Thursday, 29 August 2013


Private Owner wagons gain some bare wood effects

In the past week, I've been working on a range of ex-Private Owner mineral wagons, with a pair of Bachmann RTR models being two good examples. Above is a 5-plank open in the livery of Joshua Gray coal merchants, Haworth. I bought this from the NRM shop when I was working there (I miss my staff discount!) and it's been in the attic ever since, awaiting some attention. The grey interior has been treated to a weathered, bare wood finish using Lifecolor acrylics, with a few bodyside planks also picked out with the same effect, suggesting a few replacement timbers.

The overall finish is quite pleasing, and the wagon is now just lacking a new running number and replacement of the tension locks with my preferred 3-links.

This wagon is also in the Bachmann Branchlines range, being a 7-plank mineral in BR grey and complete with ex-Private Owner 'P' number prefix. Again, the interior has been upgraded with a mock timber finish, with a few external planks in bare wood and mis-matched shades of grey for a bit of variety. As with both wagons, a bit of weathering - with acrylics, enamel washes and powders - the best qualities of these wagons are greatly enhanced.

Look out for a demo of these techniques in Model Rail magazine in the near future...

Tuesday, 27 August 2013


Etched windows arrive and assembly begins

Back in April, I mentioned that I was starting work on the humble Hornby Motive Power Depot plastic kit, a OO gauge model that has been around since the 1980s. After ruminating on how the basic kit parts could be improved, I eventually commissioned Peter Harvey at PH Designs to make me set of etched brass frames, rendered to slot directly into the kit's apertures. Having just received the etches, I've tried them out for fit (perfect!) and the kit can now be built up.

The plastic parts are designed to be a snap-together assembly, but I want something a bit sturdier and permanent, so I'll be gluing it together and filling in some of the big holes before adding gutters, etc. Then, it'll be a matter of recreating a convincing textured concrete finish to the walls.

Watch this space...!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013


A DB van for use in Britain and on the Continent

New from Golden Valley Models, is this great ex-Deutsche Bahn ferry van taken over by the British Army for the transit of stores between depots in the UK and West Germany, in the late 1940s/1950s period. Based on a Rivarossi 'HO' model, it's a lovely model with plenty of detail and authentic War Department markings, along with chalked destination markings for locations such as Longmoor, Marchwood, Dunkerque and Berlin.

It's ideal for anyone who likes to include some military traffic on their early BR layouts, perhaps in convoy with a rake of Warflats or Warwells. Look out for a full review in Model Rail in the near future.

Thursday, 15 August 2013


The answer to my prayers arrives!

Having a few small layout projects on the go at the same time can be a bit distracting, as one problem arises while another is solved, only for another to rear it's head and a change of plan elsewhere confuses the whole lot. While Maudetown Colliery's extension continues at a snails pace (but fairly stress-free so far), my modern MPD is also finally moving forward. But, my ultra-mini GWR terminus had ground firmly to a halt until Peter Marriott put me on to the new Noch Segment Table.

This three-way automated traverser comes fully built, wired and ready to go. Indeed, it even has a DCC chip installed, if that's your cup of tea (which is not for me!). All you need to do is cut a hole in the baseboard using the supplied template, connect up the power, align three tracks and Bob's your uncle. The staging is quite small, so it'll fit an 0-6-0T or small diesel such as a Class 14, and that suits me. You can even get an 0-4-0T and a small 4-wheel wagon on it at the same time.

The only problem is that I can see how this space-saving device will make life so much easier on my other layout projects. So much so, that I've been posing my Maudetown NCB locos on it, just to see how they look and wondering if it will suit the colliery atmosphere, or if it would be best mounted off-scene.

Taking out a 3-way or two 2-way points with this table offers up substantial (in relative terms) sidings space, so I'm now in a quandary over whether to alter my well laid plans for the colliery extension, or to keep this table for its original purpose, as a means of creating a run-round loop, slightly off-scene, on my GWR terminus. Or even creating something new with the table as the focal point, rather like Peter did with his Segmore Warehouse layout... decisions, decisions...

For more about the Noch Segment Table, see Peter Marriott's article in Model Rail issue 185

The level of detail on the table and surrounds is impressive. It'll all look even better once weathered.

Fully assembled and ready to plant, Noch's segment table is a real boon to space-starved modellers like me.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013


New 'Magnetic Mates' clamps make building easier

I'm currently mid-way through building a great new card kit from Smart Models and it's given me the chance to try out some innovative magnetic clamps from York Modelmaking. Supplied in pairs, they're fab for keeping right-angled corners firmly together without damaging the soft card surface. Indeed, the magnetic power is good for working on anything up to a few millimetres thick, including wood and plastic. They're also good for metal, too.

Talking of buildings, I've also assembled this laser-cut wood kit of a barn, produced by Miniscenes. Again, the York MM magnetic clamps worked a treat, keeping the corners firmly together while the PVA glue cured overnight. I really like the rotten doors and the random stone relief, and I'm looking forward to painting and weathering it.

For more on the signal box kit and the clamps, see Model Rail magazine, issue 187 - out on 5th September.

Thursday, 8 August 2013


Another OBA finished off

To add to the other OBAs mentioned in the previous Blog post, 110636 has also entered traffic, this time being a high-ended version originally designed for use on the Plasmoor concrete block traffic in the 1980s. As well as the patchwork of wood planks on the sides, I've also added a few patch repairs to the ends, with red primer being daubed onto the bulkheads.

Given how 'flat' the models appeared before weathering, the wagon has been massively improved, with only about 6 hours devoted per vehicle. Definitely worth the effort!

Monday, 5 August 2013


EWS-era air-braked opens get the rainbow treatment

OBA 110332 is a Bachmann OO model, originally in EWS colours but now wearing a multitude of shades due to ad hoc repairs. There are still plenty of the real things around, albeit in a universally scruffy condition!

BR's air-braked freight stock from the 1970/80s is a real favourite of mine, with my collection boasting quite a few OAAs, OBAs, VAAs and plenty of other similar wagons in various shades of bauxite, red and grey. However, as I also model EWS freight trains from the early 2000s, I've had a small stock of red and gold liveried wagons hanging around awaiting weathering.

Happily, the chance to titivate these wagons arose while filming our latest Model Rail/Telerail DVD project (more info on this will follow soon), and I was aiming to portray the OBA in typical later life condition, with replacement planks and repairs creating a patchwork of colours and a general air of neglect. With a mix of Lifecolor acrylic paints and weathering powders, the overall effect is pleasing, with both the exterior and interior being treated to the same level of attention. Indeed, creating the look of weathered, bare wood on the inside was a challenge, covering the factory-applied grey paint.

After a couple of days of hectic filming, I've been putting the final touches to some of the models in readiness for photography for the DVD cover. I also need to get on and write the script for the programme..... no rest for the wicked, eh?!

110348 also wears its coat of many colours with pride, working in EWS-operated civil engineers traffic.

Thursday, 1 August 2013


GWR 72xx in line for an overhaul

Just arrived in the Dent Workshop is a Hornby 72xx 2-8-2T, having been assessed for the Review pages in Model Rail magazine (see MR 186 - out 8 August). I've been casting my eye over it to see which areas can be improved in terms of detail and ruminating over how to apply a suitable weathering job.

A couple of tasks immediately present themselves: fit a new smokebox door handle, add coal and footplate crew. There's also a distinct bow in the long footplate moulding to correct, with the front section particularly badly affected. The metal chassis block has such a tiny front bracket, only 1/8in wide, upon which the running plate rests and it could do with an extra bolt to stop the plastic flexing upwards, screwed up into the bell-shaped cover beneath the smokebox perhaps.

Whatever I end up doing, this should be good fun and I'm looking forward to seeing the loco in a typical work-stained condition for these powerful freight movers. Look out for my demo in MR issue 187 (out 5 September).