Monday, 28 May 2012


Weekend sees shed organised (a bit).

In the scorching heat of the weekend, I managed to re-clad another section of my shed, inside and out, leaving just one side left to do. Things are getting exciting, as I've been waiting years to get my shed sorted into some form of organised arrangement. Hopefully, it'll make working on my various layout projects much more straightforward. Although I won't be able to set them up for running inside, they're all designed for quick setting up on trestles on the patio or in the dining room. However, there is room for each of the baseboards to be worked on separately, which is the main thing.

After the heavy work of demolishing and rebuilding one wall, I just had enough timber left to construct a simple but effective layout stacker, designed for easy storage of each of my various 4ft baseboards. With space for four 'OO' boards (and a single 'N' project squeezed in), workbench behind the camera allows for work on the fifth one (Maudetown's extension). It's now easy to swap between, with the shelf runners being lubricated (rubbed with a candle) to ease sliding the boards on and off.

The only fly in the ointment is my diorama of Dent station (seen above, laid on the floor with its back to the camera), which is longer than all my other boards. It's future is doubt for a number of reasons, not least as 12 years has seen very little real progress. One idea is to keep the board, but swap over to 'N' gauge and get much more of the scenery in, which was the whole reason for me choosing Dent in the first place. There's no way that the boards will not be used for something, however, as they're the best I've ever built, back in the days when I had time to cut dovetail and half-lap joints by hand...

Maudetown's No.1 baseboard atop its new perch. After years of my layouts being dumped wherever I could find space and many, many breakages, the new stacking shelves should keep them in one piece. Clear plastic dust sheets keep them clean.

Thursday, 24 May 2012


 Maudetown's new baseboard gets track.

Use of a 3-way point and short diamond crossing allow more track to fit into the space. It's all Code 75 Peco for the 'OO' trackwork, with Code 55 'N' for the narrow gauge line. 

As mentioned the other day, I've been working on reorganising my shed to finally free up enough room to allow me to work on my layout projects in some degree of comfort. There's still much to do, but at least I have more space now than at any point in the last 3 years! I've also been out and bought the necessary track and points for Maudetown's extension and the trackplan has now been finalised and set-out full size to make sure it all fits.

The track on the first baseboard will have to be modified slightly, with the short stub siding (currently used as a watering/servicing point for locomotives) soon to become a through line, linking up with the lower of the 3 standard gauge lines visible above (on the left hand side). This will allow locos to run-round their trains while allowing a rake of loaded and empty wagons to stand in both sidings. Loco facilities will be relocated to the two small sidings on the right.

The narrow gauge line, also complete with short run-round loop, will enter the foreground, emerging from a low relief building on the extreme right. I'm using N gauge track rather than OO9 on grounds of cost (I already had the track and points) and, besides, I aim to sink the rails into deep ash ballast. I had thought of using 'HO'/'N' dual gauge cross-overs, as suggested by a reader of this Blog some months back, but am now not sure - I'm trying to keep this as low-cost as possible, with the wiring kept simple.

Doris and her new train of wagons and brake van try out the narrow gauge system.

The GD layout tower! In the shed, there are 5 layouts stacked rather precariously on top of each other, with Dent Station on the bottom, Maudetwon on the top, with a bit of the Egyption desert somewhere in the middle!

Monday, 21 May 2012


Budget 37 another step on way to completion.

There has been some frenetic action in my shed over the past few days - I played host to a lovely old gent from down the road for most of Saturday morning, who filled me in on life in these parts in the 1930s & 40s, as well as his hobby of building miniatures (houses and furniture). I could have chewed the cud with him all day.

But, after that, the decks were cleared and some more progress was made on replacing the shed's rotten external cladding. I've just got 1 and a bit sides left to do, then the inside can get a full re-fit and, hopefully, some order can be achieved. For the past 5 years, I've managed to keep working, despite it being a tip. But a more professional-looking workspace may soon be within reach. Well, I did say maybe...

Just before the south-facing wall was demolished, I touched in the roof, cabs and yellow ends of my detailed Railroad Class 37. Compared to the last posting on this project, the bodyshell is already looking more refined. I masked the model only roughly whilst airbrushing the black roof fan and cab windscreens. Ditto for the yellow ends, with the modified areas primed in white first (airbrushed) and the Railmatch late BR yellow just misted over the local areas.

There's a little discrepancy in shades of yellow, but the airbrush allows this to be blended subtly, giving the effect of natural fading. the '414' repeater numbers have been partially obscured by the new paint, so some decals will have to be added, but I cleaned off the new paint on the OHW flashes with a cocktail stick and white spirit. The marker light lenses were covered with little blobs of Blu-Tack.

Once the orange jumper cable boxes and missing cantrail stripe have been touched in, the weathering process can begin.

Thursday, 17 May 2012


Classic container style recreated.
As part of a wider look at modelling post-1960s container traffic, I've just put the finishing touches to a few 'boxes' for Model Rail issue 171. Instead of just concentrating on the modern, ubiquitous ISO container, I thought I'd inject a bit of 1970s/80s nostalgia by building a Knightwing plastic kit of an older type of Freightliner 20ft box. After the original grey-with-red-waistband livery of 1965 to the late 70s, Freightliner developed the red triangular device, with repeater stripe and this was applied to wagons, cranes, trucks and even locos. It's a simple bit of graphic design, but a very effective one. The post-privatisation Freightliner TOC carried on using the logo for a short time before the adoption of the green/yellow scheme.

Although Fox do some suitable transfers for Class 47 locos, there's nothing (that I could find at least) for the containers. So, I used the Fox pack for the Freightliner lettering and improvised the other markings from the scrap box. The red traingle and stripe were masked-up and sprayed. Incidentally, Fox do a transfer pack for the short-lived Maxi- and Mini-Link container traffic of the late 70s, which would make for a nice modelling project.

My rusty, neglected box is destined to sit around my loco depot layout - a common sight in the 80s & 90s as the boxes found a new use as cheap, portable stores.  
Also off the production line is this C-Rail Intermodal Bulktainer. Built from a plastic kit about 5 years ago, I've finally gotten around to painting and finishing it in the old IFF scheme (transfers also from C-Rail). This livery is suitable for the late BR period - just a shame that the majority of RTR freightliner wagons are aimed at the post privatisation scene. Hopefully, someone will bring out a 21st Century quality rake of BR's original FFA/FGAs...

Freightliner operations c.1990. Well, almost! BR blue modellers would appreciate some original style container flats in RTR form.

Monday, 14 May 2012


A Quick Weekend Shift for NCB No.1

It's a time of great upheaval at Maudetown Colliery, in this early 1980s view. But, it's not down to Thatcher's mission to kill-off the Unions and switch to cheaper imported fossil fuels. Rather, the shed in which the layout is housed has seen some further renovation work over begin overt the weekend. Before the layout was packed away into store, I set up my camera and gave NCB No.1 Imperial a quick run around the sidings.  The motorised Knightwing kit looks just the job shuffling vac-braked stock and the yellow livery adds some vibrant colour to the surroundings. Hopefully, the rest of the shed rebuilding won't take too long and Maudetown can be set up properly with its new extension - but everything is depending on the weather over the next few weekends...

No.1 positions a tank wagon beside the water column. The site relies on deliveries of treated water from down the valley, to keep the resident steam engines topped-up. Although, at this time, the use of 'puff-puffs' is becoming an increasingly rare occurrence.

Friday, 11 May 2012


 Northlights added to Maudetown's workshops. 

Mention was made last year of my intention of adding extra storeys and a set of northlights to the row of workshop buildings on Maudetown Colliery. Well, the northlights have been fitted, but I have abandoned the 2 storey expansion in favour of a different array of taller buildings on the second baseboard. Visually it will, hopefully, create a better balance overall.
Like the low relief buildings, the northlights are produced in cast stone by Ten Commandments and have been painted and weathered before fixing in place with PVA glue.

I've also made a start with painting the similar buildings before fitting them to the second baseboard. I'm using some of Ten Commandment's newer low relief structures, designed to match those seen above, with extra panels with large doors, windows or plain brickwork. There's also goods loading platforms and timber lean-to sheds. They're great fun to work with and, with a decent paint job, they look great. Making use of the same brand/type of buildings throughout the layout will help everything blend together.

After painting, I just had to flatten the bottom edge before fixing to the warehouse building roofs. The Ten Commandments northlights are reversible, with embossed detail on both faces - just point the shorter side northwards!

Painting and weathering the various building sections before planting on the layout makes life a lot easier.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012


Class 37s dominate Bank Holiday weekend activities.

Work on my Railroad Class 37 has advanced a little since my last post, along with a couple more Type 3s. Using the Vi-Trains '37' as a basis, I've embarked on a Class 37/9 conversion (to Mirlees engined 37901) and a more up to date DRS project, provisionally set as a copy of 37606. A man can never have enough Class 37s...

The 37/9 job is using an A1 Models conversion kit, along with plenty of Shawplan goodies, while the DRS loco has received a set of cast resin nose ends from PH Designs. I'm undecided over whether to fit replacement windscreen surrounds, as has been done on the Railroad model. Time and cost are important factors, but I'll probably relent and spend the extra few quid. It has to be said that, once you've fitted these windscreens to a couple of models, the job is subsequently easier and quicker - the Railroad 37 was treated in about an hour. And they do look superb, especially when the laser-cut glazing is fitted. 

There you go, I've talked myself into it already..!

The Railroad 37 has progressed since the previous posting, with new buffers (A1), horns (Craftsman), bufferbeam equipment and lamp brackets (from Vi-Trains detail packs).

Friday, 4 May 2012


Ex-BR Class 08 at work at Maudetown.
The new bufferbeams give this Hornby 08 a sense of individuality and the Shawplan laserglaze makes a massive difference to the cab.
I hinted a few weeks back that I'd been working on a BR blue Class 08, trying to make the pre-shading method of weathering work on a locomotive. Well, the model has been finished for a short while but only entered service at Maudetown Colliery last night. I'm really happy with the faded and worn BR blue livery (applied over a triple grey factory scheme) and it was a real bonus to be able to mask up and preserve the original wasp ends, rather than have to apply them from scratch.

The model is a Hornby product, originally a Class 09, but with all the air brake gear removed and, befitting its second lease of life in industrial use, the vac brake has also been isolated as it will be employed shifting unfitted wagons around the colliery sidings. It's not based on any prototype, but was simply something I fancied doing with a spare model that was hanging around.

The major detail change lies in the bufferbeams, where some new etched brass overlays have been fitted to represent the distinctive early pattern of bufferbeams (not available on the Hornby or Bachmann 08s). the rectangular lifting eyes and different rivet pattern are markedly different to the later style. Look out for a detailed review of these parts in Model Rail issue 172 and a later article will show I achieved the weathered finish. The etched bufferbeams also include coupling guards and cross brace, as seen below, and are available now from the PH Designs website

Wednesday, 2 May 2012


Ex Lima Class 37 gets some TLC.

Having been consigned to a box of 'scrap' models for testing weathering techniques and materials, this Hornby Railroad Class 37 has been granted a second chance. After using it in one of my latest weathering classes, I wondered if something could be done with it, not least as my large collection of EE Type 3s is lacking a Regional Railways-liveried example. Especially as I have a pack of Model Rail's limited edition 'Reggie Rlys' Mk2s awaiting weathering. 

So, with a new set of Extreme Etchings windscreens, new buffers and a few more etched bits to fit, the loco is starting to look more than a cheap trainset product. There's still a few incurable anomalies inherent in the ex-Lima moulding, but I'm not too bothered by them. Hopefully, once the full super-detail and weathering treatment has been completed, they won't be so obvious.

It took a while to rub away the layers of acrylic weathering paints that had been applied in the classroom and this has also served to distress the livery a little, which will help with the weathering stage. This is a decidedly 'slow burn' project, with no deadline - it's purely for my own amusement - so progress may be slow. But any developments will appear here in time...