Thursday, 29 April 2010

'N' Gauge Project progressing well

The farmhouse and shed are in place and the bridge and retaining walls all fitted and gaps filled.

My little N gauge layout is taking shape rapidly. Spending just an hour or so every other day has seen much progress since last week. I'm certainly learning a few lessons about working scenically in a smaller scale, not least with ballasting and creating landforms that, in OO would be acceptable but, in N, is like creating huge mounds of earth that no human could possibly traverse!
I thought I'd have a go with 2mm scale as a way of learning new skills, but also to assess how attractive a change of gauge would be, not least as space is becoming a real issue at the moment. And, with another house move looking likely, I may soon have to downsize in drastic fashion! With this in mind, work on my OO S&C layout has been called off, pending the outcome of this 'Guage Trial' and the likely next location of my railway room.
This Graham Farish/Scenecraft halt is just the job for this tiny layout

The Peco tunnel mouth looks great with a decent paint job and the inside is fully lined with Slaters embossed Plastikard.

The next stage is to finish assembling the twin fiddle yards at each end, connect the wiring and test everything before the scenery is completed. I've a small pile of buildings, figures and animals to paint away from the layout, too. Along with some splendid tractors and farm implements from the Langley Models range.
The backscene also needs assembling. This will also be new ground for me, as I'm experimenting with a curved backdrop to eliminate any dark shadows, etc. It's all good fun!
Only 2ft (and a bit) long, this is my first real foray into 2mm scale

Monday, 26 April 2010

Railfreight Class 37/3 rolls out

This ViTrains Class 37 has recieved only minor detail enhancement, plus a light weathering job

My collection of Class 37 traction has expanded with the addition of this lovely, red stripe Railfreight-liveried example. A ViTrains model, only a few tweaks have been carried out, namely new cast buffers, snowploughs (from a Heljan Cl47, refined a little), screw couplings and a driver in each cab. I must admit to not knowing whether the real 37378 wore snowploughs in this guise, but I thought I'd fit them anyway. Locos in this livery always look better with them fitted...

The most important facet of the projecty was the modification of the bogie frames to represent the cast examples as fitted to the Class 37/3 subclass in the mid-1980s. I covered this task in my diesel detailing book (on EWS liveried 37405) and it's a simple enough job, although it takes a while to achieve a neat finish on the tough plastic underframe.

All the other details are as supplied in the ViTrains package. The weathering (airbrushed with Railmatch enamels) is deliberately subtle, depicted this freight mover in the condition of a recently outshopped machine, already pressed into regular service.

Another ViTrains '37 is also nearing completion, this time it's going to be a 37/0 in BR blue and is being back-dated slightly to include a 'domino' headcode and frost shield. Stay tuned, Tractor fans...!

The ViTrains 37 has its faults, but with detailing and weathering, it can look pretty good!

Friday, 23 April 2010

Another busy week!

The latest Model Rail Supertest has just been completed, this time looking at platform systems. Look out for it in MR144

The end of another hectic week with further DVD filming, two layouts under construction, the latest Supertest completed, a handful of loco detailing projects underway, plus a couple of product review/trials also finished. Here are some sneak previews of what's coming up in Model Rail over the next few months...
Anyway, I'm looking forward to putting my feet up this weekend... although I might end up doing a bit more on my layouts!
My wee N gauge layout is taking shape: baseboard built, track laid. Scenery making about to begin...

These exquisite etched footsteps for Class37 are from PH Designs. Along with a wealth of other new components, they will feature in Model Rail in the coming months...

Filming for the next Model Rail DVD is also progressing well, with a DRS Class 20 conversion being included. There's a danger that we might have too much material and some may have to be trimmed to fit!

This week has felt like I've been drowning under the weight of various projects, all on the go at the same time. Indeed, my desk is getting a bit congested! Under the knife at the moment are: 4xClass20s, DRS Cl47, 2xCl66, 2xCl37, Cl25, a 'Scot', a 'Patriot' and a S&D 7F.

My latest 'OO' layout project is also taking shape out in the shed, with the boards complete and track laying about to begin.

The small fiddle yard board is also built and ready for the track laying stage...

Portraying a small fictitious terminus, this is about the length of train that will be accomodated. The idea has been inspired by the Derwent Valley Light Railway that used to run from York via Murton and Dunnington.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Filming a new modelling DVD

Model Rail's limited edition ViTrains '47 47501 Craftsman with all the fiddly bits fitted

Had a very busy week filming the upcoming Model Rail DVD title at Dent Towers, with lots of preperation work required before the camera rolls. Not least in making enough space in my pit of a workshop to accomodate all the equipment and cameraman (the ever-capable Phil from Telerail)!

Following the success of my two loco detailing books (see panel right), it seemed a good idea to cover the subject in film format, showing some of the skills and techniques useful for improving and customising OO gauge RTR locomotives. I've put a lot of effort into ensuring that there is lots of 'new' material, keeping the books and DVD projects as standalone products. Besides, to film all the projects (or similar) in the two books would make for a VERY long programme!

MAking use of some exciting new detailing components that have just recently been released, the DVD should prove both useful and entertaining, containing as it will plenty of prototype footage from Telerail's excellent archive.

We're starting at the very beginnings, including how to successfully add all those fiddly little bits and pieces that come supplied with many new RTR models and the ViTrains Class 47 seemed a good model to start with. We've also covered some minor titivations to my 'Scot' 46120, including new nameplates and Thames-Clyde Express headboard. The aim is to build confidence in our abilities and maybe push ourselves to go that little bit further...

The next step from adding the supplied components: sourcing and fitting lamps, footplate crew, headboard, etched nameplates, real coal, fire irons, etc.

With more filiming coming up later this week, I'm cramming in some prep work on some more models, showing various techniques that I shall not divulge just yet. Look out for progress on this DVD programme via Model Rail and here on my blog. Hopefully, it should be ready for a late summer/autumn release...

How Micro can I go? Another mini layout project begins in my shed...
In between filming and compiling the next Model Rail Supertest (platform kits), I've begun a micro layout building project, encompasing a single baseboard (just under 4ft long) portraying little more than a countryside halt. In fact, I'm just off out to the shed to cut the wood for the board. More progress updates will follow...

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

More Minerals

Yet more mineral wagons have been rolling off the Dent Works production line over the Easter break
As well as reading about coal mining over the Easter break, I’ve also been making the most of a few days off to continue some wagon building projects for my own enjoyment. A half-dozen 21t vehicles have rolled off the production line and have now entered the paint shop (my shed!).

Along with yet another Chivers 21t MDV, various spare parts kindly donated by Parkside Dundas have also allowed some more unusual prototype variations to be modelled. Along with a few re-bodied MDOs (and an MDP through-piped variant), I’ve also been kit-bashing a pair of early BR 21tonners to represent an LMS design of 20t loco coal wagon, patched up and still in use with the National Coal Board into the late 1970s.

As mentioned in my review of the Chivers MDV kit (MR141), a choice of axlebox types is provided, giving a spare set for use on other projects, here being added to a Parkside Dundas kit

Despite these being for my own personal amusement, I reckon there might be enough to interest fellow modellers to warrant an article in Model Rail in the future...

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Easter Reading

Over the Easter weekend I obtained some bargains from a local bookshop, most notably a trio of titles detailing Britain’s lost coal industry. These should help immeasurably with the progress of my colliery-themed layout (see older posts and Model Rail No.136) as I aim to increase the realism of certain aspects and build a small extension.

Coal Mining by Geoffrey Hayes (ISBN 0747804346) is only 30-odd pages but it’s crammed with lots of precious info on how collieries operated, including photos and diagrams explaining how things worked. The section on winding towers is particularly useful. Images of Industry: Coal is another topping read, being produced by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (ISBN 0113000510) and includes chapters on collieries, architecture, fuels, mining communities, safety and transport.

Coal Mining by G Hayes is an excellent resource for anyone interested in British collieries

Lastly, Rhondda Cynon Taff Collieries looks at the pits of South Wales, the three named valleys in particular. Consisting mainly of b&w photos ranging from the early 1800s up to the 1980s (when all the pits closed), it’s a worthy testimony to those who worked and lived in the once-thriving mining communities.

As well as proving excellent research material, each book also brings home how much Britain has changed in the last 20 years or so. Another hint at which is provided in a new Telerail DVD: COAL is a collection of footage from the brilliant Railfreight Today video series that Telerail pioneered in the early 1990s and, as the title suggests, concentrates on the movement of coal by BR in the 1985-1996(ish) period. Watching this programme brought back the sight and sounds of Class 20s and 56s on MGR trains – once so common but now lost in time. Chasing pairs of ‘Twenties’ along Sankey Canal towpath on my bike, as they headed to Fiddlers Ferry was great sport! Ah, nostalgia...
Telerail's new DVD title COAL, is a feast of 1980/90s BR nostalgia and a great source of inspiration

The Skaledale winding tower on my Maudetown Colliery layout is to be replaced with a more detailed and authentic structure

This little layout is a way of displaying my burgeoning collection of mineral wagons!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Trio of Heljan 33s done & dusted

'Crompton' deja-vu! See the January 2008 issue of Model Rail for the full story behind this project, here repeated for on behalf of a reader.
I modified and repainted a trio of Heljan Class 33s a couple of years ago, the models featuring in Model Rail (Jan 2008 issue) .Subsequently, I was asked to repeat the feat. After a long wait, I've finally gotten around to it and the threesome are now packed and ready to post.

One annoying thing that delayed this job in the latter stages was the fact that Humbrol seem to have altered their formula of Clearcote varnish (Mattcote) ever so slightly and, after using one batch to finish the first model off the production line (the Class 33/0), a more recent stock of Mattcote on the other two gave a completely different appearance!

Whereas the older supply gave a very flat matt sheen, my latest stock is much more satin-esque (and nicer, in fact!), so I had to rub down and re-finish the 33/0 to match - quite a pain as I'd completely reassembled the glazing and fittings etc. But, hey, it's done now and I'm very happy with the results.

This 'Slim Jim' 33/1 has simply had a repaint into BR green livery
This Class 33/0 is actually a conversion from a 33/1, making use of the better contours of the 33/1 bodyshell. As-built exhaust arrangements have also been modelled

This 33/1 has been converted to represent the pioneer push-pull fitted 'Crompton' (D6580), and the only one to receive green livery