Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Irish Cement Wagon (& another BR 21t) Completed

The Model Irish Railways resin kit for an Irish Rail cement wagon is now complete and weathered and is looking good. This has been an enjoyable project and I'm starting to save my pennies before ordering a few more of these kits to run behind my Bachmann '181'. In fact, the loco and wagon now have pride of place on the bookshelf over my workbench - hopefully in the hope of inspiring me to devise a suitable micro layout for them to trundle over.

Not having many colour images of the real wagon to hand, I used a DVD from Telerail as an inspiration. Railfreight Today: Ireland is a great programme (and it's only a tenner!), although it's a few years old now. It contains lots of fasciniating freight workings across the whole of the Irish Republic, including lots on the various cement flows. Clich here for a link to Telerail's website.

I had imagined that these cement wagons would show characteristic white weathering streakings from the powder material that they carry. However, having watched the programme, they appear to just carry general 'track dirt', as the commodity is carried in palleted, sealed bags. It pays to check these things beforehand!

A full review of the wagon kit will appear in Model Rail soon.

At last, my Bachmann '181' diesel has something to haul!

Just fitting on my little scenic plinth, the loco and wagon have pride of place on my bookshelf.

Also just off the production line is another Chivers BR 21t mineral wagon - part of a rake of 8 that I'm constructing, each one having a small difference. In this case, it's a through-air-piped example, TOPS coded as MDW (rather than the more usual MDV).

A few of these wagons received through-air-piping for use in AB services

Monday, 29 March 2010

More New Rail Paints

I've just received details of this new pack of Lifecolor acrylic paints, produced to compliment the same maker's recent pack of BR railway livery colours (see various posts from last year). In stock and on sale now from The Airbrush Company, the 6-pack is priced at £15.59 inc VAT (6 x 22ml jars) or each shade is also available seperately, at £2.30 per jar (22ml).

The colours included are: Track Dirt, Frame Dirt, Sleeper Grime, Weathered Black, Roof Dirt and Brake Dust, all formulated to a matt finish.

The Airbrush Co. have dispatched a trial set to me and I shall conduct a review for Model Rail ASAP, with extra notes on my findings and illustrated 'tests' posted here in due course. Stay tuned!

Thursday, 25 March 2010


Here are the latest CAD images of the ‘OO’ gauge Sentinel locomotive being designed and produced for Model Rail magazine by Dapol. These have been sent out to those readers who have already registered interest in the venture, but I thought I'd post them here as well. We're very excited about this venture and, to ensure the Sentinel is as accurate as possible, the Model Rail team are inviting comment on how the computer mock-ups look. If anyone would like to make a comment, contact Ben Jones at

The mechanism has been designed to be as unobtrusive as possible without compromising running quality or robustness and Dapol has now confirmed that the model will be available with at least three body variants – with four, two or no cab ventilation grilles. We are also currently investigating the options for chimneys and tank fillers. No delivery date or price has yet been confirmed, but Model Rail will keep readers updated as soon as this vital information is available.

Sand Blasting (& wagon update)

Is that a ghost cat in the background?
Been experimenting with my latest 'toy' - a Badger abrasive spray gun. Bought to assist with stripping models prior to repaints, I thought it might speed up the process. Initial trials haven't been as succesful as I'd imagined and it took a little time to study the instructions and get the tool set up correctly. As it requires a regular pressure of around 40psi, this is proving a tad too much for my little compressor that is more used to puttering away at around 15psi! Still, with a bit more time, I'm sure I'll get the hang of it.
Incidentally, the ViTrains 37 above was stripped with Phoenix Superstrip first and the small remnants of paint and primer were blasted away with the abrasive powder. The image above is a staged photo and, as is often the case, as soon as the spotlights click on in my makeshift studio, little Maude assumes it's portrait time and will go to incredible lengths to get in the shot... I could really bore you with a tale of when Telerail came here to film the final segment of The Scenic Expert DVD, when she threw herself at the door of my workshop for hours trying to get in on the action... but I won't.
Below is a couple of images of wagon kits progressing towards completion. I've enjoyed building the Irish cement wagon and am considering ordering a few more to assemble for an Irish themed diorama/micro layout I'm planning. Also, another Chivers 21tonner is also awaiting final varnishing and weathering. I've experimented with hand lettering using my old trusty Rotring pen (from Art College days) and a fresh pot of white ink. It's not perfect but the vehicle will be heavily weathered, so I may get away with it. Finished images will follow in time...

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Geoscenics Wagon Loads finished

This Flangeway Mermaid wagon has been weathered and filled with a realistic ballast load
As mentioned a few posts ago, I've been trialling a pack of mineral wagon loads from the intriguing Geoscenics range. Founded by professional geologist Mike Mazurkiewicz, all natural materials are employed, using Mike's expertise in all things 'rock'. The range has been expanding over the past couple of years to include ballasts, snow, weathering powders, wagon loads and more.

A load of stone for this PO wagon, working from Sandside quarry in Cumbria

Indeed, one of the best things about this product range is the authenticity of materials: you want limestone loads for Peak District stone trains.?.. you can have crushed limestone from a quarry near Buxton! The range of ballasts are also offered on a regional basis, even down to the distincttive red-tinged stuff found up in Scotland. Great news for my S&C-themed layout is the choice of ballast from Ribblesdale itself - you can't get more accurate than that!

A full demo and appraisal of the Geoscenics wagon load kits is to appear in Model Rail soon but, meanwhile, have a look at these images of a selection of OO gauge wagons filled with various minerals - all included in a single pack, along with mounting card (for load formers) and adhesive. These are great value packages that are also easy and enjoyable to use.

The coal looks ultra-realistic in these BR and LMS mineral wagons (the 16tonner is scratchbuilt)

This looks like high grade steam coal to me!

Monday, 22 March 2010

Irish Cement Wagon

A very distinctive wagon, the kit offers a choice of large pulley wheel patterns

This resin and whitemetal kit from Model Irish Railways has been built for review in Model Rail and proved an enjoyable project. Resin can be a bit tricky at times, especially where chassis are concerned and the very soft material must be treated with care when cleaning up flash and cutting or drilling. With this in mind, I swapped the resin buffers for a set of whitemetal castings and added a few other extra details such as couplings, vac pipes and cylinder.

The brake gear isn't entirely accurate, but is close enough to give a good representation of the real thing. The model has been primed and will receive a coat of regulation blue paint this morning. Followed by soome suitable weathering, naturally!

I'm tempted to invest in a few more of these kits to run with my Bachmann CIE 121 Bo-Bo

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Wagon loads, resin kits and varnish coats

The subject of a forthcoming Feature Review, this Geoscenics wagon load kit is excellent

Today has seen a number of projects started, finished and almost finished. First up has been a Geoscenics wagon load kit that includes all you need to fill a healthy amount of OO gauge mineral wagons. 150g bags of coal, ballast/white stone and brown stone are provided in each pack, along with card formers and ready-diluted PVA adhesive. Look out for a full appraisal and step-by-step demo of how to use this product in Model Rail soon.

I bought this Bachmann wagon from the NRM shop in the days when I had a staff discount!

The wagon load trial has allowed me to finally weather and finish a Bachmann Private Owner wagon that I'd bought from the National Railway Museum shop all those years ago when I worked there as a conservator (now 7 years ago - where does the time go?!). Although not really of my usual period, I liked the wagon because of its association with Sandside quarry, near Arnside in Cumbria - a favourite holiday spot for me and Mrs D. The quarry is still in use although the branch line that served it has long gone. I also weathered a Flangeway Mermaid ballast wagon which now looks great, especially with its realistic ballast load.

Using Micromesh abrasives to level the surface on this Heljan '33' before the final varnish coat

Also today, I've made a start on a pair of resin kits of Irish subjects ('Dutch' generator van and a Cement wagon) and spent a while rubbing down a Heljan 33 before a final coat of varnish tommorrow. Micromesh ultra-fine abrasives have proved their worth in this task, imparting the perfect finish to the surface without damaging the fine detail or the underlying decals, although it must be used wet to prevent the abrasive clogging and the model must be washed thoroughly to remove any debris. An overnight rest to dry out is also essential.
Micromesh papers are available from Cammett Ltd. With the much milder weather, all those outstanding painting tasks that I've beed delaying can now be undertaken in the shed without a) me catching pneaumonia, and b) the paint being adversely affected by the low temperature.
Right, off to open a bottle of stout as a belated St Patrick's Day gesture and to accompany listening to commentary of Liverpool's make-or-break match against Lille... here's hoping!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Day Return to Hattons

My kit-built Class 14 is to receive a new chassis and bodywork repairs

Yesterday was spent on a jaunt to Hattons of Liverpool to return their sample of their splendid Class 14 model (see earlier posts). It was a pleasure to be treated to a guided tour of the shop and storage premises by Chris McCann and Richard Davies. The various floors of warehouse space are certainly packed to the rafters with model railway stuff and is testament to the company's organisation that the mail order and shop business runs as smoothly as it does with such space constraints of the elderly building.

However, I've been informed that Hattons are close to finalising a lease on a more suitable warehouse building on the outskirts of Liverpool which would streamline operations significantly while allowing the existing shop to become more of, well, a shop! Something that I must admit has been lacking since the move from the old Smithdown Road premises where customers could browse.

Anyway, many thanks to the Hattons crew for showing me around. As for the Class 14, my pragmatic side won the day and I came home empty handed despite agonising over whether to treat myself to a model (either BR green or NCB blue). If I didn't have a house to renovate and an elderly car in need of repairs... The Heljan/Hattons '14s' are selling fast following coverage in the model press this month so if you're prevaricating, now's the time to make up your mind.

I did unearth my kit-built Class 14 from storage (featured in Model Rail Issue 105) and I shall have to build a new chassis to replace the damaged original. As the image above shows, this model has been the victim of a couple of rough shunts and needs a bit of TLC. Thankfully, Dave Alexander (of Alexander Models - the maker of the kit) let me have a new set of chassis etches at a reasonable price, so this now sits in the 'to do' queue. I still think it would be nice to have a pair of these, though. Maybe I'll reconsider a Hattons version after pay day!!

The latest crop of arrivals for reviews and features

Arriving home from Merseyside, there were a few parcels waiting for me with new review samples and stuff for upcoming features. Amongst these was a new cordless Dremel multi-tool, some aerosol weathering dyes (as seen demonstrated at Warley and Glasgow shows - anyone who saw these demos will rememeber them!) and a modern etched brass bus shelter-style waiting room from Ten Commandments. The other interesting kit in the above photo is a Golden Arrow resin body for a S&D 7F 2-8-0, designed to fit onto a Hornby 8F chassis. A Comet Fowler tender kit has also been obtained to complete this. Keep an eye out for this project in Model Rail very soon.

Yet more signals to build! And a very handy book from Liverpool library

The Postman also brought me some signal kits from Wizard Models, also for an upcoming Model Rail feature. Signalling is a bit of a mystery to me (apart from the very basics) and I also managed to find a very useful guide book on the subject in Liverpool library yesterday, just before getting my train back home.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Road Vehicles ready to roll

Very subtle weathering and a few tiny extra details enhances this Oxford Diecast Mini van

I enjoy my job at the best of times but after such a tiring weekend, I can't wait to get back to work this morning. For a rest! Plastering a large bedroom one day, only to have to move 2 tons of cow manure the next. Needless to say that my whole body is a bit tender today!

Anyway, I've been up bright and early and just photographed a series of OO gauge road vehicles that I spent last week sprucing up. Inspired by a recent entry on Chris Nevard’s blog (, I decided to complete a long-running job to detail and titivate a handful of cars, vans and trucks. Amongst the crowd was this lovely green Ford Consul (Classix Pocketbond) and a Mini van in British Coal colours for my Maudetown Colliery layout.

What a beauty! The Ford Consul looks better for new glazing, wing mirrors and a matt finish

There's a few others, some featuring detailed interiors and all with added wing mirrors, wipers, improved glazing (where necessary) and the odd driver at the wheel. Look out for a full demo in Model Rail in due course (I have yet to write the article up!). As for the rest of this week, it's looking like more Supertest trials and write-ups, one last Heljan 33 to finish (out of a trio), some Geoscenics wagon loads and a DC Kits CIE generator van kit to test-build and paint. Plus a jaunt to Hattons tommorrow to wave goodbye to the Class 14 review sample. I still can't decide whether to buy one for myself... my heart says YES but my bank balance is shaking its head.
We shall see...

Thursday, 4 March 2010

BIG job broken out...

I've recently received a Class 66 to detail & repaint into the new Colas livery as 66842, along with a lovely set of decals for the job, courtesy of Precision Labels ( No big deal, really. Only it’s a G-Scale ’66!

As you can see, it’s taking up most of my desk at the moment – a bit big for a paperweight, don't you think? I've also just bought a Bachmann 'OO' 'Shed' - DRS-liveried 66407 - to paint into the same livery at the same time.  Should prove an interesting project...