Friday, 20 December 2013


After an intensive week's work, we're almost there...

See how this loco was detailed and weathered in Model Rail issue 192, out 23 January

With all the details now in place, all that's left to do is coal her up and apply some final weathering, especially in terms of adding oil and grease to the various moving parts and a final overall misting with the airbrush to blend everything together.

I'm pretty chuffed(!) with this so far, especially the weathering job and the small details like cab shutters/doors, tools and the spark arrestor on the chimney. Working in a larger scale has almost felt like a holiday, such has been the ease with which I can see things and without the frustration that fiddly little parts can bring. I can certainly see the appeal of 'O' gauge in this sense and I'm looking forward to seeing this little loco trundling along my mini 'O' gauge layout-cum-diorama. This should keep me occupied over Christmas, anyway!

As I'm clocking off now for the festive break, may I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year!

Thursday, 19 December 2013


Careworn industrial loco takes shape

One of the things I love about model making is the act of taking what's in my imagination and producing a 3D object - a sort of materialisation of a visualisation, if you catch my meaning?!

Anyhow, with the Ixion Hudswell, Clarke loco in a semi-assembled state, following the early stage of weathering, the model is starting to look the part. I spent quite a while ruminating on the exact visual effects that were desired, then planning how they would be achieved and with what products/materials. So far, it's all going (mostly) to plan, with some lovely peeling paint on the smokebox and bubbling paint caused by severe corrosion of the steel bodywork.

I'm probably about halfway along now, with a few jobs to complete before the cab can be assembled properly, followed by the reinstatement of the various bits of plumbing and other working bits and bobs, such as the reverser rod. I also need to fabricate a wire mesh spark arrestor, which should be fun.

Don't forget that a full demo of this project will appear in Model Rail issue 192, out in late January.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013


Work on the Hudswell, Clarke 0-6-0ST gathers pace

I've made a few minor detail alterations on this Ixion Models RTR 'O' gauge loco, and scratchbuilt some wooden cab doors, along with runner brackets for a set of sliding shutters. I've been using a number of prototype images as a guide, being particularly inspired by the preserved Wissington, during the later years of its working life out in the Fens of East Anglia in the 1960s.

With all the modifications made within a day, weathering has begun, making use of a number of new Modelmates paints. Rust Effects is now available in three different shades: Yellow, Copper and standard, and they combine to great effect and contain a texturising ingredient that dries to an incredibly lifelike rendition of real corrosion.

As you can see below, I've decided to really go to town on this loco, creating the effect of a hardworking industrial loco, operating in a harsh environment, towards the end of its life. There's still a lot to do, so I'd better get back to it!

Monday, 16 December 2013


 O gauge Hudswell, Clarke provides an interesting new project

This splendid Ixion Models ready-to-run 7mm scale locomotive is the current subject on the Dent workbench. With a few detail additions and improvements to make, I'm also converting it to a more authentic industrial appearance. As only an occasional dabbler in larger scale models, this is proving a welcome diversion - especially as my last project was in 2mm scale! Indeed, it feels like my eyeballs are being given a well-earned rest, without the need to scrutinise things so closely and I've managed to come up with a very effective way of recreating roughly oxy-acetalene-cut and hand-hammered sheet steel.

For the full story on this loco upgrade, look out for the article that's going into Model Rail magazine, issue 192 - out 23 January. In the meantime, though, I'll post some finished pix here before then.

Thursday, 12 December 2013


Small scale farm diorama finished

Now that the farm has been populated, the scene looks much more credible, with a small herds of Friesian cattle, sheep and a handful of horses grazing in the fields. There's also a pair of pigs in a sty and an assortment of agricultural machinery in the sheds and barn, all courtesy of the Lytchett Manor Models set of whitemetal figures, animals and equipment.

Fitting into a 12x16inch scene, I've managed to cram quite a lot into the space, although I'm just lacking a stable block for the horses. However, if I ever get around to setting this into an 'N' gauge layout, I'll work out something at the end of the muddy lane. Iill also need at least one field planted with an arable crop, to justify the presence of the threshing machine and mechanical harvester.

Look out for the farm-building article in Model Rail issue 192!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013


2mm scale diorama takes shape

For issue 192 (Feb 2014) of Model Rail magazine, I'm putting together an article on how to create a typical farm scene. Working in 2mm scale/'N' gauge, I've made use of a number of off-the shelf buildings in the Hornby and Farish ranges, along with a delightful kit of farm vehicles, figures, animals and equipment from Lytchett Manor Models. Having finished most of the scenic work, I just need to finish painting the various people, animals and other bits and pieces before fixing them into the scene.

I've always wanted to live on a farm, so creating miniature versions is always one of my favourite scenic pursuits, although this is my first attempt in 2mm scale. It's proved to be great fun so far and I'm happy with the adaptation of the Graham Farish/Scenecraft town house into a believable farm dwelling. Covering the ornate portico entrance with a particularly verdant climbing clematis has helped. Indeed, it has something of the 'Manor Farm' air about it. Adding a stream in the foreground has also lent the scene a further bucolic touch, with a lovely little stone bridge (Ten Commandments) providing access.

The various figures, vehicles and accessories, temporarily superglued to a scrap of plywood, are currently being finished with a variety of acrylic paints. When dry, they can be snapped off the plywood and fixed into the scene.

Thursday, 5 December 2013


New resin casting kit on test for Model Rail mag

Having received a review sample of Sylmasta's new resin casting kit, we decided to offer readers a full low-down on the basics of creating your own moulds and how to cast your own components. The kit includes silicon rubber compound, for creating the moulds, plus two-pack polyurethane resin, release agent, measuring cups, stirrers and full instructions. All you need to provide is plasticine/clay to help form the pattern, some material to build a mould box and the master object to be copied.

Here, I've made a mould using a turned wood master of a Wifi roof dome for a GNER/East Coast Mk4 DVT. As you can see, the moulds are made in two halves and they're now ready for the resin to be injected. Look out for the full demo of this useful technique in Model Rail issue 191 - out Dec 26th.

Monday, 2 December 2013


After 15 years of frustration, I've finally given up!

It was with a heavy heart that I finally bit the bullet and demolished my model of Dent station. After numerous attempts, the increasingly battered baseboard has become a real obstruction in the shed and, with no realistic prospects of the project going any further, the decision was made to break it up. Having moved all over England in the past 15 years, and doubled as a shelf, storage crate, housing project for mice, and latterly a feline hangout, the partially boxed-up baseboard simply ran out of lives. In truth, I'd lost heart in the project a few years back and was only keeping it for sentimental reasons.

However, that's not to say that my Settle-Carlisle layout plan is completely dead. Rather, I've finally realised that it makes more sense to go for an 'N' gauge recreation. After all, it was the idea of capturing the scenery that appealed the most - the trains were secondary. Thinking how much more I could fit into the same space was the real clincher, but I think the project will have to wait until I've moved house and settled somewhere permanently. Then I can do the job properly!

The main frame of the baseboard is far too good to waste, being built from high grade, knot-free, straight-grained pine, with dovetail and half-lap joints and not a screw in sight. I was studying furniture making at the time, and getting as much practice in as possible. After so many house moves and periods stored in cellars, attics, sheds and garages, the timber frame has proved 100% reliable. If only I still had the time to take so much care with my baseboard construction.

Having stripped the board back to the bare bones, I'm planning on re-using it for one of my other layout projects - most probably my wartime recreation of the Western Desert Railway, in Egypt. Watch this space...

Thursday, 28 November 2013


Mini diorama shows off bufferstop kits

In order to show off the three bufferstop kits that I've recently assembled, I decided to build a small diorama, using an off-cut of plywood and some odds and ends of track (a mix of Peco Code 75 and SMP flexi-track). With ballast and ground cover added (mostly from Geoscenics), the bufferstops really come to life, especially after painting the rails and everything has been weathered. Above, is the plate steel 'stops' from PH Design, while below is the Lanarkshire Models MR/LMS rail-built unit. 

Additionally, PH Design's more up to date take on the rail-built pattern can be seen in the foreground of the lower image. Thus, three different eras are portrayed, although it wouldn't be too far fetched to have all three bufferstops on the same layout, as many of these things have lasted in use for donkeys' years.

Look out for the article on building bufferstop kits in Model Rail issue 191 (out on Dec 26).

Tuesday, 26 November 2013


 Another great kit adds the finishing touch to a siding

Now that I've recovered from the Warley exhibition, I've been putting the finishing touches to a few kit building projects. Most notably - as mentioned in my last post, I've just completed another bufferstop for a Workbench Test article, to appear in Model Rail issue 191 (out just after Christmas). This 4mm scale whitemetal kit is from Lanarkshire Model Supplies and is easy to assemble, replicating a typical Midland/LMS style of rail-built 'stop block'. The metal castings are finely crafted, with only a few parts to fix together. I employed low temperature solder for a very strong construction, which should withstand any accidental collisions from locomotives or rolling stock.

Once painted and set into the layout, it really does look the part. In the image below, you may notice a small gap in the rail nearest the camera. This is essential to prevent the all-metal bufferstop from causing a short circuit to the track power supply.

Going back to Warley, I enjoyed both days, with plenty of new and familiar faces to meet and chat to. Thanks to everyone who came over to the Model Rail stand to say hello. I even got to play Chris Nevard's new ukelele!  However, as with last year, I only got to see 2 or 3 layouts - very briefly - and had to rush around in the last hour to get some shopping done. There was so much more I needed to do, see and buy, but there's always the Glasgow show in a couple of months, I suppose...

Monday, 18 November 2013


Bufferstop kit built for a Workbench Test

I've just finished  building a handful of 4mm scale metal bufferstop kits for an evaluation feature in an upcoming issue of Model Rail magazine. Illustrated here is a very natty rendition of a modern-style plate steel 'stop block', assembled from an etched kit by PH Designs. Featuring an impressive level of detail, the sides include clamping brackets that grip the rail heads, cross-braces and strengthening ribs. Although it looks a bit delicate, once soldered together (and to the rails), the unit is sturdy and will resist even the most severe rough shunt!

As well as the plate steel bufferstop, I've also built PH Designs' kit for the traditional rail-built 'stops'. I've built one of these before and they really look the part, especially when painted and weathered - far more realistic than plastic kits. You need to provide your own rail, but the kit provides the various brackets and a handy cutting jig to get the various rail sections cut and shaped to the correct sizes. Look out for the building demo for both of these kits in Model Rail issue 191, out on Dec 27th.

Friday, 15 November 2013


Freelance bolster wagon uses up bits from the spares box

Now that the darker, colder evenings have set in, I've been indulging in a little scratch-building. With boxes and boxes of spare parts from previous kit and RTR detailing projects, I thought it would be nice to use some of them up in producing some service wagons for my Maudetown Colliery layout.

Can this be called scratch-building in the purest sense, or kit-bashing? It's probably a bit of both: the chassis frames and brake shoes are leftovers from a Parkside kit, the bolsters are from a Bachmann BDA and the brake handles are from a Mainly Trains set of etched parts. The timber planked floor is embossed Plastikard, which has been roughened up with sandpaper prior to an attempt to recreate dirty, bare wood with acrylic paints.

There's a few more bits required before it's ready for priming and painting, but I want to maintain a fairly basic look to the finished model. Mind you, with projects like this, it can be tempting to keep adding small bits here and there, so I may need to rein myself in!

So, what will this wagon carry? The answer is all manner of colliery equipment, such as ironwork for tunnelling, rails for the narrow gauge waggonway, pipes or girders. In fact, the more I think about it, I could probably do with more than one such vehicle. I wonder how many I can erect from what lies in the spares box...?

Monday, 11 November 2013


Granite block proves the perfect base for chassis building

Getting your etched chassis frames square is an essential facet of locomotive kit building. Get this bit wrong and you may as well give up, as the loco will never run properly. Having always made do with an off-cut of glass for my loco frame assembly, I recently came across this handy - and heavy - aid in the Axminster Tools catalogue.

I've long been a happy customer of Axminster, mostly as a result of my other hobbies of wood carving, turning, furniture making and guitar building. However, there is much more to be found in Axminster's catalogue, not least with a host of modelling tools on offer, as a few recent reviews in Model Rail magazine attest.

This block is made of solid granite, with the upper face ground to a flatness of +-0.0052mm, which is flat enough for me! Indeed, the block comes with a printed sheet pointing out where the fractional high and low points are, should this info interest you. In my case, it pointed to the central area as being the 'flatest', so I've been concentrating my chassis building there, just to be on the safe side!

Naturally heat resistant, the block is perfect for aligning parts prior to soldering and, after a couple of successful assemblies, I'm tempted to knock up some form of clamping jig to allow me to keep both hands free while the solder joints are made. Mind you, I won't have to worry about the block moving around on the workbench as it's fairly hefty and the stone will always remain flat regardless of changes in temperature or humidity. I can also use it to flatten my waterstones (for sharpening my chisels)!

This 'small' granite block measures a respectable 305x230x50mm, which is great for loco frames in any scale up to 'O' gauge. Priced at a reasonable £34.66, it's available from Axminster Tools.

This granite block is already proving to be an unsung hero of the Dent Workshop. How did I ever manage without it?!

Thursday, 7 November 2013


New aerosol paints arrive for testing

A large and interesting parcel has just arrived from Germany, bearing a selection of Revell's new acrylic spray paints. Over 30 of Revell's most popular paint shades have made it into this new aerosol format, including gloss and matt clear coats. The shades to be tested include a number of earthy tones that look ideal for weathering, a few different blacks, plus an attractive Carmine Red (No.36) redolent of BR's 1950s coaching stock livery.

The 100ml cans boast of being fast drying, affording a deep lustre and hardwearing finish, so I'll be interested to see how they live up to their billing. Look out for a full review in Model Rail magazine in the coming months.

These Revell paints should now be available from your local model shop, but for more details see, or look up @RevellGermany or on the big social media networks.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013


Neo TRN2 shows its versatility with weathering results

Further to my last post about the Neo for Iwata TRN2 airbrush, here's an example of the weathering work I've managed to achieve while testing the new tool. The 0.5mm nozzle makes it tricky to get ultra-fine, hair's breadth streaking effects, but that doesn't mean that the airbrush can't achieve a subtle finish. I've used thinned Railmatch enamel paints here and, using an air pressure of 8-10psi, I've managed to get the airbrush right up close, getting the paint in around the ladders, walkway and filling hatch.

The paint flow limiting screw at the back of the airbrush really comes into its own when weathering at such close quarters, guarding against the risk of overdoing things and the pistol grip makes for a very comfortable experience - just the thing if you were faced with weathering a whole rake of similar wagons at the same time.

Monday, 28 October 2013


High spec, pistol grip tool at an attractive price

I've spent the past few weeks trying out a new airbrush in the 'Neo for Iwata' range, and have been impressed with the results. Offering high spec tools at lower prices than the 'real' Iwata range, this airbrush compliments the very impressive Neo 'CN' dual action airbrush released last year. The pistol-style handle and trigger is really comfortable and saves the old aching fingers, especially when working on larger models or when doing any scenic work. There's an adjustable needle travel guide at the back too, that governs the amount of paint emitted, thus offering a safeguard against putting too much liquid down too soon. There's also a choice of 3 paint cups supplied, to suit different sized jobs.

Build quality appears impressive and the performance is jolly good. This TRN2 is a side-feed unit with a 0.5mm needle/nozzle combo, and so is a real maid of all work. It's especially suited to priming and overall livery coats, as well as varnishing and other general tasks. I've managed to do some decent weathering on OO gauge models, but getting very fine streaks is asking a bit much. Instead, a gravity-fed version, with a 0.35mm nozzle is also available with the same trigger style, the TRN1.

Stripping the tool down for cleaning is easy, although I did manage to break part of the nozzle, although I suspect that my advance review sample had had a rough time in the post, as it wasn't packaged in the fetching (and secure) box that the production tools will be. Either that, or it was my incompetence(?!). Once I'd apologised profusely and received a replacement, I've been using the TRN2 solidly for a month with no complaints. Besides, a 5 year warranty is provided with these tools - if bought from a licensed dealer - so the makers are very confident that they'll last.

You can tell that this Taiwanese-made tool is not a 'real' Iwata, as it feels lighter and it lacks the supreme finishing of the Japanese airbrushes. But then, you're looking at near £300 for an Iwata Revolution TR2 with an equivalent spec. At £130, the Neo TRN2 looks to be worth the investment.

If I could sum it up in terms of 1980s Ford cars, the Neo TRN2 could be likened to the erstwhile Escort GL, as compared to a 'real' Iwata being the top of the range Granada (were they called 'Scorpios'?). The cheaper model may lack the superior engineering and extra attention to detail, but it still has the potential to be a reliable workhorse, with more 'trim' than the Escort 'Popular' model and certainly more power than a Fiesta!

For more info, see the Airbrush Company's website and look out for a full review in Model Rail magazine in the next few months.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


Vital addition for the enduringly popular ex-Lima 'ED'

Although Dapol’s ‘OO’ gauge Class 73 is likely to eclipse the venerable Lima offering that is now produced by Hornby, the older model remains ripe for a detailing uplift. Indeed, there are many suitable components available from the likes of Shawplan and these new etched bogie footsteps, from PH Designs, are a welcome addition. Offered in a pack of four (to treat one locomotive), they are simple to fold-up and short mounting pins are incorporated to allow simple and secure fitting.

Assembly is equally effective with solder or cyano-type adhesives and the upright sections even include the distinctive oval cut outs for a very realistic appearance. Short right-angle brackets are also provided to support the overhanging section of the top step.

These steps address the glaring omission of any suggestion of footsteps from the Lima/Hornby model (how did they expect their little drivers to get into their 'office'!) and, with no existing moulded units to hack away, this provides an ideal evening project for budding detailers. Simply fold them up, drill the mounting holes and Bob’s your uncle! 

The Lima '73' dates back to 1986 (is it really that long?) and I can remember it hitting the shelves of my local model shop. With the real locos being based down south, they weren't really my cup of tea at the time but, once a few of them moved up to the Merseyrail network - to work maintenance trains - I had to have one for my layout set in Liverpool's inner suburbs. Luckily, one of my mates was getting bored with trains and selling up his gear, so I managed to get a nearly new Inter City liveried '73' and a few Lima Mk1s for the price of a few pints. The loco was quickly painted blue,  renumbered as 73905 and put to work on ballast trains around Tuebrook.  

Quite a few years later, when Hornby brought out the ex-Lima model, I revisited the Merseyrail Class 73 theme for Model Rail, with a more accurate rendition of 73905 and another example, 73906 in Merseyrail yellow and grey (see issue MR117, May 2008). Back then, I built and fitted sets of A1 Models bogie footsteps, but these PH Designs units are far more impressive. Just a shame that I no longer have my Tuebrook layout...!

Monday, 21 October 2013


Dapol tank wagon gets a coating of rust and grime

With a new airbrush to evaluate and some different techniques to try out, I've been cramming in a bit of weathering, hunkered down in my shed with the heater turned up. Autumn has arrived with a vengeance and I've had to dig out my thermals before spending too much time out in the workshop. 

This Dapol rectangular tank wagon was originally finished in a light grey livery and looked very plasticky, but a combination of Modelmates Rust Effects paint and dyes, plus a variety of Lifecolor acrylic paints - applied through an airbrush - has created more fitting appearance for a heavy oil tanker. I just need to add a few finishing touches, such as grease around the axleboxes and underframe, as well as a new number and weight markings.

Not a bad way of spending an hour in the shed, while the leaves swirl around the garden... 

Wednesday, 16 October 2013


Complete Guide to Weathering Rolling Stock

Due for release in the next week or so is the new Model Rail DVD, the Rolling Stock Weathering Expert. Joining the library of 'Expert' titles, it features a wide range of techniques for steam and modern era freight and passenger stock and looks at the use of weathering powders, pigments and dyes, as well as enamel and acrylic paints. Adding realistic graffiti, peeling paint, burnished paintwork and recreating specific types of 'dirt' are demonstrated, using simple techniques and equipment. 

Subjects include:
  • Surface preparation
  • Authentic dusty finish for aggregate and mineral wagons
  • Using powders with fixative solutions to create unique effects
  • Timber-bodied wagons and recreating the look of bare wood
  • Pre- and post-shading
  • Peeling and chipped paint, rust patches
  • Adding texture to roofs and underframes
  • Greasy deposits and staining
  • Graffiti
  • Recreating the typical steam-age look for carriages

See the next issue of Model Rail magazine for more details or see Telerail's website.

Here is a response to a comment on the subject of Model Rail DVDs, posted by Gene...
George....your DVDs are listed as compatable with Region 0 ....which doesn't exist. Canada and the US are Region 1, Europe including the UK are Region you know if your DVDs are compatible with Region1 or are they only good for Region 2 ????

Hi Gene, All Telerail programmes are produced in region-free PAL format, so should be playable anywhere. Maybe that's why they were listed as Region 0. NTSC versions are also available to order, direct from Telerail. For more detailed info, email 
All best wishes, George.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


Unpainted Dapol wagon bodies should come in useful

After spending a few idle moments trawling through Hattons' website, I came across a bunch of unpainted Dapol wagon bodies at a great price. I've bought a few of Dapol's unpainted complete wagons before, as I do prefer to detail and paint my own freight stock - as well as replacing the bulky chassis with Parkside Dundas kits - but the bodies on their own were much cheaper - about £1.50 each! So, I bought a sack full!

With my regular airbrushing courses always needing examples to demonstrate on, these seemed perfect. Mind you, I do fancy using quite a few of them to create working models, with new underframes, wheels and bits and pieces. Even with the cost of the extra components, these will still prove great value models and will certainly keep me out of mischief for some time to come...

Friday, 11 October 2013


Mrs D spots an interesting ad in Aber

The intrepid Mrs Dent has been travelling a lot with her job in the past year: Canada, Holland, Exeter, London, Bonnie Scotchland and, most recently, the delightful Welsh seaside town of Aberystwyth. Having had my first real holiday in Aber in the 1980s, I was jealous of jaunt on the train, although an Arriva Class 158 is no match for the double-headed Class 37s and Mk1 compartment stock of my last trip! But, I was curious to see how the station and town had changed since I last visited, so she went with instructions to take lots of photos. 

She duly obliged, but this has to be the stand out image, taken within the Univeristy. Is it real, or a clever mock-up in the Scarfolk style? I'll let you make your own minds up...!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013


A few weeks on the sofa at least offers the chance to read

So, what did I get out of the Model Rail Live show at Newark? A bad dose of flu! I must say, though, that it was a great show with some cracking layouts and the new venue worked out very well. Next year I fancy going early and checking out the adjacent air museum. Anyway, as soon as I got home on Sunday I started feeling rough and now, three weeks later, I'm just about getting back to feeling human again.

One consolation of being off work so long was the chance for me to catch up on some reading, including a new title from Holne Publishing, dealing with the history of the Derwent Valley Light Railway. This fantastic light railway ran from  Layerthorpe in York, down to Cliff Common via Dunnington and Wheldrake and lasted into the 1980s (just).

I'd never heard of this line until I moved to East Yorkshire and my old landlord told me about it - he was living in the old station house at Elvington. Indeed, I used to pass over the trackbed a couple of times on my way into work at the NRM. Oh, and during my driving test, my examiner insisted on taking me past Murton station to look at the restored section of line (upon seeing my Railway Museum uniform, my test became more about trains than cars - needless to say I passed!).

A nice chap at Newark knew of my interest in this line and pointed out this new title, so I made sure I ordered a copy as soon as I got home and I'm glad I did. It's a good read and is full of vital info and loads of images, stoking my interest further and strengthening my resolve to build a small layout based on one of the idyllic locations.

Monday, 23 September 2013


MiniArt kit looks at home on Maudetown Colliery

As mentioned in previous posts, I've been working on a MiniArt plastic kit, ostensibly representing a European workshop building. Now, though, the assembled structure has been painted, weathered and 'planted' into a small corner of Maudetown Colliery. The kit has been modified ever-so slightly and can now house any of the colliery's indigenous traction, albeit one loco at a time.

It hasn't been fitted permanently yet, however, as I want to improve the interior, add a small workshop and maybe even sink an inspection pit between the rails. Combined with the Ratio  lifting gantry, Maudetown's workshops are looking more purposeful these days.

You can read about the building of this kit, along with the Hornby MPD, in the next issue of Model Rail magazine (MR188), out on October 3rd.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013


New raft of exclusive Sentinel models announced

The third batch of Model Rail magazine's popular 'OO' gauge ready-to-run Sentinel 4wVBTs has just been revealed in the latest issue (MR187). Four different liveries are to be offered, each filling gaps in what has been previously available. 

Great Western fans are offered No.12, complete with a shirtbutton-style GWR emblem (a fictitious prototype), while London Midland Region BR modellers will be pleased with 47181 in unlined black with the early style of crest.

LNER 'Y3' No.148, complete with red and yellow lining is also offered, while a National Coal Board blue example (also fictitious), with wasp ends, completes the quartet.

MR-013 NCB blue Sentinel

I had great fun painting up these four samples, using spare bodyshells and components left over from the previous production runs. Needless to say that the NCB version is my favourite and I'm looking forward to having a working model on my colliery layout in the near future.

Development is at the sample stage, while final adjustments are made to the finish specifications and, therefore, we have no definite delivery date yet. However, advance orders are now being taken on all four of these models, with a price of £79.95 including p&p. With limited runs of each, they're sure to sell out quickly, so get 'em while you can!

To place an order, call 01209 613984 or go to

MR-010 BR (LMR) black 47181, early crest
MR-011 LNER 'Y3' lined black No.148

MR-012 GWR green, shirtbutton monogram, No.12

Monday, 16 September 2013


Loco shed takes shape, with textured finish

Further to recent posts, this Hornby MPD plastic kit is now nearing completion. Having fitted some of the custom-etched windows, the structure has been coated with a textured concrete finish that is already responding well to the initial weathering work. I'm looking forward to getting the rest of the windows in place, with the clear glazing requiring to be fitted before the frames are slotted over them.

Look out for a demo of assembly and finishing in Model Rail issue 188.

I'm not going to have time to get the finished MPD onto my layout before the press deadline, but I'm certainly inspired to get going on laying the track and sinking the inspection pits.

Thursday, 12 September 2013


Another GWR 'Big Tank' gets straightened out

After curing a Hornby 72xx 2-8-2T of it's dodgy footplate for the latest Model Rail, I've also worked the same trick on this 52xx 2-8-0T which was similarly afflicted. Indeed, this one was actually worse than the GWR green loco, but the same remedy found the frames looking shipshape after an hour or so of repairs. A new smokebox door handle has also been fitted, although a weathering job has yet to be applied.

Indeed, I'm looking forward to mucking this one up, in a similar way to the green loco (aiming for the dirty-but-shiny look) - these are lovely looking locos and, for the sake of a few hours of detailing and weathering, a stunning model can be obtained. Having just read a few posts on the subject of Hornby's similar 42xx on the Albion Yard Blog, I've been reminded of how this model offers decent value for money, despite the £129 rrp. I know it has its problems and limitations (what RTR loco doesn't?), but the cost of building an equivalent metal kit these days puts it all into perspective, with the wheels and motor/transmission alone now costing around £100. The kit may be around the same amount again, then there's the extra details, paints, transfers, etc etc...

In fact, I do wonder how long the metal kit can remain as a viable hobby resource, what with ever increasing copper and brass prices. You'd think in this day and age that plastic and resin body components would be more widespread, but then that requires massive investment by the kit makers and we all know that the loco kit market is getting ever smaller... but is this a 'chicken and egg' situation? Would the market grow if the kits were cheaper and easier to put together...?

But back to the Hornby loco: for subscribers to the Model Rail iPad edition, you'll be able to watch a pair of films showing how the repairs were affected and the smokebox improved. Otherwise, MR187 (out now) shows the same processes in the time-honoured medium of the printed page!

Before the repairs, there was a huge gap between the cylinders and running plate on one side, with the bufferbeam looking distinctly skewed. But it's all fine now, thanks to a small shim that's just visible beneath the smokebox saddle and un-stressed support rods.

Monday, 9 September 2013


Hornby GWR tank looks better for a bit of attention

As illustrated in the latest issue of Model Rail magazine (MR187), I've managed to correct the wonky footplate of Hornby's new GWR 72xx tank. It wasn't too big a job, and I actually enjoyed the challenge. But, you have to wonder how the models got past the factory quality control with such a pronounced kink in the plastic chassis frame. Although some aspects of the metal chassis block and the plastic body framing are not ideal, the design would be OK if a little more care was taken in the assembly. With a RRP of £129.99 for non-DCC locos, it's not unreasonable to expect a little better.

As my article in the latest mag shows, however, the 72xx can produce a highly authentic model, once a couple of details have been improved and a weathered finish applied. I also demonstrate how the footplate can be corrected, should any modellers wish to do this themselves rather than return their models and await replacement. I'm not sure what the stance of Hornby is on this issue, so anyone affected should contact the firm direct, via the Hornby website. Moreover, if you're interested in obtaining a 72xx, I would recommend checking the loco in the box before you part with any 'lolly'...

This looks serious! Should we have to do this with a £129 RTR loco?