Monday, 30 April 2012


NCB No.1 has started work at Maudetown Colliery.

A couple of hours, grabbed between laying paving flags and tending the vegetable beds, has seen my Knightwing diesel shunter kit completed over the weekend. The weathering still needs a little more work and there's a couple more tiny details to fix in place, but it's more or less finished. The Black Beetle motor bogie has been installed and the loco has made it's first forays into shunting Maudetown's sidings. She's quite a nice runner, helped by the 'ballast' fixed inside the bodyshell and there have been no problems shifting my rake of loaded HAA hoppers. Mind you, as the layout's only small, I only run a maximum of six wagons, so that's unlikely to tax 'No.1'.

I'd been ruminating on what to christen the little engine, as my other industrial locos have been given feminine names. However, in its late-70s/early-80s yellow livery, 'No.1' has more of a masculine air, but I thought putting a guy's name on would be a bit dull. However, after rummaging through my spares box, I came across a solitary Imperial nameplate, salvaged from a Class 37 project of yesteryear - and this seemed as good a name as any. I think it adds a bit of class!

I've probably said it before, but this is a cracking little kit and I'm already planning on building another! A full demo of how I built, motorised and finished the loco is to appear in my next book, more details of which will appear here later in the year.

Friday, 27 April 2012


A larger and different shaped board is now complete.

My long awaited extension to Maudetown Colliery began last year, with another 4ft x 1ft 6in baseboard built to match the first scenic board. However, no sooner had I finished gluing it all together, than I became fed up with my plan and there the project has stalled. However, with a break and some fresh ideas, I've just built another board, a few inches longer and in a sort of wedge shape to allow some interesting buildings and scenery to be built in the corner. Once the glue dries, I'll be tidying up the edges and getting down to finalising the exact track plan after coupling this board up to the original.

It really helps to put some distance between yourself and a project for a while, especially if things aren't going so well. The break away last week allowed me to ponder the layout plan and work out exactly what I wanted to include and what I could live without. Hopefully, once I get a bit of momentum going on the track-laying, the extension will start to take shape.  All the buildings are already in hand, with a few more kits to put together, so it's starting to feel like 'All Systems Go'. But I don't want to speak too soon...

Wednesday, 25 April 2012


Back to work after a short break in the South East 

I might have been home for a few days now, but it's taken a while to settle back into the day-to-day work routine, not least as I spent a day and a half simply wading through emails! However, a sense of normality has now returned and I've just been testing some exciting new weathering dyes from ModelMates for a Model Rail Workbench Test in issue 171.

Last week was spent in not-so-sunny West Sussex where we seemed to bring the damp Northern weather to the drought-threatened South. The little village we stayed in suffered light flooding and a two-day power cut, so the break was not without incident. But, hey, it was all good fun. On the way to our digs, I took the opportunity to call in at the Mid Hants Railway HQ at Alresford. Unfortunately, it was a Monday and no services were running, but the station was open and I had a good look around. The shop in the old goods shed was also open for business and I treated myself to a couple of Dapol LMS coach kits, having been inspired by the article in the latest Model Rail.

The reason for the jolly down south was to teach my airbrushing courses in Lancing over two days and they both went really well. A big thank you to everyone who came along - it was great to meet you all and I hope you keep practicing!!

Alresford Station retains a convincingly authentic atmosphere, despite being located in a large pay-and-display car park. Just a shame I couldn't make it on an operating day, but sometimes it's nice to just have a mooch around without the crowds.

Saturday, 21 April 2012


Yellow it is for the diminutive NCB shunter.

After a little prevarication over the choice of colour, I've opted for my original fancy with a coat of BR warning yellow. The primed body was pre-shaded first with a dirty black, airbrushed into the grilles, recesses and corners before the yellow was misted over. It took quite a few very thin coats to get the yellow up to full opacity, but without obscuring the darker shading and I've also added some patches of a slightly paler yellow here and there to suggest fading. More targeted weathering will follow once the yellow has cured for a few days. Oh, and there's the 'wasp' ends to take care of too...

Saturday, 14 April 2012


Primer coat goes on, Blues go out!

While struggling to handle the tension of listening to the Liverpool v Everton cup semi final, I retreated to my shed with my lucky radio and red scarf. A bit of priming went on, along with a few livery coats on a couple of wagons and a carriage, but I was finding it hard to concentrate. And when Carroll scored L'pool's winner at the end, I almost spilt dirty thinners all down my kecks! In my present euphoria, I'm thinking of not painting the Knightwing shunter red instead of yellow, as originally planned...

The boy comes good - two late winners in two games for Oor Andy! (Photo taken from BBC Sport)

Wednesday, 11 April 2012


NCB loco awaits turn in paint shop.

Further to my posting on Easter Monday, I managed to finish the assembly of the Knightwing diesel shunter kit last night. It seemed the best way of easing the stress of listening to Liverpool's eventful match last night. If things carry on with LFC's goalie crisis, then maybe King Kenny will come knocking on my door for the cup semi final against Everton this weekend. Not for me, you understand (I've retired), but for Pepsie Grobbelaar the amazing goalkeeping Collie dog.

I used to be pretty handy between the sticks in my youth, but Pepper is by far the most amazing footballing dog I've ever come across. Her positional sense may let her down a bit and Kenny would have a job getting her to stay in the box, but she certainly never gives up. What's more, she'd show those Blue Noses a thing or two about close control and aerial dominance. As long as Fellaini and Cahill don't resort to their usual dirty tricks (ie. Schmacko doggy treats) to distract her attention at corners or set plays, the Mighty Reds could have a new goalie hero to rank alongside Lawrence, Clemence, Grobbelaar, Dudek and Reina...

"Pepsie. Pepsie Grobbelaar, Pepsie Grobbelaar in our goal...!" Could this cute little dog be the next Kop idol?
Getting back to the Knightwing shunter, patient rubbing down and buffing up of the bonnet assembly has resulted in a very smooth, gap-free profile (without the need for filling). Indeed, the whole kit went together almost faultlessly, as most Knightwing plastic kits tend to. A short vertical exhaust pipe, from brass tube, is the only extra detail that I've added, save for the brass buffers mentioned in the previous post. A coat of white primer will be next, before the yellow coats are added.

Also completed last night was another NCB wagon for Maudetown. A combo of Dapol body and Parkside kit-built chassis, the original P.J.& J.P. markings are still visible through the grime.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012


 Exciting range of models commissioned by On Tracks.

I recently received an electronic copy of the new catalogue from Golden Valley Hobbies and there are some very exciting projects in the pipeline. Readers may have already seen images and news of the NCB-branded Barclay 0-6-0T adapted from the Electrotren 'HO' range and I've got my eye on one of these for my own colliery layout. But, there are a number of War Department vehicles that may also prove a drain on my piggy bank.

Firstly, the wonderful little Breuer shunting tractor (Rivarossi) is being made available not only in BR livery but in Allied WD condition which will be perfect for my WW2 North African layout. Incidentally, the BR version is based on an example captured in Libya and repatriated for use in military and quarry interchange sidings up to the late 1940s. The other little wonder is a rail-adapted Land Rover commission from Oxford die-cast. Although it's not a powered model, it'll look great parked in a siding on a 1960s-era military railway. I came across images of similarly adapted US 'Willy' Jeeps in WW2, in use by British troops in Burma, while in the photo archives of the Imperial War Museum a couple of years ago.

The catalogue includes other highlights, such as the ubiquitous DB ferry van that was a common sight in the UK in the 1940s and 1950s, plus other military loco, wagon and carriage subjects. Plus, there are a number of more recent train ferry wagons for the 1970-1990s BR modeller.

Each model is being produced in limited quantities only, so you may need to act fast to secure the products you need. More info will appear in the next Model Rail magazine (out on 19 April) or contact Golden Valley Hobbies direct, via On Tracks.

Saturday, 7 April 2012


Another kit project begins to take shape.

After leaving the narrow gauge stock to cure overnight, I felt like I was on a roll and started on a Knightwing Models kit that I've had lying around for years. After rooting around, I also found a Black Beetle of almost the correct wheelbase. Hopefully, once it's all finished, you won't be able to notice the 1mm discrepancy between the axle centres.

With a view to creating another shunting loco for Maudetown Colliery, this delightful kit should really look the part. I've already upgraded the buffers with turned brass replacements (A1 Models) and etched backplates (Shawplan) and am wondering what other small additions I can make. However, the kit offers everything from handrails, cab interior and flush glazing, so it might not need much extra investment. Perhaps most important, though, is the choice of colour scheme - as a break from the ubiquitous NCB blue of the rest of my fleet, I'm tempted with a bright yellow finish...

With the motor bogie temporarily fitted, the loco has been happily chugging up and down my test track.

Friday, 6 April 2012


Kit building brings relief.

Well, the Easter holidays have got off to a good start, with plenty of rain hereabouts. So, with plenty of household chores to avoid, I skulked off to my workshop for a few hours and built a trio of 'OO9' narrow gauge wagon kits for my colliery layout. The Parkside Dundas kits took very little time to put together and have been filled with Liquid Gravity (Deluxe Materials), to add sufficient ballast, secured with dilute PVA and left to cure overnight. The guard's van has already been fitted with N gauge buckeyes, but I haven't decided upon couplings for the two open vehicles yet - will probably opt for wire and loops with translator wagons marshalled at either end to match up with the buckeyes on my little OO9 loco, Doris.

Not a bad way to spend a wet afternoon - but I hope the weather bucks up for the rest of the weekend... Happy Easter to everyone!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012


Airfix Meat Van Kit Completed.

As mentioned previously, I've been working on a few old Airfix wagon kits that have been knocking about in my collection since the early 1980s. This BR 12t meat van was one of the oldest and, despite the body being a bit damaged (from an early, aborted attempt at assembly), looks pretty good. The kit is nearly as old as I am, but probably looks more youthful...

In an earlier post, I showed how the underframe had been upgraded to include compensated etched brass axleguards and these offer a vast improvement to the chassis. Again, as has already been mentioned, the original waterslide transfers have been used, save for the BR running number that came from a Fox pack - I still can't believe that they worked so well, with no sign of yellowing or cracking.

One of the last steps has been to finish the roof: thin paper has been applied, with a couple of holes and lifting corners to mimic damaged roofing felt. This is the first time that I've tried this technique and, while it isn't perfect, I'm happy enough with the results. All that's lacking now is a set of working couplings, but I've run out of my favourite Smiths units, so they're on the list for my next trip to the model shop.  

Incidentally, other Airfix kits currently under construction include a pair of Prestwins, a 16t mineral and a few Esso tankers. I'm also putting the finishing touches to a modified Peco 4whl milk tanker from the Wonderful Wagon Kit series, which has proved more successful than I'd expected...

Sunday, 1 April 2012


The O gauge Peco crane kit mentioned previously has been painted and is ready for the cable and hook to be fitted before siting on the diorama. The paint finish is a bit rough and ready, being wholly airbrushed using a variety of 'dirty' shades of acrylic. I'll be touching in a few bits by hand once the assembly is complete, but nothing too fancy. I'm aiming for the look of a machine that hasn't seen regular use or maintenance for a while.

Also over the weekend, a couple of 7mm wagon kits have progressed well,  plus a few OO projects, including  baseboard construction for Maudetown Colliery's extension - more will follow on these projects during the week.