Friday, 28 May 2010

N layout project nears the eNd!

My small scale (in both senses) foray into N gauge is nearly complete, with just a few small details to add and the wiring and twin fiddle yards to finish off. I'll not give too much away here, as the project will feature in Model Rail in the near future. But, here are some photos of the main baseboard, showing how it looks as of this morning...

The Farish/Scenecraft Pagoda and halt platform look at home, but I need to come up with a name for this out-of-the-way location.

I'm pleased with the farm approach road - Tamiya textured paints are perfect for this sort of thing.

Making use of as many off-the-shelf products and comleted in the shortest time possible, this project has been an interesting challenge. Look out for a full report in Model Rail in the future...

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Sunshine and Rail Grinders

This 2-unit Rail Grinder was stabled at Peterborough Stn on Tuesday

This week started well with the builders having a few days off (peace, perfect peace!) and the sunny weather making it a joy to work al fresco under a patio umbrella. Although, with said umbrella only being modest in size, it meant having to keep moving the table and chair around to keep out of the sun (being a fair skinned fello).

Projects in hand have included my little dabble with 'N' gauge, as seen below under Maude's watchful gaze and a handful of continuing loco detailing projects for the next Model Rail DVD. We had thought that we'd filmed enough already but, having viewed the rough edit last week, there are a few gaps that need filling in, so I've more Blue Peter-style preperation work to do. You know, 'here's one I prepared earlier'... that sort of thing.

A brief jaunt to MR's HQ in Peterboro' on Tuesday saw me complete and submit another Supertest (for MR146), this one being a 'biggee' - on glues. I'm also just putting the final touches to a piece about working with resin kits, which I hope will be useful. The jolly down the ECML was enhanced by the sight of no less than 4 Class 20s: a pair of HNRC triple-grey machines at Doncaster and a BR green and blue duo at GBRF's Peterboro' yard. Throw in over a dozen interesting freight movements and a HST each way between 'Donny' and 'Peeboro' (I chose my connections carefully!), meant that I got my fill of diesel action!

Although I didn't get a chance to photo any of the above, I did end up getting to P'boro Stn a bit early so snapped an interesting 2-unit Rail Grinder. I'd seen this at Doncaster a couple of weeks before and thought it looked interesting. It would certainly make a nice model.

Maude takes a deep interest in my developing mini 'N' gauge layout as we work in the shade on a sunny Monday afternoon. More pics of this layout will follow soon - it's very nearly finished.

Just a little media tittle tattle to end on. Mrs D was approached to appear on Mikey Portillo's new series on British Railway Journeys (or whatever it's called) currently being filmed. Being an internationally recognised expert on Victorian cemeteries (what a subject!), they asked her to talk about the famous Necropolis Railway. Anyway, she couldn't be sure of getting to London on the allotted day (TV crews don't wait for anyone) so it looks like they'll get someone else instead.
Their loss, I'd say...!

Monday, 24 May 2010

More on Bovey in Brass

As those of you who have just received/bought/borrowed a copy of the latest Model Rail will know, there's a feature within about how I built a Scale Link brass kit based on Bovey Tracey in South Devon. A lovely kit to build, it did take me a while to solder it all together.

I actually built it and wrote up the feature over 2 years ago but, as is the way of magazine production, that we tend to keep things in reserve until it feels the right time to plop it in, aiming to keep a balance of subjects, eras, etc in each issue. With a station theme to June's issue, there was no better time to slip this one onto the page.

Cefn Coed? That's not in Devon....!

It may also have been noticed that the finished kit has been festooned with BR/WR totems bearing the name Cefn Coed, rather Bovey. Well, at the time that I built it, I’d been planning a layout set in the South Wales Valleys and had wondered about relocating this station into a fictitious Welsh location. However, this layout eventually turned into the freight-only Maudetown Colliery (see earlier posts), so I was left with a redundant building!

The appearance of the article in this month's mag has, however, prompted me to consider some way of using the kit, being as it's such a nice recreation of the real thing. A small diorama is probably the best route (maybe a working one) and last night I scribbled a few plans on some scrap paper whilst waiting to pick up Mrs D from the station.

GWR Roadside Halt
At the same time as building the kit of Bovey, I also assembled this little GWR roadside halt, also built from a Scale Link brass kit (in ‘00’). What amounted to bus shelters, these were very attractive structures and paired with a Peco GWR bus kit, would make a pleasant scenic combo.

The walls and roof are assembled separately from the floor and the GWR style bench is a work of art in itself.

Easy to fold to shape, but requiring a little care when soldering together, the kit has been very well designed.

Once painted and with some Scalescenes ( signage, the finished model looks the part. Contact Scale Link Ltd for more information on both of these kits. Tel. 01747 811817 or go to

I dug this GWR bus kit out from the shed last night. I bought it at Pecorama a few years ago, but then 'filed' it away for future use. Will it ever get built?

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Caley Pug turns up

A nice Finsbury Park-embellished Cl31/4 on the cover of Sept'80 issue

Looking through more copies of Model Trains turned up a couple of interesting pieces about the Hornby ‘Caley Pug’ (see earlier posts for my detailing job on one of these). Including the first review of the then new model in the September 1980 issue, this was followed up by an interesting industrial conversion project in the October issue.

Receiving a fairly positive review, it’s curious to note that handrails were fitted along the sides of the tanks on this initial release (not so today) as per the prototype and, at £9.20, I don’t suppose that the cost has risen much in real terms over the intervening 30 years. Deeming the model as ‘extremely neat’ with an ‘impeccable finish’, the lined Caledonian livery gains much praise. The wheelbase is correctly noted as too long but the writer raises the possibilities of ‘industrial’ style conversions which brings us onto the following month’s article.

Fitting the cab from the Airfix (now Dapol) L&Y Pug plastic kit in place of the original, transforms the look of the Caley 0-4-0 into something that would look at home in most non-mainline settings. In the feature, the finished model is turned out in NCB livery, but I fancy one of these would look great in a brewery siding, or such like. Which gives me an idea, as I have a Bachmann Scenecraft brewery set hanging around somewhere...

Oct 1980s cover. Over the first 2 years of this magazine, not one model made it onto the cover!

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Old Mags reveal forgotten DCC ancestor

It's interesting how virtually every front cover feature an image of a real train, rather than a model!

A good friend of mine recently popped round with a big bag of old magazines that she’d seen in a charity shop and thought I’d be interested in. Being four years’ worth of Model Trains, the Airfix-sponsored model railway monthly, they contain some fascinating features.

The pile even included the first issue – January 1980 – that had originally come complete with a free bag of Airfix platform figures! I’ve only had chance to flick through about a dozen of them so far, but what immediately caught my eye was a feature on what is obviously an early version of DCC, the Airfix Multiple Train Control System (May 1980 issue).

Does anyone else remember this digital control system? And did it work?!
Requiring small electronic chips to be inserted into individual locomotives (not that small!), the system boasts of its sophistication and ability to control up to 16 locos (4 at one time) and the article demonstrates the fitting of a chip into an Airfix OO gauge LMS 4F, along with explaining how it all works. I’m old enough to remember Hornby’s Zero1 system, but this device passed me by (probably because I was only 5 when this article was written!).

The 'decoders' look a bit bigger than what we have today
What always strikes me when I glance at old (mostly pre-1990) modelling magazines is that, even the most excellently written and thought-out practical projects are incredibly difficult to follow due to the quality of photography and reproduction. A handful of poorly lit, tiny black & white images - some of which are pretty hazy - are not conducive to an easy modelling session! It reminds me how lucky we are with today’s high quality, (fairly) low cost magazine production, digital photography and the emphasis on visual aids in practical articles (in some magazine titles, anyway!!).

Friday, 14 May 2010

Impulse Purchase

Treated myself to a pair of BRAs today... Bachmann BRAs, in fact...

A splendid model, it’s the equal of most of the other modern-outline freight stock emanating from Barwell and, while I don’t know what I’m going to do with them for now, the BRA steel carriers are currently adorning my bookshelf, with a Hornby EWS Class 08 for company.

In theory, I’d love a tiny layout set around a wagon works (not very original, I know) so that I can shunt a wide variety of freight vehicles hither and thither. However, this is on my very long list of layout wish lists, so I’m not holding my breath.

Still, I couldn’t resist the impulse buy from my local model shop and the wagon joins a few other examples of contemporary freight stock in my collection that has no immediate purpose! One day, though...

Friday, 7 May 2010

DRS '20' and Lima/ViTrains '47' Progress

Been feeling overwhelmed by diesel detailing projects this week and am considering taking a 'steam break' for the next few days, especially as my Scot/Patriot, 7F and Jones Goods locos have stalled somewhat. A pair of DRS '20s' and a Lima/ViTrains '47' have taken up much of the last four days... and they're still not finished!

The DRS conversions are about as comprehensive a job as you can get - save for changing a loco to a different class - and I've been aiming to make the models and the attendant magazine feature, as thorough as possible. Helped by the use of some excellent detailing parts from Messrs Shawplan and Peter Harvey, there is still the need to scratchbuild a number of components such as speedo, windscreen washer jets and MU connections.

One of the '20s' also sports a fetching set of snowploughs, courtesy of some new etches from Peter Harvey. I've also been adding a set of these to another ViTrains '37' that has now entered the paint shop for a coat of BR blue.

Model Rail readers may have seen my short demo in the latest issue, showing how to fit the new ViTrains 'spare' Cl47 chassis under a Lima bodyshell. Well, said bodyshell has just had its detailing finished, with the bogies also receiving a set of etched footsteps, again from Mr Harvey. All other bits 'n' bobs are from Shawplan, A1 and Replica, while the livery is soon to be original-style Railfreight grey. 47280 Pedigree is to be the machine's ID.

Finished images will follow in due course, although the models need to stay au naturel for a time, until filmed for the next segment of the upcoming Model Rail DVD. Then, I'll have to paint and finish them sharpish to be filmed again as completed models...

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Resistance is Futile!

I knew I'd succumb to the temptation to add a Heljan/Hattons Class14 to my collection.

The parcel arrived yesterday afternoon, wrapped in brown paper and string and immediately obvious that it was from Hattons of Liverpool. I couldn't wait to get it open and reveal my Heljan/Hattons Class 14 that I've just treated myself too. Despite being hugely impressed with the review sample that I loaned from Hattons (see earlier posts), the three-figure price had been putting me off getting one for myself (funds being a bit tight at the mo'). However, after some very careful consideration and after 'releasing a bit of capital', I took the plunge and phoned through my order.
Having missed out on the BR green livery batch that has now sold out, I went for the NCB version which, actually, is more 'up my street'. It will look at home on my colliery layout, although Maudetown was supposed to be based loosely in South Wales. Luckily, I've built the layout to look ambiguous as far as location is concerned so, when the Cl14 is running, it will have a North Eastern flavour!

The NCB livery has been applied to a very high standard and just needs some suitable weathering to finish.

My Alexander Models kit of a Cl14 is currently in the Works having a new chassis frame built after an unfortunate accident and, as this was originally finished as NCB No.31, I shall take the opportunity of changing its identity before it's ready to re-enter traffic. I'm tempted to keep it in NCB blue, to enable the pair of them to work the colliery together...
Aside from indulging myself in all things Class 14, my current list of loco detailing tasks has continued this week (for the upcoming DVD project and for magazine features) with a Class 66 being the latest to receive attention.
I obtained some very delicate etched brass wing mirrors from Peter Harvey and these require great care to construct. However, they look great when fitted and painted. Look out for these in Model Rail soon.

As well as adding new coupling hooks (Mainly Trains), this Bachmann '66' is about to receive a set of etched rear view mirrors.

An idea of how delicate the etched sheets are can be discerned here. Not for the faint of heart!