Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Let's all do the Co-Bo!!

Sole surviving Co-Bo D5705 at Bury, Summer 2010. Photos by Chris McCann.

Of all the recent new product announcements, I have to say that the one that grabbed my attention the most was the news that Hattons of Liverpool were commissioning Heljan to reproduce the Metro-Vick Co-Bo in OO gauge. I've always had a penchant for these ugly ducklings, partly due to the old artwork from the 1960s - by BR and Tri-ang - portraying them on important freight services such as the Condor container trains. Having trained as a graphic artist myself, I can only imagine how challenging it must have been to carry off such a brief, making these sad-looking, boxes-on-wheels locos as modern, sleek and efficient. Especially as, in real life, they were pretty dodgy!

Maybe that's why I love them so much; the expressive 'face' making them easy to anthropomorphise - as the Rev. Awdry did in the 'Tom Tank' books of the time. There's a nice story behind Hatton's decision too, with founding father Norman Hatton having bought up the surplus stock of Tri-ang Co-Bos when the famous Binns Road factory closed down. My Aunt worked in that factory from leaving school until it closed, painting many a Co-Bo, amongst other trains, cars and toys (my Dad certainly benefitted from having a sister at Meccano!).

Anyway, I'm already starting to save my pennies for a Co-Bo and await news of the project with baited breath. The photos of the only preserved prototype, D5705 were taken at Bury by Chris McCann, a Modelling Consultant at Hattons and are reproduced here by kind permission. It looks like progress is being made internally and hopefully it wonlt be too much longer before its up and running. If you'd like to know more about the preservation of D5705, check out this link to Co-Bo World or Bury Diesel Group.

It looks like the internal compartments are being readied for the reinstatement of the various bits of machinery.

On the subject of Tri-ang Co-Bos, I've just dug out a couple of old images of a model that I restored for ex-Rail Magazine writer Chris Gilson, quite a few years ago. The pix are a bit poor, but the model was stripped and re-finished, trying to make it look as authentic as possible. Authentic Tri-ang, that is!

Not bad for its time, the die-cast body might have been a step back from contemporary practice (plastic bodyshells were becoming more widespread at the time) but it made stripping the tatty old paintwork easy - Nitromors was used for a quick and thorough removal, something not possible on plastic shells. The model was also rebuilt mechanically, making use of a new Super Neo magnet that Chris obtained from Ebay - it's the shiny bit visible on the image below - which made a massive difference to performance.

I also seem to remember sprucing up a Tri-ang Co-Bo for display at the NRM, although I'm not sure if it's still to be seen. Last time I was there, there seemed to be less and less exhibits on show in a reversal of the policy prevailing whilst I was there. Indeed, the reason I was employed
was to get more stuff out of store and fit for display (and to preserve it for the future). Just as well I quit when I did as I reckon I'd be twiddling my thumbs there now!!! Or polishing interactive displays instead.....

Friday, 25 June 2010

DRS 20305

Following on from the previous post, also completed for the final bits of filming (for the Model Rail DVD The Detailing Expert), is this Bachmann DRS Class 20 conversion. Portraying 20305, it has had a number of detailing parts added from the Shawplan and PH design ranges. The conversion project is covered both in the DVD and will be presented in Model Rail magazine as well, in the not too distant future.

Although I had to rush the painting and finishing a little to meet the dealine for filming, the model still looks ok. There's just a few areas where the big DRS decals haven't settled over the bonnet door detail. With the model in pristine condition, these tiny flaws tend to stand out but the real loco always seems to look very well looked after, so a disguising weathering coat is hard to justify!

The Shawplan radiator fan and grille make a big difference to the roof. This is a mix of old and new: an older grille etch but fan assembled from the upgraded 'Extreme Etches' set - see an earlier post on this subject.

When I pootled up to Carnforth to deliver the finished models to Telerail, I noted a long line of DRS '20s and '37s stored in the Steam Town yard. As is usually the case, I always see interesting stuff when I've not got my 'proper' camera with me!
Further interest was to be found whilst changing trains at Preston, with 31285 and the structure gauging train, plus extra ultrasonic coaches - quite a consist, actually, being around 8 cars long, with InterCity-liveried 31454 at the other end.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Patriot & Scot duo signed off

Filming has finally wrapped up on the next Model Rail DVD: The Detailing Expert, with the finishing touches added to some of the main players in the film, a Hornby Patriot 4-6-0 and a Bachmann Class 20 DRS conversion (see earlier posts). With a rough edit of the footage now in my possession, I shall be making a start on the script in the next day or two, hopefully with an eye to the programme being available sometime around August. Look out for more info here and in Model Rail magazine.

In the meantime, here are a few images of the Patriot and Royal Scot enhancements, using a pair of Brassmasters detailing kits aimed at the Hornby models. The Patriot has had the full gamut of improved parts added, whilst the Scot has received just a few upgrades, most notably smoke deflectors, bufferbeam and chimney. 

Once painted and blended in with the factory finish, courtesy of a little light weathering, it's hard to tell that so many new bits of brass and whitemetal have been glued onto the Patriot. It's been worth the effort, mind you, as the detailing kit adds an extra degree of finesse to an already good model.

You get a lot of metal for your money with the Brassmasters upgrade kit for the Hornby rebuilt Scot/Patriot

Much of the work is also centred on the tender, with a fire iron tunnel, bulkhead overlays, lifting brackets, lamp irons and new spring/axlebox assemblies.

New bufferbeams, chimneys, domes, top feeds, plus lots of other smaller bits make for an enjoyable project.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Genvan Coupled Up

The finished Gen Van has been coupled-up with Kadees in NEM pockets.

Although I finished my DC Kits Gen Van (see earlier posts) with scale couplings at each end and a full array of brake pipes, with portrait photography in mind, now that I want to run it on a layout, I needed some working NEM-compatible coupling sockets. Fixing them to the bogies was essential to allow for reliable running around curves, but the kit's castings provided no suitable mounting points.

Using some scraps of plastic sheet and section, I simply made my own, making use of a set of Bachmann NEM pockets taken from a 'OO' wagon. I've fitted Kadees to my model but the system also works with the standard slim-line tension lock units too (or any other slot-in NEM type coupling). Other than touch-in painting, this was but a 30minute job and, after testing on my small shunting layout this morning, it works fine. Just ensure that the coupling is at the correct height; use a Kadee height gauge if fitting a set of these knuckle couplings.

The method illustrated below can be adapted to suit any similar kit-building situation, simply tailoring the dimensions to ensure that the couplings sit at the right height above the rails and protrudes far enough to clear the buffers...

Step 1: Gauge the centre of the bogie stretcher and fit a short length of 'L' shaped plastic angle (3.5 x 3.5mm) to the inside edge of the casting. Superglue or epoxy glue will do...

Step 2: While the glue sets, cut some strips of plastic sheet (I used 40thou' thick), approximately 15mm in length and fix the NEM pockets in place at one end. For a low profile appearance, trim the plastic sheet to follow the contours of the pocket. Note that the triangular-section mounting plug of the Bachmann NEM pockets has been removed before fixing. Choose your preferred couplings - Kadee No.18 in this instance - and slot into the pockets...

Step 3: Trial run fixing the NEM pockets to the plastic angle, using something like Tacky Wax or double sided tape for a temporary fixing. Check the height of the coupling against a gauge or other item of rolling stock and make any adjustments, such as adding shims or filing away any excess material. Check again until satisfied...
Step 4: Check also the length by which the couplings protrude, allowing for free movement on curves (especially reverse-curve pointwork) without buffer locking. When absolutely sure, remove the temporary adhesive and fix in place securely with epoxy or cyano. I used Plasti-Zap for a quick, sure bond but beware that this allows only a second or so for adjustment before setting hard.

Detail of the coupling mount: simple and effective.
No.20 Kadees were fitted to my Bachmann/Murphy '181', the Extra Long variety, to cope with the tight curves on my shunting layout. I've always refrained from fitting Kadees to my British-outline stock (except some modern freight stock and a few '66s') but have decided to take the plunge with my Irish stuff.

Friday, 18 June 2010

In Search of Sheds

With a handful of Class 66 detailing and repainting projects in hand, I felt the need to go in search for a little inspiration this morning and, what with the weather having been fine for the last day or two, I set off with my camera up the road to nearby Peak Forest, expecting to see a 'Shed' or two. And that's exactly what I did see: 66140 shunting Dove Holes Quarry and 66077 working a stone load from Tunstead.

As the images show, my luck ran out with the sunshine, although I've become used to that since moving to the Pennines! It started raining soon after I'd bagged these shots and set off for home. It was worth the trip, though, as I got lots of detail images of the 66s from the overbridge, not least as 66140 in particular stopped right underneath a few times, allowing some ultra-close views of the cooler group mesh and the exhaust silencer.

If you look closely, you'll also see a small St George's flag on the front of '140, the DB staff obviously getting into the World Cup mood! How about a recreation of that in 4mm scale?!

Can you see the non-standard livery element beneath the windscreens...?

I liked the St George's flag on 66140's cab. Subtle, but effective!
The flag was only applied at this end only. Note the hi-viz hard hat and newspapers strewn atop the control desk; typical features of a working 66.

66140 has nearly finished marshalling its train at Dove Holes.

I also noted that the former station's garden has been spruced up, with a pond and fountain, no less! Being a fan of ferns, I especially approve of the fernery on the bank. Looks like a nice spot to sit and watch the trains go by...

As 66140 draws the first part of its train forward from Dove Holes, before reversing, 66077 waits patiently in the distance for the road towards Chapel-en-le-Frith.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

DEMU Show Highlights

Realtrack models' CAD artwork for the Class 144 unit is looking impressive.

A busy weekend culminated in a flying visit to the DEMU showcase event at Burton on Sunday, to enjoy the excellent layouts and obtain a few 'bits' from the various traders. I had meant to post this news on Monday but ended up having to run (not literally!) up to Carnforth for the day, to deliver a number of finished models to the Telerail HQ for the final bits of filming on the next Model Rail DVD. Hence why the weekend was pretty hectic, painting and finishing off a DRS '20' and a pair of LMS 4-6-0s in ultra-quick time (look out for future posts). Apart from watching the England game at a friend's house, that was the only break I got over the weekend.... grumble, grumble....

Anyway, this was the first time I'd been to DEMU since the show relocated from Burton Town Hall and, although I always loved the older venue, the Bretby conference centre does offer more space, albeit in a fairly bland setting.

But nevermind, the Realtrack Models stand had a display of their upcoming projects, including the FLA intermodal twin-sets and several pieces of CAD artwork for a brand new rtr Class 144 and 143 dmu. While I'd been privvy to the developments in this project for a while, it was great to see it go public and to hear modellers talking about the new model with enthusiasm.

Personally, I can't wait to see one in the flesh, although it will be next year before that happens. I know that the Pacer family are not the best of trains, but I've always found that they're so bad that they're good, if you know what I mean. They're certainly not dull, especially when you're going over 40mph on jointed track and being bounced around like mad!
See http://www.realtrackmodels.co.uk/ for more details...

Realtrack's FLA twin set is also looking good - this pre-production sample showing off an impressive amount of detail, including excellent printing on the sides.

One of the highlights of the new products - for me at least - was the sight of an unpainted sample of the Hornby Railroad (ex-Lima) Class 40, which should prove popular with detailers - how will it look with an array of Shawplan bits added, I wonder? Simon Kohler mentioned July/August as a possible delivery date for the first batches of '40s' and '33s'.

Most manufacturers know that you can never go wrong with a Scot-Rail branded model and this early shot of a Hornby '156' car in the latest Scottish livery looked very nice.

Another new livery about to emerge is the East Midlands scheme on the new HST power cars. Again, execution looks to be to a high standard.

The OTA timber wagons are still progressing, with both types on display in unpainted format. Will they stop me building the small fleet of Cambrian kits that I've been hoarding for years?
Also of note was the unveiling of a pair of Network Rail wagons and the 'OO' gauge range of caternary on the Dapol stand, plus Bachmann had a pre-production sample of the Class 70, along with a very attractive pair of decorated Cravens DMUs. The Farish display gave me my first glimpse of painted Class 14s, plus an unpainted prototype Deltic - all looking lovely!
You can read about most of these developments in the latest Model Rail (Issue 145), on sale this week!

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Loco Progress

The Brassmasters detail kit for the Hornby Patriot/Scot is certainly comprehensive
Here are some update images of some of the locomotives that I'm currently working on. The pair of ex-LMS Rebuilt 4-6-0s - a Scot and a Patriot - are progressing slowly but well and the DRS 20s, ditto. The Brassmasters detail kits for the Scot/Patriot is comprehensive and a time-consuming business to fit, although a worthwhile project. The models looked nice before, but they're already looking better. I'm looking forward to seeing them painted and weathered.
The DRS Type 1s are also coming along and they're almost ready for decals. I'll be finishing one in the contemporary 'Compass' style and the other in the older livery. Having chosen 20305 as one of the subjects, I shall have to get myself a set of Gresty Bridge nameplates, maybe from the DEMU show at Burton this weekend. That is if I get a chance to service my little old motor car beforehand, as I don't fancy setting out over the hills without at least changing the alternator belt. It's on its last legs, having been whirring around for over 16 years and 120,000 miles!
THe DEMU show looks to have another great line up of layouts and trade stalls and will, I'm sure, be worth the trek. Maybe see you there...?
Smoke deflectors are provided for both types of Stanier rebuilds, each boasting plenty of detail
The tender also needs a bit of work, such as changing the axlebox/spring mouldings and adding a fire iron tunnel inside the bunker

The DRS Class 20 project is progressing, with a coat of blue applied yesterday. Today, I'll be masking up and spraying the black roof. The 37 in the background is another early '80s machine for my colliery layout.

The difference between the old (right) and new (left) Shawplan etches for a Class 20 radiator fan. The new kit has to be built up from several layers and gives a much more authentic replica of the real thing.

Monday, 7 June 2010

CIE Gen Van Finished

My Irish fleet continues to grow (albeit slowly!) with the completion of this DC Kits CIE Gen Van

At long last, the DC Kits Irish Rail 'Dutch' generator van kit is finished. Held up by the intrusion of lots of other tasks for the magazine and DVD projects of recent weeks, I finally managed to complete assembly and apply a weathering job at the end of last week. After photographing the finished van, one side has now been daubed in 4mm scale graffiti, to depict a van languising on the scrap line (I have an idea for a small Irish-themed diorama).

Anyway, more on the DC Kits model in Model Rail 146 but, in the meantime, here's a few images of the finished van...

For now, only scale couplings have been added to the ends, complete with buckeyes in the dropped position (spare from a Heljan Cl33/1). Extra brake pipes and electrical hoses have been added from wire or adapted from various castings from the scrap box.

After weathering, some graffiti slogans have been added using a pack of Microscale decals (from C-Rail). A further coat of grime will tone these down a little. Only one side of the van has been treated thus, for a future book project that I'm working on - more as a demo of the technique than a recreation of a real vehicle. However, I've been scribbling down ideas for an ambiguous railway depot diorama that will let me run a wide variety of models. But it needs much more thought...

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Scenic Expert: The Skaledale Shed

This enhanced Skaledale shed is to appear in the July issue of Model Rail.

Yesterday, I received a flattering email in regard to the new Model Rail DVD, ‘The Scenery Expert’. While my own input to this title was limited to being a foil to the excellent Peter Marriott – a real scenic expert if ever there was one – MR reader Geoff Castle asked about the Skaledale shed that appears towards the end of the programme.

Having enjoyed a complete repaint inside and out, plus a detailed interior, it’s a Skaledale building that’s been knocking around my shed for a few years. In fact, it appeared in a snow scene in a Christmas issue of Model Rail a few years ago. When that diorama was ‘recycled’, the shed was cleaned of the snow covering and packed away, assuming that it would come in useful again someday.

When we moved office in early 2009, we had a bit of a clearout and I managed to bag a loco shed diorama that, although pretty badly damaged, did have some real potential for redevelopment. While the full story of the re-modelling will appear in the July issue, the small Skaledale shed did, indeed, prove very useful.

The shed has already appeared in Model Rail, as part of this Festive snow scene a few years back.

Another upgrade to the building was the replacement of the shed doors. The big lumps of resin were removed and replaced with a scratchbuilt pair, crafted from stripwood with brass hinges. The difference can be appreciated by glancing at the two images above. Now coupled with an S&C-style Skaledale water tower and a Ten Commandments coaling stage, the completed scene looks pretty convincing. Just painting Skaledale (or Scenecraft) buildings to a better standard makes a big difference, especially if you use the same stone shades across the board; making everything look like it’s meant to be together in the same scene.