Tuesday, 31 July 2012


Upgrade for Bachmann's Southern stock 

I've had a bunch of detailing components for Bachmann's Bulleid coaching stock hanging around in my 'to do' box for some time. Although I'm not much of a Southern Railway enthusiast, I received a couple of these Bulleid coaches as a gift some years back and have been keen to improve them in some way. They're quite long in the tooth and not exactly up to 21st Century RTR standards, but they do have great potential. Most of the detailing parts are from the No Nonsense Kits range, now marketed by Phoenix Precision Paints and the most notable upgrade lies in these etched brass and white-metal bogies, which are a big improvement over the original plastic mouldings.

The bodyshell is next to be treated, with a number of detail upgrades planned, using some etched bits, some improvised additions and working gangway connections from Keen Systems.

See Model Rail issue 174 (out in September) for the full low-down on this project.

Thursday, 26 July 2012


Lima Class 47 gets a new set of wheels
Lima 47 AFTER: The refined outline and improved performance make this set of Ultrascale wheels well worth the money.

I've just finished re-wheeling a number of my more 'senior' locomotives, namely a few Lima and Hornby diesel and electric outline models dating from the 1980s and '90s, using the replacement sets offered by Ultrascale. I'd ordered a bunch a few years ago and have just got round to fitting the last set. They make such a massive difference to the appearance of a loco, but also help with improved power collection and smoother running over finescale track. Indeed, I'll be ordering a few more in the near future to complete the upgrade programme, with a Lima 87 and a couple of single car DMUs at the top of the list...

Look out for a demo of fitting these replacement sets in Model Rail issue 174 (out in early September).

Lima 47 BEFORE: although not immediately obvious, thanks to the nicely moulded bogies, the wheels are a bit chunky and struggle over this Code55 track.

Monday, 23 July 2012


Monday morning in the Dent Workshop

First day back at work after a week's holiday on the North York Moors Railway and I'm wishing I was still pottering about Levisham station, in the silence and fresh air, waiting to hear a steam whistle in the distance. With my dog snoozing lazily under a platform bench and the only sound being the rustling of trees, birds singing and the crickets in the long grass.

But, alas, I'm back in my little shed trying to sort through emails and arrange the next few weeks of work. The next issue of Model Rail goes to press on Thursday too, so things are a bit busy. While I'm not one to moan, I'm glad that I've got a job that I look forward to starting every day, but I do wish my workshop was located somewhere a bit more exciting. Lineside on the NYMR, for instance. Or up near Dent station... But how about this shed (above), mounted on a loco tender chassis and sitting in Grosmont MPD. Now that would be a great place to work. They could shunt me about for a change of scenery!

Thursday, 19 July 2012


This week's loco highlights on the NYMR

BR Std 4 75029 The Green Knight has been hauling the Grosmont-Whitby services.

Ex-Eastfield 37264 has been busy on the diesel diagram, although only one side of the loco has been finished, the other being without number or any other markings!

More commonly to be found on the East Lancs or the mainline, D9000 is developing a nice grimy finish while sitting at Grosmont MPD. This should see some action over the summer season.

My first sighting of Sir Nigel Gresley in steam - working the return leg of the mid-day diner train.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012


Making the most of the dry(ish) weather.

Pickering Station's new roof looks magnificent and adds even more atmosphere.

Been to Pickering, North Yorkshire, for sunshine, steam trains and walks across the moors. Bliss!

You can glimpse LNER cast into this length of bullhead rail on the mainline.

When you get out into the deep countryside, the tracks simply blend into the verdant surroundings.
This loco needs a bit of TLC. Currently stored at New Bridge PW Yard.

Thursday, 12 July 2012


Progress on Dapol kit requires a break from building tradition.

My long-running project to build a motorised version of the Dapol Park Royal railbus kit has seen some progress this evening. With the scratchbuilt interior complete and populated, I've now fixed the roof in place and filled any tiny gaps. Once this has dried, I'll be tidying up the bodywork before masking up the windows prior to painting.

I don't normally work this way, preferring to paint bodies before adding glazing, but this kit has left me with little choice. I could probably have come up with some way of making the roof removable but the parts are not very well-fitting (if that's a usable term) and I want the model to look good first and foremost. And I don't have much time in which to finish it.

The bus has had a quick test run on my layout and it crawls along sweetly, under the power of the belt-driven Bull-Ant motor and chassis. Indeed, I can't wait to get the painting out of the way and get the little chugger into action.

Friday, 6 July 2012


Marathon kit-build is now virtually complete.

As has been described in numerous previous Blog posts and a few article in Model Rail, I've been wrestling with this DJH kit of the famous Highland Railway 4-6-0 for some time. Happily, it's now virtually complete and has been running-in on my test track over the past week. There's a few snags to take care of, mainly in terms of allowing the loco to go round curves which is something that it seems to not have been designed to do. Having fettled and adjusted, fettled and adjusted, then fettled and adjusted even more, I've decided to order a smaller set of wheels for the leading bogie and sacrifice some of the scale appearance. It's more important that the model can actually be run on a layout than look good on a shelf.

Apart from the curve issues, the motor, gears and driving wheels run super-smooth and the valve gear has been a joy to assemble, albeit with quite a few improvisations to make up for the kit's shortfalls. Indeed, I'd say that you needed to be a committed kit builder to be able to get this project up and running. But all of this will be (or has already been) described in the pages of Model Rail magazine. 

A few years of hard labour and the odd sleepless night have been worth it as the 'Jones Goods' is starting to 'look the business'.