Wednesday, 30 January 2013


Last hurdle overcome: Jones Goods is officially finished

Having finally sorted out the cab interior, this long-running project (2 years!) to build a DJH kit of the Jones Goods 4-6-0 is finally complete. With the motor and flywheel encroaching into the cab, I had to be a bit creative in order to get the boiler backhead installed. I'd originally tried to disguise the flywheel by painting it black and arranging the footplate crew to obscure the view. But, with such an open cab, this just didn't look right. So, by creating an extra bit of firebox from plastic tube, the backhead has encroached a few millimetres further into the cab, although this isn't immediately obvious. With some scratchbuilt controls and piping, the ensemble looks pretty convincing and, after a thorough running trial, the model is boxed up and ready to go.

With a number of challenges offered, this kit has certainly proved educational!

Monday, 28 January 2013


Etched ploughs erected for ECR 66

These ploughs are from a detail set offered by PH Designs.

I must admit to putting this task off for a few weeks, until I could avoid it no longer. And, as is usually the case when you're dreading making a start on something that looks especially tricky, the job actually went swimmingly, filling an agreeable couple of hours while listening to the footy on the radio. Perhaps the size of these things can't be appreciated in the above photo, but the ploughs are about 3cm long and the various mounting brackets took a bit of careful alignment whilst making the soldered joints.

About to be fitted to the front valance of a Euro Cargo Rail Class 66 loco, they'll have to be masked for the yellow and black chevron pattern, which is another thing I'm not looking forward to. Hopefully, it'll turn out as straightforward as the building stage. Here's hoping..!

Look out for a demo on recreating the ECR 66s in Model Rail issue 180.

Friday, 25 January 2013


Metal bodyshell complete and ready for painting

Here are some images of the completed PH Design kit of a 4-wheel industrial diesel loco. Sitting on a slightly modified Hornby Class 06 chassis, it has been pootling about my test track to check on everything before being readied for a coat of primer. For two days' work, the bodyshell proved a joy to build, with loads of detail and everything slotted together well. As I said in the last post, a full demo will appear in Model Rail issue 180. Talking of which, issue 179 has been hitting the doormats of subscribers since Monday and is in the shops now, complete with the free Workbench Manual No.5 booklet. Don't miss it!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013


New etched shunter bodyshell under construction

After a couple of days spent wielding a soldering iron, this great little shunting loco is taking shape. It's being built from a new 4mm scale kit from PH Designs, intended for slotting onto a 4-wheel RTR underframe. It's not a copy of a particular prototype, although it does look convincing enough to suggest so. The assembly of the bonnet took some little time, with each access hatch being fixed separately, each with it's own handrails. And the individual slats in the radiator took an hour or so to get right. It has proved great fun thus far, and today I'll be trimming the Hornby chassis to fit and hopefully the shell will then be ready for a coat of primer.

Look out for a full lowdown on this project in Model Rail issue 180, out in about 4 weeks.

Friday, 18 January 2013


Scratchbuilt chassis for Hornby/Lima CCT

Reader Peter Stanton posted a question here about a Hornby (ex-Lima) CCT project that featured in Model Rail a few years ago (November 2007 to be precise). Well, I've managed to find an image of the scratchbuilt chassis, constructed largely from 60thou' Plastikard, plus various Evergreen plastic sections and strip. The axleguards and buffers are whitemetal castings from Fourmost Models/ABS, with most of the other fittings either from the scrap box or salvaged from the original chassis moulding. The work was well worth the effort as the model looks pretty good, especially in the Red Star livery, which was a favourite from my old spotting days. I started another couple of these chassis and I really must dig them out and finish them off.

Thursday, 17 January 2013


Tips on finding the elusive Johnsons Klear floor polish

Johnsons Klear acrylic floor polish has been popular with model makers of all disciplines for the past decade or so and many of us mourned the day that it was discontinued. It has resurfaced in a number of other guises since, however, the re-formulated versions have not been so user-friendly or as crystal clear. But, the latest incarnation, 'Pledge Multi Surface Wax with Klear', is very nearly as good as the original. It looks a bit milky in the jar, but it can be used in exactly the same way and it dries transparent.

The bottle on the left is the original stuff, now a highly prized asset for many (I know a few modellers who have a dozen or so bottles stashed away). I've had this one for about 8 years and, as you can see, am only about a third of the way through it. It makes an ideal, pre-thinned acrylic varnish that can be built up to anything from a subtle, satin sheen to a very deep gloss, depending on the number of coats applied. Spraying neat through an airbrush makes for a very convenient finishing medium and it's great for use with waterslide decals too. It's also superb for hand brushing with soft sable-haired brushes and dries in about 20 minutes. Brushes and tools can be cleaned in soapy water.

It can be used for countless other things too, like:

  • attaching etched nameplates
  • repairing and enhancing clear plastic glazing
  • fixing glazing into bodyshells
  • sealing scenic scatter material
  • mimicking puddles and fluid spillages
  • and polishing tiled floors!
Anyway, the point of this post is to settle a number of queries that I've had from Model Rail readers who have been asking how to get hold of the stuff. Well, there are some model outlets selling the original stuff in jars at inflated prices, but you can also toddle down to your local Morrisons and pick up a 750ml bottle for about a fiver, which should last about 20years!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013


Merseyrail Class 170 enters service

Already boasting an 'in-service' weathering job, 2-car Turbostar unit 170905 has been plying its trade between Liverpool Lime Street and various North West towns and cities, bringing in and taking home spectators for Liverpool and Everton home games via the 'Northern Loop' line through Tuebrook, Walton and Anfield. The advertising livery serves to publicise the matchday services, with an equal covering of red and blue over both cars. I wonder if the idea will catch on...?

Monday, 7 January 2013


Single-car conversion begins

Single-car diesel units have always been a real favourite of mine, not least because they're ideal for us space-starved layout builders. Recreating one of the small number of Derby Lightweight (DLW) railcars has been high on my list of desires for some time and, when the Bachmann DLW appeared last year, the idea was rekindled. Having obtained a BR blue 2-car set, I'd almost put saw to plastic when I remembered that I already had a 2-car DC Kits plastic kit in stock from a few years back. Given the cost of the Bachmann version, I began to have my doubts about cutting it into pieces, although the ready-made power unit and chassis would make life easier.

However, with an idea of fitting an alternative off-the-peg high-spec power unit and transmission and with nothing to lose by butchering a surplus kit, I resolved to make a start on the DC Kits bodyshell instead. Even if this turns out to be simply a trial run, it should be worth the effort. It's not just a case of sticking an extra cab at the gangway end, by the way, as the single cars boasted some variations in door and window layouts. DC Kits did do a single-car kit, although I'm not sure if it's still available. Stay tuned for more updates, while the minutiae of the project will be discussed in a forthcoming issue of Model Rail magazine...

Thursday, 3 January 2013


Footy-themed livery offers many challenges

After offering a sneak preview of this project just before Christmas, here's a few more images of progress on the other vehicle in the two-car Class 170 Turbostar set. I've been having a stab at creating my own set of advertising 'vinyls', for a local football passenger service for Merseyside. It's taken a couple of attempts to get things right, including peeling away my first attempt (see below), but I'm much happier with the latest version. Indeed, the model is now ready for varnishing and reassembly, with the advertising scheme on one side and a more sober, stylish livery on the other.

Look out for this project, as well as a full demo on how to make your own waterslide transfers, in Model Rail issue 179.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013


Industrial 0-6-0ST ready for painting

Here's a quick glimpse of my NCB Austerity tank just before it receives it's first coat of primer. The various RT Models detailing components have transformed the Hornby model into something more purposeful and better suited to the surrounds of my colliery layout .The big Alan Gibson industrial buffers also help. I'm looking forward to seeing how it looks under a coat of paint, although the masking of the bufferbeams and footsteps for the 'wasp' warning stripes should be fun. I'll be demonstrating how to do it in Model Rail magazine soon.

Having treated the bodyshell to such a rigorous detail enhancement, the chassis is now looking a bit crude in comparison, so I'm giving serious thought to either doing some drastic DIY detailing to the sanders, brake gear and frames, or maybe biting the bullet and going for a complete new etched brass chassis and finer wheels. RT Models does a very nice chassis kit, designed primarily to fit the Hornby body, so it's a viable proposition. I just need to count my pennies first - I've already ordered a very nice OO9 metal loco kit from the same source, so I might have to save up first!