Thursday, 23 September 2010

MR Live Layout ready

Here are a few sneak preview pics of a small MPD-based layout that I've just finished, to be displayed over this weekend at Model Rail LIVE at Barrow Hill Roundhouse. Pardon the fuzzy quality of the images - they were taken in my shed, well after midnight last night, on my phone as I put the final touches in place and readied the layout for transport.

Ben's clogging up North this morning to collect it en-route to setting up the show at Barrow Hill and, while it's looking fairly complete, there's still quite a bit to do. Not least the wiring and a few other structures, including a large chimney to accompany the factory (not in these views).

Contained completely on a single 4x2ft board, the MPD building kit is from, with various other bits either kit-built or off-the-shelf. A full feature will appear in Model Rail magazine in due course - once it's fully finished that is!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

The Pug, the Giesel and the MPD

Tower Models' O gauge 'Pug' is a real beauty. Can't wait to get it numbered, crewed and weathered!

This has been an interesting and varied last few days, with a lovely O gauge 'Pug' 0-4-0ST landing on my doormat (so to speak), a few review projects finished and a small MPD diorama under frantic construction. The Tower Models 'Pug' is to be finished for a competition prize, which is a shame on my part as I've already fallen in love with the thing... not sure I can afford one for myself, especially as it will only sit on a shelf. Ho hum.

The loco is to be numbered-up as a Bristol-based machine and I'm looking forward to adding a few extra bits and bobs plus a lightly weathered finish - a nice change from my mostly OO output. Funnily enough, I've been working on a few O gauge wagon kits recently, so I'll have something to pose the finished loco with. Just need to build a suitable diorama...

The cab interior is impressive and will repay some detail painting and addition of a few extras, such as crew, oil cans and a lump or two of coal.

I've also been getting through a few product trials and reviews for Model Rail, most notably a very nice conversion kit for a Giesel chimney - or should I say 'ejector' - for a J94 Austerity tank from RT Models. Not a difficult thing to fit, it makes a handy little project to add a bit of variety to your fleet. My J94's destined for a repaint into NCB colours for my colliery layout, based on a real Giesel-fitted Austerity that worked up at Wearmouth Colliery in the North East. But that project will have to wait for another day...

This Giesel ejector has been fitted to a Hornby J94 'Austerity'.

More pressing is a small layout-cum-diorama that I promised to build for the Model Rail LIVE event that is nearly upon us (25-26 Sept). Some fairly frantic kit-building is going on to create the various MPD and surrounding buildings, nearly all formed from Scalescenes kits. These are fantastic kits, but they're not the quickest to put together, so a bit of midnight oil burning may be in order (I started the MPD at 5am this morning and am waiting for the laminated walls to dry before gluing them together!).

The clock's ticking on the MPD diorama for Model Rail LIVE... an inspection pit was sunk yesterday.

As for the layout's track, it was all laid properly yesterday, along with an inspection pit and all power feed wires soldered to the rails - but not connected-up as yet. The rails have all been painted and weathered, leaving the ballast and hardstanding to be added over the next few days. Will it be finished in time? I hope so. Either way, you'll be able to see it at Model Rail LIVE or in the magazine at a later date. I'll also put a few pics on here in due course...

This handsome MPD kit is one of the many downloadable products from

Friday, 10 September 2010

Lessons in the art of airbrushing and weathering

Get a perfect finish on your models by learning how to get the best from your airbrush on April 7th 2011.

I'm pleased to announce that, in conjunction with The Airbrush Company, I’ll be taking two one-day courses in the art of airbrush painting and weathering for railway modellers.

Day One features 'General Airbrushing for Railway Modellers', with an in-depth, practical look at how airbrushes can bring a heightened realism to your finishing work. There will also be demonstrations of air supplies, mixing and thinning paints and various airbrushing techniques.

Learn how to create a polished but lived-in finish such as this in the 'Weathering Techniques for Railway Modellers' day class on April 8th 2011

I'll be showing how I create a distressed and layered weathered finish to my models...

'Weathering Techniques for Railway Modellers' is the subject of Day Two, with a hands-on study of how to create ultra-realistic models using an airbrush. Tools, paints and materials are covered, along with a range of special techniques such as distressing and buffing paintwork to create anything from a light misting of track dirt to a heavy coating of filth! Rolling stock, buildings and scenery will be covered.

Whether you're a relative novice or more experienced modeller, each course will offer something for you.

Please note that both courses are not designed for the absolute beginner: The Airbrush Company already offer some great classes for the novice. Rather, both days will build on a general understanding and basic practical knowledge of how to use an airbrush.

The courses run on April 7th and 8th 2011 and are based at The Airbrush Company's premises in Lancing, West Sussex. Running from 10am to 5pm, students will have access to a wide range of high quality airbrushes, paints and equipment. A maximum of 8 places are available for each day, so book early to avoid disappointment!

Prices are £95 per person for each day (inc.VAT) and refreshments are provided.
Call Lisa Munro on 01903 767800 for more details, or go to
Alternatively, click on the following links for more information:

Maybe see you there!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Two Blue CCTs

This smart Parkside Dundas kit was built sometime around Summer 2000 but has sat unfinished until last week.

As discussed in the previous posting, I've been working on a Weathering Supertest for Model Rail issue 149 (on sale Oct 7th) and one of the best by-products of this feature has been the chance to weather some of my backlog of built kits and ready-to-run (RTR) stock. While testing new or unfamiliar products carries an element of risk, I've alloted the models according to how confident I've been with each paint or pigment.

Therefore, some of the kit-built vehicles have been reserved for products that I already know well or, at least, have heard positive comments about. In contrast, RTR stuff has been given 'guinea pig' status! Two models of particular note are a pair of ex-LMS CCT vans that I built/modified some years ago and, although they were painted at the time. they never received the weathering jobs that I'd envisaged, instead being packed away in a box for 10 years. Indeed, I can remember building the Parkside 4-wheel van in my wife's office in Liverpool University - come to think of it, we weren't even married then, so it IS a long time ago!!

This modified Lima CCT has waited almost as long to be finished. The sides have been 'plated over' during life-extension repairs, but it's still riding on a set of BR bogies instead of the more appropriate LMS units - a set of castings have been ordered...!

The modified Lima bogie van was done sometime around 2004 (I think), being inspired by a similar model featured in Rail Express Modeller magazine. However, I've just realised why this particular van had remained only partially finished: the bogies are wrong, so are in need of  replacement with LMS-pattern units. Oh well, I hope it won't be another 6 years before it finally gets signed off ready for service...

Both vans have been weathered with the wipe-on-wipe-off method, the 4-wheel version using Lifecolor acrylics and the bogie van with MIG oil-based washes. Extra track dust and roof dirt were added with MIG and Vallejo weathering powders.  

This new set of Com-Art weathering acrylics have also been tested (on a Dapol van). I've been impressed with these: ready to spray, great value and well worth a try. Spray on a low pressure for best results - about 10psi.
 See for more details.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Testing Times (or Weathering the Storm...)

This Bachmann Presflo now looks much more authentic with a coating of cement dust. Getting the powder to stick needed some chemical intervention - find out how I did it in MR149!
The past week or two has seen just the odd bit of practical modelling going on, with lots of 'writing-up' going on instead. I seem to have built up about a dozen demonstration features for Model Rail, but they've simply created a backlog of stuff to put into words and be made ready for submission to our designers. I've also been working on the next Supertest for MR149, dealing with various weathering products, which has been very enjoyable. On the down side, I spent a while the other night washing down my workbench after making something of a mess with weathering powders - I'd also got streaks of 'rust' and 'soot' all over my face and probably walked out for lunch without realising I had Rambo-style camouflage on my cheeks... it explains why everyone gave me a wide berth in the coffee shop!

I've used Vallejo acrylic paints for a while, but these powdered pigments are a recent find - they're worth every penny!

The Supertest has thrown up some fantastic products, some of which I hadn't tried before, such as Vallejo Pigments and washes from MIG and Pro-Modeller. Most of these were discovered when reading through various military and aviation modelling magazines that I take monthly. Having a passing interest in these other disciplines keeps me up to date with other techniques, tools and materials that can be translated for railway use. If you're interested, I recommend the following titles: AFV and AIR Modeller (bi-monthly), Scale Aviation Modelling and Scale Aircraft Modelling.

Although there's not that many different shades available, these MIG stain washes are great fun to use.

Getting good results without an airbrush (1): This Hornby '60' has been given a lightly weathered finish using Tamiya pigments.

Getting good results without an airbrush (2): powders offer the chance to create very realistic effects if used carefully. This 'Pug' suits the dusty appearance of soot, ash and track dirt.

Today I'll be tidying up the last bits of the Weathering Supertest - that includes a couple of indepth step-by-step demonstrations, showing how to use the various products - and trialling the last set of paints that I've just received. A big pack of 10 jars of Com-Art acrylic weathering paints arrived the other day, so I'll be pootling out to my shed after breakfast to give them a whirl.
Look out for Model Rail issue 149 (out Oct 7th) for the full low-down on a great many weathering products...
Com-Art paints have a big reputation amongst artists - will they cut the mustard on model railways? This weathering pack offers a broad range of useful shades.