Thursday, 29 November 2012

AC 90

New detail kit for Class 90 in the testing queue

I've had a number of AC electric-themed projects on the go over the past year or two, albeit most of them only in my head or on paper. But, with a Bachmann 85 now in my collection and a Heljan 86 to finish titivating, another is about to begin with this amazing new detailing kit from PH Designs. Aimed at improving the Hornby Class 90, it contains new resin valances and bufferbeams, plus two sheets of etched brass providing improved cab front details and window frames, plus a host of other goodies.

The Hornby model is a bit old in the tooth in some respects, but in others it's not so bad. The pantograph needs replacing and the wheels are a bit coarse, but I'm certain that, once finished, the '90' should be looking far more realistic.

My only quandary is in the livery stakes. The Freightliner green donor model looks attractive, but I don't really have much F'liner stock, being more of an EWS man as far as privatised freight operators go. But I've plenty of time to think about the colour scheme..!

Monday, 26 November 2012


Finished in time for display at Warley, 37606 is ready for service

With a post-Warley hangover in full effect today, I've been taking stock of all the great kit and component samples collected over the weekend and planning when and how best to showcase them in Model Rail in the coming months. Stuff like motion-sensing illuminated tail lamps, 3D-printed tractors, N gauge farm diorama sets, laser-cut glazing packs have got my creative juices flowing. Other goodies included an etched brass kit of something that will look perfect behind this here DRS Class 37. The paint had just dried in time for the model to be boxed up and lugged down to Brum, along with the Railroad Class 31, for display on the Model Rail stand at the NEC. Thanks to those who sought me out to say nice things about both models (and the mag in general). Indeed, it was a good weekend all round and nice to catch up with some familiar and some new faces.

There was a raft of new models on show too, although I didn't get much of a chance to see them all. I did try some bicep curls with the Heljan O gauge Class 40 (it's BIG!) and Hattons/Heljan Bayer Garrett looked promising. Oh, and the Danes are going to do a BR Class 05 shunter, which I'm excited about. The Bachmann Lanky tank looks good, as does the Dukedog, while Dapol's sand-liveried OO Western looked the business.
Ben and Chris Nevard, got all the gen and images of everything of note and all will be revealed in detail in Model Rail 178. In the mean time, check out MR's Facebook feed (linked on the righthand side of this page)...

Another project chalked off. Now to start a J94 and an etched brass industrial shunter...

Thursday, 22 November 2012


37606 has received its decals and is ready for reassembly

After a few days painting the various colour elements and a deep, glossy varnish coating, the  DRS decals have been applied. Fox Transfers numbers have been augmented by original style logos from Lancaster City Models (the only transfer maker with a licence agreement with DRS). The transfers performed faultlessly and really look the part. The model has now been varnished again, this time with a satin sheen, and will be left for 48hrs before putting the model back together again. I'm looking forward to adding the weathering and final touches.
Unbelievably, it's the Warley show this weekend (how quickly it comes around every year), so we'll be heading off to the NEC tomorrow to set up the Model Rail stand and brace ourselves for the onslaught of Saturday morning. Hopefully, I'll get to have a look around this year - last time I only saw the MR stand and the loos, with very little in between! Maybe see you there? We're at stand B19 in Hall 5, with plenty of special offers on limited edition models and other goodies.

Monday, 19 November 2012


Priming and abrading to get it right

My DRS Class 37/6 project is coming along steadily, although the painting stage is proving a bit slow. After an initial light coat of grey primer, lots of imperfections have surfaced (that were invisible before), resulting in a few hours' worth of gentle abrading with Micromesh sheets and plenty of warm water. The resin noses are particularly guilty of hiding a few sunken areas and hairline scratches that the eye simply can't see until the flat grey paint has been applied.

It can be a bit disheartening to have to rubdown the model again after another coat of paint, but it's best to get all of this out of the way now before adding any of the topcoats. As it stands, I've just applied the last coat of primer, but this time using white as a base for the yellow ends and blue sides. Hopefully, the job can get going in earnest over the coming days...

Friday, 16 November 2012


Rendition of 37606 ready for painting

Way back in May, I briefly mentioned starting work on a DRS Class 37/6 conversion, using a Vi-Trains 37 and some replacement nose ends from PH Designs. Well, work the project has now reached it's turn in the queue and, after a day or two of intensive work with a variety of etched metal bits and bobs, the model is ready for its first coat of primer. This has proved quite a long-winded job, due mostly to the choice of donor model - although this was purely my fault. A Bachy 37/4 or 37/5 would probably be easier, if a little more expensive.

Anyway, the model's finally looking like it ought to and has just tasted its first misting of grey primer, as a way of gauging if I've missed any scratches or tool marks before the painting begins in earnest. Can't wait to get the painting out of the way and get the decals in place. My prototype is 37606 which still carried the original DRS logos when I photographed it at Crewe in 2010. The real thing now wears the fancy new style livery, but I've included a few tiny details on the bodyshells that are more relevant to the earlier scheme.

See Model Rail 178 for the full story!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

ESSO SO GOOD (cont..)

Latest Model Rail generates a bit of interest in Dapol tanks

Since the latest Model Rail (MR176) hit the shelves last week, I've had quite a few comments regarding the Railroad Class 31 project, as well as the Workbench Test, featuring a detailing kit for the Dapol/Airfix Class B tank kit. Produced by RT Models, the etched metal bits make a massive difference to the appearance of what is already a jolly nice model - well, if a bit of time is spent in cleaning up the parts during assembly - the moulds are showing their age a bit, which is inevitable for tools that date back 40-odd years.

As well as emails about the detailing parts, the excellent transfers (from Cambridge Custom Transfers) and the Dapol kit itself, I've also been asked about the weathering. The three wagons that I built have only had a cursory weathering job, using various enamels applied by airbrush. I usually enjoy creating lots of nice, oily streaks on oil tanks, but Esso took great pains to keep these wagons fairly clean in service, especially in the late 60s/early 70s when my models are set. It has given me an idea for a future project, however, so keep an eye out in Model Rail next year....

Monday, 12 November 2012


9F conversion weathered and ready for service

A few previous posts have described my quest to realise a model of the iconic Tyne Dock-allocated BR 9Fs. After some touch-up painting and a few hours' worth of weathering, the model is now complete. The extra plumbing and twin air pumps blend in to the rest of the structure now, which was the intention. Indeed, the overall effect is not bad for a budget model and, at first glance, the Hornby Railroad 9F doesn't look too far off the superior Bachmann version. Look closer, however, and you realise there's no brake gear and a few bits and pieces are a bit crude by today's standards. But then, this model is almost half the price!

It's nice to see the loco hooked up to an appropriate wagon - a Dave Bradwell metal kit that I built a few years back. Not the easiest thing to build, but it makes a great model of the unique hopper wagons. A little bird tells me that a new, easier kit for these wagons should be available next year - see Model Rail 177 for more info (on sale Nov 29), along with the full demo on how I converted my Hornby 9F.

Thursday, 8 November 2012


Hornby Railroad 9F ready for painting

Further to the previous post, my Tyne Dock-Consett 9F has received all of its detail upgrades and conversion parts and is ready for re-numbering and touch-up painting. Unsurprisingly, a typically weathered finish is also planned. I've chosen 92098 as my subject as that's the loco that I've been working from, photo-wise, with some great images found in various publications, especially Locomotives in Detail, No.7: Riddles Class 9F by David Clarke (Ian Allan, 2007. ISBN 07110 32467). The full conversion project will appear in Model Rail magazine, issue 177.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


Another raft of airbrushing courses completed on the Sussex coast

Not quite a 'wish you were here' postcard from sunny Worthing... but more of a 'Wish I was still there' plea from the cold, grey North! Seriously though, I had a great time teaching my two days of airbrushing and weathering courses at The Airbrush Company's premises in Lancing, just a short beach-side stroll from the inter-war resort of Worthing. Thanks to everyone who attended, who worked really hard and made the courses a pleasure to teach.

Sussex really is a beautiful county and it made a nice change to travel there by train, especially as I elected to go by the scenic route and avoid the big, bad metropolis of London. Just a shame that so much of the journey was on a XC Voyager, or Vomet Comet as they're affectionately known. And, yes, the two I travelled on did smell of a chemical toilet. But hey, that's progress. Who could possibly want to travel in an antiquated set of Mk3 carriages hauled by a Class 47 (south of Brum) and an electric for the northern leg. You know, with a view out of the window, plenty of space, no engine noise under your feet and a much more civilised ambience...?

But I digress. I didn't get much time to walk along the sea front over the 4 day stay, but I did make sure I had a last hurrah early on Saturday morning, enjoying the sunshine and mild warmth of an early November morning. I do love the seaside out of season...