Friday, 28 June 2013


Ayjay Models kit progressing well

After a few coats of yellow, blue and grey, this resin EMU kit is taking shape and rewarding all the hours of careful surface preparation. Indeed, I've put quite a bit of work into the livery coats, mixing up the shades slightly to exaggerate some of the shadows in strategic locations (especially around the door frames and gutters). There's also a degree of fading of both the yellow and blue in places, aiming to bring the slab sides to life.

Pictured here, the models are nice and glossy while the transfers are being applied. The inverted triangle, by the way, was cut from a black backing decal designed for applying as a base for a wagon's TOPS panel, simply cut to shape. I couldn't find any suitable stencil route indicators, so have drawn on the '62' freehand with a fine Rotring pen and white ink.

Once the transfers have dried out, I'll be spraying a few coats of satin varnish prior to weathering and final assembly. I doubt that I'll have time, but I'd like to replace the supplied resin underframes with a pair of scratchbuilt units from plastic sheet and strip. The resin parts are anything but straight (with one or two rare exceptions, I hate resin underframes!), although they may still be serviceable.... we shall see!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013


Resin kit takes time to get right

This resin kit, of a 2-car Southern Region EMU, is finally starting to take shape. Having made a brief start on it last year, a change in Model Rail's schedule saw it packed up and placed on the back burner. However, the building of it is now due to feature in issue 185 (out on July 12), so I've been beavering away on it, trying to get the bodyshells ready for painting. 

As there are only five parts to each car (body, interior, undeframe and two bogies), you'd think this would be a quick build. Indeed, the kit is marketed as an Easy Build project and, I suppose that's true in terms of no need for soldering or complicated assembly tasks. However, having spent something like 20-odd hours just sanding, filling and priming the bodyshells to get them smooth and refined, there was a point when I needed someone to remind me how easy this was... In fairness, many resin kits are like this, with heavy coats of aerosol primer being ideal ways of flattening the surface and taking away the slightly lumpy texture of the material. 

All this sanding is not ideal with lots of small details around, however, so most of the supplied fittings were removed and new stuff added once the final primer coating was deemed fit for purpose. Most of the original detail is a bit rough anyway and I've also had to res-scribe all of the door seams. By my reckoning, I've spent nearly 30 hours so far, with the bodies now ready for the livery coats to go on. Having said that, they're looking pretty good and I'm excited about how they'll look under a shabby coat of BR blue.

This resin kit is part of the Ayjay Models range and needs only wheels, motor, paint, transfers, couplings to complete.

Thursday, 20 June 2013


Models to form new livery samples

I've had the pleasure of assembling a number of Sentinel bodyshells in preparation for painting up a number of livery samples for Dapol to work from, allowing production of another batch of Model Rail's hugely popular RTR 'OO' gauge model. Looking like a regular plastic kit from the likes of Airfix, the sprues contain all the detail components, such as brake gear, sand boxes and footsteps. The bodies are moulded in one piece with a few extra fittings, such as the coal bunker and chimney. 

When you see RTR models in this state, you can fully appreciate the amount of design and development work that goes into them, allowing for detail variations to be catered for, simply by the fitting of alternative parts. Furthermore, the bare plastic also reveals just how crisp the moulded detail is, especially on the grille louvres and small fittings. 

All of these parts were left over from previous production runs and building them up into complete locomotives is proving great fun. Indeed, it has reminded me of my younger modelling days when I used to assemble Hornby locos from unpainted spare parts (in the days when they were widely available and cheap), especially Class 25s and 47s which I'd be hacking about, super-detailing and painting anyway. It used to prove economical in terms of cost and labour as well as keeping me out of mischief.... those were the days, eh? 

It's a shame that such moulded plastic parts aren't as freely available nowadays, although Heljan did offer packs of injection-moulded sprues for a while; but stocks of these are now very limited (see Howes Models' website). I suppose it's an inevitable consequence of outsourcing production to the Far East; who would want to pay for a container's worth of spare parts to circumnavigate the globe?! 

Returning to the Model Rail/Dapol locos, the next four Sentinels offer quite a range of liveries and owners, with one in particular being very interesting and may prove a challenge to paint...

Look out for more information in Model Rail magazine or on our Facebook page.

Thursday, 13 June 2013


Latest Model Rail features guide to painting people

On sale from today is the latest issue of Model Rail magazine, replete with a striking cover marking the 75th anniversary of Mallard's world steam speed record. Incidentally, the loco on the cover is one of my A4s, weathered way, way back during filming of the Model Rail Weathering Expert DVD, although the loco appeared only briefly in the final cut. Chris Nevard's excellent photograph is certainly eye-catching and the magazine includes a few 'speed' themed features.

On a more sedate footing, there's also a guide to painting miniature figures - something that can often be overlooked by layout builders, what with there always being other jobs to do. Yet, the mini peeps on our platforms and High Streets are just as important as the buildings and trains if a convincing overall effect is desired.

As the article shows, it needn't take long to render figures, especially when using acrylic paints. What's important is to choose convincing shades for skin tones and clothing and to introduce highlights and shadows to compliment the moulded detail. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (above) are a good case in point, being cast superbly by Andrew Stadden. Supplied unpainted, I was determined to get the best out of the figures by picking out the various creases and folds, as well as getting the areas of bare flesh convincingly portrayed. Small details, like Fred's red carnation in his buttonhole, the silky detail of his outside trouser leg and Ginger's stocking seam up the back of her legs and rouged cheeks add the finishing touches.

The MR article also features a group of figures recreating the characters from the Railway Children film. These were commissioned by Chris Leigh for his Oakworth layout, Aidan Campbell being the figure maker and painter. However, Chris wasn't satisfied by the flesh toning and asked me to repaint them, adding a few extra details to the clothing too, especially the patterned knitted hat of one of the girls. Below is the pair of railway staff, with Bernard Cribbins' Albert Perks character on the right.  

Monday, 10 June 2013


Rapid weathering job tests new technique

I do still enjoy trying out new ways of doing pretty much the same thing - it's a good means of maintaining interest in my work. After weathering hundreds of steam locos in the past 10 years (I lost count long ago), there wouldn't be much joy left in the task if I was still using the same methods and materials as when I first started. Besides, experience and repetition are the best of teachers and the brain soon starts to figure out ways of doing things quicker and (hopefully) better. New products and equipment also help, opening up new possibilities.

I've been practicing a few new weathering techniques over the past couple of weeks, one of which involves Tamiya acrylic paints and a wee bit of gloss varnish. This blue 'A4' was my first guinea pig and, although the weathering job was a little rushed, the finished results aren't too bad. It's all done by airbrush, with this loco taking all of 3hours from start to finish, including drying times! I've also brushed on some new Lifecolor 'Grease Effects' paints which I'm currently evaluating, mostly applied to the motion - what did I say about new products?!

I've begun to refine the techniques further, on a Bachmann 'Jubilee' amongst other things, and it will probably be appearing in Model Rail in the near future. So, I won't give too much away yet!

Thursday, 6 June 2013


New guide to the hobby on sale now

Now available is the second edition of How to Build a Model Railway, following on from the hugely popular first volume of 2012. Jam-packed full of inspiring articles on all aspects of model railway planning, building, detailing and operating, the publication aims to help readers in their quest of transforming a 'train set' into an authentic model railway.

Based on our acclaimed 'Workbench' series, the chapters include baseboards, scenery, painting, weathering, soldering, loco maintenance, DCC and model buildings. There's stuff for all skill levels and is an invaluable and easy to use reference tool, replete with plenty of Top Tips from the Model Rail team.

Look out for a copy in your local newsagents or model shop or order direct - post free - by CLICKING HERE. Don't hang around, though, as Volume One sold out in no time and this edition is likely to do the same!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013


Flying visit reveals plenty of action

In glorious sunshine, I was lucky enough to spend an hour at Peak Forest today, observing the various quarry operations of DB Schenker. On view was 60091 in charge of a rake of wagons being loaded at Dove Holes quarry, 66136 sitting spare in the sidings and 66186 leaving Tunstead with a load of limestone. Also, and slightly more exciting, was a glimpse of Dove Holes' privately-owned 1960s Sentinel 0-6-0 shunter (S10107), branded with RMC Roadstone logos and a fetching jaguar motif on the lower valances.

There was also some very intriguing wagons, such as modified OAA opens for block traffic, which would make a great model complete with mesh side doors. Certainly plenty of welcome inspiration and a chance to try out my new camera!

Saturday, 1 June 2013


Diesel Hydraulic gets the weathering treatment

I've spent the last week over in sunny(!) Carnforth, filming a new instructional DVD programme for Model Rail. On top of a couple of weeks of Blue Peter-style preparation ('here's one I prepared earlier!'), it's been a very busy month; thinking up the format of the programme, sourcing suitable models and materials, then getting them all ready for the cameras.

Happily, filming went very smoothly, being ensconced in Telerail's new office suite above Carnforth station. With a view over Steamtown and the West Coast Main Line, it was a little distracting at times, especially with plenty of DRS Class 20s and 37s passing with nuclear waste services and Network Rail test trains, plus the busy daily activities of West Coast Railways.

More details of the DVD programme will be announced soon but, in the mean time, here's a sneak preview of one of the subjects...

One thing that I'm often asked about is how to create a realistic faded version of BR rail blue livery - as carried by a host of careworn diesels in the 1970s and 1980s. Having developed my own ways of recreating this effect over the past few years, I've recently fine-tuned the way in which I apply the paints to a pre-painted RTR model (I approach the task differently if starting from a bare plastic shell). Also, I've changed the types of paint that I employ, moving away from my usual enamels in favour of the impressive Lifecolor and Tamiya acrylics.

I'm very happy with the last few locos that I've worked on in this way, most notably a Heljan 'Hymek' and this Bachmann 'Warship'. Look out for more on this technique in Model Rail in the future.