Tuesday, 30 October 2012


Plenty of copper piping to fit on latest project

A project that I've had on the back burner for a few years has finally reached the head of the queue, being a BR 9F 2-10-0 for the Tyne Dock-Consett iron ore traffic. An Alexander Models conversion kit was obtained a couple of years ago with a view to using a Bachmann 9F but, what with the price of these locos and relative scarcity of them at the moment, I opted to use the budget-priced Hornby Railroad version instead. Happily, it makes for a nice follow on project from last month's Railroad Class 31 & 37 upgrades, which feature in the next issue of Model Rail (MR176) that goes on sale this week.

In fact, the Alexander Models kit was designed to fit the Hornby 9F, so the job is that bit easier, helped by the supplied instructions and diagrams. The loco does lack the refinement of Bachmann's more recent product - no brake gear, clunky tender chassis and moulded details - but the upgrade to loco drive makes it a very sweet runner.

The conversion kit is, despite being around for a few decades, is finely crafted. The twin air pumps are especially lovely and, once plumbed-in, it's all starting to look the part. Just need to sort out the tender now, which needs to be of a different pattern to the one supplied with the Hornby model. Luckily, I have a Bachmann BR 1B tender shell in the spares box, which is lucky. Mind you, suitable tender kits can be obtained from a number of sources - see MR177 for more details...

After a summer of full-size central heating repairs, it's nice to face a more straightforward plumbing job in miniature! The full conversion will appear in Model Rail issue 177.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


Latest issue of MLI offers plenty of inspiration

Having picked up a copy of the latest issue of Modern Locomotives Illustrated (MLI), I've unpacked my Dapol NBL Type 2/Class 22 and have started planning what I want to do to it. It's a year since this model came my way and a few ideas have come and gone without truly sparking my imagination. The situation wasn't helped by the relative sparsity of detailed info and decent colour images in any books or magazines. However, the latest MLI changes that as it contains a wealth of material for the modeller.

The Dapol model is certainly impressive and, being a small Bo-Bo diesel fan, is right up my street. After a few evenings curled up in front of the fire with MLI, I should have settled on a prototype (not a simple matter as there were so many variations) and will be able to set about detailing and weathering this splendid little fella. 

Thursday, 18 October 2012


Ex-Lima 31 is complete and ready for action

The Hornby Railroad '31' is now sitting proudly on the shelf above my desk, resplendent in slightly grimy BR blue. I'm pretty chuffed with how it turned out, especially as the job was a little more rushed than is usual. My regular, relaxed (yet busy!) routine has been seriously compromised by taking a few weeks off in September. The model is anything but perfect - I'd have liked to have had to time to knock-up some cab interiors and the wheels are a bit coarse by today's standards - but it does give the more recent Hornby Brush Type 2 a run for its money. Especially price-wise. I note that Trains 4U in Peterboro are offering the Railroad model at about £50, while a high spec '31' has a rrp of over £140 (or a whopping £231.75 with DCC sound!). So, if you fancy a RR 31, I'd get one sooner rather than later as the production batch is limited.

You can read all about this project and see the step by step demo in Model Rail 176, out on November 1.

Monday, 15 October 2012


WW2 Warwell produced by automated 3D printing

Is this the way forward for model railway kit production? After browsing the website of Shapeways, I found the range of Wild Boar Models, a specialist in 4mm scale military railway vehicle kits, previewed a few months back in Model Rail magazine. After choosing the wagon I wanted, the transaction is made and then the CAD files are sent to an automated factory in Eindhoven where the model is 'printed' in 3D and dispatched by first class mail. 

It's a bit rough and ready, with the acrylic needing quite a bit of work to smooth-out the marks from the laser cutting process. Extra details like builders plates, load shackle loops, brake gear and bogies have to be sourced separately and I doubt the plastic buffers will last long, so they'll have to go. Would it have been easier to scratchbuild? And is it superior to the (rather nice) Genesis Kits whitemetal kit of the same wagon? Well, I'll have to finish this 'kit' off before I make up my mind.

It's worth a look at the Shapeways site. It's certainly an interesting concept and quite a few MR readers have mentioned it in the past. As long as you can design it, they can make it. So it opens up a lot of possibilities to modellers...

Saturday, 13 October 2012


Ex-Lima 31 painted and ready for decals

Just a quick update on my Hornby Railroad Class 31 project. All painting is complete and the gloss varnish is currently drying. Next, the various waterslide decals will be added before the weathering can begin. It's starting to look the part now... this is the stage that I find most exciting, as a model is instantly transformed once the transfers are in place...

Thursday, 11 October 2012


SP's hoist at home on Maudetown

With copies of Model Rail issue 175 now on sale, I've already heard a few positive comments concerning Spencer Pollard's latest feature. SP did a cracking job of assembling, painting and weathering the Ratio loco hoist kit and it is now sitting proudly on part of my Maudetown Colliery extension. I was especially pleased with how he'd treated the bare metal working surfaces of the winching mechanism and the oily, grimy yellow finish blends in well with other items of plant and machinery at this NCB location - not least my little 0-4-0 diesel shunter Imperial.

There's still lots to do on this new baseboard, the scene here being finished off expressly for photographic purposes. However, I was particularly pleased with the textured ground cover, which was a couple of new Geoscenics products under trial - look out for a review and demo in Model Rail in the New Year.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


Railroad 31 ready for the paint shop

After fettling the bufferbeam cowlings, the various pipes and hoses have been added and buffers permanently fixed, complete with little tread-plate footsteps! All final body details have been added and the model has now entered the paint shop and received a white priming coat. I'm happy with how it's going (touch wood) and can't wait to get the BR colours on. I had plans for a very intricate weathering job but, with only a week or so left before the deadline, I might have to keep things brief... the perils of having a few weeks on holiday - I'm having to catch up quickly!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


Hornby Railroad 31 gets the Extreme treatment

The venerable ex-Lima 31 has retained popular with modellers, with an overall appearance closer to the real thing than the more expensive, high-spec Hornby version. It does need a lot of detailing work, however, but that's part of the fun

It's been a while since I last super-detailed a Lima Class 31, but the recent release of this model under the Hornby Railroad banner has given me a good excuse to see if my skills have improved since the May 2005 issue of Model Rail (No.79). Now, though, there are far better detailing parts on the market than the old Craftsman and A1 Models bits and pieces to treat this model, which dates back to 1989 or so. Indeed, I remember buying one of the first Lima releases (31327 Phillips Imperial in red-stripe Railfreight livery!) from the original Hatton's store in Liverpool.

For this 21st Century project, I've a number of Extreme Etches products to try out, including an exquisite roof grille and fan, plus a pack of laser-cut flush glazing, which I'm excited about fitting at the end of the upgrade. It took me a while to settle on a prototype to copy and the Hornby issue has erroneously coupled a refurbished end with an un-refurbished body, so I umm-ed and arr-ed about whether to go for an early 1980s or post-1990s version.

Finding a spare set of bufferbeam cowlings from the high-spec Hornby 31 helped make up my mind and these have been modified slightly to fit the Lima chassis, as well as many other bits of brass wire, plastic strip and piles of filler.... look out for more updates here and the entire project will feature in Model Rail 176 (December issue).

Extreme Etches (from Shawplan) offer a great rendition of the radiator fan and grille, each being built-up from several individual layers.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012


Further progress on Parkside kit

As mentioned in a couple of earlier posts, I've been building and enhancing a Parkside BR trestle wagon kit and it's now a little closer to completion. Some slight amendments have been made to the real wood trestles, most notably setting the cross-braces flush with the uprights (I'd erroneously stuck them on top), hence why there are a few pale patches in the above image. These have now been blended-in with a little more wood dye.

What I'm particularly pleased with is the brackets that I knocked-up from 2mm wide, 10thou' brass strip, folded to shape in a Hold n Fold and adorned with homemade bolt heads, punched with a Nutter tool. They just need touching in with a suitably rusty shade of paint and, now that the decals have also been applied, the wagon can get its final weathering job.

Not sure if I'm going to make up a load or not. I like the look of the trestles as they are, but I also fancy trying to create some realistic steel sheet... I'll have to think about it.