) a Craftsman Models kit sometime in the late 1980s. It’s funny how memory works as I’d almost forgotten that I had this model. However, now I’ve found it, I can picture buying it second-hand from a swapmeet at the Masonic Hall in Warrington in 1988 on a Saturday afternoon. I can even remember what I wore!
My older brother actually did the initial conversion although I ‘refined’ the job a few years later and applied a rendering of blue & grey livery using some aerosol cans. Not having seen the light of day for over 10 years, the motor is no longer up to the job and a few small parts have gone missing. Using Modelstrip paint stripper, the various painting efforts have been consigned to history and the shell now awaits some detailing work and a new paint job, possibly in green.A new motor is necessary and I’m weighing up the options: a Model Torque drop-in upgrade for the Lima ‘pancake’; a Black Beetle; or perhaps a custom Bull Ant unit. I fancy that this project will morph into a full feature for Model Rail in the near future...
Sunday, 8 November 2009
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
No sooner had I finally entered the 21st Century and gone 'on line' to start this blog, I go and contract a dose of Swine Flu. No fun there, but thank heavens for Tamiflu.
Luckily, I was well enough to make it to the Birkenhead Show last Friday (Oct 30) and what a nice event it was, too. A good mix of layouts and traders in a very pleasant venue. I've only been back to B'head a few times since we left Merseyside in 2003, so it felt strange going back. It seems an age since I was working in Great Western House, on the site of the old Woodside Station and travelling from Wavertree to HAmilton Square every day (6.30am starts - what a drag).
The Docks have certainly changed since then, with lots of new commercial developments, although the older conversions, especially the old Cheshire Lines Goods Station, now stand empty, presumably as businesses chase lower rates in brand new accomodation?
Anyway, I helped out on Chris Leigh's Herculaneum Dock layout diorama and was meant to repeat the trick on the Saturday until a broken rail terminated my journey at Warrington Central. The old goods yard was chock-full of turned-back East Midlands and First Transpennine units, looking like a full size fiddle yard!
Now back at the grind for Model Rail following my sickie, I'm taking the chance to finish some long-standing projects that seem to have been put to one side to work on more pressing features for the mag. First to be signed off is a DB Schenker Class 37, as 37419. Look out for a full demo on detailing and repainting in Model Rail in the coming months.